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Mahaabaleshwar Temple
See also   Murudeshwar Temple

Mahaabaleshwar Temple is located in Gokarn Kshetra, Sataaraa District in Karnaatak State of India. One can have a glimpse of this 6 feet tall Ling of the Mahaabaleshwar Temple of Gokarn only during the occasion of Asht Bandhan Kumbhaabhishekam, that is once in 40 years. As the Mahaabaleshwar Temple holds the legacy and heroic deed of Lord Ganesh so there is a Ganesh Temple also located nearby the main shrine. Other than these two Gods, the Mahaabaleshwar Temple is also a shrine for gods like Chandikeshwar, Aadi Gokarneshwar, Gokarnanayagee and Dattaatreya.

The devotees always bath in the sea before entering the Temple, as according to the Hindu mythology it is said that one should purify his body and mind before making any prayer to God. There is also a Shiv Ling on the coast, made of sand, which the devotees worship before going to the Temple. Also located around Gokarn are Shejjeshwar, Gunavanteshwar, Murudeshwar and Dhaareshwar. These four temples along with Mahaabaleshwar are known as the Panch Mahaakshetra. This Golden Gokarn is available for anyone who can chant Shree Rudram can go over there and stay for a while and keep chanting the same before Mahaabaleshwar.

Gokarn is also respected as " Siddhi Kshetra", (the more you know of the religious practice, and the more you will honor and worship it. The more you study it, the more it will enlighten you and satisfy your heart). Gokarn is acclaimed as "Mukti Sthal" (After the death of a close relative, Hindu come here to perform their obsequies) of Karnaatak along with the other Mukti Sthal such as Udupee, Kolloor, Subrahmanya, Kumbasi, Kodeshwar, and Shankar Naaraayan.

Another greatness of Gokarn is that the sea water is not salty compared to natural flavor of the sea water

The Legend of Gokarn :
In Tretaa Yug, Raavan (Demon/Asur King of Lankaa) went to Kailaash and performed rigorous penance to get the "Aatm Ling" from Shiv. As Raavan's mother expressed a keen desire to worship the Aatm Ling of Shiv. After a long penance, Shiv got pleased and gave his "Aatm Ling" to Raavan as a boon and instructed him to carry it home carefully as not to place it on the ground even for a short while; failing to which the Ling would get eternally embedded at the place where he kept it. When Vishnu learned that Raavan will become all powerful by worshipping the 'Aatm Ling' of Shiv and will be menace to the world and he would never be defeated by anybody once he had acquired the very power of Shiv, He devised a plan to install the Ling somewhere and as He thought that Ganapati was alone capable of doing it, so He along with all the gods pleased Ganapati to execute the plan. Lord Ganapati accepted and reached Gokarn as a Braahman boy.

As Raavan was coming near Gokarn, Vishnu who had known well that Raavan was punctual in performing his daily rites (Sandhyaa Vandan), hides Sun with His Sudarshan Chakra (wheel). Thinking that it was time to perform the evening rites, Raavan looked around for somebody who could help him to hold that Ling till he finished his Sandhyaa. He soon found a Braahman boy roaming around. He got very happy to see him and asked him to hold the Aatm Ling in his hand till he came back after finishing his Sandhyaa.

Ganapati agreed to hold the Ling on one condition that he would do so till he would be able to bear the weight of Ling and that thereafter he would call Raavan three times and if failed to come to him by then, he would place the Ling on the ground. Raavan went to do his Sandhyaa but took some to finish it. By then Ganapati got tired and he called Raavan that "come, I am tired, I am going to place the Ling on the ground". Raavan aked to wait for a little while more, but Ganapati was tired so he called him again to come, but Raavan's Sandhyaa was not finished yet, so he asked him to hold it a little while more. But this time Ganapati could not hold it any more, he called him the third time. Although Raavan ran as fast as he could towards the boy, but by the time he reached the boy to take Ling back, the boy had placed the Ling on the ground and vanished.

Another Version
This part has another version also - when Raavan was taking this Ling, Devtaa got worried thinking that now Raavan would be much stronger than before, so they went to Brahmaa Jee and asked him to do something for this. Brahmaa Jee remembered his consort Saraswatee and Saraswatee remembered her other companions and all of them entered Raavan's body. So when Raavan was taking the Ling, he felt to urinate. He looked here and there if he could find some person so that he could hand over the Ling for some time and go for urinating. He found a boy roaming around, so he handed it over to him and asked him not to keep it on the ground in any case until he comes back. The boy expressed his helplessness as he felt that the Ling was vey heavy for him. Raavan assured him that as soon as he had finished his work he would come back and take it from him.

