Murudeshwara, the temple town with a scenic beauty and golden history

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By Victor DSouza, Doha
Bellevision Media Network

Doha, 26 January 2011: This time during my two week vacation in Moodubelle, my family and I wanted to go on a tour but could not go away from Moodubelle longer as there were centenary celebrations, Christmas, New Year, feasts, weddings and many other celebrations to attend. So finally we settled for a one day tour to Murudeshwara the temple town which is nearby.  Bounded by the Arabian Sea and the rolling hills of Western Ghats, the place is a favourite picnic spot and probably has one of the finest beach, temple, restaurants, guest houses, resorts and beautiful garden in coastal Karnataka. Once we were there we knew that the scenic beauty of this coastal town is sure to relax and rejuvenate us.


Murudeshwara is about 120 km from Udupi towards north on the National Highway 17. We went driving in the evening and it took us about 3 hours as the highway is under repair-construction. It was dark when we reached the monumental entrance arch of Murudeshwara on the west side of national highway and half kilometer from the entrance arch is Murudeshwara temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva, lies in the beach town in the Bhatkal Taluk of Uttara Kannada district. The statue of Shiva here is the world’s tallest and it lies on the coast of the Arabian Sea. We checked into the hotel RNS Residency which is next to the temple and planned the visiting of places to next morning.


As we woke up early in the morning we could clearly hear the sounds of sea waves hitting the shore and we were at the beach by 06.30 am. The calm and wide sea soothes the senses even before we enter the water. A stroll along the seaside with green landscape on one side and the sea on the other is the ultimate relaxation. People were just beginning to arrive then and the fishermen were pulling their small boats from the sea towards the shore with their catch of fish. At the beach we could see people relax on the pristine sands, some swimming, some enjoying water sports and boating. From the beach the view of the statue of Shiva and the temple is panoramic. The statue of Shiva is placed such that the sunlight falls on it directly the whole day and it shines.


By the time the sunlight was bright we were hungry, so we went back to the hotel for breakfast and then visited the temple. On the way near the beach there are few shops of handicraft articles and ready made garments. The sea on three sides surrounds the temple towering on the small hill called Kanduka Giri. Two life-size elephants in concrete stand guard at the steps leading to the temple. The Murudeshwara temple has a history that dates back to a few centuries. A small temple existed here for generations. A recent attraction is the Lord Shiva idol erected beside the temple. The idol towers 123 feet into the sky. The Western Ghats has always held a special place in the hearts of pleasure seeking nature lovers. Not just the Temple, Murudeshwara has a plentiful to appeal to the visitor.


The ancient temple which stood for ages was fast dilapating. The locals tried rebuilding the sanctum sanctorum earlier, but it did not last long. The present temple complex is the result of the painstaking efforts of Sri. R. N Shetty. He started renovation in 1977 with a team of craftsmen and artisans brought in from Tamilnadu. The temple is mainly built of granite. Subsequently, other sculptures were built on the Kanduka hill, which have enhanced the beauty of the place. Another newly added masterpiece is the world’s largest Rajagopura in front of the temple complex. This 249 feet tower was inaugurated in May 2008. The Gopura has 22 floors and is the only Gopura to be fitted with elevators. These monuments complement the natural scenic beauty of Murudeshwara.


Besides the temple, the pilgrim finds himself in the midst of numerous sculptures on the Kanduka hill. The Geetopadesha, Sun chariot, the sculpture of Lord Ganesh receiving the Atmalinga from Ravana in the form of a young boy, and others dot the landscape of the hill. As one ascends the hillock, there is a shrine of Jattiga seated on a horse. There is a huge fort behind the temple, which is said to have been renovated by King Tippu Sultan of Mysore. On the very top is the Shiva statue. Beneath the statue is a cavern with impressive life-size sculptures depicting the story of Murudeshwara narrated through an impressive sound and light show, which is briefly as follows.


The origin of the name "Murudeshwara" dates to the time of Ramayana. The Hindu gods attained immortality and invincibility by worshipping a divine Lingam called the Atma-Linga. The Lanka King Ravana wanted to attain immortality by obtaining the Atma-Linga (Soul of Shiva). Since the Atma-Linga belonged to Lord Shiva, Ravana worshipped Shiva with devotion. Pleased by his prayers, Lord Shiva appeared before him and asked him what he wanted. By this time Narada had asked Lord Vishnu to change Ravana’s mind. As a result of this plot, Ravana asks for Goddess Parvati, and Lord Shiva offers her to him.



On his way back to Lanka Narada tells Ravana that Lord had not given him the real Parvathi and that the real Parvathi was in Pathala. So Ravana frees his companion, goes to Pathala and marries a king’s daughter, assuming her to be the real Parvathi. He then returns to Lanka, where his mother asks him for the Linga. Ravana then comes to know of the tricks played on him by Lord Vishnu. He therefore prays to Lord Shiva again, begging for his forgiveness. Lord Shiva appears and this time, Ravana requests the AtmaLinga as his boon. Lord Shiva agrees to give him the boon with the condition that it should never be placed on the ground.


