Karwar and Gokarna are located at the west coast in Konkan region of Karnataka. On one side they have the majestic Western Ghats and on the other its Arabian sea.
|Veer Ganesha Temple on way to Gokarna from Karwar|
I have been to Gokarna sometime perhaps in 2002-2003 so another visit with family was on cards. Also I wanted to cover Karwar as well so immediately after the festival of Diwali, I decided to visit these places.
Both these places are on Indian Railway maps but from Bangalore, I found it more convenient to visit via road. Evening bus from Bangalore reached Karwar at around 7 AM. The road was not that good in between and the bumps made sure that we could not sleep properly. Though kids managed to sleep.
Both these places of Karwar and Gokarna have more number of resorts than good hotels. As I was not interested in a resort so was looking for a good hotel preferably at Karwar. Premier Residency is a good one and perhaps the best hotel in Karwar, if we don't consider resorts.
Getting alighted from bus, we walked about 500 meters to reach the hotel. After taking some rest and breakfast, we took a taxi to visit Gokarna. Direst buses are infrequent. One has to go to Ankola and then Ankola to Gokarna. Gokarna is a small temple town in the Uttara Kannada district. It is basically famous for temple of Mahabaleshwar, Lord Shiva. Gokarna means Cow's Ear. It is believed that Lord Shiva emerged from the ear of a cow (Prithvi, the Mother Earth) here. Gokarna is also mentioned in the Shrimad Bhagavata Purana as being the home of the two brothers Gokarna and Dhundhakari. Gokarna helped his brother to get moksha! As per the sthalapuranam in Tamil, the legend says that Lord Brahma in arrogance of his power to create the universe, sat penancing to redeem himself from curse of shiva. Lord shiva appeared in front of him from the ears of a cow. So the place came to be known as gokarnam or ear of the cow.
It is said that Mayurvarma of the Kadamba dynasty brought Brahmins from Ahicchatra (present day terai region of Bareilly in UP). A sect of Brahmins fled from the Gomantak (present day Goa) to escape forcible conversions by the Portuguese and settled in and around Gokarna in the 15th century. A few temples were destroyed by the Portuguese in 1714 and then rebuilt later in the 18th century and later under the supervision of Guru H. H. Shrimat Anandashram Swamiji in 1928. Gokarna is also an important centre of Sanskrit learning and houses Bhandikeri Math and Toggu Math. It is a place where Sanskrit knowledge is passed down from generations in Brahmin families. It is said that the daemon king Ravana, got the "AtmaLinga" after worshipping Lord Shiva and was carrying it to his kingdom. The condition was that the atmalinga will get attached to the place where it is kept on earth. In the evening, Ravana wanted to do Sandhyavadana, so he asked one boy to hold that. That boy was none else but Lord Ganesha himself in disguise, send by Gods to make sure that Ravana could not take the atmalinga to his kingdom. When Ravana returned after sandhyavadana, the boy had kept the atmalinga on ground and so it was established there. Ravana tried to take out the Linga, but remain unsuccessful.
Current temple has that atmalinga!
The temple is situated at the western end of the main street. The idol of Lord Mahabaleshwara is called Nagabharana. It is so named because the Lord rests under the head of Naga (serpent).
The floor of the hall in front has an intricate engraving of a giant tortoise.
Maha Ganapathi Temple built in honour of the boy Ganapathi, who deceived the demon Ravana by keeping Atmalinga on ground before Ravana returns from sandyavandana. Through narrow road, we reached near the temple and entered through the back gate (beach facing). The crowd was not much and soon we were able to be in sanctum.
Water Sports at Gokarna
All the males have to remove cloths above the waist,. After prayers we came from back gate and walked towards the Gokarna beach. Gokarna is also known for the beaches. There are many famous beaches around Gokarna. These include Gokarna beach, Kuddle Beach and Om Beach. It was quite hot and humid by this time but kids were more excited to be there. There were also some water sports activity going on there. We spend some time there. Though it was bright sunny day, the breeze from ocean made it bearable. It is a long open beach.
After spending some time there, we took the taxi to Om beach. The Gokarna beach is followed by other famous beaches lie to its south. Kudle and Om are around 6 km from Gokarna town along a hill road. Kudle is also a famous beach, but it was not on my itinerary.
On way to Om Beach
In about 15 minutes we reached entrance to Om beach. There are a few resorts in the surroundings. A flight of steps took us to the main beach. Om beach is named so because it is shaped like the auspicious [Om] symbol. The view was very beautiful. Many people were playing with waters, but there was also a warning, which most of us simply overlook in enthusiasm. Overlooking the warning is not good as it may result in accidents.
We spend there sometime enjoying the beauty of nature. Clean waters and surrounding hills made the atmosphere quite soothing.
There were many foreigners also there who had hired bikes. I saw many of those bikes with tyres flat at the stand at Om Beach. Our cab driver told us that auto drivers do this mischief so that autos should be hired and not the bikes.
One can imagine how much misery one has to undergo in such situation at a secluded place. When those fools will get brain! From Om beach, I had plans to visit Yana as well. But the fierce rays of Lord Anshumaan changed our plans and we took the road back to Karwar. After taking lunch we took rest for sometime and then proceeded to the famous Tagore beach.
"The sea beach of Karwar is certainly a fit place in which to realize that the beauty of Nature is not a mirage of the imagination, but reflects the joy of the Infinite and thus draws us to lose ourselves in it. Where the universe is expressing itself in the magic of its laws it may not be strange if we miss its infinitude; but where the heart gets into immediate touch with immensity in the beauty of the meanest of things, is any room left for argument?"
Sun Set at Tagore Beach, Karwar
- Rabindranath Tagore The poet and Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore, who visited Karwar in 1882, dedicated a chapter of his memoirs to Karwar. His brother Satyendranath Tagore was a district judge in Karwar.
Karwar is situated on the banks of the Kali river. Near to Tagore beach is warship museum, which has INS Chapal for display. It is kept just next to Tagore beach along with Missiles and Torpedos. It was a good place to visit and we saw the warship, including its engine room, kitchen, cabins as well as deck.
Kali river meeting the Arabian Ocean
Sun was going to other part of globe and its Golden raise were painting the waters into Golden hue. Kids were playing with waters. I also joined them in a walk through waters and then just sat mesmerized by the beauty of nature unfolded infront of us. A sound sleep refreshed us for the next day. After breakfast we walked towards the two famous temple of the town.
First was Ganesha temple and nearby was Hanuman temple, build in marble. Both are quite beautiful and we bowed to the Lord almighty.
Next to warship museum near Tagore beach is a small aquarium. Kids were quite interested in it so we walked towards it. We walked to Karwar beach first and then slowly towards Tagore beach and then to the aquarium.
Hanuman Temple, Karwar
Aquarium is small but has good collection. Sea horse I saw for the first time here. It also houses bones of a blue whale!
By this time it was quite hot but I was getting inclined to visit the Durga Temple near the Sadashivgad fort and also the Devbagh beach.
Sea Horse, Aquarium, Karwar
Durga temple is very old. It is said that Shivaji Maharaj visited this temple during 1665 and again in 1678 AD.
The idol of mother is very beautiful and inspires humbleness and gratitude in the devotees.
There are a lot of old Guns kept in front of the temple.
Then we went towards the Devbagh beach. Devbagh island was visible infront of us.
Narasimha Temple, on way to Devbagh beach
Beach is good but as it was quite hot, we didnot stayed there for long and started back to hotel. On the way we stopped at Narasimha Temple and also at the Kali river bridge just below the sadashivagad fort.