Top Things to do in Temple Town Gokarna, Karnataka

Gokarna is a small quaint town on the western coast of India in Uttar Kannada district of Karnataka state. The ancient temples of Gokarna have their history rooted in Hindu mythology which makes Gokarna a popular pilgrim destination in South India. The laid back pace of life and the pristine secluded beaches has turned this small town into thriving tourist destination. The name Gokarna is derived from the word Go and Karna which means cow’s ear in the local language, as per the lore, Lord Shiva emerged from a cow’s ear in Gokarna.

After exploring the beach town of Karwar next destination on our road trip along the west coast of India was Gokarna. We reached Gokarna near dusk and headed straight to our resort so that we don’t miss the sunset. Patang beach resort is situated on a secluded Ganga beach. We had a great time watching the sun dip into the horizon and the surreal hues of twilight while Chhavi had fun frolicking in the sand.

We woke up early next morning to the chirping of birds and the sound of waves crashing the shore. We could watch the fishing boats sailing across the sea right from our cottage veranda. We had our breakfast at the resort restaurant and headed for the Gokarna city sightseeing.

Gokarna Beach

Gokarna beach is situated in the heart of the city with parking right across the beach. The Gokarna beach is considered sacred to the pilgrims visiting the Gokarna temples. And owing to its proximity to the temples the beach gets crowded as the day proceeds hence it would be best to visit it early in the morning. The route to the beach winds through narrow alleys lined with shops and temples which would definitely be a challenge when the area gets crowded.

Top Things Gokarna Karnataka

Shopping in Gokarna

The street to the Gokarna beach is lined with small shops selling beach commodities, jewelry, religious items, fresh spices and other souvenirs.

Top Things Gokarna Karnataka

Top Things Gokarna Karnataka

Top Things Gokarna Karnataka

Mahabaleshwar and Mahaganapati temple

The temple of Mahabaleshwar is the main temple which enshrines Lord Mahabaleshwar, an incarnation of Lord Shiva. Mahashivratri festival is celebrated with great zeal when the temple deity is taken for the procession in a giant chariot pulled by hundreds of devotees with the beating of drums and chanting of mantras.

Top Things Gokarna Karnataka

Another prominent temple is Mahaganapati temple dedicated to Lord Ganesha. There are numerous other smaller temples spread across Gokarna.

A visit to the temple was followed by lunch at the Pai restaurant which is close to the Gokarna beach. The restaurant is very small with around 10 tables but the food is very delicious. Parking near the restaurant may be a problem during the peak hours.

Other Gokarna Beaches

There are four other beaches connected to Gokarna beach separated by the hillocks. A trek along these rocky cliffs connecting the five Gokarna beaches have several vantage points offering breathtaking vistas of the perpetual blue Arabian Sea.

OM Beach

Drive out of the chaotic city streets to the Om beach which is around 6 km away from Gokarna. The route winds through the pretty landscape of dry grasslands, rocky terrain, and dense forests.

Top Things Gokarna Karnataka

Top Things Gokarna Karnataka

Half the way stop by for a splendid panoramic view of the Kudle beach nestled in the lush green coconut palms.

Top Things Gokarna Karnataka

There is ample parking space on the street near Om beach which tend to be jam packed on weekends and holidays. A Set of stairs run down to the Om beach. At the end of the stairs behold the stunning view of the Om beach in the shape of the sacred symbol Om which gives the beach its name.

Top Things Gokarna Karnataka

The beach is also popular for the water activities like para-sailing, banana boat rides, and boating tours.

Top Things Gokarna Karnataka

There are boats at the beach ready to take the visitors for a 30 minutes ride. The boatman promised us dolphin spotting hence we agreed to give it a try. We had to wait for some 15-20 minutes till there were enough passengers for a ride. As the boat chugged into the sea we could spot tiny fishes swimming in the shallow waters of the beach.

Top Things Gokarna Karnataka

Dolphin Spotting

Close to the Half-Moon beach, our boat stopped in the midst of the sea to spot dolphins. We were skeptical but then suddenly one by one the dolphins put up a show for us. We were delighted to watch them frolicking in and out of the water.

Top Things Gokarna Karnataka

Half-Moon beach

Half-Moon beach is so named because of its shape like a crescent moon. The beach is completely secluded and can be reached either by trekking or by boat. This beach is much sought after by trekkers and hikers looking to escape the touristy beaches.

Top Things Gokarna Karnataka

Paradise beach

Next to Half-Moon beach separated by a rocky cliff is the Paradise beach which requires much difficult trek. The beach is a paradise for one who seeks respite from the city hustle. This beach has small shacks and hammocks hanging from coconut palms.

