Gokarna has been a popular tourist destination since the 1970’s and 80’s, which was when hippies came to this place in Karnataka’s Uttara Kannada district in large numbers only to settle here thereafter. Many people find their way into the temple town as a weekend getaway, more or less.
When walking through the small, narrow alleys and streets in Gokarna with the sacred cows alongside you can see vendors selling miscellaneous articles on either side of the street. It is often a tourist activity to buy small idols of Lord Shiva, rudraksha prayer beads, and other paraphernalia related to Hindu religion when in the temple town.
Gokarna is also popularly known as a hippie’s paradise. Nowhere the hippie culture reflects more in Gokarna as in the streets and alleys. People make sure to visit the Hippies and the Halakkis in person and listen to their migration tales when they reach Gokarna on holiday. Some even get inspired by their tales only to stay back and lead a bohemian life albeit short lived. A glimpse of the laidback lives can be experienced in the cottages in Gokarna.
The temple town also has an indigenous population of the Halakkis. The majority of the tribal people in South India’s Uttara Kannada district can be spotted in the surroundings of the Mahabaleshwar temple. The Halakkis in Gokarna sells curios, flower, and vegetables on the streets. You can identify them from the traditional attire and unique jewelry.
The fishermen on Kudle and Om beach show an eagerness to take tourists on a catamaran ride after fishing. However, you still have to bargain hard to venture ahead into the Arabian Sea. The boat ride from one beach in Gokarna to the other is sure to leave you excited and it is best experienced. The temple town has several cottages, cafes and hotels all lined up along the two main beaches.
A beach trek is a must when staying in a Gokarna resort much like tasting a seafood dish like a Tuna sandwich in a beachside cafe. The salty blue waters of the Arabian Sea offer a sense of refreshment unlike no other city in South India. The secluded beaches are the reason why the Hippies came exploring the temple town just like millions of visitors from the world over even in this day and age.
Gokarna is one of the best tourist destinations in South India. This beautiful coastal town has something in store for everyone; be they adventure seekers, pilgrims, shopaholics, or architecture lovers.
There are many beach resorts and budget hotels in Gokarna that are sure to take you by surprise with their wondrously low rates and opulent facilities. However, there are many factors that you must consider while choosing Gokarna beach resorts or any other hotels here. Some of them are given below.
Distance to your Destinations
The first thing you must consider while choosing a resort is its distance to the destinations that you want to visit. For this, you must make a list of all the places that you want to visit in Gokarna; try to choose fewer places if you are planning a weekend trip. Besides, there may be many unexpected challenges on your trip, especially while traveling long distances; so plan accordingly.
While hunting for resorts you must consider all these places on your list; that is the destinations from starting to end and choose a resort, which is at minimum distance from all these places. However, Gokarna is a small town and almost all the tourist attractions are at an accessible distance. So, choose a resort that will come in the center point of these places.
Budget is one of the main factors that you must watch out for while choosing resorts in Gokarna. There are many high-end resorts as well as budget hotels in Gokarna. So, choose any of these top-notch resorts for a luxurious stay.
Similarly, if you want an affordable stay, you can choose any budget hotels here. Additionally, try to have food from affordable street shops that you can see almost everywhere in Gokarna. Otherwise, make sure that the resort you choose provides the best food for affordable rates. Try to choose traditional food at Gokarna like seafood, Gokarna thali meals, etc, as it is very cheap here.
Once you decide your budget, the next step is to choose a resort that provides maximum facilities with that budget. Gokarna is a place that is famous for its beaches, so try to choose any beach resorts here so that you can enjoy your evenings embracing the cool breeze and waves from the sea.
Some resorts will also provide water sports, campfires, beach parties, etc for their customers. Besides, check for the complimentary options that they provide. Most of the resorts offer free buffet breakfast, doctor call facilities, personal coffee machine and hairdryer, free room services, etc as complimentary gifts, to ensure a pleasant stay for their customers.
