Beach Trek: Bhatkal to Kundapura

ಡಿಸೆಂಬರ್ 27, 2007

I hadn’t done any major treks in this season while end of year 2007 was fast approaching. With not much time left for elaborate planning, I decided to do another beach trek, which probably is one of the easiest treks to organize. There is no confusion of the trails here and we are never too far from NH17 and hence never cut off from civilization. So the beach treks along Arabian sea in the Karnataka region need very simple logistics support. Food and night accommodation can always be arranged in the adjoining village or city, if one is not equipped to camp on the beach. To continue from where I had left last time, it was decided to trek from Bhatkal to Kundapura on beach this time. Many people were eager to join this time and I had to actually limit the number of participants. So we were a group of nine: Prasanna, Naren, Bharadwaj, Sripathi, Chandra, Chandru, Hariharan, Vinayak and I.

Start (L2R: Hari,Sripathi,Naren,Bharadwaj,Chandra,Prasanna,Vinayak)
The group

While Naren and Vinayak were to join to us directly at Bhatkal, rest of us boarded a Bhatkal bound 7PM KSRTC bus at Bangalore on a December Friday evening. We traveled for 14.5hrs through a long and circuitous route (Bangalore-Hassan-Charmadi-Ujire-Mangalore-Udupi-Kundapura-Bhatkal) to reach Bhatkal at 9.30AM ! We came to know only later that people from this region don’t use KSRTC from Bangalore but usually prefer private services.

Naren and Vinayak had already booked a couple of rooms for us in Vaibhav lodge for our morning ablutions. For want to time, we had a quick working breakfast at Vaibhav Hotel. (There are better eating places in Bhatkal than this; Vaibhav is highly not recommended). Now we had to find a suitable place to start the trek. There is a tiny water mouth at a distance of 6km from Bhatkal (towards Kundapura) at a place called Sodigadde and we were to start our beach trek from this point. Local Tempo service was used to cover this distance from Bhatkal to Sodigadde on NH17. It was 11.45AM and our group turned down my proposal to cover the rest of the distance of around 1km from Sodigadde to actual beach by auto and enthusiastically started on foot. So we spent some valuable energy walking in the midday sun and finally reached the beach at 12.15PM.

We walked on the sand for an hour until the beach stretch was intercepted by a tiny rivulet at a village called Alavegadde. The local kids helped us to find an appropriate point where stream could be crossed on foot. After walking further for around 15min, we reached the point where Alavegadde river meets the sea and this meeting point was too deep and wide to be crossed on foot. Fortunately we were just in time to catch a fishing boat which was all set to enter the deep seas and the fishermen were kind enough to help us cross over to the other bank.

Lake near Dombe
Alavebagilu Lake

Though google maps had shown a couple of breaks in the sand stretch, most of them turned out be plain green fields and not any hills as we had visualized. So most of the times we were walking on plain beach and did no climbing whatsoever. I had insisted on carrying oranges and some of us were carrying more than necessary quantity of them. So soon we could see generous people offering each other oranges and thereby reducing their backpack loads. We took lunch break at 2PM. At around 3.30PM we were at a village called Dombe where we could find a fresh water lake(Alavegagilu kere) beside the sea. There were a few kids enjoying the cold lake water bath in the hot afternoon and we were more than eager to give them company. The break really helped to us rejuvenate ourselves and without much trouble we reached the Someshwara temple of Baindoor at 4.30PM. We had probably covered a distance of 6-8km on beach for the day.

Someshwara temple, Baindoor
Someshwara temple

Someshwara temple is situated on a small rocky hill (which we had to negotiate) overlooking the sea. The surroundings are beautiful and temple has a calm atmosphere inside. Adjoining the temple is a rock, underneath which fresh water flows 24hours. This is called Nagatheertha. The name comes from the fact that a snake can be supposedly seen under this rock 365 days (The temple folk mentioned that a snake was sighted here in the morning also).

