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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

          My previous write-up ,on OG, was all about real life adventure, trauma, uncertainty & deep forests. On the contrary, this is all about serene beauty, the calmness of the sea, the colours of the sand, and of course the scorching sun.

        Ankola and Gokarna are two coastal towns in Uttara Kannada district of Karnataka.This trek is one half of the Golden route trek which is from Belikeri (near Ankola) to Honnavara. The Ankola- Gokarna trek (henceforth referred to as A-G Trek) will start from Belikere which is about 30 mins from Ankola with the local transport and end at Gokarna which forms the mid point of the golden route and is sandwiched between the Gangavalli and Agnashini river mouths. This is an ideal monsoon trek for those who are willing to enjoy the pristine beaches & walk in a drizzle.

       Taking you back to the OG trek, if you remember, we did have a talk on forming a professional & non-profit group which would organize frequent treks for all the enthused in & around Bangalore. Roughly 4 months later, we had our group formed with 20 core members. This A-G trek was the first trek organized by the group & apparently, I happened to be the organiser for the trek.

        It was decided to embark on this trek, on the 15th & 16th of August. By this time, our group had a 100+ member base and it was imperative to have a trek at the earliest, to keep the confidence of the new members alive. Invitations were sent out to all the members eventually resulting in 20 people registering for the trek including 8 core members.All the core members, had their role tagged for the trek.Satish-Logistics, Mudassar-Navigator & Path finder, Naveen-Food Manger, Sashi -Photographer, Jayloknath & KB-Sweepers. Although the remaining members did not have specific roles, they were expected to chip in with their might as &when it was required .The following was the final list of participants for this trek.  DSC_1523

1. Mudassar 11. Varun
2. Satish- (Professional) 12. Chandan
3. Jayloknath 13. Vishal
4. Krishna Bhat (KB) 14. Balaji
5. Naveen 15. Triveni (Shashi’s wife)
6. Ajay- (Technical) 16. Deepthi
7. Karthik 17. Vishal
8. Shashi 18. Pankaj
9. Ramprasad 19. Neeraj
10. Adarsh 20. Roopa( Pankaj’s wife)

      Once the participants list was finalised, we zeroed in on Sugama Travels for booking both the onward & the return journey.Satish  handled the booking of tickets. On the night of departure , some of the participants boarded the bus from Majestic & the others from the Rajajinagar 1st block office.It was close to 10pm when everybody settled down in their seats, thanks to Satish for handling the seat allotments based on the participants’ marital status. He made sure couples were not separated in the process & also got one of them a sleeper birth:):):)

       It was a roller coaster ride to Ankola to say the least. The bad condition of the roads coupled with the driver’s apathy towards the occupants made the journey a bad one.After reaching Ankola at around 8:45, we chose to use the public toilets to finish our morning chores. It took some money to get all the toilets cleaned for usage. Although it wasn’t the cleanest of the place, it wasn’t bad though. All the lady participants along with their hubbies were asked to use the facilities at the church nearby ( 500mts from the bus stand). 

      After having our breakfast at Hotel Sapna which is another 0.5 kms from the church, we again IMG_0011headed towards the bus stand to catch a bus to Belikere. The area around the bus stand was bustling with school children doing an independence day march. It appeared as though the entire area was painted with colours of the tri-colour. It was past 10:00 am before we caught the bus to Belikere. RDSCN1968eaching Belikere at 10:45, we assembled ourselves beneath a tree at the open space facing the beach. The next 15 mins was spent in briefing the participants about the day’s schedule, our targets & were we would be camping for the night. There was a small introductory session from each of the participants so that everyone was aware of their co-participants.We kicked off the trek by taking a group picture after getting down to the beach, through a small hillock from the place we assembled.

        We started to walk along the Kini beach which is app.4 kms long & luckily the clouds had taken control of the situation . The overcast conditions made the walk slightly DSC_1577comfortable on a rather humid day. With the shoes tied to our backpacks, the bare foot walk was awesome with the waves splashing on to our feet every now & then. This walk along the beach went on for a couple of hours, enjoying the scenic beauty around, the calmness of the sea & the constantly singing waves.  We decided to take a break & sat along the stone ridge bordering the beach. With dark clouds hovering above us, we were expecting a round of rains shortly.

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Eventually it turned out to be a passing cloud which chose not to play a spoil sport to our journey. We sat there for about 15 mins with some of them clicking pictures & a few of them walking into the waters. I chose to walk into the waters & stand there for a while thinking of my fiancé:(:( Forgot to mention that I was recently engaged then & it took quite an effort from my side to convince people back home to be a part of this trek. I had an earful of do’s & don'ts especially from my fiancé. After a well deserved break, we chose to continue on our trail & decided we would be breaking next for lunch.

