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.