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SUN, SAND & SURF: TWO DAYS IN GOKARNA

The Gokarna trip had been pending for a while. There were about a dozen folks who were absolutely sure they wanted to go. And of course, as we approached the day of departure, quite a few backed out. Fever, work, sudden loss of interest : there were all kinds of explanations as usual. A predictable trend amongst people who are very enthusiastic to start off with! “Let’s go,” “Gokarna, I would love to go!” “Count me in!” Alas, when the time comes to actually pack up and go, it’s a handful who remain.

So it was eight of us who finally boarded the bus for the long 12 hour journey to Gokarna on Friday evening : Tony, Chris, Kavitha, Kripa, Anshul, Apra, Annette and yours truly. I’d been for treks and trips with all of them prior, except for Chris, who was a colleague of Tony’s.

The journey
We nearly missed the bus! Bangalore’s traffic and a slightly late start had us in a flutter as we made our way to Majestic. I had a small heart attack on the way. Since we had the tickets, there were a few frantic calls from the rest of the gang waiting patiently for us at the bus stop.
9 pm. Just in time!

A long journey. It’s Chris’ first long bus journey in India and he doesn’t sleep a wink. The rest of us manage to catch some shut eye.

Day 1: The arrival
Kudle BeachAt 8.30 am in the morning, we are deposited at Gokarna bus stop.

When we touch down at Gokarna, we are prepared for slightly bad weather. I had been bothering Arjun the prior week, asking him about the weather on the Western coast and kept getting the same answer, “gloomy and overcast”. Not a good sign.

A man, who was dressed in decidedly holy attire began to accost us almost immediately asking us if we wanted accommodation (cheap rooms, only 100 Rs). Ignoring him, we started to make our way to find some much needed nourishment.

It began raining just as we were digging into our hot idlis and dosas at a small place called Prema Restaurant on Gokarna beach. The town itself is filled with pilgrims and the beach is littered with plastic. Rather sad that people come for holy purposes and conveniently litter and dirty the beach without a second thought.

The owner of the restaurant tells us the way to get to Om beach. Feeling nourished and satisfied, we are off on our small hike.

Magically, the rain stops and the sun is out again. It looked like it was going to be a beautiful day. The road goes up and down and then we climb up a steep set of stairs through a temple near the beach. A few cows walk faster than us but they seem to have had a lot of practice!

The stairs take us to the top of a small hill and the track is through a green valley. A few minutes down the track and we come across a few friendly people who pointed in the general direction of Om beach.

Mistaken identity
Kudle BeachWe come to a clearing and from our point, we can see the beach stretching out in the distance. “That’s Om beach, see,” exclaims Apra enthusiastically. Another kilometer or so downhill and we descend into the first beach.

After some scouting around, we settle for a place called Sunset Café right on the water. It even boasts of a German Bakery but that only bakes goodies in winter, Tony finds out after a spot of investigation! They have a few shacks available. All they have on offer are very hard mattresses (good back therapy, I am told) : but we’re all prepared with sleeping bags.

A small scare
Sunset CafeLunch is a huge affair. The bus journey seems to have increased everyone’s appetites. The rain has stopped by now. Chris declares that he’s going swimming. He doesn’t realize how strong the currents are, when he loses control out in the sea and another guy on the beach called Tim notices him waving and brings him back to shore. It’s a rather scary experience as we get a first hand glimpse of the powerful currents. After that, we’re all careful about getting far into the water.

There’s hardly anyone around. A few foreigners : Belgians, Israelis, Germans, Australians : scattered here and there. But that’s about it. In the evening, we also realize that we are not in Om, but in Kudle beach.

Om sweet Om!
Om BeachAfter that faux pas, we decide to go find the real Om in the evening. At the end of Kudle beach is a narrow path leading up to the hills. We follow this path for a while until it comes to a clearing and an open space and we’re on top of a hill overlooking miles and miles of sea. From here, you get a nearly 180 degree view of the ocean : and what a beautiful sight it is : we drink in the view for a while and then descend into Om.

