I deleted my Picasa album and hence I am removing the broken images link.
So it was decided. We will leave on Thursday evening, (March 1st), will cross Honnavar and will reach Gokarna by bus. And then will trek all the way back to Honnavar from 2nd to 4th march.
And after confirming Manju, that I am in for the trip, I did a bit of Googling on Gokarna and found the following facts :
Ref-1: “Gokarna is situated on the west coast on India, south of Goa. Go-karna literally means “cow’s ear” in Hindi and Sanskrit. This name is believed to have been derived from mythological legend, in which Lord Shiva emerges from an ear of a cow. This village is formed in between two rivers, which flow together and form a landmass shaped like a cow’s ear.
This place is famous for religious Hindu rituals, as well as it’s wonderful (and not so secluded anymore) beaches. These beaches are separated by cliffs”
Ref-2″ Gokarna situated in coastal Karnataka is 453 kms from Bangalore and about 55 kms from Karwar, the District headquarters. It is described as a Shaiva Centre, as important as Kashi and Rameshwar. History has it that the Atmalinga brought by Ravana got struck here and his efforts to extricate it resulted in his throwing the coverings of the Linga to Dhareshwar, Gunavanteshwara, Murdeshwar and Shejjeshwar temples (the last places is very near Karwar).
The Mahabaleshwara is one of the major temples here. The deity here is two-armed, standing, and atleast 1500 years’ old. The Bhadrakali and Venkataramana temples, Kotiteertha tank etc., are other holy places here. Gokarna is also famous for its beautiful virgin beaches and breathtaking landscape”
Route and area map:
So with all the references, printouts (oh software buggers) of the area/route we all gathered at Majestic KSRTC bus stop before the departure. We were all together 10 of us, and out of them, I knew only Manju before hand. But then we were all guys and guys normally have common interests and talks. So it was not at all difficult to know each other.
I have this habit of getting sound sleep in bus/trains and so I slept the moment bus started from majestic and got up only in Gokarna ( with few breaks in between)
At Gokarna, we book two rooms in a near by hotel, to freshen up. Hotel owner, asked us, where you have to go, from here. We said, Honnavar. He said, you can take a bus back to Honnavar. (Wise advice??). No sir, we want to walk all the way to Honnavar. But why walk back, when you have got buses available? He was confused. We also didn’t spent much time, in clearing the doubts of that old man.
So it was all set. We left the hotel, at around 10 AM, and reached the market area. Had our light breakfast. And here we go. We left for Gokarna beach.
Before reaching the beach, we stopped at Mahabaleshwara temple. Some of us performed the Pooja at the temple, pleased the priest (and hopefully the Almighty) . We left the temple and went to the Gokarna beach crossing the market. And yes, we didn’t even thought once to buy any energetic “grass” from the market on our way.
We had to climb up the hill, at the end of Gokarna beach to reach the Kudle beach. But before we start climbing, how can I leave a chance to catch the starting point in the camera. 😉
We crossed the hill to reach Kudle beach. Crossing the hill was not as easy as typing “we crossed the hill”. It was the first hill on our way, and since we started late (around 11), sun was already drenching us fast. But as the couplet goes “Abhi ishq ke imtehaaan aur bhee hai…” we didn’t care for our initial fatigue. We tried to soothe ourself by the picturesque beauty all around. Besides, the feeling that this is just the first hour of our three day long trek, kept us going.
We kept on walking, and never felt like stopping at Kudle beach. We crossed one more hillock and reached the top of “OM” beach. We took rest in the shade (apparently an auto stand also exist there, for those who directly come to Om beach via road)
All of us had, a glass of “neembu pani” and some of us had the pleasure to have Mumbai’s famous Bhel in this remote place of Karnataka. (Effect of Globalization, I must say!! ).
We came down to Om beach, had a small break again, from walking to enjoy the water just at the begining of the beach, and then started again. Om beach, due to its accessibility from road, is populated mostly by Desi junta. We took out the football we were carrying and played it all along the beach, while walking. It was fun, and at the same time, it refreshed us.
I had read that Om beach gets its name from its OM shape, which is best visible from its adjoining hills.
