November 30, 2021

In a battered Zen along the Karnataka coast – 1

I am trying to remember that time when I used to travel but without a camera – sure, I had a basic point and shoot film camera but it was more for the “been there done that” record. My husband of course, maintains that those were good days because I saw things and places with my eyes and not through the camera lens. I think back of some of my more interesting journeys during that time and find so few photographs of them in my albums that I wonder about it. In any case, the memories live on…

(Disclaimer : in any case, you can blame the terrible quality of these scanned pics on GK Vale in Bangalore – they made a mess of these photographs, such as they were)

It was the long weekend around Independence day – August 2003 when we decided to take off in our battered Zen on a drive along the Karnataka coast. It was less than a year after my back had been operated upon but armed with the assurance that Karnataka roads were in excellent condition (which turned out to be true most of the time) and a blinding optimism (which sees me through tough times even today), my husband and I set off very early Friday morning. Map in hand, clueless about where were to stay the night, we crossed Bangalore before the morning traffic took over, and hit the Mangalore highway well before the sun went high in the sky.

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The route we ended up taking through three days was something like this :

Bangalore –> Mangalore –> Udupi –> Marawanthe –> Honavar –> Jog Falls –> Sagar –> Shimoga –> Bababudangiri range –> Chikmagalur –> Belur – Halebid –> Hassan –> Bangalore.

That is close to 1000 km in three days! And the fun part was not just the drive itself but those small delicios decisions that needed to be made every fifty kilometers or so – where next? turn towards something that promises to be interesting? stay an hour longer or move on?

The Sakleshpur-Mangalore stretch is a very scenic drive over the hills – it always seemed be raining somewhere in the distant hills; and the rolling mist over the valley accompanied our car all the way till we hit flat ground again. The only dampener (apart from the rains, i.e. heh!) here are those massive oil tankers that inch their way painfully up and down the steep curves. So, we resisted the temptation to stop often to take in the views and made it to Mangalore in good time. Mangalore in the mid-day heat seemed to utterly lack any charm, it was just another large smoky city.

We decided not to stop there and went on further to Udupi. A quick delicious vegetarian lunch later (this is a temple town, remember. and we are vegetarians, remember too!), we checked into a small budget hotel for a nap. That evening, we retraced our steps (as much as it is possible to do so in a car) and went to closeby Kaup.

A quick mandatory trip to the top of the light-house and we were all set for the beach. My husband, the beach-baby walked straight into the sea, and there we were, standing in waist-deep water for over half an hour and generally having a great time. At which point in time, the beach baby felt his pockets and discovered his wallet (with most of our money in it) and his newish mobile phone – all enjoying the water as much as he was. Slight set-back, that. However, there was nothing to be done about the mobile phone and the currency notes could be dried later in the room and so right back into the water we went again. The sunset at Kaup beach, one of the most stunning I have ever seen kind of made up for all that.

Sunset on the beach

The next morning, we took a quick peek into the Udupi temple and were in our way to Marawanthe early in the day.

[to be continued]

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