Express press service
UDUPI: When planning a trip to Udupi, the itinerary will be full of visits to ancient temples, scenic beaches and rolling hills that best describe the district sandwiched between the verdant Western Ghats and the sea of Teal Blue Oman.
But now, kayaking amidst thick mangroves is the latest attraction for those visiting Udupi. Courtesy of Mithun and Lokesh, two young enthusiasts from Saligrama – a nondescript little village in the district, who introduced kayaking to the backwaters of the Sita River, allowing nature lovers to trek through unexplored mangrove forests, which remained until recently. boundaries for the outside world.
Mithun (28) used to work in a private company in Bengaluru, but was always keen on doing something in the field of tourism, and ta-da he came up with the concept of kayaking in his home town of Saligrama.
He and his friend Lokesh – now his business partner – invested Rs 7 lakh and bought eight kayaks and the story of “Sails and More Adventures” started a few months ago. A kayak is a small boat propelled by a paddle with two blades.
A 5 km ride of less than two hours along the Sita River showcases the abundant and blessed backwaters and mangroves of Udupi. “I always thought there was a sea of opportunity for ecotourism in Udupi district. What better place than the Saligrama mangroves to kayak. I have heard many people say that they enjoyed the backwaters of neighboring Kerala. But our own backwaters in Udupi are no less. They are just as beautiful,” Mithin says proudly.
Previously, only locals and tourists from nearby villages came here to kayak. But now, without any large scale publicity and just by word of mouth, tourists from Mangaluru, Manipal and even faraway places like Bengaluru are flocking to Saligrama to kayak.
Either Mithun or Lokesh, or sometimes both, accompany the tourists, who are given life jackets for their safety. “Those who have never kayaked can also come here and learn the basics with our 10-minute training. They can get into a kayak immediately afterwards,” says Mithun.
In part of the stretch, the mangroves are so thick that not even sunlight penetrates through. The two assure tourists that the whole journey is safe as the route was chosen after a long navigation work by the duo.
Also, the stretch is not too deep, which makes it safe for tourists. If one gets tired of paddling his kayak, he can rest for a while and observe nature at its best, as many birds and marine life thrive in the backwaters. Kayaking starts at 7:00 a.m. daily and continues until 7:00 p.m.
However, if there is a low tide, the kayaks may not be able to move inside the deep and thick stretches of mangrove forest. Tourists seem to like it. Gurudath, Director of Kudremukh Iron Ore Company Ltd, Mangaluru, who came here to kayak, said The new Indian Express that the expanse of Saligrama’s mangrove forests is thick and unique in many ways.
“Observing the roots of the mangroves while navigating near them in a kayak is a wonderful experience. No one would have thought earlier that kayaking could be so well organized on our own coast. Mithun and Lokesh deserve special appreciation,” he said.
Priyanka, a wellness coach from Bengaluru, said the time spent kayaking in Saligrama will be etched in her memory forever. “I will be returning to this place…very soon,” she added. For a two-hour ride, the organizers charge Rs 300 per adult and each kayak can accommodate two people.
(Many travel bloggers have also started arriving at this kayaking point, located just 2.5 km west of NH 66 in Saligrama. For details, call Mithun at 7259277799 and Lokesh at 9845943030)