So where is Bekal? It’s a small town by the Arabian Sea in Kasaragod district, in the state of Kerala. And why Bekal? Because we are heading home to Kerala and Bekal is a half-way point for a stopover. And I have never been to Bekal.
We leave the hotel by 9:00 am after breakfast. We cross Panjim and by 10: 30 am reach South Goa. I had mentioned in the itinerary a visit to the Mario Gallery, Calangute, but didn’t share any pictures in the past posts; we bought some souvenirs to remember the trip and moreover Mario’s cartoons are evergreen plus they always manage to draw a smile !!
11: 15 am, we reach Canacona, Goa. We will soon be leaving Goa, entering the state of Karnataka and then crossing over to Kerala. We are on the NH 66 (NH 17).
Everything is not hunky dory in Goa, there are plenty of empty restaurants lining the roadsides, awaiting the tourists. There are articles in the newspaper saying the number of tourist are declining.
Goa reminds us of the bygone Kerala. The narrow roads, cute and colourful villas (some may call the colours outlandish) surrounded by overgrown greenery. Kerala used to be like this (maybe some parts still are), but the NRI money pouring into Kerala has resulted in the old villas being demolished and replaced by bigger, grander homes and apartment complexes. Homes are a reflection of the new found prosperity. While Goa is still holding onto the old world charm to attract the tourists.
11: 40 am, we are at the state border between Goa and Karnataka and at the checkpost, the officer asks us if we are carrying any liquor bottles with us. Nil, we reply.
We enter into the state of Karnataka, the national highway is now four lane and the landscape is much drier. It is very hot outside.
Goa is the smallest state in India and Karnataka is the seventh largest in geographical area. We are speeding along coastal Karnataka which stretches between Karwar in the north and Mangalore in the south. In the past the coastal regions of Karnataka called Canara or Karavali.
12:00 pm, we reach Karwar, Karnataka and stop near the beach. There is a naval base here. But we can’t linger on the beach for long, the sun in blazing hot and we rush back into the air-conditioning. No wonder the beach looked deserted in the afternoon. Mangalore is 274 kms away.
We stop for lunch at a Cafe Coffee Day outlet and by 1:00 pm take to the road again. The Cafe Coffee Day outlets have clean rest rooms which is a big reason why they are often preferred stops along the highways. There are many small veg restaurants along the roadside but the condition of the rest rooms are appalling, so we give these a miss.
There is construction work along the national highway, but the traffic is meagre so the drive is smooth.
2:00 pm, we reach Honavar, Karnataka.
2:35 pm, we pass Ranginkotte, Karnataka and it starts to rain.
We stop at another Cafe Coffee Day outlet for a tea break.
4:35pm, we pass Udupi, Karnataka.
5:40 pm, we reach Mangalore, the roads are bad and we get caught in a huge traffic jam. I wanted to spent sometime in Mangalore, the city is famous for its seafood and I wanted to have a taste. But seeing the huge traffic pile up, we just wanted to get out as fast as possible; visiting a good restaurant meant a detour from the highway and to come back into the jam of vehicles was not a relishing prospect. Mangalore will have to wait another day. Mangalore also has the only major port in Karnataka.
6:00 pm. we cross Karnataka border and hello Kerala !! The second we enter Kerala and a smile develops. We are still several districts and many kilometres away from home; still it is a good feeling of the familiar, we speak the native language, we know the food, we know the peculiarities and we feel a sense of belonging, not a tourist.
7:00 pm, we reach Kasaragod, Kerala
It’s night and the city is buzzing. Almost along the same stretch of road, we see three big jewellery show rooms – Sultan Gold, Malabar Gold, City Gold. We Keralities love gold, more the merrier !! Yes we are home !!
Kasaragod became part of Kerala only after post-independence and as a consequence of the State Re-organization Act. Pre-independence, Kasaragod was part of the South Canara district (together with the southern coastal regions of Karnataka) with Mangalore as the administrative headquarters and part of the Madras Presidency in British India. And hence though Kasaragod is the crown of the state of Kerala, its history is more closely linked to the state of Karnataka as we learnt.
A 10 hour journey….was a good road trip, the drive was comfortable. We stop for the night at Bekal. Where’s the stay? At Taj Bekal, a beautiful resort, more in the next post !!