Date: 27th February, 2010
Four guys. Another trip.
We had already been to Goa and after Thailand, I decided not to waste anymore money in India’s much-hyped party destination. So instead, we decided to head to Gokarna in Uttara Kannada, a coastal town 3 hours before Goa.
Gokarna is actually famous for being a spiritual temple town. But of course, that’s not how most young (& in-the-know) Indians know it.
We thought about driving down but seeing that it was going to be a 10-plus hour drive (453 kms from Bangalore) and that we were only planning on a weekend trip, it seemed like a waste of a day. Train options were slim as well. So we opted for bus, which turns out, is how most people go to Gokarna.
We booked our tickets on RedBus.in and opted for VRL’s buses as the timing and prices suited us. Three of us decided to just spend one night while I decided to stay two nights in Gokarna.
We left on Friday night from our offices, took the Volvo bus to Majestic bus stand and made our way to Anand Rao Circle, which was going to be our pick-up point. We had dinner from nearby and waited for our bus, which finally picked us up at 9:45pm.
The bus was just a standard semi-sleeper (push-back seats below with sleeper beds on top) and we were scheduled to arrive by 8am the next morning.
I tried to sleep in my sleeper bunk but barely managed to as I always find it hard to get sleep in rattling buses.
None the less, we arrived in Gokarna at around 8:45am. The buses stop at the point from where one can take an auto or drive down to the coast. Gokarna maybe a coastal town but the beaches most people want to hang out at are 6kms away from the town.
We hired an auto in which the four of us with our luggage somehow crammed ourselves in. The ride wasn’t comfortable but he was charging us Rs. 100 (which we would later realize is at the lower end of the spectrum).
We got to Kudle beach and the auto driver told us that if we ever needed a ride back to town, we could call him (his name is Jalander, mobile no: (0)97412 69429)
The thing about Kudle beach is, you have to park your vehicle on top and climb down the hill to get to the beach.
We made our way down the steps and finally on to Kudle beach.
Prior to leaving Bangalore, I had asked my friends who had visited Gokarna where to stay and one regular suggested I try Sea Rock Cafe — a place he frequented. So we walked up to the “shack” and asked them if they had rooms. An old man there showed us to the rooms with attached toilets, which were a bit inside.
The rooms pretty much everywhere in Gokarna are basic at best (I’ll write about stay options in detail in a later post). The room we were shown with a fan and attached toilet (& the only one that was available) cost Rs. 300 ($6 – yes, that’s how basic we are talking!). Since the other rooms in that row were occupied and we really needed a place to dump our bags quickly, we took it.
The “bed” was a mattress on a stone base… with the mattress being as hard as the stone beneath it. The room had a mosquito net and the fan — well, it worked. No matter at which speed you turned it to, it was the same.
One of us, Ramesh, wasn’t too happy with the room and asked if there were better to be found. So as two of us held the fort (in case we found no other options elsewhere), me & another friend (Anand) went along the entire stretch of Kudle Beach in search of better rooms. Most places were full and the rooms that were vacant were shoddier than the one we got at Sea Rock Cafe. So, we made our way back.
The ‘bricked’ room we got was only a double room so we had to ask for another double room. They only had Rs. 100 ($2) mud huts vacant — so we took one.
After freshening up, we went for breakfast. I forgot the name of the restaurant but it was the cafe before the Tibetan-run joint.
After a good breakfast, we prepared for our exploration of Gokarna’s popular beaches. We decided to trek from Kudle Beach to Om Beach. Everyone told me it was just a short walk over the hill but the others weren’t too keen and opted to go by auto.
I chose to trek.
… descended down, got to the point where the autos were parked and…
Om Beach is by far the most popular beach in Gokarna. Mostly because of its distinct shape from where it gets its name. We skipped on the chance to stay on Om Beach because we felt it being so popular, it would be very crowded and Kudle would have been a better place to base ourselves. But we realized we weren’t the only ones who thought like that because we saw as many people on Om as Kudle itself.
Oh, by the way, the time I took to reach Om beach was the exact amount of time it took for my friends to arrive in their auto. So just take my advice, if you can walk a bit, just climb over instead of wasting Rs. 60 on auto. It will only take you 10 to 15 minutes.
There were boat taxis anchored on the shores offering boat rides to Half-Moon beach and Paradise beach but they were asking for Rs. 500 — which we thought was a bit much. We could see a path in the distance at the end of Om Beach, so we decided to just keep on walking.
Once we reached the end of Om Beach, we began our ascend once again.
Walk up further and you’ll come across a distinct looking tree from where you need to take a left turn.
… stop & stare out into the beauty of the Arabian sea…
We were feeling quite satisfied that we opted to trek instead of hiring a boat. It took us around 30 minutes including stopping to take photographs. Well worth the walk. We were all the more pumped and decided to conquer the final beach via a trek too.
Of course, we decided to take a break first! We sat in an isolated ‘cafe’ on Half-Moon beach, cooled off a bit and had some light snacks before setting off again.
There aren’t many shacks on Half-Moon but then again, it isn’t a very big stretch. We quite liked the thickly sliced deep-fried potato chips at Dama Cafe. Beer was Rs. 100 for a full bottle of Kingfisher.
They had basic rooms and a clean toilet at the back. Looked like a decent place to stay at Half Moon beach.
And since it was past 3pm at this point, we decided to lunch.
Clicked some more after we had ordered our food.
I’ve been on treks before but never before by the coast. The views were awesome and I loved exploring the routes. It really was an adventure.
Having said that, we were tired and in no mood to trek all the way back. So we got on to a boat taxi and made our way back to Om Beach (fare Rs. 100 per person, taking a boat back to Kudle costs more).
The boat ride barely last 5 minutes but it reminded me of a similar one I took in Railay, Thailand.
Back on Om Beach, the guys decided to take an auto back to Kudle beach while I decided to walk back.
One of the intentions I had for this trip was to try out time-lapse photography.
I had to carry my laptop and use the software from Canon to remotely control my camera as I did not have a dedicated remote/intervalometer. They’re expensive, so I had to make do with something free for the time-being. Also, this was going to be a learning experience for me as it was the first time I was trying timelapse.
First experiment: capture the sun setting. How did it turn out? I’ll share the results later.
After I got all my shots, I packed everything up and went to the joint next door to Sea Rock called, Sunset Cafe (& German Bakery).
We just sat there from evening…
… until night.
Nibbling on snacks and sipping beer. What else is there to do? There was a beach party at one of the other hotels but the music didn’t interest me much. So with camera in hand, we just sat at Sunset Cafe well past sunset.
As the guys went back to the room, I thought I’d try my hand at time-lapse again, as it was a starry night.
I was drawing quite a lot of attention with my laptop in hand and a camera on a stand pointing at the night sky. A lot of passers-by stopped and asked in their various accents as to what I was doing — and I replied back in my accent, a lay-man’s definition of what time-lapse photography is.
Unfortunately, my laptop battery didn’t last the entire shoot so I had to stop at 50 less shots than programmed. (I may seriously have to invest in a remote). Oh well, will see how it turned out anyway.
I packed up in the dark, and headed back to the room.
Not the best sleep I had but the fact that we were quite tired and we tried to drink ourselves to sleep, we managed to pull through.
We had to, for some of us, the next day would have been the last in Gokarna — and there was still much to do!