The Beach Trek from Honnavar to Gokarna - Day 2

Posted by Anantha | Posted on Saturday, January 26, 2013


The day 2 started pretty early for us. By 7:30, we had packed our tent and started walking towards the next hill at the end of the beach. A boat had 'Nature Nirvana' painted in big fonts and was parked on the beach. A villager who was on his morning walk on the beach said the beach is now called Nirvana beach after that beach resort had started. The long stretch had started as Kadle beach and had ended as Nirvana beach.

To our sursprise we saw few women carrying water from one of the creeks of the rocks on the hill. That was a stream of fresh water flowing down the hill all through the year it seems. That was really a nature's wonder, to the left we had salt water to infinity and here was a source of fresh water right on the shore. We freshened up there and ate few apples that we had carried and walked up the hill. Once the trail on the hill led us to the back of that big hill, we saw a range of small hills all covered with bushes and there was no clear path. We still marched ahead, as always, Byre in front and me following him. The trail got narrower with many thorny bushes on both the sides. Both of us got many scratches, some cutting deep enough and some not so deep. At one place I was bitten on my entire back and neck by red ants. We must have disturbed its nest some where in the bushes. The burning sensation was unbearable but surprisingly was momentary. I took off my shirt and vest and cleared the ants. In an effort to help me, Byre was also bitten. Even after that, we had some hope that the narrow trail might open up some where and we might get to see the next beach. Few meters ahead, the trail almost demanded us to crawl on our knees. At that point, we gave up. We decided to walk balk to Nirvana beach. The decision was not so easy, as we had to face the ant attack again on our way back. We got ready for it too. On our way back, almost at the same place, the ants bit us again. Luckily there were not many this time. We did the exercise of removing our shirts and vests again this time. Amidst all that burning sensation on shoulders and back, we had a hearty laughter about how foolhardy we are when it comes to trekking.

Sleepy Kaagaala village...

Seeking directions to the nearest bus stand from Nirvana beach, we walked towards the road. It was 10:30AM by then. That means we had wasted nearly two hours trekking that formidable hill. The village we reached was called Kaagaala. That was a typical laid back village of North Kannada. I love such places. In a shop there, I had ginger soda and Byre had some other aerated local drink. The shop owner was wearing a faded white vest expanded to the maximum to cover his large belly and a white dhoti. A typical costume for a shop owner who might have his house at the back of the shop. You can find many such houses where one of its rooms adjacent to the road being turned into a shop in North Kannada, South Kannada and Udupi districts. When we told about our failed attempt to cross the hill behind, the two other people at the shop said, it is difficult to cross the hill at this time of the year. The shop owner told us to catch the bus to Aghanashini river.

We reached the place where river Aghanashini meets the Arabian Sea. As we had seen the last time where the nameless 'local river' had met the sea, here also the union of river and sea was beautiful, no roar no noise, just a calm union. Agha in Sanskrit means sin, Aghanashini means the river which relieves us from our sins. The river is born in Sirsi and joins the sea at TadaDi. We waited for the plying boat to cross the river. While we were waiting for the boat, we turned back and had a look at the hill which we failed to climb. The hill indeed was formidable, it was all covered with bushes this side also.

A short ride in the boat and we reached TadaDi port. A guy told us, from TadaDi port, beaches of Gokarna are not very far. We were happy and also sursprised that we were so close to our destination. A relaxed lunch at Om Beach in Gokarna looked very much possible. The first beach we got was Belekan beach. We stopped at a shop there and gulped few packets of Masala Buttermilk. The beach had few huts for rent facing the sea. At the door of one of such huts, we saw a long bearded firang sitting and smoking. He clearly was stupored. May the weed help him attain his enlightenment ;-)

