Famous Sri Mahabaleshwara Swami Temple Gokarna – A Guide

Famous Sri Mahabaleshwara Swami Temple Gokarna

This is a complete guide to the famous Sri Mahabaleshwara Swami Temple Gokarna, a sacred place that contains the Atma Linga of Shiva.

Famous Sri Mahabaleshwara Swami Temple Gokarna

About This Blog Post
This post is about the Shiva temple in Gokarna, in the Uttara Kannada District of Karnataka, India. The temple which is known as the Sri Mahabaleshwara Swami Temple dates to the 4th century. In this post, you can read the different legends associated with the temple, the history of the temple, as well as useful information for visiting the temple, how to get to Gokarna and planning your trip to Gokarna with ticket booking, stay options to choose the best hotels and resorts in Gokarna and guided tours and activities in Gokarna.

The stories and legends associated with the famous Sri Mahabaleshwara Swami Temple Gokarna have fascinated us from childhood days. We are sure that many of you would have also listened with rapt attention to your mothers and grandmothers as they regaled you with the stories related to the Gokarna Mahabaleshwar Temple. Standing on the bewitching coast of Karnataka, the temple is an icon of faith, a symbol of the eternal Shiva.

The Gokarna Shiva Temple is one of the seven sacred Muktikshetras in Karnataka along with Udupi, Subrahmanya, Kollur, Shankarnarayana, Koteshwara, and Kumbasi. Gokarna is a place where the obsequies or death rites are also performed by Hindus.

Famous Sri Mahabaleshwara Swami Temple Gokarna

Famous Sri Mahabaleshwara Swami Temple Gokarna

The Mahabaleshwar temple Gokarna is revered as, ” Dakshina Kashi,” or, ” Kashi of the South,” and is considered as sacred as the Kashi Vishwanath Jyotirlinga temple of Varanasi. Read on to know more about the wonderful legends of the Gokarna Mahabaleshwar Temple, Mahabaleshwar Temple Gokarna Atma Linga, Gokarna Temple history, Gokarna Temple pooja details and other rituals performed in Gokarna, Gokarna Temple Timings, and much more.

Whosoever the man may be, whensoever he enters Gokarṇa and worships the Lord, he reaches the region of Brahman – Skanda Purana

Famous Sri Mahabaleshwara Swami Temple Gokarna – The Legend

Gokarna Shiva Temple
Gokarna Shiva Temple

The famous Sri Mahabaleshwara Swami temple Gokarna and its importance finds mention in the Puranas like Skanda Purana and the epics Ramayana and Mahabharata as well as the “Shri Guru Charitra“, which is a 15th-century book about Shri Narasimha Saraswati and Lord Dattatreya.

In the Skanda Purana, the great sage Gautama Maharishi eulogizes the Gokarna Temple In Karnataka. He tells about the origin of the famous Sri Mahabaleshwara Swami Temple Gokarna and the merits of worshipping the Atmalinga of Gokarna.

The origins of the sacred Atmalinga at Gokarna is related to Ravana and Ganesha. Ravana was a powerful king of Lanka. His mother, Kaikesi, was an ardent devotee of Lord Shiva and used to make a Shiva Linga daily and worship it fervently. It so happened that one day, she could not find a suitable Shivling for worship and so fashioned one from mud and worshipped it. This came to the notice of her son Ravana, the powerful king of Lanka.

Ravana, blinded by his own arrogance and ego was affronted by the fact that his mother was worshipping an earthen Shiva Linga. He asked his mother what she hoped to achieve by the daily worship of Shiva in the form of the Shivalinga. Mother Kaikesi said that she would attain the feet of Shiva at Kailasa.

“Oh, I shall bring Kailasa here,” thundered the belligerent Ravana, as he stomped off towards Kailasa. He grabbed the mountain Kailasa with his massive and demonic hands and started shaking it. The three worlds started to quake and the Devas and all other beings started running helter-skelter. Parvati came to Shiva who was in deep meditation and appraised him of what was happening. Lord Shiva then pressed down hard on the Kailasa mountain and Ravana got pinned under it and cried out to Shiva for help.

Lord Shiva, the all-merciful God that he was, immediately let Ravana go. Ravana then, cut off one of his hands and fashioned a Veeena using his intestines as strings. He then sang verses from the Samaveda and praised Lord Shiva using the Nine rasas and 36 Ragas. Shiva was pleased by Ravana’s devotion and severe penance and asked him what he wanted.

