Tips for a Hyderabad to Gokarna road trip via Chorla and Hampi

If you’re thinking of doing a Hyderabad to Gokarna road trip, here are some tips from our trip during which we stopped in Chorla on the way there, and at Hampi on the way back to Hyderabad.

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Tired of being cooped up at home, we decided to do a trip to Gokarna in April. And because we still weren’t comfortable with anything except driving, we ended up doing an eight-day Hyderabad to Gokarna road trip, stopping in Chorla on the way there, and Hampi on the way back (this was our overall route).

Keep reading for a few tips you might find useful if you’re thinking of doing a trip like this yourself.

Also read: Six great one-day road trips from Hyderabad

1. General tips for a Hyderabad to Gokarna road trip

  • It’s about 700 km if you drive straight from Hyderabad to Gokarna, and will take you a solid 15 hours of driving or more. It’s probably better to take a break on the way.
  • Though we stopped in Chorla and in Hampi, you could also stop in Bijapur (Vijayapura), Badami or Dandeli instead.
  • The roads are all pretty good, so you’ll make good time on the highways. But you might get stuck in traffic if you have to pass through towns on the way.

2. Hyderabad to Chorla

Ever since we’d passed through the Chorla ghats on our road trip to Goa, we’d wanted to stay there. And our road trip from Hyderabad to Gokarna was the perfect opportunity. Up in the hills, Chorla is great if you want to get away from all the hustle and bustle of the city, and from the swarms of tourists in more popular places.

The route from Hyderabad to Chorla

  • We took this route [via Zahirabad, Humnabad, Gulgarba (Kalaburagi), Bagalkot and Belgaum (Belagavi)], and the road was quite good all the way.
  • This route is about 630 km long, and should take you about 12 hours.
  • You’ll be able to bypass most of the town in Gulbarga (Kalaburagi) and Bagalkot, but you’ll have to drive right through Belgaum (Belagavi). And during peak hour, too.
  • If you time it right, you’ll start driving up into the Chorla hills just before sunset and see some lovely views.
  • There are sometimes traffic jams on the hill roads, when trucks or buses get stuck trying to pass each other on a tight bend.
Breakfast stop - Hyderabad to Gokarna road trip
Breakfast stop outside Zahirabad
Shor Gumbaz outside Gulbarga (Kalaburagi)  - Hyderabad to Gokarna road trip
The Shor Gumbaz outside Gulbarga (Kalaburagi); it looks like a tomb, but was supposedly a watchtower.
Archway in Gulbarga (Kalaburagi)
Ancient archway on the strange route on whcih Google Maps took us through Gulbarga (Kalaburagi).

Fields - Hyderabad to Gokarna road trip
Fields on either side
Road to the ghats
The hills are in sight
Chorla Ghat roads - Hyderabad to Gokarna road trip
Driving along the winding hill roads as the sun sets
Path from Wildernest parking to resort
The ride from the parking lot to the resort was a bit bumpy

Accommodation in Chorla

  • There aren’t too many places to stay around Chorla. The best known are Wildernest Nature Resort, Swapnagandha Resort and Shatavari Eco Resort, all of which are under the same management.
  • Because there aren’t many places to eat, all meals are included in the room costs.
  • None of these places are very disabled-friendly, so if you have restricted mobility, you might have problems.
a. Wildernest
  • The Wildernest Nature Resort (where we stayed), is a sprawling property in the forest a little off the main road, with luxurious but slightly run-down eco-chic cottages looking out onto the valley.
  • You’ll have to leave your vehicle at the parking lot just off the road, from where they’ll take you on a bumpy, 10-minute into the forest to the resort.
  • The cottages have spectacular views, but aren’t airconditioned, so they tend to get warm in the afternoons.
  • All meals are served in a central dining room, with both indoor and outdoor seating, and an attached bar. The vegetarian food is excellent, although it’s a bit spicy.
  • You might meet some monkeys and cats if you decide to sit outdoors at the dining hall, so keep an eye out.
  • If you like infinity pools, you’ll love the one here because it looks out over the valley, and is great for watching the sunset.
  • Check the latest rates on TripAdvisor.
Wildernest cottage - Hyderabad to Gokarna road trip
The view from our cottage
Wildernest dining hall
The dining hall and bar at sunset
Excellent vegetarian food at Wildernest - Hyderabad to Gokarna Road Trip
Outstanding (but somewhat spicy) vegetarian food at the dining hall

