An amazing crowd-puller, the spectacular Marina beach is worth a visit at least once in a lifetime! Living in proximity to the world's second largest beach comes with its share of goodness. I was leisurely spending my days in Chennai, making the most of the spectacular sand and generous sunshine that Marina beach had to offer. But, all of this had to end temporarily. I had already nominated Gokarna for my next visit. A well-known pilgrimage spot, Gokarna is a relatively small town located in Karnataka.
A beautiful destination, Gokarna houses a lot of temples, beaches, and forts. It's a one-stop destination for fun, relaxation, adventure, and sightseeing. So, I had to part ways with Marina beach for the moment, as I knew a perfect replacement awaited me at Gokarna, the Om Beach. All set for a memorable trip, I had five days at my disposal to make the most of my journey. I didn't realize at the start of my adventure that the journey would be as exciting as the destination. I did a lot of interesting things, turned some strangers into friends, lived in accommodation with nice hospitality and had fun all along the way. Here's how it all started from start to finish.
Starting Point: Chennai
Best Time To Visit: From September until April would be the ideal months to visit Gokarna
How To Reach Gokarna:
By Air: Gokarna does not have an airport of its own. The nearest airport is Dabolim airport in Goa, located 140 km away. One can hire a taxi from the airport to reach Gokarna.
By Train: Several trains halt at the Ankola station, which is only 20 km from Gokarna. A taxi can be hired to reach Gokarna from the Ankola railway station.
By Road: Gokarna is nicely connected by road. The driving distance from Chennai to Gokarna is 834 km. Lots of buses operate from Chennai to Gokarna. If you have a reliable car, you can be in the driver's seat to cover this incredible journey on the four wheels with your family and friends. You could opt for any of the two routes that are as mentioned below.
Route 1: Chennai - Bangalore - Tumkur - Davanagere - Gokarna via NH48
Route 2: Chennai - Puducherry - Hosur - Bangalore - Davanagere - Gokarna via NH48
I took route 1 to cover the journey. It took me around 14 hours to reach Gokarna via Route 1. I must admit that the route was filled with scenic beauty. It was so much fun to travel by car, since I could halt anytime and anywhere to stretch my legs and also to enjoy the fresh air. Those who are keen on taking Route 2 should know that it will take around 16 hours, 45 minutes to reach Gokarna via this route.
Unless you are travelling by air, you should not be here for a weekend trip. With more than a day devoted just for driving back and forth, you would need at least 2 to 3 days on its own to explore most of the attractions that Gokarna has to offer. Along the way to Gokarna, Davanagere is a must-halt spot to make the most of the journey.
There are plenty of things to do in Davanagere. From enjoying local food to sightseeing, Davanagere is a transit stopover that you cannot afford to skip, if you are looking for spiritual peace and visual delight. The main attraction of this place is the Sri Anjaneya Swamy Temple. The temple is dedicated to Lord Hanuman, the monkey deity, who helped Lord Ram save his wife from the evil clutches of Ravana.
Harihareshwara temple in Harihar is another stopover that is often visited by tourists due to its close proximity to Davanagere. The deity over there is a fusion of two Gods, the right half is Lord Shiva, and the left half is Lord Vishnu. Built in the 1224 AD, The temple is a true representation of the Hoysala architecture.
Both the temples have a unique appeal of their own. Marvelled by the architectural structure and divinity of the temples, I almost forgot that I had not eaten for hours. Based on a local's recommendation, I tried the butter dosa from Sagar hotel, located on Mahila Samaja Complex Pravasi Mandira Road. My first dosa arrived within minutes. I must say, it was the tastiest and crunchiest dosa I have ever had in my life. I also ventured to Ram and Co circle, which is said to be the best hub for foodies in Davanagere. Famous for street foods, the local delicacy mirchi bajji tasted like heaven.
After having a merry time in Davanagere, the next halting point proved to be Sirsi. Situated at the heart of the Western Ghats, the road distance from Davanagere to Sirsi is 145 km. It's a mountain town surrounded by green forest. Once there, I drove to a nearby peak to soak in the beauty of the place. My first impression was that it's a nice and peaceful place with friendly locals. The place had a lot to offer. Built around 1660 AD and now located on State Highway 77, the Marikamba Temple is one of the popular attractions over there. It's a nice architectural beauty that hosts Devi Marikambe. The amazing paintings and carvings inside the temple speak a lot about its history.
I was told not to miss the Yana Caves in Sirsi. So, after offering my prayers at the Marikamba temple, I headed towards the Yana Caves. It's basically a unique rock formation located in the middle of a dense forest. Full of natural greenery and waterfalls, it proved to be a trekking delight. I also made it to the Gokarna and Viboothi falls. Once done, I visited the Pragati Home Stay to cherish the local cuisine served there. Over there, I had a hearty meal, enjoying the real taste of Havyaka Food before heading towards my final destination, Gokarna.
For those who don't know, the name Gokarna means "Cow's Ear". The belief is that Gokarna got its name from the legend in which Lord Shiva emerged from a cow's ear. From beach trekking to water sports, the place has a lot to offer. There are five major beaches in Gokarna, namely, Paradise Beach, Half Moon Beach, Gokarna Beach, Kudle Beach and Om Beach. Of all the beaches, Om Beach is the most crowded one. From accommodation, good food and ferry rides for bag packers, the place offers enough to keep tourists happy. The other main attractions of Gokarna are the Mahabaleshwara temple, Murudeshwara temple, Maha Ganapathy temple and Mirjan Fort.
Where To Stay In Gokarna?
There are plenty of hotels and luxury resorts in Gokarna. I chose to stay at the Hari Priya Residency, which was located near the Parashuram Temple Road because I found the accommodation over there pretty much homely. The place offered a hassle-free check-in with good rooms and facilities. My room also had a good view from the balcony.
Shopping In Gokarna
You will find a lot of interesting items in Gokarna. From clothes, brass idols, spices, beaded jewellery to home decorative items, there are lots of shops lined up on the main streets to attract tourists. If you enjoy bargaining, you will have a blast here.