Musings of a traveler: Karnataka (Part 1)

Acquainting the unknown is an adventure a traveler lives for. You embark upon a journey to a new place and are sure of bringing back unforgettable memories, unearthing mysteries of the unfamiliar land. But sometimes… you are not prepared to experience something so beautiful. You’ve heard or read enough yet the experience is so striking that you want to bottle it up in a jar and take out little proportions…to take in one at a time. This is about one such journey. Perhaps, it sounds too quixotic. Perhaps it was.

There couldn’t be a better morning than waiting for dawn to break at a beach. It’s a little over 4:30 a.m. “I have always wanted to wake up on a beach,” exclaims L. ‘This is the best morning ever,” I say settling my backpack on the dirty Gokarna beach. Two gorgeous days lie behind us and in front of us is the spectacle of night gently breaking into day and playful waves welcoming it. And it does the magic.

The night was at its darkest best when we got off from the bus we took from Hospet (Hampi). All we knew was the place is called Ankola. May be it was, may be it wasn’t. It was too dark to confirm. A bunch of foreign women travelers gave us company. We unanimously decided to hire a cab to Gokarna. We did not have any option but to take the only one standing in front of us. So here we are. While rest of the group thought it appropriate to look for a place to stay, we chose sipping a cuppa listening to the sound of water. It has to be the best dawn ever.

Daylight has just intervened. We move towards the town to look for a place to dump our bags and get familiar with Gokarna. It is a cozy little town…rain-washed last night. The damp roads lead us nowhere…when we smell food. It is little early for that but ‘foodie’ instincts seldom take note of timings. Idli sambhar and Upma taste better when you are headed nowhere.

We’re now heading to the ‘popular’ Om Beach which is a little far away…about Rs 100 to be precise. And a friend had suggested that Namaste Café is the best place to stay in Gokarna.

Unimpressive budget room
It is impressive, without doubt. But the Rs 700 rooms aren’t that attractive; Rs 200 ones are certainly not but   work very well for budget travelers’ pockets. The common bathroom’s a mess. But you can always work these things out right? There are better washrooms in the ‘expensive’ rooms’ arena. Secret trips there are obviously possible. And this is hardly an issue compared to the attitude of the receptionist at the front gate. L and I have a quick discussion on how friendly Hampi was and how this place also is…but only if you throw in the moolah. Foreign travelers can expect a royal treatment. Desi ones can too if you aren’t on a ‘budget’ trip. The room isn’t flattering but the ambience of the place is. It’s like living in a cottage in the middle of a jungle on a beach!

Our abode @ Namaste

Namaste Café isn’t exactly how fabulous it is described to be. But I don’t think L and I want too much at this point of time. We have our cups of coffee sitting almost at the seashore. There are moments of silence and we both know that this isn’t even half of what we have already lived in Hampi. Hampi was surreal. (I’d do a flashback but after a while). For now, after two rounds of coffee, a plate of omelette and scrambled eggs each and engaging conversations, we decide it’s time to explore the other 3 beaches in the vicinity.

What’s the way of seeing the rest of the shores – Kudle, Paradise and Half Moon? Climb uphill, come down and voila…there’s a beach. Again climb another hill, go down and yet another. Determined to see all of them, we begin the trek. Since it is rainy, we borrow an umbrella from the unfriendly receptionist. The big black umbrella breaks just as we start. Serves her right, I think.

Kudle Beach

It is a tiring one. But L and I are having a good time…wondering often if we are lost. We cannot, obviously, ask for directions. Because there are no people around. We work our way out and meet the Kudle Beach. This one’s quite pristine. We are walking, letting the water touch us, posing to click and just being ourselves. L moves deeper in, as though answering the call of the sea. She comes back in time, while I am still lost in my chain of thoughts… And it has started pouring. Wow, it is raining heavily. We’ve rushed into a shed which calls itself a restaurant. It’s a perfect romantic setting. The food is nice…the guy sitting across is nicer. Much older, attractive but an unflattering taste of books…so we shift focus.

Honestly, Hampi-experience has been so intense that everything else seems dull. We decide to give rest of the beaches a miss. So, a climb up and down and we are back at Namaste. We are here with a slight problem. We have one day with us. In a bid to make sure we spend it in the best way possible, we have spent hours and hours and rest of our money to book tickets to Karwar. This was not one of the best decisions we took, for more reasons than one. But there is nothing to regret really. It made for one hell of an experience.

1 comment:

Indrajit said...

oh. ths article makes me a wanderlust.
enjoyed it. :)

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