Gokarna is one of the very few coastal areas in India where one can witness a hill station-like ambience with its green valleys waving to the tune of a celestial orchestra with a resonance mimicking the waves of the nearby Arabian Sea
People who are obsessed with Goa but would like to avoid its ever increasing crowd can always venture to the pristine coast of Gokarna in Northern Karnataka. Though already established since the time of the Ramayana and Mahabharata as one of the most holy pilgrimage centres of Hinduism, with the main Mahabaleshwar Shiva Temple said to be housing the holy Atmalinga here, this place has become a favourite with the hippies not many moons back, primarily because of its topography which very much resembles the state of Goa, but with more serenity and less crowd.
Gokarna is one of the very few coastal areas in India where one can witness a hill station-like ambience with its green valleys waving to the tune of a celestial orchestra with a resonance mimicking the waves of the nearby Arabian Sea, and gradually giving way to its eternal depths with innumerable cliffs, coves and a divine serenity. It is now a favourite with most of the foreign tourists travelling to India for some sun, sand and sea. We will see today how much warmth and fun we can get from this very holy, beautiful and exotic place.
1. The most beautiful beach in Gokarna is the Om beach, without a shadow of doubt. The name has come from the shape of this place which resembles the sacred Hindu symbol (of Om) which one can gauge when this place is viewed from one of the cliffs nearby. Om beach has a Goa-like ambience with a large number of foreign tourists and undulating hills all around. From Om beach, one can also trek to the completely isolated beaches of Half-moon and Paradise nearby. These two small beaches can also be reached through local speed boats. Please be aware that both these beaches are thronged by nude foreign hippies and going there while inebriated with friends is not advisable and not permissible too. However, when undertaken, the trek to these places is sublime with some of the most breath-taking sceneries all around on the way. One must put on proper shoes while traversing because the terrain is rough and rugged here.
2. The second most popular beach in Gokarna is the Kudle beach. It is also the place which has a lot of lodging facilities scattered all around. The Om beach can be reached from this place easily and so too the main beach of this town, which is usually thronged by pilgrims. Kudle beach is a much laidback place with multiple cliffs all around to get a superb view of the unending waves of the Arabian Sea.
3. One of the best things about Gokarna is that, even outside this town, there are a plethora of places to explore at a comfortable distance with easy accessibility. Hence, not far away is situated the town of Murudeshwar with its towering Lord Shiva statue, the adjacent temple with its gigantic Gopura and just beside these, the beautiful Murudeshwar beach with all kinds of water sports for tourists to enjoy on its shores. Murudeshwar is a very important place for the devotees as the temple here is said to be built on the very place which is also associated with the Atmalinga legend of Lord Shiva.
4. Another sure shot place to explore from Gokarna is the iconic Jog Falls of Karnataka, situated at a distance of around two hours by road. The drive passes through a forest with multiple ravines and valleys thereby giving a chance to the travellers to cherish and capture ample wild-life there through human eyes as well as mechanical eyes (photography). Created by the River Sharavathi, Jog Falls is said to be the second highest plunge waterfall in India. The local tourism department has created a very sophisticated viewing station with multiple food outlets and sitting points to view the waterfall without any hassle.
5. Another place which the tourists will not give a miss while staying in the town of Gokarna, is the nearby town of Karwar which is around an hour’s drive. The main beach of Karwar is named after the poet laureate Rabindranath Tagore who was enthralled by its beauty when he visited there. The beach is also wide and long with miles and miles of sands and green with the waves of the Arabian Sea giving ample opportunities to the tourists to pursue peace and calm. Also, close to Karwar is Goa and people travelling to Gokarna generally come through Goa’s Dabolim Airport.