It's surprising how a well-planned trip can completely turn on its head and turn out to be something entirely different. This was what happened to us in our last trip. What was supposed to have been a beach-hopping fun turned out to be a temple-hopping devotion.
The initial plan was spend a day each at the beaches of Honavar, Murudeshwar and Bhatkal. The blistering heat turned spoilsport and with that all plans went awry. Though we got down at Honavar, because of lack of good accommodation, we quickly left to Murudeshwar 26 kms away. Murudeshwar is famous for only one thing - the Shiva temple which is bang on the ocean! Well yes, it is literally on a hillock in the ocean, covered on three sides by the sea. The most eye-catching spectacle though is the tallest Gopuram in the world. The 20-storied, 249 ft tall gopura called the Raja Gopura towers over everything else, including the 143 ft high Shiva statue, considered to be the second largest in the world. The primary deity here is Mridesha Linga, which is believed to be a piece of the original Atma Linga.Once you are done with visiting the temple, you would notice that there is pretty much nothing you can do in this beach town. Of course you can go boating and water-skiing. But somehow it did not appeal to our senses. The beach itself, around the temple is pretty nasty with the continous influx of devotees who can be seen walking around semi-naked going for a bath or attending nature calls. This was a enough of a turn-off to look for other alternatives to kill time. And that meant looking beyond Murudeshwar.
Getting-there: There are overnight buses available from Bangalore (470 kms away).
Must-Do: Watch the sunset. Boating and scuba-diving options available.
Must-Don't: Spoil the natural beauty of the place. Make plans for an extended stay.
My Rating: 5/10.