Location: south India, Karnataka state, Uttara Kannada district
Gokarna is located 110 kilometres away from Mangalore and 453 kilometres away from the state capital, Bangalore.
Coordinates: 14.55°N 74.31667°E
Local Time: IST (UTC+5.30)
Population (in 2001): 25 851
Main language: kannada
Secondary language: hindi, english
Ressources: agriculture (cafe, mango, sugar canne)
The Karnataka population (with the execption of Bangalore, new “Silicon Valley”) is mainly rural and counted 52,7 millions people in 2005.
The pourcentage of people knowing how to read and write evolved from 56% in 1991 to 67% in 2005.
Culture and tradition
This sacred village is an important pilgrim place where is to be found a two-armed Ganesha, much worshiped by the hindous.
Gokarna also is a favorable place to study Sanskrit.
People from this land affirm that Gokarna, which in kannada means the cow’s ear, is the place where lord Shiva was born, out of the ear of a sacred cow.
The ancient temple of Mahabaleshvar is one of the main temples in Gokarna. Located at the western end of the main street, it was destroyed by the portugese in 1714 and rebuilt in the 18th century.
The legend says that the Atmalingam brought by Ravana was burried here, and due to his efforts to dig it out, fragments of the Lingam were sent to Dhareshwar,Gunavanteshwara, Murdeshwar and Shejjeshwar temples. A stone Lingam, covered with brass, stands on a snake inside the sancturay.
The Bhadrakali and Venkataraman temples, as well as the Kotiteertha water reservoir, are other sacred places in Gokarna.
Shiva’s birthday is celebrated here every year during the Shiva Ratri festival. Two enormous chars lead a procession in the narrow village streets, meanwhile brahmans and pilgrims sing mantras in the name of Shiva.
During this 8-days long festival, more than 500 000 pilgrims visit the small town of Gokarna.
Gokarna appears to be essentially a place dedicated to religion, nevertheless, there are social and artistic events taking place in the village : traditional Karnataka theatre shows, music festivals, conferences etc.
The cultural life calendar is function of the religious calendar, and of the touristic season.
During the high-season, dance, music and theatre festivals are given by local schools and companies on stages set up especially for the occasion, near the beach, around the temples or again in courtyards.
Village life in pictures
Photographs of Gokarna
Education and general knowledge
There are numerous primary shcools and 2 secondary schools in the village. Secondary education usually happens in other other tonws (in particular Kumta and Karvar, located more than one hour of bus away). Students travel this daily journey back and forth.
For them to develop and deepen their knowledge, facilities for research and study are missing in Gokarna.
Indeed, with the exception of the Study Circle, Gokarna has no library, no cultural centre and not even a proper bookshop.
On the other hand, the Karnataka government encourages acces to education and culture, especially for the youngest, and fights against child labor.