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On the Road in South Canara, Karnataka

''Coastal stretch from Mangalore to Gokarna is a must do road trip in Karnataka''

PLACES TO VISIT : Kukke Subrahmanya, Dharmastala, Mangalore, Udupi, Murudeshwar, Gokarna

IDEAL NO. OF DAYS : 7-8 days

DAKSHINA KANNADA, OR SOUTH CANARA : It is a coastal district in Karnataka state with Mangalore as district Headquarters. The coastal stretch from Mangalore to Gokarna is one of the most beautiful road trips to take in Karnataka, with a few temple towns like Kukke Subhramanyam and Dharmsthala thrown in. The distance we covered one-way was a little over 500 kms over 7 days.

KICK-STARTING THE TRIP : First short halt @ Kukke Subrahmanya
We left Bangalore at 8 in the morning and reached our first stop at Kukke Subrahmanya by afternoon. There is not much to see here, except the town temple. Kukke Subrahmanya, situated on the banks of river Kumara Dhara, is regarded as one of the seven Mukti places of Karnataka.

Next stop was Dharmastala, where we eventually spent a night
After a short pit stop we headed to Dharmastala, a popular pilgrim centre situated on the banks of river Nethravathi. This temple town with a history that dates back by about 700 years worships Lord Shiva as Manjunatha swamy. Dharmastala has a lot of government funded staying options for the pilgrims. But if you are a tourist and not married, accommodation will be difficult to come by. If you are married, carry a proof of wedlock. If you still can’t find an accommodation, head to any nearby town in 15-20 km range. We stayed at a place called Ujire.

Next morning, took off for Mangalore. Emjoyed the lighthouse and beaches here
After spending a night here, we proceeded to Mangalore. The roads are fairly good for driving. This city’s resemblance to Goa is uncanny, but minus the mess and noise. Mangalore has some of the most beautiful and serene beaches in India. There is the main Mangalore beach, which almost all tourists visit, but the treasure trove is in lighthouse beach in Surathkal, some 12 kms further down the Mangalore city. It is a long stretch of beach and practically no people. There is only one beach side accommodation here, called Red Rock. We camped there for the night and then head towards Murudeshwar, another temple town in South Canara.

Murudeshwar via Udupi was next in the itinerary
But before heading to Murudeshwar, do pay a visit to Udupi town. The main attraction of this town is the St. Mary's Island, off Malpe beach, which is located about 6 km away from the town. St. Mary's Isles are a group of small islands. The famous explorer Vasco-da-Gama landed in 1498 on one of these islands which he called `EI Padron de Santa Maria', from which these islands get their present name. Take a day-trip on a boat from Malpe beach and you would not be disappointed by where you land. These beautiful white sand beaches are like wildernesses you chance upon. It is a must visit.

Murudeshwar beach is not be missed
After Udupi we were on our way to Murudeshwar. The coastal ride on this stretch is not to be missed. The road runs beside the Marvanthe beach, with a flowing river on the other side. It is scenic beauty at its best. Stop by and have a cup of tea or tender coconut to soak in the scenery. Pictures definitely don’t do justice to this picturesque stretch. This temple town by the beach is a perfect blend of spirituality and scenic beauty. The small town is largely known for the 123 ft tall statue of Lord Shiva that was built close to the coast. The statue is placed in such a way that the back of the Shiva statue is towards the Arabian Sea. The temple tower itself is 249 ft tall. The Murudeshwar beach is not be missed, with silvery sand and clear blue water. It provides a scenic backdrop to a towering temple.

Gokarna: The Final Destination
From Murudeshwar we headed to our final destination at Gokarna, which is again a temple town with some enviable beaches to its credit.

CUISINES : In temple towns like Kukke Subrahmanya and Dharmastala the food is strictly vegetarian. The afternoon feast at the temples is the best option for a lunch. It is clean, tasty and free?. If you are having lunch or dinner while you are on the road, opt for thalis at any of the highway restaurants. If you love sea food, Mangalore is the right place to be. Mangalorean preparation of fish is very unique and very tasty. Try the fish curries, fish masala fry and rava fry. Mangalore also has a lot of snack options like the banana bun, which was surprisingly crispy, fluffy and yummy. In Gokarna you will get continental and experimental food. Do not forget to try crab here.

TRAVEL TIPS : Road trips can be very strenuous, so make sure you plan night stops in advance. Avoid driving after dark. Carry first aid and always wear protective gear. No chappals for sure, and wear a helmet no matter how hot it is. For a road trip, it is very important to pack light and pack smart. Carry stuff that you can reuse or dispose easily.

Make sure you dress decently at religious destinations to avoid undue attention. No non-vegetarian or booze, so avoid inquiring about them.

Source / Review By : Durba Ghosh

Durba is a journo with Cogencis

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