Monday, 23 February 2015

Road trip to Karnataka – Stream of joy and Bhadra WLS visit

To avoid the length of my travel blog, I have divided it into 2 parts. You can read the first part of travel blog at Road trip to Coastal Karnataka. First part consists of coastal line of state whereas in this part, I have tried to cover my travel experience of forest area from the Western ghat. We planned to spend 2 night at the stream of joy, 1 night at Bhadra WLS and 1 night in Shimoga (We changed our halt to Hubli due to riots) before reaching our hometown Pune.

Stream of Joy, Karnataka
Our cottage at Stream of Joy

Travel Blog link for Dandeli: Old Magazine House - Birding paradise in Ganeshgudi, Dandeli
Travel Blog link for Coastal Karnataka: Road trip to beautiful Coastal Karnataka

Our trip plan was Dandeli – Karwar – Quick visit to Palolem beach, Goa – Karwar – Gokarna – Murudeshwar – Udupi – Mangalore - Stream of joy near Hathyadka - Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary – Shimoga – Hubli (just for night stay) – Pune.

Day 7: 18th Feb 2015 – Mangalore - Stream of joy, Hathyadka (Distance travelled is around 100 km):
             We woke up by 9 AM and left Mangalore after a quick breakfast. With enough rest we were feeling fresh for our further journey. We said goodbye to the coastal line and started the journey towards Western Ghats. Road condition was good. Curvy road gave us an idea that we entered in Western ghat forest.
              Our destination was “Stream of Joy” Homestay nestled in the heart of Western Ghats. It is situated on the banks of the Kapila River in Arasinamakki Village near Dharmasthala. It is 100 km from Mangalore, Karnataka. We were constantly in touch with Mr. Damle as it was bit tricky to find the location. We reached at Stream of Joy by 1 PM. Damle family welcomed us. The entire place is run by the family which owns the place. Mr. Damle is the most humble person we have ever met. They have built 3-4 cottages near Kapila River stream a few meters away from their house. For next 3 days, we were the only tourists (due to weekday stay) and Damle family took proper care of us.

Damle Family at Stream of Joy
We with Damle Family

            As we were the only tourist, we got a cottage which was close to the water stream. Looking at the cottage area, our first reaction was this is the place we were looking for. The gushing river, the lush green surroundings, hilly terrains, a myriad of bird and insect sounds - all take you close to nature and make you wish you'd want to stay there more. Our motto of stay was Bird watching activity, explore the forest area, and visit to Shishila for fish feeding and relaxation in the nature.

Stream of Joy
Stream of Joy

View from out cottage

            Mr. Damle has good knowledge on birds and we decided to visit forest area in the evening time. We spend entire afternoon on the bank of Kapila River and then went for birding at 4.30 PM. We went in forest on foot. It was very thick forest and we were heard many bird calls. Major attraction was Malabar Trogon. When we were exploring the forest, Damle told us that from last 10-11 months no one had spotted Malabar Trogon and chances were less. We saw Racket Tailed drongo, Malabar Hornbill, leaf bird, copper smith Barbet, yellow oriole, and parakeet. When we went deep inside the forest, we saw pair for scarlet minivet bird. When we were about to lose hope for Malabar Trogon, we heard its call. Our eyes started searching in the jungle beauty. We were so lucky that suddenly Malabar Trogon male appear in front of us for 10-15 mins. He was giving a call to the female and we were able to hear response from partner. It was treating to our ear and eye. 

Yellow headed Oriole

Malabar Trogon near Stream of Joy
Malabar Trogon near Stream of Joy

Black rumped flameback

             We followed the Trogon male and soon we saw them in a pair. Mr. Damle saw this pair after 10-11 months. In few minutes, the pair flew away and our first birding trail ended on a sweet note. When we came out from forest area, Mr. Damle was so happy that he ringed up 5-6 people to inform them about trogon sighting.
             Suddenly weather took U-turn and it started raining for few minutes. We decided to go to our next destination ‘Shishila’ by 6 PM. Drive from forest area after rain shower was fabulous experience. Shishila is a beautiful temple village located near Dharmasthala in Belthangady taluk. The main attractions of Shishila are Lord Shiva temple and fish feeding. The temple is situated at the banks of river Kapila.

Mahseer fish at Shishila
Mahseer fish at Shishila

            The Mahseer fish are found in huge numbers in the Kapila River near temple area. These fish are generally found in Malaysia, Indonesia, across southern Asia including the Indian Peninsula and Pakistan. The fishing is strictly banned in Kapila River around 2 kilometers from Shishila. You can feed puffed rice to these fish. Mr. Damle gave us a huge bag full of feed for the fishes. There is a small hanging bridge on River. First we went on bridge and started feeding them. Oh my God, thousands of 1 foot long Mahseer fish came near the bridge. It was fun to feed them. We wanted to view closely so we went at temple where steps and platform was built to feed the fish.