A view from Someshwara temple

One of our group members had used his contacts to secure a reservation in the Baindoor Govt IB for our night stay and after some confusion we settled down in IB before it became dark. After a good dinner, we crashed for the day with plans to get up as early as 5AM next day morning.

The trek group was so good this time that people actually woke up at 5AM! Some of them were so considerate that they took cold water bath at 5AM in the morning without wasting precious morning time waiting for hot water. Everything went as per plan and we were out of IB by 7AM. A little distance after Someshwara temple in Baindoor, Uppunda river meets the sea. The local folk advised us to continue our trek after this point (Uppunda Village). This involved covering 3km on NH17 and a further 2km into the actual beach. This time, everyone willingly agreed to take Autos to cover this distance of 5km. So our 2nd day’s trek started at 8AM. The plan was to cover most of the distance before 12PM after which time it gets too hot.

We did a pretty brisk non stop walk for an hour probably covering around 5km to reach Koderi village where Yedamavina Hole (stream) joins the sea. As we were approaching Koderi, a fishermen volunteered to help us cross the stream. It took him two trips in his boat to ferry us to the other end but he flatly rejected our repeated requests to accept money for his services. This was in sharp contrast to my previous beach trek experiences where people actually tried to charge us more for the boat service. We had to enter the Koderi village and cover some distance (around half a km) on road before joining the sea again. Though some villagers told us that it would just take an hour to reach the Maravanthe beach from here, one of them who had observed our pace on the beach earlier, clearly told us that we would take at least 2.5 hours to reach Maravanthe.

Next it was quite uneventful long walk, sometimes on the beach and sometimes on the village road running parallel to beach. Walking on hard village roads under the shades of coconut trees is much preferred than walking on loose beach sand. We reached a village called Navunda at 12.30PM. From Navunda it is around 1.5km to Maravanthe and from there it is around 9km (on road) to Kundapura. Attempting Kundapura was out of question given that it was already past midday. Navunda village was just 200m from NH17 and we were tempted to call it quits at Navunda. We must have covered approximately a distance of 12km on beach from Baidoor to Navunda. While others settled down in the comforts of a hotel waiting for their overnight bus to Bangalore, I boarded a bus to Sirsi to start the next leg of my long vacation.

Bharata B Rao- bharata{dot}rao{at}gmail{dot}c0m

My previous beach treks:
Ankola to Gokarna
Gokarna to Honnavar
Honnavar to Bhatkal


Beach trek: Gokarna to Honnavar

ಫೆಬ್ರವರಿ 19, 2006

Sharada, my colleague had been planning for a beach trek some time now. I felt that a trek along the Arabian Sea coast would be a nice way to start the year. Both of us have done the stretch from Ankola to Gokarna. This time we have decided to do the next stretch from Gokarna to Honnavar. The Gokarna to Honnavar stretch is longer than the Ankola to Gokarna stretch. Both Gokarna and Honnavar belong to Uttara Kannada district of Karnataka. This time we are six of us; I and my wife Veena, Sharada and her husband Saro, Ananth and Venu. While Sharada felt that she might not be in top form for the trek, Ananth had confidently agreed to be part of the trek after a 2 year gap.

On a January’s Friday night, we board the 9PM Rajahamsa bus from Bangalore to Gokarna. Winter had entered its final few days and we were hoping that the sun in the beach would be bearable. Gokarna is 472km from Bangalore. The bus travels well over 10hours to reach Gokarna at 8.45AM. We pass Honnavar along the way, where we hope to reach on Sunday evening by trekking on the beach. As per the milestones, it looks like the distance between Honnavar and Gokarna is on road is at least 40km. We wonder if we would be able to cover such a distance in 2 days.

I had thought that the touts (read priests) would approach us only at Gokarna temple. But here they are, in the bus stand, inviting tourists to their lodges! We have already booked a room for our brief stay in Gokarna. Many (mainly priest) families in Gokarna have converted their houses into lodges to accommodate the pilgrims. We check into our room and quickly finish our morning ablutions. A few of us get a quick wash also. By 9.30AM we are out of the lodge with our backpacks.

