District: Dakshina Kannada
Town: Dharmasthala
Temple: Dharmasthala Manjunatha Temple

The Dharmasthala Manjunatha Temple is an ancient temple that’s around 800 years old is located in Karnataka in the Dakshina Kannada district. This temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva, who is regarded as the primary deity.

Dharmasthala Manjunatha Temple – Overview

The renowned Dharmasthala Manjunatha Temple has a unique characteristic. It belongs to the Shaivite sect or the class of Hindus who consider Lord Shiva as their prime deity. Other than Lord Shiva, this temple also has idols of Dharma Daivas (Lord Dharma’s Guardian Spirits) and Shakti or Ammanavaru. The four Guardian Spirits of Lord Dharma are Kanyakumari, Kalarkayi, Kumaraswamy and Kalarahu.

Dharmasthala Manjunatha Temple – History

sri-manjunatha-temple-dharmasthalaInitially this place was a small village by the name Kuduma in Mallarmadi and was situated in Belthangady. In this village resided a Jain Bunt chieftain, Birmanna Pergade, along with his wife, Ammu Ballalthi. The house they lived in was known as Nelliadi Beedu.

Legends foretell that the four guardian angels of Lord Dharma disguised themselves as human beings and visited the chieftain’s house. They were searching for a place where Dharma could be preached and it could be propagated and continued. The Pergade family received them with due respect as is shown to visitors. The Dharma Daivas were very pleased with the hospitality shown by Birmanna Pergade and appeared in his dreams that night. The guardian angels informed the chieftain the purpose of their visit and requested the Pergade couple to vacate their house and follow the path of Dharma and also worship the Daivas. The Pergade couple vacated the house at Nelliadi Beedu and built another house for themselves. Till date, the worship of the Dharma Daivas continues in this house.

Again the Dharma Daivas appeared in the dreams of the chieftain and instructed him to build separate shrines for the four Daivas. You will find that the Dharmasthala Manjunatha Temple has four separate shrines dedicated to the four Dharma Daivas. Pergade was also directed to choose two persons of noble descent who would act as the oracles of the Dharma Daivas. Pergade chose four worthy persons who would assist him in performing his duties as an Executive Head of the four shrines.

The Daivas promised that the Pergade family would get abundant resources in the form of charity and fame through the Kshetra. Brahman priests were invited to perform the rituals after Pergade constructed these shrines. The priests requested Pergade to also build a Shivalinga besides the Daivas. Annappa Swamy, the servant of the Daivas, was subsequently sent to Kadri, near Mangalore, to procure a Shivalingam. Shortly afterwards, the Dharmasthala Manjunatha Temple was erected around the Shivalinga.

Dharmasthala Manjunatha Temple – Family History

The creator of the Pergade family is Birmanna Pergade and his spouse Ammu Ballalthi. They are the hereditary trustees of the Dharmasthala Manjunatha Temple. The eldest member of the Pergade family acts as the Dharma Adhikari or the Chief Administrator. He assumes the title of the Heggade. The feudal lord of the temple town was Heggade who also took the responsibility to solve the criminal and civil disputes of the people.

Till this day, the Heggade, who is the eldest living member of the Pergade family, sits each day and solves disputes relating to criminal and civil cases. This is known as hoyulu. The Pergade family have continued this tradition of assuming the position of Dharma Adhikari since twenty generations. Veerendra Heggade is the present Chief Administrator or Dharma Adhikari.

Dharmasthala Manjunatha Temple – The Code of Conduct

Devotees entering the Dharmasthala Manjunatha Temple must follow the below mentioned code of conduct before entering the temple premises:

  • Before entering the Sanctum Sanctorum men should remove their shirt and innerwear (above the waist)
  • Ladies cannot enter this temple wearing nighties. Similarly, men wearing half pants are barred from entering the temple
  • Children less than two years of age are not allowed to enter the Sanctum Sanctorum.

