Trek to Devkara falls

October 2, 2015

Devkara is a small village present in the border area of Yellapura and Karwar. Now it is mostly an abandoned village thanks to relocation after Kadra and Kodasalli dam projects.  But this village hides a natural treasure, a spectacular waterfalls which the locals call Devkara Vajra. Devkara stream falling from approximately 200-300m height near Devkara village forms this waterfalls. Devkara stream  eventually joins the Kali river. This falls can be approached from the Kadra side as well as from Yellapura side. Here is my story of multiple attempts to reach this waterfalls from Yellapura side.

1st attempt

In May 2014, my brother-in-law and I rode a bike from Sonda, Sirsi, traveled to Yellapura and then to ಈರಾಪುರ village. We hardly had any information about the falls then and unfortunately we couldn’t reach anywhere near the waterfalls. All we could get was this distant view of the Kodasalli back waters.

Kodasalli backwaters

Kodasalli backwaters

However we did establish a local contact who agreed to take us to the falls next time.

2nd attempt

I was at Sonda, Sirsi in the first week of Oct 2014 and took that opportunity to revisit Devkara falls. This time we reached the local contact’s place at  ಈರಾಪುರ village and started trekking in the forest route at 10AM. Along with the guide, our local contact was accompanying us with his school going son. The guide took us on a circuitous route and we first reached very close to Kodasalli reservoir at 11.30AM.

Kodasalli dam

Kodasalli dam

We were walking on a mountain range overlooking a valley in which Kali river was flowing. On the opposite side of the river was another range where the waterfalls was present. After walking through the forest for an hour, we finally emerged out on top of the mountain range at 12.30PM. This place was called ಹಬ್ಬು ಕೋಟೆ/ಕಟ್ಟೆ and it provided good view of the distant waterfalls. From that far off distance the falls looked so big and we wondered how gigantic it would it appear from the base. Unfortunately we hadn’t planned for a day long trek and we were just carrying a few raw cucumbers and butter milk which we completely finished at ಹಬ್ಬು ಕೋಟೆ.

Distant view of Devkara falls

Distant view of Devkara falls

Since reaching the base of the falls from here was out of question, our guide offered us to take us around a bit and show us a few places of interest. Thus we proceeded ahead on the same mountain range and reached a place called ದೇವಿಮನೆ. This is some sacred place in the hills where the villagers would come and offer prayers once in a year in November. From this place we did venture ahead a bit to get a clear view of Kadra reservoir. Instead of returning back via the same route, our guide suggested that we could do a full circle by getting down to Devkara village and then climb up ಬೆಂಡೆಘಟ್ಟ to reach back ಈರಾಪುರ village. We didn’t really know how much time and effort that would take, but just agreed.

After a steep descent we were at Devkara village at 3PM. The village is mostly deserted with a few houses still remaining. There is a Ramalingeshwara temple in the village where Pooja is done once a week. A priest comes from a far off distance every Monday for this purpose.

Devkara village

Devkara village

Ramalingeshwara temple, Devkara

Ramalingeshwara temple, Devkara

We were now walking beside the Kali river. A trail exists from Devakara till ಬೆಂಡೆಘಟ್ಟ, but were dead tired since we hardly had any solid food since morning. The journey seemed endless and we finally reached the foothills of ಬೆಂಡೆಘಟ್ಟ at 4.15PM. The climb up is abruptly steep and it took quite a bit of effort and time to reach the top at around 5.30PM. Our enterprising guide could find some tender coconuts in an abandoned house and that came as a big relief to us. But the relief was short lived as it started raining. By the time we reached our local contact’s house, we were completely drenched. We consumed the food that we we had planned to have for lunch here and started back on bike towards Sonda at around 6.30PM. Next 60km drive through the winding forest roads was mostly treacherous with non-stop hard rain. Our adventure finally ended when we reached home at 9PM.

3rd attempt

Though we had seen the waterfalls, that was hardly satisfying since we hadn’t been able to reach the base of the falls. So last week we made another attempt to reach the falls. This time I took Naren with me to my in-laws place. My brother-in-law found a person from Devkara village itself who had relocated to Sonda. He was ready to guide us and we thought our 3rd attempt should be a success since the guide was born and brought up in Devkara village and he should be able to guide us to the base of the falls.

