Shri Murudeshwar Temple or Murudeshwara Shiva Temple is famous Lord Shiva temple, located in the beach town of Murudeshwar, 16 km from Bhatkal in Uttara Kannada District, Karnataka. Murudeswara or Murudeshwar means Shiva or Eeshwara and the statue of Lord Shiva here is the World's tallest Shiva Statue, measuring 123 feet (37 m) in height. The statue of Lord Siva is constructed so that it directly gets sun light and thus appears sparkling. Located on the coast of the Arabian Sea, the town of Murudeshwara is also a beautiful picnic spot bounded by the hills of Western Ghats and situated between Honnavara and Bhatkal.
The Beach Temple of Murudeshwara towers on a small hill called Kanduka Giri, surrounded by the Arabian Sea on three sides. One can see two life-size elephants at the temple steps. On going up the hillock, there is a shrine of Jattiga seated on a horse. The 20-storied, 249 feet tall Raja Gopura is considered the tallest gopura in the world. A huge fort called Murudeshwara Fort, present behind the temple, is said to have been renovated by King Tippu Sultan of Mysore. Murudeshwar Temple has many carvings and statues that date back to a few centuries. Few inscriptions are also found in the temple. The Chalukya and Kadamba sculptures found in the temple are designed in the Dravidian style. A Nataraja statue made of bell metal is also seen outside the Murudeshwar Beach Temple.
The history of the Murudeshwara temple dates back to the period of Ramayana. Legend says that Ravana (the Lanka King), prayed Lord Shiva in a strong devotion to attain immortality by getting the AtmaLinga. Atma Linga is the divine Lingam of Shiva that gains immortality to the Hindu Gods. As a result of the worship by Ravana, Lord Shiva appeared before him and asked him for a boon. Ravana requested the AtmaLinga as his boon. Lord Shiva agreed to give him the boon but on a condition that the AtmaLinga should never be kept on the ground. It is believed that if the AtmaLinga was placed on the ground, all the powers would return to Lord Shiva. Ravana started back on his journey to Lanka with the AtmaLinga.
However, Sage Narada realized that Ravana may obtain immortality and create ruin on earth with the AtmaLinga. He approached Lord Ganesh to help him. When Ravana neared Gokarna, Lord Vishnu blocked the sun and made it as dusk. Ravana wanted to perform his evening rituals. He was worried because the AtmaLinga was in his hands and he would not be able to do his rituals. At that moment, Lord Ganesh came near him in the mask of a Brahmin boy. Ravana requested him to keep the AtmaLinga until he performed the rituals. He told the boy not to place it on the ground. But Lord Ganesha fixed a deal with him. He said he would call Ravana thrice, and if Ravana did not return, he would place the AtmaLinga on the ground. As decided, Ravana could not return all of a sudden and Ganesh placed the Atma-Linga on the ground. The angered Ravana tried to pull up the AtmaLinga and destroy it but failed. He threw the holder of the linga to a place called Sajjeshwara which is 23 miles away and the lid of the case to a place called Gunavanthe (earlier known as Guneshwara) and Dhareshwara, 10-12 miles away. At last, he threw the cloth covering the AtmaLinga to a place called Mrideshwara in Kanduka Hill (Kanduka-Giri). Mrideshwara is later renamed as Murudeshwara.
Maha Shivaratri is the major festival celebrated at Murudeshwar Temple in a grand scale, attracting thousands of people from Karnataka and the near by states.
How to Reach
By Road :
The Beach Temple of Murudeshwar is about 165 km from Mangalore on the National Highway. Murudeshwara is 1 km detour from the National Highway NH-17 between the towns of Honnavar and Bhatkal. Murudeshwara or Murudeshwar is 500 km from Bangalore on the Hassan - Mangalore - Udupi - Kundapur route and 470 km from Bangalore on the Shimoga - Kollur route. Bhatkal is about 16 km from Murudeshwar.
By Rail :
Murudeshwar Railway Station or Murudeshwara Railway Station on the Konkan Railway is the nearest railhead. Netravati Express, Matsyagandha Express, and Gandhidham Nagercoil Express passes through Murudeshwar Railway Station. From Bangalore there are no direct trains to Murudeshwar. Bhatkal Railway Station (21 km) and Honnavar Railway Station (36 km) are other two major railway stations close to Murudeshwar.
By Air :
Mangalore International Airport is the nearest airport around 165 km from Murudeshwar. Hubli Airport and Goa Airport (220 km) are other alternative airports.