Goa being too popular, Andamans being ticked off the bucket list already and Lakshadweep being super expensive, we were looking for super & budgeted beach holiday. With its unspoiled beaches and spectacular landscapes, Gokarna is one breathtaking piece of heaven in Karnataka for beach hippies like us.
With its land of palm trees, blue seas and golden sands around, where eternity begins and ends with the ocean’s tides, Gokarna is a town of contrasts. Not only known as a temple town but also a perfect beach holiday destination and great place to go for trek lovers.
Why Gokarna over Goa?
Trip to Gokarna was pending for a while. During Christmas vacay, we were looking to go to a secluded place to relax and spend some quality time with ourselves away from hustle bustle of city life and enjoy chilled-out beach holiday and not so full-scale parties’ destination. Though, Goa being one of the finest beach destination to head to during Christmas with all its beach parties, we chose Gokarna over it, just because it is too touristy these days of the year.
Located on the coast of Karwar, Gokarna is a small town in Karnataka, mainly known for two reasons – its pristine and clean beaches and blissful temples. Gokarna is not very touristy destination. The beaches are meant for a leisurely holiday and the temples holds rich history. Every beach here will provide you immense relaxation and time with yourself. With the beauty of coconut and palm trees, the blue ocean and clean sands in toes, Gokarna is a “Unique” destination to unwind from your busy life.
How to reach Gokarna?
By Air: Gokarna doesn’t have its own airport. Dabolim Airport is the nearest airport which is about 140 Kms (approx. 3.5 hours) away. You can also reach gokarna from Mangalore by air which is around 235 kms away from the Gokarna town.
By Railways: The nearest rail head is Gokarna Road which is about 6 km away from the town. You can also reach Gokarna from other railway stations like Ankola, Kumta, Karwar and Madgaon.
By Road: If you plan to take the road, you have several buses to take you to Gokarna. KSRTC has buses running from Bangalore, Mangalore, Panjim, Hubli, etc.
When is the best time to visit to Gokarna?
The best time to visit Gokarna is from October until March, when the weather is warm and pleasant in daytime and cold during nights. Avoid, April and May months, as you might face hot summers.
Where to stay in Gokarna?
Numerous options for staying are available to the tourists at Gokarna. From Low range to exotic resorts are well spread out over the town. Beach resorts are also highly demanded by the tourists. We booked our stay in Sanskruti Resort, which stood out to be a good choice . Zostel, Kudle beach resort, Gokarna international resort are few of the recommended stay options.
== Our 3 days excursion in Gokarna ==
Day 1 in Gokarna: Off Temples, Beaches and Sunset
We flew from Mumbai to Goa, And started our road trip from Goa Airport to Gokarna. With scenic beauty on the way, we were all excited to soak up in the pristine beaches & idyllic temples of this small town. We reached to our resort around 7.30am in the morning. After few hours of rest and sumptuous south Indian breakfast at the resort, we started to explore this small little town.
** Mahaganpati Temple **
Our 1st spot in the town was this small blissful temple of Mahaganpati. Few meters away from Mahabaleshwar temple lies this less touristy temple. Here stone statue of a standing Ganesha, which is said to be over 1500 years old. It is said that Lord Ganesha had played a role in acquiring the Atmalinga from Ravana and preventing it from going to Lanka.
The atmalinga got mounted in Gokarna. Hence as a symbol of gratitude toward Lord Ganesha, temple dedicated to him was founded near Lord Shiva’s Mahabaleshwar temple in Gokarna.
** Mahabaleshwar Temple **
This temple is the reason why Gokarna being a place of religious significance. The temple has a classic dravidian architecture and houses an atmalinga, Lord Shiva which makes it as divine significance as the Kashi Vishwanath Temple in Varanasi.
Built using white granite, it is classic example of great architectural beauty dated back to 4th Century. We had to stand in a queue for about an hour to get glimpse of Aatmalinga and seek blessings.
- This temple is open from morning 6.00am to 12.30pm IST and then it closed for puja and Abhishek and re-opens at 5.00pm IST.
- Free food (known as “Prasadam”) is served to the devotees which starts from 11.30am.
- The is no parking space near the temple. Vehicles need to be parked near the bus stand which is around 1 km from the temple.
