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.
Table of Contents
- About Gokarna
- Things to do in Gokarna
- How to plan a trip to Gokarna
- How to reach
- Hotels and Resorts in Gokarna
Gokarna, a beautiful town in Karnataka famed for its religious bent, natural beauty, and laid-back atmosphere, is replete with notable shrines and pristine beaches. Every year, hordes of people flock to the town in pursuit of sanctity, salvation, leisure, and relaxation. Continue reading to skim the complete travel guide and learn more about the top sightseeing places.
Gokarna, located on the coast of Karwar, is noted for its spectacular shoreline, golden sand beaches lined with palm trees, and breathtaking sunrise and sunset views. The journey to Gokarna is a visual treat, with rugged mountains and the Western Ghats on one side and the Arabian Sea on the other.
Gokarna witnesses a minimum temperature of 180 C (summer) and 140 C (winter) and a maximum temperature of 400 C (summer) and 320 C (winter) (winter). The town has a semi-tropical, moderate climate. The summer season runs from March until May. Heavy rains fall from June to August, while winters take over the town from November to January.
Gokarna is made up of two words: gau, which means cow, and Karna, which means ear, which translates to cow’s ear. The origins of such a name can be traced back to mythology and geography. According to one legend, the name was given because it is located at the confluence of two rivers, Gangavati and Aghanashini, and resembles a cow’s ear. The other, more intriguing mythology states that Brahma sent Shiva to Patal Lok (beneath the earth). He later emerged from the earth through a cow’s ear, hence the name.
Gokarna’s geography is ideal, with the Aghnashini River to the south and the Gangavalli River to the north. Moreover, it is situated at the meeting point of the Arabian Sea and the Kali River. Tourists flow into the palm-lined sandy coastlines of the peaceful town, which sits directly beneath the lap of the spectacular Western Ghats, waving and winding its way to the vast blue sea.
Things to do in Gokarna
Gokarna is a well-known enchanting beach paradise adorned with golden mornings and beautiful evenings. Furthermore, the beach town is a haven for visitors who want to spend some tranquil time surrounded by beautiful nature or participate in exciting activities such as banana rides on the beaches. Here are some great things to do here:
Fun things to do in Gokarna
- Water sports: This includes jet ski excursions, banana boat rides, parasailing, and surfing at Gokarna’s Om beach. Private operators provide activities, but not all activities are available.
- Hiking: The hills surrounding Gokarna provide excellent hiking options. Hike to Om Beach viewpoint, Om Beach Rock View, or Rock of Peace near Om Beach for spectacular views of the beach and ocean.
- Shopping: Gokarna is all about reliving the colourful hippie culture of the 1970s, which is still very much alive today, and the best way to get in the groove is to look like one. Several businesses sell kurtas, harem trousers, skirts, Om and Shiva T-shirts, outfits, and so on at the local flea market.
Offbeat things to do in Gokarna
- Beach trekking – Beach trekking is one of the most enjoyable activities in here. The beaches of the town are bordered by rocky terrain and little hills that you can explore while taking in the spectacular views of the beach and sea.
- Camping – If you’re unhappy with beach hiking, here’s another option to satiate your wandering soul. Camping under the stars at Paradise Beach or Kudle Beach is arguably the nicest thing you can do in the town.
- Surfing – Learn to surf in Gokarna, as there are several surfing schools and options for this water sport activity. Surfing culture is most prevalent in Goa or Gokarna, and here is the spot to enjoy the waves and participate in this water sport activity without any hassle.
- Visit the ancient temples – Immerse yourself in in the town’s rich history and tradition by taking a pilgrimage tour of the ancient temples. Every year, thousands of pilgrims gather in Gokarna for the Shivratri celebration.
[Also Read: 30 Places to Visit Before You Turn 30]
Places to visit in Gokarna
Here’s the list of tourist places and things to do in Gokarna.
- Mahabaleshwara Temple – This Shiva temple at Gokarna, the apex of Dravidian architecture, is one of the top attractions for pilgrims who regard it as sacred as Kashi. The temple houses a 1500-year-old 6-foot-tall Shiva Linga venerated as the Atmalinga and Lord Shiva statue standing.
- Om Beach – Gokarna is a wonderful location known primarily for its beaches. Om Beach, designed as two semi-crescents merging, is a must-see when in the town. This gorgeous beach resort draws hundreds of people from all around the world.
- Kudle Beach – Kudle Beach is one of the town’s several beaches, located just a short distance from Om Beach. This beach is a perfect hermit, providing the calmest and most beautiful atmosphere to enjoy a sunset, a walk down the sand, or relax and observe the never-ending tides.
