Gokarna: of Cow’s Ears and Beaches
Conversations about Gokarna will somehow always begin and end with how it is everything that once Goa used to be. Stepping foot in Gokarna instantly gives you a feel of clocks turning backwards. Located in the state of Karnataka, it is easily accessible from Goa and Bangalore. Gokarna literally translates to Cow’s Ears. Legends say that Lord Shiva emerged from a cow’s ears and hence the name.
This is a temple town nestled amidst the surrounding four pristine beaches. The best time to pack your bags to this town is between Octobers to March. Summers are usually avoided because the temperatures tend to soar to impossibly high degrees.
Main Attractions in Gokarna
Apart from the four temples that reside in Gokarna, the beaches are the major attractions that pull the tourists towards its beauty.
Famous Temples in Gokarna
Being a temple town, Gokarna has four temples- Mahabaleshwara Temple, Ganapati Temple, Venkataraman Temple and Koorti Teertha.
The Mahabaleshwara temple
is the most famous of the four and is home to a lingam. Shiva devotees throng this temple since it is known as a Shiva pilgrimage center. A 1500 year old carved stone idol of Shiva holds a place of importance here.
The Ganapati temple
stands in honor of Ganpati’s role in saving the lingam from destruction in Ravana’s hands. Popular believes say that a devotee must pay a visit to this temple before heading off to other temples.
About 500 yards from the Mahabaleshwara temple is the Venkataramana temple and 100m south from the Venkataramana temple is the Koti Teertha. This is a temple tank which draws locals, pilgrims and Brahmins alike.
However, foreigners are not allowed inside the temples of Gokarna.
Famous Beaches in Gokarna
Tourists are drawn to the secluded beaches of Gokarna for many reasons. Basking in the shade of coconut trees and taking in the breathtaking landscapes that function according to its own understanding of time casts a spell on whoever visits these beaches. There are 4 beaches here- Kudle, Om Beach, Half-Moon Beach and Paradise Beach.
– Kudle is the largest of the four beaches and enjoys a tranquil serenity. You can spot foreigners practicing yoga in the mornings here. You can easily find small huts and café along this beach.
– So called due to the shape of ‘Om’ that it forms, Om beach is the more happening of the four beaches. After soaking in the tranquility of Kudle beach, head over to Om beach to indulge in water-sports for that adrenaline rush. You can take a dip in the curve of the symbol ‘Om’ as it’s relatively safer.
Head south towards the comparatively more isolated Half-Moon beach which is an approximately 30 minute walk. The hike from Om beach to the Half-Moon beach will give you a chance to really take in the breathtaking landscape of Gokarna. There are a few decent restaurants in Half-Moon beach that you can check out.
: Paradise beach is a one-hour trek from Om beach. Nestled in isolation and away from the hustle-bustle of the other beaches, Paradise beach or Full-Moon beach offers you a sense of calm.
It is more advisable to travel to Gokarna during the low season as guesthouses in town offer more discounts.