Karavali Road Trip In The Monsoon
Exploring the coastal regions of Karnataka (a.k.a Karavali in Kannada) in monsoons is an experience that one shouldn’t miss. Karavali is literally on the other side of the Western Ghats, towards the coastal regions of Karnataka. True, the water looks blue and the sand warm for the bum in summers But for people like me who burst into flames during mildest of the mild summers, monsoon offers an opportunity to explore an entire new world! Our Ooty road trip was epic in its own way, since we got to explore the colder side of Ooty in January. If provided an opportunity, I’m sure everyone would like to explore both off and peak-seasons of a place.
The coastal side of Karnataka is a treat to the eyes as well as mind. Starting from the clean beaches of Kasargod, stretching gracefully till the borders of Goa, Karnataka’s coastal has it all. Pristine beaches, beautiful palm trees, never-ending dramatic parade of clouds, scary tides that render you speechless, sunset hues that transport you to another world, all providing a wonderful rendezvous with the ferocious Arabian Sea. And the story doesn’t stop there. The land of Karavali is also home for intriguing forts, historical landmarks, ancient holy temples, churches and a paradise for sea-food lovers.
We stayed at Paradise Isle Beach Resort in Malpe of Udupi district. The resort is right in front of Malpe beach providing a great view from the rooms. Waking up to that view everyday was a pleasure of its own. The stay was great and staff courteous. Food was okay, though we didn’t have much expectations to begin with for vegetarian food in Karavali region! They have free Wi-Fi only at the hotel’s lobby and not in any of the rooms/restaurants. The hotel’s building is a little old and needs a lot of maintenance, but nevertheless it’s a great property to stay at. You could either split your stay at multiple stops like Mangalore, Udupi, Malpe, Marvante etc. Or follow our approach where we just stayed put at one place (in this case, Paradise Isle) and drove to every other.
Without further ado, I will list the places (mostly beaches! ) that we visited during our Karavali Road Trip. This is gonna be a long post, so grab a cup of coffee and enjoy this.
Top Tip: Do NOT follow GPS blindly if you are driving. Try to stick to the highways and main roads while driving from your city and follow the mantra “When in doubt, ask locals about the route!”. Google sometimes shows “shortcuts” deviating from the highways, they are either way more time consuming or outright dangerous to drive in We once had a very bad experience in Ooty!
Manjarabad Fort, Sakleshpur
Manjarabad Fort is a star-shaped fort built by Tipu Sultan in 1792, who was a ruler of Mysore kingdom. The fort is situated at around 6 kms on NH 48 from Sakleshpur. It not only provides a beautiful view of the Western Ghats from atop, apparently on a good and clear day even Arabian Sea could be seen from the fort! This clearly gave soldiers the advantage to see any enemy troops approaching. It is approximately 40 kms from Hassan on NH 48. From a bird’s eye, it looks like an octagon except that each side’s mid point is pushed in, making it look like a star from above. In spite being aware of the Sakleshpur’s beautiful greenery, the greenery made our jaws drop in awe! Now, I shall let the pictures speak for itself.
Naturally this was the second thing we saw, Malpe beach being right in front of our doorstep. Malpe beach is one of the cleanest beaches in India, though it didn’t look like one when we landed there. Monsoons had taken a pretty tough toll on the beach and there was some ongoing work too, combined together making a nasty mess. The tides were so ferocious, literally dragging everything (if it wasn’t for Harsha, I would have lost a flip-flop ). Yet it was calming, inviting us to take a walk on the shore. There are street food joints beside the beach and a large statue of Mahatma Gandhi. Do try the barbequed sweet corn, one of the pictures will tell you why I’m recommending it explicitly.
Udupi Shree Krishna Temple
We headed to Udupi Shree Krishna Temple located at the heart of Udupi town on a weekday (avoiding the weekend crowd). This temple is one of the very famous Hindu temples dedicated to Lord Krishna. This temple was founded by Shri Madhvacharya in the 13th century. Legend has it that, Kanakadasa, was denied entry to the main temple because of his caste. Kanakadasa ended up singing beautifully in praise of the Lord and camped there for several days doing this. Touched by his devotion, Lord Krishna turned around and gave him darshan (auspicious sight of the Lord). They say that’s the reason the idol of Lord Krishna faces the west till date (while all the Hindu deities face east in Hindu temples).
