It is one of the most important Hindu pilgrim centers of Southern India. Mythological legends suggest that Rudra (Shiva) arrived here shortly after the creation of the earth, squeezing through the ear of the earth and named it as “Gokarna or the ‘ear of the cow’. Gokarna is also an important beach resort and has several secluded beaches nearby.
Mahabaleshwar Temple: The magnificent shrine is considered next in sanctity to Kashi Vishwanath temple in Varanasi. It is perched beautifully on a hillock near the beach and is famous for the Atmalinga. A mythological legend suggests, that the demon king Ravana appeased Lord Shiva through penance and obtained a Shivalinga with special powers from the Lord. Ganapathi and other gods were worried about the growing power of Ravana and decided to take away the Shivalinga from him. Ravana was on his way to Lanka and Ganapathi tricked him into putting the linga down on the ground at Gokarna for performing puja. Ravana was unable to lift the linga again and hence the linga is known as “Mahabal’, around which the Mahabaleshwar temple is built. Ravana was infuriated and tried to pull the linga out of the earth, but it broke into pieces and scattered in the nearby areas. These pieces are believed to be venerated at the temples of Dhareshwar, Gunavanthe, and Murudeshwar.
Kudle Beach: The lovely beach lies on the southern outskirts of Gokarna.
Om Beach: It resembles the auspicious Hindu symbol of Om’ and is located further south of Kudle beach. The secluded beach is worth visiting for its beauty.
Murudeshwar (76 kms.)
The pilgrim center is famous for the hilltop temple of Lord Shiva. View of the sea from the hill is breath-taking. A charming and clean beach is located nearby.
Yana (50 kms.)
The twin peaks of Bhairaveshwara Shikara and Mohini Shikara, surrounded by thick forests are venerated by the locals. A small shrine of Lord Shiva has a Shivalinga which is continuously bathed by a perennial stream.
Karwar (50 kms.)
This excellent beach resort and port town at the mouth of the Kali river is the district headquarters of Uttara Kannada. The town is also an angler’s paradise and is dotted with many picnic spots. The main attractions are Sadashivgad Hill Fort, known for the dargah (tomb) of Peer Shah Shamsuddin Kharobat and the Naganath temple; Baithkola Beach; Karwar Harbour; Muslin Factory and Dev Bagh Beach Resort.