Varkala – A lesser known gem of Kerala

Tucked in the southern part of Kerala, away from the typical touristy locales of the state, Varkala sits on edge of Trivandrum. Apart from being known as Kerala’s ‘Temple Town’, Varkala is also recognized as ‘one of the top 10 seasonal beaches in the world’. The endless expanse of the Arabian Sea, the golden sands, and the laid-back vibes make this town a perfect place to relax.

Getting there

Being close to Trivandrum, the best way to reach Varkala is by air till Trivandrum airport. From there you can hire a car and reach the beach town, at a distance of about 51 Km. There are also buses and trains from Trivandrum to Varkala.

Things to do in Varkala

To see

  • Janardana Swami temple– Dedicated to Lord Vishnu, this is one of the most famous places of worship in Varkala overlooking the Varkala Beach. The 2000-year old temple enshrines an ancient deity of Vishnu and is an important site for Vaishnavas. The temple also houses a historic bell that had once been brought in by the sea from a wrecked Dutch vessel.
  • Sivagiri Mutt– At about 2.5 Km from Varkala town, this mutt or ashram stands as a spiritual place. Commemorating Shree Narayana Guru, a holy saint, this place evolved as a place that promoted equality of humans, irrespective of their religion, caste, and creed.
  • Papanasham Beach– Varkala Beach, also known as the Papanasham Beach is known for its natural beauty as well as spiritual significance. This white sandy beach, lined with towering laterite cliff, imparts a breathtaking vista. For nature lovers, this beach is an ideal spot to watch the sunset against the clear blue sea. The beach, miraculously, also has a natural freshwater spring which is believed to be sacred and bathing here can wash away one’s sins. Hence the name (pap- sins, nasham- to get rid of).
  • Anjengo Fort – Away, but not far from Varkala town, the Anjengo Fort stands as a remnant of Kerala’s rich historical past. From the Portuguese to the Dutch and then the English East India Company, Anjengo remained a place of historical significance in Kerala. It houses an old English fort, dating back to 1700s, which is a now a National Heritage Monument.
  • Varkala Tunnel– Established in 1867, this is a 924 feet long tunnel that runs through the periphery of the town. Built by the Dewan of Travancore, for the East India Company, this 151 canal served as an internal waterway as well as an irrigation source.

To experience

  • The expansive beaches of Varkala offer an array of beach activities like swimming, parasailing, and windsurfing, or simply sunbathing on the golden sands. There are surfing equipment on rent and also the Surf and Soul school which provides surfing training for beginners.
  • Kerala is known for its profound understanding and practice of natural remedies and traditional Ayurveda. And Varkala has are a host of Ayurvedic centers and spas, offering therapeutic treatments.
  • Stay at one of the yoga retreats on the beach which offer yoga therapies and meditation sessions for a relaxing vacation.
  • Get rejuvenated at the natural spring which is rich in sea minerals and clay, and is known for its healing properties.
  • Try snorkeling at the Thiruvambadi Beach or Papanasham beach and explore the underwater.
  • Shop at the beachside shops or from the vendors selling jewelry, locally handcrafted trinkets, and colorful hippie goods.

To eat

Kerala’s cuisine is known for its eclectic mix of traditional and contemporary flavors.

  • Head to Jicky’s Rooms, Oottupura and Hotel Suprabhatham for simple and delectable vegetarian flair.
  • If you are looking for international flavors, then Café Del Mar is the perfect place for Italian and Mexican food.
  • The beachside eateries like Dolphin Bay and Funky Art Café are backpackers’ pit stops and make for great places to hang out on the beach.

Chorao Island – Goa’s Best Kept Secret

Image source: Wikipedia

Adventurous, exciting, memorable, relaxing, rejuvenating- Goa can be anything you want from your ideal vacation. However, besides what you see and what you know about Goa, India’s favorite beach destination has more to it than what meets the eye. And hidden in its greenery and beyond the waves are little secrets of ancient treasure. One such best-kept secret (not so much of a secret anymore) is the Chorao Island. Replete with antiquated churches, colonial homes, and cemeteries, the island is steeped in history and still emanates the old vibes.  

Reaching Chorao Island

Located 5 Km northwards from the capital city of Panjim, the Chorao Island is a historic Portuguese settlement along the Mandovi River. You have to take a ferry from Ribandar to reach the island. The ferries are well equipped to haul a car and other smaller vehicles. The island is also connected to the nearby towns of Mapusa at 10 Km and Vasco at 50 Km. So, if you are traveling from any town or village within Goa, you can hire a car to reach Chorao.