We climbed another hill at the end of Om beach. Half way, on the hill we found a foreigner (real firang kinda) with his half head shaven, half moustache shaven, and wearing a half cut langoat (that’s what I call that inner wear in Hindi). He tried to guide us and was pointing towards some other way, but then suddenly said, oh but you guys are young and can go from this side as well. And then he went back again, to his group of girls. I was like, hello, first get your structure correct, you “half-shaven” man and then think of guiding us.
We kept on moving, and the view from the mountain top, continues to amaze us. We reached the half moon beach. A small, but yet another times, a picturesque beach.
We stopped at the first shack, just after getting down from the hill. We ordered for some cold-drinks, and some of ordered for beer, which they wanted to carry for the evening. And we were shocked to get the reply “Can not sell beer to the Indians” from shack owner/caretaker. And why the hell is that? Police do not want us to sell beer to Indians, was another reply. We concluded that, he was just making excuses, so that he can sell those beers to firangs, at a much higher rate. We decided to move on, after letting the shack owner know, that we are gonna take the matter with the police itself. While crossing the halfmoon beach, we saw, a Sadhu baba, helping a firang couple attain Nirvana, and ‘eternal‘ peace by providing them, few puffs of Grass/Weed.
We crossed the hilly terrain, after the half moon beach, to reach the Paradise beach. We enquired, the first shack after the hilly terrain, about the beer. We just wanted to confirm if Police have really prevented selling of beer to Indians? Crap !! We got the beer and that too at the market rate. We bought the beer, and moved towards the beach area.
We walked till the end of beach, and decided to have our lunch there, under the shadow of a rock. The walk on the paradise beach can be best for many, as on the beach, one can witness, a number of topless beauties. For those who are not straight, don’t feel disappointed. You have a number of nude firangi guys, lying and reading books, as if they have come to the beach, to prepare for their terminal exams. But none of these scenes distracted us, from our journey. We finished our lunch and climbed yet another hill, from the tougher side (as that was nearer to the place from where we had our lunch). We reached the top, to find a villager, a nice gentleman, by the name Mahesh. He said, its better to take a ferry from here itself, as there is a water way in between.
We came down again, to the paradise beach, as if the beach was calling us again 🙂
Each of us had a bottle of Maaza and waited for the ferry. Here I must tell you that, Paradise beach is the last beach in the stretch, where one can find, organized shacks. So make sure, you have got all your eatables and drinking stuff ready in plenty. We waited for the ferry, the ferry which was nothing more than a motorized boat. We left Paradise beach, and within 100 meters, the boat turned, as if, it was going to drown us all in the Arabian sea. We realised in the first minute itself, how the ‘ferry’ ride is gonna be. Everyone prayed to their respective GOD. We shouted, we kept quite, we thought of “not available” life jackets. With each wave, our reactions changed. Finally we reached the shore, a hill before the Barka beach. Mahesh, the ‘ferry’ man sent the ferry back, and took us to Barka beach.
We reached Barka beach and the very first sight of beach spellbinding. A small beach (around 60 m long), sandwiched between two hills, and in-totality available ONLY for we 10 guys. Mahesh showed us the shack which was made by the villagers, and said, we can use that for the night. He also told us, that for mobile network, since the beach is in between two hills, we have to climb up the hill, each time we have to make a call.
And then Mahesh left, leaving the beach for us. The first thing I did, (and infact most of us did) is climbed up the hill again and made the calls to let our dear ones know that we are all right.
And now time for some water-fun. We all went into the sea, to have a sea bath, to fight with the waves, which were increasing because the evening was an evening just before the full moon and high tide was in course.
Tides carried away the beer cans put under sand (for chilling) with it. But later had some mercy on those guys who bought beer, and threw back all the cans of beer, after almost an hour and half.
There was a natural pond of fresh water, on the hilltop and these villagers had made arrangement to tap that water. So fresh water was dripping down the pipe, and we had access to fresh water as well.
Manju and team gathered to make the dinner for the night. Some of us, got hooked to mobiles, while some just sat on the rocks, listening to the soar of the sea.
The beach was so beautiful, and the fact that, there were no one except us in that beach, made me miss my girl a lot. I decided that, once in a life, before our government make these beautiful beaches a tourist place, and before the tourist screw the virginity of the beach, I am gonna be back. With my girl. Only concern, then will be the safety. Am not sure, how friendly these villagers and ferry man will be, when only a couple decides to stay here at night. Leaving aside the negative thoughts, I lost into the thoughts of being together with my girl, on such a beautiful and unfrequented beach, and then suddenly someone’s voice got me back to the reality.
