The ear of the cow - Gokarna Town

To get to Gokarna, one has to reach Ankola where local buses run every half an hour to Gokarna bus stand. The first bus from Karwar to Ankola leaves at around 530 and almost all buses towards the south pass through Ankola. I boarded the first bus and reached Ankola within forty five minutes. The first bus to Gokarna leaves at 7am. I waited patiently and soon enough a rickety bus arrived. The ride to Gokarna is quite pleasant. Passing through the countryside, the quaint NH17 is always full of sights and surprises.

I saw Drongos flitting past, there were numerous Kingfishers and Bulbuls sang as we passed a mighty river. We then turned right, off the highway and the final stretch to the holy town of Gokarna had begun. The many faces of Gokarna is what makes this quite coastal town so interesting. It is home to Sanskrit schools and to beach shacks, it is where lies the Atma Lingam - Shiva's most potent weapon and a beach shaped like Om. On one side you have saffron clad priests walking briskly and on the other, fellows sporting dreadlocks and a Ganesha tee walking behind them. The smell of incense is persistent near the temple while acrid smell of weed is prominent near the beaches. Where cows and women in bikinis lounge together by the sea. It's a town full of contrasts, just like the country that we call home. 

 A total of 6 beaches can be found here. But in my opinion Kudle beach is the ideal base camp. One can reach Kudle beach by trekking uphill on a scenic route from the bus stand or from Om beach. On both sides motorable road ends about 20-30 metres above sea level and one then needs to navigate to an uneven terrain to get to the beach. The climb and descent are both worth it as Kudle remains home to serious travellers. Plenty of accommodation and food options are available to suit all budgets. On Day 1, I climbed up the slope to Om beach. It did resemble an Om but I thought Kudle beach was much better. Concrete steps lead down to the beach and a whole horde of tourists descend upon it. Primarily to watch the sunbathers. But that is understandable, although Om Beach is not a nudist beach as is the folklore amongst adolescent teens. An auto back into town from Kudle or Om will cost you Rs.150 flat for the 10km ride. 

If you like taking long walks on the beach, especially during Sunset, the main beach is perfect. Starfish are strewn about on the sand and the surf breaks lightly on the shore, the sun sets in the background and the sky is awash with colours even after the sun has disappeared from view. I walked this stretch on the first evening. By the time I had covered the entire stretch it was pitch dark and I was hungry. 

I made my way back to main town and enquired for a good place to have some fish. Everyone directed me to a place called Om Restaurant. It turned out to be a noisy bar with a few drunkards staggering about. I wasn’t in the mood for a chaotic dinner so I walked out and landed at a small place called Pai Tasty Home. Mr. Pai cooked only three Chicken dishes. Chicken Chilly, Sukka and Curry. I ordered a chicken sukka and within minutes, a freshly made bowl filled with tender pieces of chicken sauteed in masala, tomato and onions was presented to me. 4 chapatis were enough to fill me up and for Rs.56 it was a great meal. The next day was spent idling by the beach and swimming. The slope of the shore is gradual and it’s not very deep. One needs to swim over 30 yards to achieve some depth. 

The Sunset hour again was beautiful. Most of the travellers sat in silence, watching the sun set slowly over the Arabian sea casting a beautiful golden glow on all of us. Somewhere in the distance, someone played the Djembe, some practiced yoga and some like me, just sat and watched. 

The crescent shaped moon made a silent appearance and stayed the night. The evening was cool and after a light dinner I was off to bed for the great beach trek that was lined up for the morning. Two days in Gokarna had been memorable and I was looking forward to my last day in this holy town.

More photos: here


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