Gokarna, on the Western Ghats of Karnataka, is one of the seven Hindu pilgrimages where people come to worship Lord Shiva. Gokarna is a famous pilgrimage centre as well as a tourist attraction for those who want to explore the cultural heritage and beauty of India. The name Gokarna means cow’s ear (go=cow karna=ear) in Sanskrit and is based on Hindu mythology. It is said, that Lord Shiva appeared from Cow’s Ear in this town after he was sent to Patal Lok by Lord Brahma. People come here from all parts of the country to celebrate ‘Shivratri’ and Ganesh Chaturthi.
Apart from Lord Shiva’s famous Temple, Gokarna is also known for the natural beauty of its five beaches (Gokarna beach, Kudle beach, Om beach, Half-moon beach and Paradise beach) and hills alongside. All the beaches of Gokarna are divided in north faced beaches and south faced beaches. This is not a place to hurry. One should just drift up the coast, enjoy the scenic beauty of this coastal area and the cultural heritage of India.
Gokarna beach is the main beach of this town as it is the one edge of the town. This beach is a favorite among pilgrims than foreign tourists. Apart from this, there is Kudle Beach is on the southern side of Gokarna. If you are planning to stay somewhere on beach side then you can stay near to this beach. The Om beach which is in the shape of Om, a Hindu symbol. It gets a crowded here with people wanting to see this unique beach. Other beaches are Half-moon beach and Paradise beach lesser known than the others. These beaches are pretty secluded as these are little far from the populated area, you will find any good eating joint here. Other Beaches like Heaven Beach and Nirvana beach are across Aghanashini River these are 3 km long beaches. Gokarna is full of coconut and palm trees, blue seas and clean sands. Bonfires, singing, guitars, and drums are familiar parts of Gokarna’s nightlife. The party scene in holy
Gokarna is kept in check by strict policing, although some beach parties do happen during the peak season. Gokarna is not much known and as mentioned earlier it is more famous among pilgrims. If you are a tourist you won’t find luxurious resorts or restaurants here.
Gokarna can be reached by Road as Kochi-Panvel Highway is 9 km from town, there are trains and buses from Mangalore (Karnataka) and Madgaon (Goa). Dabolim (Goa) is the nearest airport. You can hire a taxi direct to Gokarna or you can get the train or bus from Madgaon (also known Margaon) which is 15 km from Dabolim.
Suitable time to visit Gokarna is between October to March as the weather is warm and temperature will not be more than 32-degree celsius. But during southwest monsoon season (June to August) this place becomes too dry and you are advised not to visit.
Few things to take care at this place are:
1. This is one of the pilgrim places of Hindus so alcohol is officially forbidden.
2. Police are quite strict here for beachside parties and get-to-gather to keep a check on narcotics.