“My soul is full of longing for the secret of the sea, and the heart of the great ocean sends a thrilling pulse through me.” ~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
My thirst for wanderlust was met by this marvellous beach trek organised by Travel Trikon.The plan was made instantly on a casual conversation with Vamsi( we have done quite a few trips together) he just mentioned Subhankar and himself were going to Gokarna,Uttar Kanada which was in my wish list ever since I started travelling and trekking in Karnataka.I asked him to send me the itinerary and immediately I forwarded it to Jessy.We both instantly agreed but were a bit hesitant as we had just returned from the trip to Gandikota.Since Subhankar had researched the place and opinioned that it was a beautiful trek not to be missed, we did not want to miss it.!!!.A weekend in nature’s lap was so tempting. So we asked him to book it for us and we would pay him later.A beautiful weekend trek on credit sounds very promising 🙂 Don’t you think so? The itinerary was very convenient. Friday late night we board the train and back on Monday early morning.You need not take any leave 🙂
We started on Friday night and boarded the Manglore Superfast from Panvel at 11 pm and the train was 20 minutes late.
We already had information from Vamsi who boarded from CSMT that the train was jam packed from Thane. Vamsi came to the door to help us in otherwise it would have been difficult for us to board.One of us pulled the chain because inspite of having confirmed seats the intruders would not get up from our seats,the RPF(Railway Protection Force) came but turned a blind eye.After a 15 minute delay the train moved.As the train moved we forcibly occupied our seats and made our beds and slept.
The trek Leader Manoj was there to assist us in settling down.The people on the lower berth were troubled by people sitting, inspite of telling them not to do so.The corridors were occupied by people sleeping and sitting.I also tweeted the photos to the Railway minister to which as expected got no response.I was lucky to get the middle berth and slept peacefully through the night.
I woke up around 6 and tentatively looked down I was overjoyed that the intruders were not there any more !! so I could now use the washroom without any obstruction.
Day –1 Trekking to Kumta,Vannali,Mangodulu,Kadle and exiting through Nirvana Beach and camping at Belekan Beach.
Around 8 am our Trek Leader Manoj gathered all the participants and we had a small introduction round.After that a round of Mafia was played.
Mafia time in the Train
At 9.45 am the train arrived at Kumta.We gathered all our luggage and alighted the train. Kumta is a small coastal town located on the Arabian Sea coast.We loaded our luggage in the waiting vehicle and carried only the small backpack with us as instructed earlier.After a 15 minute walk we reached Hotel Anupama.
Hotel Anupama(PC: Subhankar Dhar)
Across the road we found stalls laden with fresh fruits.We had a set menu of Idli Vada Sambhar Chutney and Poori-Sabji. Since we were 23 of us the food would take considerable time to be ready, so it was decided that meanwhile we buy oranges for the trek as suggested by Manoj. While I sat to guard the luggage Jessy,Vamsi and Subhankar went and bought the oranges.They cost Rs 120 a kilo and were around 10 in a kilo.We bought 12 for Rs 150.They also enjoyed fresh coconut water for Rs 50 each which I missed !
After having a hearty breakfast followed by delicious coffee,it was time to move.Out came the sunscreens,caps,and scarves.After arming ourselves we were ready for the trek in the scorching sun.We took a bus to Vanali at about 11 am and after a drive for 25 minutes we alighted at Vanali,after getting down from the bus there was again a introduction round of the group.
After the intro round we were a bit familiar with each other,we now took a route to the Kumta beach.Kumta is known for its beetlenut, cashewnut,coconut,banana cultivation and fisheries.The houses had coconut trees laden with fruit and small patches of land in front of the houses where we could see marigold flowers and onions being cultivated.
We were excited with the first glimpse of the sea and clicked several pictures.The clear blue waters of the sea with the frothing white waves was such a refreshing sight.We were now walking on the Vanalli jetty road the sun was right up and you are right it was 12 pm we had reached the Vanalli beach.
