Sri Mahabaleshwar Temple
#1 of 9 Places to Visit in Gokarna
Distance (From Gokarna Bus Station): 0.5 Kms
Trip Duration (Including Travel): 1 Hour
Transportation Options: Auto / Walk/Trek
Travel Tips: Devotees are allowed to touch the Atmalinga during the above timings. Though the temple remains open between 12:30 pm to 2 pm, the devotees are not allowed to touch the Atmalinga.
At a distance of 500 m from Gokarna Bus Station, Sri Mahabaleshwar Temple is one of the important Hindu pilgrimage centers in South India. This temple is regarded second only to the Kashi Vishwanatha Temple in Varanasi and is often called the Dakshina Kashi. This temple is very ancient and enhanced through several centuries. This is also one of the best places to visit in Gokarna.
The Mahabaleshwar temple enshrines the Aatmalinga or Pranalinga of Lord Shiva. This temple represents the Dravidian architectural style and has been constructed using white granite stones. The six feet tall Shivalinga is enclosed in a square Saligrama Peetham. The 1500 years old carved stone image of Lord Shiva in the standing position, is also worshipped here.
According to the legend, Ravana performed a severe penance to Lord Shiva to possess his powerful Atmalinga. Pleased by his penance, Shiva gives him the Atmalinga. He had been instructed by Lord Shiva not to keep the Atmalinga on the ground, since it would be fixed wherever it touched ground. Ravana was stopped here for his evening prayers while going back to Lanka. In order to avoid Ravana misusing the Atmalinga, Lord Ganesh was sent by devatas in the avatar of a boy offered to hold the Atmalinga and then keep it on the ground. Eventually, the Aatmalinga was installed at Gokarna. In spite of Ravana trying hard with mighty power or Maha Bala, the Shivalingam stayed here fixed in the place. 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 temple is said to be one of the seven sacred Muktikshetras and is visited by Hindus to perform the death rites for their ancestors. In this Temple all devotees can enter the sanctum sanctorum and touch Aatmalinga and can perform Abhisheka with their own hands. Before visiting this temple, tourists take a dip in the holy water of the Arabian Sea.
The shrines of Vinayaka, Chandikeswara, Aadi Gokarneswara and Dattatreya are also present here. There is a shrine of Taamragowri behind the sanctum. The Koti theertham is the most sacred theertham of the place.
Shivarathri is the main festival celebrated here and tourists from all over South India visit the temple on this auspicious occasion.
Timings: 6 am to 12:30 pm and 5 pm to 8 pm.