Aishwarya Rao

-->A part of a post does little justice to the magnificence of the gigantic idol of Shiva located on the banks of the Arabian sea. At 123 feet, it is the tallest idol of Shiva in the world. Designed to receive the rays of the sun throughout the day, Murudeshwara shines in an unparalleled radiance, delighting his large and eager audience.

After Saturday night’s rest, we reached the Murudeshwara temple on early Sunday morning. Apart from the main deity, we found two other deities interesting – Dattathreya and Jattigeshwara. After the darshan we headed up the stairs to learn and enjoy the history of the place. Right beneath the massive idol is a cave carved with murals narrating the origin of Murudeshwar (again in Kannada). If you prefer, there are guides outside the cave who would be willing to narrate the story with its engaging nuances in a language of your choice.
Our final and obvious destination was the beach beneath. With its fine sand and angular waves, it is easy for a bunch of travelers to forget their agenda and relax in the waters.
While we did not check out the Tipu Sultan’s fort in the vicinity, it might be a good place to check out if you have the time.

After breakfast at the RNS Highway Hotel we headed straight to Kollur.
Where to stay: The RNS Hotel on the beach. The air conditioned rooms can be a little too expensive at Rs.2000 per room for a day. Your best bet is the RNS Highway Hotel maintained by the same management on the way to Murudeshwara. Located 5 minutes from the beach, this newly constructed hotel has the facilities of a 4 star hotel and offers clean and fully furnished rooms (including TV) starting at Rs.300.
After Shiva, we headed to see Shakthi on the banks of the Sauparnika river in Kollur. It was in this Moogambikai temple that we waited for almost half an hour before we received the Darshan, despite having purchased special tickets @ Rs.15/- for a short-cut to see the deity. It is believed that Goddess Mookambikai, the unified form of Lakshmi, Saraswathi and Parvathi appeared before Adi Shankara in this very Kodachadri valley.
The lengthy queues, the gold plated crest and the “jerugandi” (or move quickly) orders inside the temple gives the impression that one is in Tirupathi. Being a part of the seven “mukti” sites in Karnataka, Kollur attracts thousands of devotees every day.
The temple hosts some rare idols like the panchamukhi vinayaka (five faced Ganesh) and a string of lingas such as the Pranalingeshwar, Partheshwar, ChandraMouleeshwar and Nanjundeshwar. More information is available here.

After a photo session at the Agumbe sunset point, our final call for the day was on the banks of the Tunga river, the beautiful Shringeri, one of the most prominent Hindu sites of pilgrimage in India. Words can do little justice to the striking scenic features of this place. There is little surprise that Adi Shankara decided to make Shringeri his home ground where he stayed and preached his principles of Advaita Vedantha. The Sharada temple in the premises houses the most pleasing looking deity bedecked in exquisite ornaments.
Nearby is the Vidyashankar temple, acknowledged as an architectural wonder, where the first rays of the sun corresponds with the zodiacal sign of the month that is engraved on its walls!
There runs a bridge across the river and on the other side is a dense rain forest. If not for our packed schedule, we would have loved to stay back in the lovely gardens of Shringeri where there are guest houses run by the temple administration. After an early dinner right outside the temple, we left to Horanadu, where we had planned to stay the night!
Aishwarya Rao
A brilliant journey cutting across the glorious green canopy of Karnataka began with the darshan at our family deity’s- Kateel.

Kateel (Cut-eel) is a magnificent Durga temple right in the middle of river Nandini is located 27 kms north of Mangalore. The presiding deity of this temple is the “Sowmya Rupa” or the softened manifestation of the fierce Durga Parmeshwari. The deity’s unusual sitting posture is evident as her feet peep out firmly from under the elaborate decoration and a grand saree (most likely to have been an offering from her devotees).
The deity had such an unmistakable charm, certain ‘cuteness’ about her that almost everyone wanted to catch a glimpse of her poised form before we left. With the sound of flowing water (Nandini) and the echo of gigantic rain drops falling on the temple roof in the background it would have been easy to have remained immersed in the lure of this temple.

Legend has it that Nandini (the daughter of the sacred cow Kamadhenu) was cursed by a sage Jabali, to flow as a river on earth and that Durga takes birth as her daughter to release her from the sage’s curse.
You can read more about Kateel history here.
Kateel can easily be the starting point of your pilgrimage+of a weekend getaway. Not only is it located only 25 minutes from the city, but the route to the temple is also absolutely scenic, cheerful and green. Our next destination was Udupi. However on the way to Udupi we stopped at four other must visit sites.

First was the Bappanaad Durga Parameshwari temple located in Mulki. It is believed that Bappa, a Muslim merchant was responsible for building this temple. A detailed explanation of the temple history is available here.

At the temple, you are likely to notice the fine architecture, the neatly maintained premises, and the temple authorities who are friendly and personal. The Bappanaad Dolus (drums) an essential part of the temple’s annual utsava (festival) hang majestically in a corner. If you like you can capture some of these antique instruments on camera as you are allowed to do so.
Our next stop was at Sri Vishweshwara temple, Yellur.The deity Vishweshwara is represented by the Shiva linga with an imposing face. The Linga is made of ‘Rudrakshi Shila’ a rare variety of stone and we were told that the Linga was discovered by a tribal woman who found the ground bleeding after she cut the woods. The attraction in this Yellur temple is the giant ox (Nandi) who is decorated splendidly during festivals and other special occasions. More information is available here.
Kunjaragiri Durga and Pajaka Kshetra
Located on a hill in Pajaka (the birthplace of Sri Madvacharya) around 9kms from Udupi is the Kunjaragiri Durga temple also known as Durga Betta. With two flights of stairs, it is an easy climb up hill. This is a must see location as it offers a fascinating panorama of the land around and the Arabian sea beyond.
Upon climbing down we visited the ancestral home of our Guru, Sri Madvacharya at Pajaka Kshetra. It is amazing to see how the place tightly holds traces of the life of Sri Madvacharya. Every visitor is first taken to see the Ananteshwar deity in the premises and then guided around the house. One is offered snippets from Sri Madhva’s life (in Kannada of course) including stories about the magical banyan tree and the two mammoth rocks that Madva used as a lid to protect milk from cats. It might be useful to have someone with the knowledge of the language accompany you.

After quick darshans at the Chandreshwar and Ananteshwar deities in Udupi we landed at one of the most ancient temples in Udupi, that of Sri Krisha. The idol is adorable and is decked up elaborately with rich jewels and stones. Although one can see him only through a small window on the beautiful carved door of the shrine, the spectacle is breathtaking.
The manifestation, believed to have been installed by Sri Madvacharya leaves a memorable and lingering impact. One must not miss the “Kanakana Kindi”, a small window through which Kanakadasa, a lower caste devotee of Sri Krishna is supposed to have been blessed with his darshan.
You can find the legend of Udupi Krishna here. If you land up in Udupi around lunch or dinner time (like we did) there is a vegetarian restaurant by name Sarovar that you might want to check out.
On our way to Murudeshwar from Udupi on Saturday night, we stopped at Anne Guddi a Ganesh temple. A large silver Ganesh dressed in rich tones awaits his audience and five year olds take up the responsibility of distributing the prasadha. After a long and magnificent day we headed to Murudeshwar through pouring rain and highway traffic. The Maravanthe beach beside the road added to the excitement late that night