Tag Archives: Camping

My First as a Trek lead- Gokarna

When you feel things are not going right, life has its own ways to heal its kids, you see? While I was feeling morally weak, an unexpected trip to Gokarna was awaiting my way. This time, I was going to lead a group of people, or at least assist a leader with ‘Plan The Unplanned’. With many firsts of experiences in its kitty, I was looking forward for this weekend trip.

So, after braving the outbound traffic on a Friday evening, the group of 25 of us left Bangalore and alighted at Gokarna the next morning. Blame it on the bus driver or the roads, 11.30.a.m. was late by all standards to reach Gokarna for the team that left GGpalya at 11.00.p.m. on the previous night. Anyway, that’s where the leadership aspects began to be tested. Considering that we were 3+hrs behind schedule and all 25 in the group were first time hikers, controlling the overall time to cover all that was mentioned in the itinerary was crucial.

That said, we checked-in to the campsite where our tents were pitched by the seashore. Without wasting much time, the team freshened up and started the hike quickly after a filling breakfast. A minibus took us to the start point of our hike- the Belekan beach. From there, the actual weekend started to unfold. Since the internet is filled with itineraries for a Gokarna trip, I will not add another one to them. Unlike my usual style of writing long detailed posts, I’d like to keep this short and to the point.

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The beachfront campsite at Gokarna

For the experienced trekkers, this was merely a walk along the coastline. But even for them, the small stretches of forests opening to amazing views of the blue sea now and then made the walk worthwhile.

Despite being late, we caught up with the schedule and spent ample time to take a swim in each of the beaches along the trail. Paradise beach for a snack break (fresh tender-coconut water and cut-pineapple with masala are a mandate on any Indian beach), Half-moon beach for a filling lunch (The beachside shacks serve an array of cuisines catering to its large visitors’ base from across the globe), Om beach for chasing the most mesmerizing sunset of the year, Kudle beach for a sumptuous dinner and finally walking along the Gokarna main beach to reach our campsite on a moonlit night… We spotted dolphins from the rock of peace, something that I had been wanting to see for the longest time. And then, I got that long pending hair braid done by a beachside vendor (Click here to read about it in detail). These were the highlights of my beach walk. Until then, I thought my day was GREAT!

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The hiking trail between paradise and Om beach

But wait, my co-leads took it up a notch higher. It was late into the night by the time the team had settled down in their tents. And I too was settling down to call it a day. By that time, my co-leads asked me to ditch my tent for the night and join them with my sleeping bag on the beach. The beaches of Gokarna are infamously known only next to Goa for having some badass drunken hippies strolling around. I did not want any misadventures on my first assignment as a lead. Although I was a little hesitant to do something wacky, I soon hit the sands with my co-leads and a fellow traveler.

Just in a bit and even before I realized it, I was sleeping under a clear sky, watching the stars. Well… watching a meteor shower! It was that night when the Geminids meteor shower was at its peak. We laid on the beach counting the number of shooting stars. When only one of us saw the meteor, the others would pull her leg telling that she was hallucinating. When all of us saw it together, we would shout in unison scaring away a few drunken people loitering around the beach. They would wonder who was drunk 😀

Eight… Nine… Ten… We counted the number of stars until we fell asleep to the lullaby sound of the waves. When I opened my eyes again, I was lying on the beach and seeing the white lights from the distant ships disappear into the light of the breaking dawn. This beach experience is something that killed it for the mountain girl in me!!! Only because I could strike a similar chord of interests with an awesome pair of co-leads and I can’t thank them enough for the night!

Yeah, managing a large group comes with its own set of challenges. Managing medical emergencies in the middle of the trail, accommodating quick changes in the itineraries and finding alternate destinations when abnormality struck were the unexpected things which I believe we handled with diligence. All said and done, the trip has been a memorable one in more than one way and a thumbs up to my new journey with Plan The Unplanned 😊

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Haniyur – A village with simplicity

It was a visit due for a couple of years now.. After repeated invitation from Subbanna uncle, the long pending plan had finally materialized. Mom woke up early that morning and prepared sufficient food for the two families. The idea was that the two families- Subbanna uncle’s and our’s, ate lunch together. Around noon, we headed straight to Haniyur- a small village 10kms away from Rajanukunte on Doddaballapur road. That’s where the Subbanna family lives, a little away from their farm.

As we entered the village, we were welcomed by fragile houses with mud smeared walls, dry- unpaved roads which had never seen Asphalt, dusty animals, open drainage running up to their brim infront of the houses on both sides of the road. Finally, when we arrived at his house, the door was locked and the neighbors informed us that the family was off to their farm. So, we decided to meet them in their farm itself rather than troubling them to walk back home in the hot sun.

A thirsty bird infront of Subbanna Uncle's house
A thirsty bird infront of Subbanna Uncle’s house
A warm welcome laid by the Asters' garden

A warm welcome laid by the Asters’ garden
Uncle was busy with the labourers in his Asters’ garden, while aunty was in the grape vineyard. The youngest member of the family: Uncle’s grandson- Munish was busy too.. playing with the water pipes which were laid for drip irrigation. The family was excited on seeing us in their farm and some welcome drink (Tender coconut water) was sanctioned immediately. We told them that we would be having lunch with them in the farm itself and opened all the packages we had to. For salad, we had fresh tender cucumbers from the garden. Main course was Coorgi food and some nice Haniyur-Ragi-Mudde. Yummy lunch ended with fresh chikkus, guavas and plantains- all from his farm. No restaurant could make up for the cool, fresh and pleasant ambience under the grape vinv, though the scorching sun behaved ruthless outside.
Grapes awaiting some rain
Grapes awaiting some rain
Later, we explored the village and enjoyed the rusty country side as much as we could take in. Soon it was time to bid good bye to this wonderful family.
The gerkins farm
The gerkins farm
Abstract flowers from the garden
Abstract flowers from the garden
Some kind of a place for worship of the Local deity
Some kind of a place for worship of the Local deity
Around 4.p.m, we started from there. We decided to visit a temple around 4kms from there before we took the deviation towards the city. I’m not a temple kinda person, but for my parents’ sake, we went to the “Madurai- Shaneeshwara temple”. We were done with the darshan in 15mins or so.. and headed back to the grind.
There was no set agenda, just catching up for lunch with some old friends in the shades of a simple village and farm. The simplicity of the people who live there and the simple, yet  tastiest food from their kitchen, with fresh and chemical free vegetables from their own garden… It’s a different feeling. We the city souls will never understand, what money can’t buy. ‘Keeping it simple’ is the way of life!