History of the island

The Chorao Island is the largest (in land area) among all the 17 islands of Goa. As much as the island is connected to history, it also has a mythological reference to its existence. It is said that this piece of land emerged from under the water when Yashoda, Krishna’s mother threw away a handful of diamonds into the sea. And hence, the island was named Chudamani (precious stone) in Sanskrit. Later when the Portuguese noblemen landed here, they named it to suit their nobility and lifestyle and called it the Ilha Dos Fidalgos or the Island of Noblemen. Further to suit their linguistic ability, they transformed the name to Chorao.

Exploring Chorao Island

The highlight of Chorao is its widespread bird sanctuary, which is the largest in Goa. The Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary spreads across 178 hectares of natural land. Surrounded by dense mangroves from the inlets of the sea, this natural reserve is home to numerous species of birds like kingfishers, coots, egrets, pintails and more. You can also spot some random wild animals and Goan crocodiles along the swamps. The best way to tour the sanctuary is on a canoe or a local dingy.  

Take a ride through the countryside. As you walk/drive through the palm-lined roads of the Charao village with its clusters of mud houses and thatched roofs, you could feel as if time has stopped here, centuries ago. The distinctive Portuguese architecture with white-washed churches and the colorful homes with intricate woodwork speak of the island’s rich heritage. And, all this amidst sun-kissed greenery, makes this island look like right out of a picture post-card.

The quaintness of the Chorao Island also extends to its temples and churches. Majority of the churches on this island date back to the 16th century, when Portuguese arrived here and established places of worship for their people. The most prominent one of all Catholic Churches is, St. Bartholomew’s Church. Built in 1569, this church reflects a classic Neo-Roman architectural style with multiple spires and subdued façade, but still emanates an aura of old grandeur.

Another noteworthy place of worship is the ‘Our Lady of Grace church’ with its spotless white façade with a blue bell tower. For those who want to unexplored the unknown, there is also a small village chapel, which is not named but is frequented by the local villagers.

There are also a few ancient Hindu temples on the other side of the island. One of the most famous ones being Saptakoteshwar Temple at Narve.

With a strong influence of the ancient Saraswat Brahmins to Portuguese noblemen, the Chorao Islands still hold onto its heritage and make this tiny settlement a must-visit place in Goa.

The Best Goa Tour Itinerary For 2018

Goa, more than just a travel location, an experience to be witnessed

A supremely elegant location for experiencing a richly exotic time with your loved ones and friends, Goa, is popularly known as the land of sun, sand and sea. It holds within itself a treasure trove of awesomeness. From beaches to crystal clear blue skies over sparkling seas, this is one of the most majestic destinations for everyone. Be it a college-going student or a newlywed couple, Goa always amazes everyone.

We get to explore the magical possibilities mother nature holds within her lap here. A perfect location for witnessing some of the best varieties of food, particularly seafood, Goa offers a large number of opportunities to explore a range of spices and flavours of food. But, it is always recommended to dig a little deeper and try to know more about this amazing place. Otherwise you may get to lose the view of some of the lesser known but elegant places that should have been included in your bucket list. Hiring a cab in Goa while travelling through the richly profound ecosystem makes you realize the level of comfort the atmosphere of Goa offers.

The public modes of travel are also available, but don’t offer the luxury and liberty of visiting places that are off the chart of the most popular places to visit in Goa. This simply leads to the loss of opportunities that let us indulge into the rich ecosystem of this place. A perfect example of this case can be seen while visiting the Kakolem Beach. Also known as Tiger Beach, this is one of the most picturesque beaches of Goa and you would surely be needing your own vehicle or hire a local cab to reach this place. Another significant location in Goa is Arvalem Falls, which is located in the Northern part of Goa through which milky water ascends. The Rudreshwar Temple, located near the Arvalem Falls is another picturesque location worth looking forward to. One of the best things about travelling here is the availability of the car rental service in Goa. Local car rental options are very flexible and you can easily customize your itinerary according to your own wish.