Mahseer Fish...Underwater photo taken by my Friend Abhijit Gandhi (Camera: Gopro)

             When we started throwing the food towards the river schoals of fish came in and started fighting for the food. There were thousands and every fish as hungry as ever. It was an amazing experience. We enjoyed it but due to low light condition, I was unable to capture it in camera. We decided to visit this place again tomorrow. We came back to cottage for some rest. Damle family has one pet female Dog. She was very cute and loving nature that we could not resist spending some time with her.
            Due to rain in the evening, weather was very pleasant. Staff members arranged camp fire for us near the cottage. It was peach dark night, River stream few feet away from us and Camp fire was perfect set up to spend more than hour. By 9 PM, we had our dinner. Food quality was amazing and they served pure veg food. You can have authentic south food. Home cooked food in stream of Joy was one of the highlights of the stay for us.

Expenses:
  • Stream of joy stay cost: INR 2500/- for 1 night in cottage with 2 meals, breakfast, tea/coffee and mineral water bottle for 2 person 
Day 8: 19th Feb 2015 – Stream of joy, Hathyadka:
             Our morning began with the sound of birds chirping. We woke up early in the morning and went in the forest area for birding. We saw Racket Tailed drongo, Malabar Hornbill, leaf bird, copper smith Barbet, yellow oriole, parakeet and many more birds in the forest. Highlight was 2 pair of Golden back woodpecker on same tree. Unfortunately we failed to spot Trogon again. We came back to the cottage for breakfast by 9 AM. As expected, food served was delicious.

Yellow browed Bulbul
Yellow browed Bulbul

            After breakfast we spend our time on River stream. There were a lot of small fishes in the stream. We fed them as well and fish foot spa by these small fishes was different experience. There is handmade Bamboo Raft built by Damle family. We learned how to raft and we spend around an hour on Bamboo raft. We were told there is an artificial waterfall, which was nothing but the river water pumped 20ft high through pipes which would create an effect of a small waterfall. Actually both activity was more than enjoyable and made us completely refresh.

Bamboo Raft at Stream of Joy
Bamboo Raft at Stream of Joy

At Stream of joy
We...Beautiful Romantic Bamboo raft safar at Stream of joy

Artificial Waterfall at Stream of Joy
Artificial Waterfall at Stream of Joy

           There is a unique arrangement to send any requests to the reception (the owners house at a little higher level of the hill), ‘the wooden calling drum’. It creates unique sound from that instrument and staff comes to your cottage. We had tasty meal by 1 PM. We would like to come back here just for the food. They even have small factory which makes organic plates from the dry leaves of banana tree.

Wooden calling Drum

             After taking some rest in noon, we went at ‘Shishila’ with a bag full of rice puff. It was fun to feed the Mahseer fish. We spend more than hour and recorded some feeding clips. We came back to the cottage. Our next destination for evening was one hanging bridge near highway. Mr. Damle told us that we can spot 3 types of bee-eater and Malabar pied Hornbill. We saw Green bee-eater, Chestnut-headed bee-eater and Blue-tailed bee-eater. River side view from hanging bridge was picturesque.

School of Mahseer Fish

Looking for food?

                                                    Mahseer fish Feeding at Shishila

Chestnut headed bee eater

Blue tailed bee eater

            In the evening we had camp fire near cottage followed by a lovely dinner. Our entire day was packed with activities and we enjoyed it. Next day we were to explore forest on the other side of Kapila stream. After lunch we were supposed to drive for our next destination Badhra WLS. 

At Stream of joy
Sparkler use - Something different...Clicked with the help of Tripod and Remote...

Expenses:
  • Stream of joy stay cost: INR 2500/- for cottage with 2 meals, breakfast, tea/coffee and mineral water bottle for 2 person 
  • Organic plates from Dry Banana leaves: INR 300/- for 100 plate packet

Bird list which spotted near stream of Joy

Yellow-browed bulbul
Golden back woodpecker
Common kingfisher
Malabar Hornbill
Malabar Trogon
Small kingfisher
Indian Grey Hornbill
Racket Tailed drongo
Stork-billed Kingfisher
leaf bird
Black Drongo
Green bee-eater
coppersmith Barbet
Ashy Drongo
Chestnut-headed bee-eater
Brown-headed barbet
Asian paradise flycatcher
Blue-tailed bee-eater
parakeet
Red-whiskered bulbul
Frogmouth
Yellow oriole
Purple sunbird
Grey-headed Bulbul
scarlet minivet
spider hunter
Orange headed thrush
Rufous treepie
White cheeked Barbet
Grey fronted green Pigeon
Small Sunbird
White Wagtail
House Sparrow
Babblers
Cattle Egret
Large Egret
Tit
Pond heron
Greater Coucal
Red-wattled Lapwing
Dove
Oriental White-eye

Day 9: 20th Feb 2015 – Stream of joy – Dharmasthala – Badhra WLS:
            We woke up by 7 AM and left for our last trail. There is small Bamboo Bridge to cross small Kapila river stream. We explored the forest area but bird sighting was less as compare to previous day. We saw Common kingfisher, pied kingfisher, Stork-billed Kingfisher, Yellow-browed bulbul, Racket Tailed Drongo and other normal forest birds. After breakfast we spent our time around cottage and stream. We had our lunch by 12 noon and left for our next destination Bhadra. Service given by Damle family was truly remarkable. We enjoyed our stay close to nature and all credit goes to Damle family for taking care of nature. We will visit “Stream of joy” again for sure!

Stream of joy
Looking for Trogon or Asian paradise Flycatcher ....

