It was time for another vacation at my college and that only meant a trip to some place new. We had a lot of options but choosing a destination less known was what excited me the most. And so we started the journey to Gokarna. With very little cash in my pocket and clueless about the place, I tagged along with a couple of friends (although I wish I had travelled alone but this is India!!).
I am not sure why I chose a small beach town, 500 miles away, over the happening tourist spots like Goa or Pondicherry. May be I was looking for some adventure or maybe I wanted to explore a new place or was it just the fact that I wanted to run away from the crowd and the city because I was the least social human in the entire college. Whatever may be the reason, I am glad I made this decision and finally reached the little town after an entire journey across two states which included a train ride and three local buses back to back from town to town in the interiors of Karnataka.
I think it was 10 at night when we reached the Gokarna town where we took an auto to drop us closest to the beach where we had planned to stay. Yes! When I say closest it means we had to get down at a point, get our bags on our backs and trek through the hills in the pitch dark night. There were no lights or tracks or even a single soul around. All we had were our cell phones and the moonlight. Tired from the long journey and still trekking blindly in the hills as I turned my head up towards the sky, I saw the most magnificent sight which almost hypnotized me. For a moment I thought I was hallucinating as I saw millions of stars shining bright in the dark. I had never seen the sky so clear and brimming with countless stars. It was as if I had entered space itself.
Awestruck by the sight and a little thrilled by the remoteness of the place, we kept moving forward trying to catch the sound of the sea to follow. And finally we reached the dead end of the trek and as I went down the hill there it was- The Kudle beach. Between the sea and the hills, this beach was a little isolated. All I could see were the little lights shining in a line at a distance and the dark unending sea on the other side. The wind was a little different here. It had the freshness of the countryside and smell of the sea. As we walked by the beach to look for a place to stay, i thought to myself that I could have traveled miles more to be at a place this astonishing.
I clearly remember all my family trips to expensive resorts around the country, then why did a small shack on the beach with just a bulb and a fan, filled me with a bliss that no comfortable five star hotels ever gave? There were no marbles on the floor but just the sand, there were no mirrors on the ceiling but just a haystacks roof(after all it was just 200 INR per night!!) but there was one thing for sure and that was the lip-smacking feast which made the stay surprisingly appealing and zesty at the same time. Living at the bounty of the nature, sugar coated with the most delightful cuisine from around the country was just heaven on earth for me. Every shack had its own menu that was filled with choices from Arabic hummus to Hyderabadi biryani. And of course the amazing pancakes anyway you like. Being a vegetarian I sure cannot talk about the seafood but I am pretty sure it must have been just as appealing.
It was tough for me to decide which was a better sight at this rustic beach far away from civilization. Was it the millions of pretty stars at night or the freshness of the early sun warming up the cold sand from the night? It was complete bliss to be able to walk into the calm sea for an early morning dip and feel the waves rushing to life. The sea was so serene that even a shallow swimmer like me could walk deep into it till I could hear the waves singing in my ears. It was then that I realized why I had been so socially awkward half my life. Coming to Gokarna was like coming back home, to the place I don’t have to pretend.
The next day we went on a little trek to another beach called the Om beach. It is said that the beach is in the shape of “Om” which is the sign of lord Shiva. And hence, a special mention of the Shiva temple at Gokarna, which I never got a chance to visit. It was later that I discovered that Gokarna is the town of temples. (As I told you I was completely clueless about this place!) Om beach was a little more commercialized with a fine connectivity to the local areas unlike the Kudle beach. There were a lot of trekking options to other nearby beaches but we preferred taking a ride on the local fishing boats. And finally after an eventful day we were back into our little huts for some rest.
On the last day of the trip I took a walk on the beach by myself wondering why the raw life of Gokarna was so astonishing. I laid down on the sand, with the cold wind blowing through my face. I have been to beaches before so what so different about this one? I guess this was not just a trip but more like coming back home to my little zone of comfort. All I could think of lying there was what if I never leave? What if I gave up on the education and career systems of our society behind and stayed right there for the rest of my life? It sure was not possible especially when you are bonded with a family. And so I wondered why the world had changed? Why did we turn to live a civilized life? Was this change good or did it smother the real us? These are the answers we can never find unless we break all bonds we call unbroken.
And then it was time for me to get out of my dreamy mode, dust the sand and say goodbye and get back to our cells (Yes! That’s what I would like to call my single room at the college prison). We cannot keep the time with us forever but one thing I sure had gained from this one in a million trip and that was peace from within. And so we finally packed our bags and trekked our way back to life. It was actually trekking back all the way to college as it was painful to leave a little piece of ourselves behind. I am hoping to go back to this incredible paradise once again but fear the civilization might take over it by then.