A short uphill climb from Belekan beach led us to Paradise beach. We saw a bunch of foreigners sunbathing there. The beach was full of rocks and did not look suitable for taking a plunge into the water. We walked to the Halfmoon beach. Byre said, Halfmoon beach is ideal for swimming. For the little bit of floating skills we have got, calling it swimming will be an exaggeration :-) We kept our bags on the rocks, slipped into our swimming trunks and got into the water. Few were already in water with life jackets. We got to know later that boats ply between Om beach and Halfmoon and charge some bucks for providing the life jackets. Then they will be dropped back to the Om beach. When we were getting into the water, a firang female also got into the water. She seemed like an expert swimmer. Within few minutes she was at least half a kilometer away from the shore. We continued playing in water. The firang female kept swimming away. At one point we really had to strain our eyes to spot her head in the sea, it looked like a mere black dot in the blue water. Byre joked she might reach Murudeshwara by evening :-) I was envious of her swimming skills. It's high time for me to hone my swimming skills. My breathing techniques are terribly wrong. I need to practice a lot to get it right. Lot of firangs were walking across the beach towards the Paradise beach. Some of them got into the water and some lied sunbathing there it self. A middle aged firang male was lying holding a book on the beach. He seemed disinterested in the book he was reading, rather seemed like he was waiting for some thing. Then a boat came from Om  beach. All the people who were still in water with life jackets got into the boat and the boat left to Om Beach leaving Byre, me and just handful of people in water. The firang was waiting for this I think. He kept his book aside, came near the rocks where we had kept our bags, removed his shorts - the only garment on him and plunged naked into the sea. I exclaimed, Waaww that's freedom, I want to do it too some times!

Sunset at Om Beach

Feeling hungry, Byre and I got out of the water, dresses up and headed towards Om Beach. There are lot of people who walk across Paradise, Halfmoon and Om beaches. Hence there is a clear trail on the hillls that connect these beaches. We reached Om beach around 3PM. The shoulders were paining after carrying our heavy backpacks for more than ~35kms and we were hungry too. We got into a nice hotel facing the sea ordered our food and beer. Byre booked the bus tickets back to Bangalore from Gokarna on his mobile. Again few nice conversations with firangs around... Drinks.. Nice food and the beautiful view of sunset from the beach. Thus was the end to our most memorable trek till date.

The Beach Trek from Honnavar to Gokarna - Day 1

Posted by Anantha | Posted on Wednesday, January 23, 2013


I remember planning for this trek some 3 years back. After all the postponements because of onsite travels of my buddies, their marriages, their first kids birth etc etc... at last, it happened in the last weekend. With Basu in Singapore and Prashi settled in UK [well, almost...], it was just Byre and me for this trek. With just two of us, some of my office friends said, it might not be safe to trek and even to stay on the scarcely populated beaches in the night. It did bother us a little when we planned, but just hoped that everything goes smooth. Though many trekkers have blogged about their trek from Gokarna to Honnavar I insisted Byre that we do the reverse, as Gokarna would be a better destination to relax and enjoy after a demanding trek than Honnavar. The decision was proved very right at the end of two day’s trek.

Byre had arranged for the tent from one of his colleagues and it was my responsibility to carry all the food items for two days in my backpack. We met at the Majestic KSRTC bus stand around 8PM on Friday night. The Raja Hamsa bus started at 8:15PM. When we asked the bus conductor at what time we would reach Honnavar, he replied it would be 6AM and he seemed very sure about it.

The bus indeed reached Honnavar bus stand at 6AM. We negotiated with a sleepy receptionist in one of the hotels near the bus stand for a room just for 2 hours. He did not budge for anything less than 150 bucks. We freshened up within no time and caught a bus to Haldipur, from where our actual trek would begin. Haldipur is just 7 kms away from Honnavar bus stand. We got down at Haldipur, bought a bottle of water and started walking towards the beach. We knew the 2 litre water bottle would never be sufficient, but were confident that we would surely get some villages where we can buy water bottles near the beaches along our route. We reached Hadipur beach. We made few phone calls to our near and dear ones to inform that we are starting our trek. It was 8:30AM by then. The famous Nethrani island was visible from the Haldipur beach. The beach looked nearly empty with very few people and lot of baby crabs to welcome us. The harmless baby crabs just ran away from our footsteps as we walked and some played hide and seek in and out of their holes in sand. My impression of beach always has been a densely populated dirty place with plenty of litter all around. I must say, all the beaches I have visited were the same. But, Haldipur beech looked clean and serene. These are the kind of beaches where you sit in the evenings and get into a conversation with the waves. It cannot happen on densely populated beaches. I felt happier by the prospect of more and more such beaches during the course of our trek.