“Tea is ready”.
I went inside the shack to have masaala tea. It tasted so nice, specially at the end of a hectic day. Once done with tea, we prepared our dinner and soup, had it, and then went on to the beach again.
I must repeat again. It was so romantic, sitting on the beach, under full moon light, that thought of your girl is bound to come. And to add to the nostalgic feeling, we decided to have bonfire. Yuhuuuu!! We lit the log with the help of paper, and dried leaves/bushes around, shared lighter moments and surrendered ourself to Hypnos & Nyx.
We got up at around 6 in the morning, found our places for the call of nature, freshen up and had the morning tea. I plucked a half ripe papaya from the tree, inside the shack, finished half of it among ourself, and gave the remaining portion to Mahesh (the ferry guy was here in the morning as promised).
We finished with the departing photo session on a really romantic location (Manju, I have already forgotten Goa)
Mahesh showed us the way, to the hill. On the hill, we had our breakfast. Apart from breakfast, that we were carrying, we also plucked, fruits of cashew, from the trees scattered on the hill. If I am not wrong, it is called Geruhannu in Kannada.
Down the other side of the hill, we found yet another beach. It was a long stretch beach, which is known as Sangam beach (and also by Bada beach and a one more name which I forgot). Its a very long stress of beach, around 7km. Fisherman’s houses were all along the stretch, and the locality looked like a Muslim locality. Amogh confirmed that they were basically the residents of the princely state of Mysore. When Mysore fell to Britishers, these people moved to the coastal areas of Karwar. There was a well of fresh water in the village, and if you have to believe my words, you might not have ever had such a sweet water (unless you are frequent visitors to hills where you get fresh water streams). Amazingly sweet water. Apart from water, what amazed us was a D-T-H antenna in one of the house.
We asked, what about electricity? 24 hours without a cut, was the reply. I smiled and said, “India Shining” literally.
After making sure, we had enough of water, we moved on the long stretch beach. The same beach in the end is called as Kudle beach. We off-tracked from the beach, and entered the village. Had some food, and while others were having their snacks, I came out of shop to relax on the bench kept outside. They finished the breakfast, and we moved back towards beach. On the way, they started talking of something called as “Raagi Neeru“. I was like what is this? And then suddenly realised that I have missed the drink of the locality. I went back running, taking some quick bucks from Mahadev, to get some Raagi Neeru, only to find that the shop was closed. I searched in the near by shops and was able to find it. I got it in a bottle and tried it. It was worth the effort. But when others tasted this Raagi Neeru, they found the earlier one was better, which I missed it. 🙁 [Now for your quick reference, you can find the recipe of Raagi Neeru here]
By this time, Manish, who got cut in his feet, while reaching Barka beach, felt it too hard to continue. And sadly he decided to part with us. Nihit, accompanied him and both left back for Bangalore. So now we were only eight of us.
Walking all the way, we reached the end of the beach and then we crossed the hill that marked the border of this long beach. Other side of the hill was yet another beautiful, clean, untouched beach, semi-circular in shape.
We tried to cross the hill at the end of semicircular beach, from the slopes, that were going inside the sea. But realised that it will be too slippery than our expectation, and hence we decided to climb up the hill straight away. We climbed the hill braving thorny bushes and can see, a long stretch of Honnali beach from the top. Honnali seemed to be a big Muslim locality, with tall Gumbad of mosque visible from the hilltop.
On beach, we saw maximum number of boats. There was a boat by my name as well, Ameen[although with a different spelling 🙂 ] We kept on walking, and walking, crossed the beach, and reached on hill top yet another time. A new hill and a new high, with old abandoned structure. Down the hill, we can see another long stretch of beach, Kunta beach. We decided that we are gonna spent the second night on this beach itself. We had our evening snacks, took rest, and got down. We saw villagers playing beach-cricket. (Cricket has deep penetration in this country).