At the start: Venu, Veena, Sharada, Ananth, Saro
Starting of the trek

We could hardly resist the temptation of the ultra-size tender coconuts on the way. After breakfast in the Pai Hotel, we proceed towards the Gokarna beach. Meanwhile a tout directs us to the Kudle beach. From Gokarna, we wade our way through a hilly terrain to reach the Kudle beach. There are many resorts in and around Kudle beach mainly catering to the foreign tourists. In fact, in this beach and in all beaches of Gokarna, we can see mostly foreigners. Gokarna is a sacred place no doubt, but I didn’t observe anything special spiritually (like Yoga Ashrams) which generally attract foreigners. Of course beaches are an attraction. There is a hearsay that outsiders come to Gokarna mainly due to ease of availability of drugs. In fact, I was inquired by a passerby if we are interested in purchasing ganja from him.

Kudle Beach
Kudle beach

We reach Kudle beach at 11AM. It is burning hot and and we start sweating. If feels as if we have expended good part of our energy already and we are still at the beginning. We cool ourselves by gulping down the lemon juice. Kudle beach is limited by hills on either side. While it looks a bit difficult to follow the sea after the Kudle beach, we nevertheless want to attempt it. But a foreigner (who says who has been living here for sometime) discourages us. While he wants us to back off and climb over the hill to reach the next beach, we insist on checking out the rocky beach path. When he starts to get upset, we give up, return back and take the hilly route. While crossing the hill, we see a foreign woman heading somewhere. But on seeing us, she follows us for some distance. After checking where we are heading to, she returns. Already prejudiced, we almost conclude that the foreigner has actually sent us over the hill on purpose. We reach Om beach by 11.30AM.

Om beach
Om beach

Om beach gets its name from its OM shape. The OM shape of the beach is best visible from the adjoining hills. Again we had to leave the beach and tread over a hill to get past the Om beach. While Venu tried to take the rocky path adjacent to the sea, he eventually had to retreat and join us. The rocks can be dangerous to negotiate without proper gear. Walking on the barren hills can be tough compared to walking on the sea, where there is at least a cooling effect on the feet.

Halfmoon beach
Halfmoon beach

At around 12.15PM we walk down a hill and meet the sea again. This is Halfmoon beach. It is a very short beach and we can see a few foreigners here. The next beach we encounter is the Paradise beach. This is also short but beautiful. This is the last beach on our way which is inhabited by foreigners, the vendors and the resorts. After this we shall be on our own, of course we shall have fishermen for company.

Paradise beach
Paradise beach

This area around Gokarna is quite hilly and it is not possible to always walk alongside the beach. We have to cross many hills in between. At around 1.30PM we reach a place which has some vegetation and it looks like a cultivated area. When we see a fresh water source and a few villagers having their lunch, we also decide to break in this shady area for lunch. Post lunch we walk for around 15min to reach a village called Belikan. It is around this village where the Aganashini river meets the Arabian sea. When we come to this point, the beach stretch is intercepted by the river and we can see the beach continuing at a distance. Ideally we should have accepted the offer of a fisherman to ferry us to the next beach. Instead, we make the mistake of walking along the river bank.

Sharada and Veena on the banks of Aganashini river
Aganashini banks

We cover quite a distance to reach the next village which is big and looks like the hub of fishing activity. We had to wait for sometime to get a boat for river crossing. And we are still nowhere near the beach. A villager whom we met on the boat is returning from Gokarna and is headed to the next beach. We decide to follow him.

Most of times during our treks, I have seen that villagers don’t quite see and appreciate our effort in treading the difficult and not-so-common routes. So there is always some confusion when we inquire about the directions. While they think in terms of easiest way to reach the destination (which typically would be taking a local bus or boat or human inhabited paths) while we always look for routes amidst hills and forests. There can be miscommunication sometimes and this time it cost us a few more hours in the midday sun. We should have accepted the fisherman’s boat ride offer at Belikan.

