Monday, September 15, 2008

Gokarna - Temple and Beaches

Quick History

Gokarna means "Cow's ear". This is right on the western coast in the "Uttara Kannada" district of Karnataka. Around 150 KMs from Mangalore and Goa. It is a Holy place well known for the "Mahabaleshwar Temple" of Shiva. It has the Atma linga that was placed here by Lord Ganesha hoodwinking Ravana with the help Vishnu.

The temple is a small and neat one with 50 paise as the entry ticket. There are other places like the Ganesha temple and others, but the shiva temple is the most important one. It is right next to Gokarna beach.

How to Reach
Gokarna is 450 KM from Bangalore and is best reachable by road. Not sure if there is any direct train as such. Most of the trains are from the Konkan side, typically from Mangalore. From Bangalore VRL and Suguma travels have sleeper and semi-sleeper buses starting from 400 onwards. Use the Redbus website to book tickets onlone. Oct-Jan is typically the peak season.

We took the VRL bus that starts around 9ish in the night from Gandhi Nagar and reached Gokarna, via Honavru, Kumta by 9 in the morning. 12 hours and roads or Okay. Once you hit the ghat section there are lots twists and turns. It is raining this time of the year.

Who all

(The Three eccentricities in the above three pics. That pretty much defines us all)

Abhay and I were at Sridevi planning our next scheduled to Anshi National park and then came this idea about OM beach. Abhay has been Gokarna before and wanted to just chill out. Then we decided to go by keeping the gang small. After some initial efforts we were finally just three of us ready to go.

Abhay, Vandana and I. Three of us started from Bangalore on 12th night from Bangalore. We had to board the bus at Sujatha Complex near Gandhi Nagar and just as we reached Gandhi Nagar there was this group performing with bands and drums with their folklore. We exited the Auto here and our team photographer was on her mission, Mission Photo.

The Beaches
There are around five main beaches in the vicinity of Gokarna.

Gokarna beach
This is probably the longest, cleanest and best of all the three we visited. It is right inside the town and walkable. Best place to view sunset (if you are lucky and no clouds around)

Kudle beach
Small but relatively clean and not many people around. Mostly a secluded beach with some foreigners around sun bathing.

OM Beach

OM beach is where we booked for cottage to live.
This is 6 KMs away from Gokarna by road and the Autos (three wheelers) charge a fixed Rs 100 from Gokarna bus stand to OM beach or Namste Cafe. If you have all the energy you can walk by road or trek from beach to beach.

We in fact walked back 6 KM from OM to Gokarna through the tar road. There you see Abhay and I crawling.

Namaste Cafe:

This is right adjacent (on) to the OM beach and a double bed accommodation will cost you Rs. 400. There is no advanced booking as such, so just walk-in and you might find a nice cottage.

It also has a restaurant with some decent food and prices are pretty okay. We tried some rotis, dal and mutter paneer for lunch and some mashed potatoes and mushroom for dinner. Don't expect much, and yeah lot of beer !

Half-moon beach and Paradise beach
We couldn't explore this but will surely in our next trek.

Mission Click
Every one of us were in our own world during this trek. Abhay admiring the nuances of nature, I was running or just gazing and Vandy was clicking all the while. I'm sure she stopped seeing through her eyes and was seeing through the lens almost for the entire trip.

(Sorry mate, no Frisbee in this wind)

(That was cool, how did you do it ?)

(Pic: Couple of her prize catches)

Click, click and click ! She has this very pricey camera, Canon S5-IS and has been experimenting with the lenses. Catch her work in her blog, Random Thoughts.

The Beach Runner/Running

Beach running has been a long pending item on my list and this time I was determined do it. Once we there in Kudle beach, Abhay and I were just fiddling with the water on the shore and just then I saw foreigner running. I was planning to run the day morning and it was 1PM now. I just couldn't stop. I was only on shorts and no shoes. I just run and for about 20 minutes I ran up and down of this 700M long stretch. It was fun.