Preparation for Annadana
Annapoorna dining hall at Dharmasthala

Annadana (offering food)  is considered as the greatest vitue among Danas(offering Alms). Here at Dharmasthala the temple committee organizes free food to all its devotees defying all barriers of caste and creed. Annadana at the famous Annapurna dining hall is a unique feature of Dharmasthala, where a simple meal of rice, dal, vegetables and buttermilk is served in the scrupulously clean, airy hall and a friendly environment.

The temple also provides protection to the needy – Abhayadana; free medicine – Aushadhadana; promotion of educational facilities – Vidyadana.


Ganesha festival, Navaratri and Deepavali festivals are celebrated with grandeur at Dharmasthala. The annual festival or carnival called Pattanajae Jatre is held in April every year before the onset of monsoons.  People flock from far and near during these times.

Laksha Deepothsava
Festival of lights and grand illumination celebrated for five days in the month of Kartika (November – December) during this festival, there is cultural activities, Sarva-Dharma & Sahithya Sammelana. There are special seminars are as follows:

  • Fine arts on the third day.
  • Religions of the world, on the fourth day.
  • Literature on the fifth day
  • Special Poojas to Chandranatha Swamy

Shri Bahubali in Dharmasthala
Dharmasthala is famous for Sri Manjunatheshwara Temple and Bahubali monolithic statue of 39 feet height and weighing more than 210 tons. This statue, located on Ratnagiri Betta, was brought to this location from Karkala in 1982. Confluence of various religions is the evidence of the tolerance and spirit of oneness that is the quintessence of Dharmasthala.

Legend of Bahubali
 Bharatha and Bahubali were the sons of the first Jain Theerthankara, King of Rishabha. After is reign he gave Bharatha, his elder son, Ayodhya to rule. To Bhaubali he gave Podanapura. Bharata then acquired the celestial spinning Chakra Ratna, that empowered him to conquer the world.

With his chakra, Bharata conquered many kingdoms and achieved total sovereignty over them then he set to conquer his brother Bahubali’s Podanapura. On requesting Bahubali to accept his supremacy, Bahubali refused, thus infuriating Bharatha.

To avoid a bloody war, the two brothers fought each other hand to hand. Bahubali vanquished his arrogant and acquainting brother and would have killed him, when realization dawned on him. This realization brought disillusionment with the world of lust and greed. Bahubali renounced the world and handed over his kingdom to Bharatha.

He assumed the role of Digambara to begin penance naked and standing until he gained enlightenment. This symbolizes total detachment from the material world owing only to service the mankind.

Annappa Betta
This hill is also called as Badinede Betta. His Shrine and dwelling place of four Dharma Daivas – Kalarahu, Kalarkayi, Kumaraswamy and Kanyakumari situated on this hill.

Manjusha Museum
This Museum near the Temple has a antique collection of swords, armory even old cameras etc. Collection of Temple chariots of various temples of Karnataka are exhibited outside the museum in a shed. There is one more vintage car collection from Sri Veerendra Heggade which is worth a visit for those with similar passion.

Veerendra Heggade
 D Veerendra Heggade is the 21st Dharmadhikari of Shri Kshetra Dharmasthala. Born to Rathnamma and Ratnavarma Heggade in November 25, 1948. Being the eldest son, he had t take up the mantle of Heggadeship at the age of 20 on October 24, 1968. He promoted the carving and installation of the Bahubali statue at Dharmastala.

Under his guidance and able initiatives, “grameenaaabhivruddhi yojane” means “Village Welfare Programs have helped numerous farmers with agricultural credit, technical training, health and hygiene programs, and women empowerment.

Mr. Veerendra Heggade was awarded honorary doctorates from Mangalore University, Gulbarga University and Karnataka University. He was also conferred the “Padma Bhushan” award instituted by the Government of India from President K R Narayanan in 2000 for social service.

How to Get to Dharmasthala Manjunatha Temple

The Dharmasthala Manjunatha Temple is well connected by roads. It lies 300 kilometres from Bangalore and 65 kilometres from Mangalore. The nearest railway station and airport is Mangalore. Devotees coming to the Dharmasthala Manjunatha Temple can have a look at the antique cars and the horse drawn carriages. These vintage vehicles are well maintained by the temple trust of Dharmasthala Manjunatha Temple.

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