A natural advantage of India’s long coastline is that you are always likely to find a beach that hasn’t been taken over by revelers, where you can just sit down on the clean sandy stretch, without groups of tourists shouting or hawkers peddling their wares around you. One such beach, which has fortunately remained relatively untouched by extreme selling that marks all beautiful tourist destinations, is Odisha’s Gopalpur.
Gopalpur, or Gopalpur-on-Sea as it is often known as, is located in the Ganjam district in southern Odisha, very close to the Andhra Pradesh border. It is about 15 km from the closest large town, Brahmapur, and 170 km from the state capital Bhubaneswar. The serene, spotless beach here is in marked contrast to the crowded seaside destination of Puri, also about 170 km away.
The town was a major port under the British East India Company, lined with godowns and warehouses used to run a good part of the trade with Burma. With decline in that commercial enterprise, the port fell into ruin and the town has almost reverted to being the sleepy little fishing village it once was. In its heyday, it was a popular destination for wealthy families from Kolkata, with late night parties a common sight.
Things to Do
Photo by Jagadhatri
Enjoy the beach – There is very little else to do in Gopalpur apart from spending time on the beach. Thank heavens for that! The key factors that made the town such a darling with patrons in the past, or continue to do so with repeat visitors these days, are its blue waters, high waves and cool sea breeze. While most other beaches on the Bay of Bengal these days tend to have receded waters, with subdued waves, you will quickly notice the more substantial waves here that rise very close to the shore. Finding a hotel on or near the beach is not difficult, and you can walk down at any time of the day, or night, and laze around on the sand. There aren’t too many tourists around here generally (except maybe in December-January), but quite a few local families descend onto the main section of the beach in the evenings.
Take in the local sights – The lighthouse is at a walking distance from the general beach area, and opens for a few hours in the evening. You can enjoy the sunset from the top, or catch a view of the entire town. The ruins of the old port are also close by and, if you are so inclined, you can make a quick trip there.
Photo by BOMBMAN
Try out some water sports – A training-cum-ride facility has been opened recently in the backwaters of Gopalpur sea, where you can try out activities like rowing, scuba diving, paddle boating, wind surfing and riding the water scooter.
Attend the Beach Festival – The Gopalpur Beach Festival is a major cultural extravaganza that has been organized every year since 1996 over 2/3 days in December. Music performances by famous singers, folk and classical dance recitals, and a fair attract many visitors to the town during this period.
Travel to nearby places
- Chilika Lake, one of the largest coastal lagoons in the world, is about 70 km from Gopalpur. The lake is a major wintering location for migratory birds. Take a rickety boat to the Kalijai Island located in the middle of the lake and thank your gods for a safe return trip.
- Taptapani (literally ‘hot water’) is also 70 km from the town, in a different direction. It is famous for its hot water springs and waterfall.
- Aryapalli Beach is an even more secluded beach, but equally beautiful, about 20 km from Gopalpur.
- Godahada Dam is in the same direction as Taptapani, about 45 km from Gopalpur, known for its beautiful location next to the Eastern Ghats, and also for its crocodile reservoir.
Photo by Ckpcb
The nearest airport for getting to Gopalpur is Bhubaneswar, connected to the town by a very good road. The nearest major railway station is Brahmapur (mentioned by its old name Berhampur on many sites and railway time-tables), which lies on the Kolkata-Chennai rail route.
The climate is pleasant through the year, but is slightly better during the winter months (October to February). The Gopalpur coastline falls in the rain-shadow of the region, so the area is relatively less humid than most other Bay of Bengal seaside resorts. There are a number of good hotels and lodges to suit all budgets, but checking online beforehand for availability is highly recommended. The food options can be limited in this very small town.
Featured Photo Courtesy Odishatourism.net