Gokarna is fast becoming everyone’s favourite seaside retreat. The 8-hour trip via the NH48 is an enjoyable one, as the open countryside of the Deccan gives way to the lush landscapes of coastal Karnataka. There are more surprises along the way. With the easy availability of self driven cars (rentals), one can plan a quick trip and enjoy Gokarna and the many enroute attractions.
Ramadevara Betta – Tumkur
Tumkur is the first main town on the route. Its most prominent cultural landmark is the Ramadevara Betta, a hilltop location that is home to many old temples. The hike to the summit is a vigorous one and it rewards visitors with beautiful panoramic views.
Further into the journey, travellers will reach Chitradurga, famous for its fort. The oldest parts of the fort are about a thousand years old and it was in the hands of famous Southern Indian dynasties before it was taken over by Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan, and given its most modern embellishments. One can visit some of the temples enclosed by the fort – the largest one is the Hidimbeshwara Temple. A mosque built by Hyder Ali is another highlight at the Chitradurga Fort.
Around Chitradurga’s hills, one will also come across the Chandravalli caves. These are divided into many rooms and were used by the old Hoysala and Kadamaba kings as a safe refuge during war or invasion.
Utsav Rock Garden – Haveri
In Haveri district, closer to the final destination, lies an eclectic park. The Utsav Rock Garden is a place where art and recreation meets. There are many sculptures and installations here which celebrate the heritage and modern culture of Karnataka. Highlights include a section devoted to Rajkumar, the state’s most celebrated actor, the artistic banyan tree, a collection of traditional doors, recreations of rustic life and a modern art section.
Attractions of Gokarna
Om Beach is becoming a backpacker hub, a famous retreat for weary city slickers. But Gokarna isn’t about just beach shacks and picturesque sunsets. There are some hiking routes on the hills straddling the course which lead to other more secluded beaches.
The town itself is an important hub of pilgrimage. Gokarna’s most famous temple is the Mahabaleshwar Temple, believed to be more than 1500 years old. The ornate granite architecture is a resplendent example of Dravidian building styles and Shivaratri is one of the biggest festivals here. There are many markets around the town, great places to pick up souvenirs and apparel at bargain prices.
Privacy, security, and space are the three primary reasons why informed travellers enjoy driving on their own. It is easy to book self drive cars in Bangalore. App-based rentals like Zoomcar provide the latest cars – hatchbacks, sedans, and SUVs. 24/7 on-road support is another important assurance, especially for long trips.
The temples and beaches of Gokarna are world famous but there are many more idiosyncratic attractions on the route. Get behind the wheel and relish the detours on this epic journey.