To my right, the waves rush to the shore, eager to merge with the sand. To my left, the same waves crash against the rocks, their spray diverting my reverie as I ponder over the beauty of nature, and wonder what first brought people here. Was it this beauty that encouraged them to build a temple here, or was it the fresh, sweet spring water flowing from the hill here that made this place special? No matter what the reason, I am glad my auto driver brought me here. We are at the Rama temple in Gokarna, just a few minutes away from the Mahabaleshwara Temple, yet offering so different a perspective.
It is the main Gokarna beach that I can see on my right. At one time, the temple would have stood on this shore. Today, the sands, trees and houses separate it from the sea, and I can barely see the temple spires, even from this height.
The Rama temple is a simple one – just a small shrine, a wooden structure, with an idol of the Lord with his brother Lakshman and his wife, Sita.
However, the temple is nowhere near as interesting as the water that flows from this hill. Where the mountain stream emerges from the hill, a small tank has been built, and even though the temple is deserted, there are many people bathing here. I can see the reason. This is so much better a place to bathe than either the sea, or the Koti Teertha, both of which are no longer pristine, as is this small source of water.
I just hope it remains just as pristine, a few years from now!
More interesting to me than even the water, is this – probably a hero stone. It was apparently found here, and when the tank was restored recently, this was added to the concrete structure which was built. I wonder if there is any way we could learn more about this.
A little further up, near the temple, is another spring, again from the mountain, and here again is a mouth carved out of the rock. It is clean here, and it is meant for drinking. We taste the water – it is cold and sweet, and Samhith takes another mouthful, complaining that even the cold water we bought at the shop isn’t as cold as this! The water, coming, as it does, from the hills, is believed to have medicinal qualities, with the minerals it brings along with it.
The temple is built on the hill which separates Gokarna beach from Kudle beach, and there are steps cut into the stone which take us to the other side. I am not in the mood to climb, and we decide to turn back, but not without noticing that for those in better shape, and with the energy to climb, the hill offers more….