Monkeys at the dining hall at Wildernest
Curious young macaques outside the dining hall on our last day
Wildernest reception - Hyderabad to Gokarna Road Trip
Sunset at the reception
Wildernest funicular
A platform on rails to bring guests up from the valley
Wildernest infinity pool - Hyderabad to Gokarna Road Trip
The evening view from the infinity pool
b. Swapnagandha
  • The Swapnagandha Resort (where we ate once) is on the main road, close to Wildernest. It also has a forest vibe, and though it’s not as upmarket as Wildernest, it’s maintained a little better.
  • Because it’s a little further down into the valley, the views aren’t as nice as at Wildernest.
  • Meals are served at a raised outdoor dining platform (at least when it’s not raining), which has a nice ‘wilderness’ feel to it.
  • The dining area overlooks a stage where performances are held, so you can eat while you watch.
  • We didn’t look around much but from what we saw, the cottages here aren’t as private as at Wildernest.
  • Check the latest rates on TripAdvisor.
c. Shatavari
  • The Shatavari Eco Resort (which we just took a look at) is about half an hour before Wildernest and Swapnagandha, at the top of the hill, and also has a modern feel.
  • Though spread out, this place is relatively bare compared to Wildernest and Swapnagandha, and there’s not much forest to speak of. There are lots of fields around, though.
  • Cottages are laid out along a central stone-paved path that runs along the hillside, with the reception at one end and the dining hall at the other.
  • It’s quite a long walk from one end to the other, which is probably why the most expensive cottages (with the best views) are mid-way.
  • Check the latest rates on Expedia.

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Things to do in Chorla

  • There’s not a lot to do in Chorla except admire the scenery and enjoy being close to nature.
  • Chorla is up in the ghats, so anything outside the resort will involve trekking through the forest.
  • Wildernest organizes all sorts of activities within the resort. Things like birdwatching, sunset treks, pottery and mehendi classes, and traditional dance performances are all part of the package. Swapnagandha and Shatavari probably also do something similar.
  • Wildernest and Swapnagandha are close to a heart-shaped hollow in the hillside that turns into a waterfall in the rains, and they organize treks to see it up close.
  • If you want to get out of the resort, though, you could take a look at the colourful Chorla village, with its cooperatively-farmed vegetable patch and its old temple.
  • You could also drive a little further to Chigule (pronounced ‘chee-goo-lay’), a little village on the edge of the valley, and admire the views from the Mauli Devi temple.

Also read: Six reasons to visit Valparai, up in the hills

Sunset trek at Wildernest
Sunset trek through the brush
Hills around Wildernest  - Hyderabad to Gokarna Road Trip
The view from the top of the hill
Sunset trek at Wildernest - Hyderabad to Gokarna Road Trip
There goes the sun

Chorla village - Hyderabad to Gokarna Road Trip
Driving through the colourful Chorla village
Chorla village vegetable patch
Amaranthus flowers in the village vegetable patch
Chorla village temple - Hyderabad to Gokarna Road Trip
The diyasthambha (oil lamp tower) at the village temple

Chorla village temple
The village temple has seen better days
Chigule village temple - Hyderabad to Gokarna Road Trip
The amazingly-located Maulli Devi temple at Chigule village
Valley view at Chigule village
Our guide living on the edge at Chigule

2. Chorla to Gokarna

If you’re looking for a beach experience that’s like Goa but not as crowded, then Gokarna is a good option. But being across the border in Karnataka, the feel is a little different, and the alcohol isn’t as cheap. Still, it’s got great beaches, even though access to some isn’t as easy as one would like.