When someone says beaches in India, one of the first things to come to mind is Gokarna. This city in Karnataka is well known for its sightseeing spots and idyllic beaches. Gokarna is a place to be if you like watching the sunset, bathing in the ocean, meeting new people, or enjoying delicious food. It is located fifty kilometers south of Goa, and you can rent cottages in Gokarna for a relaxing stay there. But how exactly do you get there?
Getting to Gokarna
The cheapest and perhaps the most appealing way to get to Gokarna is by rail. The closest train station is Gokarna Road, which is around 8 km from the main Gokarna city. However, being a small station, it isn’t connected to the major Indian cities. The only places from where Gokarna Road is accessible are Madgaon, Karwar, Kumta, Ankola, and Mangalore. These stations are well connected to the major Indian cities through rail.
Madgaon and Gokarna
You can take the Maru Sagar express to reach Gokarna from Madgaon, Goa. After you reach Gokarna Road railway station, follow the road for about 1 km (10-minute walk), up until the point where you reach the Gokarna Road. From there, you can catch a bus and get to the main town. There is also the option of shared auto/taxi from right outside the train station.
If you are not taking the train to Gokarna, there are buses from the major cities such as Goa, Mumbai, Bangalore, Hubballi, Pune, and Mangalore. If you get there from Goa, you can take a local bus from Madgaon to Karwar, and then catch another bus to reach Gokarna. Bus and Gokarna beach hotels bookings can be done online on most major travel websites.
Once you are in Gokarna town, strolling is easily one of the favorite ways to get around. The main attraction of the town is an original picture of the Athmalinga, or Lord Shiva’s linga. Other than that, you will also get to hit the 4 beaches towards the south of the town.
Gokarna Beach is usually jam-packed with people visiting the nearby Mahabaleshwar Temple. Kudle beach is about a 25-minute walk from Gokarna beach. Om beach is another 20-minute walk from there. If you are want more, you can hit the Paradise beach after a 40 minute stroll. All of this walking may not be what you are looking for, in which case, you can hire a two-wheeler for INR 300-400/day.
Gokarna is situated at the meeting point of River Kali and the Arabian Sea in Karnataka’s Uttara Kannada district. Beachside trekking is one of the to-do things in this South Indian town, which is made famous by the Mahabaleshwar Temple.
The temple town has age-old traditions that continue to attract visitors from across the world. If you want some inner peace when in Gokarna, try any of the below things to do to make your trip worthwhile.
Practice Beachside Yoga
The Half Moon Beach is one of the most visited virgin beaches in Gokarna. It resembles a lagoon to the naked eye than just a beach and has only a few shacks and restaurants when compared to other beaches in the temple town. This makes it ideal for practicing meditation and yoga.
The perfect time to find inner peace in Half Moon Beach is during sunrise or sunset. Other than that, even Gokarna beach resorts provide the space to practice yoga against the serene shorelines of the Arabian Sea.
Get an Ayurvedic Message
Ayurveda is a system of medicine, the origins of which trace back to the Atharva Veda. It has been part of India’s spiritual culture for as long as anyone can remember. In fact, even modern medicine would agree that relaxing massage with warm oil across the body or an Ayurvedic head massage rejuvenates the body and mind unlike few of forms of exercises.
It is perfect if you want to reduce weight, stress, blood cholesterol levels, and find harmony in life. If you are in Gokarna, do get yourselves an oil massage that takes cues from Ayurveda.
Taste Local Delicacies
There is no retreat anywhere in the world without tasting local food, and Gokarna is perfect for that. After all, who could resist when given an array of choices involving everything from seafood to coconut Upma, or a Goa-style fish curry to a lobster meal.
When on a weekend getaway in this laidback town, eating exquisite food is the only norm for people coming from different parts of the world. The seafood here is simply mouth-watering; and even vegans do not have be disappointed, as there are lots of places in Gokarna that have Italian pasta or an Indian-style Thali meal on their menu. Jump into any local food joints and you will know if it is worth the hype.
