Shopping at Gokarna!
Alright, so you have chosen a fantastic holiday at Gokarna to get your spirits up….
What if basking at the beach doesn’t fully uplift your mood?
What if the tranquility of the temples doesn’t quite cure your blues? What if the bucolic sights and beers somehow don’t get your heart to bubble?
Then, try this sure-fire shot. Load your wallet, slip on a pair of comfy shoes, saunter through the colorful little streets and do some shopping!
In case you haven’t heard, shopping is now a recognised therapy! There is surely some magic in buying something new, whether it is for ourselves or for someone we care about. Moreover, imagine the scene when you return from the holiday, friends and family back home might look at you with expectant expressions as you unpack the bags - surely the envy-inspiring pictures and gushing adventure tales are not going to be enough. Well, even if there’s no one waiting back home, who can resist the kick of haggling and bagging that sweet souvenir for a quarter of the quoted price? And no, those discounts and deals you get in upscale city malls won’t cut close in comparison.
What do you buy in Gokarna?
Car Street is the commercial lifeline of Gokarna. The street is flanked by shops and stalls selling colorful wares. Shopping here is one rewarding way to engage with the locals. Most speak Kannada or Konkini but yes you can manage well with English too. Decades of hippie influx have seasoned the shopkeepers to communicate and sell to foreigners with considerable ease. (Note: It would pay you to brush up your bargaining skills before you enter Car Street).
1. Brass lamps and other Pooja paraphernalia
Gokarna being the temple town it is, offers you an array of things that a devotee would like to take home as souvenirs or use for the poojas here - Brass lamps, Trishuls, paintings of deities, incense sticks and stands, Rudraksha malas bracelets, conches and more.
In Car Street, you can pick hippie clothes, psychedelic T-shirts with religious symbols and beach wear. You can also go for the Karnataka special panche salya (wrap-around) or cotton sarees if you want something that spells tradition.
3. Musical Instruments
There are a few shops in Car Street that sell musical instruments if you are inclined to music - mostly percussion instruments along with a few sitars and guitars.
4. Kallu sarkkare
This is a specialty of the region, a sweet candy that is made locally. So do buy and stock your kitchen with some of this. You can crunch them just like that for a distinctive and refreshing hit of sweetness or give an interesting twist to your desserts by substituting this for sugar.
The idyllic settings of the beach and the comfortable lounges at Gokarna’s resorts are perfect for sitting with a book and indulging in undistracted reading. But if you have forgotten to bring some or didn’t have the space for them in your travel bags, do not worry, apart from the privately owned libraries of a few welcoming residents, there is Sri Radhakrishna book store in Car street- an old bookshop with a good selection of spiritual literature, Indian fiction, and a number of secondhand books in European languages (open only between Oct-Mar, daily 10 a.m.-6 p.m.).
6. Organic and Herbals store
Handmade soaps, health foods and spices all grown naturally are available for the health conscious and environment conscious at reasonable prices.
What do you buy in Kumta?
In the relatively more laid-back town of Kumta, the market street called Paent is much shorter than Car Street. The local market sells vegetables, trinkets, flowers and other essentials. But there are a couple of things Kumta is specially known for. So while you are here do make sure you fill your shopping bags with them.
At Kumta, you get handicrafts that seal the art and culture of this region in their small frames. These are excellent gifts and souvenirs that will attract attention and envy. Do check out the Mahalasa handicrafts shop, near Shantika Parameshwari temple for the best buys.
2. Cashew nuts
Rich crunchy cashew nuts are a must-buy from this region. Sahyadri Cashew is the brand that is recommended by visitors.
The malabar and Konkan coast 3 has enticed the travelers from the west with the scent of their spices for centuries. This part of the coast still produces spices that lift you off the ground. Souring agents like Kokum, Dalimbi, pickled Triphal and Ambada are typical of the Konkan and North Kanara coast and are must buys from here.
So go ahead, shop till you drop!