“Next weekend we are going to Gokarna!”, I said during the video calling session with mom.
‘Where’s that?’ she asked.
“I just know that there are beaches and it is in Northwest Karnataka”, I said.
2 days later, while I am in a meeting, I get some 5 calls in quick succession from my mom. Worried that it might be some kind of emergency, I call back. To my surprise and relief, my mom answered the phone super excitedly and she asked with full enthusiasm,
“Aren’t you guys going to Gokarna?’ “
Yes,” I said, “But why are you so excited?
“I googled about the place, It’s a very holy place, Ankita, It’s so good that you will be visiting
Gokarna is also called the Kashi of South”
I was in awe of her thought mechanism, forget the fact that it was called Kashi, I didn’t even know there was a temple in Gokarna. I realized how our priorities were so different!
This trip was special because we were getting a chance to meet our lost love – the beach. One of the many things that we miss about Mumbai! So we set out on a Friday night to make the most of our long weekend. We took one of the several buses which depart from Bangalore city at regular intervals.
Gokarna, popular Hindu pilgrimage destination which is around 500 km from Bangalore is also known for its breathtaking beaches. We reached Gokarna at around 7.30 in the morning. It wasn’t hot as it was January, We took a rickshaw from the bus station as there was no other option. It is either rickshaw or a long walk, which a lot of backpackers opt for. The rickshaw will only go until the particular point, from there it is climb down to the Kudle beach.
We chose Kudle since we had heard that Om Beach, the most popular beach, gets crowded during holidays. It paid off indeed! Inhabited by very few people (mostly foreigners), Kudle was just one of the most peaceful places I have ever visited!
One can find multiple shacks and resorts with basic accommodation facilities. Frankly, it doesn’t matter how lavish the room is as every room has the same view and all these shacks are in one line on the beach! We stayed at the ‘Sun-shine’ shack and those people know how to get you to enjoy the beach. The rooms are very basic, just a bulb, a fan and a washroom (in some cases). The idea is to get you to chill and not to sit inside a room. Every shack has its own restaurant. So you don’t even have to go in search of food.
Unlike Goa, Gokarna is a place to do ‘absolutely nothing’. For people who would feel incomplete without activities, you can go for a boat ride across all the 3 beaches on the coastline, indulge in water-sports (depending on the season), visit the temples in the area or just take a hike to the Om Beach. That is precisely what we did.
So we spent the entire day in front of the beach, drinking the salty tea, eating some great food and having long conversations with locals and foreigners! The popularity of Gokarna amongst foreigners across the globe was very much visible. Many of them come and stay here for around 1-2 months. It was a nice feeling to see hippie families just hanging around, sun soaking, practicing yoga and what not! During lunch, we saw a cute 2-3-year-old little girl going up to every table in the shack and saying hello, while her parents looked at her making new friends. The family was from Argentina. The entire scene just made me think about the cultural difference between them and us. Indian parents will never allow their kids to leave the table, forget going to strangers and saying hello.
Next day was our trek to Om beach. It is a 45-minute walk across a small hill. The beach accompanied us throughout the pleasant walk. As we expected, Om beach was overcrowded with localities. The minute we reached there, we saw the stark difference between Indian and foreign travelers. We think of the place we are visiting as our own private property and abuse the place and how! Not to insult Indians but this is what we experienced. Om beach was ‘decorated’ with plastic waste, beer bottles, etc.and people stared or rather leched at foreigners in all glory. Sadly these things overshadowed the beauty of the amazing beach. We didn’t even feel like taking a walk on the beach and ended up going to Namaste Cafe, the most famous cafe on the beach. After spending some time there we returned to Kudle to witness a spectacular sunset!
The night brought wonderful surprises, we saw a group of street artists performing balancing acts on a slackline, juggling and playing some amazing music! Post dinner, we just sat near the beach listening to a group of guys playing some nice country music.
Next day we did nothing and the day after that it was time for us to leave for home and do things for a living. So with shoes full of sand and without visiting the famous temples, we bid adieu to Gokarna. And yes it was tough for me to explain it to mom.
Your Guide :
Stay – Sunshine shack, Kudle beach (Rs. 500 – 1000 per room per day) multiple shacks with local seafood options, less options for vegetarians
Go to – Om beach, another extension with a good view, explore new beaches and most importantly the famous “shiva temple”.There are multiple small treks and beach extensions that one can visit but because of the paucity of time, we couldn’t do it all.