Stork billed Kingfisher
Stork billed Kingfisher

            On the way to Bhadra WLS, we decided to visit Dharmasthala temple. Due to afternoon time, Temple was closed hence we could only able to see Bhahubali statue. We decided to skip temple and move ahead towards Bhadra. We decided to stay close to Sanctuary area and then Safari in next morning. We were not aware about the name of the village from where the Safari begins. We were asking people but everyone suggested us to stay at Chikkamagaluru which is 1 hour distance away from sanctuary.

Bhahubali Staatue at Dharmsthala
Bhahubali Staatue at Dharmsthala

            After enquiry at 1-2 police check post, they suggested us to go to Balehonnur. We started our journey and reached at Balehonnur by 5.30 PM. After reaching at Balehonnur, we got to know that we were misguided by police and Safari gate was at Muthodi village. It was tough call for us whether to go to Muthodi from forest road or stay at Balehonnur. One police suggested us to drive towards Muthodi for 8km and then enquire at Forest department check post.

Our Route through Forest area

             At check post, the forest ranger suggested us to visit Muthodi and stay at Muthodi forest guest house. Due to weekdays, they assured us that will get accommodation. We began our journey from Forest road as alternate route was long cut route. After sunset, forest was dominated by pitch dark night. It was very dense forest with some curvy hilly road. No mobile network, No vehicles on the road and hardly 1-2 very small villages in route made our journey thrilling. We were the only travelers on such a scary journey. By the grace of god, finally we reached at Muthodi village by 8.30 PM.
            We met a young forest ranger Mohsin at check post. When we asked for accommodation, he denied our request. Reason was, tourist need to book Tents/dormitory/cottage at Chikkamagaluru office. Practically it was not possible for us to drive all the way back for alternate stay option. We convinced him and we got a tent accommodation as Cottage and dormitory was in maintenance phase. We got to know that there was no cook and we were the only guest. Forest guest house was fairly deep in the forest and had a stream running just behind it. There were only 2 forest rangers including Mohsin so we purchased rice and eggs for 4 of us from village.

pritesh kulkarni
Our thrilling experience...Our tent...We were only 2 people in Forest area for night. How? Read it below!

                Our thrilling experience was not over even after dinner. Mohsin got a call and he informed us that he had to go at check post with his colleague for whole night. Now we were the only tourists in deep forest inside tent. He informed us not to move out of tent at night as tigers were spotted nearby area 3 days back. He also showed us a photo taken by his phone. Silence in forest allowed us to hear minute movement of animal or trees. In case of emergence no one was in forest (within 8km) for help. It was simply terrible experience for us. By 3 AM, we sensed mammal (Not Carnivora for sure) close to our tent and then we shifted our bedding into a small corridor which was attached to tent and constructed by wall. We got good sleep for the rest of night! 

Expenses: 
  • Car Petrol: INR 2000/- (approx. 27 Lit at average INR 70/lit) 
  • Coconut water: INR 25/- 
  • Water bottle: INR 20/- 
  • Rice and egg raw material: INR 110/- 
  • Tent stay at Bhadra: INR 1000/- for 1 night (Contact numbers shared at the end of this Blog) 

Day 10: 21th Feb 2015 –Badhra WLS – Shimoga - hubali:
             We woke up early morning for safari. Bhadra forest have safari from two sides. One from Lakkvali village (Which is more popular due to availability of resorts) and another is Muthodi village. Other regions of forest are Tangebal and Hebbe but safari in that area is not allowed. We hired jeep safari and we headed deeper into the forest. No private vehicle is allowed.

Bhadra WLS
Bhadra WLS

               Weather inside forest was pretty cool. Once we were inside the jungle we saw a spotted deer. You see them all over India very easily, but somehow I always love looking at these animals again and again. Our interest was growing with every inch we were getting inside the jungle. We saw a few barking deer as well. The Barking Deer is one animal less seen and more heard. He literally makes a sound like a dog barking to warn others about a big cat Tiger. I have noticed if you are not fixated on stars like tigers, other inhabitants of the forests are a delight to observe too. We saw few birds as well but our eye was searching for Tiger.

Spotted deer at Bhadra
Spotted deer at Bhadra

Peacock at Bhadra WLS
Peacock at Bhadra WLS

              Bhadra forest has trees taller than I had ever seen. It is one of those thick forests where sunlight tries hard to reach the forest floor, without much success. This covers an area of 492.46 sq. km. The best part was listening to variety of jungle calls when you switched off the engine. We saw few Malabar giant squirrel but they were playing hide and seek with us so unable to capture it camera.

Malabar giant Squirrel at Bhadra
Malabar giant Squirrel

Bhadra WLS
Bhadra WLS

           As we and forest rangers became good friends, they took us in deep forest. On the way we saw oldest teak wood tree. The tree is 400 years old and has 17 feet trunk. One of the costliest teak woods from Karnataka. Now it was 10 AM in clock. It was time to get back. We saw Tiger in forest for few minute which made our day in Bhadra WLS. Unfortunately he went deeper in the forest. Apart from this we did not find any animals while returning.

Look into my eye...Tiger

             We left Bhadra WLS by 11 AM. Now our journey began towards shimoga (Officially name Shivamogga) which was our last destination. There are many coffee estates on the way to Chikkamagaluru. We took pit stop for coffee at The Estate Café. Coffee was very tasty and this café is good place for pit stop. We had lunch at Chikkamagaluru and then continued our journey towards shimoga. Road was smooth and wide.

