The Shores Less Traveled..
When a thousand feet set out to Goa to bum with the crowd; eyes eager for shacks and sunburn, I change course to seek company of the untrodden shores nestled far away from the mad rush. A beach for me is an imagery of clear untouched sands washed by a boundless ocean that gently amalgamates with the sky soaked in brilliant shades by the melting sun drifting away into the horizon; the sound of endless waves creating a rhythmic rhapsody.
Mangalore in Uttara Kannada has been at the back of my mind for long, the intent was to explore it’s hidden beach treasures. It was November and Bangalore was refusing to bid farewell to the rains. Acknowledging the fact that it was not the best time for photography, me and Mihir decided to hit the road at noon. Though the drive from Bangalore to Mangalore was mostly smooth, we reached when the stars were out. My excitement had to wait till the break of dawn.
Uttara Kannada offers a spectacular coast line from Mangalore right upto Karwar, but we decided to cut off a little before Murudeshwar due to time constraints. I have derived my Beach Quotient for the trip ranging from 1 to 10, 10 being the best. My scores are purely basis the immaculateness and uniqueness; inversely proportional to crowd and commercialization.
TANNIR BAVI :There was no trace of sunrise when we reached Tannir Bavi beach which is around 20 kms from Mangalore the next morning. There was nothing extraordinary about the beach, but yes, it was soothingly calm with just 2 tourists lurking around. My eyes caught sight of rock-like structures into the sea a few meters away. We found out from a few fishermen that they were the remains of a huge abandoned ship that had sunk a long time ago. Some fishermen with their kids and a few boats had ventured into the sea for the morning catch. It was pleasurable to watch the kids enthusiastically helping their family in untangling the nets and sorting the catch that contained loads of swordfish, crabs and prawns apart from other fish of varied sizes. A snake that was caught in the net was thrown back into the sea. Tannir Bavi gave a tranquil start to my trip weaving a small story in itself.
My Beach Quotient (B.Q) for Tannir Bavi : 4/10
KAPU :Humidity was already rising when we left for Kapu Beach (Kaup), 40 kms ahead on the same coastline. This beach had a parking fee and was spic and span. A black and white lighthouse guards the sea atop a huge rock. One can have two completely diverse landscape views from the lighthouse on either sides. Kapu unfolds some enticing panoramic glimpses of the green sea collared with white sands and coconut groves. Its strange that the other side of Kapu with an amazing landscape is completely secluded. I strongly recommend getting to the opposite end of the lighthouse and taking a stroll on the white sands to bask in the gorgeousness of Kapu, all to yourself!
My B.Q for Kapu : 7/10
MALPE AND ST. MARY’S ISLANDS :Continuing our journey, I expected something stupendous at Malpe since I had read some really good reviews in a few blogs. To my utter disappointment, Malpe looked like a disaster. In the scorching sun, Malpe felt like a commercialised bazar; tonnes of people, chaos and litter around. Without wasting any time, we headed to St. Marys Island via a ferry from Malpe. The ferry charges INR 120 per person for a to and fro trip with a one hour halt to explore the island. A set of 4 islands in the Arabian sea off the coast of Malpe, namely North Island, South Island, Coconut Island and Thonsepar jointly comprise St. Marys. The island looked stunning from a distance with coconut trees skirting it. But as I got down from the ferry and set my feet on the shore, I gasped and uttered “disgust!” Tourists have made a joke of this abode by littering recklessly.. I climbed and perched on one of the high rocks, the view from here blew some instant life into me. White sands, turquoise waters, blue skies, unending bed of shells and peculiar hexagonal basalt rock formations is what the island is gifted with. Surprisingly, the water is clean enough to dive in! We circumvented the island soaking up a part of it which was still so stunning and headed back to Malpe.
My B.Q of Malpe : 2/10. St. Marys Island: 5/10
OTTINENE :The heat and sweat had taken its toll as we continued our journey to our next pit stop- Ottinene, 73 kms ahead. We planned to reach there to savor the sunset, but the sun was already on its way down. Ottinene can be viewed from atop a hill too and I had started to love the views already. The sun was turning molten pink behind a belt of thin clouds and the air was cool and surreal. We made our way back down to hit the beach. Ottinene has by far been the cleanest of beaches I have seen in the west coast of India. We stood on sands that felt like velvet while the lucent waves gently kissed our feet. I was witnessing a serene twilight that was unfolding shades of golden, orange, magenta, purple and blue with each passing minute. I could hear nothing but the sound of the ocean waves that the cool breeze was bringing to my ears. The sun had melted and was casting the last of its rays when my eyes shifted to a silhouette of two boats returning to the shore after the last bait. Ottinene felt like a world in itself. We headed 20 kms backwards to Marvanthe to wind up the day.
My B.Q of Ottinene : 8/10
MARVANTHE : Caution 1 :There are no beach touch cottages here and a sparing few of them that you can choose from. So be prepared to shell out some handsome cash at Turtle bay or make do with something very basic as Sagar Kinara. Caution 2 : Marvanthe is underdeveloped, in the sense that you have to go at least 10 kms on either side to find yourself a decent place to eat. There are no restaurants or dhabas except for a few stalls selling tea, coconuts and a few snacks on the rocky shore. Marvanthe is a splendid beach with an almost endless shoreline and man made rocks lining its periphery. A spectacular thing about Marvanthe is the scenic view of the Arabian sea on one side and the lazy river Sowparnika on the other side parallel to each other cut by a highway in between. Not sure of why the govt is building an additional bridge at the very spot where the confluence is at its best! Marvanthe is vast and one of the most splendid beaches I’ve seen, though it is considered to be rough and dangerous too.
My B.Q of Marvanthe : 8/10
We spent 2 hours soaking to our heart’s content in the Arabian Sea at Marvanthe. With hardly any tourists around during the mornings, Marvanthe should definately not be missed.
My quest to the shores less traveled had ended. One journey ceases. Another begins ..