India Explored: Destination: Gokarna: Posted By Arunchs



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Posted on: Tuesday , Aug 26, 2008 At 11:36 AM

Destination: Gokarna

Gokarna's beaches are slowly gathering popularity to the tune of beaches of Goa. Number of incoming tourists is increasing every year, and with more and more foreign backpackers arriving here trying to escape crowded Goa, Gokarna is getting crowded too.

Overview. Gokarna is probably only place where both pious and the hedonistic have something to look forward to. The Mahabaleshwara Temple in the town is one of the holiest in South India and is frequented by pilgrims. And there are many beaches, some well isolated, which beckons backpackers.

Orientation. Gokarna is just south of Goa, which is how its beaches got discovered. Five beaches, each a thirty minute walk from its neighbour and all separated by hills, making the picturesque place that Gokarna is. The Mahabaleshwara temple is in the center of the town, which is also close to the sea.

Things to do and Places to see

Kotitheertha. This is a large tank near the temple, and is in a quieter part of the town. Pilgrims come here to perform Shraddha Karma.

Mahabaleshwara Temple. This is one of the holiest temples in South India. So not surprisingly, is surrounded by houses of temple priests. The story behind the temple goes like this. Ravana received Atmalinga from Shiva, and was instructed not to keep the linga on the ground ever. On his way back from Kailasa, Ravana stopped at Gokarna for his prayers, and was looking for someone to hold the linga for him. Ganapathi came in the disguise of a boy, assured Ravana to take care of it but dropped it to prevent Ravana from benefiting from the linga. The place where Ganapathi dropped the linga is said to be the place where the temple now is.

The Beaches. Below is the list of beaches, listed from North to South.

Gokarna Beach. This is the longest of all the beaches, almost 7km of straight stretch of sand. It is located at one edge of the town and is popular more with pilgrim crowd than backpackers.

Kudle Beach. A kilometer of walk south of Gokarna Beach, Kudle Beach is surrounded by hills on three sides and sea on the fourth. If not for the backpacking population that crowds the beach, this would have been a paradise of sorts. But fear not, it is still a nice place, though falls short of its potential.


Om Beach. This is the most popular of all the beaches, and the names comes because of its shape similar to Om. It is a 20 minute walk south of Kudle. This is the last of the beaches connected by motor road.  There are a few resorts and budget hotels to stay here near the beach, but may not be operational through the year.

Half Moon Beach and Paradise Beach. These two beaches are further south by 15 minutes from Om Beach, and not very far from each other. Both beaches are much isolated, as they are not connected by motor roads and there is no habitation in the vicinity for a couple of kilometers.. The isolation makes them more appealing and worth a visit.

How to Reach. Gokarna is approximately 500km from Bangalore and 150kms from Panaji. There are direct buses from Bangalore running every night. From Goa, you can take a bus to Kumta, the nearest well connected town and then take a local bus to Gokarna. 'Gokarna Road Station', a train station on the Konkan Railway line, is approximately 6kms from Gokarna town.

Food and Accommodation. There are many beachside shanties that serve foreign backpackers in Om Beach and Kudle. Gokarna town has a few budget accommodations, 'Hotel Gokarna International' the most prominent of them. Namaste Cafe, a budget hotel on Om Beach has many rooms but often turns away Indians. Om Beach also has a few mid-range resorts. You can get South Indian cuisine in the town, but whatever food available along the beaches is prepared with backpacking foreign clientele in mind.

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