Gokarna is a temple town in North Karnataka. There are several small secluded beaches in and around Gokarna, which makes it a nice getaway from the city. Visitors come to Gokarna for both pilgrimage, and recreation. If Goa is too far or expensive, then Gokarna is the next best option to experience the sun, sand, and sea without buring a hole in your pocket. The facilities in Gokarna may not be anywhere close to that of Goa, but the place has its own old world charm. Whether you are laid back, frivolous or devoted, Gokarna has something for you. The auxiliary beaches of Gokarna are clearly separated from the temples, although one can find plenty of beach bums hanging around in the main town. This makes for interesting strolls in the evenings. You can trek through hillocks to go from one beach to another, or take a motor boat to beach-hop faster. The trek route is good for the mildly adventurous and definitely devoid of local tourists. I love clean, pristine beaches so naturally I love Gokarna. The beaches and the town have plenty of photo opportunities. In the town, the locals have adapted to the presence of both the worshipful and the wanderers. It is not uncommon to see a priest, cow, and backpacker walking on the same side of the road towards the beach. This travelogue captures my visual and mental imagery of Gokarna, along with basic information about the place. Let’s get started with the mundane first, because I want to be search-engine friendly and all that.
Places to see
Apart from the main beach at Gokarna, the following beaches are popular chill-out zones:
- Om Beach (connected to Gokarna by road)
- Half moon beach (connected to Om beach via a hiking path)
- Paradise beach (connected to Gokarna by road)
- Kudle beach (connected to Gokarna by road, but you still need to walk down to get to the beach)
All beaches are connected by ferry, which is an inexpensive mode of transport if you are in a large group. There are numerous temples in Gokarna. The following are the popular ones:
- Mahabaleshwar Temple
- Maha Ganapathi
- Koti Tirtha
- Rama temple (which has a freshwater spring, popular among locals for clean drinking water)
According to the book, “The Ramayana of Valmiki,” Vol 5, Hanuman was born in Gokarna. But there are two places in the world named Gokarna, and the other one is in the Himalayas. So except for an arbitrary board on the way to Kudle beach, there is no conclusive evidence that Hanuman was born in Southern India. Nevertheless, you can play along with the myth and imagine the vast landscape around to be the monkey-god’s childhood playground. Gokarna is also a place where pious Hindus perform the last rites of departed ones (muktistal). It is not uncommon for families to be hounded by local priests offering a ‘last rites package’. In Hindu custom, the last rites of a dead person typically goes on for 13 days, of which the 10th day and 13th day is considered auspicious.