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|• Total||10.9 km2 (4.2 sq mi)|
|Elevation||586 m (1,923 ft)|
|• Density||2,400/km2 (6,100/sq mi)|
|Time zone||IST (UTC+5:30)|
Gokarna is a town in the Uttara Kannada district of Karnataka state, India with a permanent population exceeding 25,000 (2001). It is a Hindu pilgrimage centre as well as a popular tourist destination. Gokarna is a temple town and is referred to in a number of Hindu historical literature pieces. The main deity is Lord Mahabhaleshwara, a form of the Hindu god Shiva. Around the town lie a number of beaches which serve as a major attraction for travellers.
Gokarna 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.
Legends in the Sahyadri Khand of the Puranas indicate that the State of Kerala was reclaimed from the sea by the Warrior-Sage Parashurama who came from the North (of the Vindhya ranges) after his wanderings, in which he killed the Kshatriyas 21 times and threw his axe, the weapon by which he annihilated the Kshatriyas, into the sea, to prevent the erosion of the land stretching from Gokarna to the southernmost tip of India.
Gokarna is also mentioned in the Shrimad Bhagavata Purana as being the home of the two brothers Gokarna and Dhundhakari and the Bhagawat also gives details of the differences in their temperament, nature and exploits.
The sthalapuranam of gokarna then available in Tamil as it was a part of Tamil Nadu during sangam times, has the following account. Inorder that Brahma who out arrogance arising out of his power to create the universe, sat penancing to redeem himself from curse of shivan, lord shiva appeared in front of him from the ears of a cow. So the place came to be known as gokarnam or ear of the cow. This city was a part of Tamil Nadu as konkanam, now corrupted as konkan. The sangam period writings refer to a class of chieftains going by names kocar and kilans, in charge of the region between gokarnam and present day Mumbai. Even though the Tamil saints have revered this temple, their composed hymns on the same are not available to us as of today.
The earliest history of the city is not known. Tamil saints like the Nayanmars Appar and Sambanthar from the 6th century CE praised the deity of Tulu Nadu in their hymn canon Tevaram. It is an established fact that Mayurvarma of the Kadamba kings brought Brahmins from Ahicchatra. A sect of Brahmins fled from the Gomantak to escape forcible conversions by the Portuguese and British and settled in and around Gokarna in the 15th century. It was part of the Sodhe and Vijayanagar kingdoms. Later, when the Konkan region - including Goa - was occupied by the Portuguese, it became part of their rule. A few temples were destroyed by the Portuguese in 1714 and then rebuilt later in the 18th century and also under the supervision of Guru H. H. Shrimat Anandashram Swamiji in 1928.
Gokarna is a town of contrasts, as it is a temple town and also a holiday destination by the sea. Gokarna is full of coconut and palm trees, blue seas and clean sands. It is an attractive town with two main streets having shops and traditional tile-roofed brick houses. Gokarna is a hippy paradise with drums, guitars and hammocks. The beaches near Gokarna have shacks (huts) for rent. Kannada, Konkani and Marathi are the main spoken languages in Gokarna.
Gokarna is also an important centre of Sanskrit learning and houses Bhandikeri Math and Toggu Math. It is a place where Sanskrit knowledge is passed down from generations in Brahmin families. Many Hindus also perform 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 the linga's great strength.
It is situated at the western end of the main street. In the sanctuary is 'Athmalinga' in between the Saligrama Peethaa. The idol of Lord Mahabaleshwara is called Nagabharana. 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 temples.
- 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 quite huge. While 'Sanna Ratha' is out in the open during winter and summer, the 'Dodda Ratha' is brought out and made ready only during Maha Shivaratri. On the last day of Maha Shivaratri festival the Lord Mahabaleshwara idol is carried in 'Dodda Ratha' in a procession through the town's big Car Street, 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. During the nine-day Maha Shivaratri festival, the small town of Gokarna is visited by up to 20,000 pilgrims.
- Kartika mahotsava
Gokarna is also famous for its beautiful beaches and landscapes. The main beaches in Gokarna are the Gokarna beach (also known as Indian Beach), Main Beach, Kuddle Beach, Om Beach, Half moon Beach, Paradise Beach (also known as Full moon)and Nirvana beach (3 km long with fine white sand). The Gokarna beach forms the coast of the town and is followed by Main beach in northern direction while the other four beaches lie to the south of Gokarna. Gokarna Beach is mainly used by Indian pilgrims. Main Beach is a long open beach, also known for surfing. Kuddle and Om are around 6 km from Gokarna town along a muddy hill; they are accessible by rickshaw or foot. Half moon and Paradise are beyond Om beach and are accessible only by foot or boat, Nirvana beach is accessible by boat and road from Kumta town. Om beach is named so because it is shaped like the auspicious ॐ [Om] symbol. Om beach is the only naturally Om shaped beach. Three other beaches - Paradise, Half Moon and Nirvana beach.
Gokarna is about 583 km from Bangalore, 238 km north of Mangalore and about 59 km from Karwar. It is between the Gangavali and Agnashini rivers and situated along the Karwar coast by the Arabian Sea. It is 200 km north from the college towns of Suratkal and Manipal.
Gokarna can be reached by buses and maxicabs from Kumta (30 km), Ankola (26 km) and Karwar (59 km) on National Highway 17( NH-17 ). Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) also runs long-journey buses from many cities like Panaji, Bangalore and Mangalore. Private buses (Vijayanand Roadlines - VRL, Sugama, Sea Bird, etc.) operate night journeys from the capital city of Bangalore to Gokarna daily. It can be reached by train Konkan Railway on the Mumbai to Mangalore route. The railway station ( called Gokarna Road ) is 6 km away from the town. The nearest airports are Dabolim at Goa and Mangalore International Airport at Bajpe.
- Neighboring villages
- Murudeshwara 85 km from Gokarna
- Idagunji 65 km from Gokanra
- Yana 57 km away from Gokarna and 32 km from Kumta.
- Bhookailas (1940 film)
- Bhookailas (1958 film)
- Maravanthe beach
- Nirvana Beach 3 Km from Om beach by boat, 10 km by crossing Aghnashni river from Tadadi port, 40 Km by taxi route via Kumta
Source: Karnataka State Gazetteer 1983
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Gokarna.|
- Beautiful Gokarna Images
- Gokarna Travel Guide
- The Curse of Gokarna: The history, present and uncertain future of an Indian village
- Gokarna Spiritual guide
- Gokarn Math
- Places around Udupi /Manipal/ Gokarna
- Great Guru of Gokarna
- Karwar eNews
- Official Website of Gokarna Temple