After my one day Murudeshwara trip, I ventured towards Gokarna, which I anticipated to be yet another temple town by the beach – somewhat like Jagannathpuri, Rameshwaram, Kanyakumari, Mahabalipuram or Murudeshwara. Gokarna has an interesting legend, dating back to Ramayana times. A local bus (in fact, it was a cramped 10 seater with 15 odd people aboard) took me to Kumta in INR 16. The bus (if I may call it that) covered part of the journey on the National Highway, and the other part through the villages en route. It was an interesting forty minute journey, since it has been awhile since I visited a village. But the potholes and turns on the roads, the packed bag on my lap, a man leaning over me from the left and a woman in a half seated posture in my front ensured I had a little cramp on my back. I accepted the cramp as a souvenir from yet another Great Indian Bus Journey of mine. The bus stopped at Kumta and it was time to catch another 10 seater. Boarded it 10 minutes later, and in another 40 odd minutes, I was at Gokarna.
Gokarna bus stop doesn’t stand out from any other small town ‘city bus stand’ in India – a shed with few concrete settees, a ticket counter doubling as registration room for bus drivers, an eatery, a shop selling travel items (snacks, mineral water, handkerchiefs, wallets, lock and keys, local newspapers and stationery), two toilets (HE and SHE) and an area where buses arrive, stand and depart. And of course, there was a typo on the eatery board – jues for juice. A group (3 pairs) looked familiar. These folks were on the same bus (Bangalore to Gokarna) as I. Incidentally, they planned their return next evening – same as me. That implied they planned to stay at Gokarna for a day more than I did. I made my return booking on the same 7:30pm sleeper bus leaving next evening.
A little chat with a pair revealed that the group was staying at a shack in OM beach – in just 100 bucks a piece. These guys were on a roll here. Beach, Booze, and Breeze. Add Babes to the list and you can imagine these pairs having one the best weekends of their lives. During my entire stay at Gokarna, I encountered these folks time and again. Predictably, I observed them pretty closely and they were so absorbing, they justify a separate post on themselves. Nevertheless, I got some useful tips from them – a bird’s eyeview of a day in a shack, must eats and auto fares. I bid them adieu and boarded an auto to OM Beach – 120 bucks.
I had cool 34 hours to explore Gokarna, and I wanted to feel its religious significance as much as soak in its beaches. The auto meandered through hillocks and roads bordering the sea. There was vegetation, but in clusters. A 25 min auto ride took me to the OM Beach entrance. My next posts will talk about the what happened next.