Gokarna is a place in the Uttara Kannada district of Karnataka that is a pilgrimage center and also a tourist spot because of its beautiful beaches. It is located at the confluence of two rivers Aganashini and Gangavali, and the place where the rivers converge forms a shape that's similar to the ear of a cow, hence the name, Gokarna (Gokarna in the local language literally means cow's ear).
The Mahabaleshwara Shiva Temple in Gokarna makes this place a holy center for Hindus (especially Shaivites) from all over the country. The temple finds mention in the compositions of Tamil poets Appar and Sambandar who praise the Lord of Tulu Nadu in their hymns. This place was under the rule of the Kadambas, the Vijayanagara kings and was later conquered by the Portuguese.
A Little Dose of History
The Shiva Linga at the Mahabaleshwar Temple in Gokarna is considered to have been brought over here by Ravana. He had obtained the Atmalinga, a Linga that could bestow special powers on him and make him invincible. Not wanting the evil king to be even more powerful than he already was, the Devas, with the help of Lord Ganesha, tricked him into leaving the Linga here.
Beside the Mahabaleshwara temple, there are other prominent temples here including the Maha Ganapathi temple, the Bhadrakali Temple, the Varadaraja temple and the Venkataramana temple.
Of Beaches and Sands in Gokarna - Tourist places in Gokarna
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Gokarna is fast becoming a favored tourist destination and it has several wonderful beaches that could rival the beaches of Goa. The Kudle Beach, Gokarna Beach, Half Moon Beach, Paradise Beach and Om Beach are the five main seaside attractions here.
Gokarna Beach is the town's main beach and pilgrims gather here when they visit the Mahabaleshwar Temple. The Kudle Beach is the largest of the five beaches and it is crowded during the peak season November to February. It must be noted that this is a dangerous place for a swim.
Om Beach has a beautiful coastline that forms the shape of the Hindu symbol Om. The curve of the symbol forms a pool which can be a safe bathing area for even non-swimmers.
Half Moon Beach is a twenty minute walk from Om Beach and you have to take the path around a hillock to reach here. This beach resembles the shape of a half moon, hence the name.
Paradise Beach is a rocky beach, but it is also a secluded and beautiful place which gives it the name. This rocky beach is not ideal for swimming as waves constantly crash violently on the rocky shores.
Gokarna is one of the rare places that are holy pilgrimage centers which also attract leisure tourists with equal ease. The beautiful temples and the attractive beaches make Gokarna a prominent tourist destination.