Bengre Beach (Estuary)
Bengre beach in Udupi is an unknown paradise. It’s the point where the River Sita meets the Arabian Sea to form an estuary. The drive to Bengre is so scenic and similar to that of Kerala’s tropical beauty that you would wonder where you are. Such is the beauty of this place. The roads are in good condition and you can drive till the end of Bengre beach (as of July 2016). There are also couple of Hindu temples and mosques enroute. Throughout the drive (more than 10 kms) till we reached Bengre beach, we could see the beach on one side and the river on the other, hardly 50 to 100 feet apart. The dramatic formation of grey clouds threating to rain any minute, the busy fishermen indifferent to it, the water swaying in all directions at the meeting point, it was all a wonder to my eyes. And I still have left the best part of it all. Except the locals, we couldn’t find another soul there. It was off-season too, but I’m pretty sure the crowd here in summer would still be way, WAY less. 2 words. MUST VISIT.
Kapu Beach + Kapu Lighthouse
Kapu (also known as Kaup) beach is very widely known because of the lighthouse. Kapu lighthouse was built in 1901 and was functioning in mechanical mode up until 1995. Now it works on electricity like other lighthouses. A thing to note, entry to lighthouses are usually banned to public during monsoons to avoid any mishap. Also keep in mind that a set of spiral staircases lead to the top, which gets extremely narrower and steeper in the last leg. Do proceed with caution. We were lucky enough to get an entry that day and the view from the top was mind-blowing. We could see miles and miles beyond! The palm-trees covered Kapu shore stretched till the horizon on either sides …. was something that I will never forget. This was clearly the highlight of our Karavali road trip.
Note: The lighthouse is ONLY open after 5 p.m (and it is subjected to change as mentioned above). Entry fee per person is Rs. 10/-. For still and video cameras, you have to pay extra.
Padubidri beach, in spite of being very near to the town of Padubidri and a school, was very quiet and secluded. The only noise were that of the waves of the ocean. The fierce tides threatened to drag everything in the vicinity without mercy. Swimming in these is something one shouldn’t even dare to dream! No wonder you can find caution signs in all of these beaches, warning against swimming.
Surathkal Beach + Surathkal Lighthouse
The next couple of beaches are perhaps the least crowded in the Karavali region as these are not something that tourists usually come looking for. The waves here were calmer than other beaches. It could have been due to the time of the day too. The sun being overshadowed by thick dark clouds gave a dramatic effect to the sky. Few of the fishermen were indifferent to all these, fighting against the rough tides and finding balance. The Surathkal lighthouse was closed and we learnt that it wouldn’t be open to public in a long time until monsoon ends. If you are planning to visit, do confirm if its open before you leave.
A few meters ahead of Surathkal beach is the NITK beach. NITK actually stands for National Institute of Technology, Karnataka (one of the top engineering colleges in India) which is very near to this beach. This too is quiet just like Surathkal beach, though we couldn’t find any fishermen. I think the only crowd here would be the locals and students!
Mattu and Pithrody weren’t even on our list. We just saw it in the maps while we were on the way back to our hotel and just decided to drop there. Best decision ever! We had to cross a small bridge in the Mattu village in order to get to the beach. Mattu beach is a very clean one, with pristine sand and water. The place is romantic and captivating. This is THE place to take a long walk in the shore. I loved this beach so much that I can’t wait to go back there!
Tip: The roads are small, at most of the places you have enough place for one vehicle to pass at a time only. Drive carefully.
Pithrody Beach (Estuary)
A few kilometers ahead of Mattu beach is Pithrody beach, which is essentially an estuary (just like Bengre beach), where the river meets the sea. We didn’t exactly go till the Pithrody, as some parts of the road leading to it were made of sand. The roads are very small, enough to the connect the local villages back to the towns. Do confirm with the locals if you have enough place to drive till your destination, always. The views were almost too good to be true. Check out the pictures if you don’t believe me.
As always, please DO NOT litter in any of these places. Some of these are not even well-developed tourist places, so chances are that you might not find bins. Please dispose all the waste once you hit the towns again.
The only disappointment we had during this road trip was that the entry to St.Mary’s Island was closed due to high tides and rough weather. No wonder we hardly saw any ships/boats out. Though we could see the island right from our room! What can I say, such is the act of nature. You just got to agree by it
Some more places that could be of interest to you, should you decide to go for a Karavali road trip:
- Mangalore Port & Beach
- Marvante Beach
- Ottinene Beach
- St Mary’s Island (open mostly only during peak seasons)
Have you been on a Karavali road trip? Or do you plan to? Leave your comment Do share this post in your social media timelines and pages to reach more people.
* All weather and road conditions, entry to places are as per July 2016