A blue and briny ocean was all I could think about lying on the upper berth of the train heading towards Gokarna. My best friends and I had decided to explore this exotic town along the south west coast of India, just before the onset of the monsoon. An overnight journey from Bangalore, with the incessant sound of a chugging train was all that was stopping us from reaching our destination.
A holy town and a hippy’s paradise, Gokarna is known for its secluded but spectacular beaches. People usually visit the place between October and March, but we were keen on experiencing the first monsoon of the year at this place and decided to do an off season trip.
A hiss and screech against the tracks accompanied with a whistle, made us realise the train had finally reached Gokarna. Getting off the train, our excited faces were greeted with a nonchalant vibe and a burst of humid air. This described the atmosphere of this isolated town instantly. Since we reached quite early in the morning, we decided to walk around and explore the town before heading towards the sea.
Though the town may seem secluded, it is bustling with activity. Filled with tiny shops, temples, hippy stores and colourful huts it was a culturally enriching town. But the humid weather does make a stroll through it tiresome and within no time our sultry faces were ready to get splashed with the waves of the Arabian Sea.
Catching an autorickshaw and heading to the ‘Om’ beach, we were delighted to see the waves crashing against the rocks . Shaped like an ‘Om’ which is a Hindu religious symbol, this beach is one of the most popular beaches in Gokarna. Home to several café’s and yoga huts it is renown with tourists. But, for someone looking for a peaceful and secluded spot, a trek along a cliff heading towards ‘Kudle’ beach is ideal.
Jumping into the first wave of Kudle as soon as we got off the cliff, made the water baby in me spring to life. The salty water and picturesque scene of the pristine sea all around me made me feel completely at home. But what really stood out in this beach was the positive vibe it generated. Lying on the sand and staring at the sea, we enjoyed listening to the waves. The sound of bong shots and people strumming their guitars added to the peaceful aura, absorbing us into the blissful spirit of Gokarna.
At a distance, we could see the monsoon clouds forming , ready to hit the coast. Spontaneously deciding to chase the clouds , we got on a motor boat, getting our adrenaline rush. That was truly the best decision me made. With the waves crashing against our boat in a violent manner we really felt like we were sailing the roaring forties of the southern hemisphere!
Enjoying the beauty of Gokarna and meeting some great people from all over the world in the town, its free spirited nature made us go with the flow towards the beach in the fishing village of Kodi Bengre. Situated about three hours away from Gokarna in the town of Udupi, this beach is not very well known but is a surfer’s paradise. Though the waves do not match the ones in the famous ‘Pipeline Masters’ of Hawai, these waves are perfect for anyone who wants to try surfing for the first time or practice and improve their skills.
Training for a day at the village’s Shaka surf club, we were soon ready to seize our first wave in the Arabian Sea. Lying on our stomachs on the colorful surf boards, I memorised the drill – ‘Paddle, paddle, paddle, WAVE!’ All I had to do was stand up on the board as soon as I saw the wave. No rocket science at all. But when I actually saw the wave I just ended up falling into it, rather than trying to cruise along like a professional surfer. With my leg tied to the surf board, every time I fell, I ended up getting hit by the board as well. Practicing a few times, towards the end I did not completely master the art of surfing but I did figure out how to fall into the water without getting hit by the board (Pat on my back :p).
Surfing does take a while to learn but the entire experience was enthralling. Interestingly, besides tourists coming to learn surfing a lot of the local villagers are also given the chance to learn and seem to be very good at it. It did seem like surfing brought them together and it was a pleasure watching them compete with each other and enjoy the waves. The best part however is the scrumptious meal comprising Kalamari, fish and other delicacies which the villagers serve you after a tiring day of surfing.
Enjoying this meal with them whilst listening to the sound of the waves I realised Kodi Bengre was one beach which bloomed to beauty in the night. The clouds had cleared and the light from the moon made the shore sparkle, making five girls resting on the sand and staring at the stars, end their trip on a magical note 🙂