If the AtmaLinga was ever placed on the ground, all the powers would return to Lord Shiva again. Having obtained his boon, Ravana started back on his journey to Lanka. Sage Narada, who came to know of this incident, realised that with the AtmaLinga, Ravana may obtain immortality and create havoc on earth. He approached the Lord Ganesh and requested him to prevent the AtmaLinga from reaching Lanka. Lord Ganesh knew that Ravana was a very devoted person who used to perform prayer ritual in the evening every day without fail. He decided to make use of this fact and came up with a plan to confiscate the AtmaLinga from Ravana.


As Ravana was nearing Gokarna, Lord Vishnu blotted out the sun to give the appearance of dusk. Ravana now had to perform his evening rituals but was worried because with the AtmaLinga in his hands, he would not be able to do his rituals. At this time, Lord Ganesh in the disguise of a Brahmin boy accosted him.Ravana requested him to hold the AtmaLinga until he performed his rituals, and asked him not to place it on the ground. Ganesh struck a deal with him saying that he would call Ravana thrice, and if Ravana did not return within that time, he would place the AtmaLinga on the ground. As predicted, before Ravana could return after completing his rituals, Ganesh had already placed the AtmaLinga on the ground. Vishnu then removed his illusion and it was daylight again.


Ravana, realising that he had been tricked, tried to uproot and destroy it; Due to the force exerted by Ravana, some pieces were scattered. One such piece from the head of the linga is said to have fallen in present day Surathkal. The famous Sadashiva temple is said to be built around that piece of linga. Then he decided to destroy the covering of the AtmaLinga, and threw the case covering it to a place called Sajjeshwara, 23 miles away. Then he threw the lid of the case to a placed called Guneshwara (now Gunavanthe) and Dhareshwara, 10–12 miles away. Finally, he threw the cloth covering the AtmaLinga to a placed called Mrideshwara in Kanduka-Giri (Kanduka Hill). Mrideshwara has been renamed to Murudeshwara. Lord Shiva, following a complicated sequence of events, declared that Murudeshwara should be one of his five holy places.


We left Murudeshwara in the afternoon to return back to Moodubelle. On our way back we halted for a while at Maravanthe, which is a beach near Kundapura. It is 50 kilometers north of Udupi. The national highway NH-17 passes close to this beach and a stretch of a kilometer of this highway is flanked by the seashore of Arabian sea on one side and the Sauparnika River on the other. There is boating facility in the river which is a beautiful scene. Trasi is the nearby village on south side of this beach. Padukone village, native place of Prakash Padukone and Deepika Padukone lies on the other side of Saupranika river and is connected via boat.



Comments on this Article
sadanand moolya, kabyadi/doha Sun, March-20-2011, 12:44
I went murdeshwar temple 15 years back.Now the recent photography of the temple published by Mr.Victor give interest to visit the temple along with my family.Thank you very much Mr.Victor for your good information.It shows your good value.
Vinod Malve, Uttar Kannada / Doha Thu, February-24-2011, 12:59
Very Beautifully presented, very interesting to go through it.
J Rebello, Doha Sat, January-29-2011, 6:19
Thank you Victor for presenting your travelogue with valuable information about Murudeshwara and its history. No doubt, the pictures are really beautiful and the story is very interesting.
Edward Barboza, Kanajar / Auckland Wed, January-26-2011, 7:51
Thanks Victor for your valuable time and the detailed information about the Murudeshwara Temple, Scenic beauty and History. Very interesting article and excellent photographs
John Peter Fernandes, Moodubelle/Nottingham U.K Wed, January-26-2011, 4:20
Very interesting article and wonderful pictures!!!!!
Akil Vijay DSouza, Moodubelle/Bangalore Wed, January-26-2011, 1:32
Superb pics Mr. Victor...
Philip Mudartha, Qatar Wed, January-26-2011, 12:44
Very impressive travelogue. Victor, I will post a link to this on my blog at, to help provide a wider readership.
Godwin, Moodubelle Wed, January-26-2011, 12:12
Wonderful travelogue. This is one of my favorite picnic spots. Took me back to my ICYM days when we used to go to Murudeshwar for picnic. Beautiful snaps Victor.
sona shetty, Belle/Bahrain Wed, January-26-2011, 8:37
WOW....... Thank you Mr. Victor for the beautiful pictures article
Cdr GP Mallya (retd), Kinnigoli/South Korea Wed, January-26-2011, 6:55
Excellent photographs which brought out the breathtaking beauty of Murudeshwara in great detail..good total a good travelogue..Good effort by Victor..keep writing..
Ancilla, Mumbai Wed, January-26-2011, 12:52
After seeing these beautiful pics, i just have one word to express myself... WOW...
Eugene DSouza, Moodubelle Tue, January-25-2011, 9:10
A wonderful presentation by Victor through this article and pictures of his family s tour of Murdeshwara. The graphic narration of the Murdeshwara temple, its legend, beach and overall impression of his visit to this historic and religious place supported by excellent pictures made a wonderful reading and viewing. Thank you Victor for your efforts.
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