ಗುರುವಾರ, ಅಕ್ಟೋಬರ್ 30, 2008


Kurumgad is an elevated Island, in Arabian sea near Karwar. It is adjacent to another popular island Devbhag, which is comparitively bigger in size. 3 other islands lie in proximity of Kurumgad : Sanyasi, Anjudeep and Oyster.

(Left) Kurumgad Island as seen from sea/Boat

The island is in shape of turtle, hence it has got the name kurumgad (kurma in sanskrit means turtle).

Initially me and my wife Shubha had planned to travel to Devbhag island.While exploring Devbhag on the internet i found this place Kurumgad. The accommodation here is relatively cheaper , also the place is not as well known as Devbhag . So we planned our journey to explore this island. we left on the evening of 24th Oct 2008. friday

How to Reach from Bangalore?

Karwar lies on the national highway from Bangalore to Goa - NH-17. Karwar is 520 Kms from Bangalore. 120 kms from Goa. Many travel agencies ( VRL, Seabird, Sugama, KSRTC etc.) run buses to Karwar from Bangalore. KSRTC- Airawata charges 850 Rs.(Normally other operators charge anywhere from 800-1000 for AC buses, the fare is samefrom Bangalore to Goa). Journey time is 10Hrs 30 mins in volvo .As goa is very popular tourist destination it is very difficult to get tickets (even for karwar) on week-ends. If you want to book in late Dec/ early Jan,better plan months earlier.

Other options to reach Karwar are
1)Karwar is 117 Kms from Dandeli(A forest near Dharwad).60 kms from gokarna.(Gokarna cross falls into same higway, so getting tickets to gokarna might be equally difficult.)
2)Train option: for convenient journey this is better option. Catch a overnight traing from Bangalore - Mangalore and catch konkan train from Mangalore which stops at karwar at (Journey time is around 5 hours).

We managed to book 2 tickets from Seabird travels costing 1000 per head, unfortunately 2 seats in the last row. VRL, sugama, KSRTC, paulo travels had run out of tickets. We booked return journey tickets from KSRTC Airawata (Volvo) @ 850 per person. The seabird bus was supposed to leave on 24th Friday at 6:30 PM from Bangalore. But our bus had not turned up even when my timex-ironman watch was ticking 8:30 PM. At last the tourist operator accomdated us in one of the the A/C buses from Siddaganga travels even though we had booked Seabird!! No complaints about this bus on space, the seats and leg space is comparitively larger than airawata. But A/C control was with the driver only and they will not provide you with blankets!! No water bottles !! The bus is so damn slow that even if you have bus travel sickness, you would not puke out .Not even in ghat sections. And you feel like kicking the driver's ass when the KSRTC red buses overtake your bus. The journey hours was 10 hrs 30 mins according to their website. But it took 16 hours!! Apart from being slow, the fact that he took longer route (via Bangalore-hubli-dharwad-karwar route instead of Bangalore-shivamogga-honnavar-karawar route) added to the delay. Finally we reached karawar at 12 pm and we had lost almost 4 hours. SO BEWARE of SEABIRD TRAVELS.ABSOLUTELY NO VALUE FOR THE MONEY YOU PAY THEM.
The return journey was a relief. The Airawata left Karwar on 26th @ 8:30 P.M. (It was supposed to leave at 7:45) We were back in Bangalore after the next 10 hrs.

(Left) Jetty at Kali river - Karwar

From karwar jetty (Jetty is in Kali river which eventually joins Arabian sea in some meters), Boat drive is 20 mins to kurumgad island. We were at Kurumgad finally at 12:30 PM. (We had lost 5 hours)

Where to stay?
The great outdoor resorts
– Kurumgad island.

