Gokarna is a coastal area off the coast of Karnataka. Adorned with pristine beaches and breathtaking scenery, it is a newfound paradise for beach-lovers. The Gokarna beach area is known for two things. One, beaches and Two, temples; which also makes it a place popular for Hindu pilgrimage. The place is not for tourists in its stereotypical convention. It is meant for slow and relaxed holidays. It is the kind of place where people go for self reconstruction.
Since time immemorial I have had a devoir for quite Shangri-las. The reason is simple, the coordinated harmony that comes naturally with such hidden paradises is what makes me wander. Being constantly surrounded by responsibilities and the constant buzzing of traffic, I crave for hush. On any given day you would find me in my balcony at night, unraveling all the noise and chaos of the day and preparing for the next day.
This unquenchable thirst for peace made me wander for new places every day. That’s when I came across Gokarna beaches. I virtually discovered the place and concluded that it was peaceful, colorful and pocket-friendly. To add to it, Gokarna was exactly the kind of place I was looking for. I had holidays piling up for the upcoming weekend so I decided to visit the place.
I got off at Ankola at around noon and from there hired a taxi that dropped me off at Gokarna. The cab driver informed me that the place wasn’t this busy always. It was initially a pilgrimage center but its beauty was soon discovered. The rapid popularity leads to an influx of tourists. This changed the character of the town. He dropped me at my hotel and handed me his contact card in case if I required traveling around. I thanked him and left.
The room that my hotel had offered me was an absolute beauty. It was some meters off the beach and gave me a beautiful view of the place. I unloaded my bags and ran to the terrace. The warm breeze hit me and I sucked in a lungful of it. A calm spread over me. In the distance, I could see a few people walking on the beach. I had the urge to do the same. Changing into a flowy dress and flip-flops, I made my way to the beach.
The water was pristine and I walked barefoot on the sand for some time. With the wind blowing through my hair, it felt as if I was floating through the air. I sat on the beach until the sky started changing color. The waves wouldn’t let me go back inside but I had no choice. If I wanted to make the best out of the trip, I needed to rest. And for that I needed sleep.
The next morning I was lucky enough to catch the sunrise on the horizon. The sky was partially cloudy but the colors of the sky were brilliant. It slowly changed from orangish yellow to a clear blue haze. I got ready for the day and walked down to the lobby. I called for my ride and soon was off to the famous Om Beach. The beach derives its name from its structure which apparently symbolizes the ‘Om’ sign of Hindu Mythology.
The first thing that crossed my mind when I got down at the beach was that it was a photographer’s paradise. Every inch of it was aesthetic. The whole beach was lined with shacks that provided everything from accommodation to local delicacies. I searched for a quiet corner and sat down. There were people splashing around in the waters while others were enjoying water sports. I plugged in my earphones and watched the beach grow busier.
After some time, I locked my possessions in a locker and took to the waters. The water was cool and refreshing. It felt good. I submerged myself under the water and only came up when I needed air. Everything stopped existing once I was underwater. The weightlessness was welcoming. My stomach growled. I needed food. So I got out of the water and headed to a café by the beach. The aroma of food floating around the place was delicious. I ordered my food and sat back to relax and enjoy it. I overheard from one of the customers that the sunset at the beach was spectacular. And immediately I decided that I had to stay back. The sunset at the beach was one of the bests that I had seen. I thanked the stranger in my mind for the suggestion.
Nightlife in Gokarna is laidback. It doesn’t have a nightlife per se. Since the place is considered a pilgrimage, there are no bars in the place. There are several pubs and bars around the area that cater to people’s needs. But I was content enough to spend the night on the beach in front of my hotel. Gokarna is among the very few places that lacked industrial lighting. This played in my favor. I had the perfect view of the starlit sky. I spent the evening stargazing and eating cheap Chinese out of boxes.
The next day started on a religious note. I visited the famous Mahabaleshwar temple. The temple houses Lord Shiva and the ‘Atmalinga’. The idol residing in the temple is called ‘Nagabharana’ as it resided under the head of a serpent. As I roamed around the structure, I notice that the floors and the walls are made of intricate tortoise designs. The sheer intricacy of the handiwork struck me. There was a guide at the end of the temple who was explaining the history of Gokarna. This is where I learned that the temple had a mythological significance. The ‘Atmalinga’ that Ravana had been granted from Lord Shiva was embedded here and that is how the temple got its name.
Once I was done touring the temple, I made my way to the Kudle Beach. Apart from the fact that it was a beach it also had a Hanuman temple in it. This was the quietest beach that I had visited so far and a perfect place to have a walk along the beach. There were not many people around. So I did what I do best. Sit back and relax. The crashing of waves against the shore was a constant hum in the background. I felt like staying back there for the rest of my life. While I was enjoying the waves, I met another solo traveler there. He was a native of the state and was out on a weekend trip with his friends. We talked for a while and then he invited me over with his friends.
I spent the rest of my evening meeting new people and enjoying a bonfire. There was music, food, and laughter. Solitude was great but this surprise was just as special. You form a bond with people when you know that you are not going to meet them again. We danced for a long time and I enjoyed the company.
By the time I returned to my hotel, it was late. My last day at Gokarna had come to an end. Overall, I had enjoyed both peace and people. It marked a special place in my heart. I promised to myself something. I would come back here once again.