For sometime I have been planning to go on a coastal trip of Karnataka. In this regard I spoke to few of my friends and finalized with one of my friend. The plan was to travel to Mangalore, see most the places along the coast of Karnataka. karwar was supposed to be the last destination and from there return to Bangalore. However, due to time constraint we decided to change the plan. After little research we decided to start from Shimoga. Below are the two options we kept for our self:
1. Shimoga – Jog falls – Yana – Gokarna – Karwar
2. Shimoga – Jog falls – Agumbe and nearby places
We went for the 1st option. Boarded a KSRTC Rajahamsa bus from Majestic at around 11 pm. Ticket cost per head is Rs 270 and it takes around 6 hours to reach Shimoga. We reached shimoga at 5 am in the morning. From Shimoga too there was no direct bus to Jog falls. So we went to Sagar, around an hours journey from Shimoga. From Sagar we got a bus to Jog falls. Finally reached Jog falls at around 7.30 am.
Jog Falls has been developed as a tourism destination by the government of Karnataka. However, there is huge scope of improvement. The stops right in front of the entrance gate. Entry fee is Rs 2 per head. Here the river Saravathy cascade into 4 distinct falls named Raja, Rani, Roarer and Rocket. Apart from this you can see Mahatma Gandhi Hydro electric project and British Banglow or Mungaru Male shooting point.
Once you land there, you will be pestled by van drivers to take you sight seeing there. If you are hiring a vehicle make sure you bargain or they will take you for a ride. We hired a van for Rs 200 to show us those points. First, we went to British banglow or Mungaru Male shooting point to see Raja falls. It was an awesome view there with mist covered hill and sound of the falls in a scenic settings. We waded through rocky terrain to take pictures. The mist cover comes and goes every now and then. At one point I thought we not be able to see anything now as the surrounding was getting covered by mist. However, the mist cover disappeared with the sun rays opening up. Next point was Rani falls. Did a bit of photography here. It is a good place to take bath if you would like.
Next our guide took us to Mahatma Gandhi hydro electric project. Its earlier name was Krishnaraja Wodeyer hydro electric project and after independence of India the name was changed. Here too you can see a few small falls. There many small falls all over the hills and many new appear during rainy season. Following this we were dropped back near the entrance of Jog falls. The government has has made sitting arrangement and railings from where you can see Jog falls in full glory. There are also steps to walk till the bottom of the falls. There was little disappointment, as there was not much water flowing and not able to see Jog falls in full glory. The guide told the best time to see Jog falls is in the moth of August.
We came to entrance of the Jog falls and were waiting for a bus to Honavar. After waiting for more than an hour we did not get any bus for Honavar. We did get a bus for Siddapur but thinking that is a different route we did not board on. Rain here plays hide and seek. Intermittent rain forced us to take shelter under the shed of the entrance. Finally we took a back to Sagar. At Sagar, we were not able to catch the 12.30 pm bus to Gokarna. Meanwhile, we decided to see the Ikkeri temple. It is located around 5 km from Sagar bus stand. We hired an auto for Rs 90. Ikkeri has been the capital of Keladi Nayakas for few years. Here, the beautiful stone temple of Aghoreshvara (Lord Shiva) is located. Back to Sagar bus stand and with no options, we took a bus to Sirsi via Siddapur around 1 pm.
The road journey in Uttara Kannada district of karnataka is a treat to the eyes. The district is ecologically green and has awesome scenic beauty. The second half of the day we spent by just traveling. Around 3.45 pm we reached Sirsi. The Sirsi town is located on a high plateau. There is a nice church which can seen from the main road ( I am not sure about the name). The other important place is Marikamba temple. We had lunch at a local eatery. By the name we had Byriyani. I was little perplexed if that could be called byriyani. Nevertheless we were hungry and shared a plate of so called byriyani between us. We boarded a bus to Kumta at 4.30 pm.
We reached Kumta around 5.45 pm. The initial plan was to go to Gokarna. However, we feared that late in the night if there is no place to stay then we will be in problem. Given that Gokarna is a very small town, we decided to go to karwar. With no direct bus to Karwar, we boarded a bus to Ankola which is around an hours journey from Kumta. We reached Ankola little after 7 pm. Meanwhile, there was no government bus from Ankola to Karwar. However, we are lucky to find a private bus. The cost is Rs 15/head. The bus took its own time and we finally reached karwar around 8.30 pm. Karwar is around 35 km from Ankola.