The beach is curvaceous, lined with fishing boats surrounded by hills. I clicked several pictures of this beautiful clean beach with not a soul except us on the beach.
I tried clicking several birds who were frolicking on the waves..Jessy was excited to spot fish drying near the boats.
Dried fish is relished by the coastal people in India.They store it for the rainy season when fish is scarce or very expensive.Jessy collected a beautiful shell here.We also collected our packed lunch which consisted of Chicken Biryani for the non-vegetarians and Veg Biryani for the Vegetarians.
Around 12.30 we started our trek to Mangodlu beach.We clicked some beautiful pictures of the secluded beach.The villagers were so lucky to have the entire beach to themselves.As we walked on the beach we challenged the waves to get us and when it came charging we ran away so as to to avoid getting our shoes wet as we had a long walk ahead.Sashaying fruit laden coconut trees are a common sight on the villages that we crossed.
The clear blue water of the sea with the lush green mountains made quite a contrasting scene which was so soothing to the eyes.There were ascends and descends throughout the journey sometimes through a dirt trail on the mountains sometimes a flat trail.We reached the Mangodlu beach, around 2 pm.Mangodlu beach is a small beach nestled between two hillocks and lined with trees.We couldn’t resist a inviting rock amidst the waters and we took turns to click pictures posing on it I didn’t mind when the waves washed through my shoes and they got wet.Sun God would dry it no time !
We took a short break of 15 minutes somewhere between Mangodlu and Kadle beach.
Out came the oranges and believe me you, they were so refreshing.The Oranges did wonders to our parched throats and kept us hydrated.
Drinking water may also make necessary to use washrooms which were nonexistent in the entire trek.We were rationing on our water also because till we exited from Nirvana Beach the next hour and a half, there are no shacks/shops selling water.The whole trek is a photographers delight we captured some mind blowing images.
“ Because there’s nothing more beautiful than the way the ocean refuses to stop kissing the shoreline, no matter how many times it’s sent away”.
The short Orange break energised us and we were soon on our way to the next beach ie the Kadle Beach.
Earlier we also crossed the Holanagadde Beach which is on the way between Mangodlu and Kadle Beach.We encountered a sharp descend, so slowly and carefully we descended one by one.
The lush green vegetation and the blue sea made a very alluring sight, we were now on a rocky path.We clicked innumerable pictures and selfies on the rocks with the gushing waves as the backdrop.
After the steep descend we had to ascend through huge rocks and walk through a very rocky path.
We took a break to catch on our breath and click some more photos.
We sat down for a while and quenched our thirst by drinking water and eating the oranges.
We descended to a narrow rocky path which again took us uphill through thick vegetation.
Finally we reached Kadle beach and it was such a relief to walk on the sandy wet beach.The blue waters soothed your eyes ,mind and soul.The clean beach where the only noise was the sound of the waves and a occasional seagull crying out acted like a balm to the noise polluted heart and soul of the Mumbaikar.The sashaying green coconut trees bordering the beaches was indeed a sight to behold ! Vamsi and self sat on the rocks with the sea as the backdrop and captured this amazing moment.
We now reached a path which was through thick vegetation with some beautiful flora.
Way to Kadle Beach
At about 2.15 pm we halted for lunch at a beautiful place with the trees giving us shade and the sound of the waves giving us company.We unpacked the Chicken Biryani which was very delicious.
I was longing for some sweets when Jessy handed us some chocolates to satiate our sugar cravings.Replenished and refreshed we resumed our journey at about 3.15 pm.Our journey would take us now to the Niravana Beach through Gudeangadi Beach.The walk to Niravana Beach was easy.We walked through the beach,some of us removed our shoes and enjoyed walking barefoot on the cool sand.
We reached the Niravana Beach at around 4.15 pm and gathered at a hillock and clicked a photo while waiting for the group.
A few metres ahead we were to take the exit out of Nirvana Beach.The walk now was through a dirt road we found many beautiful flowering trees along side.After walking for 15 minutes we were so happy to find a shop selling water/cold drinks.We washed our faces and many bottles of water and cold drinks were consumed.
