Impromptu outings are fun. This one was all the more special as it was our first family outing soon after our wedding to my partner's grandparents' house where he spent his vacations as a kid [by now Hum Saath-Saath Hai should be playing in your mind's eye] :D
We were visiting during a busy holiday season, and the places on mind were Karwar, Gokarna, and Murdeshwara in the Uttara Kannada district of my home state Karnataka with the only agenda - Beach hopping! I was visiting the coast nearly after a decade and was super excited.
We arrived in the port town, Karwar late Monday afternoon and hit the Tagore Beach to catch a glimpse of the setting sun. The beach is named after a great Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore who visited the seaside city and even dedicated a memoir to the town.
Tagore beach is one of the cleanest beaches I have ever visited. Perfect to relax while watching the sun go down, walk by the shores and enjoy eateries by the bay. One can ride a boat to the islands and lighthouses in the vicinity. Besides enjoying the beach, we visited my partner's ancestral house, met families and friends, visited Kodibeer temple, savoured the local delicacies appreciating the simple lives of the quaint town.
Next up we drove through the Western Ghats and up the winding path to Om Beach in Gokarna. The beach gets its name as it is believed to in the shape of the Om symbol. Gokarna means cow's ear. It is believed that Shiva Linga emerged in the ear-shaped confluence of two rivers.
While growing up, we always saw Gokarna as a centre of pilgrimage. With the influx of tourists, the character of the town has changed. Enterprising locals have started restaurants, shacks, resorts, boats and other water sports, tattoo parlours to cater to tourists.
What we missed, and you shouldn't - A visit to the Mahabaleshwara temple aka the 'Atma Linga' temple. If you know the legendary story of Ganesha and Ravana from Tretayuga, you know I am referring to one of the Pancha Linga temples.
What we enjoyed, and you shouldn't miss - A fun and frolic session of Jet-skiing, manoeuvring the playful tides of the Arabian Sea and of course the sunset and the sepia skies.
Late evening we drove to Murdeshwara, a temple town by the Arabian Sea coast. The following morning we visited the Lord Shiva temple with the world's second tallest statue of Shiva. The legend of Ganapati-Ravana and the Atma Linga has a part to play in this temple. When Ganapati places the linga in the ground, the agitated Ravana tries to uproot the linga. Legend has it, due to the force exerted, chunks of the linga scatter in 5 different places, and Murdeshwara is one of them. We can see a statue of Ganapati and Ravana making a deal at the temple premises. The sanctum sanctorum which is only lit by oil lamps has the Linga inside a hollow in the ground and retains its original form, untouched by modernity. The temple complex has statues of Sun Chariot, Partha-Sarathi, Bhagiratha etc. The temple and the exceptional statue leaves you with a sense of awe and tranquility.
Overlooking the monumental sculpture and the Rajagopura is Murdeshwara beach whose sand texture if quite uncommon. Known as the perfect picnic spot for families was overcrowded when we were visiting, bustling with numerous school kids enjoying their vacation. The beach has varied options for hotels, guest houses, and restaurants, a haven for seafood connoisseurs.
What we missed, and you shouldn't - Ride up the elevator of the 20-storey tall Rajagopura at the temple entrance. Visit the nearby Nethrani Island. Boat services were suspended on the day we visited, and hence we couldn't visit the island, which is also well known for Scuba diving.
Before leaving Murdeshwara we visited Idagunji Ganesha temple, 20 km away from the Murdeshwara temple. Ganesha, the presiding deity of the Idagunji temple is believed to remove one's obstacles and is considered a very powerful site. Legend has its reference towards the end of Dwapara Yuga when celestials sages took the blessings of Idagunji Ganesha to remove all obstacles hindered during penitential activities.
Our short yet refreshing getaway to the Karavali after decades was a much-needed break for all of us post our big-fat Indian wedding. I shall look forward to visiting the other Karavali regions hopefully soon. Karnataka is indeed 'One State, Many Worlds', and there's a lot more to explore.