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A well known pilgrim centre in the coastal Karnataka, Gokarna is famous for its temples and beautiful secluded beaches on the endless expanse of the Arabian sea.
The refreshing drive through the hilly western ghats on one side and Arabian sea on the other brings you to Gokarna where myths and legends flow with the waves. Four of the most beautiful beaches in India are located at the south of Gokarna, making it an ideal destination for heritage as well as visitors seeking peaceful beach vacation. Located at the confluence of the rivers Gangavali and Aghanashini; Gokarna was probably named for the Cow's ear-shaped ( Go = Cow and karna = ear) confluence of two rivers.
The famed Om Beach, the lesser-known Kudle Beach, the quiet Half Moon Beach and the pristine Paradise Beach are four scenic, popular strips of sand where trees and the rocky cliffs seem to be in perfect harmony. One can trek from one beach to another as they are separated by cliffs.
The swaying palm trees and blue waters of the sea create a perfect backdrop for a relaxed  beach vacation.  Walking around is recommended in the small Gokarna town to experience the rustic charm of the narrow streets and traditional houses.
Mythology and Legend:
Gokarna abounds with mythical tales. There are many temples in the town and Lord Shiva is the main deity in most of them.
Demon king Ravana wanted to acquire the Shiva’s Atma Linga to become immortal . He performed rigorous penance to please lord Shiva. Shiva was impressed by his devotion and granted him the ‘Atmalinga’ the shivalingam, but forbade him not to keep it down on earth but at its destined place in Lanka. However the other worried gods led by Sage Narada, fearing that Ravana may become invincible, conspired with Lord Vishnu to trick Ravana to keep the lingam down on earth in Gokarna.
Ravana used to perform his rituals religiously in the evening. Lord Vishnu and Ganesha decided to exploit his devotion. As Ravana was nearing Gokarna, Lord Vishnu blotted the sun with his Sudarshana Chakra to make it look like evening. A Brahmin boy (Ganesha) approached Ravana, who requested him to hold the Atmalinga until he performed his rituals.
Once Ravan started on his rituals, Ganesha put the lingam on the ground and it sank into the ground. When Ravana tried to extricate it, the covering of lingam fell at Surathkal, Dhareshwar, Gunavanteshwar, Murudeshwar and Shejjeshwar.
Later Mahabaleshwara temple was built over the sunken lingam.A small hole in the temple permits devotees to have a glimpse of the top of the Aatmalinga.
Gokarna is also an important learning center for Sanskrit language, especially by Brahmins. Bhandikeri math and Toggu math are located here.
The crescent-shaped Kudle Beach is adjacent to the Gokarna Beach. As the sun ebbs into oblivion, its golden hues cast a spell over the shoreline. Sunset at the Kudle Beach is magical.
The largest of the four beaches , the Om Beach gets its name because of its shoreline which traces the sacred Hindu symbol is the hub of tourist activities. Shacks and cafes line the beach. The turquoise blue of the water stands out against the green hills.
Half Moon and Paradise beaches are a bit remote and much smaller than Om and Kudle Beach. These clean beaches are good camping sites.
Mahabaleshwar temple
The name signifies ‘One with great power’ indicating the great mind of Lord Shiva The deity is 1500 years old. The 6ft tall stone lingam is placed on a coiled stone cobra. Only the tip of the lingam remains visible. The full view of lingam opens to public once in 60 years. Before worshipping at the Mahabaleshwara temple, one has to bathe in the sea and pay respect to a Shivalingam, made out of sand.
Maha Ganapati temple, dedicated to Lord Ganesha who saved the Shivalingam from Ravana. Uma-Maheshwari temple, dedicated to Goddess Parvati Bhadrakali temple, dedicated to Goddess Bhadrakali. Tamra-Gauri temple, dedicated to Goddess Parvati has an ornate entrance. The idol here is holding a balance signifying the weighing of greatness of Gokarna against Varanasi.
Kotitirtha Tank
The tank is said to contain water of a million sacred springs. People take dips in this tank and pray for the departed souls of close relatives. At the southern edge of this tank is the Varadeshwara lingam said to be installed by sage Agatsya.
Om Beach
The largest of the four beaches, the Om Beach gets its name because of its shoreline which traces the sacred Hindu symbol. Shacks and cafes line the beach. The turquoise blue of the water stands out against the lush green hills. The beach gets crowded on holidays when people from neighbouring towns and villages come over. Om Beach offers activities like banana boat rides, kayaking and wave rafting during the season when the sea is relatively calm.
Kudle Beach
The crescent-shaped Kudle Beach is adjacent to the Gokarna Beach. As the sun ebbs into oblivion, its golden hues cast a spell over the shoreline. Sunset at the Kudle Beach is magical. Kudle is a good choice for tourists who are looking to get away from the crowd.
Half Moon and Paradise beaches
Half Moon and Paradise beaches are much smaller than Om and Kudle Beach. Although one can trek to reach these remote beaches, most people prefer to be ferried by a boat from Om Beach.
Shivarati- This festival falls on the moonless night of Hindu calendar month of Phalguna which is February or March every year. For 4 days, people visit the  Mahabaleshwar temple in huge number. On the fourth day ,chariot is pulled through the town and people throw bananas on it for good luck.This festival is celebrated with much zeal amongst the residents and visitors.
Nearby places Train stations Airports
BAJPE 237 Km 03H 13m
Karwar 64 Km 01H 00m
Mangalore Central 234 Km 03H 14m
Nearby major cities
Name Distance Duration
58 Km 00H 54m
78 Km 01H 13m
58 Km 00H 54m
A short boat ride from Karwar, across the coastal Arabian sea lies the undiscovered gem of Karnataka. The pristine beauty of Devbagh island would transform even a pragmatic into a romantic soul. It is one of the few places in India that offers excellent diving opportunities to explore local marine life.
78 Km 01H 13m
One of the finest diving sites in India, Netragudo or Netrani (also know as Pigeon island) island lies on the Karnataka coast near the holy town of Murudeshwar. Home to endangered coral reefs, Netrani is blessed with diverse and abundant marine life and is a perfect place for exploring the bounties of the sea.
165 Km 02H 28m
233 Km 03H 12m
Nestled on the coastal edge Mangalore is beautifully fringed with coconut palms, streams, aroma of spicy coconut curries and also known for it rich heritage of temples.
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Best Seasons
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Season Min. Temp. Max. Temp.
Summer 22 °C 40 °C
Winter 10 °C 32 °C
Gokarna has a tropical climate with a cool breeze blowing during the day making it pleasant. Monsoons from June-Sep.is humid, winters are cool and comfortable.

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