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Gokarna in Hinduism – Importance of Gokarna in Hindu Religion

Gokarna, a place of Hindu pilgrimage, is mentioned in the Srimad Bhagavad Purana and the Padma Purana. The place is of great importance in Hinduism due to the sanctity of the place and the presence of Mahabaleshwar Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva.

Gokarna, means ear’s of cow, and the place is named after a pious saint with ears of a cow who performed intense penance here to get his wicked brother attain moksha. (You can read the story here)

There is a popular belief that Lord Shiva emerged here from the ear of a cow here.

The place is located at the ear-shaped confluence of two small rivers, Gangavali and Aghanashini.
Another popular legend is that of demon king Ravana who was deceived by Lord Ganesha into giving him the Atmalinga. It is now worshipped in the Mahabaleshwar Temple.

The area was under the rule of Kadambas, Sodhe and Vijayanagara empires.

The area gave refuge to Hindus who fled from Gomantak (present day Goa) to escape forcible conversions by the Portuguese.

Gokarna is a well known center of Sanskrit studies and these have been passed on to successive generations. Bhandikeri Mutt and Toggu Mutt are two important centers of Sanskrit learning here.
Bhandikeri Mutt is located a few meters away from Kotiteertha and was the abode of H.H. Adi Parijnanashram Swami, a great guru.

Mahabaleshwar Temple, which adds to the sanctity of Gokarna, is built of granite in Dravidian style. The temple consists of a ten-meter square shrine that has a thirty-meter high walls with a domed roof that is embellished with the figures of nagas, ashtadikplas and the ten avatars of Vishnu.

Mahabaleshwara means the Lord of great Strength – an allusion to the Lingam’s pwer which subdued the haughty Ravana.

The Shivling worshipped in the temple is round but slightly tapered. Only the top of the Shivling is visible and it is protected with a brass enclosure with a coiled stone serpent. Panchamirta Abhisheka is an important offering here. Once in several years the complete Shivling is taken out and elaborate pujas and homas are performed.

Gokarna is one of the few rare temples in South India where one can touch the Shivling.

The outer hall, twenty meters by sixteen meters with a flat roof, contains images of Goddess Parvati and Ganesha with Nandi in the center facing the sanctum sanctorum.

The floor of the hall has an intricate engraving of a giant tortoise.

There is a shrine dedicated to Ganesha in the main temple complex.

Twenty small shrines and holy ponds, known as Shastreshwara and Adi Gokarna, surround the Mahabaleshwar Temple. The small shrines are dedicated Kalabhairava, Garuda and other deities.
There is a large pool in Gokarna known as Koti Teertha (million holy places). The Shivlings in the Koti Teertha are known as Saptakotishwara. There are other pools in the town dedicated to Goddess Gayatri, Savitri and Saraswati.

A streamlet called Tamrapani flows southwest into the sea and a nearby temple is dedicated to Goddess Parvati. She is known as Tamragauri.

There are shrine dedicated to Sankara Narayana, Narasimha and to other gods and goddesses in Hindu pantheon in the town.

An annual fair is held every year from January to March.

Many Hindus perform the last rites of a person at Gokarna.