Gokarna – Karnataka’s spiritual exotica
Gokarna is on the Western coast of India is a small though well visited town for religious and other reasons. It is in the state of Karnataka. It has a Shiva temple of larger significance, Shiva here is known as Mahabaleshwar and for its real ‘Shiva Linga’. During Shivratri festival in late February or March beginning, more than 20,000 pilgrims visit Gokarna. The Hindu followers throng in great numbers each day. The tourists from abroad visit this town for its cool beaches and fun in seclusion.
The place has become popular for many foreign tourists because of its unspoiled beaches and its rustic natural appeal. This altruism of nature is never remains such when more and more people begin to visit. Now the once unspoiled beaches are being dotted with shacks and the town is being upgraded with several guest houses, four star hotels and other modern day’s facilities. It’s a popular weekend getaway for nearby towns for spiritual reasons and its breathtaking beaches and greenery.
Gokarna largely means ‘cow’s ear’, as a myth goes Lord Shiva emerged from cow’s ear a manifestation of mother earth. Gokarna is said to be located on the cow ear shaped confluence of rivers Gangavali and Aghanashini. Some people consider its name after a character from ancient Tamil history.
How to reach
Air- Hubli airport is 124 km from Gokarna temple is the nearest airport.
Railway – Gokarna road station is connected to all major cities of the country.
Road – Well connected with bus system to most places, Bangalore is 485 km and Mumbai 705 km.
Best time to visit – All the year round, as temperature remains between minimum 8c to 26c maximum.
Accommodations – All kind such as tents, shacks, guest houses, beach resorts, star and un-starred hotels are available.
Places to see
OM beach – Gokarna beach is famous for its shape as OM, a Hindu icon.
- Kudle Beach – Kundle Beach is located towards the south of the OM beach. The Kudle beach is one of the most frequented beaches in Gokarna and has various places for tourist accommodation. The beach has numerous cafes and restaurants.
- Half Moon Beach – A short walk from om Beach and one has to circle around a hillock to reach here. This beach seems like a half moon, thus its named such.
- Paradise Beach – This splendid rocky beach is not ultimate for swimming, as waves constantly crash violently on its rocky shores. It’s also an isolated and lovely place aptly named Paradise Paradise Beach
- Mahabaleshwar temple – This temple is a pivot around which spins everything in Gokarna. Known for its Athmalinga, a Shivalinga said to be set up by Ravana though accidently. Idol of Mahabaleshwar is called Nagabharana because of head of Naga (Celestial serpent) where his head rests. The hall’s floor is engraved with elaborate sculpting of a giant tortoise.
- Maha Ganpati temple – Dedicated to Lord Ganesha this temple is located outside the Mahabaleshwar Temple sanctity. Devotees first pay the respect to Maha Ganpati temple then enter Mahabaleshwar temple. The temple has a tall black stone idol of Lord Ganesha with a hole on its head, as myth says Ravana hit Ganesha in a fit of anger.
- Temples – Gokarna is having temples such as Uma Maheshwara Temple, Bhadrakali Temple, Tamra Gauri Temple, Venkataramana Temple etc., that should not be missed for them who come on a spiritual excursion.
- Koti-theertha – Koti theertha is a man-made water body that is used for dipping of idols and bathing rituals.
- Treatment naturally – There are resorts that provide Ayurvedic treatments, Yoga and meditations.
For those looking for some adventure and exciting sports while in Gokarna, one can do lots of sea related activities such as Banana boat rides, Snorkeling and scuba diving, swimming on shores and parasailing on OM beach.