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  • Gokarna, India 1

    Gokarna, IndiaFor other uses, see Gokarna, Nepal.



    Mahabaleshwara Temple

    Location in Karnataka, India

    Coordinates: 14.55N 74.31667E [1]Coordinates: 14.55N 74.31667E [1]

    Country India

    State Karnataka

    District Uttara Kannada


    Total 10.9km2 (4.2sqmi)

    Elevation 586m (1,923ft)

    Population (2001)

    Total 25,851

    Density 2,400/km2 (6,100/sqmi)


    Official Kannada

    Time zone IST (UTC+5:30)

    Vehicle registration KA-47

    Gokarna (Kannada: ) is a small temple town located on the western coast of India in the Uttara Kannada

    district of the Indian state of Karnataka. Tain temple and deity is Lord Shiva, who is also known as


  • Gokarna, India 2

    Mahabhaleshwara. This temple houses what is believed to be original image of Lord Shiva's lingam. There are manyother temples all over this small town. Ankola and Kumta on Highway 17 are the main towns near Gokarna.Gokarna is historically known as one of the seven important Hindu pilgrimage centers and is located on what wasonce unspoiled beach near the estuary of river Aghanashini with its palm trees, other colorful tropical fruit andflower trees. Of late due to the numbers of tourists the character of this town has changed. This town is no longer justa center of pilgrimage though massive numbers of devotees still visit the town for the purposes of offering prayersand worship to Lord Shiva.Due to its laid back unspoiled and rustic nature, many younger western tourists started visiting Gokarna about adecade ago. The beaches around Gokarna were hardly used by the locals until these mainly Western tourists startedcoming to undeveloped beaches around Gokarna. Many enterprising locals started stores restaurants and now fullyfledged resorts cater even to the well heeled tourists.

    EtymologyGokarna means Cow's Ear. It is believed that Lord Shiva emerged from the ear of a cow (Prithvi, the Mother Earth)here. It is also located at the ear-shaped confluence of two rivers Gangavali and Aghanashini.

    The beautiful and serene coast of Gokarna


    Legends in the Sahyadri Khand of the Puranas indicate that the State ofKerala was reclaimed from the sea by the Warrior-Sage Parashuramawho came from the North (of the Vindhya ranges) after hiswanderings, in which he killed the Kshatriyas 21 times and threw hisaxe, the weapon by which he annihilated the Kshatriyas, into the sea, toprevent the erosion of the land stretching from Gokarna to thesouthernmost tip of India.

    View of Kodalu beach from Gokarna

    Gokarna is also mentioned in the Shrimad Bhagavata Purana as beingthe home of the two brothers Gokarna and Dhundhakari and theBhagawat also gives details of the differences in their temperament,nature and exploits.

    The sthalapuranam of gokarna then available in Tamil as it was a partof Tamil Kingdoms during sangam times, has the following account.Inorder that Brahma who out arrogance arising out of his power tocreate the universe, sat penancing to redeem himself from curse ofshivan, lord shiva appeared in front of him from the ears of a cow. Sothe place came to be known as gokarnam or ear of the cow. Thesangam period writings refer to a class of chieftains going by nameskocar and kilans, in charge of the region between gokarnam and present day Mumbai. Even though the Tamil saintshave revered this temple, their composed hymns on the same are not available to us as of today.[citations needed].


  • Gokarna, India 3


    Ancient Indian (Bharata)cities and Places(Title and

    location names are inEnglish.)

    The earliest history of the city is not known. Tamil saints like the Nayanmars Appar andSambanthar from the 6th century CE praised the deity of Tulu Nadu in their hymn canonTevaram. It is an established fact that Mayurvarma of the Kadamba kings broughtBrahmins from Ahicchatra. A sect of Brahmins fled from the Gomantak to escapeforcible conversions by the Portuguese and British and settled in and around Gokarna inthe 15th century. It was part of the Sodhe and Vijayanagar kingdoms. Later, when theKonkan region - including Goa - was occupied by the Portuguese, it became part of theirrule. A few temples were destroyed by the Portuguese in 1714 and then rebuilt later inthe 18th century and also under the supervision of Guru H. H. Shrimat AnandashramSwamiji in 1928.

    CultureGokarna is a town of contrasts, as it is a temple town and also a holiday destination. Gokarna is full of coconut,banana and other trees, blue seas and relatively clean sands. It is a laid back town with two main streets lined withshops and traditional tile-roofed brick houses. The beaches near Gokarna have shacks (huts) for rent. Kannada is themain language spoken here, however Konkani as well as Indian version of English are spoken here.

    Religious attractions

    Gokarna Beach.

    Gokarna is also an important centre of Sanskrit learningand houses Bhandikeri Math and Toggu Math. It is aplace where Sanskrit knowledge is passed down fromgenerations in Brahmin families. Many Hindus alsoperform the last rites of a person here. Mahabaleshwar Temple (Maha: great, bal: strength)

    is a famous Shiva Temple and it houses the'Atmalinga'. Named so after Ravana referred to thelinga's great strength.

    It is situated at the western end of the main street. Inthe sanctuary is 'Athmalinga' in between the SaligramaPeethaa. The idol of Lord Mahabaleshwara is calledNagabharana. It is so named because of the Lord rests

    under the head of Naga (serpent). The floor of the hall in front has an intricate engraving of a giant tortoise. Maha Ganapathi Temple built in honour of the boy Ganapathi, who deceived the demon Ravana. The deity here is

    two-armed, standing and at least 1500 years old. Uma Maheshwara Temple Bhadrakali Temple Tamra Gauri Temple Venkataramana Temple Kotitheertha is a man-made tank that is used for immersion of idols and ritual bathing. It is surrounded by



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    Shivaratri festival is celebrated here with great enthusiasm. The temple has two chariots - named locally as'Dodda Ratha' (Dodda for Big in Kannada) and 'Sanna Ratha' (sanna for small in Kannada). Dodda Ratha is quitehuge. While 'Sanna Ratha' is out in the open during winter and summer, the 'Dodda Ratha' is brought out andmade ready only during Maha Shivaratri. On the last day of Maha Shivaratri festival the Lord Mahabaleshwaraidol is carried in 'Dodda Ratha' in a procession through the town's big Car Street, while priests and pilgrims chanthymns in praise of Shiva. More than a hundred people are needed to pull the chariots with thick ropes whilepriests conduct religious ceremonies inside. During the nine-day Maha Shivaratri festival, the small town ofGokarna is visited by up to 20,000 pilgrims.

    Community festivals Mahashivaratri Kartika mahotsava

    BeachesThe drive up the winding path that leads to Gokarna is scenic, with the rocky mountains and Western Ghats on oneside and the Arabian Sea on the other.

    Panorama of Om Beach at Gokarna in the Uttara Kannada district of Karnataka, India, showing its