 

A Closer Look At The Underrated Gems Of Goa

There are a number of magnificent locations in Goa that are lesser known, but offer a splendid experience. Availability of local car rentals makes it easier to explore the grandeur of all these underrated but awesome terrains. Travelling here is quite economical and it can be easily understood from the fact that Goa taxi rates are nominal and don’t burn a hole in your pocket.

Goa is well known for some of the most beautiful beaches across the globe, but one more thing that easily catches the eyes of the visitors is the traditional cultural heritage of the place. Cabo De Pama is one such heritage. The essence of this old fort lies in the stillness and the complete solitude it offers to the visitors through its magnificent marvels. You can quietly sit here and just look at the horizons beyond the blue waters of the Cabo De Pama Beach.

This is an amazing location for lovers of art and architecture. The age-old Portuguese ruins and old cannons can still be seen here. Another fort widely known for its mesmerizing architecture is Fort Tiracol. One unique feature of this fort, apart from its unmatched beauty is the amazing way in which 7 rooms have been constructed inside it, each named after a day of the week. Located off a cliff, the fort gives a breathtaking view of the mighty Indian Ocean. The fort which is now converted into a hotel provides an experience of a lifetime with its classy elegance and luxurious facilities.

For the lovers of nature, particularly wildlife, Mollem National Park is the place to be. Here you can easily spot Leopards, Sloth Bears and Gaurs, amongst the other enormous variety of flora and fauna. Well known for its hiking and trekking trails, this place is a vividly popular destination among the adventure seekers. And if you used to be a kid who ran after the butterflies, Butterfly Conservatory of Goa is the perfect destination for your dreams to come true. Here you can get a glimpse of more than 130 species of butterflies along with numerous amazing flora and fauna. Carambolim Lake, one of the most exotic freshwater lakes located along the paddy fields in the interior Goa, is a home to lots of migratory ducks, jacanas, moorhens, harriers, pipits, wagtails and kingfishers.

 

Hire A Cab In Goa, And Travel With Comfort As You Don’t Have To Worry About Your Commute.

It has always been a widely discussed topic as well as a source of dilemma among the travellers as to whether they should visit North or South Goa first. The answer to this question is non-specific, but diving deeper and taking an insight of the weather conditions and the travelling destinations of both the places can go a long way in helping the people decide which option suits their comfort level. The car rental services in Goa are economical and the taxi fare is nominal. You can easily use them to reach your specified destination. Talking exclusively about the climate, both parts of Goa carry a tropical weather, but the Southern part of Goa is less humid than its Northern counterpart. Hence, in terms of weather, South Goa definitely has an advantage over North Goa.

Talking about the beaches, the northern beaches including the Baga Beach, Anjuna Beach, Calangute Beach and Vagator Beach are full of life and are well known for their jazzy parties, adventurous water sports and mouth-watering seafood. One can never get over the charm of these beaches after visiting even once. The beaches are usually crowded throughout the tourism season. On the contrary, if you wish to be surrounded by peace, the southern beaches namely Palolem Beach, Majorda Beach and Butterfly Beach are just the ideal spots for you for you.

Visiting South Goa allows you to experience incredible tranquility and view the world with a new perspective. Strolling through the sparkling sands lets you immerse yourself in your own true self and think about the life you are leading. Speaking specifically about the architecture, Goa offers equally mesmerizing architecture in both parts. In the north, Church of Saint Antony’s and Church of Saint Lawrence are vividly popular, while in Southern Goa, we can encounter the marvels of Our Lady of Hope Church, Rachel Seminary and Velim Church. The level of detailing in both parts is equally fabulous even when the southern architecture is a bit newer than its northern counterpart. Goa is famous for its culturally exotic lifestyle hubs, particularly the markets. While the North Goa market is famous for its flea markets, South Goa is known for an exclusive collection of valuable items.

 

Reaching The Most Celebrated Travel Destination Of India

Goa is easily accessible from every corner of India as well as numerous International locations. Dabolim Airport is nearest to the state capital Panaji and is situated at a distance of 26 km from there. This Airport is well connected to the rest of India with daily flights from Chennai, New Delhi, Mumbai, Kochi, Hyderabad and Bangalore. Goa Airport to Calangute taxi fare is genuine and is considered as the best option for arriving at Calangute from Goa Airport. The railway stations connecting Goa with the rest of India are situated in Madgaon and Vasco Da Gama.

