Murudeshwar- The hidden paradise of Karnataka

murudeshwar1The first memory of Murudeshwar that comes to our mind is of the massive, larger than life statue of lord Shiva towering above this beach side town. Wind blowing through our hair, sound of waves crashing on the golden sands and endless green sea. These images have left fond memories of the place in our mind.

Though every beach destination in Karnataka has its own beauty and soul,we couldn’t fail to notice a similarity between them. Each of them mesmerized us with their rich hues of blue and green sea  and charming little villages with less or no touristy crowd, very different from the bling of the beaches in Goa. They  gave us a chance to just lay back and enjoy the surrounding  serenity giving us a piece of our very own paradise!

Murudeshwar, located 160 kms from Mangalore is one of the many unexplored coastal destinations that Karnataka has to offer. Known mostly as a temple town, not many people come here with an intent to travel. It has lots more than the temples to attract the explorer in you, if only you are willing to look beyond! It can be easily accessed from Udupi/Maravanthe/Gokarna/Bangalore from where you can hire KSRTC buses, in case you want to use local transport.

From our hotel room window, we could  see a little glimpse of  tiny islands which seemed lost in time in the vastness of the deep green Arabian Sea.  A sense of  discovery engulfed us as we set out to discover the picturesque beach of Murudeshwar located near to the Shiva temple. We somehow knew this trip had to be “extraordinary” in more ways than one!As we walked towards the beach from our hotel, we passed by the magnificent Shiva statue and temple. Watching it so closely made us awestruck. Never before had we seen a 123 ft tall statue towering high above us. We then found out through locals that this is the second largest Shiva statue in the world, the first being in Nepal. There was also a huge 20 storied Gopura near the temple, on the top of which one can enjoy a 360 degree panoramic view of the beach town.

We enjoyed every moment at the beach, surrounded by colorful fishing boats and quaint little shops selling ice-cream/coconut water/chaat(snacks) by the sea. The only other people we saw were the temple devotees, clad in sarees and coming in for a dip after a visit to the temple. It was a far cry from the commercial and over touristy  Goan beaches. Little did we know that, not very far from Goa and in the temple state of Karnataka  we would find our little cloud nine! The beach gave a perfect backdrop to the golden dusk and we sat there admiring the Shiva statue and temple that lit up at night  soon after along with a million twinkling stars.

There is no dearth of the number of activities one can do here. A good number of diving/boating companies offer speed boats, scuba diving, snorkeling and jet ski for those who are interested in some adventure. Besides, Murudeshwar is close to Jog falls, also known as the Niagara falls of India, visiting the falls can be done in a days trip from Murudeshwar. Gokarna, another beach paradise for the foreigners, can be visited as a day trip as well if you have time constraints. If you are a beach bum like us, then you can just lie all day on the beach or watch the fishermen in delight as they gather their daily catch.

It is impossible to talk about Murudeshwar without mentioning the efforts of Mr.R.N Shetty who revived Murudeshwar to its current glory. He has contributed to build 3 hotels, a school, a pre university college, a polytechnic that offers Diploma in technical courses, a teachers’ training college, a nursing school, nursing college and a Medical College and Hospital.

While there is no lack of vegetarian restaurants, if you are looking for non vegetarian fare then you must head to Naveen Beach Resort. Most of the restaurants around the temple only serve traditional vegetarian south Indian cuisine. We particularly enjoyed eating at Naveen Beach restaurant for the lovely ambiance it provided us with. Who wouldn’t love to eat in a restaurant from where you get to enjoy endless green sea in all directions while you relish your south Indian coffee? If you walk further down the road in the opposite direction of the temple you will cross the town’s lively and colorful local market where you will not only find freshly caught seafood but also veggies, fruits and other small souvenir shops. We specially enjoyed capturing the little shops selling bright yellow flower garlands for the temple devotees.

If you want to try a bit of adventure, hire a boat from Murudeshwar and go to Netrani Island. Located around one hour from the coast by speed boat (not a very easy ride we must say). Netrani is very suitable for snorkeling and diving activities. Many varieties of coral, butterfly fish, trigger fish, parrot fish, eels and shrimps can be seen here. It is also said that Whale Sharks are found around the Island. Earlier the  island was used by Indian navy for target practice and  is full of sharp rocks, hence  the tourists usually don’t get on to the island . But if you want to explore an island closer to the Indian shore and also try your hand at snorkeling and scuba, this is where you should head (from October to March).

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