Sunday, March 30, 2014

Kumta to Gokarna beach trek - 1-2 March 2014

Addiction to climbing hills and mountains (around Bangalore and Western Ghats) peaked for me in 2011 and 2012. And then, as with most things in my life, I lost interest and started other events like cycling and running. Late 2013, I started trekking again, and then thanks to BTC, I ticked a few off my to-do-list. Very sub-consciously as well as circumstantially, I have been doing off-beat events which include trekking and hiking, but not predominantly involving climb. Latest of these is beach trek - a concept I haven't much heard or read before. I have been to beaches before - Rameshwaram (way back in 2000), Kerala (industrial visit in college - 2006) and Chennai (briefly to Marina, once to Mahabalipuram and many times to Besant nagar). But knew very little of Karnataka's famed Gokarna and still know very little of ones in Goa (haven't gone there ever).

In January, BTC did this beach trek - but only amongst organizers. When Bangalore Hikers announced this event, I didn't want to miss - only consideration being the hot weather. But then, who knows when the next opportunity would arise - I jumped in. Good I didn't miss ;)

Last minute posting of blog post made me pack things in a hurry again (though I didn't miss anything major like previous occasions, I ended up packing more than I needed). But when I got stuck in traffic jam in Indiranagar (had to walk more than a km to Old Madras Road - told myself that this was practice for next two days :P, traffic diverted from CMH road near HDFC bank due to Mahashivratri festive) around 8PM, I cursed myself and sent status SMS to Santosh (our organizer) - reply came soon after to not worry. I ended up at meeting place earlier than appointed time :P Ashay, Ankit and Deepak (knew from Sharavathi) were already there. Shwetha (Hampi and Colorothon) came soon after. Then got to know that Santosh himself was going to be late! :D

Finally, around 9:45PM (around an hour late), we were all in and started to Kumta. The TT was same one from Hampi and Sharavathi.The other 5 of our group were Anurag, Harish, Narender, Deepika and Surya. Despite tiredness, we didn't allow anyone to sleep until after midnight. Naturally, our discussions centered around treks (Surya leading with tales of Himalaya) and cycling (especially the cost of bikes). I surprised everyone with my decision to quit job without an alternate plan (Something about me or my face must be wrong - takes lot of convincing on my part to convey simple truthful statements :D. My college friends would attest that I rarely joke about myself and take things rather too seriously. But my words aren't taken seriously :-/) Santosh and Deepika were bent on posting a cheesy liner in fb. After various suggestions including Ocean's 11, we settled on "Eleven Pirates of Arabian" as our tagline.

Travel was bumpy, as we avoided Pune highway and had to keep near to west coast. Around 5AM, we crossed near Jog falls. An excited Harish wanted to visit Jog, but given our destination and delay, we couldn't. Nice scenery and chit-chat kept us busy until we finally reached Kumta around 8AM. After some confusion, we stopped at Kamat Hotel for refreshment and breakfast. It was off the road, train line passing on the opposite and dry red mud and short hill to left. We had sumptuous breakfast - Chow chow bath (those not visited Kannada hotel before assumed Kara bath was some rice item :P) followed by idly-vada and tea/coffee. The last two items not so good - if chutney was salty, tea/coffee was too sugary. We packed for lunch too.

Finally, at 9:30PM, we were at starting point in Kumta beach. On the way, Harish and Surya got loads of maggie (they had forgotten to read carefully 'Things to bring' mail from BH). Quick thinking on Santosh's part resulting in off-loading much of our heavy luggage in TT (to be later picked on the way). Day was hot, Sun blazing in all its glory on poor souls daring to trek in early March. I had only a cap to protect, while others applied all sorts of cream. There was some sort of ritual going on - lot of people bathing and some sort of tent on shore. An elderly gentleman coming out soaked advised us to remove all gadgets before getting into water - we replied our intention to only trek.