The beach has two main long rock strewn necks jutting out and is shaped like an Om : therefore the name. It is much rockier than Kudle beach and the water seems deeper. A few adventurous folks are in the water braving the current. A couple are sitting on the beach meditating. A rather long way to come to meditate, I think, but to each his own!

We walk along the length of the beach : it’s about a 15 minute walk and then watch the sunset. Except for fisherfolk who are busy trying to get their catch of the day, it’s rather quiet around Om.

Moonrise
MoonriseAs the sun sets, on the other side the moon makes an appearance. As if saying, hey, “look at me, I’m prettier.” And she sure is. We’re also nearing full moon night so we’re in for a treat. We sit at Namaste Café drinking in the beauty of the surroundings and the waters shining in the moonlight enjoying sinful delights like masala omlettes, French fries and hot chocolate. C’est la vie!

After that satisfying evening snack, in the moonlight, we trek back to Kudle beach. The weather is gorgeous and the views from the hill at night is magnificent. All you can see around you is the water and all you hear are the waves lapping against the sands.

Dinner is another long drawn affair as we bite into sizzlers, pizzas, prawn curry, pasta, hash browns (it’s amazing how much stuff these small places can serve up!) and other such culinary delights. Anshul decides to make the beer bottle his best friend and is rarely seen without one in his hands thereafter.

Day 2: Eating for two (or three!)
BreakfastNow I know, why it’s called breakfast. Not only did we break our fast, we also ate enough for a few other meals. Chocolate and honey pancakes, omlettes, scrambled eggs, hash browns, finger chips (did we really eat so much?!). Apparently, the ocean does something to the appetite.

After that, we trek back to Om beach. From there, we take another narrow road winding up. There are a few helpful arrows on the rocks. Soon we are walking through a small path that had been carved out of the hillside. On the left is the hill face and immediately to the right is a steep incline and all you can see below is the furious waters lashing against the rocks. One place I don’t want to land up in a hurry.

The view is brilliant to say the least. And a little scary out there on the side of the hill, especially if you’re scared of heights. But we couldn’t help but stop every few minutes to drink in all the beauty. Palm trees fringed the whole path and for miles and miles of blue-green ocean beckon, darkened only by shadows of passing clouds.

Full moon? No, it’s half moon!
Half MoonAnd then the stretches of sand in the distance : the coastline stretches before us like a lazy snake. We make our way down another narrow path, and then catch sight of the next beach – Half Moon. A really small beach, and it is absolutely deserted.

However, in a few minutes we get in the form of a dog, an old woman (who sold us water for 20 bucks per bottle) and 2 other adventurous souls. We decide not to venture further into Paradise beach, which the old woman tells us is another 5 kilometers away. We have the hike back so we decide to stay there and enjoy the cool waters for a while.

Lunch is back at Namaste again. Another 2 hour affair. I love these long indulgent lunches on holiday : pity we only have two days. I could have gotten used to this style of eating. Not good on the calorific front, but what bliss!

Adieu
Goodbye!After lunch, it is time to trudge back to Kudle again. A few more rounds of beer and snacks get consumed. After lazing around for a while, it is now time to leave Kudle and bid good bye to Sunset Café. Was it just yesterday when we arrived? All of us take some extra time to pack and say our final farewell.

We climb back up the hill just as the sun is setting and about 20 minutes later, we are back at the bus stop waiting for yet another bus to take us back home. These trips always seem to go by so fast. Gokarna definitely deserves more than two days. But beggars can’t be choosers as they say. At least we could steal away from the hustle bustle of life. In a few days it will become yet another precious memory tucked in some corner of my mind. But precious memories are what makes life so much more worthwhile. Meanwhile, I need to go hatch my next travel plan 🙂

Getting there: KSRTC buses go to Gokarna town from Bangalore. It is a 12 hour journey so be prepared. There are also trains that pass by Gokarna or another town close by. If you can plan in advance, this is a better way of traveling. From the town you can walk to Kudle beach or take an auto. If you want to head directly to Om, they ask for about 100 bucks. I’d recommend the walk!

