Lord Shiva by the Arabian Sea, Murudeshwar -Temples of India

Once in a year, sometime late on a winter night, lot of hindu devotees who follow Shaivism remain awake all night, chanting and praying to Lord Shiva, as it is the Great Night of Lord Shiva known as Maha Shivaratri. On such a day let us go around the famous Murudeshwar temple situated in the coastal Karnataka. Murudeshwar is quite popular among pilgrims and travelers alike. For it is very famous for having the second tallest Shiva statue seated on a hill against the Arabian sea. The splendid sight of Him against the blue sea draws a huge crowd. I was also one among them! I was there for diving and only later did I got to know about the history and importance of the place! I was more than glad to be in a place which is of high importance. On this Maha Shivaratri day, bringing you next in the series of Temples of India – Murudeshwar.
Also read, Temples of India series – Sri Ramanuja Swamy Temple, Sriperumbudur
Om Namah Shivaya
Om Namah Shivaya – Shiva at Murudeshwar


Murudeshwar colloquially known as Murudeshwara is one of the names of Lord Shiva. Though many people know about the tallest Shiva statue, all these are fairly new structures added to the temple. The original century old temple is situated within the Rajagopuram. The temple is situated on a small hill called Kanduka hill. Driving down the Mangalore Mumbai highway, the sea pops up so many times along the highway. Can’t stop mentioning about the highway passing through the Maravanthe beach with sea dashing on one side and a calm Kolluru river on the other side. Approaching the Murudeshwar temple, the sea surrounds the Kanduka hill on all three sides. The salty sea breeze, the fish smell from the nearby beach, the dashing sea waves, people squealing with joy on the beach and irrespective of where you are Shiva looking down at you, that is Murudeshwar for you! A small coastal town taken over by tourism. But many many years, a little far away from here on the beaches of Gokarna begins the story of Murudeshwar. The Story to the time when Ravana was walking on the earth..

Murudeshwar Temple
Murudeshwar Temple as seen from the Beach

History of Murudeshwar Temple

Ravana (yes, the same character from Ramayana) was a strong devotee of Lord Shiva and so was his mother. Everyday his mother makes a Shiva Linga out of sand near the beach at Lanka and she offers prayers to it. However everyday the sea would wash it away and she would have to make one again. Logically, she should not have done it near the shore or Ravana could have made one of Stone and given it to her. But this is from the era of grandeur, and Ravana decides to bring his mom the idol that Shiva Himself worships, the Atma Linga. Atma Lingam is the Lingam that is created by Shiva Himself, residing in His heart that every other Devas and Gods pray to and that is how they attained immortality. So Ravana decides to bring the Atma Lingam to his mother and starts to pray so hard to Lord Shiva. Like, against the fire and flood, goes into deep meditation that rocks mount Kailash and Lord Shiva decides to bless him. Ravana asks for the Atma Linga and Shiva takes it out of His heart and gifts it to him. Shiva gives the Atma Linga with the condition that wherever Ravan places the idol, He will take a seat there. Sage Narada and other Devas fear that if Ravana attains immortality then he will create havoc to earth and this needs to be stopped. Narada approaches Lord Vishnu and He decides to help.

Murudeshwar temple as seen from the Sea

While Ravan is walking towards Lanka through the coast at Gokarna, Vishnu blots the sun with His Sudarshana Chakra. Ravana thinking that the evening has fell, is worried that he has to offer his prayers to Lord Shiva and cannot keep the idol down. According to Hindu customs, they offer prayer three times a day, morning, noon and evening. Lord Ganesha disguised as a small brahmin boy arrives at the place and offers to hold the idol for Ravana. But he says if he finds it too heavy, he will call out to Ravana thrice and will keep it down on earth. Ravana heads to the sea to wash himself and offer prayers. At the right time, Lord Ganesha calls out to him thrice and keeps the Atma Lingam on the beach sand. Angry Ravana tries to pull it out with force but the lingam is fixed firmly. He twists and turns and removes parts of it and throws it with force. The shield of the Lingam falls somewhere, a piece of it falls somewhere, and the out of shape Lingam dunks into earth.. This is the Lingam you see at Gokarna.. The cloth covering the Atma Lingam is thrown and falls at Murudeshwar, to be precise on the Kanduka hill. So there are total five temples where parts of Atma Lingam fell, which are Gokarna, Murudeshwar, Gunuvanteshwar, Sajjeshwar and Dareshwar. And that is what Murudeshwar is famous for.

Story of Murudeshwar Temple
Story of Murudeshwar Temple

Tour of Murudeshwar Temple

What comes to your attention first is the twenty feet Rajagoupram that stands like a tall matchbox! This being a modern structure has a lift operating up and down the gopuram. And that is how you get to see the Shiva statue flanked with sea on all the sides. Entering the Rajagopuram one can see the old temple complex with gold plated gopuram. The inside sanctum santorum has the Shiva Linga which is like a rough rock because it was a twisted piece from the original Lingam. Unlike Gokarna, one cannot enter this temple sanctum. And outside are the many newer figurines and statues. I think they charge some 20 bucks to use the elevator and go to the top of Gopuram. Walking outside you get to see the second tallest Shiva in the world up close. There is also a cave like structure created which illustrates the story of Murudeshwar. Relax by the lawn and that is pretty much about Murudeshwar temple.

Murudeshwar Temple
Murudeshwar Temple – the temple by the side of the Rajagopuram is the original temple

Murudeshwar Temple Timings – The temple is open from morning 6am to 1 pm and evening from 3:30pm to 8:30pm.

Maha Shivaratri is celebrated with great pomp as people from all over Karnataka will throng the temple.

Am gonna let the pictures speak about Murudeshwar

Statue of Lord Shiva Murudeshwar
Statue of Lord Shiva Murudeshwar as seen from the Gopuram
statue of lord shiva murudeshwar
Statue of Lord Shiva Murudeshwar

Where to stay at Murudeshwar?

Murudeshwar is the temple name and if you are looking up for a place to stay, search for Mavalli. The place is monopolised by one resort owner and so the quality is pretty low. I would advise to stay at Gokarna and drive down to Murudeshwar.

Book your stay at Murudeshwar here – Click HERE 

How to Reach Murudeshwar

Mangalore is the nearest airport. However you can take bus from Bangalore or drive down the beautiful Konkan Coast. The Karwar express is the train you should lookout for in case you are taking the train. There are many places to stay ranging from mid range hotels to resorts.

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Other Places to see 

Murudeshwar can be a one night trip. Netrani is close by and is beautiful for diving. Diving at Netrani will take a day, the next day you can visit Murudeshwar and return.

Read – Scuba Diving Experience at Netrani

Other places of interest near by are Idagunji Ganesha temple and Kollur Mookambigai temple.

For those looking for fun there is Karwar, Gokarna and Kumta nearby..

Murudeshwar beach
Murudeshwar beach

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Murudeshwar - Temples of India
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