My i20
My Love...Can't live without my Uber cool machine i20

              On the way we heard news from locals about riots but were unaware of real situation. When we reached close to shimoga, we asked police about it. They advised us to visit Tiger lion safari park and by evening, and cross the city with the help of Police jeeps. Entire city was controlled by police. We went at Tiger lion safari park which was at outskirts area.
              Tiger lion safari park is kind of zoo located 11 km from city area. You can see tiger from caged vehicle. Park is divided into 4 parts. One is reserved for deer’s, second for tiger, third for lion and last one for zoo where more than 15-16 species are available. We like well-maintained zoo. After completing short safari, we spend remaining noon time in park’s Cafeteria.

Striped Hyena at Shimoga
Striped Hyena

Tiger

Captive Black Panther at Shimoga
Captive Black Panther

             In the evening time, we left this place. When we approached towards city, we saw police check post on every 100-150 meters. We requested at one of the check post to escort us. One police jeep helped us to cross shimoga city safely. Thanks a lot Karnataka police for your support.
            We joined national highway 4 via Honnali. After joining National highway, our journey was quick and safe. We decided to stay at Hubli.

Expenses:
  • Bhadra Safari: INR 2000/- for Jeep (Max 6 people per jeep) 
  • Coffee at Estate Café: INR 80/- per coffee 
  • Water bottle: INR 30/- 
  • Lunch at Chikkamagaluru: INR 100/- for south Indian dishes 
  • Tiger-Lion Safari park entry: INR 110/- (2 person and 1 Car) 
  • Safari chargers at Tiger-Lion Safari park: INR 140/- for 2 people 
  • Camera chargers: INR 50/- 
  • Coffee and Snacks in park’s canteen: INR 90/- for 2 person 
  • Toll on National highway 4: INR 95/- one way 
  • Dinner in highway dhaba: INR 245/- (Only Veg dish and roti) 
  • Stay at Hubli: INR 800/- for 1 night 

Day 11: 22nd Feb 2015 –Hubli (Distance travelled is around 100 km):
           We left Hubli by 9 AM. We took 3-4 hours break in Kolhapur to meet our relatives. We had tasty lunch there and enjoyed India-Africa world cup match. By 5 PM we left Kolhapur and reached Pune safely by 10 PM. Our total travelling distance from Pune to Pune was 2400km and we enjoyed our road trip. Hope will plan another long road trip soon.

Expenses:
  • Car Petrol: INR 1000/- (approx. 13 Lit at average INR 70/lit) 
  • Toll on Hubli bypass highway (In Karnataka state): INR 37/- one way 
  • Toll 1 on National highway 4 (In Karnataka): INR 80/- one way 
  • Toll 2 on National highway 4 (In Karnataka): INR 15/- one way 
  • Toll 3 on National highway 4 (In Karnataka): INR 35/- one way 
  • Toll 1 on National highway 4 (In Maharashtra): INR 70/- one way 
  • Toll 2 on National highway 4 (In Maharashtra): INR 70/- one way 
  • Toll 3 on National highway 4 (In Maharashtra): INR 55/- one way 
  • Toll 4 on National highway 4 (In Maharashtra): INR 80/- one way 
  • Dinner in hotel near Pune: INR 470/- 

Contact numbers for your reference:
  • Stream of joy: 0-9481850225, 08251-268225, www.streamofjoy.com
  • Bhadra guest house booking: 08262-234904. 
  • Mohsin (Bhadra forest ranger): 0-9482556705, 08277-260755. 

Thanks for reading this Travel Blog. Happy traveling.

Pritesh Kulkarni 
Pune

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Road trip to beautiful Coastal Karnataka

Every year, we plan a trip to celebrate our wedding anniversary. This time we selected Road trip to costal Karnataka and forest area. Our first halt was at Ganeshgudi, Dandeli for 1 night. We enjoyed birding a lot. After the awesome birding trip, we headed towards coastal Karnataka. Our Coastal trip began on 13 Feb 2015.

We

Travel Blog link for Dandeli: Old Magazine House - Birding paradise in Ganeshgudi, Dandeli!

About Costal Karnataka and our trip plan:
             Costal Karnataka consists of tourist places like Karwar, Gokarna, Murudeshwar, Udupi and Mangalore. All these places are famous for beautiful beaches, temples, rivers and nature’s beauty. Karwar is famous for its calm beaches and sea food. You can enjoy the slow pace of city. Gokarna is a holy place popular among Hindu pilgrims whereas beautiful beaches like Om; Kudle attracts Indian as well as foreign tourists.
            Murudeshwar is famous for the world's tallest Shiva statue, this beach town lies on the coast of the Arabian Sea and is also famous for the Murudeshwara Temple. Udupi’s history revolves around the story of Lord Krishna and also the beautiful sandy beaches close to the town.

Our trip plan was Dandeli – Karwar – Quick visit to Palolem beach, Goa – Karwar – Gokarna – Murudeshwar – Udupi – Mangalore - Stream of joy near Hathyadka - Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary – Shimoga – Hubali (just for night stay) – Pune.

Karnataka Road trip Map
Karnataka Road trip Map 

Travel Blog link for Dandeli: Old Magazine House - Birding paradise in Ganeshgudi, Dandeli!

