Gokarna I had heard was what Goa used to be, a significant number of years back. Clean & not so crowded beaches, a laid back vibe and a lot of hippies enjoying the sun. While that was exactly what I found when I reached Gokarna on a humid April afternoon, what took me by surprise was another side of this quaint little coastal town. One which I had known nothing about. One which seemed to be deeply religious and has chosen to move ahead at its own pace rather than trying to race with the world.
As I walked through the narrow lanes of this hippie-hangout, I found myself lost in the beauty and simplicity of the place. Blue, green and bright-yellow houses with red-tilled roofs gave the place a rustic charm. Time seemed to have slowed down here. With more temples than lanes, Gokarna is also a temple – town, something I learned only once I was there.
Houses old and shabby but charming nonetheless stood next to equally old – looking temples, reminding its visitors of the times they have stood witness to. Of the things that have changed over the years. I think it is this charm which attracts people to Gokarna. Some of whom never wish to return, some never do.
Unlike the quintessential Indian tourists who come here for a quick get-away and vanish as soon as the weekend is over, a lot of people come here to just slow down. To go with the flow leaving behind the crazy rush of monotony which we call life, here in the cities. And of-course, a lot of people also come here looking to let everything fly away in smoke. Ahem!
During the three and a half days I was there, whenever I was not busy lazying around with a book or eating at my brilliantly located hostel, I would find myself walking through the lanes and by-lanes of this small town. And during each walk, I learnt something different.
Be it from the innocent smile of the lady manning the small souvenir shop by the main road, be it from the group of old men whom I saw chatting for hours altogether over endless cups of tea or be it the auto-drivers who managed to speed-up through the narrow up-hill road which according to me, wouldn’t even be wide enough to accommodate 3 men walking side by side!
I had come to a beach destination expecting to spend a lazy weekend but instead, I ended – up doing way more than that. And I enjoyed everything there. Be it going on endless solitary walks, be it trekking through the jungle at night (more on that soon) or be it just sitting at the beach and watching people do their own thing. But if I have to tell you what I enjoyed the most, that would without doubt be, the slowing down!
Gokarna for sure is not just a beach-destination. It is much more than that!
Have you been to Gokarna? Or any other not so popular coastal town? Let me know!