Now our search for hotel started. Most of the eateries and hotels/lodges are concentrated. We selected Om Lodge, after checking Anand Lodge and Hotel Harsha. People who are looking for a clean place to stay, should not not even check Anand Lodge – it is a filthy place with unprofessional people. If you are looking for little luxury, you can try Sai International. We had dinner at Hotel Sea View, located at one side of Netaji Circle. We tried Chicken fried rice (Rs 50) and Bangra fish fry (Rs 30). The hotel is decent.
Next day we woke up early morning and walked to the sea beach. The sea beach is called Tagore beach and it is less than half a kilometer. Tagore beach is located besides NH 17. We reached there around 6 am looking to take a glimpse of the sunrise. Please note that sea here is at the west and sun rises from the east. So rather than sun rise, you should be looking for sunset. Nevertheless, the sunrise from the hills was good sight. The Tagore beach is a long white sand beach with many small islands in the vicinity. There is a naval museum besides the beach. You can check a ship and a few torpedoes. The museum opens at 10 am and entry fee is Rs 10 per head.
From Tagore beach we planned to go to Devbagh. We hired an auto for Rs 80 to take us till Tarang resort. On the way we took a couple of pictures from the bridge overlooking kali river. Awesome view on the both the sides. You can see Kurumgarh island from here. From Tarang resort we started to walk to reach Devbagh. After walking a bit we found an estuary flowing towards the sea. Little later we reached the sea beach. From here it is atleast 2 km to reach devbagh along the sea beach. We did a bit of photography and after walking more than 1 and 1/2 km we decided to get back as it was very hot and we also had to catch a bus to Gokarna. On the way back we had a glass of lime soda (Rs 18/glass) which was like a amrit. The guy prepared very well.
Came back to Netaji circle and went for lunch at Hotel Sea view. The attender there suggested we go for prawn. It seems they got fresh delivery. So we ordered chicken fried rice and prawn masala fry (Rs 120 for 5 piece). We checked out of OM lodge (Rs 300) around 3 pm and boarded a bus for Gokarna (Kadamba bus) around 3.30 pm. We reached Gokarna around 5.30 pm. First we went to see the Gokarnatheswara or Mahabaleswar dev (Lord Shiva) temple. The priest explained that the Shiva linga (idol) was visible, however following frequent touch of people it went underground. One can touch this linga by putting their hand inside a hole in the ground. When one touches it feels like a skin and not a stone. One can offer various poojas there.
Official website: http://www.srigokarna.org
Then we hired an auto for Rs 100 one way to Om Beach which located around 8 km away from Gokarna town. At Gokarna you can see a lot of foreign tourists. It was one of the den of hippis during the 1970s. The way to Om beach is awesome. As you travel nearer to the beach, the view becomes more beautiful. I have never seen such a beautiful beach. Must be one of the best beaches in India and perhaps in the world. At the entrance, you will see the name Om Beach in Kannada, Hindi and English with a big om symbol. The beach got the name Om as it resembles the shape of sacred Hindu symbol Om. From the entrance you will have to climb down little bit to reach the white sand coated beach. It is beautiful serene beach but do take care not to venture deep into the sea. We reached there just in time to catch the sunset. Tried my best to catch the best glimpses of the sunset at Om beach. You can sit on the rocks just to relex, think or imagine listening to never ending sound of the waves. There is a small cafe at one corner of the beach. It was just about to be dark when we left Om beach with a wish to return there soon. I suggest you try to stay near to the beach.
Came back to KSRTC bus stand at around 7.30 pm and found the direct bus to Bangalore has already left and we were told to go to Kumta. The last bus to Bangalore from Kumta is at 9.30 pm. The auto driver told private bus may be still available and took us to the Sugama bus agent. Luckily too sleeper seats were available costing Rs 400 each. After little dilly dallying little bit over the price and weather to stay the night there, we decided to board the bus. It was a nice journey, the bus was new and very comfortable. We were on the upper sleeper seat. I took the window seat and started enjoying star gazing and enjoying cool breeze. Chatted for quite sometime with my friend. We are supposed to have dinner at around
10 – 10.30 pm. But we never knew if the bus stopped and if stopped, when. Reached Bangalore around 8 am in the morning.
Sugama and VRL run direct buses between Bangalore and Gokarna. Sugama Charges Rs 400 for sleeper. It takes little over 12 hours to reach Bangalore from Gokarna.