Beyond Goa: Welcome to sun-kissed Gokarna


By Arundhati Roy

I think I speak for the majority when I say that every Indian’s idea of a beach holiday ends up in Goa. Surely, it can be heavenly for some with the sound of some upbeat music hanging in the air as they sunbathe under the summer sun. But what if I told you that there is a place which is reminiscent of a Goa that existed 20 years ago? The place is called Gokarna.

Gokarna is a small pilgrimage town on the coast of Karnataka. Pilgrims and tourists flock to this coastal town throughout the year. Gokarna, which means Cow’s ear, got its name from Hindu mythology. The town is popular among Hindu pilgrims as Gokarna has one of the few Shiva’s holy temples with what is claimed to be the original image of god (a lingam). However, the town witnesses a complete flipside with the influx of backpackers from around the world. Gokarna charms its tourists with the simplicity that it has to offer.

Gokarna is famous for five beaches:

Gokarna Beach

This beach is mostly popular among pilgrims since it’s centrally located in the town. It is several kilometres long and the wind and the waves do most of the cleaning. Swimming is strictly not advised on this beach partly because the water has a perpetual smell of dead fish! No wise person would want to enter the water. It won’t essentially make any difference if you give this beach a skip.

Kudle Beach

This beach offers the best of both worlds. Located at the south of Gokarna beach, it provides cheap food and accommodation to backpackers, right on the beach! Little hammocks hanging in the verandah sets the mood for some quality ‘me’ time. Beer seems to be the staple drink on this beach, and the local Upbeat beer does the trick for many! There are many cafes stretched along the beach which provide a wide range of snacks for your after-swim hunger. Evenings are made magical with a random jam happening at some far corner of the beach. Kudle is the perfect destination for the ones who want to be alone but not lonely.


Om Beach

Further from Kudle, this beach gets the name from its shape and is split by a rock island. Mainly occupied by Indian tourists and a sprinkle of foreigners, it offers a range of sea sports for the ones interested. It is reasonably clean all year round. Swimming is permissible on this beach.  The second half of the beach offers cheap food and accommodation too. It is a long beach and a walk in the evening along the shore paints a completely different picture than a walk in the day.


Half Moon Beach

This beach is accessible after a short trek over a headland from Om beach. It is a very small beach with limited facilities. The water on this beach is a perfect turquoise and even though swimming can be a little dangerous on these waters, it is surely a worthwhile experience. Sunset on this beach is something which should not be missed.


Paradise Beach

Also known as Full Moon beach, this beach is further ahead of Half Moon, the farthest from Gokarna. Previously a nudist beach, it is now enjoyed solely for its natural beauty. Untouched and raw in its appeal, the beach is far away from the hustle bustle. Paradise is a delight during late evenings with the breath-taking sight of the sea shining in the bright moonlight.


On the outskirts of Gokarna, remains a beach which is still unknown to most people. Nirvana beach needs to be reached through a town named Kumta. The tide on this beach does not cease to light up one’s mood. A swim into the white, foamy waters of the Arabian Sea at sunset is the perfect way to end the day. With just a few shacks scattered in the vicinity, this beach provides utmost privacy to its visitors.


The town of beaches will never fail to meet your expectations. There seems to be a beach for every kind of personality. Whether you come to Gokarna on a solo trip or with your family, the place will take care of you all the same, a perfect getaway from the commercial buzz on the beaches of India.

At Gokarna, blue water under blue skies will chase all your blues away