The government undertakings that regulate bus services such as KSRTC, MSRTC and KTC are available on a regular basis and connect you with Madgaon and Panaji. A number of cabs are available from different locations and it is easily viable to hire a cab here in order to reach your destination. A number of private bus agencies such as Neeta Tour and Travels, Paulo Travels and Naik Tours and Travels offer the facility of daily bus services from all the major states. Taxi rates of Goa can be searched online and further information regarding them can be collected from local tourist offices. One of the best ways to immerse yourself in the beauty of this place and experience every minute is to hire a cab and take a stop wherever you feel like. Every destination you arrive at offers a picturesque view through the magical vistas of sun, sand and seas.

Pristine Beaches in India: Murudeshwar

From architecture and culture to dramatic landscapes, Murudeshwar, a coastal town in Northern Karnataka, blesses its visitors with a wholesome experience. A trip here would treat you to many visual delights and much more.

The Journey to Murudeshwar

Murudeshwar is located in the northern part of Karnataka. You can book a cab service in Bangalore and enjoy an epic journey across the arid horizons of Karnataka and the majestic verdant heights of the state’s Western Ghats. Some of the stops here are worth spending some time, too. Besides beautiful river valley views accompanying your drive, old forts and palaces, and quaint hill towns are part of the experience and add a majestic feel.

An Untouched Seaside Getaway

The warm azure waters of the Arabian Sea provide an endless backdrop as you explore the town of Murudeshwar. The Murudeshwar beach is known for its silky sands and provides a great shore-side picnic experience. Sit back and unwind with a book or take a long walk along the sea. Murudeshwar beach is not as crowded a hub as some of the other beach towns in the region and this relative seclusion is what attracts the visitors who come here. You can step into the waters and play with the waves, while the two highlights of the town, the Shiva statue and the Murudeshwar temple, loom behind.

Netrani Island is one of the main off-shore attractions. You can indulge in scuba diving and snorkeling here which is, by the way, a great way to see the beautiful underwater terrain up close!

The terrain around the beach is mainly hilly. Another captivating sight on the coastline is the flock of fishing boats which throng and leave the shores daily. When exploring the settlements near the beach, make sure you dig into the local cuisine. Coconut-based desserts are very popular here. Of course, when you are near the sea, expect the freshest of seafood. Some of the other crops grown here in abundance include cashew nuts, jackfruits and mangoes.

Shiva Statue

One of the many structures that would take your breath away as you explore Murudeshwar would be the giant statue dedicated to Sri Anantadrishti, or Lord Shiva. This immaculately-sculpted statue looms over the town and is visible from the sea and the nearby surrounding areas. It is believed to be the second largest statue of Shiva in the world! The 123-foot tall statue is fast becoming the most popular attraction of Murudeshwar and also provides a sensational backdrop for photographers documenting the place.

Murudeshwar Temple

The Murudeshwar temple features a 20-storey tall gopuram, or tower, a quintessential element in South Indian temple architecture. You can climb up to the top of the gopuram and enjoy arresting views of the statue and beyond. The hill-top temple complex of Murudeshwar is surrounded by ocean on three sides and other highlights here include two giant concrete elephants.

Flanked by sea and mountain, Murudeshwar is a destination that will leave you with unforgettable memories. You can find a reliable car on rent in Mangalore and discover the natural and cultural wealth of coastal Western India.

Discover Udupi’s temples, beaches and food

Udupi is a coastal town in the Karnataka state of southern India. While the Udupi restaurants are famous around the globe, particularly with the Indian diaspora for the dosa, idli and other south Indian fare they serve, the town itself is a must-visit tourist destination. Udupi is renowned for its historical Krishna temple and a monastery established by one of the greatest Hindu saints, Madhavacharya.

The city offers some very nice beaches, lush greenery, a series of temples, and the quaint charm, typical of a small coastal town. Unlike the beaches of Goa that lies about 200 miles away, Udupi beaches are less crowded and relatively more serene.

The Sri Krishna Temple and the adjoining monastery (Mutt) top the list of attractions in Udupi. History of the temple dates back to the 13th century and has several local mythological stories attached to it. The architecture of the temple follows the typical Kerala style of temple architecture and presents several layers surrounding the sanctum sanctorum. Free lunch is offered to devotees every day, and the dining halls have only Indian style dining arrangements. According to Hindu tradition, food must always be consumed while seated on the floor so that you connect with the Earth.

