A travelogue by Siddarth Dudheria
“Life is a road less traveled, to the beaches and the mountains, where the waves hit the shores and the stars light up the beach, and where the unsettling pace of city life comes to a halting screech”
“Gokarna”– To translate, that would mean go and do it and that is what it exactly means. Carved from mountains and cut by rivers, it is probably one of the most beautiful places on earth that can boast of two of earths’ most magnificent creations – mountains and water.
Nestled between the Western Ghats and the Arabian Sea, Gokarna is a must visit place, both for short trips and really long ones. Here are the 4 reasons to visit Gokarna – The land of unspoiled beaches:
If Bangalore Traffic is a nightmare for drivers, the drive from Neelamangala to Hassan via Tumkur toll gate is like a dream. The roads have improved remarkably. As you get away from Bangalore, the hustle, bustle and pollution gives way to serene countryside, dotted with trees and small hills. The drive will lead you through Sakleshpur (a remarkable place in itself) and then onto the Ghat sections of Mangalore. Sharp turns, hairpin bends, the odd langoor and many vehicles, all a part of the drive. The drive to Mangalore also takes you through several bridges across rivers that pour their heart out into the Arabian Sea.
- Leave Bangalore early in the day and not post 5 pm. The traffic will add at least a couple of hours to your schedule
- Sakleshpur is the last good spot before the Ghat section begins. The road to Hassan is a breeze while the remainder of the stretch is a single lane nightmare
- Stop at Skaleshpur and grab the last bite before the 2.30 hour ghat section. To spice it up a bit, try the section at the night!
If Goa is known for its “party till you drop” beaches, Gokarna is definitely for those who are seeking calmer pastures. The beaches in Gokarna are not easily accessible though. What they lack in party is more than compensated by the views. The beaches are like hidden treasures, protected by the mountains. The three major beaches in Gokarna are Om, Paradise and Half moon. The main Gokarna beach is not in the list because, quite frankly, it is incredibly crowded, partly because it is located near the temple and also because many “tourists” frequent it. Having said that, there is a beautiful trail from the Gokarna beach that leads to the Kudle beach. Kudle beach has the best of both worlds, sandy beach combined with a couple of decent options to eat and drink. Two turns away (through the open sea) lie the Om Beach, paradise and half moon beaches. These are pristine, clear and more importantly less crowded (except for Om Beach, which is synonymous with Gokarna)
Om beach is the most famous of the lot, for some unique reasons. The beach looks like the Hindi word Om when viewed from a distance towards the sky. The beach is rocky and has the famous Namaste cafe alongside. Not to miss them, there were cows on the beach, which was a first for me. (Have you seen cows at a beach?)
- Ganga cafe is a decent place to eat at the Kudle Beach. Do try the refreshing hot ginger lemon honey tea sans the tea
- Walk to the view point adjacent to the beach to get some magnificent views
- A night walk to Om is not recommended because of safety issues. Drive to the beach in the night and spend some time at the beach under the stars
- Try some “fishy” stuff at the Namaste cafe. The catch is fresh and moderately priced as well
A STELLAR BOAT RIDE
Well, a visit to the beach(es) is incomplete without a fast paced boat ride. I’ve never been a fan of the wishy washy cruise ships that take you through the sea, all mollycoddled with no adventure. Kudle beach had the most amazing setting for a fast paced boat ride. The ride covers Om beach, Paradise and Half moon beaches, leaving you with a view of the Aghanashini River and the beaches on the Kumta side. The beaches on the Kumta side are deserving of a few days themselves. After some heavy turning and churning on the sea, the boat man stopped dead in the middle of the sea and yelled “Dolphins”. I was surprised! This trip was getting better. I turned to catch a fin here and a tail there. When the engine stopped, all I could hear was the sweet sound of waves crashing against the boat. I wish could have recorded the sound and played it every time, every single time.
Take the boat ride to:
- Watch the beaches from a brilliant vantage point
- Chance to see the amazing dolphins
- Chance to hear just the waves and look at the endless sea from between it.
MARVANTHE AND MURDESHWAR – THE CUSP OF SPIRITUALITY AND BEAUTY
Maravanthe and Murdeshwar, the renowned temple villages, lie to the south of Gokarna, en route from Mangalore. Maravanthe is a sandy beach that is not wide but a long strip of white sand. Maravanthe begins at the very spot where the road from Mangalore meets the coast. Not many people stop there because so called ‘better’ spots await them but they couldn’t be farther away from the truth. Maravanthe is an incredible spot to stop and soak in the first instance of the sea. The sea teases you all along, from Mangalore but Maravanthe is where the tease ends and the sea says hello, in all its glory. Stop there for a brief tete-a-tete with the beach and also some coconut water.
Murdeshwar is a well-known spot on the way to Gokarna and Goa. What I did not know about it was that its beaches are probably the cleanest in the country
- Walk to the world’s largest Shiva statue and marvel at its craftsmanship
- Inhale the sweet sea breeze and the amazing views from the viewpoint
- Eat at the Naveen beach restaurant, which is quite literally on the sea
Now stop reading and start planning your trip to Gokarna. Use the comments section to find out some more interesting secrets about Gokarna 🙂