Top Things Gokarna Karnataka

Top Things Gokarna Karnataka

Gokarna Lighthouse

An old lighthouse perched on top of a steep Cliff adjoining the Paradise beach.

Top Things Gokarna Karnataka

Taking a swift turn our boatman stopped by to show us the point where the Aghanashini river emptied into the Arabian sea. He also named a few other beaches like God’s Own beach and Nirvana Beach and other distant small fishing villages

Top Things Gokarna Karnataka

Namaste Cafe is a popular cafe right on the Om beach which serves Indian and continental dishes with a wonderful view over the sea. There are a couple of shops where you can buy beach commodities like clothes and sporting items.

Kudle Beach

Not very far from Om beach is the Kudle beach popular with the tourists for its beach resorts and huts. Reaching the beach needs an easy trek for 5 to 10 minutes.

Top Things Gokarna Karnataka

Mirjan fort

The last point on our Gokarna tour was a visit to the Mirjan fort around 10 km from Gokarna and then half a kilometer off the National Highway 17. The fort located on the banks of the Aghanashini River spreads over 10 Acres and is believed to be built in 1200.

Top Things Gokarna Karnataka

The double ramparts protect the interior courtyard which looks very impressive with well-preserved towers, deep wells, surrounded by turrets on the bastions. The interior of the fort also has some ruins which are being restored by Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).

Top Things Gokarna Karnatakay

Top Things Gokarna Karnataka

Gokarna can easily be explored in a day or you can spend the entire day lazing out on one of the beaches. There are also several places to explore around Gokarna like Karwar, Kumta, and Yana. If you have more days at leisure plan a trip to explore the places around Gokarna which are equally remarkable and make for some memorable day trips.

Have you been to Gokarna? What are the places you recommend to be a must visit?

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15 Comment

  1. Gina says: Reply

    I can see why Gokarna is so pristine, clean and beautiful especially since Shiva emerged from a cow’s ear. I love the local legends of India and it’s great to see them kept alive. I’d be the first to rent a boat and go dolphin spotting as well!

  2. Everything you shared looks so beautiful, and so much less crowded than I would have expected. I would love to spend some time there, especially on that first beach you shared. Dolphins are just a bonus.

  3. Such an interesting history they have. It’s nice to know the origin of different town’s names because there is always story behind that. The fort looks stunning! I would love to visit that and take photos! Thank you for sharing!

  4. chloe says: Reply

    wow this place has everything that I’m looking for. Scenery, culture, local handicrafts, all in one stop! Thanks for sharing.

  5. Sarah says: Reply

    Love the dolphin picture! There seems to be so much to do in the area. That panoramic view of the Kudle beach is one I’d love to see for myself too.

  6. Gokarna looks a great destination. The landscape looks epic, very photogenic. While the town and fort are very interesting.

  7. Reshma says: Reply

    I enjoyed the beaches during the monsoon here, especially Om beach. But Kudle beach is my favourite among these beaches close to Gokarna. Lucky that you were able to spot Dolphins!

  8. Every beach looks divine. According to the photos, I like Om Beach and Paradise Beach the best. The views and fishermen’s boats are so charming! Hope to one day experience India.

  9. Gokarna is really an amazing place. We want to go there again and again. I can never forget the mesmerizing moments we had at Om Beach as darkness gave way tnce in Gokarna.o light and the sun peeped out from the eastern horizon. Seeing your post and the pictures rearing to get there again. I feel we still we have a lot to explore and experience in Gokarna.

  10. Megan Jerrard says: Reply

    I don’t know why, but no matter how many times I see dolphins I’m always just as fascinated as the first time I saw them!! Gokarna sounds like a great town with quite a lot to do – great temples and great beaches – love some shopping too!

  11. So many gorgeous beaches! Paradise Beach and Kudle Beach look amazing, they’re definitely my favourites from the list. Although I can imagine them getting quite busy during the day!

  12. Alice says: Reply

    This place is pretty incredible! There are so many things to do and you can even spot dolphins?! Count me in!!!

  13. I haven’t seen nor heard about this side of India but then again, I know there are so much to explore there. Gorkarna looks so beautiful and so relaxing since it doesn’t seem to have much crowds. Glad you got to see the dolphins! That’s always the best part

  14. Holly says: Reply

    I would love to explore this place. I love history and it looks really cool. I have never even heard of it but glad it is on my radar now.

  15. This place looks awesome – definitely another part of India that seems like it’s well worth a visit for when I eventually make my way to the country. Will definitely be scrolling through your whole blog once I get my trip booked (or now, just to increase the wanderlust).

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