When howling wind, blazing sun, scorching magma, and torrential rain meet basaltic rocks the results are out of this world.
St. Mary’s Islands are a set of four small islands in the Arabian Sea off the coast of Malpe in Udupi, Karnataka. Here the sky and the water seem to fuse into one; blue on an already blue palette. The breeze blows the tension right out of the bones and the lacy waves are a drumbeat echoing the heart. The epitome of this land, however, is the distinctive geological formation of columnar basaltic lava. These delicately chiseled rocks of St. Mary’s Islands blur the line between man-made and natural.
According to the folklore of Malpe, Vasco da Gama first made a pit stop at St. Mary’s Islands before taking off to Calicut. It is believed that he placed a cross and christened it ‘O Padrao de Santa Maria’ for Mother Mary. Therefore, indicating the origin of the name – St. Mary’s Islands.
This array of hexagonally shaped islands and basaltic columns have been formed as a result of eons of volcanic activities. It is because of these ‘columnar joints’ or ‘laminar lava’ that it is listed as one of National Geological Monuments.
Famous in geological circles and among locals living near Malpe and Udupi, the St. Mary’s Islands are a relatively lesser-known holiday destination perfect for a day trip with some friends if you are near the Malpe beach. The islands are full of hexagonal linear columns stacked together. Millions of years ago the molten lava of basaltic rock overflowed and the rapid cooling resulted in unique polygonal shapes of vertical columns at the island.
Although the island couldn’t have been more than a 100 meters wide, the sea appears lost behind a seemingly impenetrable screen of vegetation. The ocean shore lies jagged with giant rocks on all sides. This is probably the main reason why the island is still intact and has not yet been eroded by seawater. According to scientific records, rock formations found in St. Mary’s Island match the rock formations at Madagascar in Africa. Theory suggests that Madagascar was once attached to India some million years ago but it drifted apart about 88 million years ago because of sub-volcanic activity.
The only way to get to St. Mary’s Islands is by taking a ferry from Malpe Beach, 6.5 km away. The beach also plays host to numerous water sports and activities such as Parasailing, Surfing, Banana Boat Rides, Jet Skiing, Speed Boat Rides etc. to satisfy your thirst for adventure.
Between rock and wave, the breath and wonders of mother nature leave you feeling intoxicated.
A Rustic-Luxe Homestay Near Malpe Beach
Snuggled on the fringe of a private river island in Udupi, SaffronStays Suvarna Sangam is a quaint paradise for those seeking a holiday off the charted routes. Lost behind a seemingly impenetrable screen of vegetation, this 3-bedroom pet-friendly waterfront villa is perfect for a romantic getaway.
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