After a short pledge (which I managed to mess up while trying to take a pic) to enjoy the trek, we started our long walk. Trek mode switched on inside my body - almost total blanketing of everyday life and those muscles used to trekking abuse kicked on. It was nice to see the sea again and always pleasing if its the first time at that particular beach. There was tide - sea waves lashing, perhaps not normal in daytime to the extent the water was reaching close to road. After short walk on road, we entered beach on wet sand and pretty soon most/all of us got our shoes/sandals wet. Bad thing for me - the sticky sand gets abrasive if one is wearing hiking sandals. Some got wise - removed shoes and walked barefoot.

Starting at Kumta

Photo shoots started in a flash and my compulsive clicks started too - anything standing out odd amidst evenness and ofcourse any chance of macro shots. Throughout the trek, particularly first day, there were objects washed and shaped by the relentless briny waters. As well as crabs.

Rocks - small boulders as well as small to large hills lend beauty to these beaches. Something that would have been good along Marina too. The constant presence of trees and vegetation across the road/beach perhaps is a factor in much much reduced humidity compared to Chennai. Supposedly, the Arabian sea is less salty to that of Bay of Bengal too. One thing is sure, the same hike on east coast would have been atleast 1.5 times more difficult.

About 50 minutes of hike later (that included some time spending on rocks with waves lashing at us), sandy beach disappeared and we had to cross a rocky terrain covered with small dry grass. An abandoned broken house provided another opportunity to rest and take snaps. A broken, flattened fence was around the house too. Surya climbed a tricky broken wall to have his pic taken against Sun overhead. Shwetha's and Deepika's photo request never ceased. I continued my lookout for macro shot subjects.

The broken house

As we walked further, signs of sea occupations appeared - floating nets, beach (sandy/rocky alike) with drying woods, nets, fishes, knots, etc. About 10 minutes later, we reached a village with a nice curved sandy beach - lots of fishing boats parked. We got busy taking pics at various angles and with boats that somehow two groups got formed at some distance. And when our group spotted and walked to have ice cream and soft drinks past the village road, the other group couldn't hear our call and off they went ahead.

To be sure, villagers did come and buy while we were there for 20 minutes, I suspect trekkers like us must be a big contributing factor in the shop's revenue. It is the first shop as far as I remember we encountered after an hour's hike. Add the heat factor, we are sure to stop if seen. All sorts of ice-cream varieties ranging from candy to cones, even packaged gudbud. Plus cup-cakes and a range of local soft-drinks, one named Hand's Up (I thought on lines of 7 Up, but Surya corrected to be inspired from Thumbs Up). But no bottled water - we were served home water with villager's love anyway. I wish I could have suggested them to add fruits - especially bananas to their catalog :P

We plodded another twenty minutes on the shore (including another disastrous and worse sand clinging to my sandals and some very unimaginative clicking of footmarks on wet sand made by our passing) in the heat before having to cross another hill. The other group were waiting for us here. We were getting used to the pattern by now. Novelty factor of the trek wears off by then and we resort to more talking amongst ourselves (the part which forms a big factor in trek being awesome/good).

Looking back

It took us more than half an hour to cross the series of hills and rocks. In addition to breaking monotony of beach walk, these also provide good setting to click water with. And ofcourse, opportunity for me to click some macros - few flowers and fruits. We spotted a flock of birds too - on low lying rocks where waves frequently lashed and spilled water. More floating nets too. When we started the winding climb, there was more than a hint of path but atop, they were swallowed by grass. After brief confusion and some slippery slope descent we had to now cross large boulders - the type which enhances the beauty of beach. But slows our progress and very tricky to pass. I managed to capture a large black crab with 48x (12x optical and rest digital) on one such boulder - large compared to the tiny white/grey ones constantly digging holes by the shore.

The small beach nestled between hill and boulders provided with more macro opportunities - shells, teeny-weeny grass, odd waste shaped by sea, more wild flowers and fruits - some blackened and washed ashore, etc. Another 15 minute hill crossing later, we reached Nirvana.

