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Om sans Shanti: Gokarna-> This Way

The famous Om beach in Gokarna is a stretch of coastline that is separated from Kudle beach by a rocky terrain. Somewhere, a trail without a noticeable direction or sign board leads to Om beach. Every time we asked for directions from someone, they pointed everywhere except the sea. There was a ferry to take us there, but we decided to trek and get lost.

We chose a path and started trekking over the hills, to the other side of which lay the Om beach. It is called so because the beach line traces a shape strikingly similar to Om — the spiritual sign in the Hindu religion. After climbing a set of stairs that were in no-so-good condition, we found ourselves in wilderness amid tall trees and dangerous slopes. The sea was always in view—we were walking around a hill to reach the other side.

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The beach was spell-bounding! It was more crowded than Kudle, though not too much. No lazing here—people buzzed around—in restaurants, shops, in waters, and on the beach. Many localities were selling hand-crafted jewellery, fruits, and coconut water. Few tourists basked in sun, some in lungis, others in bikinis—the former ogling at the latter. The scene wasn’t a comfortable one I would say—a few people blinded by their surged testosterones, passed lewd comments at the foreigners— they didn’t give a damn, probably because they didn’t understand the language. But, I found it embarrassing and disgraceful to belong to the same place as those pervert men.

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It was quite sunny on that part of the land or maybe we felt it that way. I laid a piece of cloth over the hot sand and took out an Umbrella (thank God I carried one) to sit under it. It was awkward but the shade felt good. I dared not think of entering the water, containing wild animals, in their excited states.

A drunkard came quite close to a lady who was basking in the sun nearby. She was reading a book and in between braving the waters to get some cool. We thought of warning her, about the not-so-safe zone she was in, as the drunk man was muttering something, which even we couldn’t understand. Few other men came to pacify him and engrossed him in a conversation, as we patiently watched what’s going to happen next. She didn’t even budge—the lady continued her routine and after she was content, got up to walk away. All this while, we were preparing ourselves to jump in, if the things went wrong. But, as soon as the woman walked away, we too calmed our nerves and moved to a safer zone to rest. It was sad to witness such a drama.

We found a much descent place to rest, after which I gathered some courage to get into the now ‘safe waters’.

The shore at Om beach steeply slants into the sea. Believe me when I say that ‘the waves took me in’. It was scary! My heartbeat surged as I felt the land beneath my feet incline towards the sea. I am a bad swimmer. Yes, I swim, but only in shallow waters—as much as my height, which is a little above 5 feet, and with no waves in it. As the waves pulled back, I struggled to fixate my feet over the ground. I breathed heavily with every wave. I tried to laugh it out, but my lungs shuddered with the water going wavy above my neck and sometimes inside my mouth and nose. My fear of water came haunting back. The waves were strong and pushed me in the direction of some rocks nearby. The moment I thought I will lose it, I hurriedly flapped my way back to the safety of the shore and breathed air.

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It was so warm in the afternoon that I used my towel and my much-loved Umbrella to hide from the sun. Some foreigners who were basking and happily getting tanned in the bright sun, gave us surprised looks.

I wanted to go home to the Kudle beach, after a rough day— The Om sans Shanti (Peace). So, we trekked back but through a different route this time, which was out of the trail.

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On the way, we saw a few hidden restaurants, where two men, who just didn’t seem they were in present, rested in their arm chairs and lazily looked out at the sea. In between some throat-clenching climb caught hold of us. From a high altitude, we could watch the sea almost 40 feet below us, hitting huge rocks with fierce aggression. It turned out to be a tough climb that could send us straight down if a rock wasn’t up there to prevent us from a fall or slip. With our hearts in our mouth, we braved through it but never looked down!

We got a signboard warning us to beware of robbers. It was relieving because that meant we were back on the trail! After a physical and mental adventure, tanned and tired, we reached home—we reached back to Kudle beach. If you want to know more my experience at Kudle beach, here it is.

