Tag Archives: Malpe

On Tanning Solutions

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.

The beach at Malpe.

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.

The lighthouse at Kapu.

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”.

The beach at Baiyandooru.

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.

Ganapatipule.

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.

Coffee & Conviviality

I’ve an excellent idea for the start of a vacation. Take the road. Better yet, take the road late so that you are in the Nelamangala sector by mid-morning. As is its wont, it’ll server a peach of a jam. In my opinion, nothing can be guaranteed to help you appreciate the fact that you’ll be away from all of this madness more. And in keeping with the spirit of getting away, I spent an excellent weekend in the hills. With an invitation to come back when coffee flowers, I might add. Our drive – I was with The Missus – took us to Coffee Valley, Sakleshpura. The drive after you take a left onto NH 47 is excellent, if a little narrow. To get to Sakleshpura, you drive past the right turn that welcomes you to Hassan and onwards to Belur and Halebidu. The road turned progressively worse as we took the by-pass. It was a portent of things to come, but that is jumping ahead of the story.

Hiking up Pandavagudda near Coffee Valley, Sakleshpura.

Once you get to Sakleshpura, you count down roughly 4 kms to a turn to the right that goes to Davalkere. As soon as you take this right, there is a fork on the road, the left leads to Mudigere and the left to Davalkere. Taking the road to Davalkere we reached Coffee Valley just after lunch – anything after 1 and before 5 is lunch – and were welcomed by Mr. Manjunath, the squire of all Coffee Valley.

Mr. Manjunath is a host who believes in the old adage that “Atithi Devo Bhava”. We’re not left alone a minute from the time we got in to the time we left. After a never-before-tasted lime juice (The Missus claiming that it had honey – we don’t know the secret ingredient though) was followed by excellent lunch of akki roti, a veg palya and chicken. Mrs. Manjunath, for she was the cook, over the next couple of meals, succeeded in demolishing all “diet”ary plans that The Missus had. As all my friends know, I don’t even attempt going on one when on a trip like this.

There is not much you are legally allowed to do after such a repast – going horizontal is mandatory I believe. I tried fighting it but eventually succumbed to Morpheus. The small rooms that they’ve built down the hillside from the drying yards is cool even though the sun outside attempted to huff and puff. True to his nature, Mr. Manjunath walked us to our rooms. Along the way, we stopped and gleaned some info about the various crops that he grows on his plantation, his routine and his estate. Considering that the walk is only about 5 mins, you can bet that there was a lot of stopping!

Winter evening in Malnad.

Post this, we were supposed to go some distance from the estate to catch a glimpse of the sunset. We met up with a couple of other folks staying there and we all piled in on the Hosamane (that’s the name of the estate) Gypsy. Considering that we’d made solid inroads into lunch and the beds really warm and inviting, we were a little late in getting to the location and missed the sunset. This was to be the leitmotif of this journey, but more on that later. We did manage to get the last farewell that the evening had put up for us however. The moon compensated – a golden disc rising in the east. We lingered as the both celestial bodies put up a show and silently took in the vista spread out before us. This seemed like a good place to camp, but I didn’t see any water body around. The moon rendered the torches that we’d got superfluous. Snacks and coffee awaited us. Camp-fire followed and we enjoyed excellent food and company around the warmth. Once dinner was done, we had to persuade Mr. Manjunath to rest for he was still hovering about like a mother hen. Our conversation followed around the camp-fire where everything from malls, childhood stories, Awesomely bad movies and college anecdotes were shared.

The next morning saw some of us (read yours truly) get up early to catch sunrise. A short walk outside the estate led to the discovery that Sakleshpura dogs do not like me. Since I’m such a wussy around them, I decided to curtail the walk to a short perambulation and made tracks back to the estate. I joined Mr. Manjunath on his morning inspection through the estate. Another mouth watering delight followed and we made tracks to Pandavagudda.

Mine host, Mr. Manjunath at Pandavagudda.

It’s a 20 minute ride from the estate to the base of the hill. A small temple to Ishwaran stands here and after the mandatory Patel shots, we moved towards the hill. It’s a pleasant walk up the hill and it gives you a panoramic view of Sakleshpura countryside. We reluctantly moved from there, only the visions of epicurean delight that awaited us at the base driving us down. While we would have liked to stay back and enjoy a siesta, the road beckoned all of us and we very reluctantly took leave. Our next destination was Udupi, but the good people at the PWD and NHAI connived to ensure that we only reached Mangalore. More about that in a bit.