Gokarna, Karnataka, India
Sandwiched between the glistening Arabian Sea and the dramatic
peaks of the Western Ghats, Gokarna is a revered holy corner in
western India. For years it has been a place of pilgrimage;
worshippers travel across the country to offer prayers and honour
the gods in the town’s temples. Today, many still make the voyage –
but mainly for Gokarna’s sun-drenched, golden beaches.
Wander through the narrow, banana tree-lined streets to discover
sacred temples dedicated to different deities dotted throughout the
town. Enter to marvel at ornate interiors and delicately carved
idols before stopping off at family-run cafés and restaurants
scattered between these historic places of worship.
Once your culture-cravings have been satisfied, head straight
for one of Gokarna’s famed beaches. While Om Beach is the most
popular, we recommend opting for Half Moon or Paradise beach to
have a tranquil spot all to yourself.
Mahabaleshwar is Gokarna’s most-visited temple, dedicated to the
god Shiva. Dating back to the fourth century, the Hindu temple is
built in the classical Dravidian architectural style and is said to
bestow good fortune upon those who worship within. Keep an eye out
for the statue of Nandi, Shiva’s bull, sat just outside the inner
Who to take with you
Someone interested in learning more about new cultures and
religions (but one who can also enjoy a lazy afternoon on the
When to go
Go in February for the Maha Shivaratri festival. Thousands of
pilgrims descend to Gokarna to see giant chariots carrying statues
of Lord Shiva and other effigies pulled along the town’s main
streets. The festival is celebrated for as long as 10 days during
which time all of the temples conduct remarkable religious
Where to stay
On the peaceful shores of Om Beach, stay at SwaSwara for a transcendent
retreat. Priding itself on tranquil simplicity, this hotel offers
an impressive list of yoga, meditation and Ayurvedic spa
Most likely to bump into…
It’s a toss up between reverent worshippers and wave-seeking
hipsters, but both are more than happy to chat and point out the
town’s best spots.
Essentials to bring with you
This Yvonne S Hippy tiered printed maxi
dress will keep you looking respectful as you wander round
temples, while its airy, billowing cotton-voile means you’ll stay
cool in high temperatures.
How to get there
Flights into Goa International Airport normally involve a brief
stopover, and once you’re there it’s just under four-hour transfer
by car to arrive at the sun-drenched paradise of Gokarna.