Gokarna is a small town in Karnataka which has always been famous for its temples, and has now also become famous for its beaches.
The Mahabaleswar Temple here, dedicated to Lord Shiva, is considered very holy. It is called the Dakshina Kasi, or Kasi of the south, because it is as important as the Shiva temple in Kasi. According to legend, the Linga, the symbol of Shiva which is worshipped here, was brought directly from Mount Kailash, the abode of Lord Shiva.
There are several other important temples in the region too.
The name ‘Gokarna’ is associated with Lord Shiva. It means the ear of a cow. The story is that Shiva emerged from the ear of a cow here. Another reason why the place is named Gokarna is because it lies at the confluence of two rivers, the Gangavali and the Aghanashini, which is shaped like a cow’s ear.
The scenic beauty has been attracting tourists from India and abroad. December to February is the best time to enjoy Gokarna’s beaches.
There are five main beaches in and around Gokarna. They are the Gokarna Beach, the Om Beach (so named because it is shaped like the spiritual symbol Om), Kudle Beach, Paradise Beach and Half-Moon Beach. Because of its growing popularity as a tourist destination, more and more hotels and restaurants are coming up at Gokarna. There are eateries and small shops where you can buy souvenirs and knick-knacks too.
You can soak up the sun on Gokarna’s beaches, or watch the stars come out in the evenings. If you love clicking photos, you can take some lovely shots here. If you are the adventurous type, you can go beach trekking and climb the rocky hills that separate the beaches.