We leave Kumta and drive south, not very sure of where we will stop for the day. It could be Honnavar which is very near, or Bhatkal which is a bit too far for TheBlueDrive itinerary. In the event, we settle for Murudeshwar but not before looking at some really interesting places on the way.
As you leave Kumta, keep looking to your left. On a small hillock, you will find a memorial column.The hill is being cut down to make way for the 4-laning of the road and the new road will be quite close to the memorial when completed.
This is called Colonel Hill. It dates back to 1854. Col. Hill heading 14, Madras Native Infantry of East India Company died here. ‘Hill’ has assumed double meaning here.I could not find much infirmation about this guy who is honoured with such a tall column.
I will find out and let you know. I am deeply suspicious about the military men. I am almost certain that they get killed because of excessive drinking.
The picture below should be considered another memorial although it is not intended to be one. This is a Mangalore tiles factory. This particular building material has been very popular in the last century in the coastal regions of western India. It has also been exported to many other countries of Asia as well as Africa.
These tiles were first manufactured by a German missionary by the name of Georg Plebst. The tiles are named after the town of Mangalore but were manufactured all over the North & South Canara as well as Goa. One can still see the chimneys of the kilns dotting the skyline. Most of the buildings including temples on the west coast of India were roofed by these beautiful tiles until we were cursed by concrete.
Honnavar does not offer anything special. We go looking for the Lighthouse which is sort of hidden behind government buildings on the edge of a hill.
At the Honnavar fishing harbour, we go looking for someone who can take us to the island of Basavaraj Durga. This island houses a fort (durga) and is also known to have the wild goats. The fort was built in 1690 by the Vijayanagara rulers. We find a boat owner who is willing to take us there from opposite the creek – a place called Kasarkod (not Kasargod). He is offering a boat ride for an exorbitant Rs 5000/- for two of us and with the condition that we will not land. Without landing we can see neither the fort nor the goats properly. It was a dicey offer which we decline.
All the same we decide to go and visit Kasarkod. If we had done that we would have missed something very interesting. Look at the map below. Kasarkod is a long narrow strip of land (at places it is hardly 50 meters wide) where the river Sharavathi meets the Arabian sea. One can stand on the sea shore and shout at a person on the river bank.I will not be surprised if in the heavy monsoon storms the water from the sea flies and falls into the river.
This is how it looks on the Google map.The island is not seen here.
Just off this beach one can see the island fort, about half a kilometre away. It seems the locals visit this place on Makar Sankranti Day ( 14th January) en mass to offer prayers in a Hindu temple on the fort.
We meet some of the people involved in a commercial activity of fishing and fish-drying in the area. They have been doing this for a long time but have now been threatened by the Ports authorities with ejection. The Port Authority claims the land as its own. At least I dont see the logic behind this.
We meet two brothers here who are Catholics and have relatives in Goa. Very friendly guys who offer us water which is very sweet. It is from a well on this peninsula. They are into this fish drying business. The end-users are the chicken-feed manufacturer, mostly Mangalore based. Those of you who claim to eat only chicken and not fish, please take a note of this.
It is very interesting to note that the birds like House Crow, Pariha Kite and the Brahminy Kites here are very co-operative with each other and share the same space. Otherwise they are fierce competitiors.
This plant species survives the harsh enviornemnt created by the saline water and high temperatures.
Our next stop is quite different but is not very far from this seaside phenomenon. The beach south of Kasarkod extends to a place called Apsarkonda.
This beach can be viewed from a hill close to the Highway. It is very deceptive. When you drive down south from Honnavar, there is no indication that here could be such a beautiful beach hiding behind those hillocks.
Apsarkonda or Apsarakonda is a place where the ‘apsaras’ are supposed to be taking bath in the ‘konda’, the pond.
This pretty waterfall appears out of nowhere and forms the pond hardly a couple of kilometers from the Arabian sea. Nature never fails to surprise you.
There is a temple on the hill which one has to pass before descending the steps to the waterfall and the ponds. This is among the signs displyed at the temple.
I presume one can eat inadible things.
The area above the falls is an active breeding ground for many butterflies.The Tourism department has done some funny construction on the hill. They could have handed over the site to the forest department for a butterfly park.
From these natural wonders we drive into a grotesque religious display on the seaside.
Murudeshwar is quite a famous place. It became more popular after the Konkan Railways started operations and set up a station nearby.
We spend a day at this place without understanding if it is a resort location or a religious place. From the temple on the beach one is inclined to think that it is religious.
There is a story about the Shivalinga and Ravana associated with this place which is too complicated for my small brain.
It is an impressive structure particularly at night.
The hillock at the back of the temple has a display of prominent Hindu religious entities. I wish I had a bird who could take me around without filling petrol.
This man is instigating violence which is a cognizable offence under Indian Penal Code.
The place was supposed to be a fort. We look for the remnants but could not find any. We could not go on the north-west side which is seems to be under the control of the hotels around the hill.
Speaking of hotels, there are many around here, including those who make BAR the most prominent part of their signboard.
Nearby there is a ‘Parlar’, which is only for ‘Ladis’
Text by Suryakiran Naik
Pictures by Suryakiran Naik & Veena Naik