It was a pretty good distraction for me. With excel sheets open on one window & holidify website on other, I read about Gokarna and gathered as much information as I could. I was hooked. So after convincing my parents a lot, my journey finally took off on a Friday afternoon. We boarded Matsyagandha Express from Thane station (Mumbai – Maharashtra) at around 4pm in the afternoon (it takes 12 odd hours to reach Gokarna from Mumbai). The journey was pleasant and you get ample time to relax before starting your day. We reached Gokarna at around 4 in the morning. The look and feel of Gokarna station itself is a relief to sore eyes used to the unending rush of Mumbai. It comes across as a quaint, unexplored part of India. The gentle breeze, greenery, mountains make you forget the hustle & bustle of the city.
The 1 KM walk from the Gokarna station to highway (at 5 in the morning) with dawning sun is serene and soothes your mind. From the station to Gokarna Town you can choose to travel by Autorickshaw, taxi or bus. Their charges being Rs.150, Rs.200 & Rs.16 (per head) respectively. Gokarna is a compound sanskrit word consisting of GO which means cow, and KARNA which means ear (Thus Gokarna translates to Cow’s Ear). It is a small village in Karnataka famous for its beaches and a perfect place for marine life sighting. The town consists of mostly lodges and a few hotels. It is advisable to find a lodge in town. One should pay Rs.700 (upper limit) for accommodation as mostly one would be out exploring the town and will use the room only to sleep, at least this is what I did.
Day 1 in Gokarna: Of Temples, Beaches and Seafood
Being a part of Karnataka you will mostly find South Indian Cuisine; idli, wada sambhar, dosa to name a few. The food here is exceptionally cheap. I still remember ordering Aloo Pakoda, Dosa, Idli (a plate each) & 2 cups of tea, the total amounted to only Rs.59. So my Day 1 began with a dip in the sea on Om beach. The beach is around 6 km from Gokarna town along a muddy hill and is accessible by rickshaw (Rs.150) or on foot. This is less crowded with a couple of shacks around. The possibility of getting an accommodation here is rare. One could also take a ride on boat paying Rs.200 per person, which takes you to Kudlay & Gokarna beach.
From Om beach we headed to Lord Shiva’s temple in Gokarna famously known as Mahabaleshwar Temple. There is also a Ganesh Temple around 20 steps away from Mahabaleshwar Temple. The locals tell us that one should visit Ganesh Temple before visiting The Shiva Temple or else one’s prayers won’t be answered. After this we had lunch in a local restaurant. We ordered South Indian thali as the options are limited. The evening and night was spent strolling along the Kudlay beach. One thing this place has in abundance is Bangda fish (Mackerel). So the dinner consisted of a plate of rice, bangda currey, subzi and bangda fry costing Rs.80.
Shiva Temple in Gokarna
Day 2 in Gokarna: Beaches, Scooty and Shopping
Day 2 was spent mostly on the beach side. We hired a scooty which is available at Rs. 250 to 350 (you will have to bargain). I took a short trip to Gokarna beach, it is the most famous out of all the beaches, extremely crowded and perhaps the dirtiest amongst all. It is used as a public toilet by many visitors & local people. Swimming here is a challenge, since the water has an almost permanent dead fish smell. Taking a tour on this beach is not recommended.
In the middle of the town lies a small street market. Bargaining calls and enthusiastic shoppers greet you as you enter this bustling street. The street market in town is close to the temples and the main bus stand. Lined with small colorful shops, the street has its own charm. Metal ornaments, beads, brass lamps, shell jewellery are some of the things that may catch your eye. The market in Gokarna calls for exceptional bargaining skills. With innumerable small shops huddled together, you can easily walk away with a plethora of things at a surprising amount.
You should visit Gokarna if
- You love water
- You want to be in a place where you can hear your own footsteps at 3 in the afternoon
- You want to be away from the clamour of the city
- You don’t want to miss delicious Bangda (Mackerel fish) fry/curry
- You want to run away with a bunch of your friends but can’t decide on a destination till last minute
- You are little tight on budget but still want to head out
Gokarna Travel Guide
You can be here either for the weekends or have a week-long trip, come here with friends or family. It might be just another village in India but it has a lot to offer. From widows having a particular fashion of dressing to people having Mandir in their house the size of a temple. The place is not crowded and clean and the life here is slow and peaceful.