Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Land of Unending Beaches

"......shob beach gule pachon bori baniye khaiye diyechhe" said Ma describing what her son-in-law has done in the trip which roughly translates as- he has made a concoction of all beaches and fed it to us! So taking in the sea air was a priority and we visited four beaches in three days. The train was one and a half hours late (which is common as it travels cautiously through the tunnels of the Western Ghats). Baba was sitting erect from 6 in the morning and the landscape told us that we were in the thick of the ghats. Mangalore is a bright and beautiful city with an impression of Goa here and Tarkarli there. Coconut and betel nut palms swayed in the breeze and the clouds made fairy tale like formations in the sky very like the ones shown in the Walt Disney production of Aladdin.

The first beach we set our eyes on was Penumbur about 10 km from the town and near the New Mangalore Port . The waves were highish and we dived gleefully in. Baba had to sit some distance away however he had a panoramic view and like everywhere else in Mangalore we could not see the end of the beach on either side. I think these beaches are all in one line stretched down the coast upto Tholpetty in Kerala! I had read somewhere in the innumerable brochures that we flipped through before our trip that one could cover all the beaches together by motorcycle!On the way back we had lunch at a seedy joint, but the food was good.

We returned to our hotel (Srinivas) totally spent. We planned to catch the sunset at Ullal beach. Ma baba were ready before us and we sped off to Ullal, the beach has huge rocks on it and people had gathered on them to watch the show. The Someshwar temple which over looks the beach is a good perching point for the sunset. The clouds rose in layers all around looking computer generated! So unreal yet seeming close enough to touch. Even from this high vantage point we could not see the end of the coastline which stretched as far as we could see lined with coconut palms on the ground and fairy tale clouds in the sky. The setting sun pierced through the clouds like a celestial light, the little gap between the clouds changed colour like magic before our eyes-yellow to orange and then purple and the play of light reflected on the sea which was grey on one side and deep blue on the other. Show over we turned back with a strange feeling of calm. The first day well spent. The Mr the children and I went to explore the nearby market and had a scrumptious meal at Heera Panna.

On day two we planned an expedition to Malpe beach. This time Ma was determined to take a dip, she was unprepared for it on thbe first day. Malpe is 53km from Mangalore, we set off a little late due to my little one's potty trouble. It took us all of two hours to get to Malpe beach, but it was worth it. The sand is almost white and the sea gentle needless to say, we all dived in. My daughter had the most fun! The mite had had to be wraped in a towel on the first day, but today even I was prepared for a longer bath! Two guys were getting themselves covered in sand! Sand and sea therapy it surely is! We got some lunch packed at the Paradise Isle Resort and leaving Ma Baba enjoying the view at this seaside resort, we set off for Mt Mary's Island from the dock area. There is a ship building yard near the dock area where a huge vessel was being assembled. The steamer ride from Malpe to the Island is quite exciting and the waves made the largish steamer bob up and down like a row boat. We changed boats to get to the island which is known for its basaltic rock formations. My girl found some interesting shells. We got back at 6. Ma Baba gave the evening outing a miss, we ventured into the surrounding Kadri hill and temple, we also visited an ancient Ganapati temple in the vicinity of the hotel.

On the final day we first went to the St Aloysius church, there were frescoes all over the walls and ceilings of the chapel. We could not take pictures because the Sunday morning mass was in progress. Next was Sultan Battery, a watch tower ercted by tipu Sultan overlooking a water body. Only ruins remain but it has a good view of fishing boats and bright blue waters. Our last stop was Suratkal beach, one account had described it as the coastline's best kept secret and so it was. We took sometime to find it and when we did there were only three people there other than us, who soon took off leaving us to enjoy the most mildest of beaches on our own. Baba ventured close to the sea and for the first time we could get him and the sea in one frame. It was a beautiful morning of sun and sand and ofcourse the sea with lots of shell collecting and sand castle making thrown in. Suratkal is 20km from Mangalore, we returned for lunch to the hotel. In the evening we went out in search of cashewnuts but markets are completely closed on Sunday. We hit an MG Road Mall for coffee before heading off for the station for the evening train, happy that we had managed to see and experience quite a lot of this dreamy city.

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