Gokarna is a village in Karnataka, in the district of Uttara Kannada. It’s situated on the coast of Karwar and lies between the rivers Gangavali and Agnashini.
History of Gokarna
The name Gokarna is derived from two words, Go and Karna, and literally translates to cow’s ear. It is said that Lord Shiva was born here out of an ear of a cow. Another plausible reason for the naming of the place could be its geographic location. The area where it is located is the confluence of rivers Gangavali and Agnashini and resembles the shape of a cow’s ear.
The early settlements of the region can be traced back to the Brahmins. They escaped from Gomantak to avoid the forcible conversions being executed by the British and the Portuguese. They came and settled in and around Gokarna in the 15th century and were helped by King Mayurvarma in their resettlement. King Mayurvarma was a Kadamba king of that era.
Gokarna used to be a part of the kingdoms of Vijaynagar and Sodhe, before the Konkan region was forcefully taken over by the Portuguese. Gokarna also has a few mythological tales associated with it.
According to one, Ravana, after receiving the Atmalinga from Lord Shiva, stopped here for his evening prayers while going back to Lanka. He had been instructed by Lord Shiva not to keep the Atmalinga on the ground, since it would be fixed wherever it touched ground.
Atmalinga was a powerful weapon and Lord Ganesha did not want Ravana to get such a powerful weapon, fearing destruction. He then came in disguise, offered to hold the Atmalinga and then keep it on the ground. Ravana, in extreme anger, tried to pull out the Atmalinga from the ground, breaking it in the process. These pieces then resulted in the establishment of various temples in the village.
Things to do in Gokarna
Apart from being a religious town, Gokarna is also known for its beaches. There are many beaches located close by, which have small shacks serving as accommodation along with many small shops and modern eateries. Om Beach, Gokarna Beach, Half Moon Beach, Kudle Beach and Paradise or Full Moon Beaches are some of the well known beaches of the place.
The presence of beaches here gives a hippy feel to the town while the presence of many temples make it a pious place, thus creating a contrast that very few places have in the world.
Gokarna can be visited from October to March. With a moderate semi-tropical climate, the temperatures range from 18⁰ - 40⁰ Celsius in summer and 14⁰ - 32⁰ Celsius in winter. The monsoon months are best avoided as the region receives heavy rainfall from June to August, making the beaches inaccessible and swimming dangerous. Shivratri, celebrated in February/March, is a big event here and draws a lot of tourists.
Travelling to Gokarna
Gokarna is well connected by bus to Goa and other cities in Karnataka like Bengaluru (13 hours), Hospet (10 hours) and Mysore (14 hours). Buses are also available from Udupi and Mangalore which take around 6 and 7 hours respectively. Buses terminate at and depart from the KSRTC bus stand, 300 m from Car Street, which is within walking distance from the location of most hotels.
The region is also connected by trains to Mangalore, in the south and Goa and Mumbai in the north. Trains to Mangalore leave from Gokarna Road railway station at 4:00pm and 1:45am while trains to Goa and Mumbai depart at 7:00pm and 10:45am. Gokarna Road station is at a distance of 9 km from the city centre. Buses, taxis and autorickshaws are available from the station to reach the city centre.
Accommodation options in Gokarna
There are ample accommodation options in Gokarna. Tourists can opt for hotels ranging from budget to luxury and beach resorts.