Day 2: 13th Feb 2015 – Ganeshgudi, Dandeli – Karwar (Total distance travelled is around 110km):
            We left Dandeli by 3.30 PM and after driving through the mesmerizing Western Ghats we reached in the small quiet beach city of Karwar by 5 PM. You will see a clash of cultures as soon as you enter the Karwar town. Karwar is situated at the border of Karnataka state. You will see an admixture of Kannada, Goan and Marathi cultures. My father-in-law’s close friend from Karwar made our stay arrangement in hotel panchtara. Hotel room was clean and well equipped with all the required facility. Beach is just 1.5 km from hotel.

Karwar Bridge
Karwar Bridge

            We decided to spend some time in the evening at the Rabindranath Tagore beach. All though we missed the sunset the walk on beach at evening time refreshed us. It is said that the 22-year-old Tagore stayed with his brother, Satyendranath Tagore, who was the district judge in Karwar. The beach here still remains in his memory. The tourist crowd in Karwar is pretty less. This beach is nearly a 6km long stretch which is perfect for morning/evening walk. North end of beach is known as Karwar beach. The sea is clam and safe for swimming.

Karwar Aquarium
Karwar Aquarium on Tagore beach road

              Karwar Aquarium is situated on the Rabindranath Tagore beach. They have a good collection of marine and fresh water fishes. The first fish you would observe as you enter the aquarium is Arapaima in vertically mounted cylindrical glass. Aquarium building is 2 storied building. Ground floor contains all the marine fishes whereas upper floor contain sweet water fish. They have marine fishes like Kissing Gourami, Seahorse, Lobster, Butterfly Fish, Lion Fish, Smoke Angel Fish, Moray Eel, Clownfish, lady fish, Puffer Fish, star fish, String ray etc. Aquarium needs some maintenance and name plates are missing on the fish tanks as well.

Star Fish and clown fish in Right side image

             We wanted to visit Warship museum but it was closed by 7 PM so we decided to visit the next day. For dinner we went to Amrut restaurant which is famous for sea food.

Expense:

  • Hotel panchtara stay for 2 night: INR 1600/- for Non AC room
  • Aquarium entry fee: INR 25/- per person
  • Coconut water at beach: INR 30/-
  • Chats close to beach: between INR 20/- to 30/- as per ordered dish
  • Dinner at Amrut restaurant: INR 590/- (fish Starter, fish curry and rice)

Day 3: 14th Feb 2015 –Karwar – Palolem, Goa – Karwar (Total distance travelled is around 100km):
             We woke up by 7 AM and went for morning walk on the beach. After spending some time there, we went on Sadashivgad fort. It is a small but beautiful fort constructed on the top of a hill. Very less fortification is available and most the parts are in ruined conditions. From the top most point, you can see panoramic view of Arabian Sea, Karwar & Kali River. It takes hardly 15-20 min to reach at the top from the Durga temple.

Tagore Beach

Panoramic view of sea from Sadashivgad Fort

            This fort was built in 1715 by king Basavlingraj of Sonda and was named by his father Sadashivlingraj. Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj seized Ankola and came to Karwar (at that time it was known as Kadwad). Shivaji Maharaj crossed the Kali River and conquered Sadashivgad on 21st Feb 1665. After treaties, the Portuguese obtained control on the fort and then East India Company got control over the fort in 1799. Fort area is good place to visit in the early morning.

Sadashivgad fort.
Fort Entrance

Sadashivgad fort.
Old cannon on fort

            The temple of Goddess Durga Maa is situated at the base of Sadashivgad fort. Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, who was one of the greatest Hindu Kings, visited Karwar and Sadashivgad twice, in 1665 and in 1673 in order to strengthen the Sadashivgad fort. He also renovated the Goddess Durga temple here. It is said that he gave the rights of worship in this temple to the local Bhandari family.

Durga Maa Temple, Karwar
Durga Maa Temple, Karwar

            After the visit to the fort we had breakfast in Karwar and headed towards the Warship museum. It opens at 10 AM. INS Chapal that played active role in 1971 Indo-Pak war and now rests on the shores of Ravindranath Tagore beach, Karwar. Classified as a OSA class 2 sleek missile boat, INS Chapal is small in dimensions compared to navy ships. INS Chapal did exactly that by bombarding Karachi town and achieving total supremacy on the western front. Post war, crew of INS Chapal won 2 Paramveer chakra, 8 veer chakra and several other awards.

Karwar Warship Museum
Karwar Warship Museum

            Today she rests by the national highway as warship museum, telling her stories of bravery to the visitors. It is a must visit place to have an understanding of how life was at the seas and during the war. First they take you to room where a nice, inspiring video on Indian Navy is played. You can see the entire ship with different sections. I like the place I hope there will be many more warship museum across India which will inspire the youth and make us feel proud.
             Devbag beach is a nice place to visit. It is under Jungle lodge property which is maintained very well. You have to take the boat to reach here and staying at JLR is the only choice. Or you can have their half day package (Nearly INR 1400/-) which includes boat transport, Lunch and evening snacks/tea.
            We decided to visit Palolem beach, goa which was just 50 min drive from Karwar. It is one of the most beautiful beaches from Goa and we didn’t want to miss it. It was our run time decision to visit Goa. We left Karwar by 4.30 PM. On the way we got to know about an untouched beach named Polem beach. It was small, soft golden sandy beach. We spent around an hour and headed towards Palolem beach.