Nirvana beach

The Nirvana beach is hardly liberating - atleast 5km long :P. Due to curve, one won't see full length of it. As we were in fragmented groups, some of us were in the dark about the beach name and its length before we realised ourselves that it was looooooooooong. There was a sense too that our delays were beginning to show its effects. It wasn't boring though - we played football with a small coconut shell (even prompting 'cast away' references :D), ran a bit, some walked on tide path on bare feet, spotting a yellowish orange fruit (thought it was coconut for long time before Santosh assured us it was Beetel nut, even peeled to check, google search has confirmed it :P), fishing nets rolled up and tied to large ball, dead and drying flowers, large sand art of Shiva complete with Nandi (it being Maha Shivrathiri time), look out to capture Kite flying/resting, looking back often to have a measure of the beach, passing villages and boats along the way (that long!). An hour's walk, we still had done only about half the beach, before we finally turned right towards lunch.

Lucky shot of the bee

 Santosh knew a bit perhaps, but we were skeptical what we would get in village. We passed a school compound which we thought could provide us the shade to sit and have our 'packed' lunch. Village road was ahead and we could spot bananas hanging outside corner shop. Hopes increased, so we walked on. Our original intention was to call our TT driver there to get the luggage back. Since that was going to be a spot further ahead, we had lunch. And that turned out to be a very good decision and stroke of luck. There were hotels! Not city/town kinda ones, but a bakery/store/tiffin-item kinda one.

We first threw our backpacks in the shed, washed out hands/faces and sat for much needed rest. We got to know that there were bondas/buns on menu - served with sambhar (which actually had vegetables enough to be had as it is to fill our stomach). All existing ones were devoured (along with our packed kara baths) and more were ordered to be made fresh. Some got lassi and ragi-made refresher(should have atleast tried a sip :( ) while some got more Hands Up soft drinks. Must thank the village hospitality again.

Heart warming service

Of course, we got our water bottles filled and packed two dozen bananas for trek ahead. But what was icing on the cake were Kachcha Mangoes. Santosh climbed a tall wall and plucked one off the tree in house opposite the shop, while 3-4 guys went inside and politely got it plucked from owner itself! From their accounts, it seemed the owner was interested in our trek, where we came from, etc and also wanted to extend the hospitality beyond mangoes! The mangoes were pretty good by themselves and tasted better with pinch of salt (given generously by the shop keeper). Such nice people and genuine smile and affection. It refreshed the soul more than filling our tummy.


Strange tree

So, about an hour's break later, we started forward on village road to get back to beach again - which took about 10 minutes. We passed a strange looking tree covered all over with brown leaves (perhaps some climber), some nice flowers and a village house by the sea. The beach brought us back to reality - hot sun and a seemingly unending beach to cross. Thankfully, the humidity wasn't as high as east coast beaches.

The joy of walking alone

Curious markings

Ankit played with his bed-sheet (other joining for some fun too) - and nearly cost me my eye and spectacles. Blinded by the bedsheet, someone struck me on left eye and spectacles flew (which didn't break - thanks to soft sand, I was carrying backup specs anyway :P). It was minor bruise only. Meanwhile, some ghost entered Shwetha, who having lingered at back of group in morning session, just kept walking fast, so much so that possibly a km gap grew between her and our group. Spotted some thermocol floater tied with three stoppered empty plastic bottle - supposedly indication of shore ahead (if floating in water). There was some funeral too, attended by villagers surrounding the pyre and then washing themselves in the sea.

After another hour's painful walk, we were closer to finishing the Nirvana beach stretch. And had to finally get back left items from TT. I wanted to take power nap inside TT while others catch up. But I ended up stranded with Harish and Anurag as TT moved farther (they were intentionally in :P) I got down about a km after and walked to beach. Some strange drawing on beach attracted me to walk back but ran into some rogue kids (one even asked me for weed :-/). As I walked off without replying, I realized that those behind weren't walking on the beach. So, I caught the road again and joined them and walked forward again (some missed distance covered :P).

Around 3:30PM, we were finally very near to finishing the long stretch. Harish and Anurag were resting in a boat. As we reached them, we realized a big mistake! Along with my unintentional TT ride, Deepak's bag was left too. So, Harish was asked to get it when getting down - he ended up bringing the extra tents and my sleeping bag too! (Though I was unhappy to carry the extra luggage, I would be thankful to Harish by dawn).

