We had not taken a vacation for quite some time and the long weekend during the Gandhi Jayanti holiday on Friday-2nd, we thought was a good time to unwind.
Since the time we brought the Safari Storme, our idea of vacation has turned into “a trip to places where we can drive to, in a radius of 300-500 kms and which can be done in 2-4 days”.
After having explored most nearby places in Maharashtra, we decided to go the other neighbor – Karnataka. After my research on Google, I thought Mangalore was the closest fit to our ‘Travel criteria’.
I wanted to go to a place which is:
A. 200-400 kms max, so that it can be done in 3 days’ time,
B. which has some temples to visit and,
C. also have some good shopping malls and recreation activities.
and Mangalore had all of these.
On finalizing the holiday destination, the first thing I wanted to set right was accommodation.
After a spending some time on Google (BTW, the trip was planned completely based on internet reviews) I shortlisted on following hotels. (since we aren’t too fussy about hotel stay during travel, it was low on budget and quick to decide).
Finalized the deal on Mangalore International, even though the very first review title said”There is nothing international about it” but the further reviews were quite satisfactory. It is at K.S. Rao road, one can drive straight to this place as an extension to NH-66.
Earlier, I had plans of walking-in to a hotel, without prior booking, considering there are plenty to choose from in the city, however, it came to me as a shock, when I called the HMI (Hotel Managlore International, referred to as HMI) and they said, they are booked for the weekend while all major travel booking sites still showing availability. So, I decided to book this hotel online for following prime reasons:
To avoid the hassles of:
A. Driving around the crowded city seeking directions to various hotels,
B. visiting each of them only to find some of them don’t have the availability and even if they had, go and inspect each room, amenities and so on and,
C. importantly because, online booking had a discount to offer.
I booked HMI at an offer of “buy one night and get second at Re.1 only” on ClearTrip. (That really sounded a great offer, though the total cost I paid for 2 nights – in fact should have been the price at which they be selling these rooms). Anyways, was happy that I didn’t have to pay excess price for these rooms.
A. The biggest USP of this hotel is – its location! It is bang in the city, just across the famous City Center mall.
B. the second best (for us) being – 24 check-in/check-out policy (since we were driving from Goa and didn’t have a well-drawn schedule, this added a great flexibility and allowed us to drive leisurely)
C. complimentary breakfast (Vegetarian only, no egg/omelets, typical mix of Idli, Shira, Upma, cornflakes, juice, milk, tea, coffee, fruits etc)
D. complimentary internet (the connectivity was good, even though some reviews said it wasn’t so good)
Not many, however could have been cleaner like they could have patched up walls with a paint coat, fixed some electrical points etc. Also, it does not have its own restaurant and we did not try room service.
• No covered parking; however there is place right in front of the hotel where one can park where the hotel security guard keeps a watch and the hotel assures you that it’s safe.
• There is 24-hrs hot water facility; however we faced some issues with it.
• Check-in/out was smooth.
• Telephone in the room did not work as some cabling work was being done.
• Air conditioner, TV, Cable channels everything worked. Towels, soap, shampoo provided. No toilet napkins/papers. No temperature control knobs or remote control for AC so we had to switch off main switch when it was too cold.
• Not sure if the rooms offered any views as our windows opened into a shabby building next door.
06:00 Leave from Panaji
13:00 Reach Mangalore, Lunch
16:00 Visit Citi Center and evening at leisure
21:00 Dinner at the Mall
09:00 Breakfast at Hotel
10:00 Visit Kudroli Gokarnath Temple
12:00 Visit Kadri Manjunath Temple
13:00 Lunch at Kadri Manjunath Temple (they serve meal as prasad)
14:00 Visit Animal Park at Pilkula Nisargdham
15:30 Visit Manasa water park
17:30 Tea at Manasa Restaurant
18:30 Visit Bharat Mall (Big Bazar shopping)
21:00 Dinner at Mall
09:00 Breakfast at Hotel
10:00 Visit Local market for window shopping, Stop by at Ideal’s ice-cream
13:30 Depart for Goa
20:30 Arrive in Goa
All of the above fell in line, except:
A. We started an hour late on day-1, which meant it was past13:00 and we were about 60kms behind schedule so we decided to have lunch at Udipi at a highway restaurant. The restaurant, surprisingly, offered good food at a very cheap rate of Rs. 50/- for a South Indian Thali. We decided to halt at the same place during our return journey to try their Punjabi Thali.
