Gokarna is a small beach town on the coast of Karwar in Karnataka. It is primarily known for three things: temples, beaches, and parties and we assure you that this town justifies all of it. Etymologically, the name Gokarna translates to ‘cow’s ear’ and is a derivative of the mythology that surrounds this place.
Gokarna is also home to a very unique vibe of its own. There are some of the most beautiful beaches, some of which are nearly untouched, along with some Hindu pilgrimage sights, and a few wonderful natural attractions. In fact, places like River Aghanashini, The Mahabaleshwar Temple, Om Beach, and Half Moon Beach have been attracting people since the beginning of time.
In recent times, Gokarna has popped up as a tourist spot that is favored by people looking for a spiritual cleanse, for parties galore, and for all the adventure in adventure sports! There is literally something for everyone in this tiny piece of paradise.
The town of Gokarna has a history that is a tale told through centuries. In fact, a lot of the town’s history is only known through the Bhagavata Purana. It is said that the Sri Lankan demon-king Ravana had attained the Atmalinga from Maha Vishnu. While traveling from Kailash Parbat to Sri Lanka, he stopped in the place where Gokarna is and put the Atmalinga down, getting it entrenched in the ground of this town.
After which, when Ravana tried to remove it again, he managed to break the coverings of the Atmalinga and threw them away. They landed in the places which turned into Dhareshwara, Gunavanteshwara, Murudeshwara, and Shejjeshwara. After this ordeal, the place in which the Atmalinga was situated turned into the Mahabaleshwara Temple since Ravana addressed it as Mahabala.
The culture of Gokarna is a direct result of the mythology tied to it. It’s very well known as a Hindu pilgrimage where people come to see and worship one of the oldest temples with a lingam that is claimed to be the original image of God.
In fact, nowadays, there are a lot of Hindu priests who will approach you and help you with any religious proceeding that you might want to get done in this place. Hence, there is a very heavy religious influence in the culture. It is recommended that if you are visiting, even for a party, make sure you are respectful towards the local sentiment.
Also Read: Best Beachside Hotels And Resorts In Gokarna
The closest airport to the town of Gokarna is the Dabolim Airport in Goa. Once you land at this airport, you can travel to Gokarna by road and rail. Tickets are available online as well as offline and are generally affordable.
Gokarna is very well connected by rail to all major parts of the country. The closest station to Gokarna is Gokarna Road and has trains running to and from Karwar, Ankola, Hubli, Mangalore, Margao, and Kumta.
However, you need to note that the actual town of Gokarna is a little farther away from the railway stations. So, you’ll have to travel the last little bit by bus, rickshaw, or taxi.
Since Gokarna has risen a few notches up in the list of every traveler out there, the frequency and network of buses have also gone up significantly. Depending on where you start your journey, you can get buses from multiple places in Goa, Maharashtra, and Karnataka. You can get yourself tickets for a bus going to Gokarna that might be a sleeper or a seater. The best part is, you have multiple start and end points when you’re traveling by bus, for a rather affordable price.
Speaking of buses, KSRTC has buses running frequently between Gokarna and places like Bangalore, Mangalore, Dabolim, and Margao. Regardless of what part of the country you’re coming from, you can follow National Highway 66 to Hosur in Karnataka and then take a right towards Gokarna. Beware: you might fall in love with the route to the city more than the city itself!
Also Read: Best Homestays In Gokarna
Gokarna is a small town on the coast of Karnataka. Given the geography of this location, it experiences all three seasons and all of them are presented beautifully against the landscape of this town. With the beautiful climate, comes the heavy humidity.
When you think of visiting a place like Gokarna, the ideal time to visit it would be in the early weeks of March, when there is a fair bit of sunlight and very little humidity. Another time when tourists flock to this town is between the months of November and February. The winter months present the town in different colors and are preferred by the ones who like the cold weather more.
However, we suggest that you avoid visiting this beach town in the monsoon season. The food options go down in numbers and the beaches look unkempt. Moreover, the coastal rains might make it a little more risky than you would imagine.
Walking is one of the most common ways of exploring this town. It’s a fairly small place with four beaches about 20 minutes away from the last one. There are a lot of shops and restaurants on the beaches and on the roads that connect them. This makes the walk quite an enjoyable one as well.
If you prefer not to walk the length of the entire town, you can take buses to get from one end to the other. In fact, if you want to visit any place close to Gokarna, buses would be your best bet.
A lot of tourists who visit Gokarna prefer to rent scooters. They are available for inexpensive prices and can be rented very easily. You might have to research a little before choosing who you want to rent from.