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Kudle Ahoy! : Gokarna -> This Way

The sand started seeping in between the spaces of my feet and my footwear. It was coarse yet comforting; We had reached the sea.

Kudle ke ‘beach’ mei

There lay a vast stretch of pale yellow sand, protected under the cover of hills on one side and pampered by the sea on the other. A line of shacks calmly waited across the beach for their customers. The saline waters washed the sands gently, making sounds that gave the longing pleasure to my ears. The sun was mild, the sky was clear, the air was heavy but windy. All of it brought a streak of excitement. I took off my shoes and absorbed my vicinity as much as I could. The rushing water against my ankles and the drifting sand beneath my feet made me chuckle as I lost my balance.

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Kudle – clean and calm

A warm sunny day, awaited us, as we lazily walked passed the waves, rushing in to gently kiss the land. We had booked a shack in advance and walked over to ours, across the sand lands. The rooms were pretty clean until we entered in. The sands followed our bare feet everywhere, just everywhere!

Chhap-Chhap

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When the waves call you to jump in!

I changed to my beach wear and ran out to plunge into the sea. Amidst all the excitement, the saline waters entered my nostrils and came out though my mouth! My eyes burned with excess salts of the sea but it didn’t stop there. The waves knocked us out, tossed us left and right, against our wishes, toppled us over and we went happily smashing ourselves against the waters. For once, we accepted the Mother Nature and embraced it with all the happiness in our heart. We floated and swam, we played dead on the surface, sometimes facing up, and other time fearfully facing down. We gave up ourselves and became a part of the nature. We became those over-advanced species of time, who finally came back home, to their roots, after following on a long tired trail of evolution.

Some guys in our vicinity carried themselves semi-nude and played around in water, throwing each other against the waves. Some pretended to be new born dolphins, while others clung their girlfriends tightly, fearing they would swim off or drown away.

Nevertheless, the day was one of those, straight out of heaven!

Lunch kept us waiting, while hunger bothered us quite a lot. We noticed that our shack’s restaurant kept us waiting for long and continued serving the Goras and foreigners first, though they ordered their food after us. Racist, our own country people I tell you…: P We complained and expressed the same to them, shortly after which our lunch arrived but for the first and last time in that shack restaurant.

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When we played with Sandy!

The night came upon us like a guardian angel, bringing us rest, peace and contentment. We didn’t let it go so easily though, and made our own peculiar sand castles and devil faces, the beach playing our backyard. The same burning sand during daytime, turned cool and soft by night. We dug our feet below our sand dunes and sat there, waiting for the time to simply pass by.

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Dreamy restaurants, Awesome food!

*Magic of the Sea Shore*

The night sky displayed wonders with blankets of thousands of twinkling stars. All the shy brilliance that usually hid behind the curtains of urban dust, showed itself like a magical event that had always been waiting to happen. I felt as if I was doped by the elements of nature. The sound of crashing waves, the starry sky and the cool whiffs of air made me enter into a world away from the world. I felt high without getting intoxicated! Thereafter, the sleep came like a fairy carrying star-dust, and we finally made peace with our dream worlds by being in one ourselves.

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Gokarna ->This way (Ab Bus!)

I boarded the bus

Sitting gladly on my single sleeper, in my presumed personal compartment, I felt the world was mine behind the curtains. That was until, one of the passengers, passed by and pulled the curtain with him, mistakenly. It was a feeling of sudden exposure that made me sit up and draw the curtains again, not knowing that I would have to do that throughout the entire night. So next time, please don’t choose Seabird Tourists, the buses are BAD!

