Lighthouses were saviours of sea-farers from treacherous waters in the pre-digital and pre-GPS era
Lighthouses are a fascinating relic from the pre-digital and pre-GPS era. They were the stuff of legends. Lone warriors against mighty seas. The sea could be either violent or calm, but the mere presence of a lighthouse would mean that the waters were definitely treacherous for the men passing by in their ships or boats.
For many boys, visiting a lighthouse was on the must-do list. And once they went there, they would invariably try to ‘capture the lighthouse’.
Nowadays, no one builds lighthouses. Technology has killed lighthouses. There was a time when entry inside a lighthouse was forbidden. You could only see one from outside, and wonder infinitely what the view from the top would be like. If somehow you managed to enter one and go to the top, you could boast about it to friends and lighthouse fans for the rest of your life.
Since technology made them redundant, no one cares. Many kids would not even be aware of something called a lighthouse. Only a few lucky ones get to see them on a school trip.
Over the years, many lighthouses have been abandoned. Most are derelict. That is why the ones that are still intact are being turned into tourist attractions in a bid to save them from decay and disintegration.
A big challenge is their location. Most are in remote areas. It would be quite a challenge for tourists to even get there. For some, that alone is a big attraction.
I have been a fan, and grabbed the opportunity to visit the lighthouse at Kaup (pronounced Kapu) in Udupi district in coastal Karnataka. It looks sufficiently ancient, but is a relatively modern structure that is well-maintained. Tourism can take some of the credit. The place is packed on weekends.
The beach is clean. Bins have been placed at regular intervals to take care of the favourite pastime of Indians – leaving a trail of garbage in every place they visit.
Place: Kaup lighthouse
Location: Kaup, Udupi district, Karnataka
How to get there
Drive north from Mangalore on NH66 – 50 km
Drive south from Madgaon in Goa on NH66 – 320 km
Drive west from Bengaluru towards Mangalore NH75 and then head north on NH66 – 394 km
Places to stay
Look for hotels in Udupi, which is about 15 km to the north on NH66
Close to the lighthouse is a narrow road that runs along the coast for several kilometres. On this road, you will come across a lot of locals, their pretty pretty homes, shops, fishing nets and local snacks. It’s a pretty sight. Great way to spend the evening while the sun goes down in the background.