4 of us started in 2 bikes at 8AM from Sonda and reached ಈರಾಪುರ village at 10AM. Thanks to two wheelers, we were able to cover some trail distance too on bike. At 10.30AM we were at the starting point of ಬೆಂಡೆಘಟ್ಟ (470m) from where we had to descend. At 11AM we reached 130m and touched a flowing stream locally called  ಈರಾಪುರ stream which eventually becomes Kali river.  We walked towards Devkara village alongside the stream and at one point, the falls becomes visible towards our left.

At 11.45AM, we reached 70m and crossed the stream which was utmost knee deep. Next we had to cross another stream that flows from Devkara falls and joins the stream that we just crossed. This stream was flowing with good speed and we had to find a suitable place to crossover. Thanks to our guide, we did find a reasonably safe place to cross the stream where the water was thigh deep at places. We were able to cross it with reasonable ease using sticks for support. We were now at the periphery of Devkara village and were walking along a few abandoned houses and paddy fields.

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Next it was some hide and seek with the waterfalls as it is located in such a place covered with dense forest towards its approach that it is not visible at every point on the approach path. There was no well defined path to the falls, but we had to make one by clearing the forest growth and following the general direction of the waterfalls.

Devkara falls

Devkara falls

At 1PM we reached a rocky clearance from where the falls was visible fairly clearly. Based on our last year’s experience, we weren’t taking chances with food and hence were carrying sufficient amount of Pulao, home grown cucumbers, butter milk and ಚಕ್ಕುಲಿ. We finished lunch on these rocks. We had still not reached the exact base of the falls and hence ventured into the forests a bit more to check if better view of the falls could be had. At 2PM we reached another rocky clearance from where we had a decent view of the falls. We decided to end the quest here since the path ahead to the ultimate base of the falls was difficult and it was already well past midday.

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On the way back, it took two hours for us to reach ಬೆಂಡೆಘಟ್ಟ base and after an hour we were back at ಈರಾಪುರ village. Thus on the third attempt, we finally had satisfying views of Devkara falls! It was not just about the falls, but this also turned out to be good trek worth remembering after my previous trek in the same area.

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Trek from Jenukallu Gudda to Shivaganga falls

April 13, 2014

Any day I would prefer bone-chilling cold or even rain to scorching sun during my treks. Apart from Ombattu Gudda trek and beach treks, I haven’t done treks post December in any trek season. So I was a bit weary when Pradeep Hegde invited me to join his group which was attempting to trek from Magod Falls to Shivaganga Falls during 1st weekend of April. I have visited both of these falls but the challenge in this trek was to follow and walk beside the river between these two falls. But the invitation was hard to resist as I would be venturing into Karnataka Western Ghats region in Uttara Kannada District for the first time. Moreover, I was just a participant in this trek as opposed to being an organizer in most of my treks which sometimes is easy.

Though I had booked the bus ticket till Yellapura, I got down at Sonda for a quick visit to my in-laws place, had a good breakfast and got myself dropped at Magod falls (around 35km from Sonda) in bike by my brother-in-law. While I waited at Magod for rest of the group to arrive, Pradeep asked to me instead come over to Jenukallu Gudda, a view point overlooking a valley and which is around 4km from Magod. Apparently a local had advised Pradeep to attempt the initial descent from Jenukallu Gudda since descending down the Magod falls will be difficult and will need ropes. Though our group was equipped with ropes, we decided to start with an easy descent. The group had 12 members: Pradeep, his neighbor Satheesh, Avinash, Venkataraghavan, Vinayak, Nagarjun, Bharath, Ravi, Naveen, Sriharsha, Abhishek and I. The original plan was to reach Bedti river at Magod, follow it downstream till it joins Shalmala River and continue following Shalmala river upstream until it reaches Shivaganga falls.