Ravana asked to take the mountain Kailasa home for his mother so that she could worship Lord Shiva daily. Shiva smiled and said;

” What is the need for you to take Kailasa home for your mother, I shall give you my Atma Linga, which represents my very essence and whose worship shall fulfil all your mother’s desires.”

“But there is one condition, the Atma Linga should not be kept on the ground till you reach your home in Lanka, if you do so, it shall stay wherever you placed it, forever.” this was Shiva’s rider to the boon that he just granted.

Ravana was pleased with the boon, and clasping the Atma Linga, made his way home. Shiva’s benevolence again created a stir among the Devas. They knew that the already powerful Ravana would gain more power by worshipping Shiva’s Atma Linga. The Gods, led by Vishnu and helped by Narada conspired to engineer a set of circumstances that would ensure that Shiva’s Atma Linga did not reach Lanka.

Vishnu covered the sun with his Sudarshan Chakra and simulated dusk on earth. Narada approached Ravana who was on his way home, and under the pretext of explaining the features of the Atma Linga, drew him into a conversation. He then asked Ravana to do his evening Sandhyavandana and disappeared. Ravana who was a devout Brahmin never missed the rituals of Sandhyavandana, but he was in a dilemma, as he could not keep the Atma Linga down.

It was then that he saw a small boy picking Durva (grass used for worship of Ganesha). The innocence of the boy allayed Ravana’s fears about losing the Atma Linga, and he asked the boy to hold the Atma Linga, till he finished his Sandhyavandana. The boy who was actually Ganesha himself, put the condition that as the Atma Linga was heavy, he would call Ravana thrice, and if he did not come, he would put the Atma Linga on the ground.

Ravana agreed to the boy’s condition and was soon deeply immersed in the rituals of Sandhyavandana. The boy called Ravana saying that the Atma Linga was heavy and he would have to put it down. But Ravana was deep in meditation and failed to hear the boy’s voice. As agreed the boy called Ravana, thrice, and when he did not heed to his call, he put the Atma Linga on the ground and disappeared.

When Ravana finished his evening Sandhyavandana, he was dismayed to find the Atma Linga on the ground. There was no sign of the boy who had held it for him. Ravana used all the strength that he could muster to lift the Atma Linga off the ground, but it would not budge. By the sheer force of Ravana’s strength, the Atma Linga lost its original shape and came to resemble the shape of a “Cow’s Ear,”(Gokarna). Ravana could not move the Atma Linga and it stands there for all eternity as the essence of Lord Shiva himself.

This then is the story of the origin of the Atma Linga in Gokarna as narrated by Gautama Maharishi in the Skanda Purana.

Gokarna Story – The Power of Gokarna Atma Linga

Gokarna Temple Karnataka
Gokarna Temple, Karnataka

In the Skanda Purana, Gautama Maharishi narrates various incidents and stories that highlight the sacred and auspicious nature of the Atma Linga of Gokarna. He speaks about the merits that ensue by the mere darshan of the sacred Linga. One such story is about a blind woman afflicted with leprosy who dies in Gokarna. Gautama Maharishi, says in the Skanda Purana, that he himself witnessed her death and what happened afterwards.

Gokarna was filled with people heading for the darshan of the Atma Linga as it was the auspicious day of Maha Shivratri. An old and haggard woman, dressed in rags, completely blind from birth, moved amidst the crowds, begging for alms. Leprosy had eaten away much of her body, and what remained too was rotting away. She exuded a foul smell, and people moved away from her in disgust at her approach. It was apparent that the woman was barely clinging on to the last vestiges of life.

Maha Shivratri was a day of fasting and the woman could not get any food. She wandered around desperately begging for food, but to no avail. It was soon dark and the woman had starved for the entire day, sleep evaded her as the many ailments of her body troubled her. It was then that someone flung something that landed in her lap. Her mind filled with hope as she groped for the object, thinking it to be something to eat.

But alas, what she found were some leaves, which on smelling she found was not something she could eat. Frustrated, she hurled the leaves with pent up anger at her dismal condition. The leaves which were the sacred Bilva leaves landed on a Shiv Ling nearby.

Soon the woman died. A golden chariot manned by Shiva dootas (Shiva’s attendants) landed and the old haggard woman was given a shiny new body. She was seated in the golden charet and ascended the heavens, resplendent as a divine being.

The woman in her previous birth had led a life of sin and debauchery and had a miserable life in the current birth. However, unknowingly she had fasted during the auspicious time of Maha Shivratri at the sacred place, Gokarna, and had placed flowers on a Shiv Ling. This was enough for the effect of her sins to be washed away, and hence she attained salvation.

