Every winter, I plan for a sojourn down south where I shed off all the extra layers of clothing I had accumulated in the hills by autumn. It was one such November night in Tirthan Valley that I found myself under 4 layers of blankets while it silently snowed out my window for the first time in the season and I thought to myself – this is it. This is as much as I can tolerate and it will only get worse from here on out and so I must exit while I have the time. That very night, I started researching for places to explore in Uttara Kannada and a town called Kumta popped up. While I couldn’t find much on the “things to do in Kumta” part of things, but the Kumta to Gokarna Beach Trek caught my eye. I had never hiked along the coast and this looked like a fun thing to do and so I decided to plan my entire two months in Uttara Kannada around this one hike that I had set my eyes on. TLDR; it was AWESOME!
The first place I was supposed to explore in Uttara Kannada was Honnavar. I had recently read posts from fellow bloggers who had explored this little known gem of Karnataka and whatever little I read online, really had me sold. But in reality, things were quite different. There were no homestays available in the villages around and so I had to stay in a lodge in Honnavar and that was my biggest problem. If I wanted to visit the nearby villages, I would have to make day trips and hire auto-rickshaws as buses didn’t ply as well. Not only would that burn a hole in my pocket, but I also wouldn’t get to really spend time, getting to know the villages and their people. So I chose to ditch Honnavar earlier than planned and head to Kumta instead.
In Kumta, I decided to stay in a village called Kagal, where the most amount of tourists seem to end up – be it backpackers or luxury vacation goers alike. The most popular place in Kagal is the Nirvana Beach where most resorts/ guest houses/ hostels are situated. It’s a pretty chill place, with a long stretch of beach, perhaps longer than the Main Beach stretch in Gokarna. I decided to stay put in Kagal before I went off on my Kumta to Gokarna Trek to go around nearby places in the village and just relax.
Tip: Scroll down to the end of this blog post for a (poorly drawn) map of the Kumta to Gokarna Beach Trek
What's In Here
How to Reach Kagal (Kumta)
There are plenty of ways to reach Kumta in the Uttara Kannada district of Karnataka.
Kumta has a railway station of its own and most trains on the Konkan coast make a halt here.
The nearest airports to Kumta are Dabolim (Goa) Airport and Hubli Airport. Both are almost equidistant at 155 to 160 kilometres from Kumta.
There are also several Karnataka State Transport Buses running to Kumta from various places within the district.
To reach Kagal from Kumta, one must take a local KSRTC bus headed towards Anghnashini and get off at Kagal village.
From the village, you can either hire an auto-rickshaw to Nirvana Beach where most places to stay in Kagal are located or just walk to 1-1.5 kilometres and do a little village tour all the while saving money. (No points for guessing which option I chose!)
Places to stay in Kagal (Kumta)
While there is a while lane by the beach lined up with guest houses one after the other at Nirvana Beach in Kagal, I chose to stay at Parna Kuteera. It is one of the very first hostels and its charming bamboo huts really had me. I had never before spent a night in such a bamboo hut and really wanted to try my luck with it. It was a unique experience, something to definitely try once. The vibe at Parna Kuteera is also chill. It’s a slow-paced life with palm trees taking up most of the sky and hammocks hanging wherever there is space. The days are lazy and evenings are spent either by the beach or exploring other parts of the region which I’ll combine in a different post. But I enjoyed staying in Kagal itself, doing little and eating well. There is one big dhaba/ restaurant in Kagal called Shree Guruprasad Hotel. They serve a massive thali for just 90 rupees for both lunch and dinner and the walk to this dhaba is beautiful amidst houses with Mangalorean tiles and mango, jackfruit, cashew and palm trees taking space wherever possible.
Another great reason to stay at Parna Kuteera was its close proximity to the starting point of the Kumta to Gokarna Beach Trek. One can choose to start the trek all the way from Kumta Beach which would add about 13 kilometres to the entire journey. But since I had taken a bus from Kumta to Kagal, I chose to begin my journey from Kagal itself. From Kagal, the Gokarna Beach Trek ended up being just 5 kilometres instead.
