Our team had been to Honnemaradu this weekend.
Honnemaradu is famous for its water activities. It was the first time that I got into water and camped in an open place it was a wonderful feeling. We also camped on the island and learnt canoing, coracle riding, tying tents, etc.
We took a train to Shimoga from Bangalore on Friday night. The train reached Shimoga around 5 in the morning. We then took a ‘bus’ which runs on a narrow-gauge railway track to a place close to Honnemaradu. This journey took us close to 3 hours – but it was an excellent experience. As we passed through vast plain lands, we got to see the sunrise. The sky was orange on one side of the bus, while it was completely dark on the other side.
We then took a Maruti van which dropped us at our destination. On our way we had breakfast – little did we know that we would be welcomed with breakfast at the camp.
After a couple of rounds of breakfast, we went to the backwaters. The camp is beside the backwaters of river Sharavathi. The backwaters engulf small hills and so the water gets very deep a few feet from the coast. We were told that the depth is easily more than 50 feet. This is on the reasons why the water has different shades of blue.
We wore our life jackets and plunged into the water. It was a wonderful feeling – especially since I did not know swimming at the time. We splashed in the water for a couple of hours.
Since we went in February, it was extremely hot and we were already sunburnt. The 2 rounds of breakfast was all gone and we were damn hungry with just a couple of hours of activity.
We were treated to a wonderful and heavy lunch – with our night journey, the water activity and the heavy lunch we were all very tired and dozed off for a couple of hours.
Towards the evening, we had some light snacks and then headed to the island where we were to stay for the night. Honnemaradu is all about learning various water sports – so the plan was to go to the island on a coracle. We had to row the coracle ourselves.
The currents in the water was moving towards the mainland and away from the island – there were 3 coracles – the first one went off on a complete tangent. The second one was off by a few degrees. We were the last one to leave. We decided to go a few degrees in the other side, so that we will be going in a straight line towards the island. It is so easy to lose your orientation when you need to row for a long time. Also the distance which looks short, turns out to be really long as you get tired because of the currents.
I was one of the guys rowing the coracle – and within a few minutes my arms starting aching. We were not even midway and I knew that if I give up I won’t be able to start again; I kept rowing. It was extremely painful.
As we reached the island, the sun was setting and it was getting dark. We clicked a few snaps of the setting sun and immediately scurried to collect wood for the campfire at night. The guides told us how to light a fire, and what needs to be done in case of rain. We were also asked to pitch our tents ourselves.
After this, we rested for a while and waited for the guides to go back to the coast and get us our dinner. We enjoyed the warmth of the campfire and played a few games.
After dinner, we went to the coast of the island. In the remote darkness, we could see the lights from the dam. The water was splashing and it was a wonderful feeling to sleep beside the coast. We then went back to our tent and called it a day.
The next morning, we were to get up early and go in the other direction to witness the sunrise. 2 problems though – 1. We were a bit late in getting up, the sun had already risen, 2. There were clouds and we couldn’t see it still.
Nevertheless it was good. We could see a few fishes swimming in the water and could see the sun rays piercing through the clouds onto the water surface.
We were taught how to put off the fire, and how to dismantle the tents. We then loaded everything in the coracle and headed back to mainland. We got ready and had breakfast. Food was generally good – above what you typically expect from these places.
We then had various options for the morning – we could either use the coracle and go around, or could take a kayak and visit some other islands nearby, or we could learn to surf on a surf-board.
I decided to try out the kayak – me and Kulki took a kayak and headed in the direction opposite to the island – we rowed for a few minutes until the mainland disappeared from sight. The feeling here is undescribable. There was pin drop silence – something that I guess I have never experienced in my life. All sides we were covered with water. We placed our paddles in the kayak and just experienced the silence.
We then rowed back to mainland, played for some more time in the water and then got ready to leave.
All in all, Honnemaradu was a wonderful experience of a world away from the air and sound polluted city life. It was the start of a series of nature adventures I was to embark upon.