The kind villager whom we are following happens to own a small resort in a secluded beach called Barka beach. He caters to the foreigners who look beyond the crowded beaches of Gokarna. Most of us are very tired by now and it takes a good effort to negotiate a hill and a large rocky terrain. We hit the beach at 3.30PM. Temperature is in upper 30s and the heat is unbearable. While the villager moves ahead, we decide to take a short break. There is no shade around but we are too tired. After another 45min of walk, mostly on rocks, we finally reach the Barka beach.

Barka beach
Barka beach

Barka beach is very short, may be just 50m in length. It is sandwiched by hills on either side. There is only one resort here run by our villager. We are dead tired when we reach here and the lime soda from the resort comes as a great respite. After filling our bottles with the naturally available drinking water here, we start climbing the hill on the other side of the Barka beach. It is a very steep initial climb. A resident of the resort accompanies us for some distance to show us the way. Most of the hills we have crossed are kind of tiny ones, but this one looks huge in comparison. We reach the top and continue walking along the grassy path. A fort shows up at a distance. We have to reach the fort and get down the hill to join the sea again. The other side of the hill is visible from the fort. The vastness of the coastline is amazing. There is coastline as far as we could see. We are somewhat relieved that we would not be crossing any hills for next considerable stretch of the beach.

The long beach stretch
Long beach stretch

On the fort side of the hill, there is no definite trail and we have make our own way down. The soil is loose and the terrain is slippery. And moreover we are not equipped to walk on this terrain; we are wearing beach slippers. After half an hour’s grueling climb downwards with a few minor slips, we rejoin the beach. It is 5.30PM in the evening and we decide to cover as much distance on the beach as possible before sunset. At around 6PM, we approach a place which looks like an ideal camping ground. There are some fishermen’s houses around; we decide to camp here for the night. This place is called Sangam beach.

Sangam beach
Sunset at sangam beach

After deciding our camping location, some of us relax our tired bodies by jumping into the sea. While we are at it, the sun goes down and we get a clear picture of the sunset. We pitch up the 2 men tent and lay the mats around it and light the candles. When we start our candle light dinner, a villager, attracted by our candles comes across to investigate. After assuring us of our safety in his village, he disappears. While Veena and Sharada enter the tent, rest of us lie down on the mats and wrap ourselves with bedsheets. I sleep soundly till 12 in the night, when I wake up due to numbing feeling in my hands. Now in addition to our bedsheets, Ananth and Saro had thoughtfully pulled over a plastic sheet over us. Next I am woken up only by the alarm ringing at 5AM. Surprisingly there has been no dew through the night.

The village is still asleep; we approach a well to replenish our water sources. Fortunately villagers have left a tumbler outside which we use to draw water from the well. At around 6AM, we get going on our 2nd day’s trek. The continuous beach stretch ahead of us is around 7-8km and we cross Gude Angadi, Holanagadde and Kadle beaches on the way. We spot a tiny tortoise, probably making its first attempt towards the sea and a star fish. At around 7.30AM, we have reached the other end of the continuous beach stretch. Next we have to cross a hill. We finish our breakfast on this hill. On the other side of the hill is a beautiful semicircular beach which could serve as an ideal camping place.

The semicircular beach
The semicircular beach

After crossing this beach, we get past another hill and reach Honnali village. This is fairly big Muslim village. It looks like the entire village has lined up on the road adjacent to the beach to have a look at us. We feel like being part of some procession. When we ask for directions from a villager, he clearly mentions that we get a stretch of backwaters ahead of this village where there will be no boat service. His advice for us is to take a bus at Honnali to Kumta and from there enter the village again. But we are not keen on entering Kumta now and decide to take a chance. To cross Honnali on the beach, we have to cross another hill, which is quite rocky. We reach the top of this hill at around 9.30AM. There are two dilapidated structures here which look like abandoned houses or watch towers. After spending some photographic moments here, we move downhill and join the sea, this time a stretch of backwaters.

