Each place has its own charm and although I don’t compare one place to another, I couldn’t help but notice how similar Gokarna is to Goa, and yet how different it is. Gokarna trip was a quick weekend getaway to beat the heat and experience the new Zostel backpackers’ hostel.
Gokarna has a vast expanse of sandy shores and azure waters, but with fewer travelers. This rustic, predominantly a temple town, is slowly joining the league and is now a popular destination. Gokarna is famous for the Gokarna Mahabaleshwar Shiva temple with a huge influx of devotees almost round the year, and especially more during the major festivals. Unlike Goa, Gokarna is a place of contrasts.
Often, as you hear the temple bells ring in a distance, a traveler, satisfied with the sun tan, sporting a saffron kurta-pajama with Om Namah Shivay printed all over, and Rudraksha beads around wrist or neck or both, often with interesting dreadlocks, walks past in reverie. Another young traveler practices graceful Yoga postures with ease, on the sandy shores. It is a place where, as some party, a few others seek solitude and inner peace, coexisting with one another.
We had traveled overnight by bus from Bangalore to Gokarna & checked into Zostel – our beachfront stay at Kudle Beach road. The Gokarna beach (also called the main beach) was the closest from there. So after having a sumptuous breakfast, we donned our sunglasses, daubed the sunscreen and headed for some sun and sand.
I walked idly on the long sandy shore that was sparsely crowded, letting the cool waves and the salty sea breeze pamper me. We met a local who suggested a boat ride to us. He added we could go beach hopping and catch glimpse of dolphins. Although some travelers have claimed to spot the dolphins and the fact they are found in the Arabian coastline, I was still skeptical. To avoid any disappointment, we decided against it & politely refused the boatman.
We visited the local market that was buzzing with people and bright shops selling souvenirs, clothes, bags, accessories, hats, etc. Sounds of Temple bells and people chattering, the fragrance of aromatic flowers & incense filled the tiny lanes. Later that evening, we strolled on the Kudle beach and saw more travelers; some practicing yoga and acrobatics. I relaxed in the water and stayed there until the stunning ball of fire took a dip in the sea, leaving orange and pink hues in the sky behind.
The following day we trekked to Om beach and on my friend’s recommendation visited the Namaste Café. This vividly decorated café cum shack is carved out of a rock and has good food with a great view.
We didn’t have enough time to explore Half moon and Paradise beach, so we decided to laze around on Om beach. We spent the remaining day in the relaxed vibes of Namaste café enjoying some great food & drinks, musing and overlooking the waves crash against the sandy shores and rising again from far away at the horizon.