After walking for few hundreds of meters, we got a small hillock to climb. As no trail was seen to climb, Byre took the charge. Give such challenges and our boy will always lead you. I followed Byre carefully. After reaching the top, the sea looked more magnificent. Another stretch of beach and there was another hill to climb. This time, the hill was bigger and again had no clear trails. At one point, we had to struggle to get to the next rock. The dry grass made it more slippery to carefully stoop and get across. While I was waiting for Byre to get on to the next rock, Byre was carefully gripping the grooves on the rock and stepping down on the rock below. The ramping rock below did not look easy to step down. A shrub at the base of the ramping rock below, made the descent little tricky. As I was watching Byre, he slipped badly and slid down, his attempt to hold the dry grass to stop the fall did not succeed. He landed at the base of the ramping rock with few scratches on his hands made by the dry grass. Byre got on carefully and asked me to pass my backpack to him. It would have been impossible to cross that rock with the backpack. When we thought we had crossed those two rocks successfully, I too slipped badly. I was sitting and crossing the rock sideways and the dry grass again tricked us. I slid down at least by 2 meters. The falls we had were not very dangerous, but it alerted both of us and demanded more respect for these small hillocks. The hill after the next beach was full of shrubs. Both of us got few scratches on our hands and legs. On reaching the top of the hill, we got to see Dhareshwar beach. The foothill also had a small banana grove. Few men were toiling to cut the mud bricks near the banana grove. We enquired for the name of the beach and also the nearby towns. People were pleasant in answering our questions. The Dhareshwar beach was easily more than 5-6 kms and that was the longest stretch of beach I have ever seen. The initial few hundreds of meters of Dhareshwar beach must have been serving as the open lavatory for the fishermen and the people of nearby village. Byre and I walked carefully. Once we got past that stretch, the beach was clean again. We started walking barefoot with the waves hitting our feet often. It was a mesmerizing experience to walk barefoot on such a long beach for hours together. There were more and more baby crabs and also big crabs on this beach. I found their running amusing. They seem to run even sideways!

We saw a huge number of sea gulls on the beach. As we walked, they were flying away from us. After hours of walking on Dhareshwar beach, we saw a small stream of water joining the sea before the next hill. We later realized that must be a river. When we asked the fishermen there for the name of the river, they said it is some 'local river'. The term amused me. The river was shallow in few places. We tried to cross the river by walking across, but the water level was up to our waists. It was enough to wet our backpacks. Hence we decided to take the road instead. Caught an auto rickshaw and got dropped into the Kumta town for our lunch. It was around 1:15pm when we reached the hotel. We had walked continuosly since we started without any long breaks. We were terribly hungry. Byre relished the fish thali and I ate my veg thali.

Enquiring about the bus to the Kumta beach, people guided us to catch the next bus at 2:30PM to a place called VannaLLi from the old bus stand.The bus dropped us at a place called Beach Cross. Looking back from the beach, we could see the same 'local river' at a distance. The small hills on that beach were not much of a challenge if we were not full and if it was not the hot afternoon Sun. We rested under a tree there. One of those hills had some dilapidated structure, we saw half burnt logs there. Some people must have camped there.

