The Trippy Gokarna Trip

Facebook feed, currently, is either full of disgruntled working professionals or the batchmates getting married – One by one, and in some cases to one another. Clock is ticking by and the call of the hour was a trip before wickets start tumbling down. May be a last All bachelor’s trip with the folks. We decided to camp down in Gokarna, a hidden beauty in Karnataka, just a little further from Goa. People crawled their way from Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Chennai. Some took a planned leave and some decided to fall sick on the same day.

All this summer, luck has been really generous towards me. And another instance was when I successfully booked a Tatkal ticket on new irctc site – Mumbai to Kumta it was. Kumta happened to be some 40 kms away from Om beach and an hour or so was the journey from Kumta to Gokarna. Wait a minute – Did I say something about luck? Train somehow decided to took an unplanned halt at Gokarna Road and we were quick like bunnies to jump down on the adjacent empty track (No we didn’t pull the chain and I must stop bragging about my luck, lest I jinx it)

Gokarna is a place of natural diversity. From temples to sea to beaches to graffiti. Among all the beaches, Om Beach is the only beach which is accessible via road. All the other beaches are at the other end of 15-20 minutes of trail through forests. So was the case with the Kudle Beach, where we were supposed to put our foot down. It took some time finding the cottage, but at the very first view we knew that we were set for some real treat.

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A session of abuses commenced post meeting and then we didn’t waste any time to reach the Highland. Chairs aligned to face the sea. Table properly decorated with chicken, fish and beer.

Visiting the places during off season has its own advantage. No soul around to crowd the place. Getting awesome places at throw away prices. Entire sea at your disposal. And all you got to do was to Sit and Relax. So after multiple rounds of Bakar, we set forward to explore our surroundings. There are two trails which lead to this mini heaven. Two of us came to this place through the trail near Om Beach, while the other three took the other trail. We strolled towards to former.

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Rains kept sweeping us left and right. And we kept on with our own version of Hide and Seek. Not that we resisted rain. Just that we wanted it on our terms.

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Post a long journey and looking forward to an entire evening of catching up to do, we decided to stay back at our place and spend the rest of the day in marvelling at Nature, settling in the Highland and throwing some money around in some drunken poker game.

Thunderstorm kept greeting us throughout the Night and slowly, but surely, everyone passed out. We wanted to see the sunrise but no one took the initiative. It was only around 10 that everyone woke up, and that too coz the Tatkaal window didn’t wait for anyone. And guess what? Another tatkaal ticket – This time through mobile browser (I am surely going to jinx it now :/ ).

So the morning saw a revisit to Highland and a vicious attack on Nutella banana pancakes (Made me revisit Cafe Italy in Kasol). Post the breakfast we made our way towards the trail to the Gokarna Cliff.

The view from the Gokarna Cliff. The trail to this place from the Kudle Beach seemed to be an unexplored domain. Making our way amidst the thorns, giant mushrooms and the pattern diggings which looked like graves, we reached this place.

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Spent some time just sitting there and letting the sea breeze occupy us. Time was apt to make our way to the heart of Gokarna – Om Beach. Om Beach – The name comes from the shape of this beach, the shape of Om. This beach had life. People all around playing games from Soccer to Kabaddi to just lying in the Sea, everyone was at peace.

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Namaste cafe is to Gokarna what Shanti Cafe is to Kasol. Want a view of the Om Beach. Sit there, order few drinks and cherish the time and the place.

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And when you are done with the place, move towards the Beach. Guys playing soccer and kabaddi, while sea tries to play the spoilsport.

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We knew it was off season and shacks were kept away. But as they say, where there is a branch there is a way. This looked like the Nature’s version of shacks. The low lying branches. You can just sit on one of them with feet floating freely, trying to keep up with the rhythm of Sea which constantly comes to meet them.

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We covered the entire perimeter of the Om Beach, which was full of life and breathtaking views. Overcast and light shower all over us, we just had to keep walking and let the time chalk it out for us.

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GraffitiThere are two other beaches in Gokarna – Paradise Beach and Half Moon Beach. Unfortunately, both were closed due to high tide.

But if you are thinking the place is all about sea and beach, you are far from correct. The city of Gokarna is an awesome blend of culture, heritage and art. Graffitis marking the entire city, you must go to the Gokarna and Mahabaleshwar temple if you visit the place. Murudeshwara, a place famous for the world’s second largest Shiva statue, is known for the legend of the Ravana and Ganesha, and is around 70 kms from Gokarna.

Visit the city. Buy some stuff. The place is full of all types and sizes of Chillums and Bongs. Various artifacts and hand made garments also form a spectacle here.

Gokarna City Beach is not as spectacular is its counterparts, but is surely worth a visit.

From there starts the trail to the Kudle beach – This one is different from the one we covered in the morning. And it turned out that we were lucky to choose it. Once you get out of the initial scare of Langoors trying to snatch your stuff away, you will be greeted with an array of breathtaking Sunset points.

 

 

 

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It seemed even the sky was trying to take a click. We covered many points and just at the end of the trail we stumbled upon a place which looked like it was personally carved by God. This was the place where we spent our entire next day sleeping and gazing at the sky.

