Someone tells me that the Brits swarm in hordes to Goa for the winter, slather themselves with suntan lotion and roast. So, besides the blue waters of the Arabian Sea, there is a sea of pink sunburned blubber on the sands. We (The Missus and I – The Missus more than I) figured setting aside the sun burn part they’re all onto a good thing. Which is why exiting Coffee Valley found us pointing our way westwards.
Now it’s all right to say we’re going to the coast from Sakleshpura. As the crow flies or as NH 48 goes (since we’re not going to fly like crows, I would think crow flying distance would be shorter), the distance is mere 120 kms to Mangalore. However, since that excellent piece of rallying ground, Shiradi Ghat is closed, we chose it’s upcoming (some would say that the top spot has been relinquished) competitor, Charmadi Ghats. And since we’d used that road on our way to Magundi earlier in the year, we figured the journey would be a breeze. We figured wrong. It was a bone jarring, potentially axle breaking, dusty 20 kms just getting to the Ghats. Somehow, in the 5 months that had elapsed since our last crossing, this stretch of tar had converted to something that resembled the mountains of Ladakh with all the dust of Thar. There was an excellent view of the sun setting just below the forest guest house at Charmadi. Eventually, we pulled up in Mangalore, instead of the original destination, Udupi and bedded down for the night.
We were up with the lark the next day and a friend of ours pointed us to a beach near Mangalore. Penambur I think. Unfortunately, the signposts were not encouraging – we didn’t see one at all – so we went to the next beach, Kapu. We were the first ones there, at about 7.30 in the morning. There were others who were there as well, but they were there to commune with nature, and I guess they did that everyday. The beach is excellent with the lighthouse in prison garb with a red top. There was a nice feel to the whole place with the spray in the soft morning light. The beach is not very wide, but it is long and the light house end is where it ends. There are remnants of a an ancient structure, but I couldn’t find a way of getting on it. The Missus, enjoyed this better, as like a true dweeby geek, I was too busy capturing this on camera. As soon as we hit the highway from Kapu, a wonderful mist surrounded us. All the time I stayed on the coast, I’ve never seen mist. Ever. This was a nice grey morning, with minimal traffic and coconut palms sticking out and the vapour rising from the creeks we crossed adding to the views.
We stopped for an authentic Udupi breakfast. On my last visit to Amgol, we’d briefly stopped at Malpe and I wasn’t particularly keen on going back. However, since we didn’t have a particular destination in mind, we went back there anyway. Instead of stopping at the beach, though, we stopped a bit further up, near a temple. We walked past a school and soon were on the beach. Malpe has it’s charm, though my money would be still on Kapu. For a start, there is the jetty further up the beach, plus unlike Kapu, this beach proper had a line of last night’s dinner bobbing about in the waves. And from the looks of it, it looked like the entire village had a gala time the night before. You’ve to admit that that kind of puts a dampener on Baywatch-esque ideas of a beach.
When we started back, we decided to take back roads of coastal Udupi. Like an earlier trip, it was fun just going through a place and enjoying the sights. However, the boffos at the NHAI have decided that to appreciate the beauty around, you need to be reminded of the hell below your wheels. The road is good in patches heading out of Udupi and there are patches where they exist merely in a hypothetical way. Though having been battle hardened by the Charmadi Ghats, which is not even hypothetical – being more in the realm of mystical, we weathered it. It definitely put a dampener on things though. Next port of call was the ever charming Maravanthe, lunch at Murudeshwar (though I wonder just why I go there) and on to Baiyandooru. This beach is absolutely blissful and because it’s at an inaccessible place – well it’s not really, but then who makes the effort when Goa is just a little while away. Maybe that’s it’s charm. No people, a temple whose provenance or denomination I didn’t bother to check perched at one end and a creek at the other. The drive from here onto Goa gets progressively worse till after you cross Karwar. At the Goa Karnataka border we ran into familiar territory. Payment for no service rendered. For whatever reason, we were asked to register our name at the border crossing and leave something for “tea & water”.
Goa in Christmas is wonderfully decked up and we had booked a place at Morgem. However due to all our stops and the state of the roads we were only able to get there by night. Morgem in the morning looked absolutely wonderful. It doesn’t have the hordes that plague Goa’s other beaches. It might also be that we plonked ourselves at a time in the morning when Goa is still dreaming about last night.
Next port of call was Vengurla. However, the map and it’s actual corporeal existence diverged. Which is me putting my showing off my English skills to say that the map showed the road passing through this beach and the it actually being 22 kms away. Since we were a little pressed for time, we chose to go to Malwan. There is a short ride to Sindhudurg fort from Malwan jetty and people who’d help you snorkel as well. Neither of the choices appealed and we left for Ganapatipule. There is a temple to Lord Ganesh here. While The Missus went into the temple, I took a short walk beyond it. MTDC has beach huts and tents. If you go beyond the small crowds on the beach nearer to the temple, this is an amazing beach. Towards it’s northern end there is a creek that meets the sea and the view is absolutely amazing.
Later, I spent a weekend driving around with my earlier companions, the Usual, Suspects. The journey brought us to Bankot, a sleepy village that has a ST bus wide road, an excellent beach and no food. Hunger took us onwards to Anjarla, with a little-wider-than-a-ST-bus road, an excellent beach and fish meals. We camped on the beach star gazing till the cold and the wind pushed us in to the warmth of our modest home-stay.
So, yeah, all this rambling is to agree with the Brits. Just take care not to roast your self.