Monday, July 20, 2009

Gokarna-Murudeshwar tourism

I was planning since long to visit Gokarna. In fact, I had planned to travel up to Gokarna during my last trip to Sirsi (previous blog) but due to lack of company I had to drop the extension. But things were perfect for Gokarna trip on 22nd march 2009. My sister and brother in law were supposed to join us in their car but they changed their plans on the nth hour and I was left stranded. Not to be humbled by the situation, I decided to go ahead any way. I was accompanied by my wife, son, my sister and her daughter. We left Udupi at 9 am. I was told that the darshan at the temple in Gokarna shuts at 12.30 pm, so we had to hurry up. Traveling a distance of 180 Kms on NH7 and driving through Kundapur, Marvanthe, Bhatkal and Kumta we reached Gokarna at 12 noon. I had never driven my car beyond 60 kms on this highway and it indeed was an experience.
From Gokarna-Murudeshwara
From Gokarna-Murudeshwara


On the way we passed by Marvanthe beach, a spectacular and unique sight because the river and the ocean is separated by a narrow stretch of road. On the left was the ocean and on the right was the river. The beach has been riddled with large boulders to prevent sea erosion or else the highway would get eroded. Driving further, we had to drive over a long bridge. This bridge was known to be weak and traffic on it was suspended for several years almost a decade ago. The bridge certainly appeared fragile and appeared as though it might cave in any time.
From Gokarna-Murudeshwara
From Gokarna-Murudeshwara


Driving 22 kms from Kumta is a deviation to left. One has to drive another 10 kms to reach Gokarna temple. One is greeted by a checkpost that collects toll for entering the area. From this point we had little difficulty reaching the temple due to lack of any signs. Since we were nearing the closing time, we hurried to the temple. The streets were dusty and narrow and the place looked neglected.
From Gokarna-Murudeshwara
From Gokarna-Murudeshwara
From Gokarna-Murudeshwara
From Gokarna-Murudeshwara


As we entered the temple premise, we were swarmed by priests asking us if we were interested in offering pooja. I had heard about this from my friends who had visited this temple. No where else do people come to pilgrims like this and this draws criticism. Foreigners are denied entry into the temple. Male members have to remove their shirts and vests before entering the temple. This is perhaps the only temple that I know where devotees are allowed to touch and feel the idol. Everywhere else devotees are not allowed inside the “garbha gudi”. One has to dip hand inside a small pit and feel for a small stony projection.

Photography of any kind is prohibited inside the temple. We were then given token for free meals. While meals served are simple, the arrangement is fantastic. Devotees can donate any amount for the free meals scheme. The dining hall can accommodate approximately 200 people.
From Gokarna-Murudeshwara

From Gokarna-Murudeshwara


Situated right behind the temple and just a few yards away is the beach. We strolled towards the beach only to discover the blistering hot sand that got into our footwear and make our every step painful. After staying at the beach for a few minutes, we visited nearby Ram temple situated on a hill top. Even though a flight of stairs takes visitors to the top, the temple and its surrounding is in shambles.
From Gokarna-Murudeshwara
From Gokarna-Murudeshwara
From Gokarna-Murudeshwara
From Gokarna-Murudeshwara
From Gokarna-Murudeshwara


Even though plenty of pilgrims and tourists visit this place, the whole area is neglected and underdeveloped. Land and water are thoroughly polluted. A signboard asking visitors to maintain cleanliness has waste dumped around it. Not just the visitors, the local residents too dispose off waste in the open areas. It appears as if there is no municipal system in this place.
From Gokarna-Murudeshwara


After few minutes, we left to Om beach. On the way from the temple towards the toll gate is a turn to the right that leads to Om beach.
From Gokarna-Murudeshwara
The newly laid road was good. There was hardly any traffic but sudden curves and oncoming vehicles can surprise you; hence one has to drive with caution.
From Gokarna-Murudeshwara


There is hardly any parking space and presence of several vehicles can cause congestion on holidays. One has to descend few steps and cross over slippery rocky terrain to reach the beach. The shores are rocky and offer good environment to enjoy. Many foreign tourists visit this beach. There are a few resorts to stay. The administration discourages people from bathing in the sea and sign board has put up tabulating the number of death in the last three years.
From Gokarna-Murudeshwara
From Gokarna-Murudeshwara
From Gokarna-Murudeshwara


After staying for a few minutes left back. Since the car was hot as a oven, we almost got fried inside. Even the air conditioning couldn’t soothe us. The uphill climb forced us to switch off the AC. Otherwise; Om beach is good place to spend quality time all evening.

