Though the planning has started only a month before the trip but the idea was in my mind since the time I realized that the picture on Facebook with huge statue of Shiva with nothing but only a big sea behind, is not fake. As soon I realized that there is such a place, I have put that as one of the places I have to visit. Planning for the trip is not just a day or two task, there were many iterations and many places included and then removed. Gokarna, Murudeshwar and Subramanya were the places which I and my wife were sure of visiting. We have included others just because either they are on the way or just because we thought there is something special in those places.
Our trip has started with the journey from Hyderabad to Dharwad by bus, which took us around 9 hours. We were in Dharwad only for 4 hours and then started to Gokarna by car, which was arranged by one of my cousins who stays at Dharwad. We thought it is going to be very tiring drive as we already were on journey the previous night. But it was as tiring as we had expected and in fact the roads were so scenic, we enjoyed the ride. We reached Gokarna around 5.30 PM and went straight to the temple. As soon as I saw the temple, I wondered if that is what we were there to see. The temple is so small and the surroundings were just like any other temple. But once you get into the temple you will find it traditional to the core and no non-sense, very calm and simple. But the real intensity of the temple can be experienced once you become aware of the fact that the only Athmalingam on earth is in that temple. There were hardly 10-15 people in the temple so we had a very peaceful darshan. They allowed us to touch the Athmalingam and I have gone through a strange feeling, which I don’t think I can put in words, when I touched the Athmalingam.
We came out of the temple around 6 PM and walked to the beach, which is just 0.5 kms from the temple. While walking I noticed lot of foreigners roaming on the streets very casually. We usually are of the opinion that foreigners, especially from US and UK, care too much about neatness to the core and can’t eat in roadside hotels but all these beliefs are proved wrong in Gokarna. I have seen many foreigners going to a roadside hotel and having rice and dal without making any fuss. We went to the beach, stayed there for 30 mins and started to Murudeshwar. This is the place I am very much excited to visit. We reach Murudeshwar by 8.30 and stayed night at Shree Vinayaka Residency.
Shree Vinayaka Residency is a decent one for a night stay and the restaurant attached to it is also fine. We went to the temple at 7.00 AM, the main temple is a small one but the structures built around it were huge. I came to know that most of the constructions were sponsored by a company called RNS Motors. Out of the all the structures the one that stands out is the huge Shiva statue, it is very well built with all the minute details taken care of. There is also a small man-made cave inside where we can see the story of Bhookailas depicted through statues for each of the scenes. After visiting the temple we went to the beach which is just beside the temple. It is not at all well maintained, so one can skip going to that beach. Compared to the beach in Murudeshwar I found Gokarna beach better in terms of neatness.