With a part of the Western Ghats adorning Karnataka, the State is abundant in lush, green, natural beauty. It is located on the southwest coast of India which means it has some spectacular beaches facing the Arabian Sea, like the Om Beach in Gokarna. And then, there are the historic ruins of Hampi which attract many history enthusiasts. Also, the temples in Karnataka are major tourist attractions. Be it their architecture, religious significance, history or location, most temples in Karnataka are alluring, to say the least.
One such temple is the famous Murudeshwar Temple, situated in Murudeshwar (a town in Bhatkal Taluk of Uttara Kannada district in Karnataka). Murudeshwar/Murudeshwara is famous for the world’s second-tallest Shiva statue. The 123-ft-tall statue offers a panoramic view of the Arabian Sea. The most exciting thing about the temple is the scenic view of the Shiva statue, along with the breathtaking view of the seashore. At the foot of the temple lies another temple devoted to Shri Rameshwara. Next to the idol of Lord Shiva is a shrine devoted to Shaneeshwara, while below Lord Shiva’s idol, there is a small cave. At the entry gate of the temple, there are statues of two elephants which are believed to act as guards to the temple. Within the temple premises is a depiction of Lord Shiva giving knowledge of the Bhagavad Gita to Arjuna, and besides that, the depiction of Ravana giving the ‘Atma Lingam’ to Lord Ganesha.
Situated just two kms off Murudeshwar Railway Station, the Murudeshwar Temple was earlier known as Mrideshwara, and was later renamed as Murudeshwar after the construction of the temple. According to legend, Ravana brought the ‘Atma Lingam’ from Mount Kailash but Lord Ganesha tricked Ravana on his way to Lanka and put down the Lingam on the ground at Gokarna. Angered by this, Ravana tried to uproot and destroy the Lingam. The broken pieces of the Lingam were cast away. The covering cloth of the Lingam fell at Kanduka Giri, and, thus, the Murudeshwar Temple was built at the site.
This temple is situated on a small hill called Kanduka Giri, bounded by the sea on three sides, offering a wonderful view. Built mainly of granite with Chalukya and Kadamba sculptures in the Dravidian style, the temple has a 20-storey ‘Gopura’ – called Raja Gopuram – guarded by two life-sized concrete elephants at the steps leading to the temple. The tower is 249-ft-tall and is considered the tallest ‘Gopura’ in the world. Over 500 sculptors from Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu constructed it in 10 years. The Murudeswar Temple is entirely modernised, with the exception of the sanctum sanctorum, which still retains its original structure. In the sanctum, Lord Shiva graces in the form of a Lingam, two feet below the ground.
There is a huge fort behind the temple, said to have been renovated by Tipu Sultan of Mysore. This is a great place to watch the sunset. Maha Shivaratri is a major festival celebrated at this temple on a grand scale, attracting thousands of people from Karnataka and the nearby states.