Gokarna is one of the best tourist spots in South India where serenity meets harmony. Gokarna is also one of the best pilgrimage destinations for Hindus. Other than this spiritual side, Gokarna is also exciting and adventurous. The pleasant nature of the town and tranquil beaches adds to it. There is a wide variety of water sports in Gokarna, which is sure to give you an adrenaline rush. Below are some of the best and exciting water activities in Gokarna.
Surfing at Cocopelli Surf School
This is the only surf school in Gokarna that is affiliated with the International Surfing Association (ISA) and all the instructors here are also ISA certified. Here, you can start your surfing lessons from Gokarna main beach under the guidance of experienced surfers. The cool and pleasant waves of the beach will provide enough oxygen for you while padding.
The best time to visit Cocopelli Surf School to start your surfing classes is from October to May. They will provide a full surfing kit that includes surfing board, guards, wetsuits, and flippers. Additionally, the school also offers various surf trips along the Indian coastlines.
Dolphin Spotting in Karwar
Karwar is regarded as one of the green cities of India that promotes eco-tourism. This beautiful town is famous for their various water sports like snorkeling, banana boat ride, kayaking, etc. One of the main and unique attractions here is the dolphin spotting,
Dolphin spotting is one of the best things to do in Gokarna, especially if there are small kids with you. You can also see them jumping out of the water if you are lucky. What’s more, there is no special season for dolphin spotting; it is available throughout the year.
Scuba Diving in Netrani Island
Netrani is a beautiful island in Murudeshwar, which is at an accessible distance from Gokarna. This heart shaped island, which is also known as the pigeon island, astonishes tourists with tranquil waters and picturesque views, which add to the charm of the trip.
This is one of the best places to enjoy reasonable scuba diving. Here, you can observe the magical aquatic life by going deep into the shallow and crystal clear water. Additionally, you will get all the gears required for your diving and you will be supervised by the best and certified scuba diving professionals here.
En route Kumta beach to Gokarna beach, people pass through more than 15 beaches on foot. If you need to explore a different path of South India, take the trekking adventure that is unlike the other forms of hiking.
The journey starts at Kumta beach, and en route, you can stop by beaches namely Vannalli, Kadle, Paradise, Nirvana, Half-Moon, and Om Beach. Obviously, it ends at Gokarna, the town made famous by the Mahabaleshwar Temple and its serene beachside views.
It is a long trek between the two towns in Karnataka’s Uttara Kannada district. Note that it is a two-day trip, which covers around 15 to 20 kilometers in all including some off the beaten paths, and some with no shops. That is one of the reasons why participating trekkers carry with them water, and backpack food. Regardless, pack light in order to keep the trek going without much interruption except for a want to stop to enjoy the scenery.
The perfect time to take the beach trek from Kumta to Gokarna tends to be following the recession of the South Indian monsoon from November until February. If you can walk long, this adventure is worth the wait and is suitable especially if you have fitness.
Trekkers alternate the paths from the beaches to the hill spots en route the long trial and continue the walk via picturesque beaches that one may come across in all of South India. Note that most of such scenic beaches unexplored by regular tourists cannot be accessed by roadways, which makes the trekking all the more worthwhile. Besides, it is a delight for those with interest in landscape photography.
With each step, trekkers will take in the sound of tidal ways that crash onto the rocks and enjoy the sandy rock formations on the beaches alongside the hill spots. If that sounds like your day, certainly there is more fun on the cards while trekking from Kumta to Gokarna such as camping on the beach.
If you have a loved one with you in the crew, consider stopping by any of the beaches and light a bonfire against the shorelines of the Arabian Sea. Once you reach the destination, stay in any of the cottages in Gokarna, explore the temple town, and enjoy a perfect retreat overall.
Gokarna, with its rich historical and spiritual legacy, is unlike any other beach destinations in India. A search for another place infused in spirituality and natural abundance alongside the coastline would prove fruitless. Gokarna has it all, and there is no other place, where one could find a mixture of both the ancient aura and modern culture.
