Head to Dhanushkodi for your New Year’s Eve getaway

Dhanushkodi sits at the south-eastern tip of India in the Rameshwaram district in Tamil Nadu. Until recently, approach to the tip of the town remained a huge challenge with no proper road connecting the last 10 km. A bridge known as the ‘Pamban Bridge’ existed in its original form until 1964 when it was destroyed by a massive cyclonic storm. Subsequently, it has been repaired and reconstructed. Over the last 50 years, things have changed a lot in Dhanushkodi and changed for the better. In July last year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid open a new road connecting Dhanushkodi to Rameshwaram.

Another factor that adds importance to Dhanushkodi is its proximity to Sri Lanka which is about 31 km from this village. Before strife-hit Sri Lanka and the LTTE became powerful, regular ferry services used to operate between Dhanushkodi and Talaimannar in Sri Lanka. Yet, the town is among some of unexplored places which is not completely commercialised making it a perfect New Year destination.

If you have been considering exotic locations for the upcoming New Year 2018, Dhanushkodi does fit the bill for more reasons than one. This is one place in southern India where you will enjoy the incredible beauty of the clear blue sea and a confluence of two oceans, the Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean. When you travel from Rameshwaram to Dhanushkodi, you will pass through a number of fishing villages with a mesmerising view of the Palk Strait giving you company on either side. Apart from all the mysteries and coastal charm of Dhanushkodi another aspect that makes it unique is its connection with Indian mythology.

According to the epic Ramayana, Hanuman was ordered by Lord Rama to build a bridge from Dhanushkodi to Sri Lanka so that his army could go across to Sri Lanka and save the Lord’s consort, Sita from the captivity of Demon King Ravana. Hanuman executed the orders of his Lord and built what came to be known as Ram Setu with the help of his army of monkeys. In modern times, Ram Setu has been a subject of heated discussions and political controversy with the issue remaining wide open to this date.

Besides the iconic bridge, you can also explore the Gulf of Mannar National Park which is also a Biosphere Reserve.  It houses various species such as sea cow, seahorse, dolphins, pearl oyster, turtles and more. The Dhanushkodi beach and Pamban Island are also worth a visit. Both places are sparsely crowded and are the perfect destination to spend serene quality time while unwinding yourself. The sunrise and sunset views from the Dhanushkodi beach are truly mesmerizing.

The easiest way to reach Dhanushkodi is taking the road. You can take a direct bus or reach to Rameshwaram and take a connecting bus or book a cab. Travelling by air could be tedious as the nearest airport is 140 km away in Tuticorin. From there, again you will have to reach Rameshwaram and take a bus or cab. The closest railway station is also at Rameshwaram which is well-connected to other parts of the state and country. You can book a taxi from Trichy to Dhanushkodi and explore the surrounding places.

Happy Vacationing!

Offbeat getaways in India: Gokarna

Gokarna is a town situated along the west coast of India in the Uttara Kannada district of Karnataka. It is a renowned Hindu pilgrimage centre, but over the past few years has quickly grown as a tourist destination, especially for those seeking calm and serenity. If, you are searching for some personal space with just the sun, sea and sand, then Gokarna is the perfect destination for you.

 

Best time to visit
Plan your trips to Gokarna between September and April

How to get there

163kms from Panaji, 502kms from Bangalore

Things to do

Go on a beachside trek along the coast near Gokarna
Do early morning yoga by the beach
Hire bikes and head out to Honey Beach in Ankola
Go graffiti spotting around town

Where to eat

Ganga Cafe on Kudle Beach
Namaste Cafe on Om Beach
Chez Cristophe on Gokarna Beach

Gokarna is a vastly different experience from other famous beach towns such as Goa or Karwar. Interestingly, the Mahabaleshwar Temple which is home to Lord Shiva put this place on the tourist map. The idol here is over 1,500 years old, and visiting it will give you a deep serene feeling. Needless to say, Shivaratri is celebrated here with great enthusiasm.

Gokarna is a mix of temples and beaches with legendary stories attached to them. Even though it is a small town, there are several sight-seeing options to keep you busy. The most famous beach is the Om beach, named so because it is shaped like the Hindu symbol of Om. You can engage yourself in some water sports that are available at the beach and later indulge in delicious food available at the many shacks and restaurants present at Om beach. Namaste Café is the one that should not be missed. Other top beaches include Gokarna beach, Kudle beach, Half Moon beach, and Paradise beach. If you love trekking, you can also trek to all five beaches one after the other.

