Murudeshwar – A Visit to the World’s Second Tallest Shiva Statue

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.

Tallest Shiva Statue Murudeshwar Karnataka

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.

Tallest Shiva Statue Murudeshwar Karnataka

Tallest Shiva Statue Murudeshwar Karnataka

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.

Tallest Shiva Statue Murudeshwar Karnataka

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.

Tallest Shiva Statue Murudeshwar Karnataka

Murudeshwar Temple

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.

Tallest Shiva Statue Murudeshwar Karnataka

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.

Tallest Shiva Statue Murudeshwar Karnataka

Tallest Shiva Statue Murudeshwar Karnataka

Tallest Shiva Statue Murudeshwar Karnataka

Tallest Shiva Statue Murudeshwar Karnataka

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.

Tallest Shiva Statue Murudeshwar Karnataka

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. The beach offers several recreation water sports activities and we wished they had fishing tours here too, fishing charters would be so much fun.

Tallest Shiva Statue Murudeshwar Karnataka

Murudeshwar Garden

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.

Tallest Shiva Statue Murudeshwar Karnataka

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Tallest Shiva Statue Murudeshwar Karnataka

Tallest Shiva Statue Murudeshwar Karnataka

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.

Tallest Shiva Statue Murudeshwar Karnataka

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.

Tallest Shiva Statue Murudeshwar Karnataka

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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16 Comment

  1. Murudeshwar is a lovely place. It has been some years since we sent a couple of days there. It was thrilling to wake up in the early morning and peep out of the window to look at the towering statue of Shiva, bathed in the early morning light. W had also done a bit of paragliding on the beach as well.

  2. Bhusha says: Reply

    I haven’t been there yet! Going on such family trips with multiple generation is always a different kind of fun! The temple, beach, view is an awesome combo!

  3. Wow, the details on the buildings and statues is incredible. This is definitely a site I’d love to explore, especially with the beach being so close by! Hopefully I’ll make it there sometime in my lifetime!

  4. Zinara says: Reply

    Oh my! These pictures are so beautiful. So in love with Hindu temples. We just went to one in Colombo a few days ago. All the statues in Murudeshwar Garden look breathtakingly beautiful and how cool it is that you all got to see a beautiful lake at the end bordering pink bougainvillea.

  5. The more I read about India the longer my list of things to do there is! Murudeshwar and the temple both look like worth while attractions to visit, and the temple seems so white and clean too. The Gopura temple is a sight to behold too!

  6. The Murudeshwar temples look like that they have caretakers. The colors look vibrant and the place is clean. The view of the beach is beautiful.

  7. Reshma says: Reply

    Murudeshwar has been a place that I have reserved for a getaway with family and friends, and I don’t mind going back there any number of times. In fact, I have been visiting here even before the construction of this Gopuram from which we can see the whole view now. Your post and the pictures made me nostalgic and I went back in time! Thanks for sharing!

  8. I am amazed at how advanced Indian architecture was centuries ago. The Shiva statue is so grand…I am a strong Shiva believer and this place is a must go for me. The view of the beach is so lovely, with little boats!

  9. The statue is indeed opulent and magnificent in its grandeur. The tower was impressive for its height- love how you described it as squinting your eyes looking up at the tower. It does look very intimidating in its height! But what impressed me most is the level of detail on the tower!

  10. How gorgeous is Murudeshwara Temple Gopura! I had no idea that it’s the World’s Second Tallest Shiva Statue. The way it has been constructed is mind blowing! Some other great suggestions to visit too. Thanks for the great post!

  11. Frankly I am not a temple person. And I visited Murudeshwar exactly for the reasons you listed in the beginning of your post – shallow beach good for swimming, water sports, souvenir shopping and eating out.

  12. A 123 foot Shiva statue sounds beautiful. It’s amazing that Muredeshwar has such a beautiful temple complex so near a fantastic beach. It sound like a perfect place to visit.

  13. Megan Jerrard says: Reply

    I love revisiting the places I traveled to on school trips – they bring back such beautiful memories while being able to make new impressions as an adult. It’s always interesting to see if you remember it and see it the same way!

    Such a beautiful temple, with such intricate work – thanks for the tip on visiting Murudeshwar during Maha Shivarathri – will do!

  14. What a beautiful place. I love the golden statues of the temple. I have to ask if you leave your shoes before entering the tower, do you have to walk up to the top barefoot? (If you don’t want to take the lift)

  15. There looks like many great attractions to see in this destination. The coastline looks beautiful, especially in the afternoon sun. The 20 story temple looks amazing especially it design

  16. How beautiful is Murudeshwara Temple Gopura! The sculptures and the design look so captivating. And the beach close by looks beautiful. Thanks for the tip on visiting Murudeshwar.

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