Facebook feed, currently, is either full of disgruntled working professionals or the batchmates getting married - One by one, and in some cases to one another. Clock is ticking by and the call of the hour was a trip before wickets start tumbling down. May be a last All bachelor's trip with the folks. We decided to camp down in Gokarna, a hidden beauty in Karnataka, just a little further from Goa. People crawled their way from Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Chennai. Some took a planned leave and some decided to fall sick on the same day.
All this summer, luck has been really generous towards me. And another instance was when I successfully booked a Tatkal ticket on new irctc site - Mumbai to Kumta it was. Kumta happened to be some 40 kms away from Om beach and an hour or so was the journey from Kumta to Gokarna. Wait a minute - Did I say something about luck? Train somehow decided to took an unplanned halt at Gokarna Road and we were quick like bunnies to jump down on the adjacent empty track (No we didn't pull the chain and I must stop bragging about my luck, lest I jinx it)
Gokarna is a place of natural diversity. From temples to sea to beaches to graffiti. Among all the beaches, Om Beach is the only beach which is accessible via road. All the other beaches are at the other end of 15-20 minutes of trail through forests. So was the case with the Kudle Beach, where we were supposed to put our foot down. It took some time finding the cottage, but at the very first view we knew that we were set for some real treat.
A session of abuses commenced post meeting and then we didn't waste any time to reach the Highland. Chairs aligned to face the sea. Table properly decorated with chicken, fish and beer.
Visiting the places during off season has its own advantage. No soul around to crowd the place. Getting awesome places at throw away prices. Entire sea at your disposal. And all you got to do was to Sit and Relax. So after multiple rounds of Bakar, we set forward to explore our surroundings. There are two trails which lead to this mini heaven. Two of us came to this place through the trail near Om Beach, while the other three took the other trail. We strolled towards to former.
Rains kept sweeping us left and right. And we kept on with our own version of Hide and Seek. Not that we resisted rain. Just that we wanted it on our terms.
Post a long journey and looking forward to an entire evening of catching up to do, we decided to stay back at our place and spend the rest of the day in marvelling at Nature, settling in the Highland and throwing some money around in some drunken poker game.
Thunderstorm kept greeting us throughout the Night and slowly, but surely, everyone passed out. We wanted to see the sunrise but no one took the initiative. It was only around 10 that everyone woke up, and that too coz the Tatkaal window didn't wait for anyone. And guess what? Another tatkaal ticket - This time through mobile browser (I am surely going to jinx it now :/ ).
So the morning saw a revisit to Highland and a vicious attack on Nutella banana pancakes (Made me revisit Cafe Italy in Kasol). Post the breakfast we made our way towards the trail to the Gokarna Cliff.
The view from the Gokarna Cliff. The trail to this place from the Kudle Beach seemed to be an unexplored domain. Making our way amidst the thorns, giant mushrooms and the pattern diggings which looked like graves, we reached this place.
Spent some time just sitting there and letting the sea breeze occupy us. Time was apt to make our way to the heart of Gokarna - Om Beach. Om Beach - The name comes from the shape of this beach, the shape of Om. This beach had life. People all around playing games from Soccer to Kabaddi to just lying in the Sea, everyone was at peace.
Namaste cafe is to Gokarna what Shanti Cafe is to Kasol. Want a view of the Om Beach. Sit there, order few drinks and cherish the time and the place.
And when you are done with the place, move towards the Beach. Guys playing soccer and kabaddi, while sea tries to play the spoilsport.
We knew it was off season and shacks were kept away. But as they say, where there is a branch there is a way. This looked like the Nature's version of shacks. The low lying branches. You can just sit on one of them with feet floating freely, trying to keep up with the rhythm of Sea which constantly comes to meet them.
We covered the entire perimeter of the Om Beach, which was full of life and breathtaking views. Overcast and light shower all over us, we just had to keep walking and let the time chalk it out for us.
There are two other beaches in Gokarna - Paradise Beach and Half Moon Beach. Unfortunately, both were closed due to high tide.
But if you are thinking the place is all about sea and beach, you are far from correct. The city of Gokarna is an awesome blend of culture, heritage and art. Graffitis marking the entire city, you must go to the Gokarna and Mahabaleshwar temple if you visit the place. Murudeshwara, a place famous for the world's second largest Shiva statue, is known for the legend of the Ravana and Ganesha, and is around 70 kms from Gokarna.
Visit the city. Buy some stuff. The place is full of all types and sizes of Chillums and Bongs. Various artifacts and hand made garments also form a spectacle here.
Gokarna City Beach is not as spectacular is its counterparts, but is surely worth a visit.
From there starts the trail to the Kudle beach - This one is different from the one we covered in the morning. And it turned out that we were lucky to choose it. Once you get out of the initial scare of Langoors trying to snatch your stuff away, you will be greeted with an array of breathtaking Sunset points.
It seemed even the sky was trying to take a click. We covered many points and just at the end of the trail we stumbled upon a place which looked like it was personally carved by God. This was the place where we spent our entire next day sleeping and gazing at the sky.
Meet this beauty. The place where we could have camped for days and days. Just at the end of the trail, this seemed the highest point of the area. The waves here had some serious issues with the rocks. And they kept clashing over and over and over.
And then we came back to our own small island. And being the last night, it was time for some hardcore party. We ordered food that would last the entire night. Booze that would be enough to kick us out. And the Highland was never far away. Loads and loads of Bakar. Some crazy laughter sessions. And stepping down to the beach at 2 in the Morning. Dogs all around the place settled around us. They must have identified us as one of their own. Trust me we were not in any better condition.
Night paved the way for the morning. Sea found its calmness once again. And we checked out to mark the end of our vacation. With a promise to repeat this. At a similar place. Maybe Tarkali. Or may be not. Let's see how it unfolds.
I have been following the trail for many months now. Different places. Different challenges. Different offerings ..
This one got to rank in the top few, if not No.1 Bye Bye Gokarna. We will meet again :)