Saturday, April 13, 2024

Tourism      Pilgrim Centers      Hindu Pilgrimages      Karnataka     Uttara Kannada     


Place : Uttara Kannada District, Karnataka
Significance : Famous for its Mahabaleswara Temple
Best time to Visit : October - March
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Gokarna, the famous sacred place is located in the Uttara Kannada district of the Karnataka state. Also known as 'Dakshin Kashi' it is one of the seven Muktistals in India. Gokarna is also the only place in the country where Atmalinga found. It is a small and remote temple town with some of the most beautiful secluded and pristine beaches nestled nearby. Also one of the tourist destination in the country, it attracts both pilgrims and the pleasure seeking holiday makers with equal enthusiasm.

Since, Gokarna falls on the way to Goa, it is considered as a mini Goa. The place is also a well-known center for Sanskrit learning.

Gokarna which literally means cow’s ear is known as the 'Kashi of the South' with its temples dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is believed that Lord Shiva materialized from the ear of a cow (Prithvi, the Mother Earth). It is also located at the ear-shaped confluence of two rivers Gangavali and Aghanashini. The Tambraparni Teertha or river here is considered sacred to perform rites for the dead.

This town is situated along the Karwar coast between Gangavali and Agnashini is famous for the Mahabaleswara temple dedicated to Lord Shiva with the Atmalinga (a revered Shiva Lingam). It is an temple destroyed by the Portuguese in 1714 and later rebuilt. Surrounded by high walls, one could enter the western entrance from the direction of the ocean. This huge walls with battlmented parapets and octagonal domed tower reflect the influence of Maratha practice. The temple consists of a spacious hall with triple porches. The floor of this spacious hall in front has an intricate engraving of a giant tortoise. The temple's doorway is decorated with embossed brass sheets frames.

In Gokarna, Shivaratri festival is celebrated with great enthusiasm. During this four day festival, the temple town Gokarna is visited by up to 20,000 pilgrims.There is an enormous chariot, which is taken out in a procession on this day. Two great temple chariots lead a procession through the town's narrow streets, while priests and pilgrims chant hymns in praise of Shiva. More than a hundred people are needed to pull the chariots with thick ropes while priests conduct religious ceremonies inside.

Since it is a small town most places of interest are within walking distance. It boasts some of the beautiful deserted beaches like Kudle Beach, Om Beach, Halfmoon Beach and Paradise Beach which rival even Goan Beaches.

These beaches are located one after another a short distance away. Each has its own appeal. Om Beach is the most happening beach and it got its name from the Om shaped rock formation. It is situated around 6 km from Gokarna town along a muddy hill. The others are around a 20 minute hike away from each other through the hills and over rocks, or a short boat ride away. The last beach, Paradise Beach, is not much more than a tiny protected cove that's a patch of hippie paradise.