We leave Gokarn and intending to take the coastal road towards the south, take a right turn before reaching the highway. We reach Tadadi from where we are told we can cross the Aghanashini river and drive towards Kumta. That is where we are going to spend the night. At Tadadi village which has a Barber shop named NaMo, we are told that we can do the crossing anytime during the day. When we reach Tadadi the story changes. Yes, we can cross the creek but not our car. The ferry takes only passengers, not vehicles. I think it was my mistake. I never said that we wanted to cross with the car. Those who advised us must have thought that we would be gifting away the car before crossing or we would cross, visit the place and come back.
We turn back and get on to the highway. We do cross the Aghanashini but at a different place eastwards where the river is much narrower and has a bridge over it. But before we do that we visit a well-kept fort called Mirjan Fort.
Mirjan Fort is supposed to have been built in the early 17th Century by Adilshahi governor Shareef-Ul-Mulk, ruling from Ponda in Goa. It is guessed that the construction of the fort was done on an existing structure about which not much is known. The fort was probably built on the bank of the creek but by now the creek has changed direction creating a gap between the two.
The fort has plenty of visitors as it is less than 2 kms. from the highway. It is said that the fort’s watch towers were built in such a way that the enemy could be observed from inside without the observers being seen.
This is how it was done except that the enemy inthe 17th century did not come in Bajaj autorikshaws . Some more views of the fort.
Mirjan is also the name of the place and the Konkan Railway crosses the river not far from the fort. The highway goes above the railway track parallel to the river.
The river along the highway looks serene and very calm at the sunset.
Kumta Town is not on the river bank as one might have expected. It is located the more towards the hills, perhaps necessitated by the town’s long tradition of the Woodwork artists. Most of the temples in coastal Karnataka and Goa and even beyond have the woodwork like the latices, windows, doors and other artefacts made by the artisans from Kumta and around. Kumta also produces the ‘raths’ the ceremonial vehicles of Gods and Goddesses, entirely made of wood.
Here are some of the temples:
Most of the wood articles are made-to-order but a few smaller items are found inthe displays of the shops and workshops.
The temple realted work is no longer the mainstray of the business but the the orders for the designer furniture is increasing. Wooden showpieces are also in vogue and keep the artisans busy.
Kumta market offers a number of fruits and vegetables popular in the Konkan region.
A few Kilometers south of Kumta is the place called Hollegad. Here you will find the sculptors giving shape to stones. Mostly but not necessarily Gods and Goddesses.
Skilled artists use very basic hand tools to create beautiful objects.
You can cast yourselves in stone or get your favourite God cut out.
Aghanashini is the place which we tried to cross to from Taladi port unsuccessfully. It is to the north of Kumta. We are duty bound to visit it. The coast from Aghanashini to Kumta has a number of beaches. Aghanashini boasts of many beaches.
The village is approached by a good road sliding down a hill.
This signboard announces the presence of jaetty for crossing the river mouth.
The village has a small bit busy fish market offering a variety of seafood.
The Lighthouse near Gokarn on the opposite side is clearly visible.
The dominant bird species on the waterfront is the Brahminy Kite.
Stitched fishing boats are still in use in this part of the world.
We leave Aghanashini for coming back to Kumta town from as close to the sea as possible. On the way we go to Kadle beach and also see the church at Kadle.
We also observe that the fishermen here use nets to cover the drying fish. This practice is not widespread.
The beach at Kumta is nice and has a place on a nearby hill nicely done for the evening stolls.
The colour granite on the seashore continues from up north of Karnataka.
Text by Suryakiran Naik
Pictures by Suryakiran Naik & Veena Naik