Things to do: Walk around the beaches. Just going from one beach to another is an adventure! The hills are very close to the coastline so you get some gorgeous views. Eat. Drink. And generally be merry.

Place to stay: Hotels in Gokarna town. But if you want to stay on the beach, the accommodation is basic. Carry sleeping bags. You might get mattresses if you are lucky.

Eat: At any of the cafes on the beach.

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55 Comments

  1. ah, the wanderer takes off again :)no wonder you love being in Bangalore so much!
    (love the first pic with the deep gray sky)

  2. Wow ! Looks like truckloads of fun ! I’ve been dying to get to Om beach for years now… oh, if only a certain fun group of people would let me know the next time they plan such activities… *hint hint*

    :))

  3. When did you go to Karwar? I had been there abt 3 years back.. devbagh (small little island along that coast) to be precise..beautiful experience..

  4. charu: haha 🙂 that’s one of my favourites too!

    kavitha: yeah, definitely worth another visit. i think anshu and apra are already plotting their return trip!

    vig: certainly! you like travelling? i’m always looking for people 🙂 the problem is that people usually say they’re interested, but don’t actually come when it comes to the day of reckoning, if you know what i mean 😉 but will definitely let you know the next time!

    twilight: on the sept 17/18 weekend! devbagh is further up north. also another really beautiful place!

  5. Pingback: DesiPundit » Gokarna

  6. Manoj says

    Is this any adventure group? or is it just your circle of friends. Always enjoyed reading your blog.

  7. interesting and mystifying piece of writing about Gokarna. I was planning a month end retreat to Gokarna. Came across this blog. Beaches, beer, seafood and time to relax and unwind… thats what I was looking for. Thanks a lot for having put this blog.
    Adious to an uknown writer.
    Nishant

  8. Madhu says

    I saw the pics on kodakgallery (anshul’s), it was just awsome. The place looks really mind blowing. Its just inspired me to visit this place.

    Thanks for pics guys,

    whoever said……..a picture is worth 1000 words…..

  9. am going to gokarna in the first week of feb! first visit. wondering if anyone else planning a trip around then?

  10. Stony says

    Hey
    Me been to Gokarna during jan 2005..was there for a two weeks..probably my best vacation ever..still yearning to go back..but me now in pardes..anyway stsyed in OM beach, ate at Namaste, watched the sunset and the doplhins, ate some exotic food at “the spanish place” at kudle beach…it was awesome…

  11. Manish says

    Hey! Firstly, great work on this page! I was in Gokarna earlier in the year in January. I stayed in town at Gokarna International. It bombed! I’m going again in the last week of December! Was wondering if you had the contact number of Namste? Thought of staying there this time-book in advance n ‘al! Or if you know of any other place, do let me know! Really appreciate! Cheers! Manish.

  12. Rajiv Kadapatti says

    I had a great time at Namaste cafe ,gokarna.Do youi have the contact number of the place or email i.d.

  13. Eswar Chalam says

    Great. Plan to visit Gokarna in January 2006. Thanks for your site–Gerat help

  14. Prem says

    Hi,

    I am planning a trip to Gokarna in the 2nd or 3rd week of feb , do you know of any group traveling during that time, can you send the contact details of Namaste cafe.

    Thanks
    Prem

  15. gaurav says

    om and half moon beaches have it seems left u in a trans like state. i am someone who has been to all the beaches in gokarna some 6-7 times. so i know the place very well and believe me u have made a mistake by not goin to paradise beach which by far is the best beach of all the ones. there is a small shack there owned by this guy named mahadev, u will also find a german( don’t actually remember his name) who has been staying there for last 6 years. that place is really cool and ya it’s not 5 km from half moon, it’s almost the same distance as half moon from om. or u can directly go to paradise beach also by taking a left from the road diverting after salt farming place. have fun!

