Koti Teertha - the name literally means - a thousand springs.
And that is the legend of this lake, which is believed to be the origin of a thousand springs. Located in Gokarna, at walking distance from the Mahabaleshwara Temple, it is believed to be one of the most sacred water sources in the region. Pilgrims visiting the temple usually bathe here and some also perform the rituals for their ancestors before visiting the temple, believing it will wash away their sins and bring lasting peace to generations past and present.
The importance of the lake probably stems from the fact that this a freshwater lake, fed by springs, though in such close proximity to the sea. The last time I visited Gokarna, the lake was clean, and there were lots of people bathing there. We didn't have a bath, but did step into the water for a while. This time, I was shocked by how dirty it was! More interestingly, I did not notice a single person bathing, which was a surprise. Looking up some information, however, I came across something interesting.
Apparently, sometime in Feb 2012, a group of Russian tourists cleaned up the lake, according to this news report in The Hindu. What struck me about the article was, firstly, the lack of interest among the locals, or the scores of Hindu pilgrims who visit the temple. It is a common tradition for pilgrims to bathe at ponds or lakes attached to temples, and you might think they would be bothered by its condition, and participate in the cleaning process. As for the locals, the temple is the centre of their world too, as everything revolves around it, be it business, their daily life, or even their livelihood. The lake would, at some time, have been an important source of water for the area. However, we are content to let it be, least bothered about the state it is in. Secondly, just over a year later, the condition of the lake seems to be so much worse, you begin to wonder what is it that has made its condition deteriorate so fast.
|A forgotten shrine overgrown with weeds at the centre of the lake|
Sadly, this seems to be the state of affairs everywhere in India. Whether it is the state of our rivers, our mountains, or our lakes, our jungles, or even our heritage, I wonder what it is that makes us so indifferent, so uncaring?