It was a pretty long wait at the Jayanagar 4th Block pick-up point for theVRL Roadlines. The bus that I had booked to Gokarna was a sleeper cum sitting. I had opted for the sitting option being a little worried about the sleeping option. Gokarna had only bus option from Bangalore, no direct train, or else take a flight to Goa and head back to Gokarna via road, about a couple of hours I guess.
Gokarna is a sleepy little town in the coastal Karnataka but a famous place due to two things. Temple and beaches. The Shiva temple is considered to be very special due to the Jyothir lingam of Shiva. And the beaches are clean and isolated by rocks and hills.
More than 30 min of waiting and couple of frowns from Janaki, we were inside the bus. The intensity of frowns got stronger when we realised that the sleeping option was better as it looked more spacious and comfortable. I somehow 'tried' justifying my choice of sitting option and left Jayanagar by around 8.30 pm. When it left Bangalore it was almost past 10 pm.
It was around 9.30 next morning when we finally reached the little town. Got down and was picked up by the vehicle of Om beach Resort where I had booked for the stay. I had been to Gokarna about 6-7 years back and had known that there were few hotels. This time I wanted to have more beaches also along with the divinity in the trip, and so Om beach resort was chosen.
Little did I know that the 'beach' term in that name was a misnomer. The Om beach was pretty far, around 4kms from the resort. I had got a hint from the website I had visited so not very disappointing. Resort was pretty good, and had to hurry for breakfast as it was about to close by 10am. Food was good and had a quick nap after food. At around 4 pm we visited the Om beach. The resort had a drop and pick-up facility to the beach for the guests. It was drizzling and later the shower was strong.
There are about 5 beaches in Gokarna. Kudle, Om, Paradise, Town, and Long beach. All these are separated by hillocks. These beaches are frequented by foreigners who come to camp in here. There are several cafes (don’t have high expectations, it’s too far from Cafe Coffee Day and stuff like that. These are simple coconut-leaf roofed, semi-brick buildings where they offer basic food and shelter).
We strolled along the beach which was almost deserted. The sea was calm and I took bath and we both meditated for a while on the rocks. It was so nice, that the mind automatically comes to the present moment and no thoughts disturb you.
By around 6.30 pm we headed back to resort in the same vehicle of resort (again, don’t have high expectation, it is not a limo that comes but a cranky Mahindra jeep which probably was the first one from Mahindra.) A quick shower and we planned to go to the temple. The auto-rickshaws charge a bomb there. For a 2 km trip they charge around Rs. 50!! With no option left we opted for an auto to the temple for Rs. 100 for round trip + waiting.
Incidentally it was Maha-Pradosham or Sani-Pradosham which was considered to be very auspicious to visit Shiva temple. There was no much rush, and as soon as we reached a priest (there are many sub/assistant/deputy priests) came to us and started taking inside the temple as if we had asked him to be there. I ignored him as I knew that there are such people who come uninvited and make us do all sorts of so called pujas and finally give us a bill which has many zeros in it. To avoid that I told, in the Kannada I knew, that we are fine alone. We made some donations to the temple, and took a ticket for a small puja which we could do alone. Some other priest came and made us do the puja, and it was nice as there was less crowd and we could touch the Shiva linga, which is one speciality of this place, that we can do the puja on our own. Back to auto, and back to resort for dinner and hit the bed.
We had booked a cab to Kollur. Since there were a couple of temples Idagunji and Murudeshwar on the way, we visited them too. Idagunji is an old Ganapati temple about 4km away from the highway. Murudeshwar is a beach temple town, much like Gokarna. Its is more famous for the World's largest Shiva statue. The temple is on a beach and has a resort like feeling in the temple premises. There are beaches on both sides where water sports are in full swing.
We had a quick lunch and then hopped in to head towards Kollur, and reached Kollur by around 2.30 pm.
This was the first leg of the 2 weeks trip that we had during the 2nd week of November. Watch this space for more.