The devotees of Lord Mahabaleshwar were really fortunate to witness the rare and splendid Ashtabandha Mahotsava of the Lord in the Month of May 1983. The Shastras ordian that these cel­ebrations must as a rule be held once in twelve years ever since Ravan the demon King of Lanka wangled the Atma Lingam from Lord Shiva and brought it to Gokarn where by the force of unfore­seen circumstances he had but to leave the same.
But for the last somany years the celebrations have never been conducted regularly. Except the present one our century has seen only two of them in the past one in 1906 and the other inApril 1930.
The recent Ashtabandha Mahotsava was to repeat certainly a very rare opportunity. The celebra­tions began on the auspicious day of Akshaya Triteeya i.e. on May 15 th 1983. The people in and around Karnataka were blessed to have had a Darshana of Shivas’ Atma Linga for about a fomight since then.
As is well known, we can’t have a look at it in the usual course as the altars cover it completely leaving only the tip above to be felt by hand. We can see the complete idol at the time of Ashtabandha only.
Pilgrims came from far and wide full force during the celebrations in May 1983. It was a pleas­ant surprise for them to see the open Atma Linga, deshaped and disfigured owing to the desperate attempts of Ravana to pull it out after it was in planted firmly here by Lord Ganapati in the disguise of a Vatu (A Young Brahmin).
Situated on the shore of the Arabian sea at times strident and stormy too is tiny pilgrim centre is well know as the southern Kashi (Southern Banaras) and also as Bhoo Kailas. It is decked with a rich natural setting which at once catches our eyes. Blessed indeed is he who visits the place at least once in his life. Gokarn abounds in a number of holy Teerthas and several temples and spots of Mytho­logical importance of their own. The resent celebra­tions vigoriously provided the people with an occa­sion to enjoy the incomparable natural beauty of Gokarn as well.
The Government of Karnataka and the munificent devotees made the celebrations a grand success. No stone was left unturned to see that the visitors were duly satisfied with the amenities and arrangements during their short stay hear. Free board­ing tents for lodging, drinking water supply etc., were satisfactorily done. For the benefit for the poor, free Dharshana facility was arranged from 4- 30 to 6 a. m. daily.
As a part of the celebrations many rituals and sacrifices, Shri Ganapati Atharvasheersha Homa, Purusha Sukta Homa, Gayatri Homa, Atirudra Yaga, Sahasra Chandi Yaga were held.
Shri Pejavar Vishweshwar teertha Swamiji Udupi. Shri Gokarn Parthagali Matha Swamiji, Shri Ramachandrapur Mathadheesha and many others attended the celebrations.
The festival and sacred ceremony of reins tailing Atma Lingam was conducted with all arrangements on May 26, 1983 at the hands of Shri Raghavendra Bharati Swami Jagadguru Shri Shankaracharya Gokarn as the recitation of Vedamantram filled the area resoundingly.
It is estimated roughly that over three lakhs people witnessed this Mahotsava in the stipulated period.

Leave a Reply