Sleepy India town wakes up to tourists, business

Fri Mar 12, 2010 3:41am EST
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By Aftab Ahmed and Nivedita Bhattacharjee

GOKARNA, India (Reuters Life!) - German tourist Oliver Krupke has travelled to India every year for the past three years, but it's not the Taj Mahal, the beaches of Goa or the bustle of Mumbai that keep bringing him back.

For the 33-year-old, the perfect holiday lies in the sleepy beach town of Gokarna, some 125 kms (78 miles) from Goa, India's beach capital.

"This might not be the most beautiful beach in the world, but the people and the peace here are like no other," said Krupke, adding that on his way to Gokarna, he had to stay for a day in Goa and hated it.

Gokarna, on the shores of the Arabian Sea, has four famous beaches -- the Om, Half-Moon, Paradise and Kudle.

And it would appear that these low-profile beaches on the India's western coast are stealing a number of tourists from its more famous neighbor Goa, as more and more foreigners look for the anti-thesis of their often busy city lives.

With its blend of spirituality and tolerance, Gokarna has been steadily building its popularity with tourists.

While the town of holds religious significance for Hindus, the beaches draw people from all over the world.

As the sun goes down, the shacks -- the numerous makeshift lodges that dot the shores -- don't start pumping loud party music. Instead, people gather wood to light bonfires in the evening, which they huddle around and jam with mandolins and guitars on the dimly lit beaches.   Continued...