Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Three days at the secluded beaches in Gokarna | My Gokarna Travelogue

Hey guys, how you all today? As I was pondering on what to post, I realized I didn't share my Gokarna trip with you all. For those who don't know me, I am from Goa. In July 2014 I shifted to Mangalore to pursue my further studies, so well, Mangalore was home for two years. Grabbing the first vacation I could, I headed to Gokarna. Well it wasn't really a vacation, more of a weekend getaway. But well, it was a much needed break from college.

I wasn't sure about the trip, neither was it an entirely planned affair. I was skeptical whether I was going alone or with a friend. I had read a lot about Gokarna, had my research in place, so I knew I could manage well without any bookings. A day prior to the trip I casually mentioned the trip to a friend and she seemed so excited, I couldn't help but ask her to tag along.

The very next day, we packed a little backpack and hopped on the train towards Karwar-Goa from Mangalore Central Railway Station. You can get to Gokarna via road or rail. The train drops you off at Gokarna Road, or you can take a bus from the nearest city (Mangalore, Bangalore, Hubli, Goa) to Gokarna Cross. You can also ride or drive down yourself. If you prefer flying, most airlines offer you flights to the nearest aiports - Dabolim Airport in Goa and Bajpe Airport in Mangalore. Just check for the flight schedule beforehand and do your bookings well in advance for good deals. We went by the Mangalore Goa passenger train. It took us around five hours to reach the Gokarna Road station and from there we hired an auto to drop us to a hotel nearest to all the beaches. I had read about Hotel Gokarna International, so mentioned it to the auto-driver and he gladly dropped us there and charged us Rs. 300/-

Thus began out three days at this pristine beach town in coastal Karnataka. The Western Coast of India houses some beautiful beaches. I am sure you are aware of the breathtakingly beautiful beaches in Kerala and Goa. Beaches in Karnataka are equally beautiful. 

Gokarna is a more laid-back and less-commercialised version of Goa. It attracts a crowd for a low-key, chilled-out beach holiday and not for full-scale parties. Gokarna is frequented by hippies and students from Bangalore and other neighboring cities. It is also a stop for travelers backpacking Western India since it was very economical.

Do not be fooled by the name Gokarna. Like Hampi, Gokarna has two parts. One is the pilgrim town buzzing with Indian tourists visiting the temples, and the second one is the one against the coast. The secluded beaches are a few kilometers away from the main temples and Gokarna Beach. If you are looking for a chilled out beach experience, avoid Gokarna Beach. 

Putting simply. there are many beaches worth visiting in Gokarna. Kudle Beach and Om Beach are two major beaches. There are several guesthouses and hotels nearby this beaches and they are perfect to spend your weekends at. Also, some water sports activities are available on Om Beach and Kudle Beach. Both the beaches are lined with beach shacks offering you ample options for food and drinks. There are also mini stalls selling gypsy clothing and accessories and a couple of tattoo studios operating from these beaches. Om Beach and Kudle Beach are similar to any beach in Goa. 

As you head towards Kudle beach, you cruise through some hills offering you a splendid view of the valley and beaches below. The valleys are lined with tall coconut palms and covered in lush green paddy fields. We just stopped by for some minutes to soak in the beautiful view before us. The auto drops you off at the end of Kudle Beach and you have to walk for a little over ten minutes to get to the beach. 

The Beaches are interconnected to each other. So if you are able enough to walk the distance you can walk along the shores or trek through the hills to reach the next beach. We inquired around hoping to find someone who'd be trekking, but unfortunately found none. We spoke to a lot of Indian tourists and foreign backpackers but most of them preferred taking an auto. So we skipped the treks and stuck to our original plan of auto-rides.

Om Beach is further along the coast from Kudle, and named for its shape in the form of Hindu religious symbol 'OM' as it is split by a rocky island. There is a downhill walk you need to take from the auto-drop point. The beach is divided into two parts for it's 'om' shape. Right at one end is Namaste Cafe, which is very close to the entrance. This was the place I spent the most time at. Breakfast with a view at Namaste Cafe should be added to the list of things-to-do-in-Gokarna. We had some exotic Spanish breakfast wand washed it down with hot filter coffee. The wiff of the delicious looking egg omelette mingling with the strong coffee aroma was enough to gear us up for another great day in Gokarna.

We then visited the much-hyped Gokarna beach. Most of my friends who had been to Gokarna didn't like their experience at the beach (they apparently though Gokarna has just one beach). After visiting Gokarna Beach I knew why! As the name suggests Gokarna Beach is at the edge of Gokarna village and is several kilometers long. It is very crowded and a mini-garbage dump. The sand is brackish with garbage and plastic lining every inch of it. Swimming may also be a challenge, since the water has an almost permanent dead fish smell. No wise person should dip their fit in this stinking black liquid!

Things got better again as we moved away from the village towards the more secluded parts of Gokarna. We went back towards Om Beach and from there headed to Paradise Beach and half Moon Beach via a small ferry boat. A quick tip, the ferry boats have no fixed price. It ranges anywhere from rs. 100/- a person to Rs 500/- per person. You just don't get fooled and end up paying extra. We finally managed to get on the boat for Rs 200/- each since the place wasn't very crowded.

Paradise Beach and Half Moon Beach are very secluded and one can reach there by walking over the headland from Om. Paradise Beach is located even further up, and is the most picturesque, as the name suggests. Half Moon Beach has derived it's name from the half-moon structure of the coast. It was clearly visible while cruising in the sea. Facilities at these beaches are limited with very few restaurants and guesthouses. Also we spotted dolphins at the Bay while in the cruise towards the lighthouse.

The three days spent at the tranquil beaches in Gokarna were indeed so memorable. If you want to just relax, walk on the shore, talk to people, sit on the rocks, listen to the waves hit the rocks, sit on the sand, sip on a drink, catch up on some reading, dip your feet in the water, may be go for a swim, collect shells, lie on the sand, watch the sun go down and watch the twinkling stars, Gokarna is the place to go. You can do nothing at all, and still feel amazing at a place like this.

Hope you liked reading my travelogue. Now go through the photo story. In case you want to go to Gokarna, and/or want more details, comment below and I shall answer all your queries. Also, follow my travel diaries on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Zomato and Snapchat @flexcia_dsouza


View on the way to Kudle Beach 

View on the way to Kudle Beach ... We just decided to stop by and soak in this

Small downhill trek to Kudle Beach from the drop point


Kudle Beach


Breakfast with a view




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