Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Beaches of Gokarna, Karnataka, India – It can’t get any better!!

The previous evening, I had visited the Yaana hills nestled in the Western Ghats nearby. I had returned to camp the night at Gokarna – the town that is known for its beaches and its spirituality.

Gokarna is situated on the Karavali coast, to the north of Kumta and is nestled between the mouths of the rivers Agnashini and Gangavali. It is situated about 470 km NW of Bangalore.

Early in the morning, I went to the Mahabaleshwar temple to offer my prayers. It is here that I saw the 6 foot tall atmalinga. The entire streets surrounding the temple carry the fragrance and paraphernalia that one associates with pilgrimage towns.

Next, I began my beach visits. First on my list was the one that was the closest – the Gokarna beach. When I reached here, I found out that this was more the pilgrim’s beach and people take their religious bath here before proceeding to the temple.

I trekked 30 minutes south to reach a fine stretch of beach that is called the Kudle beach. This beach is nearly a kilometre long and is crescent shaped. It was cleaner than the Gokarna beach and was pretty popular with the tourists considering the amount of shacks and shops alike that were present near the beach.

I had lunch on the Kudle beach at one of the small shacks near and walked back to the temple where my bike was parked. From here, I rode through small roads that took me uphill.

After riding for about 5 kms, I was treated to fabulous views of the Kudle beach and the rocky cliffs. Another 3 kms uphill ride and a walk down the 100 steps below took me to the extremely picturesque OM Beach.

This beach gets its name from the two semi-circular coves that join to form an inverted symbol of OM. This beach is known for its spiritual hippies – with ash smeared on their foreheads, tattoos all over their body, long hair and beard and beads all over.

A great beach getaway – the OM Beach offers a lot for the tourist – relaxation, yoga, beach sports and some water sports. A lot of Europeans prefer this beach to the ones in Goa and one can spot them renting shacks for months, soaking in the sun, playing their guitar and living at one of nature’s best hideouts.

Close by are the more secluded Half Moon and Paradise beaches. One has to climb over the rocky cliffs or take a boat ride to reach them. Since I was running short on time, I couldn’t visit them, but plan to definitely camp there when I am headed towards Gokarna in the future.

Another popular option at Gokarna is to go on a moonlight trek from the Gokarna to the Half Moon beaches via the Kudle and OM beaches. A lot of outdoor groups organize such trekking activities.

The beaches of Gokarna – a pure and timeless experience!!

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