*Destination Feature* Gokarna, Karnataka

by Nanci

After Mumbai and Arambol, we head down the coast to the Holy town of Gokarna.  Gokarna is one of seven places of pilgrimage in India and therefore holds great spiritual significance and is home to many powerful people and devotees. Just outside of town the coast is lined with beautiful beaches, hippy shacks and relaxing cafes. This stop is a perfect mix of beach life and the more traditional, cultural tones of India. After getting such a full on serving of global culture, workshops, music and shopping in Arambol it’s a welcome shift to take in this very different place. We stay outside of town at Namaste Guest House on Om beach, a beautiful stretch of sand which from above looks like the ancient symbol OM. There are several other beaches around offering their own unique take on the beach vibe, and if you want to go into town for the real India, full of temples, Sanyassi’s (renunciates), monks and pilgrims, it’s only a ten minute rickshaw away.

The Beaches Around Gokarna

Gokarna the town is built around a beach called ‘Main Beach.’ This is a simple, sometimes very busy spot where mostly locals hang out, along with a few cows, an ice cream vendor and some food stalls. Here you can watch fishermen come and go, check out the very interesting and sometimes peculiar visitors, or enjoy some simple local snacks by the sea. Moving down the coast line the next beach over is Kudle. Here you find evening fireside jams, a small gypsy market in the evening and an all around very relaxed vibe. Just above the beach is a very good Italian Iyengar teacher we will be offering classes with. He has a very specific and entertaining approach to alignment, the body and the overall awareness of yoga. After Kudle we find Om Beach, where we will be staying for our time here. Om beach is the most lively, with an awesome selection of restaurants serving everything from continental to Asian and Indian dishes. Our guest house is built right on the near corner of the beach and is a great place to kick back and take it all in. Beyond Om we find Paradise, Half Moon and Friends Beach. These are all small, very quiet places with mostly villagers around and the odd place to grab a coconut or two.

Where to Eat

If you head into town you have a chance to check out some very tasty, very cheap local food. We have tried nearly everything on the menu and can do our best to help you pick something right for you. Some of our favorites are Masala Dosa, Idly, Thali, Daal and Gobi Manchurian. If you are spending your day on one of the beaches, there are many places to choose from. In Arambol you will have noticed a very creative, modern and health focused approach to food, where as in Gokarna you find more of a classic travel menu with all the best of India, continental favorites like pizza and pasta, asian fried rices and very tasty, fresh seafood.

Masala Dosa

Shiva Statue at Murudeshwara

About 2 hours away from Gokarna we have the option of taking a day trip to see the second largest statue in India, and the second largest Shiva statue in the world. This statue is built high above the beach, surrounded by beautiful temples and right in front of a very impressive, massive viewing tower. We made the journey out and the experience of being there far out did any photos that we have seen. There is a very powerful, beautiful energy at Murudeshwara and we highly recommend checking it out!

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