Murdeshwar is a town in Bhatkal Taluk of Uttara Kannada district in the state of Karnataka, India. The town is located 13 km from the taluk headquarters of Bhatkal. It is famous for the world’s second tallest Shiva statue, the town lies on the coast of the Arabian Sea and is also famous for the Murudeshwara Temple. The town has a railway station on the Mangalore–Mumbai Konkan railway route.

Etymology And Chronicles

The name “Murdeshwar” originates from the time of Ramayana. The Hindu gods attained immortality and invincibility by worshiping a divine Linga called the Atma-Linga. The Lanka King Ravana wanted to attain immortality by obtaining the Atma-Linga (Soul of Shiva). Since the Atma-Linga belonged to Shiva, Ravana worshipped Shiva with devotion. Pleased by his prayers, Shiva appeared before him and asked him what he wanted. Ravana asked for the Atma-Linga. Shiva agreed to give him the boon on the condition that it should never be placed on the ground before he reaches Lanka.

If the Atma-Linga was ever placed on the ground, it would be impossible to move it. Having obtained his boon, Ravana started back on his journey to Lanka. Lord Vishnu, who knew of this incident, realized that with the Atma-Linga, Ravana may obtain immortality and wreak havoc on earth. He approached Ganesha and requested him to prevent the Atma-Linga from reaching Lanka. Ganesha knew that Ravana was a very devoted person who performed prayer rituals every evening without fail. He decided to use this fact and devised a plan to confiscate the Atma-Linga from Ravana.

As Ravana was nearing Gokarna, Vishnu blotted out the sun to give the appearance of dusk. Ravana now had to perform his evening rituals but was worried because, with the Atma-Linga in his hands, he would not be able to do his rituals. At this time, Ganesha accosted him in the disguise of a Brahmin boy. Ravana requested him to hold the Atma-Linga until he performed his rituals and asked him not to place it on the ground. Ganesha struck a deal with him, saying he would call Ravana thrice, and if Ravana did not return within that time, he would place the Atma-Linga on the ground.

Ravana returned to find that Ganesha had already placed the Atma-Linga on the ground. Vishnu then removed his illusion, and it was daylight again. Ravana, realizing that he had been tricked, tried to uproot and destroy the linga. Due to the force exerted by Ravana, some pieces were scattered. One such piece from the head of the linga is said to have fallen in present-day Surathkal. The famous Sadashiva temple is said to be built around that piece of linga.

Then he decided to destroy the covering of the Atma-Linga and threw the case covering it to a place called Sajjeshwar, 37 kilometers away. Then he threw the lid of the case to a place called Guneshwar (now Gunavanthe) and Dhareshwar, 16-19 kilometers away. Finally, he threw the cloth covering the Atma-Linga to a place called Mrideshwar in Kanduka-Giri (Kanduka Hill). Mrideshwar has been renamed Murdeshwar.

Major Attractions

The 20-storied Gopura at the Murdeshwar temple. Two life-size elephants in concrete stand guard at the steps leading to it. Murdeshwar Temple was built on Kanduka Hill, surrounded by three sides by the waters of the Arabian Sea. It is dedicated to Sri Lokankara, and a 20-storied Raja Gopura is constructed at the temple. The temple authorities have installed a lift that provides a view of the 123-feet Sri Shiva idol from the top of the Raja Gopura.

There is also a Rameshwara linga at the bottom of the hill, where devotees can do seva themselves. A Shaneswar temple has been built next to the idol of Sri Akshayaguna. Two life-size elephants in concrete stand guard at the steps leading to it. The entire temple and temple complex, including the 209-feet tall Raja Gopura, is among the tallest. There are statues of Sun Chariot on the side of a park, a pool, statues depicting Arjuna receiving Geetopadesham from Lord Krishna, Ravana being deceived by Ganesha in disguise, and Shiva’s manifestation as Bhagirath, descending Ganga, carved around the hill.

The temple is entirely modernized except for the sanctum sanctorum, which is still dark and retains its composure. The main deity is Sri Mridesa Linga, also called Murdeshwar. The linga is believed to be a piece of the original Atma Linga and is about two feet below ground level. The devotees performing special sevas like Abhisheka, Rudrabhisheka, Rathotsava etc., can view the deity by standing before the threshold of the sanctum and the Linga is illuminated by oil lamps held close by the priests.

The Linga is essentially a rough rock inside a hollowed spot in the ground. Entry into the sanctum is banned for all devotees. A huge towering statue of Shiva, visible from great distances, is present in the temple complex. It is the second tallest statue of Shiva in the world. The tallest Shiva statue is in Nepal, known as the (Kailashnath Mahadev Statue). The statue is 123 feet (37 m) in height and took about two years to build. The statue was built by Shivamogga’s Kashinath and several other sculptors, financed by businessman and philanthropist R. N. Shetty, at approximately ₹50 million. The idol is designed to get the sunlight directly and thus appears.

Netrani Island

Netrani (historically known as Bajrangi Island, Pigeon Island, and also Heart Shaped Island) is a small island of India located in the Arabian Sea. It is off the coast of Karnataka, situated approximately 10 nautical miles (19 km) from the temple town of Murudeshwara in Bhatkal Taluka. The island can be seen from the
mainland over 15 km (9.3 miles) away.

The views above give this island the appearance of being heart-shaped. Its animal inhabitants include wild goats and pigeons. It has scuba diving facilities and is easily accessible from Bhatkal, Mangalore, Goa, Mumbai, or Bangalore. Dive shops at Murdeshwara and Goa regularly organize trips to the island. It is known locally as Nitra Gudo. The famous Hindu temple Jai Bajrangbali Temple is located here.

CORAL REEF

Netrani is a coral island whose reefs teem with many varieties of butterfly fish, triggerfish, parrot fish, eel, and shrimp. Divers have also reported seeing orcas and whale sharks around the island. Fish eagles thrive on sea snakes and fish. A species of mongoose was also spotted here, confirming mammalian inhabitants apart from bats. Whale sharks were also spotted by snorkelers Eighty-nine varieties of coral fish were found in one study. A 16-meter (52 ft) rock used for target practice by the Indian Navy raised concerns about causing harm to the island’s ecosystem. In 2012, the Karnataka High Court issued a stay on target practice.

Scuba Diving

Netrani Island has several dive sites with visibility ranging from 15 to 20 meters (49.2 to 65.6 feet). Diving is popular between June and September and is done from a boat anchored close to the island; steep cliffs and sharp rocks discourage climbing to the island proper. There is a healthy coral reef with a huge variety of reef fish around the island. After initial resistance from the local fishermen, diving is now actively promoted by the Tourism Department of Karnataka.

  • Location: Murdeshwar
  • Best Time to visit: Anytime
  • Entry fee: None
  • Timings: 6.00AM to 1.00PM and 3.00PM to 8.00PM
  • Distance from Murdeshwar Bus stand: 01kms
  • Nearest Railway station: Gokarna 02kms
  • Nearest Airport: Mangalore Airport 154kms