Gokarna, a small temple town on the western coast of India in the Kumta taluk of North Kannada district of the state of Karnataka, is changing. From well known, one of the seven important Hindu pilgrimage centers of south India is now counted for it’s unspoiled beaches near the estuary of the river Aghanashini. Many of western travelers started preferring Gokarna as less crowded, peaceful and lost cost backpacking destination over Goa. The realm of deeply rooted Hindu mythology and culture make it distinct too from Portuguese influenced Goa. And the common factors between them might be the same laid-back life style and unique coastal Western Ghats landscape beside the peaceful Arabian Sea.
Day1: We will meet up at Gokarna bus stop. First reach to Kudle beach with an auto & set up your room on double sharing basis. Quickly fresh n up; Let’s have a heavy breakfast and start the trek.
Better to start as early as possible to avoid scorching heat of rising sun at the sea shore. So let’s have a quick breakfast and start walking along the sea. This unique trek offers the beauty of rambling with the sound of breaking waves of Arabian Sea. We will walk over sands to cross the beach and climb up hills to reach the next.
Every time as we reach the top of a hill we wonder with an aerial view of hidden beaches of Konkan coast into the lap of the Western Ghats crowned with thousands of coconut trees.
Trail begins after crossing the stretch of Kudle Beach. We need to ascend up from the end of the beach and take the road through the greenery. Look back to have an eagle nest view of Kudle beach. After a while, we reach a flat rocky top indicating the wide road mark. Cross the road and keep climbing up keeping the sea on the right side. Kudle to Om beach is just a 40 mins walk.
Om has a little bigger stretch than Kudle. The shape of the beach forming 3 curves resembles the name of beach ‘OM’. From the beginning of the Om beach to end of the Half Moon is the longest stretch of the walk and takes around 1hr. The ascend up after Om beach leads to more jungle trail. To avoid the loss of direction try to walk along the sea at your right visionary. This part of the hike is the charm of the whole day. A little altitude gives a feel of exposure with a ridge walk beside the sea. Oooh, it’s so lovable and unique to any trekker habituated in other Western ghats or Himalayan walk. Half moon is very small beach almost like an island. Get relax for a while before we start again. There are cafes too to refresh you. It was an hour long walk.
Above images reflects 3 different terrain we cover during Gokarna Beach Trek
On the way to Paradise, beach trail comes closure to the sea shore. This way it provides an opportunity to track dolphins near the coast. Keep your eyes open. A little bouldering over rocks and deep dense plantation of palms & coconuts accompany to Paradise. Undoubtedly one of the most isolated spread in the solace of the coastline of western ghats. Here, the mosaic of sand and rocks touched by gentle waves lapping in, to break the silence. Ohh, a true paradise far away from the cacophony of urban life.
The last stretch of hike moves on with the dense forest to the thinner plantation and finally a village. Almost a binocular away, hundreds of birds are seriously gathered on a paddy field, creating a white illusion.
Trails take a right and you feel sea again. Yes, we have reached to God’s Own beach beside village Belekan. This is the confluence of the Aghanashini, the river and the island village too. Belekan is a fisherman village based out at port Tadadi. One more observation on this beach is the black layer of tar generated from fuel used by fishing boats floating with the waves. This was missing in earlier beaches due to their virginity.
The whole stretch from Half Moon to God’s Own beach can be covered in a relaxed rhythm of 1 hr 30 mins.Catch a local bus of rupees 10 per head to get a drop back to Gokarna.
Gokarna, the temple town can be found in one of earliest mentioned by Tamil saints like the Nayanmars Appar and Sambanthar from the 6th century CE praised the deity of Tulu Nadu in their hymn canon Tevaram. It is an established fact that Mayurvarma of the Kadamba kings brought Brahmins from Ahicchatra. Later the town flows with history and times from Vijayanagara Kingdom, Portuguese, British and so on. Thinner lanes of town with the essence of colorful mythical Hindu culture in the dusk remind me of Varanasi in glimpses.
We will reach Kudle beach again at late afternoon. Though there is an alert on taking a bath into the sea here, still you can spend some time with waves close to the sea shore in a setting twilight of sun and get relax. Finish your dinner by 8 pm. Then endless stories of the night are yours.
Day2: Most of the buses start plying back from Gokarna to Bangalore and Mysore by 5:30 pm. So we have a good time for today to explore the Yana caves. The road will take you through most pictorial part of hills & forest of Gokarna. We will pass through villages of ancient architectural houses roofed with clay tiles in a unique pattern of Uttar Karnataka & Goa Coast, the Konkan Coast. Curving roads of hills play hide and seek with a deep horizon view of the Arabian sea beneath. On the way, we cross several streams feeding Aghanashini river and the river itself.
Our car will drop us in front of a gate blocking the road of vehicles. Yana is just a km away from this start point. A calm forest trail decorated with glitters of sun rays through the canopy. All of a sudden the forest exposes to the mythical majestic view of Yana. A Karst topography, one of the rare landform found over the world and obviously in India too.Yana is famous for two massive rock outcrops known as the Bhairaveshwara Shikhara and the Mohini Shikhara (“Shikhara” means “hill”) surrounded by thick forests and streams. The huge rocks are composed of solid black, crystalline Karst limestone. Bhairaveshwara Shikhara is 120 metres (390 ft) in height, while the Mohini Shikhara, which is smaller, is 90 metres (300 ft) in height. Spend a good time to explore the caves of Yana and get astonished. Way back, we will visit a small waterfall name, Vibhooti Falls.
Let’s have some tea and snacks at Gokarna bus stop before we say good by.
The River Aghanashini originates from Gadihalli (Sirsi) at an altitude of 676m above M.S.L in the Western Ghats of Karnataka State. The river has a catchment area of 1350 sq km and its length up to the confluence to the Arabian Sea is 117 km. The river flows mostly through forest areas and has intermittent structures of rocky bed (with rock outcrops), deep stagnant pools and channelled flow with island formation.