Gokarna is the less commercialized version of Goa and is found along the coast of the Arabian Sea. Gokarna means Cow and was given this name since it looks like a Cow’s ear. If you ask me what’s my favorite place in South India, without any second thoughts I would shout Gokarna. I have had the best days of my life during my vacation here. It bears breathtaking beaches and captivating landscapes. It is a hub for nature lovers and hippies.
1. Om Beach
This beach is best known for being shaped like an auspicious Om symbol. It is lined with numerous cheap accommodations along its shore. Seafood is served and is preferred by many visitors. Om Namaste cafe is very famous and their seafood platter is a must-try!
Address: Om Beach, Gokarna, Karnataka 581326
Website: Om Beach
2. Kudle Beach
This beach is a hit among foreigners due to the absence of a crowd. The beach is lined with tall coconut trees, rocks and hillocks. Surfing can be done here and cheap accommodations can be found. There are many cafes available near every accommodation.
Address: South Gokarna, Gokarna 581326, India
3. Gokarna Beach
This is the main tourist attraction in this holy town. It is surrounded by many temples, so you can combine this visit with your temple visits. There are no accommodations or cafes present near this beach so it’s good for a quick evening visit. Although, there are many street stalls available, serving food that are to drool over.
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4. Half Moon Beach
This beach was given its name because it is shaped like a half moon. It is a comparatively smaller beach with less of a crowd. There is also a boat trek connecting three beaches such as Kudle, Half Moon and Paradise. If you are lucky, you can see dolphins porpoising during this boat trek. It looks beautiful with a minimalist setting and especially during the night with a sky full of stars and the moon beaming right back at you.
Half Moon Beach
Address: near Om Beach, Gokarna 581326
5. Trek to Yana
The historical city of Yana is a well-known pilgrimage center in Karnataka. The city is now fast becoming the place for rock climbers. There is a popular saying that, the one with tremendous guts and determination goes to Yana and the one with money bags goes to Gokarna. Early winter is the best time to visit this place, and trekking is the best option; the hill view is amazing. There are many packages available for trekking.
Trek to Yana
Address: Yana is situated in the Shayadri range of mountains in Northern Karnataka
6. Water Sports
Apart from the relaxing beach, Gokarna offers adventure as well. The most common water sport activities here are jet skiing, parasailing and banana boat riding. Cocopelli sports school provides professional guidance with surfing on request. There are many packages available to choose from!
Water Sports and Diving
Website: Water Sports and Diving
7. Mahabaleshwara Temple
Before entering this temple visitors take a dip in the Arabian sea. The Gokarna Beach is near to this temple. It is made of Dravidian style architecture and is a very important Hindu religious pilgrimage center.
According to the legend, the Atmalinga (representation of the Hindu deity, Shiva) brought by Ravana got struck here and his efforts to extract it resulted in his throwing the coverings of the Atma Linga to Murdeshwar Temple. Ravana was unable to extract the Atma Linga from the ground again and finally, he called the shiva linga Mahabala (you are too strong). The Atma Linga of Lord Shiva is popularly known as Mahabaleshwar.
Address: Koti Teertha Road, Kotiteertha, Gokarna, Karnataka 581326
Website: Mahabaleshwara Temple
8. Mirjan Fort
This fort is located one hour from Gokarna. The Mirjan Fort has witnessed many battles, tears and joys of kings, and gallant violence. It is among the grandest forts in South India with a lovely view of green pallets covering the dark rocks. The castle owner was Portuguese and photographs are forbidden inside the castle. Although the fort is now demolished, it still attracts visitors.
Address: Mirjan Fort Road, Mirjan, Uttara Kannada, Karnataka 581333
9. Murudeshwar Temple
The Murudeshwar Temple is located only two hours from Gokarna. This magnificent shrine is dedicated to Lord Shiva, and the entire surface of this temple is covered in the most intricate and detailed carvings that you will ever see. The huge Lord Shiva statue leaves every visitor mesmerized and it is second largest Shiva statue. The temple is surrounded by Arabian sea on three sides. Many festivals are organized during auspicious days in this temple. It is a blissful place to experience both God and nature.
Address: Murdeshwar, Karnataka
Website: Murudeshwar Temple
10. Netrani Island
Netrani Island is located in Murudeshwar, which is 100 kms (60 mi) from Gokarna. It is also known as Pigeon Island. Views from above give this island the appearance of being heart-shaped. Besides pigeons, the other inhabitants of the island are wild goats. This island is a famous tourist spot in this part of the country. It is a go-to place for scuba and snorkeling lovers. It has a fascinating variety of fish and coral species. January and February are the best months to visit.
Address: Netrani Island, Karnataka
Website: Snorkeling at Netrani Island
Warning: fun-only zone ahead
Gokarna is filled with foreigners and locals who have nothing but fun during their stay. No other thing in this world compares to the delight of a long seashore walk, listening to the sound of waves, experiencing sunrise and sunset views, bonfires and sleeping right under the sky accompanied by a million stars. No wonder everyone leaves Gokarna with a heavy heart.
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