It is said that among all prominent Hindu Gods, Shiva occupies a unique place by virtue of his simplicity. Devoid of pompous ornaments or girdles, he displays a streak of straightforwardness and simplicity in everything he does. This distinct trait of his character is perhaps what attracts tens of thousands of his devotees to numerous Shiva temples around the nation.

Gokarna is one such site where every year, thousands of pilgrims and tourists flock to visit the famous Mahabaleshwar Temple.  Gokarna is an ancient town situated along the Karwar coast in Northern Karnataka. The Shiva temple here is considered to be one of the seven Muktisthala temples in Karnataka.

gokarna mahabaleshwar temple karnataka

This photo, “Dravidian style Gopura of Mahabaleshwar
temple at Gokaran” @Wikimedia from Nvvchar
made available under a Share Alike,Attribution license

There is a towering six-foot tall Shivalinga present in Mahabaleshwar Temple, known as Atmalinga and it said to be nearly 1500 years old. According to Hindu mythology, the Shivalinga was rooted in Gokarna by Lord Ganesha. Impressed by Ravana’s stringent penance, Lord Shiva was about to present him with the Atmalinga. However, the other Gods, fearing that it might endow him with unbeatable powers, requested Lord Ganesha to take it away. Heeding their request, Lord Ganesha placed the linga in Gokarna.

Shivaratri, the birthday of Lord Shiva is celebrated as an important festival in Mahabaleshwar Temple. Gokarna is pretty much a round-the-year destination, though you might not want to miss the colorful festivities that occur during Mahashivaratri.  Accommodation options are pretty limited in Gokarna. Options include mid-range or budget hotels, guest houses and beach huts with considerable variation in quality.

The town houses many other splendid temples as well, such as the Maha Ganapathi temple, Uma Maheshwari temple, Bhadrakali temple and Varadraj temple, to name a few. An often ignored fact is that Gokarna is not only a religious icon on the map but also a great spot for a scenic vacation by the sea side. Yes, four beautiful beaches are located to the south of Gokarna – Kudle Beach, OM Beach, Paradise Beach and Half-Moon beach.

How to Reach:

The Gokarna temple is situated 59 km from Karwar – Emerald Bay and 141 kms from Goa – Villagio. The temple is easily accessible from Goa and Karwar and makes for a lovely drive from both the places, with scenic views enroute.

By Road: On NH-17, 453 km from Bangalore, 240 km north of Mangalore and about 59 km from Karwar.
Nearest Town: Karwar
Nearest Railway station: Gokarna (6kms)
Nearest Airport: Goa

Nearby attraction: Murudeshwar Temple is at a distance of 78 km from this place