We boarded a local bus to Agnasheni at about 5 pm.The bus crawled uphill and I thought for a moment that the bus will not be able to make it when Manoj told me that this is their regular route.
The ticket was only Rs 10 after half an hour we got down and rushed to the Tadadi Jetty to board a ferry to Belikan.We walked through the Padtikeri road,Hiregutti to reach the jetty.
We all got into the ferry and it sailed out at 5.30 pm.The ticket price was again Rs 10 only.
We reached ashore at 6pm.There was dirt trail to reach Belekan,our camping site.It was about 15 minutes walk to the site.
We reached Bhoomi Kiran Restaurant at about 6.15 pm our halt for the night.
Onion Pakoras and banana buns were waiting for us and we hungrily ate and washed it down with a cup of tea.
Our luggage was unloaded in a room of the home stay.After the refreshing snacks we walked to the shore and played like kids a game of pakda pakdee just running and catching each other.I was soon out of breath unable to match the energy of my younger fellow trekkers.After a adrenalin rush,it was time to clean ourselves,the cold water bath was so refreshing.Meanwhile the cute tents were pitched.The rest of the group were engrossed in a game of UNO.
I was waiting longingly for the game to get over so that I could join in.Dinner was ready but none were ready to eat as all of us were engrossed in the game,so after the game got over, dinner was served at 9.30.
Dinner was simple with chapatti,sabjee,dal/sambhar rice and fish fry for the non-vegetarians.(Rs 90 per plate)The fish was king fish(surmai) as told by the restaurant owner but it looked and tasted like Mackerel(Bangda)We finished dinner by 10.30 pm.Our fetish for sweets took us to a nearby restaurant where Jessy bought coconut barfis.We sat there for sometime and chatted over a cup of coffee. Jaiprakash our host had gathered wood and lit a bonfire and we all sat around it and exchanged eiree ghost stories some were made up instantly.
We relished the coconut barfis while listening to the made up ghost stories.The idea to scare us was not at all successful.At about 11.30 pm I called it a day while the others still continued with their stories.
Day 2 Trek to Paradise Beach,Halfmoon Beach,Om Beach,Kudle and Gokarna
I set the alarm to 5.30 am and slept but much before that Manoj’s alarm woke me up at 4. I tried going back to sleep but finally gave up and finished my morning rituals.We walked across to the beach and witnessed the beautiful sunrise.
The sky was resplendent in the different hues of the sunrise We all gathered for breakfast at 8.30 which was a bowl of Maggie and banana buns with coffee/tea.The banana buns cost Rs 15,tea for Rs 10 and coffee Rs 15, a bowl of Maggie for Rs 30.
After a group photo, we all moved at 9.30 instead of the scheduled 8.30 am.
Our destination was the Paradise beach.The trek is through a forest.
We reached Paradise Beach at 10 after trekking through thick vegetation, where we found many flower and fruit laden thorny bushes of bush plums(karvanda)
Paradise beach is also known as Full Moon beach is enveloped in absolute surreal beauty. Raw and untouched, the beach is away from all the hustle and bustle.Leisure, warmth and beauty describes Paradise Beach.
We were captivated with the beauty of the beach and took many pictures of the beach and also on the hillock.
We spotted a Shiva Statue on the corner of a rock.
An artist’s Creation
Later we sipped on coconut water.( Rs 50 each)
Dotted with umpteen beach shacks serving mouth-watering seafood and other delicacies, food lovers will be more than satisfied.here. The shacks also host enthralling barbecue evenings along with soothing music. You can also encounter some bonfire gatherings organised by a few shacks a little away from the chaos. Ideal for swimming and sunbathing, this is the perfect spot for some uninterrupted quiet time. If you are looking for water sports, you may be slightly disappointed as there are no water activities held here. The beach is a delight during late evenings with the breathtaking sight of the sea shining in the bright moonlight.
