Gokarna Tourist Attractions
In the northern part of the Kathmandu Valley there is the old Newari village of Gokarna surrounded by forest. In a picturesque gorge on the bank of the Bagmati stands the best-known feature of this area - an ancient shrine to Shiva.
Gokarneshvara Mahadev Temple
Gokarna is believed to be one of the oldest temple sites in Nepal, with ghats for the customary cremations. The Gokarneshvara Mahadev Temple, which takes its name from the holy city of Gokarna in southern India, is mentioned in the ancient Sanskrit geographia as a major place of pilgrimage.The large, three-tiered pagoda dates from the 14th c. but was substantially rebuilt in the 19th c. after a fire. It is once again in good condition thanks to UNESCO who in 1980 provided funds for restoration. In addition to the exquisite wood-carvings there are even more than the usual number of interesting sculptures to be seen. The oldest figure, a statue of Parvati, perhaps dating from the 8th c., occupies a small shrine in the north-west corner of the temple precinct.
Festival of Gokarna Aunsi
On the festival of Gokarna Aunsi (Father's Day) the temple is the center of worship. The religious image, a lingham, symbolizes close links with the souls of the dead. On the day of Gokarna Aunsi hundreds of Shiva's followers converge on the shrine. Having performed the necessary ritual ablutions they make offerings of fruit, eggs and sweets before the lingam. Pindas, little ball-shaped sweets made of rice or barley meal, intended for the ancestors, are consigned to the sacred waters or an equally sacred cow. The temple square and the ghats are full of the faithful who in Shiva's lingham honor their dead ancestors. Beggars and trades people also gather at the temple.
Royal Gokarna Game Reserve
For several years the former Royal Gokarna Game Reserve was a much-visited safari park of 20 sq. km (73/4 sq. mi.) which housed many species of birds, deer, wild boar and monkeys. A luxury hotel and associated golf course, the "Gokarna Forest Golf Resort" has been built in order to attract wealthy visitors.