Gokarna: The Tempestuous Heaven

Posted on June 26, 2011 in Travel

By Kriti Pal:

Known as the ‘town of contrasts’, Gokarna village is situated approximately 450 km from Bangalore, is a temple town and also a holiday destination by the sea. Though not very renowned, this place has found innumerable references in historical Hindu literature.

The little village derives its name from the main deity worshipped here: Lord Mahabaleshwara, an incarnation of Lord Shiva. Gokarna means ‘Cow’s Ear’ in Sanskrit. It is believed that Lord Shiva emerged from the ear of the cow here.

The place has a wide range of palm and coconut trees, and provides one with the rare sight of a clear blue sky. It is a hippy paradise with drums, guitars and hammocks. Gokarna also provides you with an option of renting a shack (or huts) at the beaches. Days turn into months and one doesn’t even realize the same while lying lazily on the roof of the shack. Vast lands of clear sand can be seen stretching far, far from the sight. Except for some having tons of accumulated waste, the beaches here offer a sense of calm and serenity. The Gokarna beach and the Paradise beach top the list of the must-visit-destinations. Another spectacular beach is the Om Beach. It gains its popularity by being shaped like the auspicious Om symbol; the only one that is known to be natural.

The Arabian Sea on one side and the Western Ghats on the other, the scene is almost magical.

A hut on the Paradise Beach at Gokarna

Gokarna is a hub of temples too; one of the most famous temples being the Gokarna temple. It is an ancient temple and the folklore about the temple goes like this: Shiva-lingam present here is attributed to Ravana, and he brought it from Kailas for his mother but was thwarted by the Devas, who sent Ganesha and tricked him into keeping the lingam down at Gokarna. The lingam is called Mahabaleshwara. It was twisted out of shape as Ravana had to wrench it out of the ground. During the tussle, Ganesha was hit on the head resulting in a depression there; also, his legs were pushed inside his body. Evidently, the idol of Lord Ganesha here has a hole on top of his head and also a disproportionate body.

There are a couple of temples telling this incident of Lord Ganesha receiving a thump on his head. One of the common sights in the place includes farmers from the neighbouring villages, sadhus and even the tourists making their way to the beaches after taking a dip in the holy waters.

The best time to visit the place is around Shivratri, the one festival that is awaited eagerly and celebrated with immense enthusiasm. Teams build up chariots and march out a procession chanting hymns of praises for Lord Shiva. The sight is the one that should not be missed.

So, the next time you pack your bags and head out for that yearly trip, make sure to visit this little town of contrasts.

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