At about 10.30 am we resumed our trek to our next destination The Half Moon Beach.We found lot of graffetti on the rocks as we exited Paradise Beach. Enroute we found number of hammocks tied to the coconut trees a photo on the hammock was a must ,so Jessy obliged and I clicked.
Later there was steep climb through some rugged rocks.
After 45 minutes we reached the Half Moon Beach.
We made our way to Half Moon Beach Garden Cafe and quenched our thirst with cold water,cold drinks,lemon juice and lemon soda.(Lemon soda Rs 50 and lime juice Rs 40.A bottle of water cost Rs 40 and a small 7 up bottle Rs 20).
After a 15 minute break at about 11.45 we started our trek to Om Beach.We walked through a stony path with vegetation on both sides.
On the Way to Om Beach
The trees gave us the much needed shade and respite from the glazing sun.The company of the swaying coconut trees and the crystal clear blue waters of the sea made the trek very enjoyable.The beach is renowned for its Om shaped appearance.Though geographically it is two coves adjacent to each other, the inverted Om design is why it is popular for.The aerial view of the beach from one of the hills shows the Om symbol quite beautifully.
At about 12 pm we reached the hill from where the formation of Om can be seen.It was a photo stop and a orange stop.We descended through a rugged rock surface and again ascended to a muddy trail and at about 12.20 pm we reached the beautiful clean beach.
The Scenic Om Beach
One is sure to bump into sun burnt hippies, red robe clad Buddhist monks, European backpackers, yoga enthusiasts and Indian nomads strolling on this beautiful beach. With numerous shacks and cafes this is the beach where foreign travelers head to escape the crowds of Goa The most well known shack on Om Beach is Namaste Café which has been carved out on a rock. A visit to Gokarna without a glimpse of the Om is an absolute crime.
It is one of the most popular and beautiful beaches in Gokarna, lined with shacks on the sides offering cheap accommodation and restaurants with exotic menus. Namaste Cafe is one of the popular restaurants here.
There is a bunch of fun water sports activities available on the beach, including speed boats, surfing etc.Resorts near Om beach are the perfect places to drop your bags and enjoy a soothing vacation with friends and loved ones.There are quite a few life guard watch towers.
Lifeguards were keeping an eye on the beach for any kind of help required.We found hawkers displaying their wares on tree branches.
Camping on this beach is prohibited as I noticed a board declaring so.
We sat on the steps of the exit gate of OM Beach for 15 minutes,though we all felt like running into the water we did not indulge ourselves as we would do that at the next beach ie the Kudle Beach.
We resumed our journey to Kudle Beach at 12.45 pm.The route had stairs and muddy trail and some uneven rocky patches.
Way to Kudle Beach
The Kudle Beach is surrounded by hills on all three sides the only way to reach is by walking.Due to its inaccessibility it is secluded through out the year.The beach is a paradise for those who love peace and quietude while they travel.
A complete recluse, this beach offers the most silent and serene atmosphere to enjoy a sunset, a walk along the shore or simply sit and observe the never-ceasing tides.
Many local people prefer this beach for a morning or evening walk or practising yoga, as the Kudle beach is not invaded by large groups of tourists and as a result, has very little crowd and is very peaceful
The beach is usually deserted, except for the peak months from November to February, when it is populated by foreign travelers and backpackers. They choose the Kudle beach for solitude and privacy. The sea is calm and safe enough to have a bath or simply for wetting your feet at the shoreline, but it is always better to be careful. Hiding behind a hillock, this mesmerising beach is a haven for sea lovers who want to observe and enjoy the vastness in front rather than be a part of a frolicking crowd.
If you are planning to stay there overnight, take note that lodging is tough to find during off seasons. There are a few proper hotels, which tend to be full. However, from around October to March, the local people also put up temporary shacks and huts for makeshift accommodation and food. They are not the best option, but an option nevertheless. If you are of the adventurous type a night spent on the beach in a small hut listening to the sound of the waves is perfect.