Our next destination was Murudeshwar. After driving back on the NH another 74 kms we took a deviation to right that took us straight to Murudeshwar temple. I had visited this place in 1990 and since then there has been a sea of changes. The temple and its surroundings has been beautified by its chief patron, RN Shetty. The temple has a huge 18-floor gopuram at the entrance. The door is guarded by two majestic elephants. The temple interior has a neat and plush look, gold paint has been liberally used and the place appears golden. The sunset brings out the best out of its paint. Fortunately, photography is banned inside the temple.
From Gokarna-Murudeshwara
From Gokarna-Murudeshwara
From Gokarna-Murudeshwara
From Gokarna-Murudeshwara


On a small hill is a huge statue of Lord Shiva in meditation. There are other statues depicting incidents from mythological tales. Situated on the foot of Shiva’s statue is a small temple where one can offer pooja. The devotees are allowed inside and made to sit while the priest performs pooja.
From Gokarna-Murudeshwara
From Gokarna-Murudeshwara


A major attraction here is the cave that depicts the story behind Gokarna and Murudeshwara. Ten rupees is levied per head for adults and children are charged half that amount. The cave is dark and air conditioned. As one enters the cave, the door behind is shut, lights come on with a welcoming voice. There are around 16 tableau that depicts the story as it happened. A narration clearly explains each tableau. Several ignorant, silly visitors behaved unruly inside the cave and obscured the narration.
From Gokarna-Murudeshwara
From Gokarna-Murudeshwara
From Gokarna-Murudeshwara
From Gokarna-Murudeshwara


We spent few minutes strolling in the park and admiring the creativity and serenity of the place. We then headed on to the Naveen restaurant, which has been constructed in the water along the beach. There are three floors and the beach side view is spectacular. The quality of food and service was excellent, something that I really was unexpected.
From Gokarna-Murudeshwara
From Gokarna-Murudeshwara
From Gokarna-Murudeshwara
From Gokarna-Murudeshwara

It was already pm by the time we decided to head back to Udupi. We did not stop anywhere and after driving continuously for 100 kms we reached Udupi safely at 9 pm. Driving through the heavy traffic at night was a challenging task as it was my first time in this part of the state.

Distance chart
Udupi - Kundapur : 35 Kms
Kundapur - Bhatkal : 52 Kms
Bhatkal - Murudeshwar : 14 Kms
Murudeshwar - Honnavar : 24 Kms
Honnavar - Kumta : 20 Kms
Kumta - Gokarna : 30 Kms

9 comments:

visual said...

Looking forward to visit there. Check my travel blog and the karnataka section.

Vibhuti said...

WOW, am happy I came across this blog. This travelogue has been the most informative, along with very clear and interesting pic's.
We are planning a road trip from Pune to Gokarna-Murdeshwar-Ankola and back.
Many things are clearer now after reading here. Thankyou!!! :D

sooraj said...

good description and pictures thanks a lot
sooraj

Srinivas said...

Hi, nice blog post... very detailed... I was wondering if you knew, about any public transport options from Goa/Gokarna-Murudeshwara... I'm planning on going there at the end of September... Do you know if I can go there via public transport?

Also, any idea if it's going to rain then?

Thanks
Srinivas

Prasanth said...

excellent narration ... i got all the data for my trip ;)

anusha raykar said...

Very informative along with pics..

ravi krishna said...

good information

ravi krishna said...

fine.i got good info

Vikram Sharma said...

truly informative thank u