Travel Guide to Mahabaleshwar Temple in Gokarna, Karnataka
About GokarnaGokarna also known as Srikshetra, is a small temple town located on the west coast of North Karnataka. It is at a distance of about 60 Km from Karwar and it is one of the most important pilgrim places for Hindus. It is a small and peaceful town with full of divine vibes and tranquil atmosphere.
The nearest Railway Station is Gokarna Road on the Konkan Railway. There are good number of auto-rickshaws available at the station. They charge around Rs.250/- or Rs.300/- (subject to change) from railway station to the town. Many buses also ply from Mangalore and Mumbai which halt at Kumta village. From here one has to take a cab / auto-rickshaw to Gokarna which costs around Rs.200/- or Rs.250/- (subject to change). However, it is very difficult to get one from this place. Gokarna is not easily accessible.
About Shree Mahabaleshwar temple
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On getting inside the sanctorum, devotees who perform pooja, are allowed to directly pour water / milk / panchamrutam / bilwa patram / nava dhanya into the hole. They then touch / feel the topmost part of the 'atmalinga'.
During our recent visit to the Gokarna temple on December 8th, 2018, the temple priest told us that once in every 60 years, the 'kavacham' / shield from the 'atmalingam' is removed and it remains uncovered for one month. The devotees thus get the wonderful opportunity of directly seeing / touching the 'atmalingam' during this one month period when it remains uncovered. After that once again it is covered with the shield. The 'kavacham' was removed in 1983. So, again the shield will be removed 60 years from 1983 or as and when the Samsthan decides.
The date and time of this event is announced in advance by the Samsthan. In addition to the spiritual elevation in the temple with divine vibes, tourists visit the nearby places and unspoiled beaches of Gokarna which are gradually gaining popularity.
One can relax in the beaches of Gokarna which is naturally beautiful with hills / mountains / coconut and palm trees on the banks. A cool place which is far far away from the maddening crowd and one of the best places for having a peace (not piece) of mind.
Temple TimingsThe temple is not very heavily crowded but is moderately crowded with pilgrims mostly from different states of the country. The temple opens for devotees at 6 a.m and closes 12.30 p.m. It again opens at 5 in the evening and closes at 8 p.m (timings are subject to change)
ShoppingThere is row of shops on either side of the street facing the temple. One can buy varieties of spices that spread aroma and dry fruits like khajur, cashew nuts etc at this place. These are sold at reasonable / fixed price and are worth buying.
FoodThere are few small road side hotels. However, devotees can have free 'annaprasadam' offered by the temple. Free annaprasadam starts from 11.30 a.m till 2.00 p.m. Purely vegetarian food is offered at these places with one curry, rasam, sambar, sweet prasadam and butter milk. Food served here is okay from taste and hygienic point of view.
Devotees can donate money at the counter, however it is not compulsory.