        After crossing over a hillock which was facing the vast expanse of paddy fields, we reached a small hamlet called  Nabithoda . We decided to break here for lunch. It was 2’o clock by the time we sat over for lunch at Mr. Gopal’s residence. This hamlet is a settlement of the fisher folks & they were kind enough to spare their courtyard as our make-shift dining hall. DSC04562We had a good lunch with Satish making us laugh to his one liners. The menu was high on the MTR ready to eat stuffs. We then filled our water bottles at a nearby hand pump for the rest of the journey. It was a long walk from here on along the beach. People like Chandan, Balaji, Adarsh who were enthusiastic about photography, spent few minutes every now & then clicking pictures that tickled their imagination & creativity. Also one gets to see a large number of boats parked in line which are either ready to venture into the sea or have come back from the sea after their day’s catch. There were heaps of fishes & other sea life like shrimps , mussels & lobsters, being segregated from the catch. When we spoke to some of the fisher folks, we got to know about their difficulties in getting the right amount of money for their efforts. Sympathizing them, we continued to walk until we reached a relatively large expanse of water which was supposed to be crossed by a boat. This is a point where the fresh water meets the sea. IMG_0082 After deciding on the price for ferrying us across the river as 100Rs,  the boat man ferried across 5 of us at a time.

          The crossing of this river took about 15-20 mins . It was well past 3:30 then and we stDSCN2123arted climbing another hillock adjacent to the river. This path entered into a total green cover which resembled a Nilgiri plantation. We were surprised to see this kind of a vegetation at the very place. Also, there were trees resembling the Pine, one gets to see en-route to Ooty or Kodai. It was relatively cool here. There was a small stream running as well. It’s a perfectly designed place for the night camp.

  Entrance to Belambara village is a small beach which can be reached climbing a series of steps built into a hillock effectively separating the beach into two. Immediately after coming down the steps, we were presented with a beautiful sight of the river flowing into the sea  in a small stream.  We had to cross this stream to reach the other side of the beach.  IMG_0147

        Although  it was a small stream, it ran deep enough to rise above the waist. It was mandatory for us to use a rope for crossing . I made a bold attempt to cross with out a rope as somebody had to reach the other side to hold the rope for people to cross. Some people did balance themselves across but others held on to the rope & came across. These are small instances where team effort comes into picture. IMG_0587 We then walked along to reach the road which led us to the Belambara Government School ( of course with a bit of help from  the locals). It was well past 4:30 when we reached the school premises and were in for a shock when the school authorities refused to allow us camp there for the night. Any amount of pleading would fall on to the deaf ears of the authorities.They cited security reasons for their refusal. We were also told to try our luck at Bascode Primary School which was another 7-8 kms. We decided to take a bus to Bascode.After refreshing ourselves with Kokum juice (was available in small packets), we boarded the bus. It dropped us at Bascode around 6:00 pm from where we again had to walk for a couple of kms to reach the school. On the way, we bumped into some people who knew the head mistress personally. One among them was Mr. Ravi (actively involved in the local political scenario) , who volunteered to find us some accommodation at the community hall within the school premises.He along with KB (is fluent with the local Kannada) left to meet the Head Mistress and others walked to reach the school. It was already dark then & after a bit of waiting, KB along with Mr.Ravi came there rather disappointed with the fact that the Head Mistress was apprehensive in letting out the community hall ( attributed to the committee president’s refusal) but had no problems in allowing us to use the school corridor. We took what ever came our way & were glad to have got some kind of a shelter for the night. Mr. Ravi also made arrangements for the female trekkers to spend the night at his sister’s place right opposite to the school. A-G1_Collage

         Having found some shelter, folks were eager to have a good shower before they had their dinner & slipped into a slumber. This also was made possible with few of them using  the taps in the school premises & others finding solace from the well water at Ravi’s sister place. Few pots of water were fetched from the well for us to prepare soups & boil our MTR packets. We had the power packed dinner & went off to sleep biding adieu to a rather eventful & tiring day,  looking forward to the day ahead.

     The next day began with people waking up early to find a place for their morning rituals. Some even walked for a kilometer to find the right place. The roadside bore well came in handy for brushing & washing ( face of course!!!). After having our breakfast & clicking a few pics on the school premises, we continued our journey to reach Gokarna  by late afternoon. We took some time to thank Mr. Ravi and his sister’s family profusely for their help. Keeping in line with the group’s policy of leaving no trace, we did make it a point to clean up the entire place & restore it to its original form. It was 8:00 AM when we started from the school.