We came down, walked alongside road, get our water bottles refilled and moved ahead. We can see backwaters, coming between us and the next stretch of the beach. We entered the water and found that the base within was of solid rock. That looked promising and we tried to cross the stream. But after going through half way, we found that soil was getting loose, and was holding on our legs. The villagers around there, busy in cricket, found some time for us, and showed us the way, from where to cross the backwaters. We crossed the waterway, from the specific route, guided by the villagers, answered few inquisitive villagers, as where we have come from etc etc. And then we walked and walked till we met the sunset. Clicked the sunset in the camera, and stopped for the day. The beach was sandy and windy. Wind was so strong, that one can feel sand, coming and settling down on you.
We collected the logs, and dry bushes for the dinner. Manju and Mahadev tried hard to make a chulha out of sand, and then we tried hard to lit the fire. Odds were against us. It was windy, the chulha that we made, was also not supportive. To add to odds, Manju was not ready to part with Kerosene as he wanted to show us some antics with a bamboo, and fire. But since, hopes were dying fast, we convinced Manju to part with his entire share of Kerosene, and finally we were able to lit the log. It was total fun. Once the log got fire, we managed to cook our entire dinner and still the logs were burning.
After we finished the dinner, the moon light tempted us for a moon-light trek. We decided to go only for 45 minutes of trek, as Pramod was feeling pain in his knee. We packed our things, left no trace behind (specially of the inorganic waste) and went for a moon light trek.
Crabs!! We found them occasionally while walking in the day, but in night they were all along the beach. In numbers. In great numbers. And these crabs are funny creatures. The way they walk, the way they run into the hole on the beach all seems to be funny.
And after walking in moon light for speculated time, we finally decided to call it for the day. We went into our sleeping bags without knowing that it was a lunar eclipse that night. Somehow almost all of us woke up around 3 AM in the morning and witnessed the lunar eclipse. View was amazing. Sea in front of you, lunar eclipse in the sky, and dew all around you. We again went back to sleep. In the morning, the first ray of sun, woke me up. It was after a long long time I was witnessing sun’s first rays. And how can I let this precious, rare event of my life go, without capturing it in my camera 🙂
We got up, relieved ourself, and did what we were doing mostly since last thirty six hours. Walking. We walked upto the end of the beach, found yet another helping lady from village, who helped us in providing drinking water. She had to bring this drinking water from a distance and that too from a Brahaman’s well. Still she preferred to part with water. We were obliged to her. We climbed the hill top again for Ramanagindi beach.
We reached upto Ramangindi beach, and we can see it from the hilltop. Since we had to go down, and cross the rocks, through the sea (as it was high tide still :O) and some of us were not sure of the grip of our shoe, we decided to look out for another way. We came all the way back to the start of the hill, and found a villager.
We asked him, how to cross the hill and reach other side. He said, either by bus or through rocks.
“What about climbing this mountain?” we asked in unison, as we didn’t want to take bus, before the final destination. “No way” was the reply. We decided to go against the advice of the villager, and said “lets try” and followed the “water way” marks coming down the hill. Following the water way marks, we somehow managed to reach the top of the hill, but there seems to be no way to come down. And to add to our woes, it was all loose rock. One wrong move, and your partners will witness you crushing down the rock, at the bottom. Amogh, Nishint were trying hard to find the way down, and they reached a “no day light” vegetation area, full of red ants. Luckily they retracted from that area before the damage. Somehow we found another waterway, going down. But this water way was starting from 20 meters downhill and the major task was to reach upto the watermark, braving those loose rock, at an declination of 40 degrees. Somehow we all managed to reach upto the watermark, and carefully managed to follow the zig-zag path (with width enough to put your one feet only)
We got down to the beach. Again went to the villagers, for sweet drinking water. Finished whatever we had left to eat.
From the beach, we can see the island of the Karki village. Since we had return bus to Bangalore from Udupi (instead of Honnavar), we tried to get to the highway (NH17) so that we can either catch a bus directly to Udupi or to Honnavar (and then to Udupi). When we thought that we have finished the trek and done with climbing, and when we started taking things a bit easy, there was a surprise for us. The route to highway was through a hill. And that was also very tiresome. Luckily the moment we touched the highway, we got a bus to Udipi. Finally we left for Udipi, with memories of amazing scenic beauty, extraordinary fun, aesthetic charm, and all together a new and pleasant experience.