The excellent sacred place Gokarṇa is on the shores of the Western Sea – Skanda Purana

Mahabaleshwar Temple Gokarna History

Gokarna Mahabaleshwar Temple

Historically, the Mahabaleshwar Temple History dates back to the 4th Century CE. The first temple is believed to have been constructed by King Mayurasharma of the Kadamba dynasty of Karnataka. In popular culture, King Mayurasharma was immortalized on the Kannada silver screen by Dr Rajkumar in the 1975 film, Mayura.

King Mayurasharma founded the Kadamba dynasty which was the first local dynasty of Kannadigas to rule the region that we now know as Karnataka. King Mayurasharma who reigned from 345 CE to 365 CE is credited with getting the famous Sri Mahabaleshwara Swami temple Gokarna constructed. The temple underwent alterations and enhancements later.

The major embellishments to the famous Sri Mahabaleshwara Swami Temple Gokarna were done during the rule of the Vijaynagar dynasty which had its capital initially in Anegundiand later on in Hampi. The Vijayanagara Empire held sway between the 14th and 17th centuries.

It is believed that the great Maratha ruler, Chhatrapati Shivaji too had worshipped in the famous Sri Mahabaleshwara Swami temple Gokarna. The sacred land of Gokarna also finds mention in the works of the famous Sanskrit poet and playwright, Kalidasa. In his work Raghuvamsha dates to the 5th century, Gokarna is mentioned.

Inside The Famous Sri Mahabaleshwara Swami Temple Gokarna 

The sacred and Sri Mahabaleshwar Temple, Gokarna, stands not far from the shores of the Arabian Sea. It is believed that the sea must once have been quite close to the temple premises. The temple stands as the focal point of the coastal town of Karnataka. All roads seem to lead to the temple. Gokarna is a sleepy town and is crisscrossed by narrow alleys, that are usually bustling with people.

Maha Ganapathy Temple, Gokarna
Maha Ganapathy Temple, Gokarna

The Car street, lined with shops selling assorted wares that range from articles for worship to musical instruments leads to the Mahabaleshwara temple. Just before you reach the Mahabaleshwar Shiva Temple, you come across a small temple dedicated to Ganesha. This is a small but beautiful temple called Mahaganapati temple and is dedicated to the elephant-God who was instrumental in ensuring that the Atma Linga of Shiva resided permanently in Gokarna.

It is also customary to first visit the Mahaganapati temple and then visit the main Shiva temple. As you reach the famous Sri Mahabaleshwara Swami temple Gokarna you come across an unpretentious door leading inside the temple premises. The temple is built predominantly with elements of Dravidian architecture.

The main temple houses the sacred Shiva Linga, which nestles inside a hollow. Visitors are allowed inside the sanctum and can worship the Atma Linga with their own hands. They can touch the Shiv Ling and also offer Abhishek and bilva leaves. The full Atma Linga is not visible, it can be seen in full only during the Ashtabandhana Kumbahbishekham that occurs once in 40 years.

There are other minor temples within the premises and also a sacred pond. There are temples dedicated to Lord Dattatreya, Ganesha, and Parvati. One of the important temples within the premises is a temple dedicated to Shiva’s consort, Parvati. This temple is known as Tamra Gauri Temple.

Interesting Facts About Gokarna Temple

  • Gokarna means Cow’s Ear and the name is mentioned even in the Skanda Purana and other religious Hindu texts
  • The famous Sri Mahabaleshwara Swami Temple houses the Atma Linga of Lord Shiva
  • The Atma Linga of Shiva is believed to have been installed by Lord Ganesha
  • The Maratha King Shivaji is believed to have once worshipped in the Gokarna temple

Good To Know Information About Gokarna Mahabaleshwar Temple

Gokarna Mahabaleshwar Temple Images
Gokarna Mahabaleshwar Temple Images

Here is some information about the Sri Mahabaleshwar Swami Temple that will come in handy while planning your visit to the temple.

Gokarna Temple Timings | Temple Darshan Timings

Here are the Mahabaleshwar Temple Gokarna Timings.

