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Uninhabited St. Mary’s Island – A geological wonder

Sweating through the streets, victim to the humid hot weather of the coastal belt of Karnataka, which is a hub of oceans, seaports and beaches. The route via the Malpe city of Udupi harbours an unique scent of saline waves, aqua sports and distant beautifully silent islands.

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Among the cascade of distantly tiny islands, stands the uninhabited and mystically gorgeous St. Mary’s island.  This island can be visited by boarding on to the ferry carrying the passengers to the venue of St. Mary’s island. To the delight of tourists this 30-minute of swaying in the sea, the chatterings of excited strangers and jarring music in the background makes the journey short, yet adventurous. As the boat rolled forward, coconut bordered the destined St. Mary’s island came into view. 

Nearing the shores of shallow waters, one had to board the smaller boat to reach the land. The beach with the knee-high water made realise of our arrival to the island. The wooden Board with words ‘Welcome to St. Mary’s Island’ receives us with a barren charm. The only living guides ensured the plastic free premises and restricted food items into the island. 

Lovingly called Thonsepar or Coconut Island by the locals, the scenic beauty starts with the tall coconut tree bordering the island. The islands around this are the North island, South Island and Daria Bahadurgah Island. 

The geological past tells a tale of lava outflow that happened million years ago, from that of limestone cracks and making the rocks of geometrical shapes. Mystery is the shape of the cooled molten lava which forms pillars of five to six sides, unlike the reality of haphazard shapes. These mystical hardened lava pillars are called the ‘laminar flow’ by the geologists. Staging from tallest 6 feet to other heights these rocks across the island are of importance to Geological Survey of India, making it a National Geological monument of state. 

Scientific history tells us that these rocks were 88 million years ago, when Madagascar got separated due to the sub-volcanic activity. As an array of basalt these tall hexagonal-columnar rocks have been formed. The puzzle tickles as the rocks are in series  and have 3-7 faces without man interference, making it’s landscape different. 

The saga tells that Vasco da gama from Portugal enroute to Kozhikode in 15 th century, anchored his vessel on this northernmost island. Later he erected a holy Cross and christened it to today’s St. Mary’s island. Among the islands in and around this is the largest island of 500 metres length and 100 metres width. St. Mary’s is the only accessible to the tourist. 

The people who find sloth like behavior ideal, this island is a perfect destination. With the aura of solitude, solace and silence the island piques the art of doing nothing. Pure bliss of zero traffic menace, crowds, fights etc. can be fished in the unhampered beaches and crashing waves. With the humid breeze of coast embracing and birds chirping their delight can be with nature. 

A stroll around the island with sand sinking under the feet and basalt rock structures hither thither, creates a void emotion of being serenely empty. Waves, breeze, birds are different but act like a unison instrument of tranquility. Clambering the rocks one can view the scenic beauty of the wide, vast blue sea. 

The best time to visit would be after the monsoon from September to May, especially to avoid the onslaught of jerky sea ferry rides.  Usually the ferry services from Malpe jetty cost Rs. 300 for adults and Rs. 150 for the kids below 10 years and above 3 years. The timings are from 9am to 5.30 pm during the time of calm sea conditions. If the sea God is furious the services would be cancelled to ensure the safety of the tourists. 

The young blood with the zeal and adrenaline, there is provision of banana boat rides, jet skiing, zorbing and many more. Also different trails like basalt rock trail, flora fauna trail are available at the island. Daytime camping and cycling facilities are also on the list of available facilities. 

But the recent pandemic has put a curb and these activities are suspended for time being.

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