Art & Leisure – Gokarna

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 The soul has been given its own ears
to hear things mind does not understand … Rumi

Rumi stated it beautifully and what more when you come down to a small western coast township of Gokarna holds a spiritual and blissful feel.

It was almost evening when we were struggling to find our place to stay at “Kudle Beach”. We happen to park our car on the top of the beach along with many other cars that were parked. May be that was the reason why we had the confidence to park our car too. And then carried our steps down the steps to the place of stay on the beach.

It was dark by the time we reached our place. Well realized that online can be quite deceptive too and we changed our place. A little more expensive but we were fine with that.

Having settled down we could sit on the beach as the stars came out. We had a quite dinner and crashed out. We had a long drive from Kulgi that day.

The next morning, it was a beautiful welcome with the calm waves of the Arabian sea welcomed us to play with it. Had a lazy breakfast at one of the shacks on the beach.

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As we lazed out, one of the hawkers selling all sorts of necklace and key rings. My partner got down and went down to the business of negotiating the price. It was an interesting fun talking to locals. We finally managed to pick a few skull rings.

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No one had any objection with us siting at their shops. By afternoon we headed off to one of the shacks which was artistically painted. We were served by an Indian whose mother happened to be a foreigner.

This place came into life as sun was thinking about setting down… There were people who came down to set up their flea market. Almost all of them were foreigners who were selling one or the other life styles. Some had bangles to some beagles and cakes. There was a buzz of activities that went on happening. People had planted their flags to mark their territory. Some of the things were quite antique too and some relatively new. But, price was the same. Interesting things to see.

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IMG_20181227_183201While the flea market was on, there were a bunch of people who went on showing their skills. Either it was yoga or balancing the stick or playing Frisbee or any other act of their will. They did not hesitate to let us also experiment along with them.

There was an energy that was free will. It is my life and my world. I create what I love painting around. There was no hesitation to share too if you would like to step into it…

Well as if that was not all, someone said, why can we not play a game of beach badminton without any net and rules. The only rule was to return the ball at the same intensity.

We had a splendid time soaking ourselves in the intensity of laughter, fun and high energy of the people on Kudle beach. It was an evening beautifully spent, and not without taking some shots and enjoying the sun set.

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It was one of the best relaxation times when we just lazed around, soaked ourselves into the beauty of what nature and a free will can do. Well that was not all, we also hogged on some “Saksukas” and Pizzas. It is a great place to see food fusion at its best gulped down with Beer or simple water. You have plenty to choose from.

As we wrapped up our blissful stay at Gokarna’s Kudle beach with a lovely early morning bliss, and dip in the Arabian sea, we were simply enthralled.

As though this was not enough, the simple town of Gokarna was equally mesmerizing. The paths are quite narrow and we had to navigate carefully. At some places we closed the mirror panels of the car. Finally managed to park our car and headed for a good and simple breakfast before heading towards the Shiva Temple.

And when we reached the The tranquility and the serenity of the temple will take you to a different level. Picked up some flowers that we offered it to the lord. We also had the chance to touch the broken Shiva Linga which is being prayed there.IMG_20181228_093921

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As we walked out of the temple and till furlong along the outer walls of the temple we reached the Mahaganapathy Temple where the lord is facing the sea and there is a mythology attached to it too. DSC_8834

We then took the narrow lanes to reach the lake where Ravana is supposed to have take a dip.

After all the walking around, we headed back. One could hear the chants which were going feverishly. We just stopped and sat down on one of the varandas. As we did that, one of the elderly ladies walked out and asked, if we needed some water or anything.  That was a beautiful human touch to be with. The city still holds the humanness.

As we walked around, art became a common sight. Graffiti was a common site and they are quite artistic. Loved the air of Gokarna.

As we left such a mesmerizing place, both from religious and from a vacation point of view. This city is not much in news but is absolutely a place that one cannot miss. A must from Karnataka.

The Fish vendors lead by Women

Things to check:

  • Gokarna, is well connected on the main high way.
  • Kudle & OM beach are off the city limits (15 – 20 Kms) and GPS could be tricky.
  • Remember that you have to park your vehicles (If you are on your own)
  • You will have to walk down some 60 odd steps to reach the base of the beach.
  • Do check on your place of stay as the beach has support for any kind of budget and stay.
  • It is quite a tranquil place both the beach and the city. 
  • You can carry your camera bag / camera / cell phone.
  • Explore different kinds of food, you will never regret.
  • Finally, ensure “Swatch Bharat” & say no to plastics. The place is relatively clean and has been maintained by local people.    

Indeed…. Incredible India!!

