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.

Comments (2)

" alerted both of us and demanded more respect for these small hillocks.." - berry funny. :)

Excellent experience. cheers.


Ya man, you got to respect the hills you trek :)

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