Jeremy Pimenta tells you why you should choose Gokarna over Goa and experience peace and calmness that its pristine beaches offer
If getting out of Mumbai is on your mind and a warm beach with cool blue waters sounds like the perfect escape, then let go of those passé Goa vacation ideas and abscond to Kudle Beach in Gokarna.
However, don’t think of this as the place where you can dance to club hits until midnight and ravage the streets later in your open-top Gypsy! Instead, choose to relax in the evenings with the sound of the waves washing ashore and wake up early and in time to clamber up the small neighbouring hillock and watch the sunrise. Kudle beach is not the main attraction at Gokarna, but the peace and calm here is something rare to us urban Indians and this makes it a truly serene experience. In Kudle, sometimes even thinking about moving can take up a lot of mental space — that’s the type of vacation you can expect here.
The road that leads to Kudle is a winding path which gives you a panoramic view of the beach below. As you near it, you will feel the cool sea breeze and the smell of the ocean in the air taking over. Soon you will reach a point where the road ends for your vehicle and you have to trek down a narrow footpath to reach the beach. Navigating these rocky paths can be tricky, but it’s an experience on its own.
Once on the clean white sands of Kudle, you can book a room at any of the beach facing shacks at a reasonable price of `400 per night. The rooms have basic amenities such as a bed and bathroom. But, make sure you get a mosquito net along with the room.
What to do there?
See: Make sure you head to the pristine blue beaches of Kudle, Half Moon, Paradise and Om beach for its shoreline. Mahabaleshwara temple and Main Street are a must visit. Gokarna offers some stunning panoramic views for you to capture and hone your photography skills. The place is also pretty romantic and so it makes for the perfect weekend getaway for a couple.
Do: You can swim, trek, go for a yoga session, get an authentic Kerela ayurvedic massage or just chat with some hippies. While there is a lot to do here, but we kind of recommend not doing anything at all!
Eat: Beach shacks are popular here and serve extensive Continental and Mediterranean cuisine besides the regular Indian dishes. Israeli cuisine is also popular. All food can be downed with a glass of chilled beer.
Buy: You can pick religious items, psychedelic t-shirts, trance music CDs and cotton pois, if you spin fire.
A drive away: If you’re up for a road trip then pack your bags as Goa, Hampi, Mysore and Karwar are just about a few hours drive away from Gokarna beach. Karwar is the closest as it just 55km away.
Driving: 12 hours, 715kms approx. Mumbai-Goa road NH17.
Bus: Any bus going to Mangalore will stop at Gokarna.
Train: Matsyagandha Express starting from Kurla terminus.
Best time to visit
Anytime from January to May or between November to January.
Gokarna is a religious center for many devout Hindus. Known as the temple town it is also home to the famous Mahabaleshwara temple that houses the ‘Atmalinga’ of Lord Shiva. Gokarana is a very popular destination for hippies and expatriates and their accented ‘Namaste’ will greet you everywhere. There are two main streets in Gokarana and they are flanked by traditional clay-tiled houses on both sides with numerous colourful shops.