At the end of Nirvana beach is a hill to cross, the Kagal Fort ruins atop. Like earlier in the day, we got split again into smaller groups. Only Deepak, myself, Deepika and Shwetha were guided by Santosh on relatively easier and straight path compared to how others reached. I was carrying the extra tent for a while, but before the climb I handed it to Shwetha - my shoulders were aching a lot and I hadn't done so much weight carrying since KP trek in Sep 2012. And almost the tent would have been left behind - we halted for some photos before steep climb that it was forgotten lying. I think it Santosh who queried for it after some climb - fortunately we spotted and Santosh got it back - funny thing was Shwetha didn't even realize the lightness in absence of tent. I took a snap for the record :D

There were tiny water springs at base of hill (some villagers possibly filled water from it, there was a pot nearby too). But our climb was slippery on dry grass and loose stones. We stopped often to look back and capture the long Nirvana beach. And then I saw for the first time in my life - Cashew tree. There were plenty of ripe cashew apple with nuts clinging outside. Deepak and Santosh prevented us from accidentally eating the nut - we saw only green nuts (it is corrosive and can damage hands and possibly toxic. What we get are hardened nuts after removing the toxic shell). The cashew apple is edible - I regret not tasting it (one reason being the juice can be distilled into liqueur :-o :D)

Atop the Kagal Fort (Can't capture whole of Nirvana)

The climb took only about 15-20 minutes after some careful climb to avoid slipping. After we stepped over the broken fort wall, we were in for a surprise. We were the last party to climb, but none of the other 6 were there. Asking us to wait, rest and take pics, Santosh went on a lookout for the others. The top of hill is pretty large and hence it took more than an hour to find and guide them. In between, me and Deepak tried for look out too (during which we also saw water separating our next day's stretch), but it was simply not possible to see amongst the thorny bushes on cliffs. They 'infamous' six were themselves in two separate groups and when they finally found their way top (after almost encircling of the hill), they were tattered and bruised all over the body, particularly Ashay. But they certainly had a thrilling experience too.

Cashew apple and nut

We rested as a group having snacks, finishing the bananas and some treating their wounds. Almost everyone tasted the cashew apple (sigh!). Then some group clicks against the Nirvana backdrop, we started our last hike for the day before camping. We kept close to the broken fort wall (the beach being to our right) before crossing the boundary through a small gap. There simply were too many cashew trees (and some other trees too). I spotted a peacock too (but couldn't take a snap). We crossed a small village (more on it later) amidst a procession of dogs barking before reaching beach again in about 30 minutes from hilltop.

The beach wasn't very long, but it was wet with tidal water and dirty where dry. After short discussion and some research with locals, we hiked further to very very small private beach - just big enough to pitch our tents and room to spare for camp fire and some for tide. To reach this, one can proceed along the beach and cross sharp rocks (most of the 'infamous' adventure group did so) or take the safe route through trees near the village. It seemed at that time that we got the perfect spot - secluded from three sides and less possibility of our raucous disturbing anyone.

Out little private space (but had to shift the tents later)

It was 6PM, giving us enough time to settle down, rest, pitch tents and then wait for sunset. There was a slow drip from one side (Deepak spotted and placed an empty bottle under it). While many did the hard work of erecting tents, collecting wood, filling water bottles from village (about 300m away, but still not easy given 20+ km hike), etc - I became my lazy self and rested on a rock (after devouring a chocolate bar all by myself :P). Half an hour later, I stood up only because I wanted to take pics :P Helped a bit in breaking the twigs and branches too :D.

Then climbed the sharp rocks on bare foot (with a bit of help from camera cover to lean on :P) to wait for sunset. Someone had evidently built a fire on the rocks to cook crabs - must have been pretty big one if the broken leg was anything to go by. Lots of fishermen were busy on boats, giving us a good backdrop - something right out of wallpapers. Seen so many sunsets/sunrises by now that it's lost some of its sheen though.