The route from Chorla to Gokarna

  • The most direct route from Chorla to Gokarna is about 200 km and should take you around five hours.
  • If you have time and want to enjoy the Goa vibe a bit (like we did), you could try driving along the coast instead of getting straight onto the highway. This was our route.
  • If you continue along the coast all the way to Palolem, you’ll see some spectacular views of the sea from along the hill above Cola.
  • The coastal highway from Goa until where it branches off to Gokarna is great, except for a few patches where they’re still laying it.
  • They’re still building the tunnel through the hills in Karwar, so the highway narrows quite a lot as it goes around them. But it gets broader again afterwards.
  • Gokarna is about 10 km off the highway, and the last part of the route from the highway to the town is on small roads through villages and around a hill.

Ghat road to Goa - Hyderabad to Gokarna Road Trip
Heading down the hills to Goa from Chorla
Signboard before Goa
Almost in Goa
Mandovi bridge - Hyderabad to Gokarna Road Trip
Driving over one of the many bridges over the Mandovi river
This cute bear cub was one of the faces we were in Panjim (Panaji) to see.

Interior road in Goa - Hyderabad to Gokarna Road Trip
Taking the scenic route through Goa
Old church in Goa
One of Goa’s countless old churches
View from hill road towards Palolem, Goa
Shot of the ocean view from the hill road to Palolem from our previous visit

Highway to Karwar - Hyderabad to Gokarna Road Trip
On the highway to Karwar
The tunnel through the hills at Karwar wasn’t ready, so we had to drive around them.
Highway to Gokarna
The rest of the highway until the turn-off to Gokarna is like this

Accommodation in Gokarna

  • Gokarna has plenty of accommodation options, from basic hostels like Zostel Gokarna to the luxurious SwaSwara resort (which doesn’t even allow non-guests in for a meal).
  • The main beach in Gokarna town has the most options, but is also the most crowded. For a more peaceful beach experience, you could stay near one of the smaller beaches behind the hill. Some of the roads on the hill are aren’t so great, though.
  • Namaste Café on Om Beach has some cottages that seemed nice when we ate there.
  • Check out all the accommodation options in Gokarna on TripAdvisor.
Red Earth Gokarna
  • We stayed at Red Earth, a somewhat basic but wonderfully-located resort about half an hour before Gokarna.
  • Red Earth is about 12 km off the highway near Ankola, and right next to the quiet and cosy Honey Beach.
  • There’s actually a much nicer route from the highway to Red Earth via Surve that avoids Ankola’s narrow roads and traffic. Sadly, Google Maps shows a break in the road where there isn’t one, so your navigation won’t show you that route. Here are the two parts of the route: Highway to Surve | Surve to Red Earth
  • The resort itself is quite cosy, with thatched-roofed rooms, a dining hall, outdoor seating at different levels, and even a yoga studio. Again, it’s not very disabled-friendly, with lots of stairs.
  • Breakfast is included in the room rate, and lunch and dinner are a la carte. You can ask for your lunch or dinner to be served at the outdoor seating. If you’re in the mood for a beer, they’ll serve it outside as well.

  • Sadly, the food isn’t anything special, which is a pity given the magnificent location. Also, beer is the only alcoholic drink they serve.
  • If you like sunset views, the best place to see them is from just behind the reception. Get yourself a chair and cup of tea, and you’re all set.
  • The hill behind Red Earth is also nice to trek. Follow the path (more like a dry rainwater channel) that leads up the hill from the approach road, just before it dips down to the resort. You can also ask the resort to arrange a sunset trek for you.
  • It’s a 45-min drive from Red Earth to Gokarna via the highway (check out the route via Surve above). Google Maps shows a more direct route via a ferry, but as far as we could make out, that’s only for motorcycles.
  • Check the latest rates for Red Earth Gokarna on TripAdvisor.
Village road near Red Earth, Ankola
The little village road to Red Earth
Read Earth Gokarna parking lot - Hyderabad to Gokarna Road Trip
The parking lot at Red Earth. Where’s the resort? Through that archway!
Entrance arch, Red Earth Gokarna - Hyderabad to Gokarna Road Trip
The entrance arch at Red Earth looks like a portal into another world.
Red Earth Gokarna reception
The reception cottage at Red Earth. Behind it is the best place to watch the sunset.

