Gokarna has been long known as the Temple town of Karnataka. The name translates to ‘Cow’s Ear’ in Sanskrit. Gokarna is gifted with some of the picturesque beaches of India because of its location along the southwestern coast of India overlooking the Arabian Sea. Though a popular Temple town of south India, it was hidden from most tourists until recently. Currently the town has been gaining popularity among people looking for offbeat destinations, scantily populated beaches and among adventure lovers. The beaches of Gokarna stands out from most Indian beaches because of its lush green hills stretched along the white sand coast.
Gokarna can also be chosen as an alternative to Goa if you are looking for pristine tropical beaches minus the huge tourist influx!
There is no airport to reach Gokarna directly. Due to its proximity and accessibility to Goa, one can opt to fly down to Dabolim International Airport in Goa and hire a taxi to Gokarna. The distance from the airport in Goa to Gokarna is 106 kilometers.
The beaches around Gokarna are lined by lush green hills. So reaching these beaches may require some trekking effort. But for an adventure enthusiast this is a great opportunity to trek along these hilly trails and explore every beach connected on these trails. Around five beaches can be accessed on this trail namely Gokarna beach, Kudle beach, OM beach, Half Moon beach and Paradise beach. This could be a day long excursion covering most Gokarna places to visit.
If the sight of water reminds you of all the fun filled activities around water, Gokarna has you covered. You can opt for banana boat rides, kayaking, exploring through caves, parasailing, swimming and diving are some of the water sports activities to include in your Gokarna itinerary.
Many of us love to witness those mesmerizing sunset views at beach destinations, but how about an experience of waking up to the sounds of waves! Camping at the beach is one such memorable experience to take back with you. You can sing through the night around a campfire and then retire for the night, lying on the warm sand, gazing at the starry sky.
Known as the Kashi of South India i.e. Dakshin Kashi, Gokarna has many historical and mythological stories around its many temples. Not only the devotees, but a seeker of mythology, traditional folklore and architecture can include a few temple visits in the itinerary.
The Mahabaleshwar temple is noteworthy of its Dravidian architecture and its Shiva Linga known as the Atmalingam located in the square Saligrama Peetha. Mahashivratri, a Hindu festival is celebrated with grandeur through February and March during which a huge chariot is taken around the town.
The Mahaganapati Temple and the Kotiteertha, a man-made water tank are also of huge significance among the pilgrims.
The coastal town can awaken the foodie within you with its local South Indian and Konkani cuisine and the sea food variety spread. International cuisines like Italian and Continental served in its cafes also draw many tourists through the day. There are restaurants along the beach where you can enjoy a candlelight dinner with a sunset view of the sea. Cafe 1987, Ganga Cafe, Chef Christophe, Namaste Cafe are listed among the top few cafes in Gokarna.
Like Goa, with the increasing influx of tourists, many flea markets have come up along the beaches of Gokarnal. There are small markets around the temple complexes as well. You can pick some colourful trinkets, earrings, sea shell decors as souvenirs from your vacation.
You can explore Gokarna over 2 to 3 days trip but if you have some more days in hand, some nearby locations can be included in your Gokarna tour packages.