Ravana, King of Lanka was a great devotee of Lord Shiva. He was impressed with Ravana great devotion and in turn asked for any boon. He replied “I shall grant it”. Ravana replied “When the entire world will be submerged in the floods, Lanka shall be spared.
Lord Shiva was puzzled by the Ravana response. He cleverly handed over a Shivalinga in the Ravana hands. Shiva cleverly responded “Wherever you place it down it would stick to that place. That place would be protected from floods. But the Lord Shiva warned him to hold in both the hands. Ravana was overjoyed and began journey to Lanka.
Meanwhile, gods have come to know about the Lord Shiva’s gift to Ravana. They were horrified and went to Ganesha for help.
Ganesha had a brilliant idea and in the disguise of cowherd stood in the Ravana’s path. Ravana saw the cowherd boy standing in his path.
Ravana replied “Hey boy! Here”. Ravana gave the instructions not to place Linga down and requested him to hold it. Ravana went to quench his thirst. But Ganesha warned him that he would call three times. In turn if he would not respond he shall place it down.
Ravana said that he will return soon. When the Ravana reached river the boy called his name “Ravana, Ravana, Ravana!” and quickly placed the Linga down. The Linga got stuck there immediately. Then when Ravana returned there was no sign of that boy.
On his way returning to Lanka, Ravana offers prayer in this place but failed to go back as Atmalinga firmly gets attached. It resembles the shape of the cow’s ear .Gokarna meaning “Cow’s Ear “, has been derived as Lord Shiva emerged from the ear of a cow.