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.

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.                                                                                                      

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