As we headed to Goa’s lesser known neighbor – Gokarna, my hubby and I kept a watch out for that coastline with the hope of spotting a blue bed of lashing waves. Our resort – Kudle Beach View, promised us that they were located right next to the beach and yet my Google Maps showed me that it was not really the case. With no blue paradise along the road and the strange GPS mapping of the resort, I wondered if Gokarna would be as cool as Goa. I can only tell you this much – that our destination- Gokarna, had a lot of surprises in store for us.
Crossing over the hills and the rivers, we entered the town through the North West and followed the GPS signals into a lonely road that seems to lead to one of the main beaches in Gokarna – Kudle Beach. There were no coconut trees or that mystical sea breeze that blows to welcome you to the seaside. No sign of the sands that are on the beach, just plain rock and hilly Ghats. We almost missed the narrow turn to our resort. However, as we reached the gate of the resort, I faintly heard the sound of the sea – indicating that it was close.
As the resort gate opened and we stepped in, we faced our Surprise Number Uno.
Located right on top of the hill was the resort and from the gate itself, as you looked down, this was the pleasant sight that we were treated to. (See picture above)
The resort itself was built like a terrace farm, with the rooms at the lower levels of the hill and the reception on top. When you looked down, you could see the lovely blue pool and an even more beautiful Kudle beach in the backdrop.
Neither did the resort tell us an untruth nor did the GPS lie about the location of the resort. The resort was close to the beach and yet not on the beach. A path right next to the resort was the official entrance to the Kudle beach. There was no other means of getting onto the beach and it was this path that led us to the Surprise number Two – The Kudle beach itself.
I suppose, I expected a beach approach just like Goa – where we could just walk onto the Sandy beach. Instead it was a pleasant trek down onto a sandy but rocky beach. The rocks amidst the waves was a perfect spot to perch yourself on and experience the gush of water around you. With the sunset lighting up the water and the rocks, Kudle beach turned into a photographer’s paradise.
After we had seen the sunset, we trekked back to the resort to ask them for the direction to the main town. We had heard of this exotic multi-cuisine restaurant called Prema – that served not just Indian but Italian and Israeli food. The resort was actually just 1 km from the town, but if we were to take the car, it would mean going all around the hill. This was because the 1km approach was too narrow for the car to pass through. The resort helped us hire an auto rickshaw and into the town we went.
Surprise Three was the town itself – I expected the town to have a lot of open air cafes and some shacks – I suppose Goa was still playing on my mind. I forgot that Gokarna was actually, a temple town. The town had a religious atmosphere and was full of shops that sold stuff for the devotees. No restaurants, no loud music, no bright lights – just a small town minding its own business.
We walked down the streets to see the various temples including the famous Mahabaleshwar temple. Heading past it, we entered a street that had some semblance to the flea market - the kind you find in Goa as you approach the various beaches. The shops along this street sold beach wear and junk jewelry and as we did some window shopping, we reached Gokarna beach. We turned back to re-trace and find the famed Prema restaurant but with all the various directions we again, ended up at Gokarna beach.
This is where we had Surprise No. Four – We found a non-descript store with the sign board – Prema Restaurant. It was right there all this while and in fact, we had passed it the first time around.
It did not really look like the place that would serve Pasta but that is exactly, the surprise we got. It not just served Italian but Israeli food as well as unique probiotic stuff like Kombucha. The food was not at all ‘indianized’ and had some authentic flavors to it. The little restaurant served some unique desserts, including yummy home-made ice-creams. The place is frequented not just by the locals but a lot of foreign tourists. We enjoyed the meal so much that we were back again the next day for some lunch.
Our first day ended with us sleeping under the stars at the resort before we actually, retired into our rooms. The clear night sky with tons of stars, cool sea breeze and the sound of waves keeping you company is an experience that I can never forget.
After spending a next morning at Kudle beach, we decided to head to OM beach in the evening. With the GPS marked for the destination, we again arrived at a hillock. This time though, we were prepared know that we would have to walk down a hillock to see the beach. However, what we were not prepared for was Surprise no. Five.
As you descend the steps of the beach and reach the first landing, you are treated to the sight of the sacred OM – the reason why this beach was called so. The surprise here was not expecting the unexpected as I had seen enough pictures of the OM shape of the beach. The surprise was actually seeing it – for nothing really beats the real thing.
We explored the beautiful OM beach and ended our day at the Namaste Café – with a candlelight dinner by the sea. We stayed in Gokarna just for 3 days but these three days got us Five big surprises. We knew that had we stayed on further, we would have uncovered more of these pleasant surprises and which is why, we promised ourselves to be back to Gokarna sometime later again.