This post is continuation of the previous post on Karnataka. This is the next part of the coastal trip as we moved further south to Karnataka. Due to time limitation, we could not cover Kerala fully. I hope to finish off this trip later in the year. We start off to Kerala on Day 7.
Day 7: From Agumbe, we took a small detour to a hill named Kundari for the sunrise. It was rare instance when the whole team was up and ready by 5:15 A.M. We drove down a broken road toward Kundari. The roads were narrow and bad with no direction boards. It was mostly by trial and error we managed to find the route to the top. There were atleast 10 other people who had reached before us to watch the sun rise.
After spending time at the top of the hill we headed to Mangalore. We decided to stop in Mangalore for lunch. The coastal areas are well known for their delicious sea food. After a scrumptious lunch we searched for the famed Mangalore Ice cream joints for a perfect dessert. The plan was to reach Payyanur by evening. But our contact at Payyanur had informed us that we would not be able to go to the Island Valiyaparamba on very same day. So he advised us to halt at Payyanur for the night. However, my friends did not want to bother our host and so we decided to go all the way to the union territory Mahe. This being Dec 31st we wanted to celebrate at the beach. Bekal Fort was the first destination for us. We reached the fort by sunset. This fort is situated alongside the Arabian Sea giving a spectacular view from top of the fort.
This has to be best looking fort i have ever seen. I have heard about this fort for quite sometime but this was my first visit. This is the largest fort in Kerala spreading over 40 acres. I was told by my contact that the fort changes it color in every season. Iam not sure about that fact, but he says in rainy season moss grows all over the fort giving it a greenish brown look. I would love to visit this fort in all 4 seasons for the changing color.
On the way to Payyannur we picked up our host and he informed us about a drive – in beach known as Muzhappilangad beach. It is located between Kannur and Thalassery. To reach Mahe we had to pass through the same route we decide to camp for the night at the drive – in beach. The first problem started with us reaching Kannur by 10:00 PM. Heavy traffic and bad roads slowed us down. After delicious dinner at Kannur, my friends went in search of alcohol for the new year celebration. To our surprise the whole town had ran out of liquor. Kerala is largest alcohol consuming state in India, a fact we were aware of, but for the whole town to run out of liquor was shocking. While UD and Sriram took a bike and went to next town to search for liquor, we started off to Muzhappilangad beach. Once again we faced problems with route. There are hardly any signs written in English and we had to ask the locals. Almost everyone we met on the road were drunk and it was difficult to get correct answer from them. This confusion led one bike to go much ahead of us and miss the turn towards the beach. As soon as i spotted the small lane heading to beach we informed the others of the turn. Generally we would wait for everyone to arrive before taking a turn. Since i was not sure of the turn myself, we decided to check it out first. The road become very narrow but we managed to find the beach after lots of twists and turns.
Unfortunate Incident: Gowri and his cousin found the right turn for the beach but got lost on the way to beach. There was communication gap that led to them taking the wrong road. The road was dark and deserted and they managed to meet a group a drunken people who directed them into some creepy inner lanes. Once they realized that they were misled they returned back on same path only to be confronted by these rowdies who tried to mug them. In panic Gowri just raced into the group of men who were blocking the way. Luckily they moved out in time to avoid further complications. The incident scared the wits out of these guys. The moment we heard about it, we drove my car back to main road and brought them to the beach. At the beach we met the other bike (who returned after an unsuccessful liquor hunt) and decided to camp at the beach for the night. Within minutes the police were at the beach chasing away people. We requested the Police to give us permission to camp for the night but they advised us about safety and chased us out. By this time it was already 1:00 AM and new year celebration was foiled. We drove to Thalassery and took a room for the night.
Day 8: Our host asked us to reach Payyanur by 11:00 A.M and he would accompany us to the remote island Valliyaparamba by boat. We started from Thalassery back to Payyanur by 9:00 AM. In between we decided the revisit the drive in beach that we roamed last night.
The small stretch of 5km was best moment of the trip. Each of us took turns driving our car and bike along the beach very close to the waves. We must have spent atleast an hour at the beach. We observed that there were hardly place to camp on the beach. The whole beach was like a road and vehicles were traveling and high speed. It would have been a bad idea to camp on this beach especially with drunken people driving at night. The bad traffic slowed us down further and we reached Payyanur only by 12:30 P.M. Our host led us to the boat waiting to ferry us to the island.
This island of 16kms in size is separated from mainland by backwaters. This island is turning into a tourist spot. There is a bridge getting constructed to join the main land and island. The island is filled with fishermen and coconut trees. Valiyaparamba is fed by 4 rivers and dotted with several small islands. I would someday want to explore all these tiny islands. I was told a few of them were sold off to five star hotel groups.
By evening we reached Payyanur for a some snacks. We decided to leave for Bangalore the same day. We knew we would not be able reach Bangalore that night. We drove as much as we could and reached a place called Irikkur in Kerala. We had tough time getting dinner at Irikkur. The restaurant waiter, all of a sudden, informed us that the cook had left for the day and there would be no more food served as its already 9:00 PM. We were extremely hungry and frustrated at the indifferent response. Finally we had to eat whatever was leftover and went to bed.
Day 10: There was nothing exciting about the last leg journey to Bangalore. We decided to take the route via Kabini National Park in hope of spotting animals. We found none. The drive was long and tiring and we reached Bangalore by 6:00 P.M