  16. hey…

    nice… very nice…

    all of us… i mean a group of frnz r planning on an all girls trip to gokarna soon… thankx to ur blog…

  17. Aakanksha says

    great blog…good to know that some ppl actually manages to go rather than just talk abt it….and i really know what u mean by ppl who just say it and always have excuses when it comes to doing it. BTW i am also looking for some group which is interested in making these trips regularly….so if u ppl interested please remember me next time u plan something up:)

  18. Poonam says

    I am planning a trip to Gokarna , do you know of any group traveling during that time, can you send the contact details of Namaste cafe.

  19. Sanghmitra says

    Hey,
    My friend just told me about this place. He had gone there for new year’s eve and that it was fantastic…we are now planning on going and after reading your blog, I AM definitely going this month end during holidays.

    Cheers

  20. vinayak says

    hey is there a party scene in goks and is it true there is a lot of underground rave action there?

  21. chris says

    well i just came back from gokarna….it was peace all over again…i make sure i drive to gokarna evry month when the season is on..so any body wanna join next month?? huh, my friends are all spoilsports, most of them give up on the day to rock..bt anyways i always keep up to my word…..even to myself!!!!!!!!!!

  22. Diana says

    hi…me frm mumbai…cud u suggest the best possible mode of transport frm here or any such paradse like place close to mumbai…do u guys organise trips…cud u pls keep me informed abt such trips well in advance…love travellin n seein beautiful paces..pls do email me.

  23. Wonderful post, I chanced upon this blog just as I was about to embark on a Gokarna trip. The circumstances you faced at the outset, with people about to back out are very much similar to our current predicament. There are seven of us now, and supposed bad weather is in store.

    Fingers crossed, it should be a good trip. Thanks for the information provided.
    – Hari

  24. Nitin says

    Hi

    Could you help us with some contact details for hotels/resorts or a website for the same.

    Thanks

  25. Neeraj says

    Please don go in the water…it is very beautiful but the UNDER CURRENTS are very strong …i may sound like a normal person warnin u but i have lost my two friends on 1st november….they were excellent swimmerstoo…respect nature don play wid it ….

  26. i am looking the phone number or mail adress of namaste farm house in kodli beach.

    thanks

  27. sujai says

    Hi,

    Could you please provide me the phone number for stay in Kudle beach. We are planning to go for the new year.

    Regards,
    Sujai.

  28. Saurabh says

    Hi there!

    Ahh..How nicely you present Gokarna to us!

    We plan to go there to bid a sweet Good-bye to ’07 and move to the coming ’08. Would you recommend? One thing where we have doubts is whether it’d be easy to find acco at this time?

    If you could take out some of your time with your feedback, that’d be a great help!!

    -Saurabh

  29. Mayank says

    Hi,

    Thanks for this wonderful description. I am leaving for Gokarna tonight and plan to be there for 4 days. I am sure that its gonna be good fun for all of us.

    Cheers!!
    Mayank

  30. saikumar says

    Hi, Itz a great description of how to plan a 2 day trip to Gokarna. I was really inspired by this . me and my frends group of about 5 – 6 are planning for one such in coming weekend. would I be able to chat to you and have some clarifications. please.

  31. Gayatri Handique says

    Hey Anita! I am planning a trip to Gokarna and was doing some surfing and then wow, I chance upon your page. Nice work, as usual. Great to find you here. Hope all’s well with you.

    Did you go back to Auli?

  32. heyy! thanks for this! Not only an interesting read but helpful! I’m leaving bangalore for gokarna in exactly two and a half hours and i had no clue where to stay or what there was to do. (unorganized you say? i say adventurous!! 😉
    journey on! 🙂

  33. Suhas Dwarakanath says

    Hi Anita,

    I have been reading your blogs for quite a while and used the information also to some extent, but never had the courtesy to acknowledge the same.