Apart from temples and beaches, Gokarna additionally offers a few other activities that are worth your time. You can indulge yourself in some relaxing massage provided by several resorts, hotels, and even some inns. With a wide variety of options available from foot to a full-body massage, this soothing experience is a must try activity. Gokarna is a centre for yoga too, and you will discover many classes around the town. Don’t be surprised, if you see a foreigner doing yoga on the beach. Shopping at the little shops in Gokarna is something that you can include while in Gokarna. You can discover jewellery, gems, garments, and more.

Barely 75 km from Gokarna is Murudeshwar. One can witness the second largest Shiva statue in the country at Murudeshwar. The large statue in the backdrop of Arabian Sea is a sight to behold. You can also visit Kumta, a small town on the road to Murudeshwar. Kumta is famous for its banana, coconut, fisheries, betelnut and cashew plantations. The long Kumta shoreline is a great sight, and in addition to that, several seabirds add to its beauty.

September to April is the best time to visit Gokarna. Regular buses from Bangalore and Mangalore are easily available apart from a few trains. The nearest airport is the Dabolim airport in Goa which is around 140kms from Gokarna. The roads from Bangalore to Gokarna are relatively good, so if you are in a mood for a long drive, take a cab from Bangalore to Gokarna. To travel within Gokarna, bikes and cars are available for rent. However, if you prefer walking, you can easily cover the entire town on foot. Perhaps, that is the best way to explore the place.                                                                                                      

Goa: A guide to beaches for some alone time

Tourism in Goa has blown out of proportion in recent years, mainly due to all the hype it has generated as a hippie destination. All the erstwhile pristine beaches have become overcrowded, with beaches in Calangute, Anjuna, Baga and even Palolem not recommended for those seeking solitude. Fortunately, this coastal state is teeming with other, lesser known beaches which are still relatively untouched. They are easily accessible too, as isn’t too difficult to book cabs in Goa.

Let us take a look at some of the best beaches in Goa that haven’t been drowned in the tourism wave.

Butterfly Beach

Image credit: Travel Triangle

One of the best beaches in the state, Butterfly Beach is definitely deserving of its pretty name. It has  relatively long, unexplored stretches of sand, mostly because of its remote location. Butterfly beach is around 35 km from Margao, to the north of Palolem Beach. One can’t get there if they just book taxi in Goa, since the beach itself is not accessible by road and you can only reach it after a two hour trek through the forest. However, if you’re looking for total privacy, Butterfly is the place to go to.

Galgibaga Beach

Image credit: Trawell.in

Galgibaga is famous not for its party vibes, but for another, much more beautiful reason. It is the seasonal nesting and hatching site of the Olive Ridley Turtles. It is generally regarded as the cleanest beach in Goa, and is located 18 km south of Cancona. Food options might be limited though; the beach is lined by very few shacks and a number of coconut trees. Galgibaga beach is well worth a visit if you’re looking for private experience in crystal clear water and glistening sand.

Cola Beach

Image credit: Trawell.in

Another secluded beach in South Goa, Cola is the ideal place for an escape from the hustle and bustle of mainstream beaches. Situated 15 km north of Palolem, signboards lead the way to this lesser known paradise by the sea. This beach also has an exotic lagoon- lined by coconut trees, beach huts and Rajasthani style tents.

Sinquerim Beach

Image credit: Thrillophilia

Situated adjacent to the well-known Fort Aguada and just 13 km from Panaji, Sinquerim is another stretch of unspoiled, virgin sands. The beach is the perfect place to relax and enjoy one of the best sunset views that Goa has to offer. It also has a few adventure activities, including scuba diving, water skiing, fishing and wind-surfing. The quaint little eateries close to the beach serve delicious drinks and fresh snacks.

Lovers Beach

Image credit: smallbudgettrips.com

As the name suggests, this is one of the most romantic beaches in the state of Goa. It is located north of the more mainstream Betalbatim beach, and is technically an extension of the same. Despite its proximity to Margao (6 km), the beach always wears a deserted look except for the odd couple. There are no shacks or hotels near this beach and the only way to get here is via private transport. The convenience of Goa car rental has made travelling here that much more simple.

The party scene in Goa is great, but sometimes one needs solitude by the beach to contemplate and revitalise. These are not the only untouched beaches in the state, with Arambol, Betalbatim Cabo De Rama beaches being some of the other options. They are sure to appeal to all those seeking an alternative to the loud and overcrowded mainstream beaches, so make sure to check them out!