The place is now a thriving tourist destination due to its splendid beaches and most importantly because of its festive spiritual vibe. There are several places in and around Gokarna suffused with history, natural wonder, and amazement, and visiting them are a treat to the senses. The following are five of the best places to visit in and around Gokarna.
The majestic rock formations of Yana are an incredible destination near Gokarna. Located at a distance of 45.9 kilometers from Gokarna, Yana has some of the most remarkable rock formations in the country. Known as Mohini Shikhara and Bhairaveshwara Shikhara, these rocks are 90 and 120 meters high with a cave underneath that contains the Swayambhu Linga. Yana is a major pilgrimage center and has many other attractions as well such as the Vibhooti falls.
The Sathodi Falls
The Sathodi Falls is situated 74 kilometers from Gokarna and is one of the most stunning waterfalls in Karnataka. The falls have various streams combined at the Kallaramane Ghat and join into the waters of the Kodasalli dam. Its sheer beauty has made many refer to it as the ‘Mini Niagara Falls’, so visiting the waterfalls during a trip to Gokarna would be a worthwhile experience.
The Mirjan Fort is yet another stunning place to visit around Gokarna. Located at a distance of 11 kilometers from Gokarna, this majestic fort has historical origins attributed to the 16th Century by the Queen Chennabhairavadevi of Gersoppa. The location of the fort is scenic with a tributary of the Sharavati River running beneath it.
There is nothing sublime and serene than watching the enormous statue of Lord Shiva at the Murudeshwar temple. Murudeshwar is a major pilgrim center located near Gokarna and is distinguished by its Dravidian style temple. The Atma Linga is worshiped at the temple in Murudeshwar and is one among the seven Muktikshetras in India.
Sirsi is yet another prominent town located at a distance of 80 kilometers from Gokarna. The town is known for its confluence of various religious faiths such as Hinduism and Jainism. Sirsi also features a picturesque coastline and abundant biodiversity alongside various attractions like the ancient Marikamba temple.
The beachside climate and pristine beauty of Gokarna is perfect for a retreat with friends and family. This town in Karnataka’s Uttara Kannada district is primarily known for its temples. Besides that, Gokarna has plenty other attractions that lure tourists from all parts of the world besides India. Find a compilation of four to-do activities in Gokarna below. Once you are there, you will come across more places and activities.
Go Shopping Around
The flea market in town features plenty of stalls selling everything from Kurtas to harem pants among other outfits that are printed with religious symbols. It offers visitors a glimpse of 1980’s hippie culture to the tourists. However, in order to find the best buy from any of the shops, you will still need to bargain hard. If you go to the flea market in the Kudle beach, on the other hand, you get yourselves herbs, music instruments, and so forth.
Relax with a Bonfire
Beaches in Gokarna border the shorelines of the Arabian Sea. It is a quiet and serene place to be in, especially if you are planning to relax or get some much-needed break. If you come to this town with your friends anytime soon, light a bonfire and chill-out by the beachside. To see the flames go up against the sea in the backdrop and to get cool air by the seashore is something that cannot be expressed in mere words.
Take a Cycling Trip
When in the beachside cottages in Gokarna, try bicycling at least one to make the trip worthwhile. Gokarna has ancient forts that are perfect for bicycling in small groups. If you have time at hand, rent a bicycle and ride up to Mirijan Fort. Note that it will take around a couple of hours of your time, no matter which beachside you travel from, yet it will surely help you to escape some stresses of life.
Gokarna offers sea lovers a chance to wear a snorkel on the face and dive into the sea, to around fifteen feet if not more. Many of the facilities in the town enable visitors to do this as an underwater adventure besides scuba diving. In fact, when in Gokarna, your options for marine-time exploration are aplenty. It is one reason why many put the town on the list of must-see places in South India.
Gokarna is one of the top-rated tourist spots in South India. It is also well known for its wide-ranging temples, architectural wonders, and beaches. Other than that, Gokarna is also famous for its adventurous water sports. So if you are heading to the place anytime soon, below is how you should prepare the itinerary for an exciting experience in Gokarna.
