Before I am taking you on the next chapter of our south of India road trip, let’s take a break and check out Shimoga, the town we decided to spend a night on the first day. As you already knew in our previous post, this wasn’t our plan. But after a long day navigating ourselves through bad roads and busy traffics, we were late and ready to settle for this town.
We have been here before. Remember we drove from Mangalore to Shimoga in the previous trip early this year? It’s a vibrant town; coming alive at night and making you want to explore every inch of it. Shimoga or Shivamogga is a city in the state of Karnataka, India. The city is surrounded by paddy fields, betelnut farms and coconut groves.
We never had luck in this city, always arrived late and had to leave too soon in the morning. By the time we reached Shimoga it was almost 7. The sun had set, and we had exhausted all of our energy for the day. As we arrived in the city, while crossing the bridge, I noticed a fair on the right side of the road. There were tents and booths, bright neon signs, and the colorful blinks on a gigantic Ferris wheel that captured my attention and made me my head turn like a child yearning for that shiny new toy in the display window of the store. But I would have to admit to the reality that there wouldn’t be any strolling in the funfair tonight because we didn’t even know where we were going to spend the night.
Last time when we stayed at Shimoga, we stayed at Royal Orchid Central, Shimoga. The room is great, nice and clean, but the food didn’t wow us. It’s about Rs 3,500 plus tax for a deluxe room. But the big problem we had with them was the service. We had asked them packed us breakfast since we were leaving early, and it was agreed when we checked in. But when we’re checking out in the morning, nothing was prepared for us, and they made us wait for 45 minutes for nothing.
This time, we tried a budget hotel, not only because we wanted to control our traveling expense, but also to give an insight to our fellow readers and travellers who often travel on budget. So we got Jewel Rock out of the internet and book it while we’re making our way through city. The room is Rs 1,600 plus tax. Now, the hotel is not just cheap for no reason. Of course, the room quality in Jewel Rock isn’t as good as what are in Royal Orchid Central. The paint is peeling off the wall, the bathroom tiles are stained, and the a/c was acting funny all night. But it was a good experience. To be honest, I’m not picky when it comes to a room I’m going to spend just one night in. For all I know, I can collapse anywhere where my family is.
While the night was still young, we decided to go for a walk and check out the city of Shimoga before supper. The streets in Shimoga are busy and filled with energy. I love most of it, except how aggressive the traffic is. We joined the local crowds and walked along footpaths in Nehru Road, where shops tucked together side by side. There were everything in that road except food, and I was wondering that we might have been in the wrong city, because the Shimoga I remembered 9 months ago was a food heaven where the dreamy mist where smoke of fat fuming from hot grills. We couldn’t find the food joint we were hoping to see.
Then we came across this charming restaurant. It seemed old and popular. We didn’t try there because it was a vegetarian restaurant, and we seriously needed meat and lots of meat after that kind of travel. So next time.
We road took us nowhere near food. Even with the help of the locals, we couldn’t find what we needed. But there was something in the air. That waking aroma of roasted coffee lured us to the wholesale coffee shop. Shimoga is famous for its strong coffee. You will find the little stores selling coffee all over the city.
In the corner of the busy junction, Sivappa Naika Circle, we found something very special. Venkatesha Sweet House was selling their treats since 1964. You need no proof to testify how good their goodies are because the crowds in there were madness. Everyone wanted a piece of everything in there. We were in line for 20 minutes to get our hands on a box of their famous sweets which were so worth it.
Just around the corner, in BH Road, we found a flower market, just behind taxi stand. I noticed it from a distance, and I knew we had to check it out. I had never been to any flower market in India before, we heard about the amazing Bangalore Flower Market, where I plan to see next, and this one was a nice little preview to what to expect.
There were garlands hanging from the front of the shades, and mountains of roses, jasmines, marigolds and other flowers I couldn’t name, on the tables and floor.
The smells of them were so divine. We almost forgot about food while we were walking in this little market. This perfumed market was a big distraction; we ended up spending a lot of time photographing the flowers until it was really late, and we should be heading back to the hotel.
Fortunately, at our hotel, there were 2 restaurants— vegetarian and non-vegetarian. I told you about our dinner in Shimoga in the previous post, how the food was good, but we were charged Rs. 75 for air conditioning. I still giggle every time I think about it.
And so, that was our night in Shimoga. I’m still going to tease you about a nice surprise we had in the morning at our hotel which I would reveal soon in the coming post. You want to know what it was, don’t you? I know I know, I’m a tease.