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Gokarna, Karnataka

Famous. Famous for its beaches. Famous for its holy sites. Famous of its international travellers.

Gokarna, seems to be one of those places where everybody-who-has-heard-of-it wants to visit; and everybody who has visited it, wants to go again. For us it had been on the cards for a while. One time, a trip had been planned and we were all set to go but a couple of things cropped up on the home front and we had to cancel it. A month later, thankfully it worked. And from 'want to visit,' it became a 'have to visit again' destination.

For us, Gokarna was that first stop along the Karnataka Coast; it was that place where we got beach-dirty after what seemed like  a long, long time. Then we would go beach hopping and have our fill for the time being.

Gokarna, Karnataka
The bustling Gokarna town

Seemingly crowded; yet very charming

We spent our first morning there driving through the town and visiting the Main Beach. These parts of Gokarna were crowded. It screamed tourism. Leisure tourism and religious tourism are really big here; bigger than I had imagined it to be. And there were tourists from abroad and home, making it a very interesting mix of people, and giving Gokarna a character of its own.

Despite the crowds, Gokarna has a charisma of its own. The heart of the town wears the look of another age with its antiquated buildings and narrow streets. Its famous Car Street's lined with small shops crammed with flowers and lamps and clothes with 'Om' printed on it. There were shops  selling idols and framed pictures of all the gods and goddesses of the Hindu pantheon. There were shops selling colourful 'holy' threads to be tied on wrists and necks and japamalas (prayer beads strung together to keep track of chants, like rosaries). And then there were toys and bags and colourful attires and all kinds of souvenirs you can think of.

Gokarna, Karnataka

Temple car, Car Street, Gokarna


Scenes from Car Street

The Beaches

The Main Beach was equally swarmed with Gokarna's people; people of different shades of skin, all come to see and experience the this alluring town.

Spiritual, cultural or leisure, whatever is one's reason for visiting Gokarna, a walk or ride or drive to the beach is quite irresistible. On the warm winter day that we were there, it looked like even the bovine populace were out to bask and enjoy the sun and sand.

Main beach, Gokarna
Main Beach, Gokarna

Main Beach, Gokarna

Main Beach, Gokarna

For us the weather was too hot and not exactly beach-weather. So we decided to spend the mid day hours driving around. As we drove out of the hot-and-happening areas, we saw the sights typical of the Indian west coast: houses crowned with sloping terracotta roofs; just right for the heat and those famous SW Monsoons that hit these parts, coconut trees and small restaurants selling 'fish-meals.'

Then we drove toward a part that was pretty much deserted as we headed to Om Beach. We saw Kudle Beach on the way there.


Kudle Beach, Gokarna
Kudle Beach 

Later that day we decided to hit the celebrated Om Beach. You've probably heard of it. For those of you who haven't, this beach is called Om because the beach is naturally shaped to an almost perfect 'Om.' This beach, everybody will tell you is a must-visit. Apart from the natural shape, this beach is known for it's western crowds, its enchanting atmosphere, gorgeous sunsets and the renowned Namaste Cafe.

We spent the evening watching the boats come in and some leave on late-evening sails. And then there was the sun who was all set to call it a day. So we hung out there long enough to see the sun set over the Shiva Rocks and then went to grab a bite (and a beer for hubby) at Namaste Cafe.

Om beach, Gokarna
Om Beach

By the time we decided to call it a day, the night had settled in and the beach was deserted. Although the cafe was still open and still buzzing with activity, it looked like those who had to leave the area had already left. As we walked back to the parking area which was up the hill, there was an eerie stillness as we went up that unlit path, and we wondered if it was too late an hour to be walking that way with a five year old and a baby. That evening we hadn't driven to the beach. Our resort's vehicle had dropped us there and the plan was to hire an auto-rickshaw back. After a rik-ride through a good 4-5 kilometres of an isolated stretch, we were back at our accommodation and impressed with the rickshaw driver who hadn't asked for a rupee more than what was the fixed fare back into town, even though it was an odd hour. Now if you are a Bangalorean (or Bengalurean, as we officially are now) you know that is something to be impressed by. So the good man was very handsomely tipped.

