We arrived at Gokarna Road station around noon, walked to the main road and took a ‘tempo’ to Om Beach.
Near the train station…
Near the train station…
The gang had fairly good plans to spend the four days in Gokarna and there was plenty of moving around to do. But I had decided to take it as a more relaxed weekend, doing nothing much but wander around the beaches.
Arriving at Namaste
We arrived on Saturday morning and checked into the beach side accommodation at Namaste . Namaste resort is built right next to the famous Om Beach and it is a pleasure to sit on the restaurant which is right next to the sands. But the first thing that stuck me when we reached there was that it was an illegal construction built right on the beach. There are many such structures in Gokarna.
Vista of Om beach
We spent the first evening relaxing, walking around and exploring the beach. Like I do often these days, I left my camera behind and spent time watching the waves hit the rock. It was a pleasant evening spent till the hours of sunset, sitting on the rocks that were lashed by waves.
Rocks of Om Beach
A section of Om Beach
Most of the group left for Yana next morning but three of us stayed behind. We started the day late, but an overcast sky meant it did not matter what time of the day is it. We walked northwards to Gokarna town, along the sea shore passing through beautiful rocky shoreline. The seashore around Gokarna is covered with porous chocolate brown rocks inhabited crabs that make a quick run to nearest hiding on sighting anyone approaching. There was a lone fisherman with a long thread, the only human anywhere around us. He had not caught anything since morning, and it did not look like he was too bothered about it. We had lost our way while sticking to the shore and and after consulting the fisherman and some minor rock climbing later, we were back on the bridle path to Gokarna. But we were glad to move off the track, or we would have missed that beautiful rocky shoreline completely.
Rocky shoreline north of Om Beach
Walking along the shore, north of Om Beach
The lone fisherman
The path took us through Kudle beach, which is dirty, full of garbage and many seaside tourist accommodation. An otherwise pretty beach was now in a completely avoidable state. Another fifteen minutes of walk over the hill took us to Gokarna town, where we encountered a couple of temples and narrow streets.
A Woman of Halakki Tribe, She was all smiles
Gokarana is a temple town and a pilgrimage center with a well known temple of Shiva in the name of Mahabaleshwara. Our entry to the town happened through a narrow lane which is very typical of the towns in coastal Karnataka. The structures of the town have a distinct boundary, beyond which is an open space. The first thing we encountered in the town was a Ganapathi temple. The first sights of the town included a few priests walking around and Hallakki tribeswomen selling flowers(big, beautiful hibiscus) and other things of worship. We walked past them and headed towards a lane that was makred ‘to the beach’. Before we hit the beach, we encountered a restaurant which reminded that it was already beyond lunchtime.
Walking along the Gokarna Beach..
A long and lazy lunch meant we spend almost two hours killing time in the restaurant, till it was evening and a good time to hit the beach. And Gokarna beach turned out to be the best of all beaches, with fine sand, wide beach front which was many kilometers long, lasting as long as we could see. We took a lazy walk along the beach, made a failed attempt to play cricket with children for whom we were unwelcome guests, and eventually settled down somewhere till the hour of sunset. It was a pleasant and quiet evening at the beach.
Kids @ Gokarna Beach..
A girl @ Gokarna Beach..
It was dark when we walked back to Namaste and the gang that had gone to Yana had still not arrived. We had our dinner while waiting for them to come in, and hear their stories. They sure had a good trip and a good time as much as we did.
The centre of Om Beach
The next morning, everyone headed to Gokarna and rest of us again made other plans. We stayed back and walked around Om Beach in the morning hours. As the Sun climbed higher, a friend and I took a bike and started a two hour ride to Sirsi in pouring rains.
Though I am familiar with the landscapes of coastal Karnataka and the Sahayadris, had never ridden on these roads. It was a pleasure to ride on the open roads, and the rains added a lot of fun to it. As we entered the thick forests of Sahyadri, it started becoming cooler and pleasant and the rains also stopped. Two hours and three stops for tender coconut, chai and lunch, we reached Sirsi and settled down there for rest of the day. A hot bath, awesome weather and intermittent rains kept us in great mood. I took a bus from Sirsi back to Bangalore the same night, ending the three day journey along the beaches and hills.
Rest of the gang stayed back at Gokarna for another day and made it back to Bangalore the morning after.
Gokarna has been a temple town and well known pilgrimage center in the south for a long time, known for it’s temple of Shiva in the name of Mahabaleshwara. But in the last one decade, influx of foreign tourist looking for less explored destinations outside Goa has made Goakarna’s beaches famous. There are five well known beaches – Gokarna beach, Kudle, Om, Half moon and paradise beaches, ordered from North to South. Of the first three I have seen, Om is the most well known one but I personally found Gokarna beach more appealing. What really impressed me are not the beaches but the colourful rocky seashore north of Om Beach. One of the well known activities in Gokarna is to walk along these beaches in the night. But you also see many signs all over the place saying that walking in the night is dangerous. It is probably safe as long as you are not alone.
Gokarna is connected by single KSRTC bus and a couple of private buses from Bangalore. If you can’t find a place in that, consider travelling to any of the nearby towns – Karwar or Kumta and then change over to a bus to Gokarna. It is a long drive from Bangalore if you want to take the car(May be 500kms). You can choose one of the following routes:
1. Take NH4 to Tumkur, turn left and take NH206 for next 300kms till Honnavar. Then
take NH17 north and pass through Kumta town. You need to turn left after driving for 30 minutes from Kumta. You may not find any signs, so keep asking for directions beyond Kumta.
2. Take NH4 out of Bangalore and drive all the way to Hubli(400kms). Take Hubli-Ankola highway from Hubli till you hit NH17(approx 140km). Take NH17 towards south and ask for directions to Gokaran, which is a right turn from NH17.
There is a train station station 12km from Gokarna, called Gokarna Road Station. This is on the Konkan railway line between Mangalore and Goa; there are no direct trains from Bangalore.
Namaste on Om beach is the most well known accommodation for budget travellers. Kudle beach also has some acco, but nothing worth a mention. If you are on a pilgrimage, you can stay at budget hotels in the town.