Its been a long time that i hanvt went on to a roadtrip. In the first week of April our(me n my wify) best friend who is currently settled in US, called me up and broke fantastic news that he is finally getting married in Mangalore and reception is organised in Thane. He was like do whatever but you should attend my Reception. But, from the moment I kept the phone I started thinking about making it to his marriage than a reception and give him a big surprise. Thought over it for couple of days and finally me and wify decided that 'yes we are making it!!'. wrapped up our imp office work in next couple of days by working long hours in office and communicated that we are taking a quick leave. To me nothing beats driving down your own vehicle than taking a train, bus or a flight. Initially we were thinking about visiting to Madikeri for 2-3 days and while coming back attend his marriage in Mangalore and then conti. to Pune. But, When i spoke to him again, I got to know that he would be put up in Gokarna for 3-4 days. So, we once again started thinking that it would be really great if we could spent some quality time together. Believe me nothing is better than being with your best buddies!!! and if the place is really chilled out then it's a cherry one top. Ultimately we ended up scrapping my Madikeri plans and stayed 2-3 days in Gokarna. It was one of the most mesmerizing break in recent times and we will remember it for a long long time. Initial plan: Pune-Kolhapur : start from pune around 5 pm and reach Kolhapur atleast by 9 pm take a hault in Kolhapur Day 2 - Start early morning from Kolhapur and reach Gokarna, Take a hault at Gokarna Day 3- Stay at Gokarna or reach Madikeri Day 4- start for Mangalore or stay in Madikeri Day 5 – Wedding day, reach Gokarna by night Day 6 - Start for Pune (Same route) Route: Pune- Satara-Kolhapur- Hubli Dharwad bypass- Kalghatgi-Yellapur-Gokarna-Manglore and back. Current road conditions: 1) Pune - Satara: Nothing to write about. Avg road conditions lots of diversions. Toll: approx. INR 150 2) Satara – Kolhapur: Road quality improves drastically. Nice road and we can really drive at high speed. Toll: INR 139. 3) Kolhapur – Hubballi/Dharwad Bypass: Fantastic roads. Road quality is simply outstanding. This complete stretch is very nicely maintained unlike our Maharashtra roads. Toll: apprx INR 140 4) Hubballi/Dharwad Bypass – Kalghatgi: Single lane road but road quality is still excellent. You have to take a sharp left near Yerikoppa Village. Toll: INR 50. On this toll naka you don’t need to pay any additional toll just show them the toll receipt from previous toll. They will tear it in to half and handover the part of it. Road conditions are good, we can do a high speed in most of the stretches but expect speed breakers while passing through the villages. So, Be careful. 5) Kalghatgi- Yellapur-Baleguli cross: Undoubtedly this is the best stretch. Lovely laid tar road passing through forest area twists and turns. Fantastic road to drive on. My Punto was on her home ground. I did a really high speed on this stretch. It was a cake walk for Punto and experience was mind-blowing. Toll: No toll. I was so surprised. If this would have been Maharashtra we could have end up paying at least INR 150. That too without roads. 6) Baleguli cross – Ankola - Gokarna – Kumta – Murudeshwar – Bhatkal – Udupi – Mangaluru: There is lot of road construction work going on this complete stretch. But, roads are still drivable. In few sections they are so-so. But the more you move towards Mangaluru road conditions improves. In few stretches they have two lane road with proper dividers and surface is really smooth. But expect quite a many diversions. Toll: Once again not even a single Rupee. But, can see that in near future there will be at least couple of tolls on this route. But, It will be worth Paying for. How the actual plan went on: We started on wednesday around 4.pm from pune and reached Kolhapur around 7.30. We had already decided to take a halt in Kolhapur and take Mahalaxmi darshan as well. After paying the entry toll travelled some 3-4 kms and at one of the junction saw a Hotel Landmark, which is near dabholkar corner, did a quick room check and booked an AC room. We could have got better rooms but didn't wanted to spend much of a time in visiting different hotels. INR 1100/-. Hence finally paid the amount and booked a room. Quickly, dumped my luggage in the room parked a car and took a rick to Mahalaxmi temple. It was a chaturthi on that day hence wify decided to give a skip to non-veg food. Hence, while coming back we had a dinner in ‘Hotel Rajpurush’ which is bang opposite to Kolhapur station. The food was just awesome; it was an authentic Maharashtrian Veg food. This place seems to be very famous and quite a many Marathi actors have already visited this place. When we were visiting we noticed a well known Marathi actress having a dinner on table just next to us. Don’t remember her name though. So, all in all their