The Anantheshwar Temple is another significant religious place in Udupi. It is believed that the temple was built over thousand years ago. Alternatively known as Manjula Kshetra, this is one of the most visited places in Udupi. Kapu Beach is located on NH 66 while driving south off Udupi. The timings to visit the beach keep changing in tune with the season and local conditions. Late evenings are unlikely to be a great bet throughout the year. This beautiful beach is also home to a lighthouse about 100 feet tall.

Malpe Beach is on SH 65 abutting Stella Mary’s Church. The beach is known for its fantastic sunset views. You can book a Savaari cab to head to the beach. This is a clean and nice beach with fewer tourists visiting. Manipal End-point Park is also on SH 65 and represents a small cliff overlooking the Swarna River. This point offers an alluring view of the Arabian Sea on the west and the Western Ghats on the East. Check accessibility when you draw up your itinerary.

St. Mary’s Island lies off the Malpe Beach, and visitors can take a boat ride from the fishing harbour at Malpe. You can witness the rock formations from waves and volcanic lava. Historians link the island to Vasco Da Gama, the Portuguese explorer. Boat services to the island are not available after 6 pm, and at least 30 people fare-paying passengers are needed for the boat to take off. This service may not operate in inclement weather or rough sea conditions. This island is best visited in the forenoon hours.

A visit to Udipi is never complete without tasting the widely acknowledged Udupi vegetarian food. While you can explore many restaurants here, we recommend Mavalli Tiffin Room or MTR whose popularity is growing with each passing day in Southern India, albeit for Vegetarians.

The ideal time to visit Udupi is in the winters between the months of October to February. You can also visit during the monsoons to enjoy the lush green covers and the ambient atmosphere. Udupi does not have an airport, so you have to fly till Mangalore which is about 60 km away, and then book a taxi to reach Udupi. The city is well-connected to other cities via both roads and rail network. You can take a train from Mumbai, Bangalore, Mysore, etc. to reach the Udupi Railway Junction. Private and state transport buses are available from the nearby cities, and so are the private taxis. Local autorickshaws are available to commute within the city. Happy Vacationing!

Pro-tip:

From Udupi, you drive down the gorgeous Malpe Padukar – Pangala Road and see the Pithrody Udyavar Beach. From Malpe, take a ferry out to St Mary’s Island and see the Columnar Basaltic Lava formation on the northern tip of the island.

Head to Dhanushkodi for your New Year’s Eve getaway

Dhanushkodi sits at the south-eastern tip of India in the Rameshwaram district in Tamil Nadu. Until recently, approach to the tip of the town remained a huge challenge with no proper road connecting the last 10 km. A bridge known as the ‘Pamban Bridge’ existed in its original form until 1964 when it was destroyed by a massive cyclonic storm. Subsequently, it has been repaired and reconstructed. Over the last 50 years, things have changed a lot in Dhanushkodi and changed for the better. In July last year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid open a new road connecting Dhanushkodi to Rameshwaram.

Another factor that adds importance to Dhanushkodi is its proximity to Sri Lanka which is about 31 km from this village. Before strife-hit Sri Lanka and the LTTE became powerful, regular ferry services used to operate between Dhanushkodi and Talaimannar in Sri Lanka. Yet, the town is among some of unexplored places which is not completely commercialised making it a perfect New Year destination.

If you have been considering exotic locations for the upcoming New Year 2018, Dhanushkodi does fit the bill for more reasons than one. This is one place in southern India where you will enjoy the incredible beauty of the clear blue sea and a confluence of two oceans, the Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean. When you travel from Rameshwaram to Dhanushkodi, you will pass through a number of fishing villages with a mesmerising view of the Palk Strait giving you company on either side. Apart from all the mysteries and coastal charm of Dhanushkodi another aspect that makes it unique is its connection with Indian mythology.

According to the epic Ramayana, Hanuman was ordered by Lord Rama to build a bridge from Dhanushkodi to Sri Lanka so that his army could go across to Sri Lanka and save the Lord’s consort, Sita from the captivity of Demon King Ravana. Hanuman executed the orders of his Lord and built what came to be known as Ram Setu with the help of his army of monkeys. In modern times, Ram Setu has been a subject of heated discussions and political controversy with the issue remaining wide open to this date.