Picturesque

It was well over 6:40PM by the time Sea claimed the Sun to leave only a hint of bright red sky against a silhouetted hill. Some had taken a dip to enjoy and freshen up. Then a funny thing happened - we had got out torch in rapidly darkening sky. Blinking it brought a motor boat to our beach - the guy first asked if we were in trouble (saying they noticed the torch). After our assurance, he then went on to ask our schedule and offered boat service to reach the other side of water! I definitely feel it was a ploy :D

Soon after, others came with our bottles full. Wood had already been collected for camp fire. But wind changed our plans. We had to find some narrow place between rocks for small fire first to feed our hungry selves. Camphor, paper and small sticks got fire going finally but with lot of smoke too (because of boiling pan placed very closely over stones). Slowly, one by one, we got our cup noodles out and 'cooked' by patiently waiting out 3-4 minutes :D I hadn't got maggie wala cup noodles but something smaller - no spoon! So, I got out my khakara finally (hadn't opened all day despite lot of requests :P) and used smaller pieces to scoop :D. The dogs getting in our way all throughout since we came to beach. Meanwhile, another small fire was started for parallel processing and others trying their luck with camp fire.

After we were done with cup noodles, Surya and Harish got their 'real' maggie out to cook. And Ankit became popular with his Sattu (again I missed out tasting).Camp fire roared in blaze after great efforts against the wind - and that meant it would die out quickly too. The tide was coming up steadily and washed away the fire before we had to put it off. Myself and Deepak moved our tent further up and another tent was similarly moved. We convinced ourselves that it would survive the tide and if needed we can move it in middle of night! :D

Santosh (wisely) and others swiftly overrode our plan and despite being very tired, we carried tents back to the beach we had originally intended to camp. But the plan was to camp on hard pathway instead of beach. Deepak, myself, Ankit and Anurag went ahead and camped on beach anyway :D (We saw the previous night's tide mark and camped atleast 10 feet away :P). In all the confusion and activities, we didn't have any time to gather around and play/chit-chat into the night. We even had the introduction round going only the next day :P

It was pretty humid inside the tent, thanks to mosquito tent, we got some air circulation going (couldn't keep open due to small irritating insects as well as general safety measure). The dogs took guard outside. It was nice to stretch the legs after all the walking, plus I got the sky view side of the tent - so many stars and such a spectacle. Someday, gotta carry a telescope for such occasions :P I spread my sleeping bag (thinking I will make some use atleast having carried it) and slept upon it.

I managed to get some sleep before chillness of the night woke me up around 3AM. I managed for a while before finally getting inside my 15C sleeping bag. (Thanks Harish :) ). And later sometime, one of the dog outside started howling plus weird sounds (probably dreaming). Around 6AM, some of us woke to still chilly morning air. After finishing nature calls, there was only one obvious thing to do - plunge into sea water for refreshing bath.

The morning after

Just a dip and water became comfortable warm instead of feeling cold. One by one most joined (including ones who had dipped previous evening) and finally only Anurag didn't get in (he was having some cold). To my surprise, I was able to float easily and even swim a bit (but I think it was more to do with salty sea, my weight and waves more than learning :D) Some went deep into water and climbed another very sharp set of rocks (getting more bruised in addition to Kagal fort climb) - but again they had the thrill of diving ;)

More than an hour of enjoying floating, splashing, etc, meant that we delayed our start of hike just like first morning. My lack of preparation meant I had sunburn on back side of neck, as noticed by others while combing hair :-/ A light snack (khakra, childhood favorite Lacto King toffee, bananas, lots of biscuits, etc) while packing tents and filling water bottles again from villagers (saw pineapple plant - another first). After finally having intro session, we started around 9:30AM.

Intro! session before starting second day hike

I got the extra tent tied to my bag (even got a nice profile pic, thanks to Deepak), but soon realized I won't be able to carry far. The second day hike was more through hills and the like and less of beach trek. First up was about 30 minutes trek to reach the river/sea crossing point. We had to initially climb and then cross lot of houses (some felt like trespassing really). Curious kids and villagers alike watched us pass by. One house had a very nice bench overlooking the sea.

