Source: The Hitavada      Date: 08 Jul 2018 11:41:40



I f the companions in a journey are fun to be with, the pleasure of journey doubles and if companions are childhood friends, it becomes manifold. We, a group of six childhood friends, now all in the age group of 55 decided to go to Goa. This was to be our fifth trip to Goa, but every time the route was different with the same vehicle - my trusted Maruti van. This time we planned to reach Goa via west coast by exploring tourist places of southern regions.

Day 1: We left Nagpur at 8 am and reached Jadcherla inTelangana at 8 pm.Distance covered, 630 km. Except about 40 km stretch in Pandharkawada region, road condition is very good but tolls are heavy.

Day 2: We left Jadcherla at 8 am and reached Hogenakkal falls at 9 pm.On the way we visited beautiful ISKCON temple in Anantpur. Hogenakkal is a waterfall in Tamil Nadu on the Kaveri River. Distance covered, 640 km.

Day 3: In the morning we visited Hogenakkal waterfall. It is an awesome waterfall, sometimes referred to as the Niagara Falls of India. The boats that take you right to the base of the falls are shallow and circular in shape (about 7 ft diameter) and made of bamboo. We had very thrilling experience of boat ride due to its unique shape and sailor gives gyrating motion to the boat three-four times. Carbonatite rocks in this site are considered to be the oldest of its kind in South Asia and one of the oldest in the world. Crocodile rehabilitation centre is also worth visiting here. We departed at 10.30 am for Munnar. From Udumalpeth to Munnar it is hill section with hair-pin bends on a narrow road. After sunset, due to rain and fog, driving was risky on this section therefore we halted at Marayur, about 40 km before Munnar. Total distance covered on day three, 300 km.

Day 4: We started at 8 am for Munnar. On the way, as road was blocked due to uprooting of tree, hence we had to wait for 40 minutes and reached Munnar at 10 am. We visited the tourist attraction places in Munnar (Flower garden, Photopoint, Honey Tree, Madupatty Dam, Indo Swiss Diary Farm, Shooting Point, Echo point, Kundale Lake and Dam,Top Station,Tea museum). Munnar, the ‘Kashmir of South India’, issuch a beautiful place in Kerala, which cannot be portrayed in a single canvas. Refreshing breeze, mountains covered with mist, acres of tea plantations, beautiful valleys removed my tiredness of driving 1,600 km in last three days and recharged all of us. The beauty of the places on the way to and in the Munnar cannot be just written or explained, it has to be experienced. In the evening we purchased tea and spices for which Munnar is famous.

Day 5: We started at 8 am for Kumarakom. On the way we saw beautiful Valara and Chiyappara waterfalls and visited one of our old friends at Pala. After taking lunch at his home we reached Kumarakom at 3 pm. Kumarakom is famous for its backwaters. We enjoyed the boating in the backwaters of the Vembanad Lake for two hours and left Kumarakom at 5.30 pm for Guruvayur; reached there at 9.30 pm. Total distance covered on this day was 300 km.

Day 6: Guruvayur Sri Krishna Temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to the Hindu god Guruvayurappan. This is the fourth largest temple in India in terms of the number of devotees visiting per day. It is believed that Lord Krishna asked Vayu deva and Brahaspathi to take the idol from his temple in Dwarka while the city was being destroyed and established it in Kerala. The idol of lord Krishna was brought by and was placed in Guruvayur. The name Guruvayuris a merger of both their names (‘guru’ brahaspathi and ‘vayu’ deva). We visited the temple to take the blessings of lord and left Guruvayur at 10.30 am. Our night halt was at Udupi in Karnataka. Today we covered 390 km.

Day 7: We started from Udupi at 9 am and reached Murdeswar at 11 am. Murdeshwar (another name of God Shiva) is famous for the world’s second tallest Shiva statue and the MurdeshwarTemple. It lies on the coast of the Arabian Sea. The temple authorities have installedalift that providesabreath-taking view of the 123-feet Shiva idol from the top of the 20-storied, 237.5-feet-tall Raja gopura. After taking Darshana we enjoyed the scenic beauty of this place and left for Gokarna beach. After seeing the beautiful Gokarna beach we reached Palolem beach in Goa at 5 pm.

Day 8: Palolem Beach, also known as ‘Paradise Beach’ is located in South Goa. One can see both the ends from the centre of this beach as it is of semi-circular shape. Tourists who want seclusion, calmness and tranquility must visit this beautiful beach. After frolicking in the sea, we visited Mungeshi temple and reached Arambol beach in the evening. Arambol Beach is among the best beaches of North Goa, unexploited by the tourist, offering solitude and serenity. This beautiful beach is the last beach in North Goa with market along both sides of the approach road. About 1 km from the Arambol beach is sweet water lake. The way to the lake is quite pleasant with food joints, shops and pretty view of the Arambolstretch. Sunset from this point is very spectacular. Fireworks are organized by hotel owners every night in Arambol beach stretch.

Day 9: This was the day to say good-bye to Goa and start return journey. On the way to Kolhapur, it was likeareward to see Amboli Ghat. It is a mountain pass in Sahyadri with fabulous water fall on one side and deep valley opposite to the waterfall. After enjoying the scenic beauty of AmboliGhat and visiting Mahalakshmi temple in Kolhapur we reached Satara at8pm. Distance covered, 340 km.

Day 10: This was the day of pilgrimage. First we visited Jejuri which is famous for Khandoba temple. Khandoba, also known as Martand Bhairava or Malhari is worshiped as manifestation of lord Shiva. The temple is situated on a plateau. After taking blessings of Khandobaji we visited Morgaon, 20 km from Jejuri. Morgaon has Shri Mayureshwar temple dedicated to lord Ganesha. Morgaon temple is the starting point of the Ashtavinayak pilgrimage circuit. After worshipping lord Ganesha we started for Aurangabad and reached there at 8 pm. Distance covered, 350 km.

Day 11: This was the last day of our journey, from Aurangabad to Nagpur. Distance covered, 490 km. Every one of us fully enjoyed the journey and spots. Therefore, inspite of hectic schedule, there was no sign of tiredness or boredom. This was a memorable journey for us. The journey was combination of excursion to waterfalls, hill stations, backwaters, beaches, pilgrimage and pleasant drive through the greenery of Kerala and the west coast. Thanksto my Maruti van (now 16 years old), which covered about 4,000 km distance without giving a single problem. By God’s grace, blessings of elders and good wishes of friends our journey was enjoyable and successful. ■