Wandering in Gokarna

26th Jan 2013
Photo of Wandering in Gokarna 1/15 by Abhingya Patra
Ferry rides
Photo of Wandering in Gokarna 2/15 by Abhingya Patra
Trekking up to Half Moon
Photo of Wandering in Gokarna 3/15 by Abhingya Patra
Namaste Cafe
Photo of Wandering in Gokarna 4/15 by Abhingya Patra
Puppy love
Photo of Wandering in Gokarna 5/15 by Abhingya Patra
Winters at the railway station in Udupi
Photo of Wandering in Gokarna 6/15 by Abhingya Patra
Beachy affairs
Photo of Wandering in Gokarna 7/15 by Abhingya Patra
The Huts
Photo of Wandering in Gokarna 8/15 by Abhingya Patra
Half Moon
Photo of Wandering in Gokarna 9/15 by Abhingya Patra
Our group- new faces, new stories
Photo of Wandering in Gokarna 10/15 by Abhingya Patra
Dolphin View Restaurant
Photo of Wandering in Gokarna 11/15 by Abhingya Patra
Photo of Wandering in Gokarna 12/15 by Abhingya Patra
Bonfire nights
Photo of Wandering in Gokarna 13/15 by Abhingya Patra
Beautiful waters
Photo of Wandering in Gokarna 14/15 by Abhingya Patra
Ferry rides offer great views
Photo of Wandering in Gokarna 15/15 by Abhingya Patra

A fairly crowded beach, Om Beach, named after its peculiar shape, is the one of the most frequented beaches in this small quiet town of Gokarna. Pristine beaches lined with beach shacks and cheap accommodation, Gokarna is a beach-goer's delight. If you want your dose of adrenaline rush, Om Beach, popular for water sports like para sailing, banana boat rides, surfing and water-skiing, is just the place to be. Meeting new people, striking conversations over a few drinks and sharing stories, this beach offers it all, in addition to the scenic view unfurling right before your eyes.

Photo of Om Beach, Uttara Kannada, Karnataka, India by Abhingya Patra
Photo of Om Beach, Uttara Kannada, Karnataka, India by Abhingya Patra

A picturesque beauty, nurtured in the lap of nature, boasting of clear waters, a large stretch of light colored sand, untouched by the wrath of urbanization, Half Moon Beach has been well-preserved and secluded from the humdrum that surrounds the other beaches. This lesser known, unexplored beach is just how you would define serenity and beauty in one sentence. 

A long weekend in med school always calls for elaborate planning with friends or dreaming of snuggling under the warmth of your blanket on a fine winter morning and enjoying a lazy day all to yourself. I was dreaming of the latter when my friend came up with the idea of heading off to Gokarna for the weekend. The idea of staying the night was an alluring one and definitely suited my plans for an ideal long weekend. And thus began the planning of details of the journey and on the morning of 26th January, my friends and me headed off to the Udupi railway station early morning to catch the train to Gokarna, which was a 3 hour journey. Travelling in the general compartment was an experience in itself, especially when we were travelling with a bunch of new faces with whom we shared only one mutual friend. The perfect definition of a spontaneous adventurous trip!

We reached Gokarna around 12:00. From the station, we walked a short distance to catch a bus till the auto stand from where we took the auto to Gokarna. Long weekends call for a a large student crowd to the nearest tourist spots and Gokarna was no different. Out first halt was at the Om Beach where we had enquired about beach shacks to stay the night. Running full to the maximum limits, we couldn't find any accommodation at this beach. After a quick lunch at Namaste Cafe, we spent some time at the beach, taking in the vast expanse of sand, and the waters sparkling from the reflection of the sun. A breathtakingly beautiful sight to behold indeed! And then we went ahead to play at the beach, letting the sand slip from under our feet as the waves came rushing to break at the shore.