Polem Beach, Untouched golden sand beach
Polem Beach, Untouched golden sand beach

           Palolem beach is famous for its powdery sand, bluish green waters, sea facing shacks and Butterfly Island; I had always wanted to visit this beach. The beach is very beautiful and water is peaceful with very mild waves. I found this beach with the decent crowd (both Indians and foreigners) as compare to North Goa beaches. I wanted to visit the butterfly beach which is only accessible by boat. The boat took us to the butterfly island (named so because it resembles the wings of a butterfly) which is a small piece of land with a couple of huge rocks. We spent quality time on beach and saw lovely sunset over the sea. In all the entire ride was super and we clicked a lot of pictures around it.

Palolem Beach
Palolem Beach

Butterfly beach
Butterfly beach

Sunset from Palolem Beach
Sunset from Palolem Beach

King Fish BBQ

             After Butterfly beach trip, we were back on Palolem beach. We had a walk on the 3 km long beach after sunset and then had delicious sea food dinner at Sameer classic Shack. We left Goa by 11.30 PM and came to our hotel in Karwar by 12.30 in mid night.

Expense:

  • Warship museum entry fee: INR 30/- for 2 person
  • Lunch at Udupi shree Krishna vilas: INR 150/- for 2 person (south Indian dishes)
  • Goa State entry for car: INR 250/-
  • Car parking at Palolem beach: INR 25/-
  • Boat for butterfly beach: INR 1300/-
  • Dinner at Sameer classic Shack: INR 940/- (Large size BBQ king fish and some starters with cold drinks)
  • Car petrol: INR 1900/- (approx. 37 Lit at INR 51.80/Lit-Goa state fuel rates)

Day 4: 15th Feb 2015 –Karwar – Gokarna – Murudeshwar (Total distance travelled is around 160km):
             Today was the World cup match between India and Pakistan. As we both are sport follower, we decided to enjoy the match. After India’s smashing batting performance we decided to start our journey towards Gokarna. Road condition was fabulous and I enjoyed the drive on costal highway till Gokarna. There were no road side hotels or dhabas hence we decided to have lunch in Gokarna
             Our first destination in Gokarna was Kudle beach. Kudle is a popular place among the global backpacker community so you get to meet travelers from all around the world. Road from Gokarna town to Kudle beach is small. We reached on hill where we suppose to park our vehicle and walked down from the hill for Kudle. Once we got down from small narrow trail route, the pristine waters of Kudle Beach became visible. It is a haven of picturesque beaches and cute shacks besides them creating a perfect ambience for a laid-back and relaxed vacation. We had lunch at one of the shacks named Kudle view.

Kudle beach, Gokarna
Kudle Beach, Gokarna...View from "Kudle view" Shack

Kudle beach, Gokarna
Kudle Beach view

             We spent almost entire afternoon on beach and at the shack. As the afternoon sun started getting a bit milder everyone from shack was out on the beach for some activity. We saw people doing yoga, gym exercises, reading books, playing beach games learning some gymnastic skills. Country or language was not a barrier here to learn different things from each other. We made some new friends from different countries and got a chance to learn something different. Spending time on Kudle beach was a unique experience from our trip and we decided to visit this place again.

Yoga

             For sunset, we went on Om beach which is few km away from Kudle. Om beach is, as you might guess, carved in the shape of an ‘Om’. At the very top of the middle spike of the Om, there is a rock that juts out into the sea, making the Om shape. This beach is small and ideal place to view sunset and to relax. There were few shacks serving good food. We witnessed beautiful sunset and then moved ahead to Gokarna town to visit the temple.

Om Beach
Om Beach

Left side of Om from Middle spike
Left side of Om from Middle spike

Right side of Om from Middle spike
Right side of Om from Middle spike

Panorama view of Om beach
Panorama view of Om beach

Sunset from Om Beach
Sunset from Om Beach
             Gokarna has been a religious destination for many devotees since decades. Gokarna means Cow's Ear. It is believed that Lord Shiva emerged from the ear of a cow (Prithvi, the Mother Earth) here. It is also located at the ear-shaped confluence of two rivers Gangavali and Aghanashini. We took Darshan in Mahabaleshvara Temple which is the main place of pilgrimage. It was bit crowded as Mahashivratri festival was about to begin in 2 days. Temple timings are from 6AM to 12PM and then 5PM to 8.30PM. Gents are allowed entry in the sanctum without shirts and banians. After quick darshan, we went in Maha Ganapati Temple which is close to Mahabaleswara Temple. Temple is very small but maintained well. Here you can see the idol of standing Ganesha which is very rare.
             We were done with our major sightseen from Gokarna. We wanted to stay in Gokarna but to avoid crowded location, we went to Murudeshwar. Distance between Gokarna and Murudeshwar is around 78km. We left by 8.30 PM and reached Murudeshwar by 9.40 PM. We made a booking at hotel RNS Highway on telephone when we were in Gokarna. Murudeshwar city is developed by a person Mr. R.N. Shetty. After a smooth check in process we had dinner in the hotel which was quite average in taste. We saw the match highlights and then took rest.

