The first season of Spiritual Gokarna has come to an end. Heartfelt thanks to all those who supported it.
When I was designing it, I wanted this trip to be special, I wanted this trip to be an insightful one, I wanted the participants to take some learnings back home once the trip was completed.
Here I am inviting you to behind the scenes of designing this trip
When most weekend travelers think about Gokarna, the first thing that comes to their mind would probably be a Chilling Beach Destination.
Indeed, the popularity of Gokarna as a chilling beach destination is increasing day by day, but while I was visiting Gokarna, I realized that there is more to Gokarna than being just another beach destination. So my first priority was to figure out what more Gokarna is offering other than being a weekend chillout spot and integrate that into a flowing, action-packed itinerary.
At the same time, I wanted a first-time visitor to Gokarna to get the best Gokarna has to offer as well. I didn't want anyone to feel that they haven't done the must-dos in Gokarna after signing up for a Gokarna trip.
The best way to showcase the two different sides of Gokarna was to show the contrast it offered. The spiritual and materialistic side Gokarna offered was quite contradictory, I felt. But most of the time, a person who visits Gokarna for a short time gets to see only one side or rather the side he/she chooses to see.
That is how, different chapters in this trip was born. Instead of the day-wise itinerary, for the Spiritual Gokarna trip, you have a chapter wise itinerary.
Since the targeted audience for this trip was the weekend travelers from major cities, the chapters were designed around the life of a corporate employee.
The aim of weekend travel mostly is to have a relaxed time after long days of hard work and mindless routines. ( I also understand that there are so many people who enjoy their work-life)
In most cases, the weekend is the escape! When one starts to believe that life is about working during the weekdays, weekends definitely become the escape.
'Escape chapter' deals with the overnight bus ride from the city towards Gokarna. This is the beginning of an enlightening journey (at least in my wildest dreams).
The overnight bus from Bangalore to Gokarna is included in the trip.
In order to compare how good something can get, one needs to know the other side of the story as well. Without failures, one will not understand the value of success. Just like that, to feel the contrast of Spiritual Gokarna, one has to experience the Not-so-spiritual side of Gokarna. So this chapter deals with experiencing the popular must-dos while in Gokarna.
The night bus usually reaches Gokarna by early morning. It can vary and at times you might reach Gokarna by 9am. So the first thing was to check-in at the hotel and freshen up.
Once everyone got fresh and had breakfast, the scooters were waiting for them. (The price of renting the scooters were included in the trip). Since Gokarna has a long shoreline and there are so many beaches to explore, the most convenient way to get around in Gokarna is to rent a scooter.
Off we went, from Gokarna Main beach to explore more beaches on the Southern side.
These were the beaches we had explored until the afternoon before lunch. We headed back and went to Middle beach for a relaxed lunch after the small hike from Paradise beach. After lunch, we rode towards the north side to find some very less crowded beaches.
It was then almost time for the sunset and you don't want to miss the sunset when you're in Gokarna. So we went to Kudle beach to see the sunset and to chill out.
After dinner, it was time for some sky watching. Almost everyone knew about Orion, the hunter. Long exposure shots using the phones to try and capture the star trails were also tried out.
Since it was already a long day and the next day was going to be an early start, we said goodnights early.
To me personally, this day is the main highlight of the trip. All the previous 2 chapters were kind of preparing the participants to receive this part in a better way.
This is the day one gets to see the contrast, this is the day one gets a chance to experience something close to enlightenment if something of that sort happens!
The day started quite early as 6.30 in the morning to start the beach trek. Yes, there was a beach trek part of the day. It was the trek from Om beach to Half Moon beach.
Early in the morning, we rode to Om beach.
After crossing Om beach, through the rocks, we started the early morning trek. Lack of sun and the view from the cliff made the trek a wonderful experience.
Only a bunch of people who camped the previous night were there on the beach at that time. It was a perfect setting to get introduced to a special spiritual practice. Falun Dafa!
