Bicycle Rides, Green Party, Trekking

A Green New Year’s Eve (only!) in Uttara Kannada

When the gang asked us if we can make a new year’s eve memorable at Uttara Kannada, it was a challenge of sorts for us. Not withstanding how new year’s eve party’s are held in the city:( how would one make such a thing memorable in a eco location like Uttara Kannada, in a eco friendly fashion by a eco tourism firm, for the CITY crowd.

A challenge indeed:)

And Uttara Kannada stood up to Karnataka’s tag line splendidly ; One state – Many Worlds:)

The gang arrived early on Friday AM, the 30th of Dec 2016 from Bangalore. We had put them up at one of the homestay’s in the area, by the Kadle Beach. Although it was brimming with the December crowd, they managed to accommodate an early check in and post check outs for the day, arrange for individual rooms for the entire gang (one of them arriving by 12.00 NN from Davanagere stopover helped).

Post breakfast, the entire gang hit the Kadle Beach – many marvelling at the crystal clear waters of the Kadle Beach and the others enjoying the short hike across the Kadle Hills to Mangodlu Beach and back. The rest of the gang join the group and after a leisurely lunch, veg at the homestay and non veg crowd at the popular sea food joint (Hotel Moonlight), we all drive straight to Aghanashini Jetty, along the scenic road past Kadle Beach by 3.00 PM, stopping briefly at the Aghanashini hillock to take a look at the majestic Aghanashini Estuary.

The first real Eco Plan for the new year’s week end was a 3 hour boat ride in a house boat, designed specifically for floating party’s, run by a local entrepreneur, Chidanand, a good friend. The wait at the Jetty was anxious although many admired the view of the estuary, where the mighty Aghanashini joins the Arabian sea, with the waves mid way through the water body. The House Boat arrives from the opposite bank of Tadadi, where it was docked, to pick us up. We all amble on to the house boat and it sets off.

As the boat picks up its pace, we are told to look left for a hidden cave (exposed now due to low tide), watch the silent beach (called so since its on the river side of the estuary so no waves) and as we pass it, the boat starts to rock as we enter the wavy seas. The boat makes steady progress across Tadadi light house towards the paradise beach on the right and as we move towards the half moon beach, some one asks for dolphins and lo and behold we sight dolphins frolicking in the waters. They sort of swim with the boat (which has been slowed down now) as we enjoy their company over beverages on the deck of the boat. The excitement of the dolphin sighting abates as we pass the half moon beach as we race up to Om Beach and the fun agenda shifts.

By now the music on the boat starts to be foot tapping and some of the tipsy footed start to dance, and the little one joins in:) The elders in the group enjoy a bout of ship piloting and some of us just goof around, enacting a scene from Sholay etc:)

As we arrive at Om Beach, some more people (staying at our other home stay) step in to the house boat, via a speed boat, mid waters. We continue on to sight Kudle beach on our right and the boat turns back. Now the action shifts to watching the sun set… Over hot Pakora’s and Tea served by the friendly staff on the boat. They make quick progress over to the Silent beach, where they manage to berth the house boat so we all hop off on to the beach to enjoy the beautiful sun set. Some take a stroll across the silent beach, others enjoy the company of some ½ dozen pups on the beach, the ‘selfie lot’ click pics and most of all, every one enjoys the orange tinged sunset over the rocks. We all return reluctantly on to the boat and make it back to the Jetty is good time, by when its almost dark.

A stroll through the markets of Kumta, topped up with yummy ice creams (@ New Simla Icecreams) and eventually dinner sums up day 1.

Day 2 begins early, with some of the activity centric folks choosing to bicycle, while others that missed the previous day walk through the Kadle Hills, get to the beach to catch up with the same.

The green activity of bicycling across the back waters at Masur, about 5 KM north east of the home stay begins with all hopping on bicycles with some of the support staff tailing the group in two wheelers with water and basic first aid and food. The bicycle track is pretty easy with almost a flat terrain althrough with about 40 meters of altitude gain mid way. As one descends past the uphill, one is treated to the spectacular sights of a narrow road, bisecting the back waters for about a KM, winding up to the next hill, with the beautiful view of the raising sun to the right – amidst the Sahyadris and water birds on the left in the water bodies. Its hard to concentrate on the bicycling!

We continue on the mud road in to the back waters sighting more water birds as we bicycle, stop for some breathtaking scenes of boys setting off fishing nets amidst the mangroves and more. The road stops short of reaching the main road to Aghanashini as we get down to enjoy the beauty of it all.

Post breakfast, we drive up to the next green (Eco) destination for the new years eve, this time a drive through the sahyadri’s on the Siddapur Road towards Badal, a small place about 35 KM from Kumta, where the road snakes along the Aghanashini. We manage to locate the spot with the help of local google maps:) (Locals) and park our vehicles, cross over the hanging bridge and enter the sparkling clean (and Brrr very cold @ 12 noon) waters of Aghanashini, befittingly washing off our sins (Agha – Sins, Nashini – cleanser) from 2016 for a guilt free 2017:)

The breathtaking scenery and the clean, sparkling waters get the entire gang. Every one jumps in to the water, choosing their favourite spot for enjoying a leisurely bath in flowing waters. It was surprisingly very cold even at mid day. After the frolic, more selfies and some quick refreshments (water and banana), we hobble back to the vehicles, drive back to the homestay for some hot, havyak veg cuisine of thambuli’s and the like.

Every one rests a bit before the late evening gala, while we start off the logistics of setting up the beach side for a camp fire, lighting it up in the food related areas (with LED lamps powered by a car battery), a little away from the camp fire, get the material needed for the entire party over to the spot about 400 mtrs from the homes stay, via a muddy road.

The party begins at 9.30 PM as planned over beverages and snacks and the music was limited to some low powered Bluetooth speakers to make sure its not unduly loud. It was good enough not to disturb the other revellers set shop about 200 mtrs from our camp fire.

We toss in the sweet potato, corn and such other barbecue items in the camp fire (wrapping in aluminum foil), enjoy some dancing to foot tapping music, start off the sky lantern launch by 11.30 PM, timing it just about to make sure we have one lit sky lantern hobbling over just in time as we ring in the new year (as opposed to fireworks)….

Every one greets the other a happy new year, call their near and dear ones, messages them etc. and dive in for the late dinner:)

Post the dinner, every one helps to segregate the garbage, lighting up the ones we could in the camp fire, and collecting the remaining like foils, plastic etc in to garbage bags that were planned for the event. We load it all back on to waiting cars and head back to the near by home stay and crash.

As we visit the spot of our camp fire the next AM, we were pretty satisfied that our party foot print was limited to the half burnt twigs that we drag off to the side of the beach – a green party indeed. Here’s a heartfelt thanks to all the guests for supporting a green party cause to which each contributed.

Post breakfast, the guests leave one by one to reach their respective destinations back in time for beginning the new year with new hope and promises.

We however, continue to stay, satisfied fully that in Uttara Kannada, even a new years eve party can be Green (amidst green too) and enjoyable to the core.

Happy New Year!

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