Gokarna can actually mean any of two places, the holy village or the hippie beach town. Yes, the difference is that stark. Gokarna literally means cow’s ear. It lies 50km south of Karwar and is around 490kms from the metropolis of Bangalore. You can take a train or bus, I would suggest the drive up the winding path with the rocky mountains and Western Ghats on one side and the Arabian Sea on the other.
It is a popular haunt for the techies and artsies from Bangalore and Mangalore, and also attracts a huge percentage of foreigners. It comes across as one of those hippie beach towns where you don’t really know what you’re smoking and it’s alright to not to remember what you did last night; one of those offbeat places to visit near Bangalore. It was also under Portuguese rule with Goa and will find the similarities galore. Blue seas, clean sand, coconut and palm trees, Gokarna is a charming little town. It has two main streets, a couple of stores and traditional tile-roofed brick houses.
You don’t have to plan a trip to Gokarna or book a holiday package ahead. Just zip up your backpack, pick up a couple of friends or head off by yourself. There are more than a couple of beaches to explore. Main beach and Gokarna beach are in town and are mostly visited by pilgrims. The other four are like a hippy’s paradise with drums, guitars, hammocks and an ecelectic melange’ of people. Kuddle beach and Om beach (naturally Om shaped) are around 6 km from Gokarna town along a muddy hill; they are accessible by rickshaw or foot. Half moon and Paradise are beyond Om beach and are accessible only by foot or boat. These are the more remote, smaller beaches. You will find a place to crash from one of the numerous café’/guesthouses and shacks on the beach.
Try some good coastal Karnatakan seafood, curries and rice. You will also find typical continental fare in most of the café’s. The gypsies will show you the rest!
Just bear in mind that the quaint village is primarily a holy place, especially if you plan on sun baking. So either keepyour shoulders and knees covered or take your parties to the out-of-town beaches.Sun worshippers and Hindu pilgrims rub shoulders in the six temples situated here, the most famous on the Mahableshwar temples that houses the ‘Atmalinga’. Lord Shiva rules supreme; Mahashivaratri and KartikaMahotsava are the most popular festivals. The Hindus believe it to be a sacred place for performing last rites.
It’s one of the yet to be discovered tourist places near Bangalore.
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