Beach trek: Honnavar to Bhatkal

ಜನವರಿ 28, 2007

It was second weekend of January and we were ready to continue our trek along the coastline of Karnataka. After having the done the Ankola-Gokarna-Honnavar stretch, this time the plan was to continue from Honnavar and reach Bhatkal via Murudeshwar. Not much planning and preparations were needed for this trek as we had decided for a night halt at Murudeshwar, which is a popular tourist center.

The group started with Naren and me, but quickly we were joined by Veena, Ananth, Prasanna and Kulki. Going out of Bangalore on long weekends is turning out to be real tough these days with all kinds of transportation running full. Fortunately we could reserve our return tickets from Bhatkal, thanks to Naren’s contacts in Bhatkal.
Our bus started 1 hour late due to heavy traffic around Majestic. Accordingly we reached Honnavar an hour late at 8.45AM. Honnavar surroundings had become familiar to us, thanks to our last beach trek. Without wasting much time, we quickly checked into Hotel Sanman to finish our morning ablutions. The breakfast at Kamat Hotel was followed by sweet tender coconut. We even packed lunch from Kamat.
At the start, Kasargod beach(L2R: Veena,Bharata,Naren,Prasanna,Kulki,Ananth)
Trek start
We had ended our last trek at a village called Karki near Honnavar. River Sharavati joins the Arabian sea after Karki village. Hence we wanted to start at a point after this river mouth. Autos were hired to reach a village/beach called Kasarkod, which is right after the long bridge across Sharavati. It was 11AM by the time we touched the Kasarkod beach. We were expecting mild temperatures in January, but that was not to be, the thermometer was already showing 30. We could see an island to the right which we had used as landmark to reach Karki last time. Now we had to walk towards left away from that island.

The initial stretch from Kasarkod to Apsarakonda(As seen from Apsarakonda)
Initial trail

The initial trail is a 5km continuous beach stretch which ends in a hill near Apasarakonda village. We covered this uneventful stretch in about an hour. A fisherman advised us not to cross the hill from the rocky beach end, but rather climb up the hill. We took his word and did try to follow the trail, but had to retreat as we could no longer trace the trail after sometime. Returning back to the beach, we decided to take the rocky path to cross the hill. Though walking on rocks right adjacent to the sea was fun, the end was never in sight. We walked almost an hour and a half on the rocks. Rocks were literally thorny at many places. At many places, crossing the sharp edged rocks needed lots of attention.

Rocky path
Rocky path

At around 1.45PM, there was some respite from the rocks when we entered a tiny (around 10m long) beach stretch. We needed this to literally cool off our heels.
Another view of rocks
Rocks2
Crossing the next rocky stretch turned out to be a bit tricky. When it appeared that we can’t cross this without taking some amount of risk, we abandoned the idea and tried to cross over the hill by climbing it. But when we quickly realized that climbing is not feasible, we turned back and reached the tiny beach stretch again. We had two options, either to retrace our steps back until Apsarakonda and enter the village there or try to climb up through the thick vegetation. We choose the latter and Naren led us from the front by clearingall the vegetation and making a path for us to follow. Though it started well, he could do that for around 30min before he got exhausted and I took over. The vegetation was very dense and it was getting difficult to force our way up thro’ such dense bushes. I could manage for another 5min and we were still halfway from the top of the hill. It was 2PM in the afternoon and with sun beating down hard, Naren and I lost all of our energies and had to resort to glucose supplement. That’s when Naren and I decided to head downwards. Though others following us wanted to try a bit more, we were absolutely in no condition to do any further climb.

We failed to get past this hill
last hill

We took half an hour to descend and reach the tiny beach stretch. What was a tiny beach stretch 2 hours back wasn’t there anymore as tide had changed and the sea had encroached further till the rocks. Without an inch of shade anywhere, some of us had to finish the packed lunch in the open sun. At around 3PM we started back and reached the Apsarakonda beach by 4PM and spent around 30min in the beach. Though the current was strong, we had some nice relaxing time. We needed this after such a tiresome day at work. There is a freshwater source at Apasarakonda. By walking beside it, we reached a temple affiliated to Shringeri Sharada Mutt. There is ample space in the temple for night stay and food is also available on request here. But since they didn’t have bedding arrangements with them and neither we were carrying any; we couldn’t make use of this excellent opportunity to spend the night in that serene atmosphere.

Fields and Sea beyond as seen from Apsarakonda
Fields and sea

We did a kilometer of walk thro’ the lanes of Apsarakonda village before reaching NH17 at 6.30PM and boarded a tempo to Murudeshwar. If we had followed the trail which goes over the hills as mentioned by the fisherman at Apsarakonda beach, we should have ended up in Manki village which is around 4km from Apsarakonda village by road. One should ideally start this beach trek from Manki and not at Honnavar/Kasarkod. From Manki it is around 12km to Murudeshwar, and from what we heard from villagers, is free of any major rocky stretches. So ideally one should start from Manki in this stretch instead of Kasarkod like what we did. It was 7PM when we reached Murudeshwar.

Shiva at Murudeshwara
Shiva at murudeshwara

Most hotel rooms in Murudeshwar are exorbitantly expensive and we found one hotel charging as much as Rs 1200/- for a double room! We finally managed to find a decent looking midrange hotel. Most of us didn’t have energy to go through the routine of wash and bath; dinner was foremost in our minds. After a quick visit to the Shiva statue we settled for the night in Murudeshwar.

Next day started early with breakfast and a visit to the temple. There is an ancient Shiva temple here. We started the 2nd day’s trek at around 9AM. The route from Murudeshwar to Bhatkal is a continuous beach stretch of around 12km. At around 2km from Murudeshwar is Kaikini village and at around 4km is the Bengre village. At 11AM we reached Alavekodi village which is around 8km from Murudeshwar. At Alavekodi, we left the beach and entered the village. We entered a house to replenish our water sources. The curious inmates of the house were more than willing to be our hosts. We had entered the village to visit the Durgaparameshwari temple. The temple is big and beautiful. The temple is on the banks of Venkatappa river where the river joins the sea. We had to use the boat service to reach the other side and join the beach again. From here we walked for around an hour to reach Herthar village where we decided to end the trek. We had to walk around half a km before boarding an Auto to Bhatkal. We had reached Bhatkal at 1.30PM.

Walking past Kerekund (Kakekunda as per locals)
Kerekund
At Bhatkal we had lunch in Vaibhav hotel which is probably the only decent vegetarian hotel there. We hired a room in Vaibhav lodge to spend the evening. While Kulki and Prasanna returned back to Honnavar from where they had return tickets to Bangalore, rest of us decided to check out the Bhatkal lighthouse. We had to hire an Auto to reach the lighthouse. We could spot police vans stationed at many junctions on the way to lighthouse. We had reached Bhatkal on a day after the local protests against a suspected terrorist arrest. Fortunately the city remained peaceful until we were there.
The lighthouse is situated on an elevated hill. There is a small temple adjacent to the lighthouse. A good view of the sea and surrounding areas can be obtained from the top of the lighthouse. We could see the Hog island here. The next stretch of beach towards Kundapur is also visible clearly and we even started making plans about how to approach our next beach trek. We witnessed the sunset from near the lighthouse. After an unexpected dinner at Naren’s friend’s house in Bhatkal, we boarded the night bus back to Bangalore.

Sunset as seen from Bhatkal lighthouse
Sunset

My Previous beach treks:

Ankola to Gokarna
Gokarna to Honnavar


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