Murudeshwar is a popular beach destination located in Uttara Kannada district in Karnataka. We remember Murudeshwar as one of the favorite school trips of our times. The shallow beach makes swimming safe and water sports, souvenir shopping and eat outs make for a great day out. And Murudeshwar being a popular pilgrimage center our parents would happily agree for us to be on the day long excursion.
Murudeshwar was a quick visit on our road trip when heading to Mangalore from Gokarna. From NH66 we took a right turn onto Murudeshwara temple main road through a colossal temple entrance gate. The tall statue of Shiva dominating the skyline could be seen all along the route to the temple complex. The street to the temple complex was lined with shops and eateries on both side and jam packed with tourists. We parked our car and headed towards the temple.
Murudeshwara Temple Gopura
With delight, we squinted at the temple gopura (tower) soaring high above us. We dropped our shoes at the shoe stand and proceeded towards the entrance. The 249 ft high tower stands as an entrance to the temple complex. The 20-storey tower rising high into the sky is adorned with numerous intricately carved beautiful statues representing the Hindu mythology. Two mammoth elephants guarded the gopura entrance.
We walk past the entrance corridor where people queued up to climb to the top. One can take lift up to the top floor for a nominal fee. The top floor offers a breathtaking panoramic view of the beach, the lush green coconut palms lining the sea and a bird’s eye view of the famed Shiva statue and the garden.
Murudeshwar earlier known as ‘Mrideshwara’ is famous for the 123 ft tall Shiva statue which is world’s second tallest statue. The temple complex sits on the hill called Kanduka Giri bounded by the Arabian sea on three sides with a backdrop of western ghats.
We had limited time to spend in Murudeshwar as we had to reach Mangalore at least by dusk. Fortunately, the queue to the sanctum sanctorum wasn’t much long and we quickly joined the queue. We had wonderful views over the beach while we waited in the queue. A cluster of fishing boats was moored along the shore and several colorful boats were left to sail on the sea.
The queue did not take more than ten minutes. There is a huge Nandi at the entrance. Inside the sanctum sanctorum resides the deity Sri Mridesa Linga or Murudeswara an incarnation of Lord Shiva. The linga is believed to be a piece of the original Atma Linga. The public is not allowed inside the sanctum.
The inner courtyard has many more small temples dedicated to other Hindu gods. Each of the temples houses different Hindu deities and has beautifully sculpted towers awash in golden color. The statue of Shiva hovered over these temples as we walked through the temples.
The Legend of Murudeshwara
There is an interesting legend behind the Murudeshwara temple. The Hindu gods were worried when Shiva endowed Ravana with atmalingam as a boon to austere penance. Lord Ganesha on behalf of Hindu gods tricked Ravana and got atmalingam fixed to the ground. Ravana unable to uproot the atmalingam, in rage broke pieces of the lingam and threw them in different directions. The places where the pieces of lingam fell are today popular pilgrim centers while the cloth covering the lingam fell in Murudeshwar where the temple is built today.
The beach here is always crowded but when we visited there were 100s of school students and hence we decided to stay out and headed to visit the garden instead.
There is a large garden in the vicinity of the temple complex where the Shiva Statue is built along with several other statues. The cave beneath the Shiva statue depicts the legend of the Murudeshwar temple through amazing colorful life-size sculptures. Other statues of interest are of Lord Shiva receiving Ganga in his dreadlocks, the statue of Raavan handing over the Atma-Linga to Ganesh and a chariot with statues of Krishna and Arjun in a chariot depicting a scene from Mahabharata, Hindu Mythology.
A walk to the back road to the Statue Park gives a surreal view of the coastline. Entry to the park is free and one can visit the park anytime during the day.
Right when we think we were done with those enchanting temples and the golden washed towers we find this small tank end of the street running from temple complex.
Do plan to visit Murudeshwar during Maha Shivarathri which is a prominent festival celebrated with great pomp. One can also visit the nearby Netrani Island popular with tourists for water recreational activities. Gokarna which is 80 km from Murudeshwar can be clubbed with Murudeshwar making for a wonderful day trip.
Are you planning to visit Murudeshwar then do plan a visit to the temple town of Gokarna and if you have more time to spend on the west coast of India then a road trip along Mangalore and Udupi is definitely a must.
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