After a long long staying at home thing, it was exhausting. The Covid-19 vaccine had arrived. It was the time I could finally go out and travel again. There was only one problem. Most of the states still had made it compulsory to take the covid test for travelling. Finally I got to know that there were no travel rules between Maharashtra and Karnataka. Some of my friends had decided to go on a trip to Gokarna and I was hell ready!
We boarded the sleeper class train from Mumbai. The plan was to first go to Murudeshwar and then make our way to Gokarna. We boarded a train at around 4 pm and around 4am in the morning, we reached Murudeshwar station. It was a bit different travelling by train in pandemic times.
Murudeshwar is famous for a huge Lord Shiva idol and the temple. Also the beaches here are very clean. The distance from the station to temple is around 2.5 km and as it was early morning, we decided to walk. With the huge backpack on my back, we slowly reached the temple premises. As it was still dark, the temple and statue were not clearly visible. So we waited for the light. Around 6:30 am, the temple doors were opened. As it was early morning, there was not too much crowd and it was peaceful.
After visiting the temple, we waited for the lift which starts at 7:30am to go to the top of the temple. The lift costs ₹10/- . And it was much more than worth the money. The view from the top was so incredible that it cannot be written in words. As it was morning, I could see the fog around the trees, the boats on the shore, the sunrise behind the mountains. On the other side was the huge Shiva idol. Seeing all these things reminded me how great nature is!
After clicking a few pictures, we had some South Indian breakfast at the hotel near the temple. It was just 9:30 am and we had finished exploring the temple premises. Actually we were way ahead of our schedule. Haha, that is a great thing to happen on any trip! We then reached the highway to catch a bus to Gokarna.
There are no direct buses to Gokarna from Murudeshwar. You will have to change a bus at Kumta. There is continuous connectivity on this route so it’s a good option. First boarded a bus which was going to Hubli and got down at Kumta. After reaching Kumta, the locals in the bus pointed us towards the bus which was going to Gokarna. Within 5 minutes, we were on our second bus. Around 2 hours of the journey through some of the best roads in India with best views, we reached Gokarna bus stand.
As we were on a budget, we had decided to camp for the night. We had brought our tents from Mumbai. Before that, we had to find a bike rental for the next day, and it was tough. The next day was republic day and the rentals of the whole town had drastically increased their prices. The rental which was ₹300 for weekdays had gone up to ₹800. After a 2 hour long exploration, we dropped the plan of renting on republic day and decided to move towards the beach for camping.
Now, the hotels besides the beaches don’t allow camping, but you can do it after 9pm when they close. This is for some prominent beaches.
Read about the beaches of Gokarna and Gokarna Beach Trek here so that you know what I am upto. Paradise beach was a great hotspot for camping in the past, but is now eventually leased to someone and now we have to pay to camp on that beach.
We decided to camp on Half moon beach which is just beside Paradise beach. First we took an auto to Kudle beach. There we spent some time on the beach and then headed to Om beach. Kudle to Om beach is a small trek but some of us were tired and we had more trek to do forward, so took an auto. I would suggest to trek as it is a small one. It was dark when we reached Om beach. It was filled with people. As we were entering the beach, people were leaving.
At the end of Om beach, there is a trail in the jungle which is around 20 minutes on the hills. We trekked in the dark in the jungle. There are many routes here and it may be confusing. Look out for tapes on the trees for the right way. We safely reached Half moon beach. It is a small beach and to our surprise there was a restaurant at one corner of the beach. There was one tent already setup by two guys from Delhi. We did a common bonfire. The whole beach was ours for the night as no one was there.
The next morning, I was woken by the sound of the waves. Oh yes, I woke up on the beach. We had made a booking at one of the hotels on the main beach. So we wrapped our tents and got ready. Then, we decided to take the other route to trek back to the road. We climbed the whole mountain to reach the main road. It was a dead tiring trek in the morning. Somehow we reached the main road, took an auto to our hotel. It was R K Beach Cottage. We had a dormitory booked for the night. It was right on the beach and had a wonderful ambience set.