I left Parna Kuteera early in the morning at 6 AM, well before dawn. It was still dark and the moon shone through the palm fronds, creating a magical reflection on the village road as I made my way to the point where the walking path cuts off from the tarmac road. In the one hour it took for me to walk the entire length of the village, I saw life come back to the village. As the first morning light cracked through the tropical clouds, the roosters started calling out, the gentle jingling of the milk man’s bicycle bell was echoed by the jingling of loose change in the palms of the village women as they stepped out to buy the day’s milk and men could be seen standing by their front yards, brushing their teeth. the village road was fringed with areca and coconut palms, flowering banana groves and countless mango and jackfruit trees getting ready for the season.
Just as I reached the last bus stop of Kagal from where the hiking trail goes left and the road continues rightwards, the first rays of the sun finally came to and I was welcomed with a peahen and her little pea-chicks (?) crossing the trail. Navigating my way through the hike from hereon was fairly easy. Not only was the trail well-marked as it was frequented by the locals often, but the walking trail also showed up on Google Maps as the “Anghnashini – Nirvana Beach Trail”.
I continued walking further uphill and pretty soon I had left all signs of civilization behind. It seemed like I was the first and the only one on the trail that morning and the only things keeping me company were the cashews growing wild in the forest throughout the trail. I also found a variety of different mushrooms and other fungi dried up and left behind from the last monsoon. Soon enough, I seemingly reached the top of the hill and the terrain changed drastically. The red clay soil gave way to a harder terrain and the treeline receded, leaving only a few shrubs growing at the top. From here, I could see the Anghanshini River meet the Arabian Sea and the colours of the two water bodies were visibly different.
As I started going downhill towards the Anghanshini Estuary, the landscape took yet another turn and resembled more of a rainforest. I found several wildflowers as well as puffball mushrooms emanating green smoke dust. Being absolutely alone in the forest helped me observe my surroundings a lot more than I usually would have and what a fun botany session I had later, identifying the pictures I took and trying to put names to my findings!
Anghnashini to Tadadi and the Way Further
Once I finally reached the first road-head since the hike at Anghnashini village, a walked a bit further amidst the estuary to reach the Ferry Point. From here, I boarded a ferry across the Anghanshini river to Tadadi with a giant crab as one of the fellow passengers. The 15 minutes journey cost me 5 rupees, and another 5 for my bag.
Once at the Tadadi Port, I ditched the hike as it was now 10 AM and the sun was getting harsher by the minute. I waited for the bus while slurping on some orange iced lolly and paid another 10 rupees to Gokarna town. If you want to continue walking instead, you can hike from Tadadi to Belekan, passing the Gokarna Lighthouse on the way, and continue on the famous 5 beach trek of Gokarna going to Paradise, Half Moon, Om, Kudle and Main Beaches respectively.
For more a more detailed blog on what to do in Gokarna, places to stay and where to eat, click here.
Alternatives to the Kumta – Gokarna Beach Trek
If hiking is not your scene, but you would like to experience the journey between Kumta (Kagal) to Gokarna nonetheless, here are your alternatives:
You can take a bus from either Kumta or Kagal to Anghnashini, board the ferry and continue the bus journey further from Tadadi to Gokarna. Alternatively, there are direct buses from Kumta to Gokarna as well.
There are direct ferries that run from Nirvana Beach in Kagal all the way to Om Beach in Gokarna which you can opt for.
You can also experience the Anghnashini Estuary as a day trip from Gokarna. Rent a scooter and leave it at Tadadi. From Tadadi, take a ferry and hike up to the hill to experience some killer sunset and sunrise views!
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We love transparency! This post was sponsored by Parna Kuteera but needless to say, everything I say about the place, I say with honesty!
A twenty-something solo adventurer, Avantika finds comfort in learning about various cultures, its people and listening to age-old folk tales. When not on the road, she can be found cuddled up with her dog in her room, with a book in her hand.