Sunset from Red Earth Gokarna - Hyderabad to Gokarna road trip
The view from behind the reception. Can you spot a member of the staff meditating?
Honey Beach - Hyderabad to Gokarna road trip
Friendly doggie leading the way down to the empty Honey Beach
Beach rocks at Red Earth Gokarna
Rocks on the other side of the resort
Honey Beach from above  - Hyderabad to Gokarna road trip
Our view of Honey Beach during our sunset trek

Things to do in Gokarna

  • There aren’t tons of things to do in Gokarna besides enjoy the beach and all that goes with it. If you’re lucky, you might find some watersports or boating options where you’re staying.
  • Keep a look out at the beach at night, and if you’re lucky (we weren’t), you might get to see the waves glowing with bioluminescent algae. It seems the best time to see this is just after the rains, on moonless nights. The staff at the place you’re staying are sure to know more.
  • The hill next to Gokarna town (where the smaller beaches are) seems like it has lots of nice trekking opportunities. You should probably do that in the mornings or evenings though; it can get very hot during the day.
  • We’ve heard that there are some nice little temples that one can trek to, and even one that’s located in a small cave network off the road to Kudle Beach.
  • We’ve also heard that there’s a small hill fort across the lagoon near Aghanashini that might be worth checking out.
  • If you’re looking for places to eat, Mantra Café at Zostel is a shack overlooking Gokarna Beach that has a chill vibe, nice music and good food. We recommend trying the fiery mushroom varuval.
  • If you’d like to try some homemade local cuisine, Halfway Home is a quaint little place tucked away at the end of a lane off Kudle Beach Road. Even though their thali was nice, we definitely recommend their Mangalore buns (puris made with banana and served with chutney).
  • Namaste Café is another nice place to eat, with a slightly upmarket feel and right on Om Beach. The staff struck us as slightly snooty, though.

Also read: Four reasons why you should stay in Agonda on your next trip to Goa

Kudel Beach Gokarna - Hyderabad to Gokarna road trip
Fishing boats pulled up on Kudle Beach
Namaste Cafe Gokarna
The view of Gokarna Beach from Mantra Cafe
Halfway Home  - Hyderabad to Gokarna road trip
The basic but atmospheric Halfway Home
Thali at Halfway Home Gokarna
The home-style thali at Halfway Home. The Mangalore buns come highly recommended, too.

Namaste Cafe on Om Beach  - Hyderabad to Gokarna road trip
Roast potatoes and beer at Namaste Cafe
Om Beach Gokarna
Guess how Om Beach got it’s name?

3. Gokarna to Hampi

Hampi is a place that we can go back to again and again. Once the seat of the most powerful kingdom in South India, the UNESCO World Heritage Site has countless ruins of temples and palaces spread over the countryside. Architecture apart, it’s unique landscape of granite hills and lush fields is magnificent as well. It’s no wonder we chose it as our mid-way point on the way back to Hyderabad.

The route from Gokarna to Hampi

  • The most direct route from Gokarna to Hampi is about 300 km and will take you around six-and-a-half hours. The first stretch along the river might not be all that great, though.
  • Since we were at Red Earth, we took the state highway through the ghats to Yellapur, which turned out to be very scenic. This was our route. It might be a good idea to take this route even if you’re starting from Gokarna.
  • The road through the ghats is very nice, but gets a bit boring as soon as you get down into the plains.
  • The route goes straight through Hubli, which isn’t very pleasant. A bypass is under construction, though, so hopefully that’ll be ready soon.
  • Most of the remaining route is on the Hubli-Hospet highway, which is great for the most part (but again, a little boring). But there are still a few bits under construction.
  • Depending on which side of the river you’re staying in Hampi, you’ll either turn off the highway at Huligi towards Gangavathi, or take the bypass around Hospet (Hosapete) towards Kamalapur. We were staying at Hampi’s Boulders Resort this time, so we turned off the highway at Huligi.

