Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Gokarna, Karnataka

Gokarna, better known as 'Kashi' of the South, is a much revered place by the Hindus. Comprising the only 'Atmalinga' in the country, Gokarna is famous being one of the three holiest places (Tri-sthali) - the others being Varanasi and Rameshwaram. Gokarna is located in the Uttara Kannada district of Karnataka, washed by the waters of Arabian Sea (in the west), surrounded by the holy rivers Gangavali (in the north), Aganashini (in the south), and Siddeswara (in the east). The word "Gokarna" literally means "cow's ear". There are different folklores and mythological legends associated with the existence of this town. 

Here the god is considered as the atma (soul) or prana (life) of Shiva himself. It is strongly believed that undaunted faith and sincere devotion to Lord Shiva at Gokarna liberates the devotee from the vicious circle of life and death. Mahabaleswar Temple is the major attraction, to visit which, people from far and near throng this place. The 4-day Mahashivratri festival is the extravaganza when the town is whole-heartedly festooned to mark the celebrations. Besides, there are other temples like Maha Ganapathi Temple, Uma Maheshwari Temple, Bhadrakali Temple, Varadaraj Temple, Tamra-Gauri Temple and Venkataramana Temple, which are revered by devotees with equal devotion.

Though celebrated as a pilgrimage, travel and tourism has improved in Gokarna more due to the presence of tranquil beaches nearby. The natural beauty and touch of serenity at this place, is such that people who visit this place, can never forget its charm throughout their lives. The word of mouth has worked the most to attract travelers to Gokarna. The golden beaches — Kudle Beach, OM Beach, Gokarna Beach, Half-moon Beach and Paradise Beach — adorning this place are just lovely and the word that describes them best is 'serene'. In 1676, a famous English traveler, Fryer, visited Gokarna and wrote, “This place is of such repute for its sanctity and meritoriousness that, for a pilgrimage hither, all sorts from the remotest parts of India come in shoals.” So, Gokarna is actually a place to experience.

Places to See:

Mahabalesvara Temple

With a simple architecture of boast of, this ancient temple is much sought-after by the natives and pilgrims in Gokarna. On entering, you can behold the grand gopuram and aesthetic halls and pillars. The sanctorum comprises the linga which appears twisted and pulled up; it is visible just three inches above the ground and stands in a hollow under a pani-vatta (frame) crafted of saligrama. The pilgrims come here to pay their homage, accompanied by chanting of mantras. The aarti here is witnessed by hordes of pilgrims. Mahabaleshwar Temple is just 1km away from the bus stand. 

Tamra Gauri Temple

Sited in the north of Mahabalesvara Temple, Tamra Gauri Temple is dedicated to the Goddess Parvati. The temple has an ornate entrance. Here the goddess is always decked up in beautifully pleated silk sari. According to the legend, the goddess got emerged from Brahma’s hand like a river-woman and alighted on Goshringa Hills. Then after years of meditation, she got married to Lord Shiva. Here, the two-armed idol of Gauri holds a balance, about which it is said that she is weighing the greatness of Gokarna against Varanasi.

Mahaganapati Temple

Mahaganapati Temple is another famous temple backed by various legends, in Gokarna. Located in the east of Mahabalesvara Temple, the temple is open from 6 am -1.30 pm and 4.30 pm - 8.15 pm. In the sanctum, the black stone idol stands about 1.3m in height. As per the legend, Lord Shiva was pleased with Ganesha's help and thus, blessed him with the honor of first worship. Thus, accordingly, pilgrims first come at this temple to pray to Lord Ganesha and then head towards Mahabalesvara. 


Kotitirtha is a sacred tank which is supposed to contain waters of ‘one crore (koti) sacred springs (tirtha)’. On the southern edge of the tank is the Vara­deshvara linga, which was installed by Sage Agasthya. People consider it auspicious to bathe in the tank and perform rituals for departed souls. This tank is open for 24 hours; it is located in the south-east of Mahabalesvara Temple.

Beautiful Beaches

Half-Moon Beach
Om Beach, Gokarna Beach, Paradise Beach, Kudle Beach, and Half-Moon Beach, are the five beaches which set the perfect atmosphere for a vacation. Obviously, you can't expect something hip-hop from these beaches as Gokarna is primarily a temple town............

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