Gokarna: Pilgrim safety in jeopardy as heavy rains continue

Team Udayavani, Jun 21, 2024, 8:09 PM IST

Gokarna, known as the “Kashi of the South,” has been facing severe weather conditions with the heavy rainfall that subsided over the past couple of days intensifying again on Friday. The relentless downpour, combined with strong sea surges, has led to significant erosion, with large portions of the prominent beach being swallowed by the sea. The once expansive shoreline is now in disarray.

Gokarna, a major pilgrimage destination, attracts thousands of devotees daily. After visiting the renowned temples, it is customary for many to proceed to the nearby beaches. However, Friday’s scene at the seashore was alarming as the raging sea had eroded several acres of land, leaving the beach severely damaged and deformed.

Despite Gokarna hosting several important beaches, the one adjacent to the Shri Mahabaleshwar Temple holds special significance. Pilgrims traditionally engage in sea bathing, offering rituals, and various religious activities here. With the beach now virtually nonexistent, these practices have been severely disrupted.

The lack of awareness among visiting devotees about the sea’s depth and ferocity is concerning. Even amidst the violent waves, many continue to venture into the waters, posing a significant risk. Lifeguards repeatedly caution the visitors, yet their warnings often go unheeded. A single misstep during the swift retreat of the waves can lead to drowning.

Despite substantial erosion, tourists, particularly women, can still be seen enjoying themselves in the water, which is a cause for alarm. Ignoring the lifeguards’ warnings, they remain oblivious to the impending dangers. The sight of people frolicking in such perilous conditions is truly distressing.

For the devotees coming from afar, the desire to bathe in the sea post-darshan is natural. However, their lack of caution towards the heightened risks can seem reckless. The usual routine involves sea bathing followed by a freshwater rinse and changing clothes at the nearby bathing facilities. This practice continues, despite the increased hazards posed by the current state of the beach.

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