Meet this beauty. The place where we could have camped for days and days. Just at the end of the trail, this seemed the highest point of the area. The waves here had some serious issues with the rocks. And they kept clashing over and over and over.

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And then we came back to our own small island. And being the last night, it was time for some hardcore party. We ordered food that would last the entire night. Booze that would be enough to kick us out. And the Highland was never far away. Loads and loads of Bakar. Some crazy laughter sessions. And stepping down to the beach at 2 in the Morning. Dogs all around the place settled around us. They must have identified us as one of their own. Trust me we were not in any better condition.

Night paved the way for the morning. Sea found its calmness once again. And we checked out to mark the end of our vacation. With a promise to repeat this. At a similar place. Maybe Tarkali. Or may be not. Let’s see how it unfolds.

I have been following the trail for many months now. Different places. Different challenges. Different offerings ..

This one got to rank in the top few, if not No.1 Bye Bye Gokarna. We will meet again :)

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Naagphani – Duke’s Nose Trek

Duke's Nose TrekFor some unknown reason Monsoon is making us wait more than expected. And the only option that we are left with is to seek for it.
From hills to hills, we have been spending last few weekends in our quest for the divine rain. This time, the destination was Khandala – To the trail to the Duke’s Nose, also known as Nagphani. The name of this place in Western Ghats is credited to the shape of the cliff which is like a hill or a thumb, sometimes resembling a snake.

Compared to the Rajmachi, the Duke’s Nose Trek was relatively easier – The fact that it was day and the path was well marked to the pinnacle. And for more than a single reason, this trek in Khandala was more about the journey rather than the destination.

 

“Just follow the rails” was what the old lady said to us. And so we did. We followed the rails. Without thinking about where it was leading us.

There are times like this when you don’t know where you are going and neither do you seem to care.

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Rajmachi Trek – The Night Expedition

Where do you expect a guy to be on a Saturday night? Breaking the hell loose, partying in some club, owned by the ecstasy of weekend, right? Well it was a little different for me this time around. Saturday, 11 in the night. I was standing on the edge of a really steep hill side. Rain was in it’s full form, as if in a hurry to announce the arrival of Monsoons. The wind was picking up, making every step a task in itself. The jungle around us presenting different surprises in the form of crabs, snakes, toads, lizards and fireflies. And to top that, it was pitch dark. Zero visibility, with torches being our only ally.

This was the moment that defined this weekend of mine and marked one of the best treks I have been part of. Let me take you to a quick tour of how the Rajmachi Trek was amazing in its unique own ways and made it for us a weekend to remember.

The Scenery

A view of Rajmachi from a cave near Srivardhan fort

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Gully Cricket – Not Available on App Store

Back in the 90s, in the era of Pokemon and WWF, when there was no mobile to distract you, we used to have this game of ours. Our own version of Cricket. 5-7 in the evening (except Monday and Tuesday – It was dedicated to RAW and Smackdown) was all about Cricket. And were the rules different from the international rules. Well not exactly. But there were a few unspoken rules around the game which every child knew by heart. Here I am listing a few rules of our Gully Cricket.

The Tools

There are few things those are necessary for a game of cricket. Two of them is a bat and a ball. Stumps, as we have always maintained, is a total waste of money and space. But alternative? How do you decide if someone is out or not? Luckily in the place where we lived in Lucknow, there was always an under construction building and you just got to smuggle in a few bricks for constructing your own stumps. And there was always that one architect in the group who was summoned in every time someone was bowled.

The Homo Sapiens

Leadership is something many people are just born with, rather than learning over time. We always needed that one leader to take the initiative and call everyone for a game (which was not an easy task I must tell, amidst all the scare of disturbing someone’s Mom’s sleep). And once again, there was always that one guy of whose Dad everyone was scared of. But he had to be called – He was the owner of the bat, and everyone would be like – “Tu Jaa”, “Nahi Tu Jaa Main Kal Gaya Tha”. And even if he wouldn’t come, we would be so daring to ask “Achcha Bhai Bat To De De”. He never gave it though, it was the second most important thing to one after life.

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A bachelor in the big city

There are these people who think all the South Indians are Mallus. Then there are these people who think that a girl who parties is easy. A major section assumes all the guys wearing spects as nerds. Common stereotypes, aren’t they? I would add just one more victim to this list – A bachelor trying to rent a flat in Mumbai.

Bachelor - Not Wanted

Bachelor – Not Wanted

So you pass out from a B School. Get a nice job in the same city. All set to start your new life. Sounds pretty good isn’t it? No. Not so soon. There is a little twist in the tale. Roti, Kapdaa aur Makaan. Roti – Check. Kapdaa – Check. But what about Makaan? What about it when not a single neighborhood in the area is willing to rent a flat to 3 bachelors. And all the options you get are either too far from your office or just not up to the mark.

A lot of running around and sweating,  not even being given a chance to explain our case, we had to resort to the ever so benevolent brokers for a chance. I swear sometimes I feel like drug dealers and brokers are running this city. They are everywhere but everyone finds it convenient to just ignore them. So I got this broker who helped us land up in a decent society here in Goregaon. And the first thing that our landlady told us was not to create any ruckus. Ok. So no welcome, no handing over the keys, no agreement signing. Just one directive. And that too pretty LOUD and CLEAR.

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