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Col Saheb Island – Munroe

Calm and deep, is what it feels
Green and blue, are the hues it shows
Meandering as is, interwoven with life
Nature and people, love these sides

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It was after spending the day with the Stallions, we headed out for our one day trip to the boat ride that we had planned. Boat rides, one normally connected with that of a typical Kerala boat and we were no different. The meandering road took us down to the ferry place. This ferry services connected two sides of the land which was well connected by train services and road. The road services were cut down by nearly 20 Kms, which was a big thing as the roads are so serpentine that a few person could throw up.

As we took a right turn at one of road which was running beautifully next to a canal and coconut trees, we reached a dead end. This is where the road met the open expanses of water. The ferry boat from here would take us to the other end, where out beautiful boat ride was to begin. As we reached we realised that we were a wee bit slow. The ferry boat just left our end of the the Ashtamudi lake and moved to the other end. We got down from the car and enjoyed the calmness and non hurried atmosphere. Father and son, got into the mode of posing, sitting on the road next to the bank where the boat had left and enjoying the breeze. Least that I realised that my wife had got shooting us (It was a good surprise when I was going through the pics 🙂 )…

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Kollam-105As our ferry came back, people got on to it and then slowly the loading of three cars, a mini truck and close to 15 bikes got on. It took us 5 minutes to go to the other side of the lake. The place we reached was the Munroe Island. One of the Island that got naturally created by the backwaters. The area was formed by the Asthamudi lake (Astha mudi – Eight coned). It is a beautiful wetland ecosystem.  This place also got its name from the British Colonel

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Train line connecting the Island

Munroe who was a resident of the erstwhile Travancore district.Kollam-143

We again got into the meandering roads before we reached our man who was going to be our guide, Mr. Regu further. As we got down, the first predicament was that our language. With all the question mark my partner started in hindi:

She: Apko hindi ata hai (Do you know Hindi?)
Mr. Regu: Madamji, humko ata hai. Hum hindustani hai. Hindi rastrabhasha hai (Madam, I know Hindi, I am an Indian and Hindi is our national language).

The moment he finished, we all burst into laughter and that is it… He took us on a small foot path serpentine through the banana plantation. He deftly handed us over to his oars man, stating us to come back by 1 pm. While doing that Regu said to us.

Aapko jaldi ana tha, bahut jagah ghum sakte the. Late ho gaya abhi. No problem, enjoy and  Lunch ke liya aa jana. (You should have come early, could have gone to many more places. You came in late. No problem, enjoy and come back for lunch)

 

Kollam-175We smiled as we got into the small canoe kind of boat. Not the typical Kerala boathouse and we got to know why as the journey started.. To begin the rain Gods said, let me sprinkle some Kerala water on you.. It was such a bliss feeling as the boat moved and our old oarsman handed over the umbrellas that he had for such occasion. It seemed very normal for him. We were all speechless for five minutes as

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Our oarsman

the boat started to more. All forgot about the scare we had with water and the shake of the water. We were all immersed in the true beauty of the nature. It was simply pristine.

As we moved more into the natural canals, realised what all this country has. It was a water system that was the life line for the people over there. People would park their boats at the side of the canal and got the nearby grocery shop to pick up their daily things. The coir industry is an industry that thrives side by side. Kollam like any other place in Kerala does have a thriving coir industry and coir products being produced in the back yards. We parked our boat for a tea break and also stopped to lay our hands on making coir ropes. It was really a delight to see how a simple single coir strand could turn out to be a strong rope that could hold any weight.

After spending some time and our expertise in making ropes we got back onto the boat for the further boat ride. One could see the beautiful ecosystem as to how the birds and people Kollam-227have co-existed there. We saw many white headed eagles that seemed to be thriving on the fishes there. It is so difficult to describe the beauty that surrounds you there. Our oars man took us from a big canal into the small canals under the foot bridges. There is fish cultivation along with Paddy and off course coconut cultivation in the area. We stopped near one of the paddy fields where our oarsman gave us fresh coconut to drink without a straw. It was really a good balancing act trying to drink. As we kept moving from one canal to another, we could see the livelihood around. People would smile and wave back. They were so used to seeing new faces. Our oarsman would go on exchanging his news with folks as they cross each one house after the other.

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As we ended our trip the rain gods again showered on us to treat us good bye. But, out journey was yet to be over. Mr. Regu, picked us from there and took us to a small boathouse for a lavish typical Non Vegetarian lunch. For a change this was complete sea food lunch. We had, Kareemen fish fry, Kareemen fish curry, Crab masala, Prawn curry,

vegetable, Kerala rice and butter milk. It was a mesmerising food. I had never hogged food the way I did that day on the boathouse. We invited Regu to share the Lunch with us, we had a very a fun filled time. His Malayalam dialect Hindi was the beautiful highlight. An army guy after having served the country now is focused on giving a customer delight. He has a small stay home where one could stay for days or weeks or months. Simple people with a very friendly approach. That defined who he was.

