This road trip features a trip to India’s beautiful western coast to Mulki (Near Mangalore) in the Konkan belt, including a camping and Kayaking trip across the Shambhavi river. If you have come here directly to this post (Part-2), here is a link to Part-1 and the next Part-3
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In Search of the Tributary
I woke up at 5 am, though I kept waking up in between to keep tabs on the score of the India-NZ Women’s T20 World Cup, and my progress on the Fantasy team, I had made on Dream11. I had made some minor money, and I had gone back to sleep to wake up at sharp 5 am. I am intrigued on how, I am able to wake up at 5 am, with lesser (but far more peaceful sleep) in rural locales. It had happened earlier in the year at Velas, Rettanai, Maddur and also in Mararikulam
I sauntered a bit around the village, which had M.S.Subbulakshmi’s suphrabatam playing right after the mosque had its morning hymns. The village was a beautiful sight with palm trees dotting a half baked road, which had the beach right next to the road. It looked like paradise in disguise, because it was probably devoid of tourists. 2 other families with their car had driven to the resort, and since this resort is tucked away in a corner, away from the pressures of online booking or having basic Wi-Fi facilities, it probably doesn’t make it to the list for people to discover.
I saw that Google Maps indicated a little tributary joining the road, next to the sea. I thought it should be fun to go to that point, so I woke up Nandu, and we set out in the morning in search of that place, which we were not quite able to find after going around 5 kilometres.
I parked my car, and started to find a place to fly my drone from, and saw a bunch of fishermen, who were sitting by the chairs, that the local administration had built them. They were all sitting and probably waiting for the right time to get into the sea. They saw me with a flying object and came by my side and asked me to fly the drone in the direction of their friend, who they thought would be scared, so that they could all have a laugh.
I laughed along, and politely said no to it, and instead diverted their attention see the top-view landscape of their village on my iPad which was my visual device to see the footage. With the drone, one needs to be very careful, while piloting around a bunch of humans, as it can cause problems, if you are flying too close to people (despite the fact that I have my propellor guards on).
It was nearing 6:45 am, and I decided that I should maybe start back to Mulki for the Kayaking trip, so I took the car back to the resort to check out. On my way, I had to cross a speed breaker, that was broken at the top, leaving behind broken-protruding stones that were interconnected. It so happened that, it managed to scratch my car’s oil pump, while we went over the speed breaker. I thought it was a minor scratch, and it turned out that it had ripped the oil sump, which lead to coolant oil, starting to leak.
There was no way, I was going to be able to find any repair/garage before the kayak trip at 730 am, so I decided to find a nearby Petrol Pump, and ask for advice, but it turned out that they could not add much value, apart from selling me 2 cans of oil, just as back up.
I managed to reach the KayakBoy delta point, and kept my car in their home. The car was dripping more oil now, and i knew the car would be empty on oil in a while. No shops were open in the village, for me to also buy an adhesive like m-Seal to prevent leakage. Just bad luck
I met Rakesh of Wandermile, and requested him for a dry bag to keep some of my essential stuff inside. I emptied my phones, go pro, clothes, bottles and camera inside the dry bag and waited to be assigned a Kayak. I was randomly paired with a girl from the same area that I am from Chennai (Madipakkam), and we set sail. My mother and Nandu were on separate Kayaks, having guards from KayakBoy to help.
A few of us got into the river with our kayaks to do test rides, until everyone else got ready. We had to pick a paddle, put on our lifejackets, pack our essential belongings in our dry bags, and then get into the kayak with our butt first, and then get our legs in (so as to prevent the boat from toppling). One of our group members, Sammy, during the test rides managed to somewhere flip the balance as she paddled fast, and lost her balance and her kayak toppled. She fell in the water, but she was able to recover as it was not very deep near the starting point. Also, for safety at all times, there are guards from Kayakboy travelling with the team.
The weather had got humid, and the morning sun was starting to heat up, sapping all energy. I noticed that I could do about 15 strokes, left and right with my oar, and I required a break to gather energy. The girl who sat in front on my kayak(Bhuvana), suggested that we synchronise and do our paddling on the same side, so that we get momentum and go faster, as we were going upstream against the current.
It was around 10 kilometres on the Shambavi river that we had to Kayak, and we slowly got started. Since the campsite was also accesible by road, it gave people the confidence that if their bodies revolted, they could always go back and phone signals/internet signals would work. In the above Google Map image, our route was along the waterway, while the road route is shown here in blue. The meandering waterway was 10 kilometres and almost 3 hours of paddling upstream.
There was a phase, when we were seeing an apartment on our right, and the apartment never moved out of our sight. We were trying hard to move our little kayak, but the tide kept pushing us right, making our displacement near zero. We had a beach on our left, and the still water ferry points on our right, dotting a picturesque landscape filled with coconut trees. These beautiful views of Mulki distracted us from our apparent failure to navigate the kayak.
The other Kayak’s were loaded with fruits, juices for the journey, and since we didn’t keep much pace with these kayaks, we were under-hydrated in the morning sun, and were usually the last to meet a group of people when they gathered for a break.
