I had heard about this place, Gokarna, from a lot of my backpacker friends. It is this promised land where beaches are clean, tourists are few, there is no EDM forcing into your ears, overall, a peaceful little hide out from the urban matrix we all live in.
Gokarna is an overnight bus ride
away from Mumbai or Pune.
This fact makes it even more tempting. No elaborate planning, no advance ticket booking, no prior reservations required. One could just leave for Gokarna over any string of holidays. Sounds pretty much like Goa? isn’t it? That’s why probably the plan got cancelled so many times before that I finally made it.
So here is what Gokarna is all about:
- No cheap alcohol/ clubs/ drugs.
South Goa takes the award for that. Gokarna is primarily a temple town. A pilgrimage of sorts. The most popular temple here is the Mahabaleshwara Temple. It is a 4th-century temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. Read more here. Another holy beach town is Ganpatipule, in Maharashtra. Again, it’s characteristics being clean beaches and no-nonsense atmosphere.
Since this place has an air of auspiciousness around it, there are no revelries to be had here. Majority of the people come from Bangalore for worship and family outing by the beach.
Gokarna means cow’s ear.
Hence, that frenzy and madness of tourist beach town is not there. Adequate staying options. Few shacks. People minding their own business. One can enjoy beautiful, chilly morning walks by the beach. Visit the temple. Take a stroll in the lanes. Hike to a hill and soak in excellent views of the Arabian sea. North Goa or Arambol is what comes closest to this experience, plus cheap alcohol..!
- Really clean beaches.
If you come from Bombay, Pune or Bangalore, chances are, the closest you have come to a clean beach is on Instagram. Perfectly clean, crystal clear water and sand white enough to cause orgasm. Okay, so this place may not be equivalent to Fiji or Hawaii islands of your dreams, but it is much cleaner and peaceful than Mumbai and south Goa for sure. The best part is that no one bothers you on the beach. You can go for a run, dance, do fire dancing, play music, or even sleep under the sky on the most comfortable bed on earth. It is no one’s business. In fact, I saw real lifeguards keeping a keen eye on the hooligans and careless tourists.
- The people.
One of the highlights of my Gokarna trip was the no-nonsense people of Gokarna. I was carrying my drone everywhere and flying as much as I could. Some people did get intrigued but no one ever stopped me. Most people would just keep to themselves, which is such a nice gesture (Lol). Compare that to people in the cities or other tourist places, generally, you’ll be bothered to death or anger whichever comes first.
As a corollary, you see people freely relaxing at the beach without worry. There is no one looking over their belongings. That mandatory guy holding everyone’s things while they went into the water was simply not there. The hippie crowd characteristically keeps to themselves but welcomes you if you would like to hang around and not disturb people ( read no flash photography, they are not gonna look any whiter, duh ).
The local folks are also warm and respectful, unlike some touristy places where Indians are looked down upon, as stingy fussy human beings.
- The small town feels.
Gokarna reminded me of “Malgudi Days“. It has that small coastal town feel where there are dirt roads, sunlight filtering through the trees and kids walking to school. Add to that the lack of traffic jams and cacophony, air that doesn’t choke your every breath and not having to dodge potholes and puddles, I am sold. On the same lines, people are not as cunning yet. Food and local transport are not very expensive like other touristy places. Gokarna is not a very big place to explore. You can roam around the whole town on foot in an hour or two.
I guess that’s enough for one blog post, though I could go on much longer, sharing stories.
Tell me some of your Gokarna stories.
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