Getting down from those hills was little tricky as we had to walk a lot on boulders to reach our next beach. The small beach there had predominantly Muslim names painted on the boats. Crossing that and a walking on the rocks again, we saw a longest stretch of beach. This stretch was longer than Dhareshwar beach and easily more than 8kms. We found few firangs sun bathing on that beach. None showed any interest in exchanging courteous hello's and hi's except an old lady who was walking along the beach. Walking further ahead, we found few fishermen on the beach. They said this beach was called as Kadle beach (not to be confused with Kudla beach in Gokarna, we were still very far from reaching Gokarna). With Sun slowly leaning towards the Sea, Byre and I decided we should walk as close as possible to the distant hill visible and camp there right on that beach. We found few villagers walking on the beach, few had come to enjoy the sunset. We decided on a 'safe' place away from bushes and much away from waves for setting up our tent. As setting up the tent took some time, my wish to see sunset sitting relaxed in front of the tent did not work out. Sun was already set by the time we had put up our tent. It wasn't still dark, Byre gathered few dry coconut branches and small dry twigs for setting the bonfire. We saw a firang couple also collecting dry twigs there. We initiated a conversation with the firang male. He said they are from Germany, and was fluent enough in his English. Though he sounded little reluctant initially but opened up about their plans in India after Byre spoke few lines in German to him. He looked happy seeing some German speaking Indian on a nearly inhabited beach in India. He said their vacation in India is of 5 months and they did not have any fixed travel itinerary. Listening to him we were clearly envious of their vacation. 5 months of vacation in a foreign country!?? That's practically impossible for us. The Germans collected enough wood for their campfire and started making the campfire few meters away from our tent. With the camphor we had carried, it was easy for us to make the campfire. Making sure, the fire is caught properly, we sat down for our food and drink...
After few drinks and the dinner consisting of bread-bhujia sandwiches with sauce, the campfire doused. We made no efforts to light it again as by then the moon light had  painted the entire beach in silver. The white waves hitting the shore looked radiant. As they say some priceless moments in life come for free, we were there on the moon lit beach under the open sky watching the white waves hitting the shore savoring our food and drink spending hardly any bucks to savor that moment.

The year that was...

Posted by Anantha | Posted in | Posted on Friday, January 11, 2013


  • Auroville Marathon (Pondicherry) [12th Feb, 2012] - This was my first ever marathon. Took 5 Hrs 23 Mins to finish it. Read the details here. I am going there in next month again for this year’s event.  
  • TCS Open 10k (Bangalore) [27th May, 2012] – Got a ‘Finisher Tee’ from Nike for finishing within top 1500.
  • Airtel Hyderabad Marathon [26th August, 2012] - Clocked 4Hrs 31Mins. Almost an hour less than the time I took for finishing Auroville. Link to post is here.
  • Bangalore Ultra 50Kms [10th Nov 2012] - Took 5Hrs and 45Mins to complete my first ever Ultra Marathon. Read the post here.

Apart from these, I have done 5-6 Half Marathons and 2 practice marathons. The Endomondo stats say, I have run over 1200Kms in the last year!! During this, I have seen a considerable improvement in my timing. Earlier I rarely used to clock 5:20 mins/km, now I often hit close to 5 mins/km. Of course, the challenge would be to sustain that pace for longer period in longer runs.

Ok.. That has been the achievement in running in the year that was so much dedicated to it. Running has become part of life now. A friend of mine (a non-runner) once asked me, 'Till when do you want to continue doing this?' I said, “As long as I enjoy it” Yes, the improvement in timing, the travel to few unknown cities, keeping fit and earning few acquaintances has been part of running. If running was just about that, I might not have thought about continuing it. What makes it joyful is the drop of sweat on the forehead when I am pushing hard on an uphill... The sweet pain in legs during the stretch after a run. These are just priceless.  

The resolutions pertaining to running for this year would be to bring the FM timing within 4 hrs 15 mins. And to visit at least two states in India which I have never visited before. 

Belated New Year wishes to you all :)

Image courtesy: Team In Traning