We left our rucksacks at Abbas and took the train down to GOKARNA in Karnataka state (16 rupees each, every day at 1504 hours from Chaudi). It’s a busy passenger train and only an hours trip. The taxi into town cost 150 r and we had to fill in a "solemn declaration of the true reflection of our any position in Gokarna" at a police department check point (fair enoughski). Ah bless they just wanted to make our stay “comfotable” and “joyful” or that’s what it says on the “Important Advice to Tourists and Pilgrims” form.
We ignored point 13 on the form – “Try to avoid your movements in long lonely road after sunset, which approaches beach where there is a poor light”. Yes really we ignored this and walked through the (not particularly lonely) Bazaar and on to the very Indian main beach (think poor light, cows, mosquitos, clothed joyful pilgrims jumping around in the sea, music from a big speaker thingy, signs warning not to risk one’s life by venturing in the fully dangerous ocean currents and a kwality Walls Ice Cream cart).
We got a room at the Gokarna International Hotel, probably the premier budget address in town but still resembles something out of Midnight Express. There was a big concrete sort of box three storys high and adjacent to the staircase with brown water stains kind of dripping down it; great feature. We looked at a few rooms and they were all cleanish and ok (ours had two balconies and not many fleas, it was 475 r a deal!).
We had a slap up (vegetarian) meal at a rooftop café surrounded by emaciated looking travellers in dark shades and vegetarian russian babes (could have been worse I suppose…) which set us back 130 rupees. We bought some insense and some rehydration salts cos I felt thirsty and went to bed. Rock n Roll!
I loved Hampi and its atmosphere but Gokarna wasn’t really for us and we never got to see the beautiful Om Beach since we got out of there on the next train home in the morning. Lightweights? Nevermind, Benaulim and a beer with my name on was calling! Guess I’ll never write a Shantaram…