Expense:

  • Coffee in Karwar: INR 24/- for two.
  • Lunch in Kudle view: INR 370/- (starter dish, Veg and Roti s)
  • Gokarna Entry: INR 20/- for 2 person and car.
  • Om beach entry: INR 10/-
  • Gokarna Parking near temple: INR 30/-
  • Toll (Gokarna to Murudeshwar): INR 10/- one way
  • Murudeshwar stay at RNS highway: INR 900/- for 1 night
  • Dinner at RNS highway hotel: INR 360/-

Day 5: 16th Feb 2015 - Murudeshwar – Udupi (Total distance travelled is around 108 km):
             We woke up by 7.30 AM and left for Murudeshwar sightseen. Murudeshwar beach was crowded with the tourist. We didn’t enter in the water for swimming as Renuka was not allowed to enter in the water with plastered hand. Water was clear and beach was safe for swimming. There were few water sports available and we chose a small island trip by a small boat.

Temple from Murudeshwar Beach
Temple from Murudeshwar Beach

             After spending some time on the beach, we went in the temple for Darshan. Temple area consists of Murudeshwar Temple, Raja Gopura and Statue of great Lord Shiva. Temple is built on a hill which is surrounded on three sides by the Arabian Sea. The Lanka King Ravana worshipped Shiva with devotion for the Atma-Linga. Pleased by his prayers, Lord Shiva agreed to give him the boon on the condition that it should never be placed on the ground before he reaches Lanka. If the Atma-Linga was ever placed on the ground, it would be impossible to move it. The gods thought that with the Atma-Linga, Ravana may obtain immortality and cause destruction on earth. Lord Ganesh came up with a plan to confiscate the Atma-Linga from Ravana. As Ravana was nearing Gokarna, Lord Vishnu blotted out the sun to give the appearance of dusk. To perform his evening rituals, He wanted to handover Atma-Linga to someone. At this time, Lord Ganesh in the disguise of a Brahmin boy accosted him. Ravana requested him to hold the Atma-Linga until he performed his rituals, and asked him not to place it on the ground. Ganesh struck a deal with him saying that he would call Ravana thrice, and if Ravana did not return within that time, he would place the Atma-Linga on the ground.
             Ravana returned to find that Ganesh had already placed the Atma-Linga on the ground. Vishnu then removed his illusion and it was daylight again. He realizing that he had been tricked tried to uproot and destroy the linga. Due to the force exerted by Ravana, some pieces were scattered. He threw the cloth covering the Atma-Linga to a place called Mrideshwar which has been renamed to Murudeshwar.

Murudeshwar Temple
Murudeshwar Temple

               At the entrance of temple, 20 storied Gopura (Tower built at the entrance of temple, especially in Southern India) is constructed. With the help of elevator, you can reach on 18th floor which offers breathtaking view of Arabian Sea, Murudeshwar beach, village view and beautiful view of the 123-feet idol of Lord Shiva. It was amazing experience to view Murudeshwar from such height. Gopura has beautiful carving and two life-size elephant idols are placed at the entrance.

Gopura of Murudeshwar temple
Gopura of Murudeshwar temple

123 feet of idol of Lord Shiva from Gopura

Beach view from Gopura
View of Beach from Gopura

             After Gopura visit, we went inside temple. Temple is small but maintained very well. There are many small temples. Photography in main temple is not allowed. Real gold is used on the roof of all temples.
            Last attraction in Murudeshwar was statue of Lord Shiva. The Shiva statue is second highest statue in the world after Kailashnath Mahadev Statue situated in Sanga, Nepal. We saw a museum which is below the statue and has series of different statues that tell you a story of Lord Shiva. There is a huge Nandi statue in front of Shiva. The statue of Ravana holding the linga is also at the front. Various sculptures depicting the incidents from mythological tales can be seen around.

Murudeshwar Temple
Murudeshwar Temple

Lord Shiva Family curving on Gopura

sculptures

Beach view from Restaurant
Beach view from Restaurant 

Lord Shiva, Murudeshwar
Lord Shiva, Murudeshwar
Murudeshwar is also famous for scuba diving. There is dive site near Netrani Island which is one of the popular sites. We wanted to do our next dive but unfortunately Island was closed by Navy this year and also Renuka had a major fracture in left hand. We came back to hotel for rest. We checked-out of our room by 1 PM and went at Murudeshwar beach. RNS group have a beautiful 3 storied restaurant built on sea shore. It offers decent multi cuisine food but also offers soothing sea view from all the tables. After heavy lunch, we decided to leave for Udupi which was our next destination.
            On the way to Udupi we passed by Marvanthe beach, a spectacular and unique sight because the river and the ocean are separated by a narrow stretch of road. On the left is the ocean and on the right is the river. We took a small break for snacks and then left for Udupi. We reached at Malpe near Udupi by 4.30 PM. Distance between Murudeshwar and Malpe is around 105km. We decided to stay close to the beach and Malpe beach is the best beach in Udupi so we went there. There were only 2 resort properties owned by Paradise Isle group. We liked Malpe Sea Front Cottage Hotel and we booked a cottage. Cottage was nice and offered a beach view.
             We spent some time in the Resort and then for sunset we went on the beach which was stone's throw away from cottage. It was little bit crowded by the locals. It was yellow sandy long stretch beach. We witnessed beautiful sunset and spent some more time on the beach. After 7.00 PM, all local crowds disappeared and we were the only tourist on beach. There was a small café restaurant close to the beach where we had tasty hot coffee. It was our last evening on beach as we were supposed to begin our travel tomorrow towards forest region via Mangalore. Cool breeze, beautiful beach, hot cup of coffee and company of my love everything made the evening more special on Malpe beach.