Even though it is difficult to explore the city in two days, you can spend a perfect two-day vacation in Gokarna if you plan things well. Note that if you try to cover all the attractions here in this short time, you will not be able to enjoy well. So, choose the places that you want to see and plan accordingly. If you are going on weekends, check for the special events and happenings, and try to include those in your itinerary.
When you are going for a weekend trip, it is obvious that you must choose compact luggage. Try to include your important items in your backpack a small trolley bag. Take only one pair of shoes; wear it instead of packing. Make sure that your shoe is of good quality and can survive all the walking, running, and trekking you are planning to enjoy. Most importantly, pack your dress only after checking the weather.
Start your day 1 in Gokarna by visiting the famous Om beach and Kudle beach in the morning. Here, you can enjoy the spiritual vibe or take part in the many adventurous water sports. After having your lunch, go for a walk through the streets in order to understand the culture and lifestyle of the people here.
After that, either walk or hire a cab to the Mahabaleshwar temple and discover the Dravidian architectural styles. Then move on to the popular Namaste café in the evening and enjoy some tea and snacks. Before wrapping up the day, wander through the streets, enjoy shopping, and try some street food as well.
Start your second day on the half-moon beach. You can reach here by hiking or by riding a motorboat from the Om beach. Here, you can see plenty of rocks and sparkling clean sand.
Head over to paradise beach or full moon beach from here using a motorboat. As the name suggests, it is really a paradise for all the beach lovers. After enjoying good food from the shacks, go to the colorful Maha Ganapathi temple at night and spend some peaceful time there.
Pro tip: Try to stay at any budget hotels in Gokarna and avail Gokarna transportation pass to cut the costs. You can also try food from street vendors instead of luxurious hotels, if you were that budget-conscious.
Gokarna is one of the well-known pilgrimage centers in South India. These spiritual centers in the city will also enlighten you with the years-old beautiful and astounding architectural wonders. The scenic beauty and the picturesque beaches in the city make this place one of the most favorite tourist spots as well. If you can expand your horizon a little bit, you can explore many amusing sculptures and other marvelous architectures, which will leave you eye-popping.
Below are the famous places to visit in Gokarna for an enlightening break.
Maha Ganapathi Temple
Maha Ganapathi temple is the colorful sanctum located near the famous Mahabaleshwar temple. This is one of the best pilgrimage spots in Gokarna for all the Hindu followers. The deity here is the Hindu lord Vinayaka (Ganesha) and the idol is made of a black stone. Local belief is that this is the place where Lord Ganesha tricked the demon king Ravana.
Other than this, the temple will mark off travel goals for most artists out there. The color combination and the stonework of the shrine are just awesome. This beautiful temple is just 6 km from the Gokarna bus station. You can also trek in this area for some adrenaline rush.
Koti Tirtha is one of the best holy spots in Gokarna, which is crammed with Hindu devotees all the time. The meaning of Koti Tirtha is a “thousand springs”. According to the legends, the origin of thousand springs happened here, and the place got its name.
The main belief here is that if you dip yourselves in the holy lake of Koti Tirtha, all your sins will wash away. Hence, many spiritual people flock to this sacred place every day to take a dip in the lake, which is surrounded by many temples on all sides. Koti Tirtha is at a walking distance from the Ganapathi temple and Mahabaleshwar temple.
Gokarna Main Beach
Gokarna main beach is also known as the pilgrim’s beach and forms the coastline of Gokarna town. The beach will be crowded with devotees all the time. They dip themselves in the sea in order to offer their prayers to Lord Shiva at the Mahabaleshwar temple.
The beach is also famous for adventurous water sports like surfing, snorkeling, etc. However, the best option for water sports is Om beach, as this beach will always be crammed with pilgrims. If you want to spend some serene moments, it is better to head north to the Kudle beach, which is one of the best places to visit in Gokarna.