( I update this post regularly based on the questions I keep getting from my readers. )
When we decided to go to Goa for a short break last month, hubby suggested that we drive down. I have always wanted to go to Goa by road ... but never insisted as it is a long journey ... and it might turn out to be difficult and tiresome .... driving for so long. A road trip after all needs a lot of things to consider.
It was more of an unplanned trip ... just one day to gather stuff and set off. This time we had no bookings ... nothing. Just made sure the car was in good condition ( check the tyres' condition including air, reserve tyre's condition, enough petrol / gas, clean wipers, clutch and brake condition, etc. etc.) .... and off we went.
This post in mainly for the details on the route to Goa from Pune by road. Hopes this helps people who plan to do a road trip on this route.
We had wanted to leave as early in the morning as possible ... the morning cool and less traffic would help in covering as much distance as possible with the least discomfort.
That said ... do ensure that whoever is driving has a sound sleep the previous night ... never compromise with the driver's condition .... doesn't matter if you get to start a little late ... but the driver should be feeling fresh.
But by the time we started it was close to sunrise.
We took the route Pune - Satara - Kolhapur - Belgaum - Panaji .... the highway NH4 towards Bangalore. The highway is in excellent condition and it was smooth driving all through ... till Belgaum. Since it was early, there was hardly any traffic and we could easily touch 100-120 kmph. The morning cool helped .... no AC needed ... so easy speed.
It is better if you carry some snacks and drinking water with you if you are starting early ... saves time. Besides there won't be any shops open so early.
There are toll booths on the way ... I noticed we paid a number of times while we were still in Maharashtra ... while we had to pay just once when we entered Karnataka .... and the highway here is more well maintained than in Maharashtra.
One thing to keep in mind ... there are exits from the highway and there are signboards to guide you ... so if you intend to enter a town or petrol pumps .... start slowing down .... or you can easily miss .... and it will be a long time before you get another exit or an U-turn.
We entered Belgaum at 11 o'clock and had lunch. This break was for exactly 1 hour. Then took the road to Goa ... i.e. the NH4A. towards Londa / Ponda. Once the ghat starts the road is in a bad condition .... for around a stretch of 8-10 kms. It is filled with huge crater like pot holes and it was impossible to pick up speed. This road took up a lot of time.
We reached Panaji by 4 o'clock in the evening and went on to Calangute.
As we have already explored Goa a number of times, this time it was a laid back trip. Clicked the minimum of snaps. Instead of the usual sea and waves snaps, I got some snaps with old world charm.
A quiet Panaji on a hot afternoon.
For pure veg. food, the Plaintain Leaf in Calangute is great. It is a very old place ... and the food, which is mainly South Indian, is absolutely great.
Miramar beach from the road.
The Baga Creek.
Just for the info ... Calangute is the hub for water sports. The place is very lively, with some great beach shacks for good food. We stick to good old Souza Lobo for their awesome food ... I love the way they arrange the tables on the sand ... right on the beach ... with candle light and great music .... with the waves crashing in front of you.
While returning we took the route Mapusa - Sawantwadi - Amboli - Nipani - Kolhapur - Satara - Pune. This was to avoid the potholed road to Belgaum ... but later realised that this route is longer and the road is not too great too.
The waterfall in Amboli ghat.
We were lucky as we got cloudy weather and also light rain later .... it was unnatural ... but we later came to know of the heavy rains in Southern India ... which made the journey beautiful and the places all around us scenic. But on any other sunlit day this route may take a longer time and can be exhausting too. I would prefer to just reach Belgaum by the earlier route .. and then the highway is awesome.
You touch the highway from the Sawantwadi route somewhere near Nipani .... around 30 mins before Kolhapur. There is a McDonald restaraunt right on the highway in Kolhapur ... on your left. We had a late lunch there. After that it was straight to Pune.
We noticed that evening traffic was heavier ... which of course affected our speed and time. We had left Mapusa at 10:30 in the morning. We reached Pune by 8 in the evening.
Updated : I have been answering to this question in a lot of mails which prompted me to add this important factor while travelling within India ... especially for ladies ... finding a clean washroom.
So am giving here a few directions ....
While you are on the highway to Belgaum you will come across a lot of petrol pumps on the both sides of the road ... enquire there for a washroom. If necessary part with a few bucks ... you will be surprised at how fast one can appear out of nowhere. :-)
Near Kohlapur .... when you are going towards Belgaum .... on your right you will get a McDonalds. Drive on till you get an exit for an U turn.
Near Nipani ... on the right side of the road is an Indian Oil station .... I do not exactly remember if it is Indian Oil or some other company .... but they have a clean toilet.
I would suggest that the only way is to keep a lookout and keep asking .... and in extreme urgency request the managers of petrol pumps to let you use their washrooms .... they usually have one attached to their cabins.
Another thing I would suggest is to carry foodstuff that is mostly sweet .... as they do not make one as thirsty as salty junk food.
Feel free to write to me if you need any info on anything.