    Cannot complain that “I did not have time”, because, despite my son being on my “lap-top” always, one has to make some time for this as well…

    Anyway, I wish to congratulate you on the excellent write-ups with the appropriate picture “props”, so to speak 🙂

    I have also done quite a few treks on the coastal Karnataka belt, including some night trekking as well (that was amazing and fascinating).

    Wonder if you have any info on stay at Kudle beach (I know about Sea Bird: not attractive).
    Oh and BTW, I will be travelling with the family.

    And for those who have been asking for Namaste Cafe details: it’s in maneesha’s comment and it is correct: 08386 257 141.
    I have stayed at Namaste thrice.

    Thanks again in advance to Anita and anyone else who might provide me with the Kudle beach accommodation details.

    Happy New Year!

    Regards,
    Suhas

  34. Hi Anita,
    Even I have been to Gokarna. I have never seen such a wonderful beach ever without any kind of pollutions, its really a “virgin “beach. he had a trek from Om to Gokarna beach after dusk and that was great.
    You can check with some updates on Gokarna on my fiance’s sitre: http://travellersdiary.net

  35. Hey thanks a lot for this nice description of the whole adventure. I am planning to go there along with few of my friends.

    Thanks
    Vikas

  36. Nitin Agarwal says

    hi i reside in bangalore and would go to Gokharna….this is would be my first visit so i would like if anyone can accompany me who has earlier visited gokharna
    If intrested to make new discovery with new frnd then let me know at
    nish.agarwal1988@gmail.com

  37. David Munoz says

    Hey i’m going to Gokarna for this Friday 20 November. I’m from Ecuador – south America and i’m looking forward to catch some waves !!! I dont have a surf board with me. Does anyone know were I can rent one in Gokarna ?? spots ??

    Please reply to my e-mail davidsitomago@hotmail.com

    thank you and nice ride .

  38. Lohith says

    Hi all, m new to this blog. I too love gokarna as i was there in gokarn last year..But i stayed in a hole in the downtown. This time i want stay in the beach..Can any body list the hotels/resorts located on the beach. If possible mail me to
    lohir@in.com

  39. Lohith says

    Hi all, m new to this blog. I too love gokarna as i was there in gokarna last year..But i stayed in a hotel in the downtown. This time i want stay in the beach..Can any body list the hotels/resorts located on the beach. If possible mail me to
    lohir@in.com

  40. Trinity says

    The resort has horrible customers service.

    The person at receptions place doesn’t have manners how to talk or address customers.

    The “receptionist” almost spoiled my holiday mood. SHIT . BLEADY SHIT!!!!!!!

    The resort is just OVER PRICED just built to cash Euro’s of Europeans.

    And any Indian enquiring there is treated very cheaply as their pricing are in Euro’s.

    It hurts to see such a BAD resort in a Holy Place Like in Gokarna.

    And the funny thing is they have yoga and ayurveda though they don’t know the real essence of the same.

    Swaswara HIGHLY NOT RECOMMENDED.

    On the other had you will find good accommodations facilities starting with rs 200 , 4 USD in the gokarna city and people with good manners.

  41. Rob McGregor says

    Thanks for this. I’ve been to Gokarn twice now. The heavy dreadlock and dopesmoking cliques on Kudle Beach got on my nerves somewhat the first time, and the second time I fell for the “holy man” who offered to show me round and relieved me of more rps than I should have let go…very naieve of me. However I still love the place, and reading your blog reminded me of it.

  42. Trinity says

    Update: saswara resort Representatives has asked sincere apologies and I was pleased the way they resolved the issue.

  43. anoop says

    Anyone planning to go Gokarna this long weekend, let me know. I would be happy to join the group

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