The Konkan Experience: From Bekal To Gokarna

Taking off from Bekal, join us to find out the historical charms of Gokarna and to the much-anticipated touchdown in Goa
A view of the Murudeshwara Beach from top of the Murudeshwara Temple
A view of the Murudeshwara Beach from top of the Murudeshwara TempleTribhuvan Tiwari

During the initial two days of the meticulously planned Konkan experience orchestrated by Cougar Motorsports, our adventure unfolded from Bengaluru to Coorg, ambling up to Bekal. Amidst the misty hills and lush lanes of Coorg, we delved into the intricate nuances of coffee culture, immersing ourselves in an experience unlike any other. Continuing from Coorg to Bekal, we were captivated by the tranquil beauty of the Kerala backwaters while gaining insights into the local highway mosques and the bustling port city lifestyle. Now, as our convoy of Land Rovers prepared to embark on the next leg of our journey to Gokarna, anticipation filled the air. This historical city greeted us with its stunning South Indian temple architecture, breathtaking organic landscapes and the soothing embrace of the ocean at Om Beach, offering a rejuvenating experience at every turn.

Day 3: The Journey from Bekal to Gokarna

The last morning at Bekal
The last morning at BekalTribhuvan Tiwari

As the sun painted the sky with hues of pink and orange, we sauntered to the in-house restaurant beside the backwater for breakfast. After a quick munch consisting of some delicious idli and filter kaapi (coffee), we bid farewell to the luxurious embrace of Taj Bekal and set our compass towards the next jewel on our Konkan adventure – the historical town of Gokarna. Leaving behind the verdant landscapes of Kerala, we traversed the highways and byways, crossing the border into Karnataka, with Mangalore marking our transition point.

In the heart of Karnataka's coastal region, we found ourselves in Udupi, a place where the land meets the sea in a harmonious embrace. Nestled beside a solitary beach marked by a solitary fisherman’s boat, Nilaya restaurant beckoned us with promises of culinary delights. Here, amidst the gentle lull of the waves, soft, dry gushes of coconut and the salty tang of the sea breeze, we indulged in a feast fit for royalty.

The traditional platter at Nilaya
The traditional platter at NilayaTribhuvan Tiwari

A traditional platter graced our table, laden with an array of delectable fish fries, succulent chicken curry, crunchy papad, and fragrant coconut-infused roti. Each bite was a symphony of flavours deserving an animated chef’s kiss, a celebration of coastal cuisine at its finest. To quench our thirst, we sipped on refreshing coconut milk infused with delicate shreds of its own flesh, a true embodiment of tropical indulgence.

The convoy heading towards Gokarana from Udupi
The convoy heading towards Gokarana from UdupiTribhuvan Tiwari

With satisfied appetites and spirits lifted, we resumed our journey towards Gokarna, pausing only for a momentous detour at the Murudeshwara Temple in between. Perched atop the Kanduka Hill, overlooking the azure waters of the Laccadive Sea, this sacred sanctuary to Lord Shiva stood as a testament to timeless devotion and architectural splendour. In the centre of the premises stood the sleek and magnificent Raja Gopura with two life-size elephants guarding its flanks like impenetrable bastions. In the rich architectural fabric of South India, the gopuram stands as a lofty sentinel at the threshold of Hindu temples.

The Raja Gopura at Murudeshwar Temple
The Raja Gopura at Murudeshwar TempleTribhuvan Tiwari

Adorned with intricate carvings and towering heights, these monumental entrance towers grace the landscapes of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Karnataka, Telangana and even Sri Lanka. Unlike their modest counterparts elsewhere in India, the gopurams of the South soar to remarkable heights, often becoming the defining feature of temple complexes. Seen dotted on its mane were the inner sanctum of the temple, a huge statue of Lord Shiva, a Sun Chariot on the side of a park, statues depicting Arjuna receiving Geetopadesham from Lord Krishna and much more.