View from Jenukallu Gudda

View from Jenukallu Gudda

We started the descent from Jenukallu Gudda (470m) at 10.45AM. The descent was mostly steep with dry leaves on the forest floor making the descent a bit more challenging.  We lost altitude quickly and hit a jeep tack (80m) at 11.30AM. We took right deviation into the jeep track and started walking with the hope that we will reach the confluence of Bedti and Shalmala rivers along the way. After a few hundred meters into the track we could see a dried up river bed towards our left and we continued the walk for an hour or so under direct sun before reaching a Siddimane (A house belonging to Siddi tribe) at a village called Kelase. To our surprise, we learnt from Siddis that we are way ahead of the confluence point and are in fact walking in the opposite direction! At Siddimane, we took a break to prepare lemon juice since fresh water was available here.

Dried up river bed near Kelase village

Dried up river bed near Kelase village

At around 1.15PM, we reversed our direction, continued to make progress on the jeep track and reached another Siddimane at 2PM. We had a good lunch that included “Avalakki oggarane” from Pradeep’s house and “Masala Majjige” (butter milk) mixed with lemon grass. Post lunch, a Siddi boy briefly accompanied us till the river and after which we were on our own walking upstream along Shalmala river (after the confluence with Bedti) which had a good amount of water in it considering that it was summer. We were now on the right bank of the river and the path mostly consisted of boulders. The heat was a bit too much for me and the walk was made further difficult by the blisters I had all over the feet.

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We went past a few Siddis who were fishing and finally reached the confluence (125m) of Bedti and Shalmala at 4.45PM. While the confluence point had a bit of depth and hence calm waters, the Shalmala side had gushing water and was rocky.

The confluence of Bedti and Shalmala rivers

The confluence of Bedti and Shalmala rivers

Many of us spent some time cooling ourselves in Shalmala while most of the group had an extended river time at the confluence point. Swimming and breath-holding skills were at display: while Satheesh excelled in swimming and managed to crossover to the other bank, Vinayak could hold breath under water for more than 2min!

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Our camping site was on the river bed at the confluence point which already had arrangements for stove (made of stones), all we needed was to get some dry wood which was available in plenty. Boiled rice Ganji with pickle, curd and butter milk was on the menu. Ganji was so very filling and was a bit unusual for me since we usually stick to ready-to-eat stuff to keep the logistics simple in our treks. The night was cloudy and warm and sleeping inside the sleeping bag wasn’t an option for many.  There was even a light drizzle past midnight.

On Sunday morning, we got up fairly early and wanted to end the trek before noon to avoid the harsh summer sun. The combination of pickle and freshly obtained honey (given to us in the morning by Siddis from their night’s catch) gave a distinct flavour to yesterday’s Ganji and I could see Ganji was more in demand than the freshly prepared maggi noodles! We started upstream alongside Shalmala river at 8AM after a round of lemon tea with honey.

Shalmala river side was very rocky and we were mostly walking over huge boulders. We had to cross over to the opposite bank multiple times whenever forward progress on one bank was difficult or impossible. With the amount of water in the river in April, we mostly could negotiate the river without much difficulty and I am sure the challenges on this trail will be totally different if the water level was high. But we were facing a different challenge and that was the dry heat. The rate at which I was loosing water via sweat seemed to be more than the intake rate. Given that we were walking beside a river, there was never shortage of water fortunately.

River Shalmala

River Shalmala

At 10.30AM when I was feeling a bit down, we had a lemon juice break. I must have taken close to a litre and it really helped to get my energy levels back. Next we climbed over to a small hill only to realize that it was more difficult than a small jump over the rock that we were planning to originally avoid. Thus we had to backtrack and make progress over the boulders itself. The quest for the end (Shivaganga falls) continued and we kept making progress in the hot sun. I even reached a stage where I felt just drinking loads of water wasn’t helping me and had to resort to Glucose which Pradeep was carrying. I can’t remember when I had taken Glucose on a trek, must have been in the last decade, but such was the harshness of this trek for me.

