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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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