The first thing I do as soon as I get the calendar for the year is mark out the extended weekends. Living in a landlocked concrete-jungle-like city makes one long for the outdoors and in my case for the sea and sand. On one such long weekend we decided to drive to the coast through the mountains. Our destination was the little known beach town of Byndoor.
We started by 6 in the morning and were greeted by thick fog in the outskirts of the city all the way to Tiptur! We purposely chose not to take the Bangalore-Mangalore highway and decided instead to travel through smaller roads as they make for better scenery and lesser traffic. After a quick breakfast at a roadside shack we reached the sleepy town of Sagara which marks the beginning of the Western Ghats. Driving through the Western Ghats is the best part of the journey. The winding roads, the whistling forests and the occasional sounds of the animals and birds are refreshing. As soon as you cross the mountains you will hit the coast which is signalled by the warm humid climate. We had lunch in the coastal town of Honnavar and drove towards the tourist favourite town of Murudeshwar via NH17 but before that we took a detour to the Ganesha Temple at Idagunji. The temple is steeped in mythology and the main idol is quite different from the usual depictions of Ganesha.
The next stop was Murudeshwar. After a quick darshan at the temple we took the elevator to the top of the gopuram from where one can catch breath-taking views of the Arabian Sea and the coconut fringed coastline. We then drove to our destination, Byndoor, catching glimpses of the sea all the way through.
At Byndoor we had booked our stay at Sai Vishram Beach Resort which is a one of a kind vegetarian non-alcoholic beach resort in India. Our accommodation was a tent just 200 metres from the sea! We were in time for the sunset and even before checking-in we ran towards the beach to witness the splendour. I just can’t describe the myriad hues the sky and water were painted in during the sunset. We lazed on the beach even after the sunset and three friendly Labradors gave us company.
The next day was spent entirely on the beach and in the sea. We decided to go for a boat ride first and were in for a surprise when the life-guard accompanying us asked us if we wanted to swim in the middle of the sea. My mother who doesn’t even know how to swim agreed readily and inspired by her courage I followed suit. So both of us jumped out of the boat into the open sea and floated for some time. I then swam around the boat too scared to venture away. The experience was liberating. We then sailed further into the sea where we caught sight of dolphins which disappeared every time I tried to take a photo.
We then took part in some water sports like banana boat ride, jet skiing and surfing. All that activity made us so hungry that we devoured the buffet spread in a matter of minutes. At our request they had made some local traditional dishes with fresh produce from nearby markets. That evening again we all gathered at the beach for the sunset. After the sunset we lit paper lanterns and released them into the darkness. Then we sat tracking their wind-driven path. Then a bonfire was lit and we spent the rest of the evening around it. Rarely do we spend so much time doing nothing. And as someone said doing nothing is time well spent.
Early next morning we trekked up a nearby hill to catch the sunrise. One of the Labradors was our guide and he took us to the exact spot from where we could watch the sunrise over the backwaters. Then we walked around the coastline and met fishermen who were just back from the sea with their day’s catch. We watched in amazement as their wives and children casually pulled out the crabs from the net and threw them into a tub.
I didn’t have the heart to leave that place and wearily dismissed my thoughts of extending the stay. On our way back we took a slightly different route through Kollur which has the famous shrine dedicated to Mookambika and drove through Nagara which was the last capital of the Nayakas of Keladi and has a ruined fort and palace.
After a great weekend like this filled with new experiences you are bound to have a great couple of weeks at least. Byndoor with its virgin beaches and close proximity to famous tourist places is an amazing place to spend a weekend no matter what kind of a break you want – quiet and lazy or fun and adventurous. Oh! I forgot to mention that the mobile network is pathetic and the Wi-Fi is available only in the reception area. So it is the ideal place if you want a break from your gadgets.
Total Distance: 485 km from Bangalore
Accommodation: Sai Vishram Beach Resort. Rates vary according to the season and type of room. The tent which is closest to the sea is the most expensive. The cost includes all meals and stay. There are extra charges for water sports.
Places to visit nearby
- Maravanthe Beach
Places to visit en-route from Bengaluru
- Jog Falls
- Fort, Nagara
- Kollur Mookambika Temple
- Krishna Temple, Udupi
- St. Mary’s Island