If you’re out for the day and have made it a point to explore all the beaches, you can also charter a boat to take you from beach to beach. Depending upon the type of boat you choose, this part of the trip can be done for INR 100 per head, if you share the boat. On the other hand, you can get a boat to yourself, without waiting for other passengers, for around INR 1,000.
Also Read: Top 9 Things To Do In Karnataka
‘Gokarna is a town only for the religious folks.’
That could not be farther from the truth. Gokarna has some of the most beautiful beaches in India and it did not take a long time for the world to notice that. In recent times, Gokarna has gained its fair share of fame as being one of the hottest party destinations in India, especially around new year’s eve. There are a number of other places too that you can easily explore. Keep reading to know about some of the best places to check out in Gokarna.
Also Read: Homestays In Udupi
Paradise Beach, also known as ‘Full Moon Beach’ is one of the farthest beaches from Gokarna. Because of its distance, it is fairly desolate as well. The forest department demolished the hotel buildings on this beach and the police often keep an eye on this beach. However, the desolation provides serenity like no other. The biggest reason for the quietness of this beach is the fact that it can only be accessed through the beaches surrounding it namely, Om beach and Half Moon beach, making it an ideal spot for camping. You’ll often find a few people setting up camps for the night, lighting bonfires by the sea and gazing at the stars, The availability of a fresh water well on this beach makes it even more preferred as a camping spot.
Om Beach gets its name from the shape of the beach. The entire beach is split In the shape of ‘Om’ by a rocky island. This beach gets a lot of religious visitors who come here just to see the rocky formation. The other half of this beach is full of hotels and restaurants that offer food and accommodation for cheap. However, accommodation is only available in the form of wood or concrete beach huts and the number of options goes down even further in monsoon.
Pronounced ‘Kudlee’ beach, it’s one of the best beaches in Gokarna. However, as its fame as a party venue is increasing, the natural flora is taking a hit. A few infrastructural ambitions have destroyed the paddy fields near the beach and commercialization is bringing down the overall green cover. Once you do get here, you can access the beach by the northern or the southern drop-off points used by the rickshaw and taxi drivers. The northern entry is closer to the town of Gokarna and the southern one is much more useful if you’re staying in the vicinity.
The six feet tall Shiv Linga that Ravana was carrying to Sri Lanka lies here, giving the temple the name of Mahabaleshwara Temple. It is built around the Atmalinga and is entirely constructed using granite. It’s also a beautiful example of Dravidian architecture from about 1,500 years ago. It’s a custom of this temple that all the devotees wishing to visit must first take a dip in the waters of the Karwar Beach, which the Mahabaleshwara Temple faces. After this, the devotees must visit the Ganpati Temple opposite the main temple and only then enter the Mahabaleshwara Temple.
Yana is a quiet and calm hill station in the Sahyadri Hills of Northern Karnataka. This hill station is home to one of the richest biodiversity centers in the country, along with two peaks that will make every trekker's heart jump out of their chest. The two peaks are called Mohini Peak and Bhairaveshwara Peak and they represent Goddess Parvati and Lord Shiva, respectively. There are two giant limestone monoliths on this hill station that attract visitors every year. The lush, green cover of this hill station coupled with the religious significance makes it an amazing journey all over.
Also Read: 6 Of The Best Offbeat Beaches In India
Why Is Gokarna Famous?
Gokarna is famous for its small-town vibe that complements the pristine beaches and idyllic beaches.
How Costly Is Gokarna?
Gokarna is known to be very affordable as a beach town. In fact, you can easily get a great-looking place for yourself for anywhere between INR 1,500 and INR 3,000.
Are 2 Days Enough For Gokarna?
Yes.,while it’s a very short period of time, the small size of this town allows you to make a great trip out of just two or three days.
Is There An Airport In Gokarna?
No, the town of Gokarna does not have an airport. However, there is Dabolim Airport in Goa that is closest to Gokarna and it’s only a few hours away.
Which Is The Best Time To Visit Gokarna?
The early weeks of March are the most preferred time to visit Gokarna. However, the months between November to February are also acceptable for those who prefer the winter climate more.
Which Is Better Gokarna Or Goa?
If you prefer vacationing in a less crowded space, then Gokarna would be an ideal destination to visit.
How Far Is Gokarna from Pune?
The distance between Gokarna from Pune is approximately 546 km by road.
Are Gokarna Beaches Clean?
When you visit Gokarna, you'll see that their beaches are some of the cleanest ones you can find in India.