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Colleague’s marriage proved a to be a good excuse for a trip amidst hectic work schedules. Managed to squeeze a day’s leave to accommodate trip to Gokarna, a small coastal town in Uttara Kannada district of Karnataka. I had heard a lot about beaches at Gokarna from few friends, and from Sneha’s blog. Though i had visited this place nearly a decade ago, this visit was different.

Four of us left Bangalore in a Santro by 5:30am. The plan to avoid traffic was negated by fog. Toll road on NH-4 starts beyond Nelamangala, prior to that roads are under-construction and is pretty bad . Cappachinnos and Latte at CCD just before Tumkur and we were on way to Jog falls on NH206, deviating from NH4 at Tumkur.

Route to Jog Falls:
Bangalore -( NH-4 )-> Tumkur – (NH-206)-> Tiptur -> Kadur -> Shimoga -> Sagara -> Jog Falls

Distance: 376 km

Two lane NH-206 is well maintained till Shimoga, beyond which it worsens. At some parts, the road seems to be excavated from a lost civilization. We had lunch at a small restaurant in Sagar by 1:30pm. Since Jog falls is only about 2km detour on way to Gokarna, after Sagar, this must-visit place was a part of our plan.

Jog falls or Jog rocks

Jog falls or Jog rocks

Jog falls turned out to be a joke on water falls. What was i expecting in December? A water fall, depleted of its vigor but still good enough to showcase its glory of monsoon. Not trickling water, which seemed to stop any moment. The height of that falls was brought to perspective when i noticed people at the bottom of the falls. They looked minuscule. I wish to return here some time in monsoon.

Drive to Honnavara on way to Gokarna was on treacherous ghat roads with blind turns. This took a long time in the fading evening light, but the beautiful western ghats proved its worth even if it meant to drive on this terrain. We knew about a beautiful valley around this place but were not sure about its location. There were no locals around to ask either. A viewpoint got us to stop the car and look around. This indeed was the Sharavathi valley, still gorgeous in late December with mesmerizing Sharavathi river valley amidst mighty mountains of western ghats.

Sharavathi valley

Took a break at Honnavar and headed to Gokarna via Kumta. There is a small deviation from the highway (to Karwar) to Gokarna.

Route: Jog falls -(NH-206)-> Honnavara -(NH-217)-> Kumta -> Gokarna

Reached Om beach by 8:30pm, asking directions along the way. Namaste cafe didn’t have any huts/rooms for the night. Got down to Om beach in pitch dark on a moonless night to check out for accommodation in any of the shacks along the beach, with just a mobile phone torch in hand. I could hear the waves splashing the rocks, but there was no way to know how far i was from the water. Walked along the edge of the beack, and inquired at few shacks. Unfortunately most of the shacks didn’t have huts available and since parking the car was an also an issue, we headed to Hotel Gokarna International for the night, which had a room for Rs.275/- per night and nothing else. No need to guess the state of the room, but we didn’t have much options.

A visit to Mahabaleshwar Temple at 7:30am. Indian mythological reference to Gokarna describes how Ravana, the demon-king of Lanka received the atmalinga, from Shiva, and was not to be placed on the ground as it would establish itself where placed on earth. On his way back to Lanka, Ravana stops for his evening prayers at Gokarna. To prevent Ravana from getting a weapon as powerful as the atmalinga, Ganesha, in the disguise of a Brahmin boy, tells Ravana that he will hold the atmalinga until Ravana finishes his prayers. As soon as he receives the atmalinga, Ganesh promptly puts it down. This small structure, atma linga, is the essence of the temple.

Om Beach, Gokarna

Dolphin Cafe on Om beach, most popular beach of Gokarna, was our stop for breakfast. Shacks here are predominantly thronged by Europeans, and cafes here provide excellent European cuisine. Having Spanish omelette and orange juice for breakfast, started to trek to other two beaches, Half moon and Paradise, to the south of Om beach. Half moon beach takes a good 20minutes walk from Om beach. Paradise beach takes about 25min from Half moon beach. These two are smaller and quieter beaches with just a couple of shacks. One can go by boat if one wishes not to trek, but i strongly suggest to trek, at least one way, as we did.

Down it goes, Lunch on Om beach

DCH style ;-)

I had spinach-mushroom pasta for lunch, again at Dolphin cafe. Mint tea here is much better than Tetley’s mint flavored tea, and a must have for tea drinkers. Checked out of hotel by 4pm, headed to Sirsi from Gokarna.

Reached Sirsi by 6pm, and the route was quite scenic around the western ghats but with shorter ghat road drive. Attended colleage’s marriage on Monday, and left for Bangalore via Haveri by 2:30pm.

Route:

Sirsi -> Haveri -> Davanagere -> Chitradurga -> Sira -> Tumkur -> Bangalore

Sirsi to Haveri is on state highway, fairly decent road with patched up potholes. Work on NH-4 Golden Quadrilateral is still going on, and has stretches of excellent road along with terrible roads till Chitradurga, beyond which toll road starts. This part of NH-4, from Chitradurga to Bangalore is impeccable. Can touch the limits of your car if not for those trucks. Safely reached home by 12:15am, ending an 1000+km trip.

Caught this Rose ringed Parakeet at a stop for rail crossing:

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