A view of Sea
A view of sea

We meet another villager who advises us to enter the village and from there to Kumta as it is not possible to cross the backwaters. Though we can see some boats lined up on the other side, nobody is ready to ferry us. After our continuous waving, a small boat approaches. This boat is too small even for 2 people, informs the fisherman. For some reason, the fishermen are reluctant to untie their boats and help us cross this tiny stretch of backwaters, even though it means earning some easy money. While we almost decide to enter Kumta without other options, a fisherman from the other side offers to ferry us for Rs 200/- We gladly accept. It is 10.15AM when we reach the other side.

The sea gulls and Dhareshwar hills in the background
Dhareshwar

On the other side of the backwaters is a straight stretch of beach of around 4-5km, which ends in the hills of Dhareshwar. After half an hour’s walk we reach a beach which looks ideal for a dip. We spend around 30min relaxing in the sea. On this stretch of the beach we encounter a herd of seagulls numbering thousands. After an hour’s non stop walk, we reach Dhareshwar, by which time we are very tired as the sun is directly on us. It is believed that the Ravana’s efforts in disengaging the Shiva’s Atmalinga dropped by Lord Ganesha at Gokarna led to some coverings of the Linga to drop off to nearby places. One such place is Dhareshwar, which now has a Shiva temple. We enter Dhareshwar village and replenish our water sources. Ananth and Venu decide that it is enough of trekking for them. They would continue rest of the distance till Honnavar on road. We transfer most of our luggage to Ananth and Venu and move ahead on the beach.

Ramanagindi beach
Ramanagindi beach

From Dhareshwar, we cross another village before joining the sea. At around 1.30PM, we reach the Ramanagindi beach, where we enter a house to finish our lunch. The inmates of the house kindly offer us refreshingly cold drinking water. Sharada offers the remaining food to the cows, thus we finish all our food stock for the trek. We are on beach again at 2PM. Next we cross yet another hill. Now we have reached a continuous 5-6km stretch of beach which would terminate in a village called Karki. Near this village there is a small island which is visible from a far off distance.

Island near Karki village
Island near karki

It takes us 1hour 30min to cover this beach stretch. We cross Tarebagilu beach just before reaching Karki. It is around 3.45PM when we reach near the island and from here we have to leave the sea and enter the land to reach the Karki village. We walk at least 2km in the village before touching the main road from where we get transportation to Honnavar. We reach Honnavar at 5PM and join Ananth and Venu in Hotel Sanman.


Beach Trek: Ankola to Gokarna

ನವೆಂಬರ್ 27, 2005

It was end of September and the rain had shown temporary respite in Karnataka. We were getting ready for our first trek of the season. Our first choice was Narashimha Parvata near Agumbe, but Raghavendra Pai (the local contact) advises against it as Agumbe forests have become official naxal area now. Naxals might leave us alone, but Police are sure to trouble us, informs Mr. Pai. I had been thinking of doing a beach trek for a long time. Though there was a fear of rain, we agreed on doing this beach trek from Ankola to Gokarna. Ankola and Gokarna are two coastal towns in Uttara kannada district of Karnataka. This trek involves walking along the coastline of Arabian sea crossing many hillocks and fishing villages on the way. My colleague Sharada had done this trek from whom I get all the necessary details.

ankola1

After last minute dropouts, nine of us were ready for the trek. The group has many first timers, but this easy trek is an ideal beginners trek. Not much climbing is involved but it is a long walk on the sea shore in humid conditions. Nithin has convinced his wife Shantala to join the trek. Ashwin and his wife Aparna have joined enthusiastically along with their cousin Chinmayee. Nithin has invited 3 of his colleagues Sandeep, Pujar and Raghavendra also. We board the Sugama bus to Ankola. Nithin and Shantala barely manage to board the bus after spending almost 2.5 hours in Friday evening traffic.