The world was different outside the window and kept changing faces. We passed Mantri Square mall, Bangalore actually stopped there for what seemed like an eternity. I didn’t waste my time and quickly turned nostalgic, remembering my first visit to the mall, with my college friends. Experiencing the elite, the stage-like-lit-up showrooms, the dramatic lights, the crowd, the coffee and bakery shops only to be viewed from far, all this with my friends who seemed equally lost in focus, looking onto new attractions with every blink of an eye. Trying out new fashionable outfits, beyond our pocket budgets, and clicking pictures, especially for posting on facebook, was a taboo back then. Those days weren’t that old but definitely, things have changed now.

While I was among my deepest thoughts, the landscape outside changed to wider views, with silhouettes of trees, passing swiftly in the dark; We were on the highway. Sleep came in installments and interested me with some peace of mind until the curtains shifted again.

The bus stopped in between adhering to the law of giving in to the nature calls, in the interest of passengers. The dark marooned place had no clue of washrooms, until I found some people moving out of another bus, parked adjacent to us, towards two small concrete blocks. Filth and stench haunted the toilets like ghosts. No door handles! We asked our fellow females to hold the door for us and they obliged. The counter gender took to bushes instead; no wonder there was too much greenery around.

When I woke up next, it was morning but something was strange. We were crossing lush green hills, through snake roads, but hey! Wasn’t I heading to a beach?!

The Western Ghats tricked me out of sleep.

 

Gokarna Within

A village welcomed me in broad daylight, along with a group of auto-walas, eager to take an outsider for a costly ride. Kudle beach was a kilometer or two away. I was supposed to meet my friend. As soon as we met we instinctively decided to walk all the way to the beach.

Here are some tips before you trip to Kudle

The small town of Gokarna, is strangely a town of contrasts. It is a temple town as well as a peaceful holiday destination. It gave me vivid thoughts when I searched on the internet and found that Gokarna means “Cow’s Ear” and Lord Shiva is said to have emerged from the ear of a cow. The famous ‘Om Beach’ in Gokarna, gives adds a mystic touch to the place.  Find some more about Gokarna Here..

The Chariot Temple

Through the narrow streets and bazaars, that was set up with small shops selling items right from bangles to bandannas, the place was trying hard to attract the firangis that came from all over the world to experience India. Some eyes were stuck at the ethnic wear while others checked out the pure leather bags that stood out well but pitifully as their smell caught my nostrils. Here is the guide to good and cheap shopping when you are in Gokarna.

We took a turn from one lane leading to another and found a huge chariot, standing tall ahead of us. It was adorned with flags of red yellow and white colors, bright marigold flowers, the auspicious banana leaves and carried images of Gods and Goddesses on its sides. Though the chariot stood still, it seemed its big round wooden wheels had traveled quite a bit through the crowded streets and was now resting and overlooking the place.

Patli gali se khisak lo.. :P

Patli gali se khisak lo.. 😛

Moving forward, we had to pass via a tiny passage to reach the beach. Some auto-walas braved through the narrow way, by just fitting between the two walls on either side. Once we had to stick ourselves so close to the walls, thinking that the auto might crush us. The walls though gave us a tough time, had so much to speak of. That was because in that small village, within that narrow lane, on those cracked and chipped walls, we found some cute graffiti probably by a person who had had a blissful experience at the place.

Comprehend Some Cool Graffiti!

Comprehend Some Cool Graffiti!

We are almost there, that’s what we thought, while climbing up a hilly road and then another and another. It was tiring, but we never gave up our hopes to the passing autowalas Oh Yeah! Though in between I wished I was a backpack so that somebody would carry me. Tears trickled down my forehead, while walking on the road to Kudle?! Guys if you get a little trek freak in Gokarna, opting for walk to Kudle beach, is one among few ways to get the feel of it, but only in early morning or times nearing sunset.

Mini-Trek to Kudle Beach

Mini-Trek to Kudle Beach

There was a ‘sigh-t’ of relief when we saw, what you can see in the below picture and were left wondering! There was no way we could tell were the sky ended and the sea began. The Arabian Sea settled majestically under the vast blue sky.

where the sea meets the sky

    where the sea meets the sky

 

There is no picture more beautiful than what is being captured by our own eyes.

