If you are unable to decide where to head in India with friends on a low budget beach tour. Then voyaging Gokarna in Karnataka is the most suitable alternative for if you are looking for beaches, seafood, tranquil atmosphere, and most importantly want to escape yourself from the hustle of the city life.
Visiting Gokarna is still a dream destination of many people, it is that place where you can hear your footsteps too, unwind on the serene shores, enjoy endless sidewalk with your loved ones and divine your soul at Lord Shiva temple.
Let’s explore Gokaran first and know about this brilliant location.
Getaway to Gokarna
Gokarna is a city located in Uttara Kannada district of Karnataka around the River Aghanashini, which is considered to be a sacred site for devotees. According to popular mythological beliefs, it is the place where Lord Shiva emerged from the incarnation of Earth in the form of a cow. The town draws thrill-seekers as well as those seeking spiritual relief. A popular pilgrimage destination for Hindus, it’s known for sacred sites like Mahabaleshwar Temple, which has a shrine dedicated to the deity Shiva.
Top Hotspots to Visit in Gokarna
Situated on the coast of Karwar, every year Gokarna welcomes hordes of tourists from around the world in search of sanctity and relaxation. Several travellers and foreigners have been struck by the picturesque view of the area. Many beaches, pilgrimages and waterfalls are dining at a beachside cafe and staying at leisure resorts are few things which you can appreciate there. It is the town of golden beaches named after the way they are shaped like Om Beach and Half Moon Beach. The tall palm trees, serene waves of the ocean gushing towards the rocks, and the evenings spent watching the sun melting into the ocean add a bizarre appeal to the place.
Cherish Sunset at Om Beach
The speciality of this wonderful beach located in the town of Gokarna is that it is shaped like a symbol of ‘Om – ॐ’. Hence it derives its name from its shape. Another thing is this beach offers amazing views of dawn and dusk which you will cherish throughout your life. This Om beach offers plenty of adventure sports to the thrill-seekers. It is usually lined with huts on the beachsides offering affordable accommodations and small cafes, eateries with global cuisines.
Also, you can enjoy fun water activities on Om Beach such as speedboats, surfing and boating. The unusual black rock formations draw many tourists here as from the top of rocks you can get clear pictorial views of Gokarna. This spot is a horizon for all the photograph hunters, with stunning landscapes in the rocky terrain.
Half Moon Beach
Half Moon Beach in Gokarna is a small seaside retreat for beach lovers. A cliff from where tourists are compelled to get an incredible view of the Arab Sea separates it from Om Beach. Several huts in the classical Indian style can be seen on the beach, which gives it an unusual and homely look. The striking similarity with a half-moon has given the beach its name.
There are numerous exciting activities that the place offers including swimming, canoeing, paddle boats, paintball, camping, and cabins. Tourists can also relax in the afternoon by sunbathing and lying on night swings. Far from the culture and into the arms of nature, this is the place where you can spend time in the huts and look at the night skies.
Located near to Om beach, Kudle is another popular beach in Gokarna which attracts people due to rocky and sandy coastline. This beach is popular among international tourists. You have to trek a bit to reach here hence it is recommended to visit early morning.
This beach offers the calmest and comfortable ambience to its visitors who can enjoy twilight, can stroll along the shore and even relax themselves by watching the beautiful tides. The beach is usually deserted, and less crowded compared to Om beach if you love privacy than you can tour this beach for sure. If you enjoy adventurous trips then dare to spend a night on the beach in a small hut while hearing to the sound of the waves.
Refresh Your Soul at Nirvana Beach
Nirvana beach is one of the most offbeat beach locations to visit at Gokarna. This beach is hidden from the crowd and offers relaxation to those who wish to have some beach time to enjoy the peace and tranquillity. Best thing on this beach you can do is dive into the cool blue waters and enjoy a refreshing getaway.
One of the outstanding attractions of this Gokarna beach is the spectacular stretch that makes the sunset and sunrise completely enjoyable. You should expect a wonderful time with friends and family, whether you’re off for a picnic or other fun events on the beach. With beautiful surroundings, Nirvana Beach is one of the most serene places you will see in Gokarna.
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Attain Spirituality at Mahabaleshwara Temple
Shiva linga at Mahabaleshwar Temple is one of the most essential attraction to visit in Gokarna. The temple of Mahabaleshwara is the main tourist attraction for pilgrims coming to Gokarna. Its significance is so high because of the legend associated with it. The temple is dedicated to Shiva and has what is called an ‘Atmalingam’ which is believed to be one of the most powerful lingams.
This pilgrimage is among the most important places to visit in Gokarna. A 6 feet tall Shiva Linga here at the temple is known as the Atmalinga is worshipped here. Built using white granite, it is a classic example of the beauty of Dravidian architecture. A 1500 years old carved stone Lord Shiva idol in the standing position represents the main deity. The top of the Atmalinga is the only part of the Linga that is visible to devotees. But during the Ashta Bandana Kumbhahishekam, a festival that happens once every 40 years, is when the entire Atmalinga is shown to the devotees.
