I decided to wind up this year (2009) with a quick trip to someplace unfamiliar and relaxing. Earnestly, I dug through the reliable “Outlook -Weekend breaks from Bangalore” and zeroed in on Gokarna, an exotic beach town.
This is my first trip to North Karnataka, I’ve heard so much about their musical dialect and delicacies, that I had to take the next step, and experience it.
Gokarna literally means cow’s ear, legend has it that Lord Shiva emerged from an ear of a cow.
There are no direct trains or flights operating from Bangalore to Gokarna. Fortunately, we have dime a dozen, government and private buses plying to Gokarna. It’s approximately 12 hours journey by bus. One can easily book cheap tickets online.
For those who aren’t comfy with the bus journey, there is a roundabout way to reach this place. Take a flight till Goa and then train from Goa till Gokarna. Of course, you can drive down or simply use a cab service. Or even better just pop in an avomin as I did and use the economical bus service to save time, money and energy.
Gokarna is the destination for ardent beach lovers. It has five popular beaches namely Gokarna (in the town), Kudle, Om, Paradise and Half Moon. Om beach is the most popular of them all.
This place is ridiculously inexpensive or it seems that way, especially for people coming from metropolitan cities. Food and accommodation, believe you me, is dirt-cheap on these beaches.
There are as many as 12 cafés on Om beach. Namaste Café is the most sought after café.
In other words, during the peak season, you will barely get to stay here. And none of these cafés allows advance booking. Accommodation is available in the form of shacks and huts. And the cost will range anywhere between 100 Rs and 600 Rs for 24 hours for shacks, huts are available for mere 50Rs. How cool is that? Of course, they are not as comfortable or hygienic as hotel rooms but who cares, for you are spending most of your time including nights on the beach.
I have loaded myself with calories enough for one entire year in a span of just three days. Now you know what my New Year resolution would be.
Food again is inexpensive and the variety includes Mexican, Israeli, Continental, Chinese, Indian and various other cuisines. I haven’t seen any dish costing more than 150 Rs. on the menu and they are delicious too. I wouldn’t mind visiting Gokarna again just to treat myself with the lip-smacking food it offers.
Cafes server only beer as consumption of hard liquor is prohibited. But I wonder if anyone follows it diligently.
Fresh fruit juices, Lassi, Soda, Mocktails are definitely available.
Smoking here is inevitable. People smoke all kinds of stuff, grass, chillum, smoke on fire and whatnot right under the nose of no smoking board.
I’ve seen waiters serving the customers while smoking and it is not considered offensive.
Gorkarna is by far the best beach holiday I’ve experienced. I literally lived on the beach day and night.
This place is buzzing with hippies coming from all over the world. In fact, I felt like a foreigner amidst all the hippies.
Kudle is the first beach you will see as you enter. Om beach is 25 min walk from Kudle. It will take you one entire day to trek all the four beaches.
FRUIT SELLERS ON KUDLE BEACH
And then you can ride a boat till paradise, beach, that is.
Smell of the sea, sound of the waves, Seagulls soaring high up against the sun studded sky, water sparkling like diamonds, beautiful view of the horizon, it does feels like a paradise.
The boat ride would cost anywhere between 50Rs and 150Rs whatever be the destination. It depends on the number of people boarding the boat.
Less number of people (around four people) = 150Rs per head
More people (around five to eight people) = 50Rs per head
Paradise beach is a very small and sequestered beach. It almost feels like a private beach.
There is just one café on this beach. We trekked from Paradise to Half Moon beach. To reach Half Moon beach we walked through the hot sand, trekked through the wet and cold boulders infested with crabs climbed up and down small hillocks for about 25mins.
Half Moon is also secluded but much bigger than Paradise. Like Paradise beach there is only one café on this beach on a small hillock overlooking the sea; the view of the beach from the café is extraordinary. This café is crowded with the trekkers, hippies and general populace downing bottles of chilled beer and yummy food.
Gokarna beach is in the town. Unlike the other beaches it doesn’t give the private beach feeling. It’s crowded with pilgrims taking sacred bath in the sea before visiting the famous Mahabaleshwar temple.
The temples, narrow roads, shops, architecture, everything about this town looks quaint and charming. People speak a very musical and soothing dialect of Kannada here and the best part is that they are very tourist- friendly. There are a lot of homestays around the Mahabaleshwar temple.
If you love temple you ought to add Muktinath to your list.
- Carry bathing suit
- Pair of flip-flops/slip-on
- Shoes for trekking
- Dark glasses
- A couple of Bedspreads will come in handy while relaxing on the beaches (you can buy them on the beach close to Namaste café also)
- Water bottle (optional)
If you love beaches read Sri Lanka in 7 days