When beaches come to mind, fantasies meet reality. Reality will include a beach you can drive on to and fantasy will have a shore with a shrine for shipwrecked sailors as Gulliver’s Travel. India is a land of several beautiful and famous beaches know for their exotic existence. Below are the top 10 best beaches in India that offers lot more than just bums and shacks but modern life amenities as well. Have a look:
1. St Mary’s Island, Karavali Coast, Dakshina Kannada
St Mary’s Island also considered as a geological wonder is a two-hour boat ride from Malpeharbour, six kilometers into the Arabian Sea. It is a mesmerizing volcanic palm-fringed island with feral goats, pristine water and a crunchy-underfoot seashell beach. When Vasco da Gama dropped anchor on the northernmost islet in 1498, he also erected a holy cross and rechristened the place El Padron de Santa Maria, hence the name St Mary’s Island. The isle is 300m long and 100m wide with striking hexagonal basalt rock columns in varying shades of red and black providing the most surreal backdrop ever. St Mary’s is also considered as a National Geological Monument because of its geological and ecological importance.
2. Tranquebar, Coromandel Coast, Tamil Nadu
Tranquebar is home to fresh air and old bungalows. What makes Tranquebar special is that, it is the only ozone-rich beach in India. It is also the only Danish trading outpost in India. History says, when the Danes acquired a small coastal village from the ThanjavurNayaks, Tharangambadi or Land of the Dancing Waves was named as ‘Trankebar’.
Get cozy in the summer residence of the British collector renovated as Neemrana. It is a wonderful Bungalow near the Beach. Enjoy catamarans bob on the surf at sunrise from your verandah of one of the luxury suit among ChristianusSeptimus, Princess Louise, Countess Moltke and other period rooms. These are named after Danish ships that were docked at Tranquebar. The bungalow provides a perfect base for heritage walks around the coastal town due to its perfect location sandwiched between the crumbling MasilamaniNathar Temple on the left and the stunning Dansborg Fort to the right.
3. Muzhappilangad, Malabar Coast, Kerala
Muzhappilangad a beautiful drive-in beach in Kerela, down the ages was the store house of pepper or black gold and the Spice Coast that enticed traders from Kerela. It has been updated as the Kannur’s Muzhappilangad Beach on the Malabar Coast, today. It is one of the longest drive-in beaches in India with a five kilometer stretch of compact sand. Once you are here, do not miss the golden sunsets, and wait for fishing boats to empty out the day’s catch or gaze at Dharmadam Island in the distance. The rocks dotting the shoreline guard you against the current and make it ideal for swimming and adventure sports like paragliding, parasailing and micro-light flights. Various traditional dishes like pathiris (meat crepes), arikadukka (mussels stuffed with rice), unnakaya (banana fritters with coconut filling) and the signature ThalasseryBiriyani will give a real treat to the mouth.
4. Laxmanpur, Neil Island, Andamans
Laxmanpur is where you can experience sea-life at your feet. The paradise called the Andamans is a serene gateway to the turquoise water fringed by white sand, 4,000 varieties of corals and a shimmering underworld of marine life. There are 572 islands of which only 32 are inhabited. Neil Island in Ritchie’s Archipelago is a hidden gem. There is a beautiful village that leads to Laxmanpur-2 Beach with a natural rock bridge.
Bengali refugees who had to settle after the Bangladesh war, tried to replicate the Howrah Bridge. Visit their early morning when the waters recedes and the fringing coral reef unlocks its secrets. A view worth watching. Colorful fish dart around in salt pools, stealthy eels peep from their rocky lairs, seemingly motionless sea cucumbers, and clams wedged in rocks quivering their purple clown-lips gives a view you will get nowhere else. Marvel at staghorn corals, stubby finger corals, boulder corals and magical color-changing corals along with the hassle of scuba, snorkeling or glass-bottom boat rides will be an ideal vacation for you.
