Gokarna India – Your Quick Travel Guide
In a nutshell
Gokarna, situated in the state of Karnataka, just over 300 miles from Bangalore, is one of seven sacred Indian pilgrimage sites. Due to its spectacular surroundings, namely the distant panorama of the Western Ghats and the shore of the Arabian sea and its white-sandy beaches, Gokarna has become a thriving holiday destination, which accommodates both religious devotees who seek blessings of Lord Shiva and Western travellers; old and new-age hippies, as well as those fleeing the ever-growing commercialisation of Goa.
Why go to Gokarna
The town, much like Udupi, is an ancient pilgrimage centre with a markedly traditional feel. The L-shaped, endearingly shabby, main street is overflowing with quaint little shopping meccas on every corner; the serene palm-lines beaches are thronging with life; and the local Brahmins sit in padmasana position on their verandas chanting Sanskrit verses. The town is a heady mix of old and new, but its relatively tranquil atmosphere is what sets it apart from the rest of Indian resorts.
The nightlife in Gokarna is pretty much non-existent but an ongoing and diverse range of activities set-up by the local travelling community will keep you busy.
Where to go to Gokarna
Gokarna’s weather can be pretty erratic, however, the monsoon starts in August and ends in late October. If you plan to visit this particular locality the best time would be from November to March when the weather averages about 90°F.
Where to stay in Gokarna
Gokarna has plenty of accommodation options both in town and its surrounding beaches. It offers a reasonable selection of independent hotels as well as small, family-run, guesthouses. Owing to its growing popularity, however, it also has several upmarket resorts.
Prices vary greatly according to comfort levels, proximity to the town centre and whether you prefer to live on the seashore or somewhere inland. A very basic hut on the beach will cost you around INR300, a hotel room with an en-suite will set you back around INR600, while a stay at one of the hilly, luxury, resorts can cost anywhere from INR1000 to INR2000 per night.
Where to eat in Gokarna
Equally, dining out in Gokarna depends entirely on your choice of cuisine and restaurant. There are plenty of local dhabas where you can buy a thali, a dosa, a dhal fry or a fish supper for less than INR100. These places are mostly dotted around town and on the Main beach broad, while other beaches and their restaurants cater both International and local fare, especially for the tourists market and are about a 100 per cent pricier.
How to get to and from Gokarna
This particular coastal resort is easily accessible by road and rail. The nearest railway station is Gokarna Road, over 3 miles from the town centre, which you can reach either by foot, rickshaw or taxi. A rickshaw will set you back about INR250, while a taxi will cost INR350.
Gokarna is also accessible by rail from a number of stations including, Margao, Ankola, Kumta and Karwar. Trains from Margao to Gokarna Road run three times a week, a ticket will cost you around INR60.
Being relatively small and remote, Gokarna doesn’t have its own airport. The nearest one being Dabolim in Goa, which is about 90 miles away. You can take a taxi from outside the airport, which will set you back about INR3500. Mangalore International Airport is another way to get into town, the 150 mile taxi ride will set you back about INR4500.
If, however, you plan to reach Gokarna by road there are regular KSRTC buses that run from Bangalore, Mangalore, Panjim, and Hubli.
Is Gokarna a safe place to visit?
Being a holy town, and one renowned as a hot-spot for Western travellers with its own large, tight-knit, community Gokarna is a place where you can truly relax. Its locals are cordial, friendly and enjoy a good barter but aren’t into the habit of hassling Westerners. The town has its own medical centre, a police station and is perfectly safe for a late night wander even for a single woman traveller. Do, however, note that there are plenty of beggars about who have turned this into a profession so keep in mind when doling out small-change that you do so discerningly.