So the not so awaited, next edition of Miles and Smiles Away. Mostly my fault I guess. Engineering college exams and internship headaches don’t really help foster one’s writing dreams. C’est la vie.
Back to the matter at hand. Today I’ll be revisiting a more recent memory. January 2016. Gokarna.
Given a sudden holiday in the middle of term (I forget why :P), we decided to make the most of it. Endless shouts for a class trip on the WhatsApp group were all futile so it ended up just being a group of 15. The train was to leave really early in the morning, around 6 if I remember correctly, and there were last minute dropouts but that didn’t dampen the enthusiasm.
Whoever said that it’s about the journey not the destination was probably a college kid on a train with their friends. Random games, singing like mad caps, and even the added drama of a forgotten wallet (which did get resolved, so no worries there).
First stop. Karwar. Funny story, this was actually supposed to be a two place trip. With water sports in Karwar followed by Gokarna. As it happened, none of us had actually checked the timings of the water sports and on the day we were there, as Murphy’s law dictates, it was cancelled. Disappointed but not disheartened we took to the beach waters followed by a quick (unfortunately unsatisfactory 😦 ) lunch.
But we plodded on, determined to salvage the day.
A charming seaside town in south Karnataka, Gokarna had the reputation of being a backpackers paradise – huts on the beach, treks, roadside food, the whole package. European backpackers originally visited the place for its warm winter climate and the not-so-crowded atmospheric beaches. An increasing number of foreigners have visited the area over the last 10 years. Oh and by the way, Gokarna is also a famous temple town. In fact the name Gokarna, means cow’s ear (go=cow karna=ear) in Sanskrit and is based on 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 original image of the god (a lingam).
But we were a college group. Beaches vs Temples is really not even a question worth asking. So we piled into Omni vans and headed down to Om beach. Picturesque and nestled under a large cliff, the beach is situated at the edge of the town and is named for its shape as it is split by a rocky island. A trek up the hill and back down to the beach was totally worth it as we spent the whole evening in the water. Shoving, pulling, swimming, racing, attempting to teach people to swim. Standard college fare. It was interesting to note that tiny curio shops and a even a full scale restaurant have come up on the shoreline itself contrary to what many travelogues say about a lack of facilities. The pictures tell it all, the cliffs on the seashore, the giant crabs (gives catching puny Krabby a whole new meaning 😀 ), the breathtaking sunset.
And that wasn’t even the best part. What’s better than a daytime trek? A nighttime trek of course 🙂 Especially when you have no idea where you’re going and the only directions you have are the name of the destination. The lazy (some may say smart ) ones took autos but stumbling along the way, we reached Kudle beach in the south of Gokarna town. We were mesmerized by it. Beach shacks, food stalls, camp fires, wandering guitar players. WOW!! This was the embodiment of the hippie movement come alive. Wandering under the starry sky (Yes, we city folk are still awe struck seeing millions and millions of stars in the sky, Let’s just blame Gen X for it and move on 😛 ) till early hours of the morning, I guess this is what Avicii meant when he sang that these are the nights that never die. And the food! To cater to the tourists, cuisines from across the world are incorported into the menus. We gorged on everything from enchiladas to pasta to sizzlers to (not me I swear 😛 ) pulao. Personally what I felt makes Gokarna stand out among other tourist spots in India is how friendly everyone is. Knowing that it’s mostly a tourist destination, both locals and other tourists are more than happy to sit you down and have a chat or point you in the direction. We made proper use of that second feature in particular multiple times 😀
We headed back to college in the wee hours of the morning via a train where most of us crashed directly. Exhausted, but happy. Bonds were forged on that trip. Bonds that would last us a long time to come.
In fact that song pretty much sums up Gokarna, a place to make memories we knew would never fade, and place to leave this world behind and live a life we would remember.
Definitely a must visit location if you’re in the region.
P.S Picture credits to my man, Prajwal Nayaka, who sees things through a DSLR better than I’ll ever do in real life 🙂