After this mini break, we asked around for available rooms. But finding none, we decided to trek our way to the Half Moon Beach, watching our foot and treading our way through the narrow winding path amidst bushes and trees, making sure we didn't take a wrong turn else we would land up in some forest, as was told to us by some tourists there. Relief washed over us as we reached the Half Moon Beach around 4 pm, panting and sweating. A solitary beach away from the maddening crowd, it nestled just a cafe with a few huts and mud houses for a reasonable price of 400 bucks. What shocked us was the absence of electricity and proper washrooms! Definitely adventurous! Since there was no option of going back, we decided to take this in our stride! And then the fun began! A beautiful beach, untouched by the large crowd thronging the most frequently visited beaches, far away from chaos, isolated and yet so serene- this was the best experience of sitting on wet sand, watching the waves come and go, building sand castles and playing in the water or simply swimming till you were content. A breathtaking sunset to behold, nothing could have seemed as magnificent. As the evening descended upon us, we decided to retire to our rooms and freshen up before heading for dinner at the beach cafe. The absence of electricity may not have been too useful all the time, but when we stepped out of our rooms, we saw the cafe lit up by a number of pretty lanterns. Right on the beach, we had amazing burgers and pancakes, amidst several conversations, getting to know each other while sipping on hot coffee, and laughing about a lot of things. After a long chat over dinner, we decided to walk along the shores. The moon-lit beach with its glistening waters and a few crabs scurrying across the sand and the light cool breeze worked magic, setting the scene for a long night of bonfire and endless conversations right on the beach. After chatting well into the wee hours of the morning, we retired to our rooms to catch a few hours of sleep before returning. The winds got stronger and the weather grew colder till we woke up pretty early to freshen up and catch an early breakfast.

 A ferry ride through the beautiful waters surrounded by rocks and small hills brought us to Gokarna Beach! Compared to what we had left behind, this beach didn't do much to impress me with its crowd and litter. Walking through the town, we came across temples and local markets, so full of colors and merriment that it was definitely a joy walking through those streets. We finally halted at a small hotel to book a room just so we could freshen up properly and grab lunch before boarding the train back to Udupi! Travelling in the general compartment, pushing our way through the crowd and struggling to catch a seat, we finally managed to reach Udupi and then a cab brought us back to where it had all began. New friendships, new experiences and a treasure trove of memories is what I brought back with me.

I would like to add a few tips for travelers here. Carry first aid because you never know you might scratch yourself while trekking or sprain an ankle. Carry beach towels and do not forget an extra set of clothes and towels and a quilt if you are staying the night because the beach huts here are just too basic. Carry insect repellent creams and a portable charger or a spare phone. And do not forget your camera to capture the beauty of this place and store it in your memories and in photographs.

With the aroma of savory food floating in the air, mingled with the saltiness of the sea and the alluring view of the beach with its vast expanse of yellow sand and sparkling waters, you will love to dine at this shack. With delicious burgers and mouthwatering pancakes, it is one of the most popular beach shacks drawing the maximum crowd. Not too harsh on the pocket, this is just the place to catch up with your friends over a few drinks and quick bites.

Photo of Gokarna Beach, Gokarna, Karnataka, India by Abhingya Patra

An hour-long trek over the headland from Om Beach takes you to this secluded beach, in the shape of a crescent. Solitary yet beautiful, this beach has quite a number of foreigners residing here for months on end. The Dolphin View Restaurant located right on the beach is the lone restaurant here. Very basic, yet decent for food and accommodation. The lack of electricity and proper washrooms was troublesome but pretty manageable and definitely an experience of a lifetime. Deserted, secluded, in the midst of nothingness, surrounded by the beautiful sea and golden sands and hills, with the cool breeze mingling with the calm in the atmosphere, this is just the place you would love to be in when you are looking for a relaxed weekend, away from the maddening crowd. Enjoy a dinner right on the beach, take a walk along the shore as the cool breeze rustles and whispers lightly in your ears and sleep in mud houses or igloos or huts or under the sky and light a bonfire and bond over stories and laughter.

Photo of Om Beach, Gokarna, Karnataka, India by Abhingya Patra
Photo of Om Beach, Gokarna, Karnataka, India by Abhingya Patra
Photo of Om Beach, Gokarna, Karnataka, India by Abhingya Patra
Photo of Om Beach, Gokarna, Karnataka, India by Abhingya Patra
Photo of Om Beach, Gokarna, Karnataka, India by Abhingya Patra
Photo of Om Beach, Gokarna, Karnataka, India by Abhingya Patra
Photo of Om Beach, Gokarna, Karnataka, India by Abhingya Patra