On The Road: Temples, tradition and relaxing with tea on the beach in Gokarna
Saturday 17 April 2010
Getting to Karnataka's Om beach was relatively easy. Now, though, standing on the dark sand with the sun setting, the sound of an acoustic guitar playing, dogs roaming around me and more hippie travellers than you could shake an incense stick at, I wondered what had inspired me to make the journey. Om beach just isn't India.
As I stroll along, I'm told I'll be lucky to find a room at this hour, unless I fancy sleeping in one of the makeshift cafés lining the beach. This doesn't appeal, so it's time to think about my other options – I can either hike back up the cliff to find a tuk-tuk in order to head back to the train station, or jump on the next (and last) longboat of the day and head to Gokarna.
I choose the latter. The boat ride takes longer than expected, the water is choppy and it's getting darker by the minute. By the time I arrive at Gokarna beach it's pitch black. As I navigate the dusty, narrow streets of this tiny city I already suspect that I've made the right decision in coming here, a feeling that is confirmed when I find myself a lovely room for the night and tuck into a delicious chana masala.
Morning arrives, as does prayer call. With temples and tradition galore, Gokarna is a centre of Sanskrit learning. With its mudstone, low-rise houses, a visit here is like stepping back in time. It's also vibrant, friendly and full of character. I head down to the beach, and when the sunshine makes me too thirsty to continue, I choose a chai stall and sit myself under its shade. As I sip the sweet and delicious tea I watch crowds of people ducking in and out of the sea, and children cooling off from the mid-morning sun – and I'm glad there wasn't any room at Om beach.
Footprint's India Handbook is available now (£16.99)
The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations
- 1 PlayStation and Xbox hacked by Lizard Squad
- 2 The 'Black Museum': After 150 years, public set to see exhibits from police’s grisly crime museum
- 4 Vagina canoe artist defends herself over ‘obscenity’ charges
- 5 The Queen’s speech 2014: Recap and Twitter reaction to Game of Thrones reference
Travelling by train, boat and plane in 2015: what's in store from ferries to winter sports services
TripAdvisor reveals the top places to visit in 2015
Chic new hotels in 2015: From Britain's first football-themed property to a Facebook millionaire's debut desert resort
Yakutsk: Journey to the coldest city on earth
Top 10 travel destinations for 2015: From Haiti and Alaska to Namibia and Iceland
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Rozanne Duncan: Ukip expels councillor for 'jaw-dropping' comments made in BBC TV interview
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
BBC director Danny Cohen: Rising UK antisemitism makes me feel more uncomfortable than ever
Alex Salmond has 'broken his word to the Scottish people' says Scottish Lib Dem leader
£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness cha...
£240 - £275 per day: Investigo: Support the global business through in-depth a...
Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Data Manager - MySQL, Shell Scripts, Java, VB Scrip...
£27000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - near S...