Ghat road
The beautiful hill road from Gokarna to Hampi
Hospet-Bellary highway - Hyderabad to Gokarna road trip
The smooth (but somewhat boring) highway
Road work
One of the frequent diversions due to road work
Road to Hampi
The granite ridges that Hampi is known for start appearing

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Hampi's Fields and ridges - Hyderabad to Gokarna road trip
The magical landscape of fields and ridges on the northern side of Hampi
Hampi's Boulders Resort approach road
The narrow (and slightly scary) approach road to Hampi’s Boulders Resort
Hampi's Boulders Resort - Hyderabad to Gokarna road trip
…and we’re finally there!

Accommodation in Hampi

  • There’s lots of accommodation in and around Hampi, though most of it tends to be clustered around Hospet (Hosapete), Kamalapur and the road in between.
  • There are also lots of basic homestays and resorts near and even in Hampi village.
  • If you want to experience heritage and architecture, stay on the southern side of the river. If it’s nature and landscape views you’re after, stay on the northern side. Getting from one side of the river to the other takes a bit of driving, unless you cross by coracle boat.
  • Keep in mind that most of the higher-end hotels and resorts are on the southern side. The northern side has mostly very basic accommodation, except for one or two resorts.
  • We’ve been to Hampi six times, and we’ve stayed in multiple places. Below are a few things about each place we’ve stayed, with more details here.

a. Hampi’s Boulders Resort
  • Hampi’s Boulders Resort is on the riverbank on the northern side of the river, and is about and 60 minutes’ drive from the main Hampi complex via the Bukkasagara bridge. This is one of the more expensive places to stay around Hampi.
  • There are different kinds of cottages with different levels of comfort and privacy, and the entire place is an interesting combination of comfort and rugged ‘outdoorsy-ness’.
  • Most cottages are right on the river, and have spectacular sunrise views over the surrounding rocky ridges.
  • Check the latest rates on TripAdvisor

Hampi's Boulders reception
The reception at Hampi’s Boulders in the early morning, with the sunset viewpoint behind
Hampi's Boulders Star Cottage balcony - Hyderabad to Gokarna road trip
The view of the river (it was the dry season) from the balcony of the Star Cottage
Hampi's Boulders restaurant
The restaurant in Hampi’s Boulders sister property next door
Hampi's Boulders dining hall - Hyderabad to Gokarna road trip
Breakfast at the dining hall
Rock pool at Hampi's Boulders
The lovely rock pool, with the dining hall building beyond.

b. Hampi Heritage and Wilderness Resort
  • Hampi Heritage and Wilderness Resort is in Kamalapura on the southern side of the river, about 20 minutes’ drive south of Hampi. It’s run by the government’s Jungle Lodges and Resorts organization.
  • It’s a sprawling property, with cottages spaced far apart, right on the edge of the Daroji bear sanctuary.
  • The room cost includes all meals (plus evening tea and snacks), a bear safari and a day of sightseeing.
  • Check the latest rates on the Jungle Lodges website
Sit-out - Hampi Heritage and Wilderness Resort - Hyderabad to Gokarna road trip
The sit-out at our cottage in Hampi Heritage and Wilderness Resort
Cottage interior - Hampi Heritage and Wilderness Resort
The spacious inside of our cottage
c. Hotel Gowri
  • Hotel Gowri is on the northern side of the river, just below the Sanapur lake, and about an hour’s drive to the main Hampi complex via the Bukkasagara bridge.
  • This is a pretty basic place, with a few simple rooms and cane cottages, and a small restaurant.
  • Its charm is in its simplicity, though, and in its location near the lake, with great sunrise views over the rice fields.
  • Check the latest rates on TripAdvisor
Hotel Gowri - Hampi - Hyderabad to Gokarna road trip
The swing outside our little room in Hotel Gowri, and the rice fields beyond