Morning Timings: 6:00 AM to 12:30 PM
Temple Closure Timings: 2:00 PM to 5:00 PM
Evening Timings: 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM

Daily Puja And Rituals At Gokarna Mahabaleshwar Temple

Mahabaleshwar Temple Gokarna
Mahabaleshwar Temple Gokarna
  • Mangal Aarti and Udyana Bali
  • Sparsha Darshana
  • Nityotsava
  • Amrutanna Prasada Bhojana (Annadanam- free food is served in the temple) during lunch and dinner timings

Some of the other poojas and sevas at the Gokarna Mahabaleshwar temple are as under:

  • Bilvarchana – Worship of Atma Linga with Bilva leaves
  • Sankalpa Pooja Mangal Aarti
  • Ashtotra Bilvarchana – Reciting of 108 names of Shiva with puja by Bilva leaves
  • Kumbhabhishekha and Kshirabhishekha – Abhisheka of the Atma Linga with milk
  • Panchamritabhishekha- Abhisheka with milk, curds, honey, sugar, and ghee
  • Rudrabhishekha – Abhishekha to Atma Linga with chanting of Rudra Sukta

Mahabaleshwar Temple Gokarna Dress Code


There is no specific dress code to enter the famous Sri Mahabaleshwara Swami Temple Gokarna, visitors are expected to dress decently as befits a place of worship. Shorts, miniskirts, and other revealing attire are not allowed.

  • Photography of any sort is not allowed inside the Sri Mahabaleshwara Swami Temple premises
  • The normal Dos And Dont’s for any temple or religious place of worship apply to this temple too
  • The best time to visit Gokarna is during the winter months as it is very hot in the summers, however, the temple can be visited throughout the year

Festivals at Mahabaleshwar Temple Gokarna

Gokarna Temple, Karnataka, India
Festivals at Gokarna Temple

Some of the important festivals that are celebrated at the Gokarna Mahabaleshwar temple are:

  • Mahashivratri
  • Tripurakhya Deepotsava
  • Ratha Saptami
  • Vijayadashami
  • Kadiru Haranotsava (Harvest Festival)

Other Places To See In Gokarna

Om Beach Gokarna, Karnataka
Om Beach Gokarna, Karnataka

Gokarna has much to offer for different types of travellers. Though the famous Sri Mahabaleshwara temple is at the centre of Gokarna, it has many more attractions including its famed beaches. Here are some of the other places to see and things to do in Gokarna, apart from Darshan at Mahabaleshwar Temple, Gokarna.

How To Get To Famous Sri Mahabaleshwara Swami Temple Gokarna 

Gokarna Route Map
Gokarna Route Map

Gokarna is easily accessible by road, rail, and air, from Bangalore, Mangalore, Udupi, Goa, and other places. Click here for a Gokarna route map.

By Air

If you are planning to travel by air, the nearest airport to Gokarna is Dabolim Airport in Goa, which is at a distance of about 148 kilometres. Goa is well connected to major cities of India by air. From Goa, you can travel by road to Gokarna

By Rail

Gokarna Road is a railway station on the Konkan Railway line. However, if you are thinking of train travel the best option is to and from Ankola which is at a distance of about 23 kilometres from Gokarna.

By Road

Gokarna is well connected by a good road network, and one can literally drive from anywhere to Gokarna.

Location of Famous Sri Mahabaleshwara Swami Temple Gokarna 

Click here for the exact location of the Gokarna Shiva Temple in Gokarna from the Gokarna Main Bust stand.

  • The famous Sri Mahabaleshwara Swami temple Gokarna is located in the temple town of Gokarna
  • Gokarna is located on the coast of the Arabian Sea in the Uttara Kannada district of Karnataka, India
  • Bangalore To Gokarna distance is about 489 kilometres
  • Udupi to Gokarna distance is about 178 kilometres
  • Mangalore to Gokarna distance is about 232 kilometres
  • Goa to Gokarna distance is about 135 kilometres

Gokarna Temple Address

Gokarna temple address is Koti Teertha Rd, Kotiteertha, Dandebagh, Gokarna, Karnataka 581326.

If you are planning a trip to Gokarna, you can book a cheap flight through TripAdvisor or CheapAir or Cleartrip or Makemytrip or Priceline right here. You can do a road trip from Goa or Bangalore or Pune to Gokarna by self-drive car or cab or bus.

Where To Stay While Visiting Sri Mahabaleshwara Temple

Om Beach Resort Gokarna, Karnataka
Om Beach Resort Gokarna, Karnataka

There are many places where one can stay in Gokarna. Though there is no specific Gokarna Mahabaleshwar Temple Accommodation, there are many homestays near the temple. One can also choose to stay in a nearby hotel or even in any of the resorts of Gokarna. On different occasions, we have stayed at the Om Beach Resort as well as the Hotel Gokarna International, which is very near the temple.

