After spending two days in Udupi, we drove to Paduvari for an overnight stay at Sai Vishram Resort facing the Arabian sea. Perched near Sri Murdeshwar and Sri Mookambika temples, this beach resort hosts unruffled cottages well-complemented with flora and fauna to greet you with a rustic yet adventurous way of life. A perfect coastal Karnataka getaway for anyone wanting to rejuvenate in the lap of nature or trying their hand at adrenaline-pumping sea sports.
During my stay at Sai Vishram Resort, I went squandering and sweating out with beach volleyball, wherein the breakfast was followed by a meeting with Anudeep Hegde, a young man doing a great job with removing the innards of sea waste. Along with a few neighbourhood volunteers, Anudeep has so far picked and dissolved 50 metric tonnes of waste collected from the seashore. From here, we left to Gokarna along the Murdeshwar course, taking a brief halt at the eco-beach of Honnavar.
It was thrilling to finally experience one of the 8 Blue Flag beaches of India, revering great prestige to our country. The mere certification is a global recognition of India’s sustainable improvement forces. This promising progress towards eco-boost showcases the Indian government’s inclination towards advancing sustainable development. While the 8 Blue Flag beaches of India are cast-across two union territories and five states, the one I visited on this day was the Honnavar beach at the Kasarkoda stretch. In an interesting conversation with tourism staff, I learnt that a trip to France inspired NaMo to get Indian beaches a blue flag tag.
Honnavar – The Unblemished Blue Flag Beach
Of all the beaches I visited on this trip, the Blue Flag Beach of Honnavar superseded my expectations with its world-class look and facilities. Kenned for its remarkable landscapes and history of hosting traders of European and middle eastern descents, Honnavar is a small port town in Kasarkod, Uttar Kannada. Kasarkod grew to the spotlight because of its black pepper exports and 16th-century fortress built during Portuguese rule. In the 18th-century, the British instituted their warehouses at the Honnavar Port. Taking the foreign influence a notch higher, Honnavar Beach hoisted blue flags on its sandy seashore in May 2020. It is, now confirmed, as a world-class beach by FEE, a Danish environmental institute that evaluates seashores under 33 conditions.
I was here for nearly an hour, and the beach looks spectacular with all elements in place. It is the kind of beach where you want to embrace the soft milky sands, run barefoot, or laze on the sea dust carpet and let waves immerse you in its magic. To curve this spirit into reality, Honnavar Beach facilitates a 2.5 km long swimming zone, along with a sunbath facility, a beach-gym and a lovely watchtower. Plus, the therapeutic sound of waves in the backdrop that, relax you deep within. They even have a children’s play area shall you plan on bringing your little ones and a first-aid room to handle any immediate emergencies.
But my favourite part of this beach is its washrooms that easily beat any star facility with their spotlessly clean premises. In the last 2-years, GOI has spent nearly 10-crores to enhance this beach with a solar power plant, clean washrooms, solid waste and grey-water treatment plants, parking, clean drinking water facilities, changing room, bathing facility and disabled-friendly facilities. Worth a visit if you haven’t been here already!
The Therapeutic Waters of Gokarna
After visiting the blue flag beach of Honnavar, we boarded White Pearl mini cruise near Tadri Port Office to sail into Arabian sea featuring Kirbele fort and sunset viewpoint. Towards the second hour of the sail, we hit Dolphin Bay, where we spotted a few Dolphins dolloping to the force of waters.
A little further from Dolphins Bay, you will spot the Om Beach that gets its name from the ironic curves of its formation. White Pearl then returned to the port, and dinner followed – this time along the calm waters of Aghnashini River.
Later that night, we checked into Om Beach Resort by Jungle Lodges say about 8 km from the main Gokarna beach. After getting breakfast, we left for the pristine Karwar – where our coastal Karnataka trip concluded!
Kali Mata Temple, Karwar
A coastal Karnataka trip that commenced a week earlier, in Mangalore, finally concluded in Karwar, a small city in Uttara Kannada. We reached Kali River Garden in Kodibag after an hour and a half long drive from Gokarna. We arrived, we grabbed a South Indian lunch comprising fresh river fish and oysters, and then we took off on a boat to Kalika Temple on the Kalika island. There are so many unusual places around coastal Karnataka to see but, Karwar Mangrove Boardwalk, on a tiny island, is positively worth bumping to your travel bucket list. Listed as Pavitra Vana or Sacred Forest, this mangrove forest in Karwar lays nestled on Kali river inver, near the Kali bridge, which has now been developed, into an eco-tourism destination. Girdled-by dense mangroves, this remote island is one of the many little islands within the Kali River expanse.
It is the first mangrove forest in the state to have acquired the Pavitra Vana status. This small island can be reached by boat from the Kodibag jetty near Kali River Garden. A boatman rowed me around the sacred mangroves of Karwar before finally dropping me off at the Kali Mata footbridge. Along the way, we spotted many birds through the thick-skulled mangroves. I enjoyed our walk on the boarded path in March 2021, marked by relaxing water sounds, singing tropical birds and several hoardings displaying mangrove species and their importance. The footbridge leads further into the fragmented island, known after its divine Kali Mata Temple.
This small temple has a big story! The local priest here told me, the story revolves around the pent-up rage of Goddess Kali after she got into an argument with her husband, Lord Shiva, over the importance of food and nourishment. The series of events that followed are all narrated through 8-small temples within the temple complex. The main Kali Mata Temple completes the Navgraha framework. For nearly 20-minutes, the priest and I walked barefoot on the warm and glowing sands of this little, disjoined-island on the Kali River. With every step forward, the priest went on to narrate the less-known temple tale. I could tell you the story, but I would really like you to hear it from the priest.
They say the best time to visit this temple is during Deepotsav, when the entire temple is lit, with hundreds of lamps. When visiting Karwar, take the boat to this less-explored temple for it’s intriguing chronicles. We left this island to be at Karwar, and I have to admit that the onward and return journey from the island is more satisfying than the island itself. As you traverse onward the Kali River to enter Karwar, lookout for a small temple on your left.
This unique temple is devoted to the deity of Khapri, worshipped by cigarettes and liquor. Lord Khapri is assumed to be protecting the neighbourhood thus, this temple is very-influential amongst the fishermen community. The sea waves at the aperture of the river were towering but gentle, and within 20-minutes found ourselves at the ingress of Devbagh Beach Resort in Karwar.
Devbagh Beach Resort, Karwar
Karwar is a state of mind! A thought well-captured by Rabindranath Tagore, who once took a boat ride at zero hours to discover the moonlit rendezvous with enchanting shorelines of Karwar bathing in white sands. He penned the twilight experience as Prakritir Pratishoota, meaning nature’s revenge. It turned out to be his 1st-play, a literary work that Tagore esteemed as the outset of his belletristic profession. In Karwar, I stayed at Devbagh Beach Resort, a staycation with infinite open spaces for archetypal beach lovers!
Except at Devbagh, you have a beach all by yourself. I stayed at the Red Vented Bulbul cottage with a clean washroom. Between snorkelling, sandcastles, seashells, parasailing and speed boat cruises, relax by the beach and let the sea wipe all your worries away.
As the sun sets in the evening, staff lits sea candles in the sand, eventually using them to set out paper lanterns in the sky. While here, I had the pleasure to meet and cook with the hotel’s executive chef. The seafood (mostly fresh catch) at Devbagh is highly-recommended! If you are in the mood for a castaway experience, this is the place to be! Except, you will get an excellent network here!
While here, also explore Kumta for sandalwood craftsmanship and majestic rock formations towering the extent of Yana. The best time to visit Devbagh is between October to May.