Towards the end of July, we undertook an exciting road trip from Hyderabad to Udupi, a beautiful little coastal town in Karnataka facing the Arabian Sea, covering a distance of 770 km. Maps show you 14 h 41 min to reach Udupi; however, under actual driving conditions with a steady speed of 90 km/h, ghats in karnataka and stops in between, one takes close to about 16 hours to cover the distance.
In this write-up, I am going to talk about the roads taken to reach Udupi.
We got on to Nehru ORR towards RGI Airport and took the right lane at the fork which goes to Bengaluru. We followed NH 44 to service road in Indira Nagar, Ananthpur. Till here the road is a 4-lane with a slight disturbance at Kurnool as the highway repair work is on. From Ananthpur, we took the Kalyanadurgam road. It is where you see lovely windmill farms along and it is a beautiful sight to behold. The road is excellent and you can cruise along. Till the time you reach Anantapur, hotels dot both the sides of the highway. So, you can plan your stops on this stretch. Once you hit Kalyanadurgam road, hotels are scarce and it is a continuous drive.
We then headed on the Kalyanadurgam-Thippanahalli road which is a 2 way road but smooth till the time you take a sharp right turn on this road post which you pass through many small villages and roads here are pretty narrow, full of potholes, breakers and this continues till the time you join Challakere road (NH 169) from where it becomes a regular 2 way road. So, driving on this stretch might be a little annoying. This is where the Andhra-Karnataka border is.
From Challakere road one gets on to the Chitradurga road following which you hit Chitradurga town which is famous for its fort and reign of this place was in hands of the Nayakas for a long time. Till the time you reach Chitradurga, there are hardly any restaurants or hotels, so plan your stops accordingly. Continuing on NH 169, we got on to the Shivamogga-Chitradurga road which leads to another important city in Karnataka called Shivamogga or Shimoga along the Tunga river. Shivamogga is the gateway to the hilly region of the Western ghats with lush green paddy fields, coconut and areca nut trees.
It is from Shivamogga, on the Shivamogga-Mangalore highway, one gets to the densely vegetated hilly areas of the Western ghats. The roads are hilly, bending and not in a very excellent condition partly attributed to extremely wet monsoon from July-Sept months. There are steep hairpin bends (to be precise - 14) which one need to be cautious of and tend to get slippery during the monsoons. Another problem we faced was the thick fog which blinded our vision. We had to follow the vehicle in the front for navigation.
Post the hilly drive which lasts for about couple of hours, one gets on to the Agumbe-Udupi highway which leads you to Udupi town in an hours time. It is indeed a pleasurable drive, provided you are in a group and have some wonderful music to give you company. It is always advisable to carry water and snacks with you as for long stretches there are no restaurants to stop by. Also, one needs to be pretty careful on the hills as people surprisingly drive pretty fast on this stretch and roads tend to get slippery during the wet season.
PS: If you are currently planning a trip to Karnataka, kindly check the latest covid guidelines