Shivaganga falls

Shivaganga falls

Finally we reached the base of Shivaganga falls (270m) at 1PM where we consumed chapattis for lunch with Chatni pudi, jam and honey. Next it was a steep climb to reach the view point of the waterfalls (465m) from where we had hired a jeep. Thus ended one of the most difficult treks I have done in recent times. Though the trail distance and the terrain was manageable, the summer sun brought out a whole new challenge to the trek. I have done treks earlier in other extreme conditions like winter trek at -20°C in thigh deep snow, altitudes upwards of 5000m etc, but this summer trek in seemingly easy terrain turned to be a trek to remember as far as endurance is concerned.

Map of the route we took is here, courtesy Vinayak.


Burude and Wate Halla water falls

December 7, 2012

During my previous visits to my in-laws place in Sonda, Sirsi I have visited various waterfalls. While I described Mattighatta falls here and Benne Hole falls here, the rest of the waterfalls in the Sirsi-Yellapura region are covered here. When it looked like I have visited most of the waterfalls in the region, I came across Burude falls which is located in Siddapura taluk of Uttara Kannada district. As usual, my brother-in-law and I started quite early  on a Sunday morning with the intention of seeing Burude falls as well as Wate Halla falls which I had unsuccessfully attempted a few years back. We were doing this in November which is usually a good month to visit these remote waterfalls. Some of these waterfalls are so remote that two wheeler is the best mode of transportation to reach them.

Burude or iLimane Falls

We first reached Siddapura from Sonda, Sirsi and continued on Siddapura-Kumta road for around 20km reach a place called Kyadgi. Just after Kyadgi, one can see a sign board instructing us to take a right deviation for Burude falls. From here it’s around 5km to the falls. Somewhere midway on this road, we had to cross a stream on bike and continue on road on the other side. Then we cross a small cluster of houses name iLimane due to which this falls is also referred to as iLimane waterfalls. One can drive up to the point where tourism department has built an open shelter for tourists. After descending down 20 steeply built concrete steps, we had to do some serious descent to reach the base of the waterfalls. The waterfalls is absolutely not visible from the shelter and steep descent makes this falls almost unapproachable for family kind of tourists.

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Burude falls – top two sections

The river flows down in 5 steps here, each forming a nice waterfall. Only first three of them are visible and one could reach the top of the 4th one but not the base. We did make some attempt to reach the base of the 4th waterfall, but the vegetation was simply too thick and we had to retreat.

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At the top of Burude falls

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2nd section of Burude falls

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The stream flows down to form more falls after this…

There was enough water in the stream even in November to make the visit worthwhile. It will be very difficult to visit these falls in rainy season due to leeches. The ideal season to visit is between September and November.

Wate Halla Falls

I had attempted this waterfalls in September 2009 with my wife and other relatives. While we were descending to reach the falls, my wife and I lost the guide and others in the front and were forced to come back. There were so many leeches that it was impossible to stand there a second without a leech getting on to us! This time I was hoping that it would be more easier since it was November.

Wate halla falls

2nd and 3rd sections of Wate halla falls

This falls is approachable from Nikunda on Sirsi-Kumta road. At Nilkunda, take a right deviation into Nilkunda-Devimane road. After a kilometer from here, a stream cuts the road, and after the stream the road forks. The right hand fork is easy to miss, but this is the road that will lead to Wate Halla falls. The stream can be crossed on bike most of the seasons except during the rainy season. After a kilometer’s walk from here, one can see a path descending down into the valley which will take us to the Wate Halla falls. We couldn’t see any other possible routes down the valley anywhere nearby except this one.

1st section of Wate halla falls

1st section of Wate halla falls

A steep descent of 100m will take us to the base of Wate Halla Falls. The stream flows down in 3 steps here forming 3 waterfalls. Wate in Kannada means a variety of bamboo and Halla means valley. The waterfalls thus gets its name due to the abundant presence of this variety of bamboo in the valley.

Visit to Wate Halla falls can be combined with the Unchalli falls which is quite nearby. Again its impossible to reach the base of this falls in rainy season and mostly difficult until September.

For those interested in temples, its worth a quick visit to this temple in Nilkunda.

An old temple in Nilkunda

An old temple in Nilkunda


Beach Trek: Bhatkal to Kundapura

December 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

February 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.