(Part II of a three-part series)
Karnataka is not only about breath taking beaches, it has more to it and travel websites and blogs do not do it full justice.
The pleasant atmosphere of Mangalore and the enriching experience, gave me plentiful reasons to explore farther. However, planning for the itinerary was arduous as I wanted to have a unique view from a lens.
I was searching for the unexplored, unmapped or maybe to discover something new, in a much-liked tourist spot like Gokarna. For a beach lover travelling to Karnataka and not visiting Gokarna is a crime!
It is one of most famous tourist destinations on the Konkan Coastline. The place has more than just mesmerizing beaches and the calmness to evoke your senses. Gokarna has an interesting historical tale, and is known for its temples and the worship of Lord Shiva.
Amongst its many temples, the Mahabaleshwara temple is quite famous and is believed to house the original image or Lord Shiva himself.
The beautiful town of Gokarna is best for someone seeking solitude and a quiet vacation and is accessible through various modes of transport. Gokarna has risen to prominence almost a decade ago, when the beaches were explored by tourists in search of rustic beaches and peace.
The place still has adequate options of stay and eateries but the peak seasons can be taxing. There is considerable room for the development of sustainable coastal tourism, which can enable access to this mesmerizing location while also maintaining the harmony of the place.
The most famous beaches here are Om beach, Kudle beach, Paradise and Half Moon beach. The most amusing part of the drive to Gokarna is the picturesque Western Ghats on one side and the Arabian Sea on the other.
Every beach has its own unique quotient which attracts both Indians and Foreigners to flock them in good numbers. I was very excited to see why Om beach carried that nomenclature and to my surprise the beach has a natural formation which looks like the Hindu symbol Om which along the beach setting is amazing to witness.
The beach has some famous cafes and shacks which overlook the beach as I had one of the best breakfasts with a captivating view. The town of Gokarna is petite and so are others which surround it.
They all have small shacks set up right on the beach and one of them was my choice for stay. There is nothing better than waking up to the sounds of gushing waves, and chirping of birds while wind swept your hair as you walk just a few steps to land on the beach and stare at the sunrise.
Typically, one could spend a minimum of two days to absorb the quiet in the atmosphere and the vision which the place holds. Gokarna is humble, when compared to tourist hubs like Goa and the non- commercial nature, the simplicity and placidity provides a different vibe, which once experienced, you wouldn’t wish it any other way.
My subject of Maritime Studies is not only related strictly to Geography but is also related to the people dwelling there, their culture, belief system, festivals etc.
The tangible and intangible cultural heritage is an integral part of human lives, often less appreciated and neglected.
When I encounter the magnificence of such places in India, I feel blessed to have inherited this heritage. However, the apathy towards this rich heritage disappoints me.
After a lot of research and suggestions from localities across Karnataka, I was keen to see the landscapes and its mesmerizing forests.
Even though my next destination was Coorg, famously known as the ‘Coffee Cup of India’, I attempted to twiddle some drive through which could satiate the green my eyes wished to see. There is a ginormous amount of Flora and Fauna, which is found in abundance and if you are lucky enough you may see some rare species of birds and monkeys with good observation skills.
The road which leads through Gokarna to Seethanadi , Agumbe , Sringeri and Bhagavathi Nature Camp (Kudremukha) is bewildering and is hard to describe . These places are famous for their nature camps, along with tremendous scope for birding and herping enthusiasts, especially in the monsoons.
I was lucky enough to witness many species of birds, indigenous monkeys, snakes and deer. What makes it even better is that one gets to encounter these splendid animals in their natural environment.
These drive troughs are not embraced with restaurants or cafes, but are secluded and uninhabited. The occasional waterfalls are a site to behold and the loud chattering of beautiful avian creatures is truly an escapade.
It may appear that these places are only for wildlife lovers and adventure seekers, but when you cruise over these locations you are gripped by the variations that nature unfurls in this gratifying experience.
Cruising through the lush green heaven, I paused at an occasional small tea stall. Here I discovered one of my best tea episodes while glancing with awe at the majestic view around me. For a moment it all appears quite static but this thought is cast aside when your eyes meet the spectacular forests and vegetation that change their forms in an intertwined yet distinctive fashion.
This is a symbol of beauty, accommodation and tolerance, as nature teaches us to be dynamic, versatile and yet encompass so many forms flawlessly. These areas are flocked by handful tourists who tend to explore and by locals to transverse along with herping and birding groups.
The monumental transition from the cool blue waves and breezy coconut lined abodes, to this dense forest is both rare and beautiful. This eccentric aspect makes it quintessential to preserve the sanctity of the uncharted.
My quest however had not come to a halt and there was more for the eyes behold and for the imagination to venture. For these unexplored rendezvous, I had to move farther into the mountains of Western Ghats towards my next destination.
(Read Part I of the series here, and Part III here)
(This post was first published here in The Tilak Chronicle)
Tiya Chatterjee is a Delhi-based Maritime Archaeologist, with a background in History, Archaeology and Museology.
The views and opinions expressed in the above article belong to the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official opinion, policy or position of Lokmaanya.