ankola2

The bus reaches Ankola at 7AM on Saturday. Rain had just stopped here after pouring continuously for last 9 days. Most of us complete the morning ablutions in the KSRTC bus stand toilet; while our ladies group conveniently finds a church for this purpose. Church people welcomed us with excitement, but were a bit disappointed after knowing that we had just come to use their toilet facilities.

ankola3

The actual trek starts from a coastal village called Belikeri which is about 30min bus travel from Ankola. We are finally ready to hit the trail; I mean the sand, at 10.30AM. The humidity and heat of the sea level is a bit too much for us – the people who live at 900m hill station of Bangalore. There is an excitement as we come in contact with the sea for the first time. We will be with this sea for the next two days. The sea in this region appears very calm. Waves are hardly to be seen and water is not that clear, mainly due to the port activities in Belikeri. Its 11.45AM when we reach the first fishing village called Deshina Halli. It is a small village with a few thatched huts amidst coconut trees. Many manual boats have been lined up on the coast. We need to cross a small green hill next as the coast line is not accessible. It is too dangerous to follow the sea along the actual coast line here.

ankola4

We quickly join the sea after a short stint on the hills. Next important village is Gabth Halli. Here a river stream called Gabth Keeni joins the sea. Usually this will be knee deep, but today it is flowing full due to rains. We had to book a boat to cross this small stretch of fresh water. At around 1.45PM we reach another village Shedikuli, where we break for lunch in the shade of coconut gardens. Fresh water for drinking is obtained from the village. Chapattis are quickly consumed with MTR side dish.

ankola5

At 3.45PM we are on the banks of the stream Nadibagh which has to crossed. The actual point of river joining the sea is just about 25m, but appears too deep to cross there; moreover there is strong current also. We find a circuitous route of more than 100m where the water is at maximum waist deep. After observing our inexperience in crossing the river, a villager shows us the way through the water. We cross many tiny fishing villages and reach the regions biggest

village called Belambar at 4PM. Our plan was to reach the next village called Manjugoni on the same day, which involves going past a huge hill. We get different views about the time required to cross the hill. While one villager says it takes just about an hour, another manages to convince us that it will take at least 3 hours. We decide to camp in Belambar for the night. There was a Government School amidst beautiful green surroundings which looks like an ideal place to spend the night. After our failed attempt to get the school doors opened, we decide to use the school verandah as camping ground.

ankola6

An hour is spent in the sea and we take turns to clean ourselves in a tiny fresh water stream. It has become dark and its dinner time. We start the dinner with a hot vegetable soup and its again Chapattis and MTR side dish for the main course. Though we aren’t equipped for the campfire, Nithin lights up the night with his sweet songs. Others also chip in. Sometime in the midnight it pours, but we are protected by the school roof. Everybody gets a sound sleep except Raghavendra, who is woken up frequently by cats and bats.

ankola7

We get up at 5AM on Sunday and take more than an hour to get everybody going. We take around 2 hours to cross the hill through a well defined path in the hill which connects Belambar and Manjugoni. To proceed further from Manjugoni, we have to cross a big river called Gangavali. Fisher men offer their boat services to cross the river. This side of sea appears more beautiful and rough and water is clearer. We break for a tea in a village house. The bore well water here invited us to enjoy a fresh water bath. From here its around an hours walk to Gokarna beach. We reach Gokarna at before afternoon.

ankola8

Gokarna is a temple town famous for the temple having Lord Shiva’s Atmalinga. This place is very sacred to Hindus. Many come here for performing death rituals of the departed ones. Today Gokarna temple has been commercialized beyond belief with priests donning the role of touts. They use all the skills in the book to attract people to get some Pooja done. Many priest-turned beggars harass the visitors. While some of decided to rest in the temple premises, others visited the Om beach. Thus we had an evening’s time to spend in Gokarna. One can continue the beach trek further down towards, Honnavar, Murdeshwar and may be all the way down till Udupi and Mangalore. May be it would at least take another 4 attempts to cover this entire distance