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. Many Hindus also perform the last rites of a person here.
Mahabaleshwar Temple (Maha: great, bal: strength) is a famous Shiva Temple and it houses the 'Atmalinga'. Named so after Ravana referred to the linga's great strength.
It is situated at the western end of the main street. In the sanctuary is 'Athmalinga' in between the Saligrama Peethaa. The idol of Lord Mahabaleshwara is called Nagabharana. It is so named becasuse of 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. The deity here is two-armed, standing and at least 1500 years old.
Uma Maheshwara Temple
Tamra Gauri Temple
Kotitheertha is a man-made tank that is used for immersion of idols and ritual bathing. It is surrounded by temples.
Shivaratri festival is celebrated here with great enthusiasm. The temple has two chariots - named locally as 'Dodda Ratha' (Dodda for Big in Kannada) and 'Sanna Ratha' (sanna for small in Kannada). Dodda Ratha is quite huge. While 'Sanna Ratha' is out in the open during winter and summer, the 'Dodda Ratha' is brought out and made ready only during Maha Shivaratri. On the last day of Maha Shivaratri festival the Lord Mahabaleshwara idol is carried in 'Dodda Ratha' in a procession through the town's big Car Street, while priests and pilgrims chant hymns in praise of Shiva. More than a hundred people are needed to pull the chariots with thick ropes while priests conduct religious ceremonies inside. During the nine-day Maha Shivaratri festival, the small town of Gokarna is visited by up to 20,000 pilgrims.
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