Full Moon Beach
Either you call it paradise beach or full moon beach, the charm of this beach won’t fade. To access this pristine beach you have opt either trekking or have to take a boat ride. Not everyone really knows that this Paradise Beach is also a hidden nude beach in India but you know nudity in public places is prohibited in India. The beach is about 150 meters long and the largest portion of the beach is entirely covered in rocks. The majority of the beach is completely covered with clean white sand. There aren’t many water sports available here but swimming here in the cool waters is a perfect way to relax your mind and body. The beach’s serene ambience provides a perfect opportunity to spend some time in the lap of nature and find harmony.
Lalgulli Falls, one of the most tourist places in Gokarna for nature lovers, is a mind-blowing, natural development. Every year, it draws in counts of visitors to see its picturesque scenery and peaceful environment. The waterfall is surrounded by verdant greenery which adds to this place’s beauty.
Lalgulli Falls is a popular spot where people come to the waterfall to picnic along with their families or friends. Tourists can also engage in a variety of fun activities at Lalgulli Falls such as trekking, river rafting, and other water sports at River Kali. Also blessed with a number of birds, the natural beauty of Lalgulli Falls makes it a delight for bird-watchers.
Murudeshwara is a holy city dedicated to Lord Shiva, situated in the southern state of Karnataka, on the coast of the Arabian Sea and it is around 78 km away from Gokarna. The legend of this place is also associated with the same story of Shiva and Ravana. As we mentioned earlier, Ravana obtained the Atmalingam from Shiva after a strong penance but he was tricked by the gods and the lingam got fixed.
Ravana managed to pick out a few lingam pieces and hurled them in various directions. Wherever these fell, temples are to be found around them. While a piece of lingam did not fall in Murudeshwar, the cloth covering the Atmalingam fell down here and the Temple of Murudeshwar is founded around the same spot. A 20 story Raja Gopura dedicated to Shiva is also being installed. The town’s main attraction, the Shiva statue, 123 feet tall, surrounded on three sides by the sea. It’s visible from a distance and looks impressive.
If you love unique places, natural surroundings and fantastic landscapes then Yana is one of the best places for you in Karnataka. Yana is a small village and hill station located just 140 km away from the city Hubli. This small town offers spectacular forests, hills, unusual stone formations and a variety of birds. The place is perfect to get away from the crowd and enjoy the beauty of nature.
It is also a great destination for avid bird watchers. You can also see the unique small village and its culture to get a nice touch of villages and peoples. Bhairaveshwara peak and Mohini Peak are the most famous attractions in Yana. The stories of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati related to these peaks make it even more famous. When it comes to outdoor activities, this you can enjoy both trekking and camping while you explore the enthralling rock formations.
Mahalasa Temple is one of the most sacred places to visit in Gokarna, a renowned place not to be missed on their Gokarna trip. It is also known as the Temple of Shri Mahalasa Siddhivinayaka and is easily accessible from Gokarna bus station. The temple was built here 150 years ago when a Shri Siddhivinayak idol was installed.
During such festivals such as Ganesh Chaturthi, Ashwin Shashti, Shravana Sankashti, the temple is best visited when the celebration is finished with all the magnificence.
Food & Shopping at Gokarna
Situated at one end of the beach, the cafe has a picture-perfect setting and tasting the delicious food here with a view is one of the best things to do in Gokarna. You shouldn’t miss delicious Bangda/Mackerel Fish fry. Apart from this one can devour some unique dishes like seafood lasagna, prawn pizza on a banana leaf and iced Nutella on this beach too. Namaste Cafe is one of the most picturesque cafes in Gokarna offering finger-licking delicious food, situated right on the Om Beach. Other cafes which you can visit include Dolphin Bay Cafe, Shree Shakti Cold Drinks for fruit juices and other beverages and Pai Restaurant if you love savouring South Indian cuisine.
Shopping in Gokarna is all about buying souvenirs like brass lamps, prayer beads, picture frames of Gods and Goddesses, incense sticks and other religious items. Other than this, you can also pick up some decorative items or jewellery made from seashells.
The best time to visit the place is after-monsoon, from September to December if you are looking to enjoy watersports activities.
Rocky terrain is perfect for mountain climbing biking and trekking activities. The peaceful beaches are perfect for trying water sports such as surfing, diving, snorkelling, parasailing and jet skiing. Climb atop a banana boat and get pulled into the waves for that adrenaline rush. This unique experience brings out the child hidden in all of us and is undoubtedly one of the most fun things to do in Gokarna.
Apart from all this, you left with some time then you can also pay a visit to Baada Beach, Maha Ganpati Tempel Bhadhrakali Temple, Shree Venkataramana Temple.
Also Read: The Ruins of Hamp – Historical & Architectural Marvel of Karnataka