We had to cross this section

We waited about 10 minutes inside a shade built just beside boat landing. The heat and heavy baggage combined with still lingering previous day's tiredness meant that we welcomed the short nap (I had already removed the tent indicating my inability to carry any further). We were offered many private boat rides, but we kept to the public one which got full immediately, with just enough space for all us hikers to sit and some locals opting to stand (more curious stares). We took snaps and was a pleasurable 8 minute ride to the other shore. The gentle sway, watching water pass by lapping against the wood and tires, the strange pattern at base where water rippled due to vibration from engines - ride to remember.

The other side gave us a more glimpses of fishing activities - lots of boats, some carrying bright yellow and oranges colored plastic balls tied together, the cooling machines. Birds too as expected. We didn't waste time in searching for good place - just entered the first one we saw in hope of breakfast. After freshening up, we were told that there was nothing to serve! We weren't disheartened though, we ordered tea/coffee and a whole packet of bun (which we finished before even hot beverage arrived!) Out come idea of the trek - cook remaining maggie packets (Thanks a lot Surya and Harish for buying those extra packets first day). The remaining Sattu, biscuits etc were all eaten too.

Everything that could be eaten

So, even though we ended up 50 minutes in the hotel that didn't serve breakfast (but again, lot of heart warming help with whatever they could do), it was with full stomach we started again in hot Sun. So much full that, we didn't stop for tender coconut or buying more bananas. We passed through village road lined both sides by houses and stores and lots of trees. Within 10 minutes, the sea came again to our left and we passed some cafes/hotels clearly designed for foreigners (including much often seen spelling errors - but conveys the intended meaning, so hey what's the issue :) ). It was first indication that this side of the land is more popular (and hence more crowded) than the peaceful trek that was the first day.

We then crossed some rivulets - one on very narrow bridge just wide enough to feel secure in placing our footsteps. To one side was heavy green fields (wheat or rice, not sure :( ) Cat and mouse with the sea continued as we deviated from coast and started a slow climb on a hill. Path is wide enough to indicate frequent use by locals and hikers. Though trees lined up on both sides, we felt the heat of rising sun. There was a very steep climb for a short stretch which ended with strategically placed cool drink store - unfortunately for us though, it was closed at that time. We rested a few minutes and then started again, with Harish asked to get to the front as he was perhaps struggling a bit with his fall the previous day.


Just before Paradise beach

In another 10 minutes, we sighed with pleasure, not much because we were close to Paradise beach, but the cooler air with the sea breeze.  We peeked from atop a steep cliff to see nature's beauty - the location actually having a very narrow path for those who dare. Apparently, some had indeed gone down and set up open tents, but I doubt one could sleep in the night being so close to sea. As we leveled finally with the beach, we passed more tents (and more foreigners).

And yet again, we climbed (very short hill though) and then sighted Half Moon beach, but without someone saying it so, one can easily mistake it for Om beach (we stuck to saying it as उ beach :P, even the actual Om beach).  It had been only an hour since breakfast, but we already waiting to hit Om beach for lunch. The rocky coast slowed us down considerably and proved more difficult than previous day's rocks. But I wouldn't trade alternate path (which actually exists) to the rocky hike - skipping and slipping and holding out of fear.



On the way to Om beach


Another hill trek between Half Moon and Om beach. At 1:15PM, we finally had Om beach in front of us and lunch and rest beckoning. Again, lot more crowd and some places swarming with foreigners. A board pointing back to Half Moon beach was scribbled to make a face with the two OOs and sign mark followed with 'love is the way' and signed. At 1:30PM, after a bit of confusion, we entered one of the many hotels along the Om beach. The inn was more than half full, giving us just enough space to pull together two tables. Outside, some were sun bathing and many playing in water, even in that heat!

