Author: Meghana Sharath
Our last trip before the world shut down, bracing for the havoc that would be as a new disease shook the earth and brought it to a standstill.
Kumta and Gokarna. Kumta. A name unheard of by a lot of people. A small town down by the west coast of Karnataka, India. Being a Kannadiga I was pretty familiar with this quaint little town that has much to offer than one can imagine. A quiet little place, perfect for some tranquil time away from all the chaos cities had to offer. Gokarna.
Another magnificent place by the Western coasts of Karnataka beyond the enormous towering Western Ghats, home to a thousand different species of animals and a thousand more waiting to be found. Home to some of the most wonderful temples dedicated to Lord Shiva, there indeed is an air of mystery and spirituality surrounding this place.
Now that we are pretty familiar with these beachy towns, let’s get to our little trip around these places. The 17th of January 2020. It is said that unplanned adventures work far better than the ones you sit and plan for months, this could not be truer for us.
One week before, the first time we spoke about taking this trip and within 5 days, the rooms were booked and the bus too. We took off on the night of 17th of January, Friday. It was a quick weekend getaway that turned out to be one hell of an experience for us all.
After a cold, bumpy ride in the bus, up the Ghats and through some of the thickest forest covers in India.
18th of January 2020 Next morning, 6.30 AM, we overslept, missing our destination. But phew, thankfully one of us woke up just in time to tell the driver of the situation. Flustered, we got off in the middle of nowhere with a small shop off the road. Somehow, we found our ride to our resort and started off through country roads and narrow streets that went winding in and out of the town that still seemed to be asleep. On reaching the resort we got our first view of the curling waves and the sandy beach right at our feet.
It was a breath of fresh air and a view to cherish as we soaked in all the pastel colours of the coastal wonder. After an hour or two of freshening up and breakfast, we ran from the resort right on to the sand and in no time were knee-deep in the cool but somehow warm waters of the Arabian sea. After splashing around in the water, playing a little game of football and dressing up a wee little mermaid under the sweltering hot sun, we discovered the existence of a certain "Mystery caves" that lay beyond the rocky shores on the right end of the beach. Walking to the caves was nothing short of a good hike.
After what seemed like an hour of scraping and jumping our way across a variety of landscapes and having a spooky encounter to remember, we reached the caves. Legend has it that anyone who entered the cave that seemed to disappear into an abyss of darkness never came back. We steered clear of the creepy caves and came back to the resort, pink after hours under the humid sun.
After an amazingly relaxing shower and a quiet, happy lunch together, everyone dozed off to sleep while watching the waves from inside the resort on the relaxing chairs. It was indeed a relaxing Saturday afternoon with a side of some sea. The evening drew closer and everyone fresh from the nap washed up to go down to the water and plan the next day.
After a while, the skies turned a pastel pink and hue of blue. The sunset was here. What's life without a sunset at the beach?
All of us stood by the sea, eyes fixated on the horizon, deep in thought, the sun sank and all that loomed over in our head was the thought that maybe all that is left of us, in the end, is right here. After watching one of the most beautiful sunsets, we needed a plan for dinner. We decided to go into the town and explore a little and taste some fresh seafood turned into some of the most flavorful local dishes. A 10-minute walk through the dark fields and a bus ride away, we were in the middle of the warm little town of Kumta.
Taking the help of some of the local people, we found a place which had an amazing palette of the most flavorful seafood dishes. Hungry as we were, we ate some fish and crab and took off to find some alcohol for our campfire night. Grabbing some bottles of beer and Bacardi we took off late in the night, back to the resort. Sitting on the sand, a campfire crackling in the middle, our favourite songs playing on the speakers, everyone chatted away and even danced a little.
By midnight, the fire died down and so did our energies. We looked up to the clear night sky seeing every star in a beautiful haze and instantly knew we had to run down to the beach to live out the dream of many - to stargaze, while the ocean crashed onto the sandy shores. Lying on the sand, blurry and content, we gazed up to the heavens above. A million stars that filled the velvet sky shone brightly while we looked up and questioning the existence of life on earth and maybe even otherworldly life that maybe were present at this very moment in some of those stars. 1 AM and everyone had a long day. We fell asleep as soon as our heads hit the pillow.
19th of January 2020 The day of adventure. We were going to leave for Gokarna. By 10 AM everyone was up and about ready to trek the tedious hills that ran along the coastline. After a walk, a bus ride and also a ferry ride across the river Aghanashini to the bustling town of Gokarna. There we were walking, 20 minutes later, on the rocky, sandy Om beach that twisted and turned ahead of us.
The beach, unlike our Nirvana Beach back in Kumta, was bustling with colour and dotted with shacks. We found one and ordered our breakfasts. After a wholesome meal everyone geared up to trek through the hills that lay behind the beach. We were standing up above the fresh blue waters and palm trees below and got some of the most amazing views of the waters and before we knew we were surrounded by trees again.
After a good hour of playing hide and seek with the beaches, we suddenly found ourselves standing on the rocks of The Half Moon Beach. It was a curving beach, small, with only one shack and some people playing some football. We cooled off on the beach for some time, soaking in the solitude and the salty air (which was probably mixed with a lot of Marijuana). Next, was Paradise Beach. We trekked to this treasure trove tucked away behind the graceful little hills and trees.
After about 30 minutes of spotting some daredevils swim in the middle of the ocean, we left the place to trek back towards the ferry catch a ride back to our resort. A long tiring trek through some dense and spooky trees, the never-ending trek seemed to bring us to the edge of a village by the water.
Walking through the streets, catching a glimpse at the wonderful lives they lived, the fisherman returning home after a long day of fishing, waiting for the sun to set. We caught the sunset behind the hills that lay beyond the water, from the ferry.
From another perspective. Another bus ride later, we were back in the resort as dusk drew nearer. Bringing in a few bottles of beer, we settled to watch the darkness fall around us by the shoreline of our Nirvana Beach. As we watched the calming waves crash on the sand at our feet, we realized there was a faint glow in the crashing waves. Turns out we were watching bioluminescence, a phenomenon that’s absolutely magical.
One of the most beautiful tricks of nature, happening right in front of our eyes. It only grew more intense as the night grew on us. The glowing waves, beer and good friends. What more would you want from life? 2 hours later, time to go home.
12 hours later, all of us tucked away in the warmth of our own beds at home. Sound asleep, allowing all the little and big adventures we had just had, settling in our hearts, etching a wonderful memory forever.