So he went to urinate, and Saraswatee Jee and her companions increased the amount of his urine that in spite of trying to stop it, he could not stop it. He himself wondered what was happening to him. On he other side the boy was calling him several times and Raavan was always saying to him, "I am coming, I am coming, just wait for a couple of minutes more." But his couple of minutes were not coming to end. After all the boy got tired, he kept the Ling on the ground and went away. As the boy kept the Ling on the ground, Raavan's urine also stopped. Raavan rushed to take the Ling from that boy but the boy had already put the Ling on the ground. Raavan tried his best to list it up but could not. In rage he started beating that Ling and beat it so much that it all went down the earth and remained only equal to a cow's ear. That is why that place came to be known as Gokarn.

The Aatm Ling at once got firmly entrenched in the ground. Raavan came back and found the Ling stuck to the ground. He beat his head and in distress an anger he tried to pull out the Ling, but the Ling did not budge even a little. It resulted in his throwing the coverings of the Ling to Dhaareshwar, Gunavanteshwar, Murudeshwar and Shejjeshwar temples. Raavan was unable to lift the Ling from the ground again and called Shiv Ling as Mahaabal (you are too strong). And ever since the Ling illustrious is known as Mahaabaleshwar. Later he learned that he was tricked by gods.

Shiv learnt all this from Vaayu Dev (Wind god), and came on to Earth with Goddess Paarvatee and other gods. He visited these five places and worshipped the Ling which had now taken five forms. He acknowledged that these five places would be his "Panch Kshetra" (Five Holy Places).

There is a 6-feet tall Aatm Ling here enshrined in a square called Shaaligraam Peeth. It is opened for viewing once in forty years. Now only the tip of the Ling can be seen through an opening in the Peeth. Gokarn means "Cow's Ear". It is believed that Shiv has emerged from the ear of a cow. This town lies between the two Rivers - Gangaavalee and Agha-naashinee and is situated along the Karwar coast by the Arabian Sea.

Gokarn is also mentioned in Shree Mad Bhaagavat Puraan as being the home of the two brothers Gokarn and Dhundhukaaree. Gokarn is called the Kaashee of the southern India. It has been attracting millions of pilgrims for hundreds of years. Gokarn is also an important center of Sanskrit learning and houses Bhandikeree Math and Toggu Math. Many Hindu perform the last rites of a person here.

Another Legend for Mahaabaleshwar
Some three miles away from Bombay there is an ancient village of Mahaabaleshwar where no less than five streams  the Krishnaa, the Vennaa, the Koynaa, the Gayatri, and Savitri. The Venna and Krishna are at Mahuli near Satara. There is a temple of Mahaabal there. legend has it that there were two Raakshas brothers - Mahaabal and Atibal, who used to fight with Devtaa and troubled Rishi. Atibal was killed by Vishnu in a single combat. Mahaabal thought to take revenge of his brother's killing. but was caught into promising a favor to Vishnu. The favor asked and granted was the death of Mahaabal. But it was softened by Shiv's promise that he and Vishnu will be worshipped on the scene of battle as Mahaabaleshwar and Atibaleshwar. The main interest of the temple is two pools in one of which people take bath and in the other one they wash their clothes. Just above the pool is a stone image of a cow from whose mouth pours a considerable stream of water. Above are five recesses in the wall resembling shrines sacred to the five rivers.

How to Do Darshan of Mahaadev (according to Puraan)
1. First have Darshan of Ganapati from out side before going for bath to sea.
2. Take bath in sea
3. Come back to Ganapati Temple. On right hand side there is a lane to Koti Teerth, go there and take a dip there
5. Come back to sea and take a dip
6. Do Abhishek near the shore to Shiv Lingam, made of sand.
7. Now go to the place where you are staying, remove wet cloths and wear dry Dhotee
8. Again go to Ganapati Temple and do Abhishek. Pray and request him to allow to visit Mahaabaleshwar
9. Now go to Mahabaleshwar Temple and perform Abhishek.

In fact after No 6 we need to take a dip in many Teerth in and around Gokarn. But most of the Teerth have become wells come under people's houses. Very difficult to identify.

How to Go There
By Road: On NH-17, 453 km from Bangalore, 240 km north of Mangalore and about 59 km from Karwar.
Nearest Town : Karwar
Nearest Railway station : Gokarn (6kms)
Nearest Airport: Goa
Gokarn can be reached by buses and maxi-cabs from Kumta (36 km), Ankola (25km), and Karwar (59km) on national highway 17 ( NH-17 ). Karnaatak State Road Transport Corporation also runs long journey buses from many cities like Goa, Bangalore and Mangalore. Private buses (Vijayanad Road Lines-VRL, Sugama, Sea Bird) operate night journeys from the capital city of Bangalore



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Created and Maintained by Sushma Gupta
Created on March 15, 2003 and Updated on April 11, 2013