If the 50 minute breakfast wasn't long enough, take this - we spend more than 1.5 hours for lunch :D Not that many minded, except for organizers :P We freshened up, took time to order and waited even longer to get them. I had to unfortunately put up constant smoking :( We passed time chit-chatting, going through already taken snaps, taking more snaps (I kept my tradition going of trying to take casual pics of group members - could take only a few good ones, have to be more patient).Around 2:20PM, I finally got my veg sizzler - rice, potato and mixed vegetables sizzling over cabbage leaves. Attractive, but only passable in taste. 

Sizzler
Trudging from Om beach for one final stretch


After 3PM, we groaned to get up for last stretch of trek. Again, it helped that less humidity didn't make our hike even more difficult - what with extra luggage and all. 10 minute of beach walk later - yup you guessed it - we climbed again, only this time there were steps too. Bless their souls, there was water kept at one place. Though, we had got water bottles at lunch point, we drank here anticipating possible shortage later. 20 minute hike through bare rocks, forest and small village later we reached Kudle beach - the last one before the mighty Gokarna.

Kudle is short beach flanked on both sides by hills. Definitely more pleasant to walk on soft sand wet with tide than the dry hills, even after the overdose of beach walk on first day. Just near the end of the beach, we spotted huge number of tiny tiny sand balls - crabs busy digging. With Gokarna in sight, some didn't want to climb a short hill to the left and went ahead. Six of us though climbed just for the heck of it (thanks Surya for the suggestion) - discussing Deepika's book. The view we got was worth all the pain over two days - simply breath-taking. Cliffs on left side overlooking the sea and Gokarna beach on right side with bird's eye view (sort of mirror image of Nirvana beach, but crowded as opposed to largely empty Nirvana). Spent lot of time to take the perfect profile pic but the strong Sun had other ideas.

Atop a hill for a majestic view

After we came down and joined others resting in shade, we met a bare footed foreigner outside a broken house with a drum slung across his shoulder, beads tied to both wrists, orange clothes draped with Shiva drawings in black, a Trishul tied to the drum with a aluminum cup dangling at the other end of a long rope. The music was soothing to hear.  After crossing a temple, we finally finally finally finally stepped foot on last beach. This one is even bigger than Nirvana, but we weren't going to reach the other end.

Guess the beach is very popular that there was a Mela at one place thronged by people. Harish and Narender scribbled in sand, Santosh was ahead with one lot and few others were behind. All we wanted was to finish the ordeal. As at Nirvana beach, some resorted to walk barefoot with sea lapping at their feet. I found objects like stick and coconut to take snaps. With help of Surya's GPS, we called the TT driver and we stopped where the road meets beach. Few went to rest in the shade of temple, some just threw the baggage and faced the sea to pass time. Few others were still trudging behind. We watched a foreigner with his daughter played by the sea - the father had dug a bit of sand into which the girl would play and splash. Ankit, being good at it, soon mingled with them - small things which evoke smiles and give meaning to life.

Our initial plan was to dump our luggage in TT, walk further and return after sunset. But Santosh was off for very long time to catch up with the driver and the road narrow enough to not allow the TT near the temple. I finally finished off all my snacks (some distributed) and laid down for much needed rest with songs playing on not-so-smart-but-Rs 2300-packing-a-punch mobile.


Foreigner from Switzerland with his cute daughter


About an hour later (6:30PM), the family was back dressed to enjoy the sunset (father, mother and girl (named Aalia if I remember correctly, with a banana in hand) dressed in saffron colors and barefoot). Shwetha took her in arms and the kid became so attached to her that it was difficult to leave her back with parents (we took so many cute snaps, expressions so lovely, but not-so-comfortable with us boys :( ) After another sunset, group photo and walk to catch the TT, stopped for dinner at 8:15PM. Guess what, the third meal of the day took another 1.5 hours! I wasn't hungry at all (all those snacks must have taken toll) and ordered just a plain dosa which I got and finished before the main course arrived for 10 other hungry souls! Their eyes lit up just at the sight of empty plates in preparation of dishes. All thoughts of reaching Bangalore by 4:30AM and transport at early hours discussions vanished :D

 Just a sample ;)

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