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Gokarna Mahabaleshwar Temple
Gokarna is a temple town located at a distance of 60 km from Karwar in Uttara Kannada district. Gokarna is a Hindu pilgrimage centre as well as an important tourist destination. The temple here is dedicated to Lord Mahabaleshwar, an incarnation of Lord Shiva.
Gokarna is situated on the banks of Arabian Sea, and this coastline is surrounded by natural beauty with five beaches and hills along side, the traveler can choose his favorite for himself.
The meaning of Gokarna is "Cow's Ear". This sacred place is located between the Gangavali and Agnashini river mouth and it is named for the ear-shaped meeting of two rivers. It is also believed that Gokarna gets its name from the legend in which Lord Shiva emerged from the ear of a cow.
The Mahabaleshwar temple at Gokarna is respected as a Shaiva pilgrimage centre than a tourist destination and as important as Kashi and Rameshwara pilgrimage centers for Hindus. Gokarna is also respected as "siddi kshetra" and "Mukti Stala" of Karnataka.
According to the legend, the Atmalinga brought by Ravana got struck here and his efforts to extract it resulted in his throwing the coverings of the Atma Linga to Dhareshwar, Gunavanteshwara, Murdeshwar and Shejjeshwar temples. Ravana was unable to extract the Atma Linga from the ground again and finally he called the shiva linga as Mahabala (you are too strong). The Atma Linga of Lord Shiva is popularly known as Mahabaleshwar.
The Mahabaleshwar temple is the main attraction at Gokarna. The deity here is two-armed, standing, and at least 1500 years' old. The temple enshrines Mahabaleshwar, in a square Saligrama Peetha. A small hole in its middle permits devotees to have a glimpse of the top of the Atma Linga.
Other places to visit at Gokarna
Tamra Gowri shrine
Also located around Gokarna are Dhareshwar, Gunavanteshwara, Murdeshwar and Shejjeshwar temples. These four temples along with Gokarna Mahabaleshwar temple are respected as the Pancha Kshetras.
Shivaratri festival is celebrated at Gokarna with great enthusiasm. Every year a team constructs up two great temple chariots that are used during the Shivaratri festival. The two great temple chariots lead a procession through the town's narrow streets, while priests and pilgrims chant hymns in praise of Lord Shiva.
Distance from Gokarna
Kumta: 35 km
Ankola: 30 km
Karwar: 60 km
Bhatkal: 90 km
Mangalore: 250 km
Bangalore: 480 km
How to get there
Nearest Airport: Goa
Nearest Railhead: The railway station is 10 km away from the town. The nearest railhead is at Kumta.
Road: Gokarna is well-connected by road to Bangalore, Mangalore and Karwar. Regular buses ply from Kumata, Karwar, Goa and Mangalore.
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