The following day we would drive up north to Karwar and the morning after that we had planned to walk down to Kudle beach; which unfortunately did  not happen. To see Kudle Beach, to chill out at Namaste Cafe, to check out the other beaches that called for a trek and to record my second impressions of Gokarna, I must head that way again.
Sunlit valley, Monterey, California
Catching the light on a sunlit valley somewhere in Monterey California.
I caught this sight during a drive from Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA to the Bay Area.

Linking this post to the meme: 
Catching Light

I spent the whole of last week in the middle of a plantation in Wayanad, one of Kerala's districts that lie on the Western Ghats. In the middle of the week, there was a downpour that restored the pleasant weather that Wayanad used to be known for. Two days later there came another round of summer showers.

That evening as I sat on my terrace trying to get some stronger phone signals for my Bangalore-based cellphone connection, I found myself watching the cloudy evening sky and by the end of the day, I had a collection of cell phone pictures of the sky.

A overcast evening sky,  Wayanad, Kerala.

A little later, the sky lit up. I guess the sun was going down behind those clouds. 

And then the bright light behind the clouds began to fade...

...till all was dark around me. 
Linking to the meme:
Catching Light

Karwar is the northernmost port cities of Karnataka and is known for serving as a Naval base too. It lies on the north western corner of Karnataka, a few kilometres south of where the state shares a border with Goa. As such, it seemed like a good idea to drive all the way up to Majali, where the stateline lies. Like I said in the previous post, for me, this trip to the west coast was like filling that gap between Kerala and Goa.

Although Karwar was a big point on our Karnataka-Coast itinerary, we didn't stay there during the trip. It was Gokarna that was our base for a few days. After a day of exploring Gokarna, we decided to do that drive along National Highway 17 (NH-17) that would take us to Karwar. When we got to Karwar, the kids were still fast asleep in the back seat. That was when we thought we should drive up to state border. On the way we crossed Kali Bridge that connects the banks of the Kali River. The Kali River, which originates in the Western Ghats flows into the Arabian Sea here in Karwar.

The area near the bridge is a scenic one. If you are passing by, it would not be a bad idea to stop here and take in the vistas:  there's the massive Kali River joining the Arabian Sea, and the Devbagh Island on one side and on the other, is a river island (the person watching Devbagh's jetty told me it was called the Kali Island) sitting smug in the Kali River.

Later that day, we stopped by the INS Chapal and had a look inside it. INS Chapal is a warship-turned-Maritime museum stationed just off Rabindranath Tagore Beach. Inside, we saw the ship's mess, the officers's bunks, the bridge, the main engine, the places where the officers on duty answered nature's calls and all that. Now where have I seen this before? Aha! the SS Jeremiah O'Brien in SF. Oh my! that's another post that still hasn't gone up, it's not even in the drafts. My list of places visited and still not documented on this blog is only getting longer but that doesn't stop me from tripping. ;)

Coming back to the Indian Warship, here is a quick look into the INS Chapal. I particularly liked the life size figures that are on exhibit. I had read about it when I was doing my pre-trip homework but then it slipped off my mind while I was actually on the ship so I'm not lying when I say I got a start when I got to one of the cabins and saw a handsome gentleman in uniform peering at me.

After some learning on the warship, we decided to have an easy evening at Ravindranath Tagore Beach and watch the sun set and allow sonny boy to do what he likes doing most -- playing in the sand.

From the warship and from the Beach, Karwar showed us all the islands that lie just off this port city - Kurumgud, Madhyalingad and Devgad islands. And in the evening when the sun was on its way down, they made such grand silhouettes out at sea, turning the landscape into a very pretty picture.

A Karwar sunset
And before we left the seaside, we had an excuse to drive into the heart of the city. Our baby no.2 then a 11 month old had lost a part of her earing and if we didn't find something for those little ears, we would have had to put ourselves through the torture of another ear piercing. Thus we got a peek at Karwar's shopping district, although it was not part of the original plan.