The whole day we relaxed, played volleyball with the locals, swam in the sea. As the food here was a bit expensive and had limited options, we found another restaurant just besides it which was cheap with great taste. Don’t know the name of the restaurant but here’s the map view. Do visit it if you are staying nearby. Not sponsored!
Gokarna has the same vibes of Goa, just that it is much more calm. It had far far less tourists and all the beaches here are cleaner than that of Goa. There is no hard liquor available in Gokarna. I don’t know the reason for this. It is a bit more expensive than Goa but is still worth the money.
Next day we woke up again on the beach. It was our last day and we had rented bikes for this day for just ₹300 for whole day. Checked out of the hotel. The manager was very kind and was a great guy! We kept our luggage at the reception and took bikes from Sara rentals. The condition of the vehicles was great. We took Honda activa. Then the twist came. Our return journey tickets on the same evening were cancelled as we were on waiting list. Now what!
We first went to Mahabaleshwar temple in the main town of Gokarna. Then headed straight to the Gokarna railway station. The station personal told that there is no direct booking at this station and we will have to book ticket online only. He helped us find another train where there were seats available. We found one train which didn’t halt at Gokarna, but we could catch the train at Kumta. But then then we tried booking, it was unsuccessful. We had much to explore on that day and it was already noon. We dropped the plan of finding a train and decided to leave it to God and started riding again. Our first stop was Yana caves which are 25km from Gokarna.
At one point, the road divides into two where one leads to Yana caves and the other goes to Vibhuti falls. At that point, we had lunch at the restaurant there. It was a very small restaurant with just 4 to 5 tables and only authentic thali was available. That was one of the best South Indian thali of the entire trip! And guess what, it cost only ₹70.
Then we rode towards the cave. From here, the roads got worse. It was very difficult to ride, but somehow we reached the caves. Yana caves are some special kind of rock formations. I don’t know the science behind it, but you can read it here.
As we were tight on schedule, we left soon for Vibhuti falls. The falls are around 20 minutes trek from parking. But once you reach there, all your tiredness will vanish. Sadly as I didn’t have extra clothes, I couldn’t enjoy a swim. But sitting on the nearby rock and starring the clear water refreshed me up! The falls gate closes at 5pm so better be there in time.
After a long and tiring day, we rode back to Gokarna bus stop to enquire if there was any bus for Kumta. Our plan was to somehow reach Kumta station and then decide to find a transport back home. Sadly, we saw the last bus leave right in front of our eyes. Totally exhausted, we sat at the restaurant in the bus stop and ordered tea. There, I still had hopes of getting night train tickets to home, searched the irctc website. And then a miracle happened! Somehow from somewhere, I found a train which had sleeper seats available from Kumta. Don’t know what happened, how it happened, but without a second thought, I booked the tickets for all of my group. Then we took a deep breath and were relieved! Ordered some dosa as we were hungry!
The train we booked was at 2am from Kumta. We still had to figure our way to Kumta and it was 9pm already. We went to return our bikes and asked the store guy for options. He had some contacts and we got a cab for 1300. It was a bit expensive, but we had limited options. We collected our bags from the hotel and took the cab to Kumta. Finally we were at the Kumta station at around 10 pm. At 2am, we boarded the train and all of us just went to sleep. Yet another amazing journey, with a bunch of experiences was over.
Gokarna is actually quite different from most of the beaches. With a lot of trails, this place is great to get a step closer to mother earth! Most of the places here have trails and vehicles don’t go beyond a certain point. This is good in one way as it has kept nature still in good shape!
My total expense on this trip was ₹4000 (including travel to and from Mumbai)
So, when are you planning a trip to the beautiful and mesmerizing Gokarna?
- We left our cancelled tickets to God and went exploring…
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