GOKARNA TOURISM | TOURIST PLACES TO VISIT & BEACHES IN GOKARNA
Pilgrimage | Beach
#8 of 33 Places to visit in Karnataka | #70 of 100 Places to visit in India
Ideal Trip Duration: Full Day
Nearest City to Gokarna: Hubli (165 Kms)
Best Time to Visit Gokarna: October to March
Peak Season: December to January
At a distance of 21 km from Ankola, 58 km from Karwar, 75 km from Murudeshwar, 163 km from Panjim, 165 km from Hubli, and 514 km from Bangalore, Gokarna is a small town in the Uttara Kannada district of Karnataka. It is one of the top places to visit in Karnataka, and among the must-visit places as part of Goa packages.
Gokarna is considered one of the famous places of pilgrimage in Karnataka, and among the well-known places to visit near Hubli. Sri Mahabaleshwar Temple which houses the Atmalinga is the must include place in Gokarna tour packages. The Atmalinga was given to Ravana by Lord Shiva himself. Ravana was stopped here for his evening prayers while going back to Lanka. He had been instructed by Lord Shiva not to keep the Atmalinga on the ground, since it would be fixed wherever it touched the ground. Atmalinga was a powerful weapon and devatas did not want Ravana to get such a powerful weapon, fearing destruction. Lord Ganesh took the avatar of a boy and offered Ravana to hold the Atmalinga during his prayer. Ganesha then kept the linga on the ground before Ravana comes back from prayer. Ravana, in extreme anger, tried to pull out the Atmalinga from the ground, breaking it in the process. These pieces then resulted in the establishment of various temples in Karnataka.
The name of the town Gokarna is derived from two words, Go and Karna, which means cow's ear. According to mythology, Lord Shiva appeared from a cow's ear, after he was sent to Patal Lok by Lord Brahma. Some believe that the town is located at the confluence of two rivers Aganashini and Gangavali, and the place where the rivers converge forms a shape that is similar to the ear of a cow, hence the name Gokarna. Gokarna was under the rule of the Kadambas, Vijayanagara kings, and was later conquered by the Portuguese.
Besides Mahabaleshwara temple, Maha Ganapathi Temple, Bhadrakali Temple, Varadaraja temple and Venkataramana temple are other Gokarna tourist places. Apart from being a religious town, Gokarna is also known for its beaches. The Om Beach, Kudle Beach, Gokarna Beach, Half Moon Beach, and Paradise Beach are the five main beaches here. Gokarna Beach is the town's main beach and pilgrims gather here when they visit the Mahabaleshwar Temple. Kudle Beach is the largest of the five beaches and it is crowded during the peak season from November to February. Om beach is one of the most renowned beaches in Karnataka, and is extremely popular among surfers. The beach gets its name due to the natural formation of the holy Om symbol.
About 149 km from Gokarna, Goa International Airport is the nearest airport that has direct flights from Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chennai, Pune, Delhi, Ahmedabad, and Mumbai. The nearest railway station to Gokarna is Gokarna road, which is about 10 km away. It has trains from Mumbai, Mangalore, Hubli, Bangalore, Ajmer, Karwar, and Pune. Another station, Ankola, railway station at a distance of 20 km from Gokarna, is considered as the nearest well-connected railway station to Gokarna. Gokarna is well-connected by road with the nearby cities including Goa, Bangalore, Mangalore, Hubli, Sirsi and Ankola. You can also hire a taxi from nearby cities for a more comfortable and convenient journey.
Gokarna is considered to be the Mukti Stala, where Hindus perform funeral rites. Devotees visit the Gokarna temple in large numbers during Mahashivratri and Kartika Purnima festivals. The entire town is decorated during the four days of the Mahashivratri festival and the temple deity is taken out in a procession.
The best time to visit Gokarna is from October to March. It usually takes one full day to visit Gokarna.
Kartika mahotsava (November)
Foreigners and non-Hindus are not allowed inside Gokarna temples.