Known for its clean beaches and squeaky-clean waters, Gokarna is a favorite among visitors who seek a tranquil vacation. It is the more laid-back and less commercialized version of Goa. Other than beaches, it has a history worth documenting.
Gokarna is a temple town with incredibly religious significance on the western coast of India in the Kumta taluk of Uttara Kannada district of the state of Karnataka, India. The principal temple in Gokarna and deity is Shiva, also known as Mahabaleshwara.
Gokarna – the name
Gokarna means cow’s ear. It is believed that Bhagwan Shiva emerged from the ear of a cow (Prithvi, the Maa Earth) here. It is at the ear-shaped confluence of two rivers, Aghanashini and Gangavali.
The Bhagavata Purana describes that 200 years into this current kali yuga, a saintly brahmana named Atmaveda was unable to have any kids in his current incarnation because of karma incurred in the past lives to have any kids in his current inc. Atmaveda was devastated by not having children and strolled into a forest to pray for help. There he met a Sannyasi, whom he begged to grant him and his wife the ability to have a kid. The Sannyasi warned Atmaveda against opposing his karma but finally relented and gave Atmaveda a fruit that his wife was to consume to have a child. Atmaveda’s wife Dhundhuli didn’t want to go through the pain of pregnancy and childbirth, so she gave the fruit from the Sannyasi to her cow. A human child was born of the cow, human in all its parts except for its ears, which were cow ears. Because of this, the child was named Gokarna.
Gokarna is mentioned in the Shrimad Bhagavata Purana as being the home of the brothers Dhundhakari and Gokarna.
In order that Brahma, who out of egotism arising out of his power to create the universe, sat penancing to redeem himself from the curse of Shiva, the latter emerged in front of him from the ears of a cow. So the place came to be known as Gokarna or ear of the cow. Hindu Puranas says that when Parashurama, the sixth avatar of Vishnu, created Kerala, it was from Gokarna to Kanyakumari.
As per history, Ravana was granted Atmalinga by Bhagwan Shiva and instructed that it would stay permanently where it was first placed on the land. But Ganesha came in the avatar of a boy and planted it in Gokarna while Ravana was performing rituals. Once placed, Ravana could not remove it from the ground.