Some call Gokarna the poor man’s Goa. Not true. It’s more like the peace-loving, crowd-hating man’s (or woman’s, for reasons of political correctness) Goa. What the temple town lacks in the bustling beaches and rowdy partying associated with Goa, it makes up for with the peace and serenity of a day by its clean, sandy beaches and clear blue waters.
I had been hearing about Gokarna for years and had made several plans to go there, but i could never really see them through for some reason or the other. By the end of the repeated disappointments, i was like Pavlov’s dog – when somebody even so much as mentioned the ‘G’ in Gokarna, my heart reacted with palpitations and my brain with an irrational fear that i would never make it to the place. It just gave me a bad feeling, like it wasn’t meant to be. You see, for a person like me who plans for holidays and never, NEVER cancels them (it’s been a slightly different story since), to plan for a place at least four times and not have it materialise is sheer trauma.
The jinx broke in 2010, when us work friends decided to holiday there over a long weekend.
We took a bus from Bangalore, almost missing it and near-tainting my spotless record of having never missed a train, bus or plane ever. The town is sandwiched between the Western Ghats and the Arabian Sea and the only way to get there is through the ghats – not a pleasant journey for those who feel the need to empty their stomach with every lurch around bends and every climbing, winding road – unless you want to take the train to Karwar and hire a taxi to Gokarna. It was quite scary, the way the bus swung from side to side; and if you have a driver who sometimes veers off the path in the ghat section like ours did, your heart will be in your mouth by the time you reach the town, with an uneasy feeling that the rest of your organs are not where they should be either.
Having survived Driver Uncle’s Milan circuit ride, we headed to Gokarna International – a hotel by Kudle beach. The location was perfect: step out of the reception and you’re on the beach with fine sand to caress your feet and clear blue waters beyond for a swim. Om beach is the more popular destination with most tourists, so we had Kudle almost all to ourselves.
We vegetated, mostly. When we could muster enough will to venture out, we went to Paradise Island and spent an evening there, but otherwise the trip was all about unwinding and letting the sea take over our senses and wash away our city life-exhaustion.
Go if: you have two-three days to spare (more if you really want to soak in the place), want a people-free holiday and no pedlars/hawkers to come and disturb you. Avoid the crowds and head to Kudle. It’s delightfully peaceful.