Gokarna, India

Gokarna, India
—  village  —
Mahabaleshwara Temple
Location of Gokarna
in Karnataka and India
Coordinates 14°33′00″N 74°19′00″E / 14.55°N 74.31667°E / 14.55; 74.31667Coordinates: 14°33′00″N 74°19′00″E / 14.55°N 74.31667°E / 14.55; 74.31667
Country India
State Karnataka
District(s) Uttara Kannada


25,851 (2001)

2,372 /km2 (6,143 /sq mi)

Time zone IST (UTC+05:30)


10.9 square kilometres (4.2 sq mi)

586 metres (1,923 ft)

Website www.srigokarna.org

Gokarna (Kannada: ಗೋಕರ್ಣ) is a village in the Uttara Kannada district of the Karnataka state, India. It is a Hindu pilgrimage centre as well as a tourist destination in India. 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 Hindu god Shiva. Around the town lie a number of beaches and these 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.

The beautiful and serene coast of Gokarna


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.

Another mythological reference to Gokarna describes how Ravana, the demon-king of Lanka, received the atmalinga from Shiva after he had performed a penance at Mount Kailash reciting self-written Shivatandavastotram. Shiva instructed Ravana that the sacred atmalinga should not be placed on the ground as it would establish itself where placed on earth. On his way back to Lanka, Ravana stops for his evening prayers at Gokarna. To prevent Ravana from getting a weapon as powerful as the atmalinga, Ganesha, in the disguise of a Brahmin boy, tells Ravana that he will hold the atmalinga until Ravana finishes his prayers. As soon as he receives the atmalinga, Ganesh promptly puts it down. Ravana tries to extricate it, resulting in throwing the coverings of the Linga to Surathkal, Dhareshwar, Gunavanteshwar, Murudeshwar and Shejjeshwar temples.[1]


Ancient Indian (Bharata) cities and Places(Title and location names are in English.)

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 is the main spoken language in Gokarna.Konkani and Marathi are also widely spoken languages in this town.

Religious attractions

Gokarna Beach.

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. Till the government handed over the temple to a public trust, all the public of Gokarna - supposed to be the office bearers of the temple - were managing the temple.[2]

It is situated at the western end of the main street. The main deity here is two-armed, standing and at least 1500 years old. The idol of Lord Ganesha also is ancient. In the sanctuary is a stone linga, encased in brass, placed on a coiled stone 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.
  • Uma Maheshwari Temple
  • Bhadrakali Temple
  • Varadaraj Temple
  • Tamra-Gauri Temple
  • Shanmuka 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. Each year a team builds up two great temple chariots which are used during the Shivaratri festival. The 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. During the four day Shivaratri festival, the small town of Gokarna is visited by up to 20,000 pilgrims.

Community festivals

  • Mahashivaratri
  • Kartoka mahotsava


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

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

Gokarna is also famous for its beautiful beaches and landscapes. The main beaches in Gokarna are the Gokarna beach, Kudle Beach, Om Beach, Half moon Beach and Paradise Beach (also known as Full moon). The Gokarna beach forms the coast of the town while the other four beaches lie to the south of Gokarna. Kudle 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. Om beach is named so because it is shaped like the auspicious ॐ [Om] symbol. Om beach is the only naturally Om shaped beach. Two other beaches - Paradise and Half Moon - are smaller and remote beaches.[3]


Boating services seen in Om beach, 5km from Gokarna.
A foreigner sun bathing in Om beach.
Gokarna beach near Mahabaleshwara temple.

Gokarna is about 453 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 (36 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
Notable natives
Educational Institutions
Financial Institutions
  • Syndicate Bank
  • Mahabaleswar Co-operative Bank
  • Karnataka Bank
  • State Bank of India
  • Karnataka Vikasa Grameena Bank
  • Godavari Finance
  • Shantika Souharda Bank

See also


Source: Karnataka State Gazetteer 1983

External links

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