The idea is that beach should be really flat for you run properly and clean to run barefoot. Sunday morning I woke up by 6.30 and did a quick uphill run for one KM on the road and realised that I must save my resources for the beach run and this time I was wearing my running shoes. Soon three of us went downhill and got down to respective business. This time it was at Om beach. The entire shore here must be close to one KM. I did around 5KM and the weather was perfect. Then we spent more time just gazing and looking around. We dashed back to Namaste Cafe for a quick ginger tea.

The problem in OM was that it was inclined all the while. So as runner you find it painful to run sideways on an inclined path. Probably that was one of the reasons I couldn't do more than 5KM. I was just evading the waves on the shore and running zig-zag for a while to keep my feet straight. So try to find a flat surface on the beach to run. "Gokarna" beach near the Mahabaleswhar temple is the best of all. Very long and flat and great view for sunset here.

Crazy Tea Drinkers
Be it a hot weather or cold, we all just love drinking tea. In fact we all are tea boozers so to coin and say.
The ranking:
Vandana (craziest) then Balu (crazy) and then Abhay (no "pheeka" please).

Food at Gokarna
I guess "Pai Restaurant" is the best choice (we did not look for anything else). Meals with chapatis (peculiar chapatis) and rice is 25 bucks. Else you Masal Dosas, Set Dosas, Buns.

Well Udupi buns are like pooris made out of dough that has banana mixed in it. They cal it as Banana Buns. Looks like it is actually called "Bunse" and later got morphed as "Buns" (correct me if I'm wrong).

BTW, there was an other "Hotel Pai" that we saw. Not sure if this was the famous one.

Trek Recommendations
Lot of people have actually trekked all the way from Murudeshwar to Gokarna and beyond till Karwar. But for people whole a weekend to spend this is what we recommend.

Start the trek from the "Gokarna" beach go left (i.e if you are facing the sea). You'll find a small hillock. Just follow a path to the top or ask locals for route to "Kudle" beach. Then you descend onto Kudle. After that you can trek to "OM" beach. the path from Kudle to OM is well marked. So you can cover these three beaches in around 2 hours. Suggest you spend some time in each of these beaches.

After OM you can head towards Half-Moon beach and Paradise beach. We tried unsuccessfully to look out for Half-Moon but ended up here (pic at right). As we had time constraints we did not explore further but I'm you can. After Half-moon there is Paradise. During the peak season there is a boat ride from OM to Half-moon and Paradise as sometimes because of high tides the path is not trek-able but I'm sure there is definitely a path but I guess the distance will be more.

So if you are having a weekend to crash and read books at the beach and just laze around with some walking then Gokarna is the place.


Back now and my legs are in little pain as I crashed into some rocks and in the process had water seep into my camera and defunct after that. Also the bad running posture, sideways on an inclined has taken some toll on my left leg between toe and ankle. Hope to recover soon as I have some quick treks again and some long runs lined up early next month at Hyderabad.

Thanks to Abhay and Vandy for a thoroughly enjoyable and exhaustive trip (Vandy please do thank me in your blog). BTW, all of three of us finally managed to get together in one snap below:

More pics are at my Picasa:
My Collection (until my camera drowned).
Vandy's collection:

Until then happy running and trekking !
(Pic Courtesy Vandana)


abhay said...

Thanks Balu , very nice.
I hope no one misses Beach Gokarna now :-).

Yogesh Naik said...

Some Trek Links here :-
Paid Trek -

Quite Good... I stay in Karwar, but cant make it to Gokarn, What a Pity !! Cycling down to Gokarna from Karwar takes 2.5 hours !! and its a wonderful experience...Better done before Feb or else our backs will be roasted...

Balu said...

Thanks Yogesh for the links... next time will make sure to trek Half Moon and Paradise...

Rajkumar Iyer said...

Beach Running hmm... Good

Anonymous said...

hehehe nice pics. Vandy good job amma. I envy ppl who jog/run on the beach daily. But i guess it would get boring if one had to run up and down the same stretch day in and day out.

Princess Fiona said...

awesome pics...glad u had a nice time...

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