         We walked along the dusty roads of  Bascode on a rather sunny day in comparison to the day before.  There was a slight change in the route plan as we had deviated from Belambara to Bascode ( a good 7 kms). We were also told by the locals to visit the HONEY Beach for its pristine beauty which was one of the major attractions. One the way we did meet meet a folk by name Nagaraj who was more than happy to explain us the benefits of a climber  called AMRITHA BALLI which is abundant in this part & is in great demand in the cities because of its curing capacity for a disease like diabetes. After an hour, we reached a Yoke. IMG_0152 With the help of some locals for direction, we took the road facing our right which would take us to the Honnebailu Beach or the HONEY Beach. We had already walked for a couple of hours & the time was 10:00AM then. It took us another  couple of hours to reach the point where we could see a sign board which showed the way to the beach. The walk was pretty tiring as the sun was beating on us. The Honey Beach as it is popularly known, is a small one with the sand colour resembling the colour of honey. It was around 12 in the noon when we reached the beach. The entry is ideally through the resort situated on a hill facing the beach. The fact that the beach is pretty isolated and fortified with hills on one side has probably helped the resort to attract a small number of people who would like to spend their weekend in a serene & quiet environment. A series of steps from the resort leads you into the beach. A-G2-1The next two hours were spent in & out of the water by some members & the others spent trying their skills in photography. A few of the folks had their lunch at the resort restaurant while the others decided to have it after reaching Gokarna. We started again from the honey beach well past 2:00 in the afternoon & planned to reach Gokarna by 4:00 PM. This period was really tiring as we had to trek along slightly treacherous path on the hills. We had to repeatedly go in search of  man made paths for easy maneuvering. The Sun was taking its toll on everybody. It was Khan’s turn to fall ill again, reminding us of the OG Trek. He started to throw up with signs of dehydration.Any way he had to hold up till we reached Gokarna.We took mini breaks in between refreshing ourselves with fluids.We had to roam around a bit in the hills before we reached the banks of the AGANASHINI river at a place called Manjuguni. DSC05109It is a point were the river flows into the sea.  This time we had to ferry across the river to reach the other side. The ferry was at 4:00 pm. We had to cross the fisher folk's settlements to reach the place from where we could get on to the ferry. We paid 10.00 Rs per head and  got on to the ferry.

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We abandoned the idea of walking along the beach from the other side to reach Gokarna since most of us were burnt out. There was a consensus reached on taking the bus instead. We had to wait for another half hour for the bus, during which the small shop selling tender coconuts made a brisk business.

At 4:30 we got into a mini bus which was packed to the hilt en route to Gokarna. After reaching Gokarna, we checked into a lodge and had a relaxing shower. Later some found their way into some restaurants & others took the temple route & visited the famous Lord Ganesh & Lord Shiva temple.  We boarded the Bus to Bangalore at 7:00 pm to reach here the next morning. We had a good sleep & luckily the bus driver was kind enough to take us through the bad roads rather carefully!!!!

      All said and done it was a nice trek to start with for Bangalore Ascenders as a group. There were a few glitches in between to be rectified as far as the organising & conducting of a trek goes, but was a learning experience for all the core members.There were moments of agony in between but finally ALL’s WELL END’S WELL………..

Things to note:                                                                                                                  1. A-G trek is good for first time trekkers.                                                                       2. Sunscreen lotion & a lengthy rope is a must.

Expenses ( Exclusive of food):

Bangalore to Ankola-Bus

410/-

Gokarna to Bangalore-Bus

400/-

Ankola to Belekeri- Bus

7/-

Belambara to Bascode           

4/-

River Crossing ( 2 places)      7/-
Mini bus from Manjuguni to Gokarna         5/-
Total Expenses

833/-

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Written by:Ramprasad                                                                                                          Organized by:Ramprasad                                                                                                     Image Gallery:

Satish, Balaji, Sashi, Ram, Ajay, Chandan-1, Chandan-2, Adarsh

4 comments :

  1. It was truly an awesome trek. Enjoyed every bit of it.

    ReplyDelete
  2. you guys dint went to places in gokarna..

    ReplyDelete
  3. 1. Saswara Resort WARNING:
    They have horrible customers service.
    The receptionist doesn’t have any manners.
    She almost spoiled my holiday exp.
    Saswara NOT RECOMMENDED

    ReplyDelete
  4. is august an ideal time to do this trek? will it be hot? how bad can the rains get?

    ReplyDelete