Falun dafa is a Chinese religious practice that combines meditation and qigong exercises. Qigong, qi gong, chi kung, or chi gung is a centuries-old system of coordinated body-posture and movement, breathing, and meditation used for the purposes of health, spirituality, and martial-arts training.
After a brief introduction to Falun dafa and practising the moves in a very less populated beach, it was time for breakfast.
There were two question on the registration form which asks, if you can live without your phone for a day and if you can Not post on social media about the trip. Those questions were relevant for this day.
Travel has been romantisiced by social media. Travelers are thronging to certain destinations after seeing frequent posts on instagram.
A recent survey even found out that Indians travel to show off rather than to explore or learn something new from a place, which I believe is quite unfortunate. So staying away from phones and not posting a few parts of the trip are the small steps taken towards keeping travel away from social media stunts and bringing travel back to its better purposes.
After a lovely breakfast from a beach shack, it was time to head back to Om beach. But this time we were not trekking, instead, we took a boat ride back. The boat ride took us through Paradise beach and Gokarna lighthouse and then a few moments later to the bay where dolphins are usually spotted.
Our batch was quite lucky to see a few dolphins that jumped from the water a few meters away from us. We then head back to Om beach and from there to Kudle beach. It was time to meet some interesting people of Kudle beach.
One of the best parts of travel for me is to meet new people and get to know their interesting stories. So whenever designing a trip, I try to include some elements that allow meeting some interesting people.
In Kudle beach you can find plenty of interesting people. But usually, the weekend tourists never get access to them and they miss out big time on one of the most interesting aspects of Kudle.
There are many people from various parts of the world who come here, stay here and make India their second home for an extended period of time. Some of them had quit their attractive jobs and are simply living their life here. Some others are figuring out what they want in their life by trying out various things here.
There are musicians, fire juggles, spiritual dancers, water healers and many more. It is a pleasure to me that we got a chance to meet them and to interact with them and to learn something from them. During these activities, to get a deeper experience, the usage of the phone was restricted. With some music, dance, and healing, time went so quickly and it was time for late lunch.
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There are a few beaches in Gokarna area. But I feel Kudle beach is different. Some say there is magic in Kudle beach. The regulars call it the Kudle bubble. I've been trying to observe the magic in close proximity. Did I find the magic?! Little by little it's been appearing. Of course, the main beauty is the diversity of people one can get to meet here once you an access inside the bubble. They simply keep on amaze you time and again. Join me on this valentine's day to get a small introduction into Kudle bubble. . . . . #KudleBeach #Gokarna #sunset #timelapse #gokarnadiaries #gokarnabeach #kudlebeachgokarna #karnataka_focus
Late long lunch at the beach made its way to sunset. It was the last sunset of season 1 of this trip and we had to experience it. Pondering over the different lifestyles they got introduced to, the participants sat and watched the beautiful red orangish ball disappearing far away on the horizon.
It was time to head to the town to get to their overnight buses. But on the way, there were some more explorations to be done. It was time to explore the Gokarna town.
Gokarna is actually a very important pilgrimage destination for the people of Hindu faith. Before marketed as a beach destination, Gokarna was famous among the people only for this reason. So leaving Gokarna without checking out its many temples and interesting temple tanks such as Koti theertha would make this an incomplete trip.
Checking out the Gokarna town also offered the souvenir hunters and shopping addicts to be in their elements and thus helping the local economy which at present is thriving on tourism-related activities.
After some walking through the streets of Gokarna town and doing some shopping, and eating some banana buns, it was time to head back home and to begin the next chapter.
Check out the program videos on here
This trip shouldn't end once you leave from Gokarna. I hope the real journey begins here. It is said that there is a difference in studying about a philosophy and actually internalizing it.
If the participants have learned anything from the chapter 3 of this trip, that deals with new life initiation, after meeting people with alternative lifestyles, after getting introduced to energy practices and after understanding the importance of a bit of silence in their life, I am sure, or at least hope that they will have a long term effect from this spiritual Gokarna trip.
After going through this trip report, what do you think about Spiritual Gokarna trip? Will you be interested in being part of it the next time? Please let me know in the comments.