It was decided by family that we would visit a few temples in Dakshinna Kannada ( South Canara) and Udupi districts of Karnataka. It was sometime since we last visited these temples and we thought it was time to go pay our visit. After some planning we finalized the list of places to visit and it was in this order – Dharmasthala, Udupi, Kollur, Kateel and Kukke Subramanya. We decided that the dates would be between Oct 7 – Oct 12, choose these dates as it falls just before the festive Navaratri season and the crowds would be less, it indeed turned out to be the correct decision. We were all set and started on Oct 7.
Day 1, October 7 2012 : Bangalore – Dharmasthala
We finished breakfast at a hotel close to our place in Bangalore and started off at 9.30 AM. Our place is in South Bangalore and this being a Sunday, we decided to take the Ring Road via Deve Gowda Petrol Bunk – Nayandhalli (the flyover over Mysore road is now ready and the messy junction crossing is not a problem) – Kanteerava Studio Junction – Gorguntepalya and hit Tumkur Road (NH4). This was a breeze and there was absolutely no traffic anywhere along the way. Once on NH4 we took the elevated road, paid a toll of Rs 20 and were in Nelemangla in no time. Here we took the left turn towards Hassan / Mangalore and were on NH 48. This is a fantastic highway one of the best I have driven on. After about 4 km from Nelamangla there is a toll booth where you pay Rs.36 as toll and zoom off towards Hassan. The stretch from here to Bellur Cross is an absolute charm. Most of this route was covered in Cruise Control mode. Took a bio-break at a Coffee Day and moved on towards Hassan. There is another toll of Rs 36, a few kilometeres before Bellur Cross. Most of the road after Bellur Cross is still being widened, however the quality of roads are good and one can maintain a good average speed. We were in Hassan by 12.30 PM, as it was a tad too early for lunch we took the Hassan bypass and headed out towards Sakleshpur. The double roads end where the Hassan bypass begins. We reached Sakleshpur around 1.15 PM, the road from Hassan to Sakleshpur is not a double road but still very very good. After crossing most of the town, we stopped for lunch near the new Bus Stand at a place named Hotel Ashritha. This is a pure vegetarian restaurant and serves decent food. We finished lunch and started off to Dharmasthala at 2.30 PM. The dreaded Shiradi Ghats begin about 7km after Sakleshpur. Had heard various reports about the quality of roads here, but I was pleasantly surprsied. The road was bad in stretches, but not as bad as I expected. Finished driving the ghat in about 1 hour. about 50km of Ghat roads is not really bad. The roads get better after Gundya and we were soon at the point where we needed to take a right turn towards Dharmathala. There are sign boards about 2km before the turn, so there is no chance one will miss the turn. The road from here to Dharmasthala is average at best. After about half an hour, we were in Dharmsthala. It was 4.10PM.
We had booked ourselves in Sannidhi Guest House operated by the temple administration. After entering the town, we found our way to the guest house and settled in. I was amazed by the quality of this guest house. It is probably the best accommodation in Dharmasthala. The charges per room, per night is Rs 1000 (pricey by Dharmsthala standards) and can be booked by calling the temple administration office. Once we freshened up, we went to the temple for darshana. Since the queue for the normal darshana was pretty long, we decided to go for special darshana at Rs.200 per head. With this special ticket, we bypassed some part of the normal queue, but not as much as we expected. Anyway, we had a nice darshana of Manjunatheshwara.
After the darshana, we checked out see if we could have dinner at the temple dinging hall. It was way too crowded and decided against it. If you are looking to eat out in Dharmsthala, I am sorry, you don’t have much choice. You can either eat in Trupthi restaurant opposite Nethravathi Guest House or Hotel Arpana opposite the Bus Stand. We were closer to the temple so we choose Trupthi for the dinner that day. Dosa, Idli, Avalakki (Poha) were the items on offer. We had some idlis and dosas, returned back to the guest house and retired for the day.
Bangalore – Dharmasthala : 310 km
Stay : Sannidhi Guest House, Dharmasthala