You can book the Om Beach Resort – Jungle Lodges and Resort Gokarna or any luxury resorts and budget hotels as well on and around the beaches of Gokarna. You can do your Gokarna beach huts booking or Gokarna beach resorts booking right here. You can book hotels in Gokarna through TripAdvisor or Cleartrip or Makemytrip or Priceline and save a lot by getting the best savings on booking your stay. You can also check out Om Beach Resort Gokarna Price here before booking.

Click and book the best hotels and resorts in Gokarna

Gokarna Package Tours And Activities

If you are looking for booking specialized Gokarna tour packages and activities like guided walks, treks, or sightseeing tours, you can book them right here.

Mahabaleshwar Swami Gokarna Temple Karnataka – FAQ

Mahabaleshwar Temple Gokarna
Mahabaleshwar Temple Gokarna

Where Is Mahabaleshwar Temple?
The Sri Mahabaleshwara Swami temple is located in Gokarna, Karnataka, India.

Who built Mahabaleshwar Temple in Gokarna?
The earliest temple structure of the Mahabaleshwar temple in Gokarna was built by the King Mayurasharma of the Kadamba dynasty of Karnataka in the 4th century CE.

When can we see Atma Linga in Gokarna?
Though one can have darshan of the Atma Linga anytime when the temple is open, the full Atma Linga can be seen only once in 40 years during the Ashtabandhana Kumbahbishekham.

Why is the Gokarna temple famous?
The Gokarna temple is famous for its Atma Linga which is believed to have been installed there by Ganesha.

What is the history of Gokarna?
Gokarna finds mention in the Puranas including the Skanda Purana. It is also mentioned in the works of Kalidasa.  The temple was also an important place during the Vijayanagara dynasty.

How many Atma Lingas are there?
There is only one known Atma Linga, that is at Gokarna, however, there are different opinions on this.
Why is Gokarna called Gokarna?
When Ravana tried to remove the Atma Linga with his force from the ground, the shape of the Linga go distorted and resembled the shape of a cow’s ear, hence the name Gokarna.

Where did Ravana keep Shivling?
The place where Ravana kept the Shivling he was carrying to Lanka on the ground was Gokarna in Karnataka.

What is the difference between Atma Linga and Jyotirlinga?
Atma Linga is the Shiv Ling that was given to Ravana by Lord Shiva after he was pleased with his penance. Jyotirlingas are the Shiv Lingas that formed due to the radiance of the light of Shiva who appeared as an infinite beam of light before Vishnu and Brahma. Wherever the rays of this light fell on earth, Jyotirlingas were formed. There are 12 such Jyotirlingas in India.

Is there a Gokarna Temple Website?
No, currently there is no official website of the temple.

We hope you liked reading this post and it serves as a Gokarna Mahabaleshwar Temple Guide, to help you plan your own trip to the sacred temple. We are sure that the images of Mahabaleshwar Temple Gokarna are already pulling you towards Gokarna.

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Famous Sri Mahabaleshwara Swami Temple Gokarna

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9 thoughts on “Famous Sri Mahabaleshwara Swami Temple Gokarna – A Guide”

  1. Gokarna is on my list for a long time for the scenic beaches and camping options for tourists. You have just given me another reason to visit this spectacular beauty sooner.

  2. Your posts are always entertaining to read and always teach me something new. I’ve been to a lot of places, but after reading your post, I’m always wondering how I missed this one. Interesting post.

  3. I have visited many places in Uttarakhand in past but never get a chance to visit famous Sri Mahabaleshwara Swami temple Gokarna. it seems like a divine place. would love to visit it, when come India next time. thanks for sharing all needed details.

  4. Thank you for this. I am planning to visit Gokarna and this post is perfect timing. Would love to visit Sri Mahabaleshwara Swami Temple when I am there, surely adding to my list.

  5. Bedabrata Chakraborty

    Your post read like a fairytale and I finished it in pieces like a story book. I am not very keen on washing my sins. Yet, putting this temple in my list of must do places in Karnataka.

  6. I have really wanted to visit this temple for a long time, Thanks for such a detailed post it makes me more curious to visit soon.

  7. Shreemayee Chattoppadhyay

    I never heard of Shri Mahabaleshwar temple in Gokarna. I knew of its scenic beaches only. Reading your detailed review I’m going to keep temple visit on my wishlist.

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