Category : India
Gokarna, which started emerging as a tourist destination a decade ago, is on the bucket list of every traveler. Well, it deserves to be! One thing I can certainly assure of Gokarna is that it’s not a place where you go for 2 or 3 days to cover all major attractions. You need to at least spend a week to soak the tranquility of Gokarna.
Gokarna is not a place, it’s a vibe!
However, for some of us, time doesn’t allow us to travel for more than a weekend. So, this itinerary is for people like you who wish to make the most out of Gokarna in 3 days.
A little disclaimer – The day I arrived was Maha Shivaratri and upon reaching there we found out that Shivaratri is celebrated with such great enthusiasm in Gokarna. As a result, I spent half of my day being a part of the procession. I was skeptical to even write an article on this since not everyone will travel during this time. But because I have a lot other things which I can help people with, I will go for it. And, like always I can give you alternate ideas of exploration. 😀
DAY 1 – SHIVARATRI FESTIVAL/MAHABALESHWARA TEMPLE, YOGA, SUNSET AT KUDLE BEACH
Upon reaching Gokarna, I realized this coastal town is all about Lord Shiva and unspoiled beaches. Gokarna is in fact a temple town with a religious significance. Hence, Maha Shivaratri – festival in the honour of Lord Shiva – is celebrated with such eagerness and love.
The procession started at 12:30 in Gokarna city. Shivaratri is celebrated for many days, and it’s a peak time in Gokarna. However, I reached on the day of the parade which took place after 4-5 days of Maha Shivaratri.
A beautiful chariot is built by the locals and is stood in the middle of the city.
Avoid the parade if you’re not a fan of pushy crowd. I’m not that patient myself, but everything appeared to be so bright and colorful, I decided to stay for few hours.
The Brahmans sit inside the chariot, and the locals throw bananas at them through the window. That’s what we did too! If the bananas make their way through the window (which is hard btw), the Brahmans throw it back at the public.
I have another great option for the ones not traveling during this time. Head to the famous Mahabaleshwara Temple – the most essential part of Gokarna. Facing the Arabian Sea, this temple is built in classical Dravadian architecture.
Why is it so famous? It is said that the great evil king of Lanka, Ravana (from the epic – Ramayana) carried the Shiva Ling from Mount Kailash in the Himalayas and placed it here, at Mahabaleshwara Temple, Gokarna.
That is the major reason why tourists or devotees started coming to Gokarna in the first place, and with time it became a not-so-popular tourist destination.
I was staying at Namaste Yoga Farm, which is famous for its yoga and breakfast, and its peaceful environment. If you are in Gokarna, you must try yoga. You can take up a yoga course, do it in groups at various resorts or alone at a beach.
I am not someone who could think of doing yoga as I could never imagine myself to keep shut for an hour and focus on one thing. Quite unlike my personality. 😛 But the #GokarnaVibes made me try it. I did yoga for the first time, and it was the first time in my life I met my solitude.
The next stop was Kudle beach which is 5 minutes walking from Namaste Yoga Farm. Gokarna is a small town. Nothing is far off. We sat at Little Paradise Inn, a shack at Kudle beach, at around 5 pm and left at 8. One, because the service was too slow, but the food was delicious af. Two, we could not have missed such stunning sunset. It was by far the best sunset I’ve ever seen. I could literally see sun falling down the horizon. The colors of the sky were beyond words!!!
DAY 2 – YOGA, BEACH TREKKING – KUDLE BEACH TO OM BEACH TO HALF MOON BEACH
Start the day with rejuvenating your soul. Get out of your selfish head, and say hello to the present.
We had our breakfast, took shower and left our accommodation to enjoy a peaceful day at the beach.
Gokarna is situated between the hills and Western Ghats on one side and the beaches i.e. the Arabian Sea on the other. In order to reach the beaches, you literally have to trek through the hills.
The trek starts from Kudle beach – a nice, clean, not so crowded beach. It has pleasant views of the ocean, and has the perfect waves for swimming. There are a lot of shacks here for munchies or beer.
Trek up the hill from Kudle beach to Om beach – one of the most popular beaches in Gokarna. This beach has comparatively less food options than Kudle. Yet, it is quite famous amongst the tourists as well as the locals.
Upon hearing so much about Namaste Café at Om beach, we stopped there to have lunch. The food is okayish, but the view is great! After eating, we took a ferry/boat to Half Moon beach. You can trek from Om beach to Half Moon beach, but we wanted to experience the boat ride as well. The best part about the boat ride is that you can spot dolphins on the way. They are quite far, but you can definitely spot them. The boats run at INR 250-300 per person.
Half Moon beach has only two shacks, so don’t go there with a purpose of eating or drinking. It is quite small, more like a lagoon! My personal favorite in Gokarna. It’s average for a swim because of the rippling waves. I found it best for a sunbath. If you are looking for a hidden spot in Gokarna, Half Moon is the place to go!
I spent around 3-4 hours here, and for that reason, we couldn’t make it to the next beach, the Paradise beach, which is said to have no cafes at all. It is the most secluded beaches of all. You can trek up or take a boat. The boats run until maximum 6:30 pm, so make sure you plan your way back beforehand. You can find boats at every beach, and if in case you don’t, not to worry, there is always a way back through the trails.
After chilling for hours at Half Moon, we took a boat till Kudle, and had dinner at Le Pizzeria. The pizza here is delightful. 😀
DAY 3 – MASSAGE, EXPLORE A BEACH – PARADISE/NIRVANA BEACH
Again, this was my first time getting a massage, and that Russian lady broke my tailbone into pieces. Not literally but it felt like. I’d advise you to ask people around or check the internet for good massages in Gokarna else you will be in pain for days. However, a massage is a must. Not giving much thought to the pain, it was kind of soothing. Kind of!
It was our last day here and all we wanted to do is chill. So, we went to Little Paradise at Kudle again and sat there for good 6-7 hours. Haha! Now that I am typing it, I actually feel that’s a lot of time spent at a shack. 😛 What you can do is, explore Paradise beach or Nirvana beach. Sit there, relax, and do nothing. For once, just be, not do!
TIPS FOR TRAVELLING IN GOKARNA
1. There are only 3 ATMs in Gokarna and it’s rare that all three work. Sometimes not even one works. Most of the hotels, resorts and beach shacks do not accept cards. They only accept cash or charge 2-5% if you pay by card. Make sure you carry cash with you.
2. The only mode of transportation is auto or hiring a scooty/bike.
3. Alcohol is banned in Gokarna. However, beer is served at few shacks at the beach but they charge double the price.
4. If you are looking for parties and nightlife, don’t go to Gokarna. Gokarna is just like South Goa – people go there to enjoy its beauty and peacefulness.
SEARCH ACCOMMODATION IN GOKARNA
Looking for places to travel near Bangalore? Read about my trip to Coorg.
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