The Mahabaleshwar Temple in Gokarna is believed to be one most significant temples in South India from a mythological perspective. The presence of an Atma Linga here makes it one of the holiest and highly revered temple. Legend has it that Ravana’s mother who is a staunch devotee of Shiva was performing a penance for her son when Indra jealous of her devotion, disrupted her penance by throwing the linga into the sea. A distraught Ravanna, performs a severe penance in Mount Kailash to please Lord Shiva. Impressed by his devotion Shiva bestows a boon to Ravana. Ravana asks Shiva for the Atmalinga. Shiva then gifts Ravana the atma linga with instructions that it should not be placed on the ground. Perturbed by the powers bestowed on Ravana, Shiva’s sons approach Vishnu to redeem the situation.
While Ravana is heading back to Lanka, Ganesha intercepts him taking the form of a little boy. Ravana asks the little boy to hold the idol (and not place it on the ground) while he would be back after offering evening prayers. But when Ravana does not return in the stipulated time, Ganesha places the idol on the ground and leaves. Once placed on the ground, Ravana tries with all his might to lift the linga but it stays put, thereby forcing Ravana to return to Lanka empty-handed. It is this atma linga in the temple that draws devotees in the thousands.
Our original plan after visiting Viboothi Falls, was to go to Unchalli Falls and if time permits Kumta Beach. But some mystical power forced us to re-draw our plans to end the Sirsi trip with a visit to the Mahabaleshwar Temple in Gokarna and a beach trek from Gokarna to Kudle. As soon as we entered the temple we were confronted by a battery of poojaries. They cornered us like salesmen and started rattling out a list of poojas that they can perform for you. And the a la carte included poojas of varied denominations starting from as high as Rs.500 to as paltry as a sum of Rs.50. And that frankly was a big turn-off. Thankfully we got a quick darshan and we were out in no time. The best part however was that you get to touch the Atma Linga in the sanctum sanctorum of the temple.After the tryst with the atma linga we walked to Gokarna beach and without spending another minute(going by past experiences) started walking towards kudle beach. Kudle has been one of my favorite beaches ever since I went there almost 3 years ago. But going there after all those good memories I was a little apprehensive. In the last 3 years, surely Kudle must have been commercially sold out. There sure is going to couple of resorts, some tens of night clubs an hundred little shacks. I dreaded the thought of watching such a sight. Thankfully I was not entirely proved right. But Kudle is slowly and surely going that route. Another couple of years and Kudle would have gone the Goa-way. Sigh! After another wonderful Sunset (a Kudle speciality), we headed back to Gokarna. A laugh-riot dinner later we started to head back to… Damn I don’t even want to mention that name… L
Getting there: In the heart of Gokarna town. The temple is right on the beach.
Must-Do: Touch the atma linga.Must-Don’t: Waste time at Gokarna Beach. Instead head straight to Kudle.
My Rating: 6/10