There was something in the air when I stepped out of the KSRTC Bus in Gokarna. After an 11 hour drive, I was anything but tired. The trees were green, the air was fresh and light and the sounds of temple bells wafted from somewhere far away. I strained my ears to hear the thumping waves of Arabian Sea as they lash on the shores of this coastal town. Gokarna means Cow’s Ear (Go-Cow; Karna – Ear) which has an interesting legend involving Shiva, Ganesha and Ravana; I smiled to myself humming a random tune and hardly flinched when the auto driver asked for Rs 80/- to drop me to Om Beach Resort which is a Jungle Lodges and Resorts property. These are those rare moments when I willfully allow myself to be overcharged by Rs 20-30; and revel in the positivity of the moment.
Gokarna has been on my list for a while and when the invite came from The Karnataka Tourism to visit one of their resorts; Gokarna was my choice !! the moment had finally come for my long cherished dream to come true. The 1 km distance from the bus stand was done in a jiffy by auto; the driver tried taking a detour just to give me value for my money 🙂 I was welcomed by the elephant shaped gate and the pretty white flowers swinging with the morning breeze. I chanted Om under my breath; as I walked around the cobbled paths and stone stairs lined with trees. Soon, I was warmly welcomed by the manager who found me wandering around and while they sorted out my room, I sacked out on the hammock watching the sun peep through the flowery trees.
The rooms are mini villas actually including a sit out with chairs, a drawing room with a mock fire place, television and a comfortable sofa that can be easily converted to a bed, a desk and a chair and of course the bedroom with comfortable beds adorned with spotless white sheets. Over the years, I am a little picky about bathrooms but the ones in this resort met my standard with stone floors and spotlessly clean tiles. The 12 rooms are arranged in clusters named after the great rivers of Karnataka – Gangavali, Nethravathi, Sharavati and Soupernika. All the rooms are of near similar size and layout. After a quick shower; I had breakfast which was standard South Indian fare with some toast and omelette.
Sightseeing Tour for Dolphins
At 10.30am we headed for a beach and dolphin watching tour. The hospitable manager Mr JayaPrakash accompanied us to the tour. While walking down from the drop off point near the beach, I could see the sacred symbol on the beach. The gods knew too well, where to appear and draw the symbol for the sacred sound that heals the depths of our soul. It was hot but not overbearing. I sat on a bench under a tree and watched people walk by mostly the hippy kinds with heavily tattooed arms, flip flopping around with ruck sacks. We sat in a motor boat to go dolphin watching in the sea and visit the other beaches – Half Moon & Paradise. It depends on the crowd but expect to pay anywhere between Rs 300 to Rs 400 for the 1 hour round trip ride.
The dolphins appeared and disappeared even faster; who on earth would like noisy nosy humans striking their peaceful slumber. They were determined that I retain their everlasting memory captured in the lens of my eye and hence I have no pictures to show. All along, I could see the path on the high cliff which leads to the beaches. It is a not so frequented hike and better taken in a group in broad daylight since it passes through some isolated stretches with dense tree cover. Paradise Beach was an alternate universe where the free thinking hippies set up home under the trees surviving on coconuts and packets of chips.
The boat ride back to Om Beach was exciting with some more Dolphins appearing in the horizon and all attempts aim, point and shoot were once again futile. Lunch in the resort was simple but tasty and I lapped up the Fish Fry as if I was starving for days. The pulao, sambhar, rasam and curry is of JLR standards, less spice, low oil; seemed very organic. I loved the mung dal halwa which was nearly liquid. The best thing here was the bananas hanging on the side. Just grabbed a bunch for my afternoon sojourn on the hammock. The tiredness of the bus ride was just about sinking in and I soon transferred myself to the room from the hammock.
Kudle Beach Tour:
At 4 pm we headed to Kudle beach supposed to be the cleanest in Gokarna. Its a short winding path on to the beach dotted with cafes and shacks. The sand was clean and nearly white and it was a melting pot of sorts with locals, tourists and hippies. I looked around in amusement, walking along the beach, with the ocassional wave washing over my feet. Life played out in many ways on the beach, moments of love, moments of affection, pranks and loud laughs over evidently silly things. We returned back to the resort with the birds after a glorious sunset.I spent the quiet evening under the stars with the smell of fresh flowers and retreated to my room after dinner.
Next morning, I went out for a long walk with other guests in the resort. David and Margaret a retired couple from Australia were visiting India for a social cause and it was a pleasure to exchange notes on life in the 2 countries while we walked around town. That morning, I had breakfast in the corner table of Om Beach Resort, which has a view of the sea afar. Later, we visited the Mahabaleshwar and Mahaganapathi Temple in town as organized by Om Beach Resort. It is believed that Mahabaleshwar Temple has the Atmalingam ie the reality of God that can be apprehended by the mind. The temple faces the beach where you find scores of devotees take a dip before heading for a glimpse of Shiva; which is essentially a glimpse of ourselves. Aham Brahmasmi !!
I lazed around the resort that afternoon after sumptous lunch wondering whether to visit the Ayurvedic Centre for a massage or spend time with nature. Nature won this round since my city life hardly allows any space or time to unwind. The folks in the resort were kind enough to allow a late check out. That evening I boarded the bus back to Bangalore with a song on my lips for having experienced the innocent charm of a town that seems to be moving much slower than time.
A perfect weekend get away for Families; Couples, Solo Travelers, Senior Citizens
- Reaching Gokarna : Nearest Airport is Goa and Gokarna is a 2 hour drive from Dabolim Airport. Connected by train and Bus from Bangalore, Mangalore, Goa. Gokarna Road Station is about 10 kms away from Town. Daily Volvo buses available from Bangalore (480 kms) – KSRTC and private buses. About 10-11 hour journey.
- Best Time to Visit: October to March when the weather is pleasant but it is fine all year through
- Om Beach Resort is perfect for families; a little away from the main beaches and away from the hullabaloo of the temple town. The resort provides pick up and drop to the beaches – Kudle/Om which are about 3-4 kms away; and the temple and Town Beach are about 1 km away. Alternatively; autos are at flat rate – Rs 100-Rs 150
- The resort allows early check in and late check out if they are not booked out; so speak to them in advance
- The food is simple and yum. There are some Veg Restaurants in Town and shacks along the beach just in case you are looking for some extra stuff.
- The resort is child friendly located in a quiet and peaceful area. The staff are extremely courteous and helpful.
You can reserve Om Beach Resort here through “The Karnataka Tourism” at http://www.thekarnatakatourism.com/eco-resorts/om-beach-resort.php
A huge thanks to the staff of The Karnataka Tourism for recommending and facilitating this trip to Om Beach Resort. They have been pioneers in the field of nature and adventure tourism through http://www.dandeli.com and have brought the natural beauty of Karnataka to the forefront. Over the last few years they have expanded to providing tourism in other areas of Karnataka as well. Just give them a call on 9449244567 or fill in your requirements on the website and they will plan the best trip for you. The best part is their quick response.