Besides the iconic bridge, you can also explore the Gulf of Mannar National Park which is also a Biosphere Reserve.  It houses various species such as sea cow, seahorse, dolphins, pearl oyster, turtles and more. The Dhanushkodi beach and Pamban Island are also worth a visit. Both places are sparsely crowded and are the perfect destination to spend serene quality time while unwinding yourself. The sunrise and sunset views from the Dhanushkodi beach are truly mesmerizing.

The easiest way to reach Dhanushkodi is taking the road. You can take a direct bus or reach to Rameshwaram and take a connecting bus or book a cab. Travelling by air could be tedious as the nearest airport is 140 km away in Tuticorin. From there, again you will have to reach Rameshwaram and take a bus or cab. The closest railway station is also at Rameshwaram which is well-connected to other parts of the state and country. You can book a taxi from Trichy to Dhanushkodi and explore the surrounding places.

Happy Vacationing!

A local’s guide to exploring Kochi

The taste of salt in the air, the friendly people and a vibrant, bustling soul combine to form the sprawling city known as Kochi. This coastal city is one of the most developed in South India, but is more laid-back compared to its counterparts. The weather is pleasant all round, so you can visit this city any time of the year.

If you’d like to visit Kochi and explore the city’s culture and hidden gems like a local, read on!

The Quaint Roads of Vypin

A small town located to the north-west of Cochin, Vypin is separated from the mainland by a bay-like extension of the Arabian Sea. You can rent a car in Cochin, and traverse the 25-odd km to this town quickly. The beauty of Vypin lies in its serene and calm way of life. Most of the roads lie parallel to the coast making for a beautiful drive, and the beaches in the area are untouched and secluded. You can even learn the basics of prawn cultivation from the friendly locals, or explore the Azhikotta Fort which was built in 1503.

Cherai Beach

Cherai Beach is at the north western end of Vypin Island, in the Ernakulam district. Cabs in Kochi make frequent runs to this beach, since it is just 30 km from the city. The road to Cherai is dotted with pretty lagoons and prawn farms, making it one of the most scenic places in Kerala. Coconut trees and paddy fields also add to the charm, but you’ll forget all about the road when you reach the destination.

The beach itself is nicknamed ‘The Princess of Arabian Sea’, because it is one of the finest beaches on the West coast. The total length is close to 15 km, making it ideal for long walks and viewing the sunset. The water level is very shallow, so guests can take a swim or walk up far into the water (although you should check with the lifeguard before you get into the water).

The Mattanchery Trail

Mattanchery is one of the oldest parts of Cochin, and is located near Fort Kochi. The area is famous for its spice trade, which has been progressing for well over three centuries. The mix of pleasant and strong smells, combined with the vibrant culture will enable you to explore more of the area without getting tired. The area also houses the Dutch Palace, which is an architectural wonder in itself. It was the residence of the Maharaja of Kochi, gifted to him by the Portuguese. The walls are adorned by scenes from Ramayana and Mahabharata, but the overall beauty of the palace lies in its simplicity.

There are many other quirky destinations within the city, including Jew Town, the Synagogue and more. If you want to explore these places at your own convenience, then just book taxi in Cochin to take you around. One thing is certain; if you’re looking for a unique travel experience, you’ll find what you’re looking for in the wonderful city of Cochin.

 

Offbeat getaways in India: Gokarna

Gokarna is a town situated along the west coast of India in the Uttara Kannada district of Karnataka. It is a renowned Hindu pilgrimage centre, but over the past few years has quickly grown as a tourist destination, especially for those seeking calm and serenity. If, you are searching for some personal space with just the sun, sea and sand, then Gokarna is the perfect destination for you.

 

Best time to visit
Plan your trips to Gokarna between September and April

How to get there

163kms from Panaji, 502kms from Bangalore

Things to do

Go on a beachside trek along the coast near Gokarna
Do early morning yoga by the beach
Hire bikes and head out to Honey Beach in Ankola
Go graffiti spotting around town

Where to eat

Ganga Cafe on Kudle Beach
Namaste Cafe on Om Beach
Chez Cristophe on Gokarna Beach

Gokarna is a vastly different experience from other famous beach towns such as Goa or Karwar. Interestingly, the Mahabaleshwar Temple which is home to Lord Shiva put this place on the tourist map. The idol here is over 1,500 years old, and visiting it will give you a deep serene feeling. Needless to say, Shivaratri is celebrated here with great enthusiasm.

