With Diwali vacations just around the corner, my friends and I decided not to let this vacation go to waste and embark on a trip we would remember for the rest of our lives. After a lot of thinking, we decided to ditch the overcrowded and dirty beaches of Goa and head a few hundred kilometres down South to Gokarna in Karnataka. We had heard about the beautiful and secluded beaches in Gokarna and were stoked to explore them!
We decided to take a train from Mumbai, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus to Gokarna Road Station, which is the nearest station to Gokarna. Matsyagandha Express runs from CSMT to Mangalore and stops at Gokarna Road Station. The train was supposed to leave from CSMT at 3:20 PM but got delayed by 40 minutes due to some reason. The train takes about 12 hours to reach. We reached Gokarna at 5 AM. After an exhausting train journey, we checked into our hostel, which was right by the Gokarna Main beach. I remember my first sight of the town - bright and green, the fresh air pulling the exhaustion right out of me!
I was utterly taken by surprise by the beauty of the beach. The soothing sound of the waves crashing onto the shore and not a person insight made us feel like we were in heaven! The beaches were as clean as they could be! We took a long walk on the beach and experienced an epic sunrise. I will cherish the memory of that sunrise forever! We checked into Trippr - The Backpackers Hostel, a beautiful property right by the beach and had a scrumptious breakfast at the property’s cafe. The dosa there was the best I ever had! Mirjan fort and Yana caves were on our bucket list for our first day, so we rented a car to make going about town easy. Pro tip - Prioritise renting a bike or a car as travelling around town on foot or by rickshaw can be very tedious. Most of the properties in Gokarna will assist you with bike or car rentals.
Beach hopping is one of the main reasons why tourists visit Gokarna. The town has five beaches, and each one has a unique vibe. Lined with beach shacks and cafes, one can never-not splurge on delicious seafood when visiting these beaches. Om beach, Half-moon beach, Paradise beach, and Kudle beach, we did them all! The beaches require quite a bit of trekking to get to, and we were exhausted by the end of the day. We had lunch at Mantra Cafe by Half moon beach. Seafood at Gokarna is a must! We had Prawns Fried Rice, Calamari, and Fish Thali.
The Gokarna Main market is very unique and has various shops selling clothes, toys, instruments, books, jewelry and many more. The market has graffiti and art all around. We shopped around and clicked a few pictures, interacted with the locals and they had the most amazing stories to tell! It was very peaceful to watch kids playing, the fishermen going about their business and families having a good time by the beach.
Gokarna is primarily a pilgrimage place for Hindus and has over 60 temples. The most popular of them being the Mahabaleshwar Temple, Maha Ganpati Temple and Sri Bhadrakali Temple. The temples here have strict dress codes. You aren’t allowed in the temple if you are not wearing traditional attire. Long Kurta or Sari for women and the men are required to take their shirt off when in the temple. The temples usually have long queues, but the waiting in line is absolutely worth it. It feels peaceful to be inside the temples and the ambience there is very calming.
We took a short trek to watch a sunset at a hilltop near Gokarna beach, and after trekking for 45 minutes, we reached the top. The view from the top was great, overlooking the entire main beach and looked beautiful.
It's best to visit Gokarna during autumn or winter to enjoy your vacation to the fullest.
Always carry enough cash when here as the town has just a couple of ATM and is sometimes some of them are non-functional.
Google maps can sometimes be a hit or a miss. Asking the locals for directions is advisable.
Sunscreen is extremely necessary when at the beach.