- Foreigners / Non-Indian Nationals are not allowed to visit the temple.
- The Men Devotees must remove the Shirt / T-shirt to go inside the temple to seek the darshan.
** Gokarna Beach **
After the temple hopping in Gokarna, it was time to visit the beautiful beaches of the town that are one of the best in the country. This beach lies few meters away from the Mahabaleshwar Temple.
Entry to the Gokarna beach is through the narrow lane towards the end, and there you see this blue water waiting for you to soak in. Not so tourist friendly as compare to other beaches in Gokarna, however, it has its own charm. Clean crystal water and fresh air will welcome you here to spend some relaxed time.
** Lunch @ Café 1987 **
We had read n heard a lot about this café before heading to Gokarna, so this spot was fixed to have meals for us. Cafe 1987 is probably the “must eat at” cafe on the Kudle Beach road. Right at the parking spot which leads to the trail to Kudle beach is this quirky little restaurant which is a great place to hang out with Family and friends.
The ambience of the café is casual and funky and they serve 100% Vegetarian food. This place is calm, and one can easily spend hours in this cafe admiring the amazing artwork on the cafe walls.
Must try Dishes: Pasta, Lemon rice, Noodles
Could be better dishes: Soups and Indian food
** Kudle Beach **
Our last stop for the day was Kudle beach, A picturesque beach bounded by hills on three sides. A perfect beach to spot the beautiful sunset and unwind with nature at its best. situated only a few minutes’ walk from Gokarna Beach, the beach is a paradise for those who love peace and tranquility while they travel. A complete loner, this beach offers the most silent and serene atmosphere to enjoy a sunset, a walk along the shore and simply sat and observe the never-ceasing tides is the best thing we loved doing here.
To reach this beach, you will have to walk through the stone cut hilly road. Trek lovers can go for a long unhindered trek relishing the pristine scenery of hills on three sides and the sea stretching till the horizon. Loads of tourists get here to enjoy nightlife at the beach by putting their tents / huts and enjoying some booze under the stars with the sound of waves.
** Dinner at Ganga Café **
Ganga Café on the Kudle beach is a guest house and a restaurant and provided probably the best views of the beach. Serves delicious Italian, Chinese, Continental and Indian cuisine. This is quite secluded beach cafe with less people around and just the sound of the sea roaring in your ears, you will certainly fall in love with this place.
Day 2: Day trip to Murudeshwar
Next day, we were all set to travel a bit to nearby places of Gokarna and much decided destination was Murdeshwar. At the distance of 76 km from Gokarna, Murudeshwar is a renowned pilgrimage and beach destination located in the Bhatkal Taluk of Uttara Kannada district in Karnataka.
** Murudeshwar Temple **
Bounded by the Arabian Sea on three sides, Murudeshwar Temple is constructed on the hill of Kanduka. The temple has a 20 storied gopura called the Raja Gopura. You must take the lift installed in the temple to take to you the top floor of Gopura to the excellent view of this massive statue of lord Shiva.
The 123-ft. high Shiva statue is the second largest Shiva sculpture in the worlds and has become a landmark of Murudeshwar. The temple built with Chalukya and Kadamba sculptures in the Dravidian style. The temple is mainly built of granite and holds immense beauty within itself. The Beauty of this temple is more mesmerizing after the sunset which all the lights of temples are on and it looks like one shining abode.
When we visited Murudeshwar, unfortunately the temple was overcrowded and had long queue for Darshan. We had to wait almost 2 hours to get into the main temple to seek the darshan. The temple is huge surrounded by many small temples built around the main temple with beautiful sculptures around.
Timings of Temple: 3 AM – 1 PM and 3 PM – 8 PM
** Lunch at Sea Lounge **
As suggested by a friend, Sea Lounge restaurant in the RNS Residency hotel, a multi cuisine vegetarian restaurant is revitalizing. Apart from delicious food, the mirrored roof and the woody pillars add a pinch of brilliance to the restaurant.
The restaurant is extended to garden seating and we enjoyed our buffet lunch watching an impeccable view of the Arabian Sea.
** Murudeshwar Beach **
Just opposite to the Murdeshwar Temple, lies this scenic Murudeshwar beach. This is one impressive and clean beach surrounded by hills, the wide Arabian Sea on the west, coconut and areca groves close by. Murudeshwar offers magnificent natural views with serene and calm surroundings. we came down to Murudeshwar beach for a great view of the sunset and enjoy some water sports at this beach.
