Murudeswara, Karnataka has been one of the most searched places on my search engine history and held the number one spot on my bucket list for must see places in South India. The colossal, larger than life Shiva statue along with the Arabian Sea allures a perfect background for this visual wonder.
My love for Lord Shiva has been going steady since my childhood. His power, magnanimity, and machismo graced by his peaceful poise and charm have always drawn me towards him. I have always believed that Lord Shiva would derive a fair judgment to any crisis.
Part 1: The trip to Murudeswara:
We were two days into our Gokarna trip when we decided that Murudeswara should also be on our itinerary. I showed less enthusiasm externally, but little did the others know, I fluttered rigorously deep down as I did not want to jinx my first visit to Lord Shiva's abode.
We hired a taxi from Gokarna to Murudeswara in the morning. Either side of the roads was picturesque with paddy fields, plantations, and at times even beaches.
The first ten minutes of reaching Murudeswara were quiet and serene. I couldn't help but shed a few tears, being unable to sink-in the overwhelming feeling of realizing that is all actually happening.
We were guided to remove our footwear and enter the temple from the main Gopura. The tall Gopura has excellent detailing and symmetry and I was excited that I managed to get a selfie with the entire height of the Gopura in one frame. The temple was crowded but everybody was moving around in a disciplined manner. The idols shimmered in the sunlight and were glossy gold. The heavy bells outside each deity made sure that no God could sleep in peace at Murudeswara. We were lucky to hear a temple orchestra playing percussions and drums. I could step up and sway to the rhythm of the music.
The aroma of food served in the common dining hall was so distracting and so was the ghee laddoo sold there as Prasad. I patiently waited for my turn to buy the Ghee laddoo with an overpowering flavour of Karpura and incense.
After relaxing in the temple surroundings for a bit we walked up the road leading to the illustrious Shiva statue. By then the sun was up and shining but the breeze from the ocean kept our spirits high.
The whole path was very touristy with small shops selling cold drinks, fried snacks, biscuits and ice cream. There was also enough security directing us to where to go next and relatively clean public toilets. When I say touristy, unfortunately, one has to realize this means a degree of eve-teasing and uninvited camera clicks as well.
Up the hill and a flight of stairs, we could get a closer look at the Shiva statue smiling away peacefully. Now it was getting difficult to fit the statue in the frame. There was also a small temple uphill and also a small museum depicting the story of Murudeshwar and its relevance. Dynamic life-size statues were built and an as we walked from frame to frame, a voice over in Hindi elaborating the story was being played.
The joy and contentment of ticking one thing off your bucket list is beyond what I can explain. I strongly recommend you to visit this beautiful place. It does justice to everything that you have seen in the pictures.
Part 2: The story of Murudeswara:
Raavan, the king of Lanka was a true devotee of Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva was impressed by Raavan’s devotion as he offered his prayers tirelessly. As a result Raavan was given a boon. He asked for the "Atmalinga" which would give longevity to his lifespan. Raavan was granted the boon but was instructed by Lord Shiva not to place the Atmalinga on the ground till he reached Lanka.
Narada anticipated that Raavan would misuse his powers and wanted to stop him from taking the Atmalinga back to Lanka. Narada approaches Lord Ganesha for help, who with the help of Lord Vishnu created an illusion of dusk knowing that Raavan would stop to offer his evening prayers. As expected Raavan, who was convinced that it was dusk, wanted to finish his prayers. That’s when Lord Ganesha approached him disguised as a Brahmin offered to hold the Atmalinga for him till he finished the prayers and also call out Raavan’s name three times before placing it down.
When Raavan finished his prayers, Lord Vishnu withdrew the illusion of dusk. Realizing that he has been tricked, he was angered and tried uprooting and destroying the Atmalinga. Bits and pieces of the Atmalinga fell on various villages forming different places of religious importance.
Murudeshwara is one such place!
We couldn't help but drool over how handsome and crude Raavan was with tough-guy attitude, body hair, power and of course his well-built muscular body. Though we confessed this only on our drive back home.
Part 3: Things you should know
• The Gopura has 20 storeys and the Shiva statue is 123ft tall making it the second-tallest Shiva statue in the world.
• Funded by Businessman Dr. R N Shetty and estimated to have spent INR 50 million on it.
• Not a great place to stay but excellent for a one day trip
• This a place that you best dress-up for modestly
How to get there:
• The temple is about 80 km by road from Gokarna. It's an easy addition to the itinerary of a Gokarna trip
• Buses and taxis frequent this route
• Bangalore to Murudeshwara is a 500 km trip
Food and beverage:
• The place has lots of good local vegetarian and non-vegetarian restaurants in the nearest town at a walkable distance from the temple.
• Do try the curry and ragi porridge as well.