5. Land’s End, Dhanushkodi, Tamil Nadu
Land’s End is one end to the mythical bridge. It was once connected by rail to Rameshwaram. But the cyclone that hit in 1964 made it a ghost town today. The beach is accessible by vans but the bumpy safari from MukundarayarChathiram is worth the 10km ride. The surreal landscape is a mixture of ruined railway tracks, weatherworn boats and marshes dotted with sandpipers and curlews. You will find the meeting spot of the wild Indian Ocean and the calmer Bay of Bengal here. It is the eastern extremity of the Indian peninsula. Mythology says Lord Rama built his famous Rama Setu (Adam’s Bridge) to Lanka 30km away from this point itself. On the way back, there is a small temple in Dhanushkodi which houses a porous rock that is believed by the Hindus as a relic from Rama’s floating bridge in Ramayana.
6. Om Beach, Gokarna, Uttara Kannada
Om Beach is roughly noted as the hippie haven. The pristine beaches at Gokarna were once a quiet pilgrim town that rose around the AtmaLingeshwara Temple. The name hippie haven was attached to it after the discovery of the beach shaped like a giant Om. The remoteness and inaccessibility is the reason behind its mysticism. Take a short coastal hike from the main beach at Gokarna to reach to Kudle. From there a 30-minute walk will be enough to reach Om Beach. The beach is divided into two crescents by a rocky promontory jutting out from the shore. If you want to take the most spectacular view of the Om beach, walk past the shacks and the fishing boats bobbing on the waves to the hill above. Other small beaches include Half Moon and Paradise.
7. Puri Beach, Orissa
Puri Beach is the point where the sea vanishes. The coastline is dipped with great diversity. The Bhitarkanika situated there is considered as one of the largest mangrove ecosystems in India. The Chilika Lake is the biggest coastal lagoon, Gahirmatha is the largest breeding ground for Olive Ridley turtles in the world and Chandipur-on-Sea is one of the few beaches that hold record of water receding up to five kilometers at low tideevery day. Tourists love the exhilarating jeep rides. Puri is Orissa’s comes with the full package. It is one of the most famous pilgrims’ attraction spot as well. The Jagannath Temple is a part of the beach. The Marine Drive Road is full of hotels, restaurants and souvenir stalls foor tourist to enjoy. Internationally acclaimed artist SudarshanPatnaik has a sculpture made out of sand here. Local fishermen in triangular straw hats are present there as boatmen and lifeguards. The best time of the year to visit this beach is November during the Puri Beach Festival.
8. Kunkeshwar, Konkan Coast, Maharashtra
Kunkeshwarhas a bizarre story to tell. The beach is situated 16km from Devgad in the Sindhudurg district and is famous for Alphonso mangoes and Malvani cuisines. There is a 400-year-old Shiva temple on the edge of the sea that is continuously lashed by waves. Legend says that there used to be an old Shiva lingam on the shore. Once, an Arabian vessel was caught in a terrible storm. As they were fighting against the imminent watery end, the sailors saw a light in the distance and prayed for their lives vowing to build a shrine to the local deity if survived. The Arabs landed safely and as promised built a laterite temple to thank the deity. They did not return but rather jumped from the top of the temple and dashed themselves against the rocks below. Their samadhis are still being found in the beach.
9. Arambol Beach, Goa
Arambol Beach is on the shore of a freshwater lake. Legends say that, the beach was named after a local ruler Veer HarharMahal who performed a sacrifice in the 12th century to mark a victory. When Portuguese came to India, they named it as Arambol. The freshwater lake is the key attraction of the beach. The freshwater lake is lined with sulphurous mud amidst a thick forest. Mud-smeared hippies basking in the sun is a common sight here. It is a perfect vantage point for paragliding. It also has a sacrificial pit where the warrior-sage Parasurama allegedly performed a penance only to reclaim the western coast from the sea.
10. Nagoa Beach, Diu
Diu flourished a lot during the Portuguese era from 1535 to 1961. It had a lot to offer during the 426 years of colonial rule.It has a lot of churches and forts all around the place. The most famous attraction is the hoka tree (Hyphoenaindica). It is a branching palm that was brought by the Portuguese from Africa. The specialty is that this is the only tree of its kind to be found in India. The Nagoa Beachis a horseshoe-shaped beach with wind whispering through the hoka trees. You can enjoy water sports and relax at Resort Hoka or the luxurious Azzaro Resort. Since it is located at the southern coast of Gujarat, you will find a touch of Kathiawari. Interestingly, as it is a Union Territory, the liquor laws areliberal. Do not miss on the relishing seafood and enjoy the rides on the local fatfatiya-type transport, chhakdas.
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