I treated my vision with the view and walked ahead, with vigor to meet the sea.

In case you want to know how my journey began Find the surprising details of the Night of my travel here

 

 

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Gokarna ->This way

Never Sit in the Backseat

It was supposed to be a solo trip. Few days before leaving, I felt like an overheated CPU, in dire need of cooling. Summer had just taken over Bengaluru and instead I was experiencing heating issues, mentally and emotionally. A beach was the necessity! A trip to Goa had already been a successful undertaking before, so the next never-visited destination that flashed in my mind was Gokarna.

All excuses and no company, hence ho! Girl on solo trip! Though I must admit I was much apprehensive about it. The new destination, the search for peace but then Indian men have always been surprising women. So I got a company of a good friend. Bus tickets were booked and one good evening I excitedly boarded the pick-up bus to Seabird Tourists . My excitement turned to embarrassment when a newly wedded couple got hold of the last seat, at the far end of the window, opposite to where I sat. Not long after the pick-up bus began moving that the kissi-pissi started and all sorts of nasty sounds made it really the most uncomfortable 45 minutes for me, until the main bus stand. Oh God, Their co-passengers are going to have a tough time, I thought.

The main bus stand was lined up with crowded Travel Agencies, that had set up their small offices in the most cramped and spooky places, so much so that all the Goras (foreign travelers) waiting for their buses, thought and discussed repeatedly among themselves, whether to go in, at that time of night, for an enquiry or not.

I was there for an hour and a half, sitting in a cramped path; waiting for my bus, while the other passengers walked passed me, often brushing themselves against moss-filled, chipping-walls to the enquiry office. I strangely felt good to be among strangers, who, as if encapsulated in a time along with me, were waiting for their vehicles to take them ahead. There was an aura of impatience but a hint of eagerness for the coming time, in that WAIT.

 

The Places that should be left Undiscovered

By this time, two girls came to sit beside me on either side, waiting for their bus, trapped in the wait-time capsule, like me. Something triggered a conversation and they asked me where I was travelling to. While we were getting acquainted, I felt a sudden urge to go to the toilet. I asked the people there for directions and they directed me to the most filthy travel agency toilets. Just when I was about to enter, a MAN came out, of a Ladies’ Toilet?! When few people told me go further in and that there was a ladies toilet inside, I was left wondering with a blank mind and a question mark on my face. With my nostrils all shut to the pungent smell, I made a face of sheer disgust and entered.

The door to the ladies washroom was inside the men’s loo! WTF!

With no other way out, I relieved myself and just as I was about to open the door, guess what? I heard the presence of a man, outside, through means that you might have probably guessed by now. The most disgusting feeling that crept inside me, told me to get the hell out of there!

In the most gentle and polite tone out of my heightened endurance, I spoke to ‘the Man’ through the door, ‘Bhaiya, aap bahar jaa sakte hai (Brother, can you go out?)’

Though I didn’t get a reply, I heard the other door open and shut. I slowly opened the door and thankfully there was nobody standing and peeing just outside the women’s toilet.

I rushed out, and went straight to my new acquaintances, to tell them what just happened. My conscience was pacified with wide-eyed responses and curses to the travel agencies. To be careful next time, Don’t opt for Seabird Tourists, the reasons I will share later.

 

Happy Journey!

Post that, we chatted for a couple of more minutes and it was great to know their purpose of travel, out of all excuses, was to escape from life. We discussed our lives and it felt great to know those two complete strangers for that brief period. When the Wait was over and their buses arrived, I bade them goodbye and merrily wished them a happy journey. Though we discussed so much about our daily life in such short span, that bounty of time was refreshing and welcoming.

For the next half hour, before my bus arrived, I sat there, alone but not lonely because my mind was already buzzing with the coming of an excitement that had already started.

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A Vast, Wide Escape

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