Gokarna is a mix of temples and beaches with legendary stories attached to them. Even though it is a small town, there are several sight-seeing options to keep you busy. The most famous beach is the Om beach, named so because it is shaped like the Hindu symbol of Om. You can engage yourself in some water sports that are available at the beach and later indulge in delicious food available at the many shacks and restaurants present at Om beach. Namaste Café is the one that should not be missed. Other top beaches include Gokarna beach, Kudle beach, Half Moon beach, and Paradise beach. If you love trekking, you can also trek to all five beaches one after the other.

Apart from temples and beaches, Gokarna additionally offers a few other activities that are worth your time. You can indulge yourself in some relaxing massage provided by several resorts, hotels, and even some inns. With a wide variety of options available from foot to a full-body massage, this soothing experience is a must try activity. Gokarna is a centre for yoga too, and you will discover many classes around the town. Don’t be surprised, if you see a foreigner doing yoga on the beach. Shopping at the little shops in Gokarna is something that you can include while in Gokarna. You can discover jewellery, gems, garments, and more.

Barely 75 km from Gokarna is Murudeshwar. One can witness the second largest Shiva statue in the country at Murudeshwar. The large statue in the backdrop of Arabian Sea is a sight to behold. You can also visit Kumta, a small town on the road to Murudeshwar. Kumta is famous for its banana, coconut, fisheries, betelnut and cashew plantations. The long Kumta shoreline is a great sight, and in addition to that, several seabirds add to its beauty.

September to April is the best time to visit Gokarna. Regular buses from Bangalore and Mangalore are easily available apart from a few trains. The nearest airport is the Dabolim airport in Goa which is around 140kms from Gokarna. The roads from Bangalore to Gokarna are relatively good, so if you are in a mood for a long drive, take a cab from Bangalore to Gokarna. To travel within Gokarna, bikes and cars are available for rent. However, if you prefer walking, you can easily cover the entire town on foot. Perhaps, that is the best way to explore the place.                                                                                                      

Goa: A guide to beaches for some alone time

Tourism in Goa has blown out of proportion in recent years, mainly due to all the hype it has generated as a hippie destination. All the erstwhile pristine beaches have become overcrowded, with beaches in Calangute, Anjuna, Baga and even Palolem not recommended for those seeking solitude. Fortunately, this coastal state is teeming with other, lesser known beaches which are still relatively untouched. They are easily accessible too, as isn’t too difficult to book cabs in Goa.

Let us take a look at some of the best beaches in Goa that haven’t been drowned in the tourism wave.

Butterfly Beach

Image credit: Travel Triangle

One of the best beaches in the state, Butterfly Beach is definitely deserving of its pretty name. It has  relatively long, unexplored stretches of sand, mostly because of its remote location. Butterfly beach is around 35 km from Margao, to the north of Palolem Beach. One can’t get there if they just book taxi in Goa, since the beach itself is not accessible by road and you can only reach it after a two hour trek through the forest. However, if you’re looking for total privacy, Butterfly is the place to go to.

Galgibaga Beach

Image credit: Trawell.in

Galgibaga is famous not for its party vibes, but for another, much more beautiful reason. It is the seasonal nesting and hatching site of the Olive Ridley Turtles. It is generally regarded as the cleanest beach in Goa, and is located 18 km south of Cancona. Food options might be limited though; the beach is lined by very few shacks and a number of coconut trees. Galgibaga beach is well worth a visit if you’re looking for private experience in crystal clear water and glistening sand.

Cola Beach

Image credit: Trawell.in

Another secluded beach in South Goa, Cola is the ideal place for an escape from the hustle and bustle of mainstream beaches. Situated 15 km north of Palolem, signboards lead the way to this lesser known paradise by the sea. This beach also has an exotic lagoon- lined by coconut trees, beach huts and Rajasthani style tents.

Sinquerim Beach

Image credit: Thrillophilia

Situated adjacent to the well-known Fort Aguada and just 13 km from Panaji, Sinquerim is another stretch of unspoiled, virgin sands. The beach is the perfect place to relax and enjoy one of the best sunset views that Goa has to offer. It also has a few adventure activities, including scuba diving, water skiing, fishing and wind-surfing. The quaint little eateries close to the beach serve delicious drinks and fresh snacks.

