A parallel existence

A parallel existence

Stumbling upon a unique geographical phenomenon of a river’s affair with the sea, Rashmi B V explores the scenic beach town of Maravanthe, just 35 miles off Udupi

The distance between the sea and the river is merely about 300 feet. The river here forms a wide basin like the backwater in a dam and flows towards south west to meet the sea. But, it suddenly makes a u-turn and flows eastward. The river finally joins the sea, only after a journey of more than 10 km inland from here.

This geographical phenomenon is said to be only one of its kind in India. This can be found in Maravanthe, one of the beautiful beaches of Karnataka. As River Souparnika, which takes birth in the Kodachadri hill ranges reaches Maravanthe, it slows down just shy of 300 feet from the sea and flows in a snaky path, meeting Chakra River near Gangolli village and joins the Arabian Sea.

At Maravanthe, the sea and the river are separated by the national highway 17, which runs between Mangalore-Karwar. If you stand on the highway, you may think that the river and the sea are separated because of the highway. But, it is truly a natural wonder! Both the river and the highway race for a kilometer parallel to the costal stretch and River Souparnika suddenly takes a bend to flow towards east and disappears from the scene.

But the docile river makes this spot more scenic and green. It is believed that Souparna, an eagle, performed penance on the banks of the river. Hence, this river is called as Souparnika. There are several islands, which are covered with palm trees and mangroves, in the area. There are houses and cultivated lands in these islands. Small boats ply between these islands, ferrying villagers. These islands are called as kudru in local language. Kuru is one such island which is a feast for the eyes, with its swaying coconut trees, lush green vegetation, and blue waters. Boating cruises are available on the Souparnika River. Motor boats are available to facilitate tourists. During the river cruise, tourists are treated to a spectacle of large coconut trees leaning out towards the river, small-tailed roof houses and the rustic life of the island.

A huge and attractive temple dedicated to Maraswamy is located on the banks of River Souparnika. There are three sanctum sanctorums in which Vishnu, Narasimha and Varaha (boar incarnation of Maha Vishnu) idols are present. The main deity is Varahaswamy and people believe him to be the protector from natural disasters and fishermen offer him prayers before setting sail. Tortoise, crocodile and fish are also part of the worship in this temple. Areca nut flowers are mainly offered to gods by the devotees. It is said that this temple was built 800 years ago by a king. So it is also called as Sri Maharaja Maraswamy temple. A grand festival is held during Karkataka Masa. Devotees of Varahaswamy from different parts of the country throng here during this festival.

The Maravanthe beach, which is just on the other side of this temple is really an idyllic oasis. White sand, clear blue sky, gentle tides and endless shore prove to be very inviting. With the national highway flanked by the Arabian Sea and the river, it has become a pit stop for the travellers passing by. Moreover, this beach is less crowded compared to other beaches near Mangalore and Udupi. This tranquil and unspoiled beach is at its best during sun sets. The sea shore is lined with trees and is an idyllic place to sit and listen to the symphony of the sea.

As the sea and NH17 are just 100 meters away, there is a continous coastal erosion along the shoreline during monsoons. Huge boulders are piled up along the shoreline to avoid the erosion.

There are several hotels, shops and cottages on the shore. Some resorts even offer water sports, trekking, and scuba diving. The scenic beauty of the Arabian Sea, picturesque Souparnika River and the peaceful rustic life of Maravanthe will definitely mesmerise you.

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