Murudeshwara temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva, lies in the holy beach town in the Bhatkal Taluk of Uttara Kannada district in the state of Karnataka, India. Situated between the Honnavar and Bhatkal town(about 12kms) The statue of Shiva here is the world’s tallest and it lies on the coast of the Arabian Sea.
History of Murudeshwara
The name “Murudeshwara” means Shiva or Eeshwara. The significance of this holy town dates to the time of Ramayana. By penance dedicated to the AtmaLinga, the divine Lingam of Shiva procures invincibility and immortality to the Hindu Gods. Ravana, the Lanka King worshipped Shiva with devotion to attain immortality by obtaining the AtmaLinga. Lord Shiva appeared before Ravana and asked him what he wanted. By this time Lord Vishnu to change Ravana’s mind on behest of Narada. As a result of this plot, Ravana asks for Goddess Parvathi, and Lord Shiva offers him.
On his way back to Lanka Narada tricks Ravana that the real Parvathi was in Pathala. So Ravana lets off Parvathi and went to Pathala and marries a king’s daughter thinking that she was Parvathi. When he returns back to Lanka his mother then asks for linga. Ravana knowing that he was tricked is angry with Vishnu and meditates to please Lord Shiva.
Lord Shiva appears and Ravana asks for His forgiveness. And this time, Ravana requests the AtmaLinga as his boon. Lord Shiva agreed to give him the boon with a condition that it should never be placed on the ground. It is believed that 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, realised that with the AtmaLinga, Ravana may obtain immortality and create havoc on earth, approached the Lord Ganesh to help him. As Ravana was nearing Gokarna, Lord Vishnu blocked the sun to make it appear as 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, disguised as a Brahmin boy came near him.
Ravana requested him to hold the AtmaLinga until he performed his puja, and told 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 got really angry that he was tricked and tried to uproot the AtmaLinga and destroy it but could not. In a fit of rage he 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.
At Murudeshwar: Saint Bhagiratha awaits as Goddess Ganga lands on Lord Shiva’s Jata (locks of hair) from Heaven
Murudeshwara Temple and Raja Gopura
This temple is built on the Kanduka Hill which is surrounded on three sides by the waters of the Arabian Sea. It is a temple dedicated to the Lord Shiva, and a 20-storied Gopura is being constructed on the temple. Two life-size elephants in concrete stand guard at the steps leading to the temple.
The entire temple and temple complex, including the 249 feet tall Raja Gopura, which is considered the tallest gopura in the world, was constructed to its present form by businessman and philanthropist Mr R N Shetty.
Murudeshwara Fort: A fort present behind the temple is said to have been renovated by Tipu Sultan.
The Beach : One can relax on the pristine sands, swimming, water sports and boating can be enjoyed. One can take a long walk or trek along beach line. Bhatkal beach is most beautiful beach near to Murudeshwar. Handicraft articles made of special type of grass is unique and worth shopping. Murdeshwar beach is ideal palce for swimming.
Best time to Visit: November to February
How to reach: From Bangalore take the NH-206 to reach Honnavar and then take NH-17 to reach Murudeshwara. From Mumbai and Mangalore one has to take the National Highway NH-17 between the towns of Honnavar and Bhatkal
Nearest Road: From Bangalore 455 km, from Mangalore 165kms.
Nearest Railway Station: Murudeshwara station lies on the Konkan Railway. Some trains from Mumbai and Mangalore stop here. To reach from Bangalore on has to take train to Bhatkal station.
Nearest Airport: Mangalore International Airport, 165 km away. Hubli and Panaji airports are other alternatives.
Where to Stay: Private hotels and PWD Rest Houses