- Gokarna- Where the Sea Meets Shiva
Gokarna has been alternately described as a temple town and a beach
town. Situated along the Western coast, the tourism aspects of the town
basically revolve around its various temples that are also few among the
most important Shaiva centres of Karnataka. In fact its very name
Gokarna, which means the cows ear, alludes to Lord Shiva, who was born
out of a cows ear. Pilgrims, Sanskrit scholars as well as historians
flock to this sea-side town every year. Legend has it that Ravana, the
ten headed demon-king in Ramayana, brought the Atmalinga here that
somehow got stuck here. In his efforts to free it, the outer covering
scattered to the nearby places of Dhareshwar, Gunavanteshwara,
Murdeshwar and Shejjeshwar resulting in temples at each of these places.
The beaches with the cliffs and hillocks separating them make Gokarna a popular destination among ordinary tourists as well. The town lies sandwiched between two rivers and has some of the most charming beaches dotting its coastline. Religion and natural beauty become one here, especially in one of the beaches which is formed in the shape of the symbol Om. Gokarna has three more beaches, which are equally picturesque- Kudle, Half-moon and Paradise. Trekking through the various hills and cliffs of Gokarna is also bound to be an unforgettable experience.
The Mahabaleshwara temple is one of the oldest of temples, where the Atmalinga of the Ravana legend is housed. The Linga is said to be at least 1500 years old. Visitors are allowed to see the complete linga only once in 40 years. The rest of the time, only the top portion of it would be visible. There is an idol of Lord Ganesha as well here, which is equally ancient. Inside the sanctuary is a stone Linga encased in brass, placed on a coiled serpent made of stone. The most interesting part of the temple, however, is the floor, where you can find engraved a huge tortoise.
The town of Gokarna is also quite picturesque, with its narrow streets, old temples and traditional houses with tiled roofs. Also, dont be surprised if you come across a gang of hippies jiving to loud music in the beaches. As we said, Gokarna is a town of contrasts.
Gokarna comes into its own during Shivaratri when nearly 20,000 pilgrims flock to the place. The highlight of the four day festival is the procession involving the pulling of the temple chariots along the narrow streets of the town.
Half moon beach
- Best Time To Visit
The best time to visit Gokarna is between January and March.
- How to Reach
Nearest airports are Mangalore Airport and Dabolim airport (Goa).
Gokarna railway station.
2 km from NH 17. There are buses running to Karwar, Goa and Mangalore.