Malpe Beach, Udupi
Malpe Beach, Udupi

            We had our dinner in the resort which was quite average in taste. Post dinner we spent some time on the beach and came back in room for rest.

Expense:

  • Coffee in hotel: INR 20/-
  • Car Parking at Murudeshwar temple: INR 30/-
  • Small island Boat Ride: INR 300/-
  • Gopura Life: INR 20/- for 2 people
  • Museum entry: INR 20/- for 2 people
  • Lunch at RNS Naveen beach restaurant: INR 252/- for 2 people (Masala Papad, Vegetable, roti and cold drinks)
  • Coconut water: INR 30/-
  • Malpe beach entry: INR 10/- for car
  • Night Stay at Malpe Sea Front Cottage: INR 1700/- (Actual rate is INR 2200/- and we got discount due to odd day)
  • Snacks at Malpe beach: INR 50/-
  • Coffee: INR 50/-
  • Dinner at hotel: INR 400/- for 2 people

Day 6: 17th Feb 2015 – Malpe – Udupi - Mangalore (Total distance travelled is around 80 km):
              We woke up by 7.30 and went on Malpe beach for walk. After breakfast in the hotel, we were ready for St. Mary island trip. To reach on the island, you can go for a Government ferry from the fishing harbor or private boat ride from Malpe beach. Private boats are available from Malpe beach after 9 AM. Boat leaves only if there are enough passengers else need to pay extra for ride. We boarded a small boat which took us to St. Mary Island in a 20 min smooth ride. Island is very small and has 2-3 beaches whereas other areas have rocky formation. Among the 2-3 beaches of Island only 1 beach is safe for swimming whereas others have some rocks at sea bed. Beach sand is a mixture of sand and crushed shells. Water is clean and clear.

St Mary Island Beach
St Mary Island Beach
St. Mary Island beach

St. Mary Island
St. Mary Island

panorama photo of St. Mary island beach
panorama photo of St. Mary island beach

             Due to small rock formation the island has become a good spot for nature lovers and landscape photographers. Time to visit the Island is between 9 AM to 4 PM. Even though beach is beautiful, many people thrown plastic bottles and other plastic stuff on Island. As traveler, we should not throw plastic or garbage on the Island. There is nothing available on island so you need to carry your own food and water. After spending more than hour, we returned to Malpe beach.

Malpe Beach
Malpe Beach

             It was sunny hot day so we spent the remaining time in the resort and left this beautiful place by 1 PM. We went to Udupi city and had our lunch at famous restaurant named Woodland. Food was delicious and they served typical south Indian Udupi style meal. After Lunch we decided to explore temples in Udupi. We saw Lord Krishna’s Temple and Ananteshwar Temple. We reached there on the Mahashivratri and it was not much crowded. Temple was decorated beautifully. Some local classical live music program based on lord Shiva was going on and that made our visit more special. Temple is built by Pandavas overnight during their visit to Udupi about 400 years back. It was built by rock slabs only using limestone plaster.

Udupi thali at Woodland restaurant
Udupi thali at Woodland restaurant 

            By afternoon, we left Udupi and began our journey towards Mangalore. We reached Mangalore by 5 PM. We checked few hotels and booked a room in Hotel Roopa. We decided to take rest rather than exploring city. We took rest and then went out for Dinner. We spent our time at the City center mall and came back by 11 PM after dinner. Our Coastline trip came to an end and the next day we drove to stream of joy stay at Hathyadka. Stream of joy is nestled deep inside Western Ghats.

We planned to spend 2 nights 3 days in stream of joy and to explore forest area. Bhadra wildlife sanctuary was our last destination before starting with our return journey.

Stream of joy
Stream of joy
Expense:

  • St. Mary Island boat ride: INR 200/- for 2 person (Rate is between INR 100 to 200 per person)
  • Lunch at Woodland restaurant: INR 333/- for 2 people (starter, 1 meal and 1 Dal-Rice)
  • Hotel Roopa at Mangalore: INR 1000/-
  • Dinner in City center mall: INR 235/- for 2 people

Contact numbers for your reference:

  • Hotel Panchatara, Karwar: 08382-228833 / 08382-228855, 0-8951394404.
  • Restaurant Amrut, Karwar: 0-9845201215.
  • Devbag Beach resort: 08382-221603/08382-222192, 0-9449599778.
  • Kuddle view room and Restaurant: 0-8884517230.
  • RNS highway Hotel, Murudeshwar: Tele: 08385-268191, 08385-268192, +91-8762471918.
  • Hotel Sharada International, Udupi: 0820-2521968, 0820-2522910, 0820-2522913, 0820-6956208.
  • Malpe Sea Front Cottage, Malpe: 91-8202537300, 91-9008444891.
  • Hotel Roopa, Mangalore: 0824-2421272.

Please click on Next blog to read about our further journey: Road trip to Karnataka – Stream of joy and Bhadra WLS visit

I will try to upload more and more travel blogs. Thanks for reading this Travel Blog.

Pritesh Kulkarni 
Pune