We reached the beach at about 1 pm .We found lot of people sunbathing and I was amazed to find a lady doing Surya Namaskar on the hot sands.I observed a number of watch towers here too.We reached Om Shanti Café at about 1.15,our lunch destination.
You can use the showers and washroom here.After getting seated we guzzled bottles of cold water.We savoured the fish Thali,Chicken Thali and Veg thali between the four of us(Jessy,Vamsi,Subhankar and self)
We finished our lunch and took rest till 2.30 pm and then made our way to the inviting waters of the sea.We had been waiting for this since we started the trek another group of Travel Trikon joined us and we had fun playing with the Frisbee.The wind would land the Frisbee in a totally different direction.Some of us had gone deeper in the sea when the life guard whistled and told us to play in shallow waters.
The time limit in the waters was 3.15 but I came out a bit early as there were only two showers by the time the others came I had already showered and changed..The people who did not join us had a good nap and were now refreshed for the rest of the journey.At about 4 pm we started the last leg of the trek ,our destination –The Gokarna Beach.
On our way to Gokarna from Kudle Beach
Though the main beach of Gokarna is not the most preferred one by tourists, it is a must visit for pilgrims. As per the religious customs, pilgrims are expected to visit the Mahabeleshwar Temple only after a dip in the waters of this beach. The beach may not look very pretty due to a lot of litter, but an early morning stroll along it can be a refreshing experience.
However, it gets crowded and filthy as the day progresses as it is located right behind the Mahabaleshwar Temple. This part of the Arabian Sea is quite unkempt so swimming here is not recommended. The view is quite better as you move north or towards Kudle Beach, which is less crowded and serene. The beach lacks any sort of cafes or shacks, but many make-shift shops selling temple paraphernalia pop up during special days like Shivarathri to cater to the needs of the pilgrims.
Gokarna is one of the most laid back beach destinations one will come across. The true charm of this place lies in the fact that it is both a religious and a beach destination at the same time, thus making it a place which is visited by pilgrims on one hand and peace-loving travelers who like to visit offbeat beach destinations and get rejuvenated for some time. The charm of Gokarna has attracted travelers from not only different parts of the country but a lot of other parts of the world as well, who come here to explore the less-traveled parts of this country and spend some time in leisure. For the convenience of the travelers and for those who would like to spend a few days close to the sea, the Gokarna Beach huts and the Gokarna Beach shacks act as great sources of accommodation and food.The Gokarna Beach stay is amazing and deserves to be experienced at least once in a lifetime.
The word Gokarna means cow’s ear, and if the legends are to be believed, this is the place where Lord Shiva had once emerged out of the cow’s ear, that is the confluence of the rivers Gangavali and Afghanashini that bear the ear-shaped look. The place Gokarna is also mentioned in the Shrimad Bhagavata Purana as the home of the brothers Gokarna and Dhundhakari.
It’s not only the Gokarna beach which is so beautiful. Any nature loving traveller would love the scenic drive up to the beach which goes through a path that looks stunning, thanks to the presence of the lush green Western Ghats on one side of the road and the Arabian Sea on the other.While there are quite a number of other beaches in Gokarna, namely the Om Beach, the Half Moon Beach, the Paradise Beach and the Belekan Beach, the main beach of Gokarna is used by a huge number of Indian pilgrims as well. Being a long open beach, the Gokarna Beach forms the main coastline of the town. One of the things that also attracts travellers to the Gokarna Beach is the famous water sport surfing that takes place at the beach. While the Gokarna Beach is an amazing place to be and is thronged by crowds of both tourists and pilgrims and is yet kept pristine throughout, there are other beautiful beaches in the town as well. While the famous Om Beach in Gokarna is six kilometres away from the main town along a muddy hill and is accessible only by foot or by local rickshaws, the Half Moon and Paradise beaches are beyond the Om Beach and can only be reached by boat or by trekking.
The trek to Gokarna was an half an hour walk of ascend and descends.