This is the only choice.When we booked the island resort,the picture we had in mind was that of a sea facing cottage in the sand beach with lots of coconut trees around. Atleast after visiting Agatti islands(Lakshadweep) few months back, our minds were pre-occupied with such pictures.The surprise element for us was that the resort in Kurumgad is not beach resort. Kurumgad is elevated rocky island with lots of trees . A 300 meters walk from the Kurumgad jetty uphill took us to the reception desk, where breakfast was still waiting for us at 12:45 pm. Another 200 meters walk from the reception desk took us to our cottage.

There are 5 tents and 4 bamboo cottages on top of this elevated island. Bamboo cottages - at the first sight you might feel that it is not really worth the money we pay.They are pretty small and facilities are minimum.The cottages do not have phone lines . This makes it hard to contact the resort staff. One has to run down all the way to the reception desk for every little thing.. The fact that they have to run a diesel generator to provide electricity and water facilities, could be the reason for high price. All cottages have a view of the sea., and they come with a hammock infron of them. The Bamboo cottage costed us 8000 for 2days 1 night package. If 4 people are sharing the cottage, they have an option of accomodating all 4 in same cottage with extra cot @ 3100 per person. For other packages/fares visit their website or call their resort office. Tents costs less for the same package and cottages do not have any advantage over tent.

(Left) Black panther reading The white tiger
(Down) View of sea as seen from our cottage

Inside Island?

The moment you enter the cottage,there is a board that says “ use the water sparingly as natural spring is the only source of fresh water”. With limited water we freshened up, went back to restaurant, had a delicious lunch. And we were told water sports start at 4 PM after sun calms down a bit. So we rested in our bamboo cottage till 4 PM.
(Left)Beach as seen from top of Island

There is a small beach of around 100 meters, where all the sporting activities take place. We had to walk down around 500 meteres from reception desk to this beach. Did a Banana boat ride, got thrown into the middle of the sea.Did water surfing, again a little difficult to balance , so back into the middle of the sea floating with life jackets. It was great fun though.We played in beach for quite some time, returned back to cottage, freshened up again with very limited water. This was followed by hot,yummy onion pakodas for snacks,then barbeque and wholesome dinner and night mares!!

(Left)Mystry Creek

On our way to the beach we were lead to a cosy canopy of roots, then we had a chance to see remain of a fort built by Shivaji later used by the British.The came the mystery creek which has dilot of associated stories..The scientific story being, an earth quake caused the small creek which widened over years after beign splashed by waves. Th mythological story being, that Lord Narsimha visted the island,created that creek and supposededly there is a tunnel running from the creek to the temple of Lord Narasimha on the top of the island. Yes there is temple, without the idol of the Lord. The idol is brought from mainland Karwar only during festive seasons.

The next day we started at 7.A.M, after a hot cup of coffee for an island trek, We actually trekked through the circumference of the island. It was the same route to the beach that we took which lead us to the Lord Narasimha temple.We found a lot of beautiful view points through the trek and so it was time for lot of photos.

After around 2 hours of trek we were back in the restaurant where breakfast was waiting for us.
Following which we went on a boat ride to spot Dolphins.We could only spot one dolphin and flying fish. Some more water sports to follow. Now we did kayaking which is extremely enjoyable and a water scooter ride. By the time this was over it was time for lunch.
It was time for us to check out. We left kurumgad at 4:30 P.M.


Banana Boat Ride
This is a ride on banana shaped ballon which is pulled by a motor boat. The banana balloon will topple in middle of sea.You are actually thrown into the middle of the sea.Now if it is your first time and you do not know swimming, then this is really scary although you have life jacket on ..

Water Surfing
This is little more adventurous than banana boat ride, where we need to balance on a wooden surf board by holding a rope tied to it. The board will be pulled by a motor boat. Its very difficult to balance especially when boat takes a turn. I did lose balance a couple of times,fell into the water and got back on to the board. The third time i intentionally fell since my hands started aching since i held the rope tightly for very long time, and had a boat ride afterwards till beach

Beach Volley Ball
This is must play for everyone in any beach. I played with resort guys and 4 other bangalore guys who had come there. The volley ball training which i had in lucent helped here. Even if you have no idea of volley ball, Beach is the best place to get some idea.

