Murudeshwara, readers will recall, is the place where the cloth covering the Atma Lingam fell, when Ravana tried to wrench it from Gokarna, where it had got firmly embedded.
Murundeshwara is known as much for its ancient temple, as for its picturesque beach. Devotees and tourists throng this coastal paradise, a mixture of thenatural and man-made. Murundeshwara's latest pride is Shree Murudeshwar temple, the huge temple complex that has came up around the old Shiva temple. Surrounded by the Arabian Sea on three sides, the entrance to the temple complex is topped by 20-tiered Rajagopuram. Standing at a height of 75.5 metres (249 feet), it is the world's tallest Rajagopuram, taller than the one at Strirangam by nearly 2.5 meteres. At the entrance, on either side, are two huge concrete images of gorgeously-decorated elephants. Up on the hill, overlooking the sea, is a gigantic image of Lord Shiva, sitting in the padmasana pose. It is 37 metres (123 feet) tall, and is said to be the world's tallest Shiva statue. The Lord sits here serenely meditating, as the waves crash against the hill. He is with four arms, one showering benediction on the devotees, while the other is pointing to the earth. The third is holding the trident, and the foruth a small drum. In front of Him sits a small nandi (small by the statue's standards), and in front of the nandi (small by the statue's standards) and in front of the nandi is Ravana giving the Lingam to Vinayaka, in the guise f the small boy, the raison d'etre for Murudeshwara's present greatness. The temple complex is the brainchild of Sri R.N. Shetty, a businessman and the shrine's Managing Trustee, who spent about Rs. 50 million on his dream project.
According to the sthalapurana, Shounaka and other sages asked Sootha, the wise one, about the glory of Murudeshwara. Sootha narrated the Atma Lingam episode, and explained how the cloth covering it landed there after it was thrown away by an angry Ravana. The moment it fell here it was transformed into the Murudeshwar Lingam. Lord Shiva liked the place immensely. He saw in the Lingam His own self, capable of fulfilling the wishes of devotees. Mrida comes from trampling of the cloth by Ravana. Mrida also means happiness. so Murudeshwara is the Lord of Happiness The sea near the temple is known as Agni thertha, while th lake behind it is Kamandala theertha, as it was formed with the waters sprinkled from Brahma's kamandala. It is said that Pandavas visited this place. Yudhistira, the eldest of the five brothers, requested his younger broter, Bhima, to get water from the Ganges to perform abishekam to the Lingam here. Bhima then prayed to Shiva to bestow him the water. As his entreaties failed, be banged his head against the earth, whereupon Shiva appeared before him. The Lord ordained that the Ganga would flow from the place where he banged his head. This spring on Kanduka hill is known as Bhima theertha. A bath in these theerthas is said to bestow good health.
Early in the 20th century, the ancient temple was in virtual ruin, and, around 1935, the inner sanctum was on the verge of collapse. Later, Sri R.N. Shetty took the initiative to renovate/reconstruct the temple, drawing inspiration from the Vivekananda Rock Memorial in Kanniyakumar. In 1977, he requisitioned the services of hundreds of master sculptors from Tamil Nadu to begin work on the temple. Granite was used extensively, while cement and mortar were used only where necessary. The temple and Shiva's statue, both of which sit on a cliff adjoining the sea, are accessed by steps. The sanctum of Sri Murudeshwara, the presiding deity, is gold-plated.
Also on the hill are colorful life-sixe images of Veda Vyasa dictating the Mahabharatha to Vinayaka. at the edge of the cliff, facing the sea and the setting sun is a massive chariot of Suryanarayana (the sun god). The perennial favorite, the depiction of Sri Krishna as Arjuna's charioteer on the battle fields of Kurukshetra, is in another corner. Near the main temple is a circular theater where a sound and light presentation of the entire Atma Lingam episode takes place every few minutes.
How to get there :
Murundeshwara is 455 km from Bangalore. It is at a deviation of one km from National Highway 17, between the towns of Honnavar and Bhatkal (16km). Those coming from Idagunji can bypass Honnavar to come here. There is an arch at the highway, which marks the entrance to Murundeshwara. The town is on the Konkan rail route, with a station here. Mangalore (165km) is the nearest airport. Accommodation: Hotels and eateries abound around the temple. There are plenty more on the road to NH 17.
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