Best Places To Visit In Gokarna
The tiny ‘temple town’ of Gokarna is located in the Uttara Kannada district of Karnataka and is famous as one of the seven important Hindu pilgrimage centres. Besides the religious significance, this tranquil, rustic, laid-back town has become increasingly popular as a holiday destination because of its several beautiful beaches with relatively clean sand, blue seas and green groves.
Gokarna is a town full of temples, but the most important of all is the temple of Lord Shiva, who is also known as Mahabaleshwara. The temple is believed to house the original image of Lord Shiva’s linga (Atmalinga). With just two main streets, lined with shops and tiled-roof brick houses, tourists can enjoy a very relaxed and peaceful time at this destination. Best times to visit Gokarna is during the months of October to March, when the weather is at its best and extremely pleasant.
Here are some great places to visit in Gokarna :
Gokarna Beach :
Gokarna beach forms the coast of the town and is mainly used by Indian pilgrims as it is located near to the Mahabaleshwara temple. Several kilometers long, devotees prefer to take a dip at this beach before visiting the Mahabaleshwara temple to offer prayers and hence it is more crowded here than other beaches up north. Watching the sun rise here is a visual treat for tourists.
Mahabaleshwara Temple :
This Dravidian architectural styled temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is also referred to as Dakshin Kashi, drawing a parallel to the Kashi temple in Varanasi. The Mahabaleshwara temple is most famous for its 1500 year old stone carving of Lord Shiva and Shiva Linga, also known as Atma Linga. Devotees believe that just a glimpse of the deity in this temple will result in blessings being bestowed on them. Tourists can also admire the art and sculptures of this temple.
Timings: 6 am to 12.30 pm and 5 pm to 8 pm.
Kudle Beach :
Kudle beach is one of the most picturesque tourist spots in Gokarna. Shaped in the form of the alphabet ‘C’, this serene and peaceful beach is bordered with swaying coconut trees and has a charm and beauty of its own, making it a favourite with the tourists. An ideal place to just laze, stroll or indulge in some swimming, surfing or beach trekking, the sunrise and sunset views here make for some wonderful memories.
Om Beach :
A relatively lesser frequented beach by tourists, as still not that well known, is Om beach which is so named because of its Om shape, when viewed from above. The gentle waves nudging the shore create a very scenic and tranquil atmosphere and the view of the setting sun from this rocky beach is yet again another reason to visit. Om beach is also known for its water sports activities like surfing, jet-skiing, speed boats etc.
Koti Tirtha :
This man-made tank is one of the most revered places in Gokarna and is thronged by devotees right through the year. This tank is surrounded by temples all around and is mainly used for ritual bathing and idol immersion. This tank is located quite close to the Mahabaleshwara temple and invites pilgrims who visit the temples to offer their prayers and conduct the rituals there.
Timings: 12 am to 12 pm.
Maha Ganapathi Temple :
This temple is situated quite close to the Mahabaleshwara Temple and is dedicated to Lord Ganesha. Very popular amongst Hindu devotees who visit Gokarna, it is believed that it was here that Lord Ganesha tricked the demon Ravana into taking away the Atma Lingam from him and thus the temple was built at this site. This Dravidian architectural styled colourful temple with its serene atmosphere and surroundings is normally visited first by devotees before going to the Mahabaleshwar temple.
Timings: 5 am to 12 pm and 4 pm to 9 pm everyday.
Mirjan Fort :
This majestic fort is a ‘must-visit attraction’ for history lovers. Situated against a beautiful green landscape, on the banks of the Aghanashini river, this fort was once the main centre for spice trade till it was captured by the British and then used for their armoury. Maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India, this fort housed some interesting artifacts like the clay tablets with Islamic inscriptions, Chinese porcelain and gold coins that were excavated by ASI in 2001.
Timings: 9 am to 5 pm.
How to reach Gokarna :
By Air – The nearest airport is Dabolim Airport in Goa which has regular flights to and fro various cities of India.
By Train – Gokarna has a very good rail network with many cities across the country.
By Bus – Several buses to Gokarna are available from nearby cities of Goa, Bangalore, Mangalore, as well as from Delhi.
Picture Credits : TripAdvisor, Holidify