It was over these small breaks that I got to know people. A family from Hyderabad. 3 girls who were in upbeat mood included a singer, a food blogger and a lawyer from Chennai. There was also an IT engineer, Rakesh and Arjun from Wandermile and a Graphic design couple from Chennai. A few miles later we also discovered a group of 4, who were from Chennai, but were probably North Indians. That in short was our group. We were also joined a team of 4 from Goa, which included a lifestyle blogger, and her friends from Goa. In short we had all people with coastal roots on this trip.
After an hour and a half of rowing, we took our first big break under a road bridge. Arjun had lost his sunglasses while rowing, so he decided to get off the boat to swim in the river to see if he could find it. It was a scary thought for me to lose my glass, if ever I did, since it would mean I would be blind on the trip. My glass was also liable to be falling off any moment, but since I was careful, it was always on my face (Or so I thought).
It was lovely Kayaking under the 3 bridges that we passed. Its only under the bridge you realise the value of shade on a day when the sun was shining in its full glory on a humid coastline.
Its fascinating to be able to watch trains pass by while you are kayaking. To me this was flipping the whole scenery bit, since I love watching waterways from a train on the Konkan coast, and here I was watching others watch me, as I paddle on a beautiful lake flanked by slanting palms.
Throwback: It is for such view of the beautiful Konkan coast, that I always plan my year end rail winter beach trips to Goa, through Mangalore and the whole Konkan belt. It’s been a fascination since 2006, when I first discovered it
Gaining Energy as We Lose It
As we kept kayaking, I realised that this required a lot of energy to keep at it. The more we did it, we required a break very often. I took solace and energy from other elements around, so as to break the scary feel of being stuck on a huge river body, as we were often the last ones. A couple of members had a bluetooth speaker, that was blazing out some familar music, and that was some relief to distract us from our energy sapping ride. The other welcome relaxant was to just stare at the surroundings. The trees that swooned over and welcomed us into their midst, and the the lovely colourful small houses that lay nestled in between coconut plantations by the coast. Life along the coast, seemed very content and relaxing.
I saw a paunch-bellied man, just come out of his house, throw a net inside the water outside his house, get fishes in the first 2 throws of the net, and then go inside. It looked like the ad for the most easiest life, to find food and then get back home.
We continued to Kayak, sometimes allowing the tide to let us drift to the corners, where we stayed in the shade and paddled slowly until someone from the group, came searching for us. We huddled around a horizontal tree formation, that was jutting into the sea, at a 45 degree bent angle to have our refreshment break. I lunged forward to recieve a biscuit pack and kept it in the kayak, near my thighs and when I looked down to eat it, it was completely wet and floating in the boat. It had skipped my mind that the boat/kayak had some water in it, near where I was sitting, so I had to keep any food item on my tummy and hope it would not roll over. I grabbed Oreo’s and Oranges and gorged on them like there wasn’t a tommorow. I had found new energy in my veins, and was determined to finish the paddling. I found that my mother and Nandu seemed pretty relaxed, and were enjoying paddling. My mother is probably more fitter than she seems. This was the second time after 4 years, that I was taking her on a trip that required increased physical activity . The last time we went, was in 2014, when I took her with me on a trek through the woods of the Bhagwan Mahavir national park(Dudhsagar Waterfall), at the height of the Goan monsoons to trek 15 kilometres
Home Sweet Home!
Just as we were nearing what we thought was ‘paradise’,I noticed that my visions of the paddles suddenly were blurred in a matter of 10 seconds. It was clear, and now it was not. I stopped paddling, and used my hands to check, if my spectacles were on. Gulp! They weren’t. I panicked, and checked the boat, and even lifted my bum to check, if my spectacle had trekked its way there. Nowhere to be found. My worst fears were true now. I was without glasses and had the best part of the trip still remaining. Half blinded and a road trip to be done the next day. As we paddled to the campsite, half of me was raging with fury. I forgot to use FeviQuick on my glass in the early morning, and that’s probably why it fell. A lesson for doing the right thing at the right time! Nandu saw me and waved out to me from the camp. I got down and just arranged my bags, before sulking my way to a well deserved rice lunch with dal.
I went back to the docked kayaks to check, if my glasses had floated there magically. I just stared at the calm waters and sat there for a while, before I noticed most of the folks around me had slept, after a tiring paddle all morning.
I too went to the plastic sheets, and tried lying down. Nandu came and joined me to talk. I coaxed him into resting and closing his eyes for 2 minutes, and he went into deep sleep. Now, I tried to close my eyes, but I just was not able to for more than 5 minutes at a stretch, due to the chatter in my mind, and the 2 girls nearby who were chatting up. I decided to block out all the noise, by focussing elsewhere and hoping that I could zone off and take some rest.
Liked what you have read? Do share your comments in the box below, and head over here for the next post Part-3
Planning a Mulki Kayak Trip
To do a similar trip like this, do check with Wandermile (Chennai Based) or with KayakBoy (based in Mulki). These guys are great to do a trip with. Like the saying goes, all good things have to come to an end, and this trip ends here!