You said “go corona” I said lets “ Gokarna”. The pandemic has enclosed us all within our homes and I am confident to state that all have made a bucket list to travel post the lock down. There is definitely hope among all of us that this pandemic will end soon.
But I couldn’t wait long to get out of my home and that’s when I found out that a few places are open for tourism and are accessible with the necessary precautions considered. Thus I decided to travel to Gokarna in Karnataka India and visit the serene beaches to gain a new experience and get immersed with the confluence of the sea. But this time it was not a normal beach walk it was something unique and that is walk through the beaches by way of trek and camping at the shores of Gokarna.
Let me sail you through Gokarna and I hope you get influenced by it and will make it your next destination to visit.
History of Gokarna:
Gokarna is a small temple town on the western coast of India in the Kumta taluk of Uttara Kannada district of the state of Karnataka. The main temple and deity is Lord Shiva, who is also known as Mahabaleshwara. This temple houses what is believed to be original image of Lord Shiva’s linga (Atmalinga) . Gokarna is known as one of the seven important Hindu pilgrimage centers. It is on what was once an unspoiled beach near the estuary of the river Aghanashini. Gokarna means cow’s ear. It is believed that Lord Shiva emerged from the ear of a cow (Prithvi, the Mother Earth) here. It is at the ear-shaped confluence of two rivers Gangavali and Aghanashini. Gokarna is also mentioned in the Shrimad Bhagavata Purana as being the home of the brothers Gokarna and Dhundhakari. Gokarna was part of the Sodhe and Vijayanagar kingdoms. When the Konkan region — including Goa — was occupied by the Portuguese, it became part of their rule.
It’s old and rustic and hence has attracted a number of tourists and has now become one of the most visited coasts in Karnataka.
How do you get here?
Gokarna is accessible via road, rail and air it’s situated about 238 km north of Mangalore, 483 km from Bengaluru and about 59 km from Karwar. It is between the Gangavali and Agnashini rivers along the Karwar coast by the Arabian Sea.
It can be reached by Konkan Railway on the Mumbai to Mangalore route or Goa to Mangalore route. The railway station (called Gokarna Road) is 6 km from the town.
The nearest airports are Hubli Airport, Karnataka which has domestic flights only, Goa International Airport at Goa and Mangalore International Airport at Bajpe, Karnataka are the nearest airports to reach at Gokarna.
My experience of the beach trek:
My journey to Gokarna began from Mangalore, Karnataka India, a minimum 5 hour drive but it’s mesmerizing. The long running roads and the sea view is splendid .The drive up the winding path that leads to Gokarna is scenic, with the rocky mountains and Western Ghats on one side and the Arabian Sea on the other. It’s simply a treat for the ones who love travelling
Gokarna is known for the beaches and thus I decided to go for the beach trek.
I was hesitant at first as it was new and I didn’t know where and how to go about it, but with the right guide anything is possible so I visited this place along with a team of professionals in treking. And they certainly made the experience an amazing one.
Let me share you the details of the trek: It included crossing the 7 famous beaches of Gokarna namely,
1. Kudle beach
2. Om beach
3. Half-moon beach
4. Hell cliff beach
5. Small hell beach
6. Paradise beach
7. Belekan beach
All in a span of 7 hours.
It may seem impossible but you have to get here to accomplish it and feel proud about.
I never knew I would be able to do this trek on foot but it is rightly said it’s the view after climb that matters. And I must say this experience is once a lifetime. Walk along with me through the beaches of Gokarna by reading further and I am sure you can’t wait to visit this place soon.
The “trail” of the 7 beaches:
The first beach is the Kudle beach.
This particular beach is the starting of the sea shore. It is the main beach and has many foot counts on a normal day. One can reach this place by vehicle or foot and stop at a point a little further away from the beach and take a 3 min walk as it is a long open beach to reach here; it was more like a warm up before beginning the trek. The Kudle beach is west facing its calm and rustic and it’s known for surfing .The shore contains small shacks to buy a few essentials such as water which is your travel buddy for the next few hours and may be some sugar to give you energy. So let the sunshine kiss you and embrace you here at the beach as this place is hot throughout the year. The trail to the beach is wide enough though one has to walk through rock slopes and on the way you will meet a few buffaloes or cows just pat on its back and you can walk amidst it and manage to reach the shore.
The Om Beach
You then walk through the shore toward the most happening beach in Gokarna that is the Om beach. The “om” is symbolic to the Hindu culture “. so this beach is formed in such a way that the shore line represents “ hence the name. But to get a clear view of it you need to take a 3km walk from the kudle beach to the Om beach. There is a way made via footsteps approx. 80 steps upwards and then you reach a hilly arid land and again go walking over the hills and climbing down the hills but on this trail there is a mini park developed by the town where one can rest .The Park is simple yet beautiful as it’s a rock garden. You can enjoy the sea view from here.
I took a short break and walked down again through a narrow stretch I slid and fell but then managed to reach and spotted the Om beach and landed my foot. This beach has a lot of water sports involved such as speed boat, kayaking, sand biking etc. also it has a lot of restaurants and hotels to stay and hangout. This beach is roaring and is definitely a must visit while at Gokarna. Get into the water and enjoy a beach day. From here there are boat services to the next beaches and the only other way is by trekking. The om beach has a breathtaking view and it has small rock formation amidst the sea where one can chill and enjoy the sound of the waves and sit under the sky.