Places we did not visit that you might be interested in:

  • Sadashivgad Fort
  • Children's Aquarium.

Sunset, Columbia River
Westward Bound: Both -- the sun and Columbia River.
(The Columbia River flows westward and empties itself in the Pacific Ocean)

Sunset, Interstate bridge, Columbia River
A late evening shot from the Interstate Bridge on I-5.
The Columbia River, which flows here plays the border between the states of Washington and Oregon.

The above pictures were shot on a cell phone camera, and from a moving car; I just had to catch that late-evening light and that irresistible scene before we passed all of it. 

Linking to the meme -- 
Catching Light

You might also like the post on the scenic drive through Columbia River Gorge--
One mighty river gorge, two scenic routes and umpteen vistas

 Come, Trip with us. ;) 

PS: I'm travelling and may take a li'l longer to reply to comments and visit your blogs. Have a great week, everyone. :)

Just before the curtains fell on 2014, we went on our last trip for the year, to make sure the year ended on a 'high' note ( read tipsy note).

Still in 'Discover Karnataka mode' and in  road-trip mood, this time the plan was to drive along Karnataka's coast.

Our road-trip-along the coast started in Gokarna but we drove up to Karwar, from there. And we went the whole nine-yards by driving up till the Goa border and then driving all the way down to Surathkal near Mangalore.

Between Karwar in Uttar Kannada and Surathkal in Dakshina Kannada, we made stops in Gokarna, Kumta, Honnavar, Bhatkal, Ottinane, made a quick mini trip to Kollur and got back to the coast and then set foot in Marvanthe, Malpe and did another drive into Udupi- the town.

Although we toured the INS Chapal, a warship docked in Karwar and did a walk through Mirjan Fort in Kumta, treated our taste buds to some Bhatkal Biryani and all that, this trip was mostly about beach-hopping along the Karnataka's coast. It was about catching some sunsets and realising how much of the bounty that nature blessed the southernmost part of the west coast  with, extended into the state neighbouring it in the north.

The coconut palms, the terracotta tiled roofs and even the countryside along the coast looked not quite unlike what we are used to see along Kerala's coast. Now that Karnataka's coast can be safely checked off the list, it was nice to drop some pins in the gap between Kerala and Goa as far as our 'been-there travel map' is concerned. Wasn't that a holiday well spent!

Beach-Hopping along the Karanataka Coast

For a while now, I've been posting pictures '#FromTheRoad' on Tipsy from the TRIP's facebook page hoping to provide some vicarious travel for the followers. While we beach-hopped along Karnataka's coastline, these were the pictures that went up on the page. Now these images are mobile phone photographs and so, not the best, but a quick-look at the stops we made along the route.

From North to South -- that is -- from Karwar to Surathkal, here they are:

Rabindranath Tagore Beach, Karwar
Rabindranath Tagore Beach, Karwar, Karnataka

Om Beach, Gokarna.
Om Beach, Gokarna.

Kudle Beach, Gokarna
Kudle Beach, Gokarna

Murudeshwar Beach, Murudeshwar.

Ottinene Beach, Udupi dt.
Ottinene Beach, Udupi dt.

Marawanthe Beach
Marawanthe Beach, Udupi  dt.

Malpe Beach, Udupi
Malpe Beach, Udupi dt.
Surathkal Beach, Surathkal, Dakshina Kannada

Coming soon: More details and better pictures from all those foot-stops along the Karnataka Coast. Keep tripping with us. :)
The Lights and Shades-of-Grey edition:

As I went through my travel albums I found that I had more photographs from that morning's (read post- Utah's Rocky Deserts -I) Amtrak journey through Utah. It was interesting to see how light played on the rocks and bushes and created shadows as it rose.

So here is another post of Utah's rocky deserts catching the morning light. I decided to go black and white this time, to keep monotony at bay and to show you what the light does to the landscape. So here are the pictures of the semi arid-area in black and white and several shades of grey:

Linking to the meme -- 

If you missed the previous post which was in 'colour, you might want to check it out here --


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