Blogger Archana Singh may have traveled the world but Gokarna is on her list of favorites. Here’s why:

Photograph courtesy: Jogesh S/Creative Commons

Photograph courtesy: Jogesh S/Creative Commons

 

Carved from mountains and cut by rivers, Gokarna is probably one of the most beautiful places on earth that can boast of two of earth’s most magnificent creations — mountains and water. Nestled between the Western Ghats and the Arabian Sea, Gokarna is ideal for both short trips and really long ones. Here are the top four reasons to visit Gokarna, the land of unspoiled beaches:

1. The drive

Photograph courtesy: Archana Singh

If Bangalore traffic is a nightmare for drivers, the drive from Neelamangala to Hassan via Tumkur toll gate is like a dream. The roads have improved remarkably. As you get away from Bangalore, the hustle, bustle and pollution gives way to serene country side, dotted with trees and small hills. The drive will led you through Sakleshpur (a remarkable place in itself) and then onto the Ghat sections of Mangalore. Sharp turns, hairpin bends, the odd langoor and many vehicles, all a part of the drive. The drive to Mangalore also takes you through several bridges across rivers that pour their heart out into the Arabian Sea.

Tips:

  • Leave Bangalore early in the day and not post-5 pm. The traffic will add at least a couple of hours to your schedule.
  • The road to Hassan is a breeze while the remainder of the stretch is a single-lane nightmare.
  • Stop at Sakleshpur and grab a quick bite before the ghat section begins.

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2. The beaches

Photograph courtesy: Archana Singh

If Goa is known for its ‘party till you drop’ beaches, Gokarna is definitely for those who are seeking calmer pastures. The beaches in Gokarna are not easily accessible though. What they lack in party is more than compensated by the views. The beaches are like hidden treasures, protected by the mountains. The three major beaches in Gokarna are Om Beach, Paradise Beach and the Half-moon Beach. The main Gokarna Beach is not in the list because, quite frankly, it is incredibly crowded. Having said that, there is a beautiful trail from the Gokarna beach that leads to the Kudle beach. Kudle beach has the best of both worlds, sandy beach combined with a couple of decent options to eat and drink. Two turns away (through the open sea) lie the Om Beach, Paradise and Half Moon beaches. These are pristine, clear and far less crowded.

Om beach is the most famous of the lot, for some unique reasons. The beach looks like the Sanskrit word Om when viewed from a vantage point. The beach is rocky and has the famous Namaste cafe alongside.

Tips:

  • Ganga cafe is a decent place to eat at the Kudle Beach.
  • Do try the refreshing hot ginger lemon honey tea sans the tea.
  • Walk to the view point adjacent to the beach to get some magnificent views.
  • Avoid walking to the Om Beach at night. Instead, drive to the beach in the night and spend some time at the beach under the stars.
  • Try some ‘fishy’ stuff at the Namaste cafe. The catch is fresh and moderately priced as well

3. A stellar boat ride

Photograph courtesy: Archana Singh

No visit to a beach is incomplete without a boat ride, is it? I’ve never been a fan of the wishy-washy cruise ships that take you through the sea, all mollycoddled with no adventure. Kudle beach offers several water sports options, a jet boat ride is one of them. The ride covers Om beach, Paradise and Half moon beaches, leaving you with a view of the Aghanashini River and the beaches on the Kumta side. The beaches on the Kumta side are deserving of a few days themselves. After some heavy turning and churning on the sea, the boatman stopped dead in the middle of the sea and yelled “Dolphins!” I was surprised! This trip was getting better. I turned to catch just a fin here. When the engine stopped, all I could hear was the sweet sound of waves crashing against the boat. I wish could have recorded the sound and played it every time I missed this place.

Tips:

  • Climb up to a vantage point to see the beaches.
  • Watch out for dolphins.
  • And don’t miss out on the sounds of the sea.

4. Maqrvanthe and Murudeshwar

Photograph courtesy: Archana Singh

Maravanthe and Murdeshwar, the renowned temple villages, lie to the south of Gokarna, en route from Mangalore. Maravanthe is a sandy beach that, though not wide, is a long strip of white sand. Maravanthe begins at the very spot where the road from Mangalore meets the coast. Not many people stop here because so-called ‘better’ spots await them but they couldn’t be farther away from the truth. Maravanthe is an incredible spot to stop and soak in the first instance of the sea. The sea teases you all along from Mangalore but Maravanthe is where the tease ends and the sea says hello, in all its glory. Stop here for a brief tete-a-tete with the beach and also some coconut water. Murdeshwar is a well-known spot on the way to Gokarna and Goa. What I did not know about it was that its beaches are probably the cleanest in the country

Tips:

  • Walk to one of the largest Shiva statues in the country and marvel at its craftsmanship.
  • Inhale the sweet sea breeze and the amazing views from the view points.
  • Eat at the Naveen beach restaurant, which is quite literally on the beach.

Some of the best places to eat in Gokarna include:

  • Namaste Cafe on Om Beach is famous for its Prawn Masala and King Fish Sizzler. But it also serves Mexican, Israeli and Indian food at economical prices
  • Pai Hotel on Temple Road is a must visit for vegetarian dishes, especially breakfast items
  • Shree Shakti Hotel on Car street, main road is a must visit if you are fond of ice creams and fresh lassi and juices
  • Mahalaxmi Restaurant on the road to Gokarna beach is the place to go to if you love some good pancakes
  • Ganga Cafe on Kudle Beach is ideal for breakfast that is both cheap and doesn’t hurt your pocket

Some of the best places to stay in Gokarna include:

  • Om Beach Resort: Away from the humdrum of city life this resort is perfect for lazing around with its colonial style, situated on the edge of the hill nestled amidst greenery and where your morning alarm is the sound of the birds chirping. This resort also specialises in yoga and Ayurveda treatments and meditation along with providing luxurious accommodation.
  • Namaste Yoga Farm: If you want to stay at a resort which gives you a great view of the Kudle beach then look no further. They also organize yoga and meditation classes as well as offer kaykaying services.
  • Gokarna International Beach Resort: If you want a seaside view but are stretched on budget then this is the place to stay in.

The best places to eat in Murudeshwar include:

  • Naveen Beach Resort just few steps from the beach serves delightful seafood.
  • Sea lounge Restaurant located inside RNS residency near the Shiva temple is good for vegetarian food, especially North Indian fare