The Shiva statue with Arabian sea in the background
The Shiva statue with Arabian sea in the backgroundTribhuvan Tiwari

Naturally, we gravitated towards the majestic 123-feet Shiva statue, at his foot lay a huge manifestation of Nandi. Once we had feasted on the visual excess presented by the statue, we moved towards the other attractions. Ascending the 20-storied Raja Gopura in an elevator that took a limited number of people in shifts, we were treated to panoramic vistas of the coastline.

The shore housing the fishermen’s boats
The shore housing the fishermen’s boatsTribhuvan Tiwari

On one side we could see the grand Sri Shiva idol with sun rays converging from its back like jewels upon the water – a sight to behold. On yet another side of the structure, we witnessed the waves of Arabian sea with boats lulling themselves to the shore of the Murudeshwar beach. The most vibrant side was that of the shore that housed hundreds of fishermen’s boats, all in various colours.

An aerial view of the Murudeshwara beach
An aerial view of the Murudeshwara beachTribhuvan Tiwari

Once down at the ground through the same elevator, I found the opportunity to sneak out and explore the surroundings on my own. Once down at the ground again through the same elevator, I found the opportunity to sneak out and explore the surroundings on my own. I scurried left from the temple and hopped on to the Murudeshwara beach where a whole carnival was unfolding.

The pally trio
The pally trioWaquar Habib

I came across a man selling cotton candies and popcorns on his scooter which was also his shop; two teenage boys who seemed to be pally with the mobile shop owner quibbled to get a free candy, posed for my gaze. As I moved ahead, I found three men dressed in crisp shirts and pants standing huddled together. A peculiar attribute common to the three was the pink cloche hat that they wore. They turned out to be beach photographers who used the hats but as a prop.

The beach photographers
The beach photographersWaquar Habib

Looking around me, I found endless amusements in the form of camels with cushiony saddles on their back and a ladders reclining on their sides for people to climb up and take a ride and old couple who were too old to enjoy the beach activities to but still too young to sit at home, standing and witnessing the spectacle just like me.

A view of CGH Earth - SwaSwara
A view of CGH Earth - SwaSwaraTribhuvan Tiwari

Eager to continue our odyssey, we reunited at our Defender 110 convoy and pressed onward to Gokarna. As the exit from the temple premises was crowded, we managed to slowly breeze through the crowds using the car’s convenient 3D-360 degrees camera view that gave us live footage of our surroundings in real time. Amid the crowd, a young boy tapped on the bonnet of our car, met my gaze and made a sign with his fingers as if to say it was an A-okay vehicle, mistaking it to be my own. Once out of the crowd and on the road, we accelerated towards Gokarna, where the promise of serenity awaited us at CGH Earth - SwaSwara, a sanctuary of wellness nestled beside the Arabian Sea.

Inside the SwaSwara resort
Inside the SwaSwara resortTribhuvan Tiwari

Nestled on the shores of Om Beach, SwaSwara emerged as a tranquil haven where the crashing waves and the melodious birdsong created a symphony of nature. The sanctuary is designed to blend seamlessly with its natural surroundings, offering guests a transformative experience that is bathed in hues reminiscent of the Earth itself. The retreat offered its guests a peaceful combination of ocean and wilderness, with Ayurveda, yoga, and artistic exploration. I asked Anil, our jovial instructor, about the potential activities around the property. He guided me to go out to the beach, once done with dinner, and check out the many independent cafes dotting the shore. It would be worth my time, he said.

The shanty, Dolphin Cafe in the morning
The shanty, Dolphin Cafe in the morningTribhuvan Tiwari

Putting my trust in Anil, as the night descended, I found myself out at the beach where the waves harked on to the land in the dark but never enough. Unfortunately, a certain Dolphin Cafe which Anil had mentioned was already shut: a shanty with sand as its floor and plastic table and chairs laid around that go a few inches deep into the sand as you sit. Deciding to visit the cafes first thing the next morning, we strolled along the moonlit shores, enchanted by the symphony of waves and the flickering night lights of beachside cafes. With the salty tang of the sea air on our lips and the rhythm of the ocean in our hearts, our jeans drenched from the bottom and our hearts just as full with adventure and delight as the unedning sea, we walked until we retired to our beds, anticipating the yoga session that awaited us with the dawn and the foreplanned trip to Goa thereon.

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