Several water sports activities can be done here like Speed Boat, Water scooter, Paragliding, Banana rides etc. You can also enjoy swimming, fishing and sunbathing at this beach as the water is cool with gentle waves. Overlooking the monumental statue of Lord Shiva, this beach is the perfect picnic spot for families and loved ones.
This appealing beach also has great options for food lovers. Enjoy a wide variety of delicious and lip smacking goodies on this beach, with the stunning view of the Murudeshwar temple.
Other places to Visit in Murdeshwar:
- Netrani Island
- Murdeshwar Fort.
** Dinner at Prema Restaurant **
If your taste buds are craving for good Indian food, Head to prema restaurant. This restaurant is quite famous amongst foreigners for them to taste the good Indian food in gokarna. From their traditional South Indian items to their always-fresh layered vegetable salad to their homemade shrikhand, you will not be disappointed, whatever you choose.
Day 3: Beach Trails in Gokarna
Last day of our trip was started by visiting other beaches in Gokarna.
** Om Beach **
Om Beach is the most famous beach in Gokarna. Two semi-crescent shapes that join resembling the Hindu religious symbol of OM, this beach got its name because of its shape. You can recline in the magnificence and serenity of the scenic surroundings here. This beach is a source mix of fascinating beauty and pristine water hitting on the beach for all the tourists.
The good sand and attractive rock creations here appeal a lot of travelers. A simple stroll walk on this beach will be enough to revitalize your mind; such is the beauty of this place. This place is a paradise for all the travellers, with some astonishing sceneries amidst the rocky topography.
This beach also offers a breathtaking view during the sunset. We loved our time spend here surrounded by the tranquility of nature.
Activities at OM Beach: Being a beach bum, one would love to explore watersports available here Miles stretch of white sand and palm trees hovering your head, the avid beach-goers like us would like to extend their holiday at this piece of paradise.
Travelers can choose many activities like, Banana boat rides, Bumper boat rides, Dolphin spotting, Jet Skiing, speed boating and not to miss Beachside trekking. If you are someone who loves peaceful vacation like us, you can opt to star gaze at the open sky while walking with your partner on the beach.
** Lunch @ Namaste Café **
This café is just on the left as you enter the OM beach. If you are a foodie and want to enjoy the local cuisine here, Binge some food at this famous café with this vast variety of food options.
The restaurant is an ideal location to relax and gaze at the beach. We went here to grab the lunch. You can also choose to stay here as they have accommodation facility as well.
** Paradise Beach **
As the name suggests, Paradise Beach is less crowded than Om and Kudle beach because it isn’t easily accessible. In fact, if you wish to see this beauty, you must either trek hard your way to it from Om beach or take a boat ride. A group boat ride will cost you around INR 300/ person to see this beach.
This beach is quite secluded but holds its own charm.
** Halfmoon Beach **
This beach gets its name due to its crescent shape and it is around 20 mins trek walk from OM beach. Again, a small beach as compared to other beaches in the town, Yet beautiful in its own. you won’t see many people at this beach. Reaching here is slightly difficult and the best way to reach here is via boats from Om Beach or Gokarna beach.
All these three beaches in Gokarna can be covered in a single day on foot if you are up for a good trek. You should start early morning so that you can get back on time before it is too dark.
== Don’t forget to carry beach wear, sunscreen, hat, a pair of flip-flops, and sunglasses.
== Visiting the beaches during monsoon is not a good idea since the beaches are desolate and unkempt and the accommodation and food options are very limited.
== The place is ideal for a relaxed holiday. Be prepared for things moving on a slow pace.
== There are no ATMs on the beaches. So, carry enough cash along.
== Drinking regular water is not advisable. You should only have bottled water as far as possible.
We concluded our amazing Travel journey of year 2017 with this little piece of paradise to take a break from the hustle bustle of daily routine. If you are a beach lover and looking to explore an uncharted Beach Paradise in the country, we recommend going to Gokarna for sure. The calm and serene waters, hills and idyllic temples will fill your heart with pleasure and joy.
Have you been to Gokarna yet? Share your experiences with us in the comment section.
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