We came back from Munroe island with loads of freshness. As we drove back, my body was in the car and in the flight back to Chennai but my mind lingered over the water canals and the mesmerising freshness of silence and air. It was one to stay long with me..

Kollam-239We left the place and kept chatting about the various little things we saw… Hard to believe we have such beautiful places and branding has not happened much. It is really an incredible country having some spending places to explore…

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Love it all!!!

 

Shelled Shore!!!

She sells sea shells in the sea shore,
But would she sell on a shell shore…  🙂

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Sea Shell Beach – St. Mary’s Island, Udupi

Nature, has built in its own ornaments and placed it beautifully across the globe. Am sure, while building its ornaments, it did ensure that India has a fair share of jewels and treasures hidden in the various parts of the country. The more I travel and explore, I realise that the less I know about this beautiful country. One of such lovely treasures is a small island called “St. Mary’s Island“. A very small island 6 kms off the Udupi beach into the pristine blue waters of the Arabian sea. An Island that seemed to have been discovered by Vasco da Gama.

It was a very tiring day for me as I have been driving for 6 consecutive days travelling from East coast (Chennai) to West coast (Mangalore / Udupi) of India. After having visiting the famous Krishna temple at Udupi (Odipu in Tulu), I wanted to head back to Mangalore which was our base for the day. Half hearted I said yes to heading towards the Malpe beach. I kept saying, “Same water, same blue, yeah!! may be more clear”. Still my partner insisted and I said ok.. I would I have cursed myself more, had I not head her. (Lesson: Listen to your partner often ;))

West coast travel-390The beach brought back my life in a flash, it was the humid breeze that lifted my sagging spirits again and we started to walk around. It was 2.30 pm in the afternoon but was certainly a very busy afternoon, with kids and locals jumping and playing around. The street vendors were setting up their shops.

West coast travel-391As we strolled there were couple of young guys who kept asking, “would you like to go to the St. Mary’s island?” and I was like what’s there??

He said, “Sir, nice beach.. very different from here!!”

What, how can a beach be different, it is a beach and it will be the same all over.. Half hearted I said yes and gave the money after consent from my partner.. It was Rs 150/- bucks per person.

Well we had to wait for 20 mins before we got our ride on.. Clutching my camera bag, water bottles (a must, the sea makes you more thirsty) and cap we started. Once all the Landmass looked so different, and my fear of deep waters started getting the better of me. My little champ kept nudging and asking his 100 questions, which seemed to have helped in my journey of 6 kms in the sea.

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The boat ride

As we got down we were welcome by extremely soft white sand and round pebbles everywhere. While getting down the boat man said one hour and 5.30 pm is the last ride back. Alright, we got down and was admiring the coconut trees and the kids playing in water. I saw a lot of smooth small pebbles that looked like volcanic rocks smoothened by sea waves. At that moment we saw a lot of people walking though the bushes. The curiosity got the better of us and we followed them through a 150 mts patch of bushes to the other side of the island.
Woho, what a view!!! I was awe struck…

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Shell beach

I seemed to have been transported to a different place. The beach felt different against a crystal clear blue sea and hexagonal pillared rocks marking the outlining the beach. A closer look and I was stuck by the beach.. It was a beach filled with sea shells. Never in my life had I seen so many sea shells on a beach. First reaction, it is fake and let’s dig it and I did just to feel the pain of the sharp shells. It was not man made rather a natural phenomena where sea shells had been deposited on the beach along this part of the coast. I was jumping on the beach like a Kid. (Had I continued a little longer Mr.Vasco da Gama would have come down to cool me off)

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Rock with Shells glued to it!!

We spend more than an hour soaking the beautiful sea shell beach and the amazing hexagonal rock structures, which seemed to be prehistoric and volcanic in nature. I still was amazed by this beautiful phenomena. But did feel sad looking at the glass bottles (some broken) people have left behind at various places. One needs to be careful which climbing the rocks and explore.

 

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Shells, water, rocks and horizon… Aha!!

It is a small island but really a phenomenal place to explore and soak in the nature’s beautiful creation.

I am surprised that Indian / Karnataka tourism does not speak much about this natural wonder at all. I do not think across the globe you would see such a marvellous nature “Sea shell beach.”

As we hurried to catch our ferry and head back, I was even more charged up. I was thinking of the rechargeable battery and me. For me St Mary’s was a free soul charging point. I was jumping like the Duracell bunny all the way back to Mangalore that day.

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Shell, Oh Shell, which Shell do I choose!!

The funny part was, normally I had a tendency to pick some shells from any beach that I visit, but here I was spoilt for choice and I could treasure the moments and awesomeness of the place…

St Mary’s.. you will always be shelled in my memory….

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