Located in Uttara Kannada district of Karnataka, Gokarna is renowned for its temple dedicated to Lord Shiva and pristine beaches.
The name of the town 'Gokarna' is derived from two words, 'Go' and 'Karna', which means cow's ear. According to one mythological tale, Lord Shiva appeared from a cow's ear, after he was sent to PatalLok by Lord Brahma. Some believe, the town got its name from the confluence of Gangavali and Agnashini rivers, which resembles the shape of cow's ear.
Gokarna is considered to be the 'MuktiStala', where Hindus perform obsequies or funeral rites.
The prime attraction of the town; however, is the Mahabaleshwar temple which houses the Atmaling. The Atmalingwas given to Ravan by Lord Shiva himself.
Gokarna is also famous for its beaches. Framed by the majestic Western Ghats, the beaches are clean and less crowded. One of the beaches is named 'Om' named after the Hindu symbol.
Devotees visit Gokarna on large number during the Mahashivratri festival. The entire town is decorated during the four days of the festival and the temple deity is taken out in a procession.
WHAT TO SEE
MahaGanpati Temple: Located outside the Mahabaleshwar Temple complex, the temple is dedicated to Lord Ganesha. Devotees first visit the MahaGanpati temple before visiting the Mahabaleshwar temple. The temple houses a tall black stone idol of Lord Ganesha. The idol has a hole on its head, believed to have been caused when Ravan hit Ganesha in anger.
Om Beach: The beach is one of the prime attractions of the town. The shoreline is shaped in the form of Om, the Hindu symbol. Activities like jet-skiing, banana boat, surfing, etc. on the beach adds to the beach experience.
Half Moon Beach: Separated by a cliff from the Om beach, the Half Moon beach is smaller and less popular as compared to other beaches in Gokarna. It is ideal for swimming.
Paradise Beach: Also known as Full Moon beach, the Paradise beach is popular for natural splendour. The beach is ideal for swimming and sunbathing. It can reached either by trekking through forest or by boats.
Gokarna Beach: Western Ghats form majestic backdrop for the beach. Tourists can enjoy the water sports activities or sun bathe.
Bhadrakali Temple: Located 1 km from Gokarna, the temple is dedicated to Goddess Uma (incarnation of Goddess Parvati). It is a part of Mahabaleshwar temple complex. It is said that Lord Vishnu asked Goddess Uma to stay in Gokarna, when Ravana abandoned her.