B. Return trip took longer due to heavy rains at Honnavar, Karwar belt.
Total Distance: 400 kms
Road: Cannot be categorized as ‘good’ since lot of work was underway at NH-66, because of which had to take diversion every 2-3 kms. Some stretches were really bad and the vehicle had to be brought down from 80-100 to 20 instantly.
Route:Panaji – Karwar – Ankola – Kumta – Honnavar – Bhatkal – Kundapur – Manipal/Udupi – Mangalore
Weather: Pleasant as it was drizzling, warm during day time, about 30 degrees (this was during our visit, otherwise I believe the mercury starts rising during this part of the year).
Hotels: Plenty; few we had shortlisted based on TripAdvisor reviews:
Hotel Poonja International
Rs. 1847/- per night
Address: K.S. Rao Road
Phone:0824 244 0171
My take: Some of the reviews that I read weren’t really good, so did not go for it.
Rs. 1168 per night
Address: Ganapathi High School Road
Phone:0824 244 0061
My take: Reviews were ok nothing spectacular about it.
My take: This was in my mind, however shockingly, reviews of this Tata hotel weren’t that great vis-a-vis their rates.
Hotel Suman Residency
About 5k for 2 nights
Near Bendorewell Junction | Kankanady – Balmatta Road
My take: Good reviews, HMI won over this on the price front.
About 12k all inclusive for 2 nights.
236-2A Bunts Hostel Road | Near Jyoti Circle
My take: This one was the best, however out of my budget.
Places of interest shortlisted (we did not do all):
City Center Mall
K.S.Rao Road | Hampankatta
We visited this mall, because based on reviews, this one was meant to be the best among all other malls in the city, we had time only for 1 of them so we decided to go with this one. Besides, this was just across our hotel.
This is a typical mall bustling with youngsters huddling around and kids running up & down on the escalators. It has most well-known brands besides some distinct stores like a Khadi store doing good business, shops selling 1gm Gold and so on. Besides, you have a floor for all eateries with brands like BBQ Nation, Pizza Hut, KFC to name a few.
15-20 mins drive from Mangalore (outskirts), a must visit animal park. Need about 2-3 hrs time to see the entire place if one decides to walk. There is motor-cycle buggy that can take you around for a mere charge of 300 bucks and can be done in about 40 mins to 1 hr time.
Manasa Amusement & Water Park
Small park, good for kids, walking distance from Pilkula Nisargdham. Entry: Adult=300/-, Children=200/-
Tip: closed on Monday.
Address: Opp KSRTC Bus Depot | Kavoor Road, Bejai, Lalbagh
Only mall which has Big Bazar. Also has Pizza hut, CCD – ok place to visit.
Empire Mall & Pio mall – The review said these aren’t as good as City Center, so were left out of the itinerary.
Mahatma Gandhi Museum
(Canara High School, Mangalore, India) – based on reviews, decided to skip as not a must visit, however good to visit.
Sammilan Shetty’s Butterfly Park – I am not into butterflies so skipped this as well, but most reviews said, it’s a good place to visit.
Address: Butterfly Park Road, Belvai Village | Santhadi House, Mangalore
Phone Number: +91 98 45 993292
Kadri Manjunath Temple – good to visit
From Bunts circle, one can hire auto to reach this temple which will cost you around Rs 30. The temple offers Prasad (lunch) between 12:30pm to 2pm.
Kudroli Gokarnath Temple – good to visit
Address: Kudroli | 3 Km from Hampankatta
Best visit during evenings, day time will be hot.
Shri Sharavu Mahaganapathi Temple – not a must visit, can visit if time permits.
This is a small temple, old, right in the city in the middle of bustling Hampankatta, close to the end of the GHS road in Mangalore.
Panambur Beach – if at all you want to visit a beach, you can try this as its closer to Mangalore. Nothing great about the beach though. Since we hailed from a place of beaches, we didn’t wanted to visit another one.
• Lot of 1gm gold shops around.
• People give and accept worn-out currency notes
• Traffic is same as any other city (didnt experience much due to holiday weekend)
• Local market is same as any other metro.
• People usually speak Kannada or Tulu, most understand Hindi.
In all, this was a compact budget holiday.
Tip: Leave your vehicle at the hotel, especially if it’s a big one and hire an Auto-Rickshaw to go to places.
• No need to seek directions
• No need to look for parking
• No worries of jumping signals/traffic rules, paying fines and so on.