Kalasa, the temple town of Karnataka, is a must-visit. There are many temple towns in Karnataka, associated with events from centuries ago, providing a glimpse into the spiritual soul of the region.
These revered sites also showcase the architectural heritage of Southern India which boasts so many styles and design philosophies, representing the many dynasties and cultures that have inhabited the land. One of these temple towns is Kalasa, located in the picturesque Chikkamagaluru district in Karnataka close to the famous peak of Kudremukh.
Sitting on the banks of the River Bhadra, the main attraction of Kalasa town is the Kalaseshwara Temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva. The intricately carved main tower of the temple is one of the defining features of the town as pilgrims from all over the region come to offer their prayers throughout the day. The town is surrounded by the scenic Western Ghats, from where its lifeline, the Bhadra originates.
Mythological Legend of Kalasa
The legend behind Kalasa is steeped in some of the most important events of Hindu mythology. It is believed that when Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvathi married in the Himalayas, the attendance of the entire pantheon of deities caused a change in the earth’s rotation.
Lord Shiva requested the great sage Agasthya to travel south and balance the shift of the earth, promising him that he would be able to witness the wedding from where he resides. The town is believed to be the spot where Sage Agasthya resided during the wedding of Shiva and Parvathi. The marriage is celebrated by devotees to this date.
The temple is located on a hillock, close to the river and its main features include a soap stone shrine was built in the Hoysala sculpture style. When looked from afar, the temple dome resembles a pot or utensil. Facilities include a large community hall which can accommodate up to 5000 people. Meals are provided to pilgrims between 1 and 2 PM and one can also purchase related media and publications at the temple. Prasad available at the temple includes laddu, coconut, dates and other items.
More Temples in Kalasa
Girijamba Temple – The temple is dedicated to Girija. The main festival at the Girijamba Temple commemorates the marriage between Girija and Shiva, and is hosted two days after Diwali.
Venkataramana Temple – This site dates back to the 15th century and is dedicated to Shri Venkataramana. The car festival is one of the most important in this shrine.
Other temples of the town include the Hanuman, Ranjal Mahalakshmi, Vashistha Ashrama and Shree Chandranatha Swamy Temples.
The Pancha Theerthas
Kalasa is usually part of a three-stop temple tour that also includes Sringeri and Horanadu. The temple town of Kalasa is also known for the five sacred water bodies or Pancha theerthas. Each of these spots is associated with an event in mythology.
The five theerthas are part of the pilgrimage route are:
- The Vasistha Theertha, dedicated to the sage Vasistha
- Naga Theertha, dedicated to the Snake God
- Koti Theertha, a pilgrimage here is believed to equate visiting 10 million holy waters
- The Rudra Theertha dedicated to Lord Rudra
- Amba Theertha, dedicated to Goddess Parvathi
Pilgrims and other visitors can also enjoy the climb to Duggapan Katte, from where they can enjoy views of the entire temple town of Kalasa. There is a large boulder near one of these sacred ponds, believed to have been placed by Shri Madhawacharya, the Dvaita philosophy’s founder. On the higher portion of this rock, one can find a statue of the acharya carved.
The Festivals of Kalasa
Girija Kalyan is one of the biggest festivals of Kalasa, stemming from the core mythology of the town. It begins on the new moon and continues to the full moon. The procession idol of the Kalaseshwara temple is taken out during the Car Festival or Rathotsava. Shivratri is another important festival of Kalasa. During these festivals, the Kalaseshwara temple is open day and night.
How to Reach Kalasa
Mangalore’s Bajpe airport is closest to the town, around 115 kilometres away. The Mysore airport is around 175 kilometres away from the town. The rest of the journey is by road.
The closest train station to the town is in Bantawala, 114 kilometres away.
If you are landing in Mangalore, then the road trip north via the NH 169 and SH 66 is around 115 kilometres and would take close to 3 hours. From Bangalore, the place is a 6-hour road trip via NH75. The 310 kilometres route passes through the town of Hassan. The trip by road from Bantwal railway station via the NH 169 and SH 66 would take close to 3 hours.
The Chikkamagaluru district of Karnataka offers a mix of culture, spirituality and untamed nature to those who venture into its misty climes. Enjoy a unique experience when you step into Kalasa town, witness its rich heritage and explore the beautiful surroundings.