Dolphin Spotting
You just go on a long boat ride , and you are lucky if you spot them. We spotted 2 dolphins, not sure if it was the same dolphin at 2 places but could catch them in camera!

Water Scooter
Not much fun as the control is with the instructor.You will only feel like a kid sitting in the front and holding the steering.

(Left) Me, (Right) Shubha Kayaking

This is something you should not miss wherever you go. Kayaking is a very relaxing activity. Since a double kayak was unavailable, myself and shubha individually did kayaking with the single kayak they have. I am still regretting that i did not try this in Agatti island.It would have been great in Agatti island considering that the water there is crystal clear, we can see corals/fish below the water.

Coracle Ride
We did not try this.

One can do fishing from fishing rods provided at jetty in island. We did not get time for fishing.

Diving, Snorkelling??
Some bloggers mention about diving activities begin conducted in Kurumgad/Devbhag. But there is no such thing happening in either of the islands. Probably the reason could be that as there are no coral reefs around, diving might not invoke much of enthusiasm.

Parasailing, Paragliding??
The resot website does talk about parasailing , but we were told they have not yet started it. The same with paragliding.If you are visiting the island particularly for one of these activities better confirm with the resort people before booking.

Rock Climbing, Rappeling??
Apparently these activities do happen but the instructor was not available when we went there.

Fares for these activities?

Flora and Fauna
Turtles, Flowers, Forest Banana, Butterflies, Crabs, Fishes, Dolphins, Trees

Food, Water, Liquor
Our package included all the meals, berakfast and snacks.Resort provides clean drinking water, which helped us to save some bucks from buying mineral water. Food is at its best, both veg and non veg. great fish fries. Chicken was not that good. veg curries went well with chapatis. I tried oysters for the first time. It was delicious. Want crabs, prawns ? order it for few extra bucks. And what else? Only Beer is available, nothing hotter than that!!

Airtel, Hutch, BSNL phones are reachable. No idea about reliance phones.

Best season?

Winter (October to March)
Island is closed in monsoons.

Other Interesting Places Nearby

(Left) Rabindranath Tagore beach.
(Below) Warship museam infront of tagore beach.

We left the island at 4.30 P.M. Reached mainland Karwar at around 5.P.M and headed towards WARSHIP museum. Again a ‘must see’ place in Karwar.Just as you enter , the huge warship INS CHAPAL stands majestically in front of you with a backdrop of the Rabindranath Tagore beach. (one more beautiful beach, just 1 km from karwar KSRTC bus stand) This was one of the ships that head to Pakistan in the 1971 war against them, played a key role in destroying the Pakistani ship filled with all the ammunition they had for the war.
The ship in itself is the museum.Once you enter the ship you are lead a video room where they play a 10 min video about the 1971 war.

We did not visit following places.
Devbhag beach Resort
We could not visit this Island due to unavailability of a Boat! (As told by resort guys)
Sadashivghad fort beach
5 Kms from Rabindranath tagore beach
90 Kms from karwar.
60 Kms from karwar
South Goa, Palolem Beach
40 Kms from Karwar

The Ironman: The special mention here is my 200 mts shock resistant Timex watch "ironMan". On Saturday evening at kurumgad beach when we went for banana ride, i had worn this waterproof watch. That night i realized that I have lost my watch in the sea. I had spent 1000+ Rs on this watch , so i was a bit upset but somehow had real hopes of finding it.And yes I did find it the next day!! My IRONMAN came and hit the leg of our guide at the island who went for a swim in the sea.Now it is back on my wrist in perfectly working condition!!.

Finally, Kurumgad Island is a great place to hang out for 2 days 1 night.

Sunset at Rabindranath tagore beach as seen from top of warship museum

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