The Tree Laden with Fruits
As we were leaving the beach Jessy spotted a beautiful tree laden with white flowers and fruits we picked up a fruit and enquired with the locals.They told us it was not edible by humans but was consumed by monkeys.As we were not monkeys so we threw the fruit in the sea.I spotted a board showing the way to Hanuman Janambhoomi.
But we did not venture towards it as we were short of time and continued with the trek we soon reached a abandoned structure.
Walking on the edges we reached a Hanuman temple at about 4.45 pm.The temple was closed for darshan.
We all gathered behind the temple,the view of the sea and the Gokarna beach was stunning.The rays of the sun on the sea made the waters shimmer and glitter like small diamonds.
We took some beautiful group photos and left the place at 5 pm.The descend is through some broken steps so one has to be careful, we reached the beach at 5.15 pm .
We had covered 15 kms in these two days. The first day Kumta ,Vanalli , Mangodlu Gudeangadi and Belekan was about 8 kms.The next day Paradise, Halfmoon,Om,Kudle and Gokarna about 7 kms.
We exited the beach and were waiting for the others when Vamsi suggested we must visit the famous temple. Manoj told us to meet him at the Gokarna bus stand at 5.30 pm.We moved fast towards the temple.It was just a 5 minute walk.When we entered inside the temple we found a long queue, disappointed we said our prayers from outside and rushed to the bus depot.One group had already left for the station.We reached the depot at 5.40 pmManoj soon joined us and bundled us in an autorickshaw for Gokarna Road station which was 10 kms away.
We reached at 6 pm and collected our luggage from the waiting vehicle. Manoj gave us our coach and seat nos.There was still time for the train so we used the washroom which are very clean.While waiting for the train we had a cup of much needed tea.Vamsi also bought 2 bottles of water.Our train Matsyagandha Express was at 6.38 pm as always this train is never late,it chugged into the platform on time.We comfortably boarded the train and quickly settled into a game of UNO. Karan the group leader of the other group also joined us and besides UNO we played some very kiddish games a child also joined us and we had lot of fun.We bought Aaloo Parathas and curd from the train’s pantry(Aaloo paratha Rs 50 and curd Rs 40 )and finished dinner by 7.30 pm.We stopped playing at Madgaon as the dinner ordered by others arrived.The train reaches at 8 pm and halts for ten minutes here.There is a big Domino pizza outlet which I could see sitting in the train.Although we were very keen to resume our game but fellow passengers wanted to sleep so we called it a day and knocked off by 9 pm.The train reached Panvel at 5 am before time ! we boarded the local for home at 5.17 am we were happy to meet Ankita,Rajshree and Sakshi we chatted and reminisced the beautiful trek and the beaches.I was home before 6 am.On reaching home it was time to catch up on my sleep.
I thank Travel Trikon for a hassle free enjoyable well conducted trek and their leads Manoj,Kunal and Hrishi. Especially Kunal who was always with me since I was always trailing because of frequently stopping to click photographs.Manoj is a jovial and patient leader who kept the entire group bonded and catered to everyone’s requests.I thank all the participants of the trek for your enjoyable company especially while playing UNO.
Ending the post with this very apt quote:-
“The Sea,once it casts its spell,holds one in its net of wonder Forever.”
Tips for the Trek
- You can reach Gokarna or Kumta from which ever place you decide to start the trek by train.The Manglore bound trains all halt at these stations.Matsyagandha/Manglore Express are some of the trains running on this route.
- Goa is the nearest airport for those who want to fly down.
- Carry two bags .a day bag in which you can keep your valuables like camera/phone/wallet etc
- Carry at least two water bottles.Fruits like oranges are very handy.They not only quench your thirst and are very refreshing
- Instead of carrying Enerzol powder carry BOLTS(Power Tablets).You can get in any chemist shop.They give you instant energy and are very refreshing.
- A Cap,Scarf,Sunglasses,Sunscreen is a must
- Power Bank,Mobile,Camera
- 8) You can join travel groups like Travel Trikon for a hassle free trek.