Rice fields sunrise - Hotel Gowri, Hampi
Sunrise over the rice fields next to our room
Farmers next to Hotel Gowri, Hampi - Hyderabad to Gokarna road trip
Farmers hard at work: the tractor churns the mud (and blares music), the men plow furrows, and the women plant seedlings
d. Vijayshree Resort and Heritage Village
  • Vijayshree Resort is on the southern side of the river on the Hampi-Hosapete road, and it’s about 20 minutes’ drive from the main Hampi complex.
  • This a large, mid-range resort, with lots of cottages spread out over a large area.
  • It’s a heritage-themed resort, and serves only vegetarian food. Also, smoking, alcohol and non-vegetarian food aren’t allowed on the premises.
  • Check the latest rates on TripAdvisor
Vijayshree Resort, Hampi
Checking in at Vijayshree Resort
e. Kishkinda Heritage Resort
  • Kishkinda Heritage Resort is on the northern side of the river, up against a small dam in the Sanapur lake, and about 45 minutes’ drive from Hampi, via the Bukkasagara bridge.
  • This is a mid-range resort, with both cottages and rooms. The round cottages are done up to give a traditional feel from the outside, but inside they’re pretty standard. Some have cane furniture, though, which adds a nice touch.
  • The resort is right next to a water park, in case you feel like a dip.
  • Check out the latest rates on TripAdvisor
Kishkinda Heritage Resort, Hampi
Cottage at Kishkinda Heritage Resort (image courtesy:

Things to do in Hampi

There are lots of things to see and do in Hampi, mostly to do with its magnificent ancient ruins. But if you enjoy nature, there’s no shortage of things to do in that area, too.

There are too many to put down here, so take a look at this list of things to do in Hampi, instead. There are probably even more that we haven’t discovered yet, which is why we love going back.

Malyavanta temple, Hampi - Hyderabad to Gokarna road trip
Sunset at the Malyavanta temple
Slot bear, Hampi
A sloth bear laps up honey and jaggery at the Daroji Bear Sanctuary
Hampi Waterfalls - Hyderabad to Gokarna road trip
One of our guides shows us the ‘waterfalls’ on the river
Coracle boat ride, Hampi
An evening coracle boat ride on the Sanapur reservoir is pretty special

4. Hampi to Hyderabad

Hampi is one of our favourite places to visit from Hyderabad, which is why we’ve visited it six times (and counting). This blog post on planning a road trip from Hyderabad to Hampi details all the things we’ve found out about the place during our trips.

The route from Hampi to Hyderabad

  • There are lots of routes you can take from Hampi to Hyderabad, including via Gooty and Kurnool, via Bellary and Kurnool, via Bellary and Raichur, or via Gangavathi and Raichur.
  • Depending of which route you take, the distance from Hampi to Hyderabad is between 350-450 km. It should take you 8-9 hours.
  • Our favourite route is via Gangavathi and Raichur because it’s scenic and the roads are mostly nice.
  • Sadly, there are quite a few speed breakers between Hampi and Raichur, and the road around Raichur wasn’t great the last time we went. Getting through Gangavathi can be a pain in the neck, too.
  • Also, there aren’t many places to eat on the highways, so you might need to stop at a town. Or, like us, you could ask your hotel to pack you lunch for the journey.
  • Another popular route is via Gooty and Kurnool, which uses the excellent Hyderabad-Bangalore highway.
  • The last time were on this route, though, the traffic on the Hospet (Hosapete)-Gooty highway was bad and the road was being laid, so it wasn’t very pleasant overall. Hopefully the road will be done soon.
  • If you leave Hampi at around 5:30 am, you should be in Hyderabad by lunchtime. But if you leave at 9:00, you’ll hit traffic all along the way and probably get stuck in the evening rush when you get to Hyderabad. That’ll add an hour or two to your journey time.

And that’s what we learned during our Hyderabad to Gokarna road trip via Chorla and Hampi. Hopefully, these tips will prove helpful if you do a trip yourself.

Also read: A few Hyderabad itineraries you might like

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    1. Thanks, Peggy! Not many people seem to use this route, so I suppose the more information there is out there, the better.

    2. As expected, the photos in this post are fabulous! Love the sunsets and the delicious food, that roasted potatoes had me drooling 🙂

      1. Haha, thanks, Lynn! Those roast potatoes looked good, but tasted a bit ordinary, to be honest. Or maybe I’m just spoiled 😁

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