- Gokarna Beach – Gokarna Main Beach, near Sri Mahabaleshwara Swamy Temple, is a long stretch of light yellow sand with calm waves. This beach also has several shacks, campers, and eateries. The Cocopelli Surf School can also be found here for some fast, basic surfing Lessons!
- Half Moon Beach – Half Moon Beach, away from the hustle and bustle, is the finest spot to relax in the lap of nature. While camping among the historic village cottages strewn along the Half Moon beachside, take in the beautiful vista of the azure sea.
- Yana Caves – Yana Caves, famous for adventure, nature, and religion, is an ideal vacation spot for trekkers, hikers, and adventure lovers. These caves are around 27 kilometres from the temple town.
- Hell’s Cliff – Hell’s Cliff is a cliff between Paradise and Half Moon beaches. It is a beautiful and calm location for scenic photography. You can rehydrate or rest here while on the walk or wait patiently for a while in the hopes of seeing dolphins.
Places to visit nearby
Below are some scenic places to visit nearby for a wholesome travel experience.
- Mirjan Fort- Mirjan Fort is an ancient high-walled fort located on a river bank. Examine all four interconnected entrances, which are paved with big stairs.
- Murudeshwar – See the world’s second-tallest Shiva statue in Murudeshwar. It is situated on a hill surrounded by the Arabian Sea in a stunning landscape.
- Kumta: A charming tiny town, Kumta is a must-see for its beaches. Take the breathtaking sunset at Ghodbunder Beach and the old Kumta Teru Temple.
- Karwar: A port city near Gokarna, Karwar is worth a visit for its long and immaculate Karwar Beach, where you may go speed boating or take photos. Banana boat rides are available at Rabindranath Tagore Beach.
Places to eat
As a backpacker’s paradise and the best beach retreat in Karnataka, the town’s culture is highly cosmopolitan and primarily influenced by its domestic and international tourists. And that reflects in its food. Despite its local, traditional Kannadiga heritage, the cuisine here is a mix of east and west.
Visit these best places in Gokarna to sample its local flavours-
- Mantra Café, Kudle Beach Road
- Chez Christophe Gokarna, Middle Beach, Belehittal Road
- Sea Rock Café, Kudle Beach
- Hotel Gokarna Sea Route Fish Corner, IB Rd, opposite ASHOKAVANA
- Sunset Café, Main Beach, near Kariyappa Temple
How to Plan a Trip to Gokarna
The most suitable way to plan a trip is to choose the best route, mode of transport, and more. Here are some dominant transport modes to reach Gokarna.
How to reach Gokarna?
Gokarna is well-connected by road with nearby cities like Goa, Bangalore, and Mangalore. You can also hire a taxi from nearby towns for a more comfortable and convenient journey.
Gokarna Road is the nearest railway station to Gokarna, about 10 kilometres from the main Gokarna city. However, due to its modest size, it is not connected to major cities. Another station, Ankola, is located 20 kilometres from Gokarna and is regarded as the closest well-connected railway station to Gokarna.
You can also travel from Bangalore to Gokarna by air. The town doesn’t have a local airport; the nearest one is Dabolim Airport in Goa, about 140 km away. The airport is well connected by flights to India and international cities. You can book an airport taxi from Goa to reach your destination comfortably.
Best time to visit
The best time to visit Gokarna is between October and March, when the humidity is at its lowest. From November through February, the city is extremely packed with foreign visitors. The offseason, or rainy season, is not the best time to visit the beaches because they are all barren and unkempt, with few dining options.
Hotels and resorts – Accommodation in Gokarna
|Red Earth||Honey Beach Rd, Belambar Post, Honnebail, Karnataka 581353 PH: 087227 45555|
|Stone Wood Nature Resort||890/1, Om Beach Rd, Village, Gokarna, Karnataka 581326 PH: 091082 51301|
|Kudle Ocean Front Resort||Om Beach Rd, Gokarna, Karnataka 581326 PH: 094481 53614|
|Kudle Beach View Resort and Spa||365kw, Kudle Beach Rd, Gokarna, Karnataka 581326 PH: 081309 67666|
|Rudraksh Retreat||Survey No 79A/1, Hissa 2/2, Bele Hittal, Gokarna, Kumta, Karnataka 581326|
Now that you know all about the beach town, why wait? Plan your trip! Soak in the wilderness by booking a car rental to take you to all these places with a local driver. Install the Savaari cab booking app for offers and discounts on outstation rentals.