THALI section is a MUST try!!! Price 150/- per plate On a next day morning we started from Kolhapur around 9.00 Am. We didn’t do a breakfast in Kolhapur thinking that we would get a nice and fresh south Indian breakfast near Karnataka border. But, unfortunately couldn’t spot any decent hotel which would serve nice breakfast. Eventually at 11.00 am we ended up having breakfast before hubli-dharwad bypass in ‘Hotel Sharath’. Though they had very limited options for breakfast, whatever they served it was testy. Finally we reached Gokarna at 1.00 am. My friend has his ancestral home in Gokarna, so went straight to his home got fresh and spent some time at his home. My friend has a pretty big family almost 10+uncles and everyone was retired and they were completely chilled out. We had a great time with all of them; they were so nice, caring and so chilled out. Whereas weather was not so chilled out, it was very humid and boiling hot in Gokarna, which was expected but thankfully my friend managed to book a nice AC rooms for us which actually made our stay comfortable. Gokarna is a very small temple town and main temple and deity is Lord Shiva, who is also known as Mahabhaleshwara. Gokarna is one of the seven important pilgrimages. We could see two different ends of the world meeting in this small town. On one hand we could see temple in each and every house and on other hand you could see uncountable hippies roaming around. Best part of this town was 2g-3g coverage i could safely say that it has absolutely no 2g-3G coverage. I simply loved being disconnected from rest of the world. In the evening we went to a place called Ram-teertha. It was so beautiful, so peaceful, after a long time we were feeling so relaxed. We didn't spoke much we just sat for couple of hours and on our way back enjoyed a windy beach walk. By the time we were in love with Gokarna and we still had madikeri in the back of our mind but we decided to scrap our Madikeri plans completely and the only plan was to catch up with my best buddy and spend a time which we would remember for a rest of our life. We spent two days full days in Gokarna had a great time in this small village. Early morning walks on white sand and quite beach, authentic breakfast at home, long discussions remembering the golden time which we had spent together then some sightseeing, relaxed lunch, peaceful sunsets and some sound sleep. That’s what all what we did in those two days. While visiting in and around places we encountered with best one out of the lot, which was ‘OM beach’.It was just fantastic, there is a cafe called ‘Namaste Cafe’ its bang on place. We spent close to 6 hours in this cafe once again very few words were exchanged we were completely at peace. In the evening we used to go to Ramtheertha and enjoy a mesmerizing sunset. On 5th day we started for Mangalore and reached Mangalore in another 4-5 hours of a time. In Mangalore we stayed at Hotel Moti Mahal. The arrangements done were really good, it was a typical Indian wedding and we had a nice time with his uncles and aunties his cousines. It was a super a fun. Next day was the weeding day, so since morning we were busy in getting ready and clicking countless pics, pulling each other’s legs. We were so happy to see our best buddy getting married thoroughly enjoyed it. On that day while returning back did a quick visit of Murudeshwar and then we returned back to Gokarna and spent time in leisure. On 6th day we started back for pune. On the way back we were looking for a nice resto. for a quick breakfast and fortunately we decided to stop at Hotel Kokan Spice (2.4 kms from baleguli cross towards Yellapur). While travelling from Kolhapur to Gokarna we had faced a tough time to find a good resto which would cool down our bellies. So, i was not very sure about how this resto would be, but saw couple of MH-15 cars parked in the resto and it’s name and decided to take a chance. But, let me tell you this place is really excellent. It’s a savior place for a travelers on this stretch. Lovely group of owners, extremely fresh and testy food and VFM. Nicely maintained restrooms, covered parking for your car. Nice view and good service. So, people those who are travelling on this stretch should not miss this place. His place is the only saviour in this stretch. So, don’t miss it. Once had a breakfast we started for Pune and continued till pune with couple of bio breaks managed to reach pune around 7.30 pm. About good petrol bunk, the moment you take left from Baleguli Cross. In another 1.7Kms and there is big IOC bunk on your right. Just next to Kamat I am very much choosy when it comes to petrol bunks and This is one seems to be the biggest one on this stretch. So, all in all it was a fantastic, relaxing trip. Though we initially started for Madikeri we finally ended up a destination that we would remember for rest of my life. Nothing can get better than this, when you your best buddy, such a fantastic destination and ample of time at your disposable.