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.
The picturesque natural surroundings, the pristine unpopulated beaches, and the elegantly designed temples and other religious structures in Gokarna make it an ideal travel destination for tourists who prefer to stay away from crowded and busy tourist landmarks in the country. In fact, the little town of Gokarna is one of the most visited and popular tourist destinations in India. In addition to that, Gokarna is a major pilgrim center and is considered as one of the seven major pilgrim centers in the Hindu scriptures.
Several tourists who visit Gokarna are not aware of the fact that the name of the town is actually derived from a Hindi word and it means ‘cow’s ear’. You might be a little bit surprised to know that this little town, which is situated between the rivers Aghanashini and Gangavali, is shaped exactly like a cow’s name, hence, the name “go-karna”.
Many visitors who are planning a trip to Gokarna often ask what the must-visit places in Gokarna are. If you are one among them, then below is a list of top three places that you should certainly visit while you are touring Gokarna with your friends or family members.
One of the most visited and best tourist spots in Gokarna is undoubtedly the Kudle beach, which sits on the southern side of the Gokarna beach. The grin cliffs on both sides of the beach, white sands, and the greenish blue water of Kudle beach makes it one of the best tourist landmarks in the town.
The Om beach in Gokarna is actually split by a rocky island; it is the sister beach of Kudle beach when it comes to popularity. One-half of the Om beach is lined up with a number of luxurious cafes and restaurants, while the other half contains vast sandy shores with sand and clean waters.
As you might know, the Mahabaleshwar Temple in Gokarna is one of the most popular Shiva temples in India. This famous Shiva temple contains two lingams, which are named as the Atmalingam and the Paralingam. The Mahabaleshwar Temple, which was built by Kadamba King Mauryasharma, features an elegant Dravidian architecture style, and is truly a relaxing site to visit when in Gokarna.
A visit to Gokarna is not all about strolling or sunbathing in its majestic beaches but also trekking along its moderate trekking paths. Taking a walk in its spectacular hiking trails is one way to explore the rich biodiversity of the region and glimpse at the expansive blue stretch of the Arabian Sea. The most prominent trekking area is the Golden Trail, an 8-kilometer trail that covers many of its beaches.
Besides, these trekking paths along the different beaches are perfect places to camp and explore thus allowing the visitors to get to know more about the region. Many such offbeat beach trekking destinations are located in and around Gokarna that are worthwhile places to check out. The following are some beaches to explore at the Golden Trail trek at Gokarna.
The Kudle beach is the starting point for carrying out trek along the beaches of Gokarna. The beach is perfect for walking along its unique arch-shaped shoreline that extends to about one kilometer. A leisurely hike along the shoreline requires about 30-40 minutes. Besides, the beach is a truly picturesque location that offers a spectacular view of the sea. Beach volleyball is also organized at the beach that will definitely be a relief while camping at Gokarna.
Next along the hiking path is the famous Om Beach located at a distance of one kilometer. Noted as one of the most popular beaches in Gokarna, the Om Beach is an auspicious space where many pilgrims take a dip in the waters. There is a cliff on the side leading to the Shiva point, which offers a breathtaking view of the oceanic blue stretches of the Arabian Sea. Besides, there are several Gokarna beach resorts, shacks, and cafes located at the Om Beach, which is perfect for relaxing or having food and drinks.
Half Moon and Paradise Beach
The Half Moon Beach is the next place along the trekking path that involves traversing through rocky and hilly terrains. Along the trek, there is an excellent viewpoint known as the Rock of Peace that offers an excellent view of the waters and if lucky dolphins. The last point of the trek, known as the Paradise Beach, is known for its tranquility and less crowd. With lots of palm trees, this white sand covered beach is the perfect place to enjoy the serenity of nature and for camping.