Figuring out your vacation plans for the season? Munnar, Wayanad, Allepey, Goa and Ooty have already been stricken off your travel list? How about a place that has serene beaches, beautiful temples as well as ample scope to soak into the city life? Gokarna should be your destination for autumn break. Off the West Coast of India in Karnataka, this sleepy little town is the perfect place to relax with your near and dear ones. Gokarna literally means ‘Cow’s ear’ which comes partly from a legend associated with place and partly from its location (located at the confluence of Gangavali and Agnashini river and is shaped like cow’s ear). Originally it was a Hindu pilgrimage centre, now it’s a favourite holiday destination among those who want to spend time beyond the crowded beaches of Goa.
The best time to visit Gokarna is from October until March (just after southwest monsoons), when the weather is warm and pleasant with temperatures averaging 30 degrees Celsius. Its main attraction is its beaches, where people come to chill and soak up the sun for months at a time. There are four of them – Kudle Beach, Om Beach, Halfmoon Beach, and Paradise Beach. Om Beach is the most happening beach, and is the only one that’s reachable by car or rickshaw. It is also the most crowded beach. Then, there is laid-back Kudle Beach, which is a preferable alternative for those who want to be around other travellers. This beach is situated in between Gokarna and Om beaches, and can be reached in 20 minutes from Om beach or by a short downhill walk from drop-off points. The other much smaller beaches – Halfmoon and Paradise – are to the south of Om beach. They’re 30-minute hike away from each other through the hills and over rocks, or a short boat ride away. It is also a scenic hike from one beach to the other. Paradise Beach, the last beach, isn’t much more than a tiny protected cove that’s a patch of hippie paradise. Bonfires, singing, guitars, and drums are familiar parts of Gokarna’s nightlife.
There are quite a few temples around Gokarna that have history and significance. Visit the Mahabaleshwar temple that houses a Shiva linga- the reason Gokarna got its name (it is believed that Lord Shiva emerged from cow’s ear). Then there was Aadi Gorkaneshwara and Ganapati temples. All these places have beautiful architecture and have numerous legends associated with them.
Gokarna abounds in massage options for tourist, especially the Kerala ayurvedic massage centres. Most of the beaches have delicious cafes and eateries to savour delicious food. Namaste Café at Om Beach is a popular hangout place of most tourists.
Finally, if you are the adventurous kinds, Om beach offers a plethora of options from parasailing, snorkelling, kayaking to banana boat rides. Just wear your gears and get set.