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Gokarn: The Travel Guide We Never Had

So here's the deal. 11 of us decided to go to Gokarna (Its Gokarn, actually... the 'a' at the end is why the rest of India mistakenly pronounces it) because it was the last time we would all get to spend time together. Mainly because people would have to leave for their final year internships, and some would have just finished theirs. Anyway, Gokarn....

We left Madgaon station in the early afternoon and after a 2 hour train ride (going by bus would take you about 4 hours) we reached 'Gokarn Road'. Don't be afraid when you see the word 'Road' after the place's name.. that really is the place's name. On reaching the place we luckily made the correct decision of taking (2) cabs to Kutle/Kudle beach. If you are planning a 'trip' to Gokarn to have a 'good' time, avoid staying in town, because its .. well... boring.

On reaching Kutle beach,

which is where you trek to, after the cabbie drops you off on the top of a deserted hill, try to find accommodation before it grows dark. Just like any of the more exotic places on the west coast, finding a place to stay for Indians (that too 11 of us in this case) is a very hard task to accomplish. There is an international resort (which is really just a slightly more advanced shack) there, but the prices are really high.. even for the foreigners.... So after much searching we stayed at the Sunset Cafe .....

which again is still essentially a shack. The modest accommodation that we got there were in straw huts at cheap rates, but no one really complained, for after all, we wanted to experience the 'feel' of the place. Oh! and the food there.. simply bloody brilliant. From Mushakas, to Pizzas to Israeli food, every dish served at the Sunset Cafe was of high quality and at modest prices. One word of advice though, you don't get too much of the all important B except for beer at any places/beach in Gokarn that too at 'non-goan' rates. Goa, being just 2 hours away, bringing along a bottle or two of your favourite drinks would increase the enjoyability factor a 100 fold. And if your looking for stuff over there, its better you ask some foreigner to buy it for you (they are pretty friendly really...) for again, in some places in India, the Indians are the 'foreigners'.

One thing you musn't miss on any of the nearby beaches is the breathtaking sunset..

The serenity of the place is truly unique and is one of chief reasons why people keep coming back. Apart from the sunset, many of the residents on the beach take to practicing Capoeira (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capoeira), rolling crystal balls all over one's body, performing beautiful acrobatics with ropes who's ends are on fire and what not, are a site to see in itself. But all this stops at sunset for it seems to be a sacred part of the day. Another interesting part of the culture on the beach is the late night bonfires. These usually start at about 11 PM and go on till 2 in the morning where the entire community gathers around the fire and people contribute to some form of live entertainment, provided they want to. This again ranges from cracking jokes, singing, playing musical instrument and acrobatics. No one is judged, nor is anyone compelled. Its all about being a part of the community, sitting around the warm fire and watching the waves on the sea in the pale moonlight in good company. Heavenly.

The next day we made a trip to OM beach....

which gets its name from being shaped like an 'OM'. Its just about a 15-20 min trek from Kutle beach with a some breathtaking views on the way. A good place to eat there is the Namaste Cafe which serves decent food and at decent rates. You can also get some semi-permanent tatoos done there and there are always the ever popular boat rides to help you pass the time. Of course you'll have to bargain a lot, with the tatoo guy coming down from Rs.200/- a tatoo to Rs.50/- (which in itself is too much) and the boat rides to not cost more than Rs.20/- to Rs.32/-perhead depending on the beach you want to go to (again, there were 11 of us). Connected to OM beach is the Half Moon beach....

and Paradise beach, which are really small, but exotic in their own right. A short boat ride away is the Sangam beach and the Barka beach which are completely deserted and an ideal place to enjoy the stuff that you have (Smoking and drinking on the main beaches are banned, and if you are caught the fines could go up to Rs.20K).

We did also make a quick trip to the main Gokarn town, which looked like a 80% Hindu place with about 20% hippie influences much unlike other places in Goa such as Anjuna which are more like a 80% Hippie place with about 20% Hindu influences. Some good advise here would be to simply make a visit to the temple and leave. Have all the fun at the beaches, for the main Gokarn town is a very religious place. Oh, and please don't disturb the Sadhus.. rumour has it they get offended easily especially if you ask them for advice about 'stuff'.

On the whole, the trip was a really memorable one. Gokarn is a gr8 place to holiday in, especially if you are bit of the adventurous kind and are really curious to find out what the foreigners find so exotic about India.

To sum it up , here's a pic that says it all ..

ॐ !!!