Tuesday, March 21, 2017

My Udupi diary : Hanging Bridge of Kemmannu

If you are a Udupi local or even from Karnataka, you would probably know about this place. But for an outsider like me it was just waiting to be discovered. Tourist prefer to visit more popular beaches like Malpe or Kaup & Krishna matt, most famous landmark of Udupi rather than this offbeat attraction, The Hanging bridge of Kemmannu over Suvarna river.

This bridge lies on the outskirts of Udupi in a region called Tonse, around 8 kms from Udupi city centre. Tonse is small but beautiful village which has lush green landscape, creeks and coconut palms every where you look. The surreal beauty of the place is the master work of Suvarna river which flows from east to west creating a number of islands in its delta before it finally merges into Arabian sea few kms away at yet another beautiful place called Kodi Bengre. 

Suvarna river creates a lush greenery all around its bank and some really beautiful islands covered with coconut trees like a coconut lagoons. The houses or bungalows around this place are the perfect homes that everyone would love to live in. The hanging bridge also called Kemmannu bridge connects the mainland to one of the islands called Thimman Kudru. Before this bridge was built the island were accessible only by boats. It was in the year 1991 when Karnataka engg cadets during their annual training built this 280 feet long suspension bridge which is now become a lifeline and boon for the island people. 

The stone slab at the foot of the bridge names it as "Deepak". Though the life of the bridge was suppose to be 5 years but it is going strong and hanging even after 20 years. Walking on the bridge provides a real thrill as it sways as you walk on it or when an occasional biker passes over it. On weekends this place attracts small crowd of tourist as was informed to me by one of the shopkeepers near that place. 

How to reach: Udupi has quite an extensive network of local bus transport, From city bus stand one can take a bus going towards Kemmannu (called as Kemmann) or Kodi Bengre which will cost only Rs 16/- and takes around 25-30 minutes. The bus drops at the village of Kemmannu from where one can cross another bridge and walk 1 km on the path which ends at the suspension bridge. Or one can also take a rickshaw from Kemmannu. 

My Visit: On my backpack trip to Udupi I longed for some offbeat places to visit during my 3 days trip. I was quite excited on reading about this Udupi at traction so on a Sunday morning decided to combine my trip to see this place with some other nearby attraction. So armed with my google maps, I boarded bus to Kalianpur for visit to a famous Milagres Cathedral early morning. After visiting the cathedral. I walked to main highway from where I got into the local city bus heading towards Kemmannu. Being a north Indian and illiterate in Kannada I informed the bus conductor in Hindi if he could let me know once Kemmannu stop arrives. His answer was "Whockay" .. As bus drove deeper into small winding roads with small villages and lush greenery landscape, local kept boarding and deboarding the bus while I enjoyed my bus ride hoping the conductor would inform me when the stop arrives. 

After a ride of over 25-30 minutes when conductor seemed indifferent and in his own world collecting the bus fare from locals. I switched on the google maps only to be horrified that bus was actually moving in opposite direction then the location of the bridge !!!!!! 

Aghast I cursed on coming in search of a place which I didn't have much information about and to top it the language barrier problem I had. I lost all hope of visiting the suspension bridge and at one of the small village called Hoode on the way decided to deboard the bus at the sight of beach nearby. On setting foot on the long stretch of white sand beach of Hoode and the only soul on the beach as far as eye sight could reach. The clean blue water, sound of crashing waves and the white sand beach all for myself brought back the smile on my face. Truly mesmerising !! 

Hoode beach was one of unexpected highlights of my visit and after which I also visited Kodi Bengre village and delta where the Arabian Sea and Suvarna river meet. But more on that in another blog. On my way back I had enquired with some locals about the suspension bridge and was informed it was close by and pretty much doable visit. I boarded the local bus heading towards Udupi and asked the conductor to drop me at the suspension bridge. Got similar response of "Whockay"  !!! lol. Bus conductor did informed me when my stop arrived and pointed to go inland from the main road. Happy I thanked him and got down from the bus. Walked a few yards and there were two bridges, one in a very dilapidated and broken condition while other was newly constructed road bridge over river tributary.  But this wasn't I had come looking for .... and yet again no sight of suspension bridge. Cursing my luck that probably bus conductor felt I was looking for this road bridge.

Disappointed I stood on the bridge watching a local fisherman putting fishnet in the river and clicked few pictures of surroundings. As I was about to leave the place, saw a biker coming in my direction. I stopped and asked him about the Hanging bridge. Luck seemed to be holding up as he directed me to walk down the road without turning left or right and around 1 km ahead was the my destination.

Voila !!!. Elated I headed towards my destination with new zeal as I clicked pictures of river tributary flowing parallel to the road and some amazing houses in the middle of coconut palms. A walk of around 15 minutes, I finally got the sight of the Hanging bridge of Kemmannu - Deepak.

To experience the thrill of suspension bridge I walked from one end of the bridge to other while it swayed and it swayed heavily as I reached right in the middle of the bridge. It was quite a experience when the bridge sway while the river flows majestically below. The bridge has stone slabs on which one walks and you get a feeling that either one of them would break the moment you step on it or you would surely topple due to the swaying but luckily nothing of that sort happened. I even managed to click few pictures standing on the bridge. 

The visit to the suspension bridge was quite an adventurous experience for me and at the end a happy one to say the least for apart from getting to see this unique attraction I was also able to visit the beautiful Hoode beach and the Delta of Kodi Bengre. 

To summarise on this backpack experience of mine, Its absolutely "OK" to get lost while on a backpack trip for their is something more beautiful waiting to be explored. You can never see it all which is why first backpack trip should never be the last. Appreciate everything that comes your way and make every second count.

More on my Udupi backpack trip and other attractions I visited, In other blog coming soon.

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