Lovers Beach

Image credit: smallbudgettrips.com

As the name suggests, this is one of the most romantic beaches in the state of Goa. It is located north of the more mainstream Betalbatim beach, and is technically an extension of the same. Despite its proximity to Margao (6 km), the beach always wears a deserted look except for the odd couple. There are no shacks or hotels near this beach and the only way to get here is via private transport. The convenience of Goa car rental has made travelling here that much more simple.

The party scene in Goa is great, but sometimes one needs solitude by the beach to contemplate and revitalise. These are not the only untouched beaches in the state, with Arambol, Betalbatim Cabo De Rama beaches being some of the other options. They are sure to appeal to all those seeking an alternative to the loud and overcrowded mainstream beaches, so make sure to check them out!

Five Beaches South of the Vindhyas You Should Visit as Soon as Summer Ends

Come June, summer will start to make way for cooler temperatures, gloomy weather and rains. And many of us will want to head to the only place where we get the sun, sand and surf – the beach! But what happens when everyone else is there as well? Do you want to enjoy your sliver of the sun and some quiet moments with that special someone? Or a quiet, relaxing getaway with your friends without having to jostle for space with a hundred others? Here is a list of some less known beaches you are sure to enjoy in south India!

Dhanushkodi, Rameshwaram

Dhanushkodi

Number one on our list is the ethereal Dhanushkodi beach located in the state of Tamil Nadu. It was declared a ghost town by the Government of Tamil Nadu after a massive cyclone hit in 1964. But it remains a tourist’s paradise with many attractions!

The Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park offers a breath-taking visual of the myriad of flora and fauna. Pamban island which is barely 20km away, can keep you occupied with many activities. And one cannot miss the awe-inspiring Adam’s Bridge which is a naturally formed bridge between India and Srilanka!

How to get there: If one is looking for a cheaper option, many Govt and Private buses ply from Rameshwaram to Dhanushkodi. One can also get down at Rameswaram railway station and take a cab. Multiple cabs ply, even directly from Chennai. Flying in? Madurai Airport is the nearest.

Mahe beach, Puducherry

Mahe

Mahe was originally a French colony and now forms a municipality in Mahe district (which forms part of the union territory of Puducherry). It is surrounded by the state of Kerala on all sides.

The pristine waters and palm fringed shorelines offer an enchanting getaway for all those wanting to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life. Enjoy a quiet stroll along the beach while taking in the quaint fishing hamlets dotted along the shore. Or what about a glorious sunset while taking a dip?

How to get there: As few trains stop at Mahe railway station, the best option is to drive down. Roads from major destinations like Bangalore and Kochi are well-maintained and many buses ply from all nearby towns. The Calicut International airport is the nearest airport with many flights operating from different parts of the country.

Mararikulam beach, Mararikulam

Mararikulam

The fishing village of Mararikulam is situated in Alappuzha district in Kerala. This is a must visit for adventure seekers with a ton of activities like parasailing, water skiing and sea surfing. There is much in store for nature lovers as well. One can contact a naturalist to take you on a guided tour and fall in love with nature at its best. With swaying coconut trees and beautiful skies, this is a haven for a stress-free holiday.

Oh, and dare we mention the amazing resorts and food?

How to get there: Easily accessible by road, with cabs readily available from Cochin. Cochin International airport is also nearby from where one can take a cab and Mararikulam has its own railway station, but better check since only few trains stop.

Malpe beach, Karnataka

Malpe

Just 6km from Udupi, this idyllic, neat beach is irresistible for busy city dwellers. Many attractions are dotted around or near the beach. Few of them being St Mary’s island, the Fort of Daria-Bahadurgad and the temple of Balarama. But, a hit with beach lovers has been the Free WiFi!

How to get there: The best way to get there is by road, as the route from Mangalore to Malpe is considered one of the most beautiful. One can get down at Udupi railway station if traveling by rail or fly into Bajpe Airport.

Yarada Beach, Andhra Pradesh

Yarada Beach

Located around 15km from the busy city of Visakhapatnam, this hidden treasure is located on the west coast of the Bay of Bengal. It offers panoramic views of the skyline and crystal clear waters. A favourite with lovers wanting some quality time, the beach provides peace and quiet. Want a stress-free weekend? Head to Yarada!

How to get there: Availability of cabs is many from Hyderabad to Yarada beach with some operators offering a full day cab in Visakhapatnam as well. Both the nearest railway station and airport are located in Visakhapatnam.

 Did we miss out on your favourite beach in south India? Tell us in the comments below!