The whole purpose of the beach trek to be completed within the time period was to view the sunset and have a feeling of accomplishment. Since the time was ticking we had to trek to reach our sunset point.
The half-moon beach ( aka Full moon beach)
From the Om beach we then would go toward half moon beach, it has derived the name as it is shaped like a crescent moon. This trail was a tricky one as the path was rocky and it was through dense forests and a climb here and slope there and then we could see the beach from the top.
The view is just amazing, and at the end of this trail we found a small shop to fill our quench for thirst and that is the only one available after a long path.
The Hell cliff and the The small hell beach
We then got refreshed and were ready to face the next trail the climb to the hell cliff beach. This beach is only accessible by foot and the trek will make you skip several heart beats. The path is very narrow and steep and a slip from here is definitely hell down under as it’s a cliff and one has to walk through a narrow path which is barely the size of your feet and you need to be sharp and cautious while climbing through debris of rocks and amid arid forests. This stretch was hell tiring. But it was all worth the effort as this beach was surreal and there was a small cliff a little further which is why the beach is named small hell beach which one could crawl and climb and have a panoramic view of the entire beach and the path that we walked by. It was just out of this world.
The sunset at Paradise:
After a tiring trail it was almost nearing sunset and the heat was just making us sweat as this place was not windy it was extremely humid, the sea was the only savior to keep us chilled and that’s why we needed to get to the most beautiful beach among the Gokarna stretch which is the Paradise beach. So this beach is isolated and only a few people are allowed with permission to camp here. But to reach here was extremely difficult compared to the previous paths. One has to have stamina and energy to walk so much and for a beginner like me it was pretty difficult but I never stopped. I managed to walk with a few halts and stayed hydrated all throughout. The climb to this particular beach was quite long and one has to walk down through steep hills and it was pretty confusing as we could get lost easily, but that’s when a guide helps you and will make you reach the destination. If you’re alone then here’s a pro tip always listen to the sound of the water and follow it, you will definitely reach.
Thus the trek from the kudle beach and through the next destinations i.e, the Om beach, half-moon beach, hell cliff and small hell beach took about 4 hours including the small halts and play time at the beach and another 45 mins to one hour to reach Paradise beach.
One can then stay at paradise beach and view the sunset or make a tent for yourself and simply enjoy being at “Paradise”. This beach is a very small beach it’s more like a lost island, isolated and silent, has a few people here and there, the rock formations in the shore amid the sea is a place to sit and relax and enjoy the sunset view from here. If you are passionate about photographs and capturing the characters in the sky and romance with the sea then this is the place to be.
The view is spectacular, under the orange sky and the waves hitting against the shore with the water droplets on you. Vow what an experience. It indeed feels like paradise.
Under the night sky by the sea
I waited here until dusk and the till moon was up; it was a perfect way to end it. The night sky was so beautiful that we could see stars so close and bright and it’s also another reason why people come for a night trek to the beaches of Gokarna. The night sky glows in its entire aura.
The best thing that happened on that day was I got to see the bio luminescence (it is the production and emission of light by a living organism which are planktons, fish or bacteria and jellies that emit light in a bluish – green colour , similar to a fire fly).It was like a gift from nature or rather a lucky day in paradise.
The beginning to the end- Belekan beach
I then had to reach back to the campsite which was at Belekan beach. This was the last one among all the beaches and it was a night trek. So before one gets going one has to get their flashlights on and you’re ready to go. It was almost a 45 minute stretch, extremely steep climb through thorny bushes and fallen branches and rocky trails, a miss here could get you injured. But somehow this wasn’t tiring as it was the last one among all the beaches and I was elated that I made it so far.
After walking for so long I finally reached Belekan beach. The Belekan beach is either the first or the last destination to many trekkers. Some begin their trek from here to reach paradise beach only, or to go further and some come over to Belekan beach as it has a space for camping. This beach is calm; through the day the shore is visible and by dawn the water level rises and the shore disappears. It’s a natural phenomenon yet I was awe struck.
Sunrise at Belekan Beach:
Belekan beach is a unique place, because we can view sunrise from the west coast. I don’t think it’s possible in any other place along the west coast. If you want to capture sunrise then this is the best place to be. The view over the hills and cliffs from the sea is mesmerizing. So for the photographers and the nature lovers this is the place to be.
My entire beach trek ended with a lot of memories and many beautiful moments that I captured. It was definitely a memorable experience for me and I will cherish it for a lifetime. And yes if you are an adventure lover then definitely try trekking here across the beaches of Gokarna as it’s a fun way to stay fit and also experience and enjoy the destination.
I hope after reading this you will come over to the state of “Karnataka, India, and visit Gokarna soon. Indeed Karnataka is “One State many worlds” and has a lot to explore and enjoy.
Courtesy: Mangalore memories
Information source: Wikipedia and local research
This blog is compiled and written by Shishira Rau