This temple is located in Dhareshwar in Utara Kannada, Karnataka. The temple is naturally beautiful. A rathotsava is performed every year and the peak time to visit this temple is during Maha Shivarathri.

About the Temple

Dhareswar is 8 km to the southeast of Kumta. The Mahadev temple is said to be around 800 years old. There are four inscribed tablets in the temple. It appears that the construction of the temple was started by Rudroji Pandit and was completed by Sonappa between 1500 and 1559. The temple is built of black stone, and its walls are ornamented with sculptures. Round the temple are 5 holy pools, Rudra Kund, Chakra, Shankh, Vasudha, and Nagatirth. A fair is held every year in the middle of January.

Legend and Stories

Ravana reached Kailasa and performed rigorous penance to get the “Atma Linga” from Lord Shiva, as Ravana’s mother expressed a keen desire to worship the atmalinga of Lord Shiva. After a long penance, Lord Shiva gave the “Atma linga” to Ravana as a boon and instructs Ravana to carry it home by walk, that he should never place it on the earth even for a short while, failing which the linga would get eternally embedded at the place where he broke his commands.

Lord Maha Vishnu learned that Ravana will become all-powerful by worshipping the ‘Atma linga’ and menace to the world and Ravana’s conviction that nobody could defeat him once he acquired the very power of Lord Shiva. Maha Vishnu devised a plan to install the linga somewhere, and as he thought that Lord Ganapathi was alone capable of doing it, he, along with all the gods, pleased Ganapathi to execute the plan. Lord Ganapathi accepts and reaches Gokarna as a Brahmin boy.

Ravana asked lord Ganapathi to hold the Atma linga As Ravana was coming near Gokarna. Maha Vishnu, who had known well that Ravana was punctual in performing his periodical rites (Sandyavandhana), hides the sun with his Sudarshana Chakra (Wheel). Thinking that it was time to perform the evening rites, Ravana finds a Brahmin boy and asks him to hold the Atma linga in his hand until he returns after finishing the rites.

Lord Ganapathi agreed to hold the linga on one condition that he would do so till he would be able to bear the weight of Linga and that thereafter he would call Ravana three times, and if failed to come to him by then, he would place the linga on the earth. Lord Ganapathi calls Ravana three times when he was performing his rites and placing the linga on the earth, and he vanished. The Atma linga at once got firmly entrenched in the earth.

Ravana learned that the Gods had tricked him. The depressed demon king Ravana was deeply agitated and tried to pull up the linga, but the linga did not budge a little. It resulted in his throwing the coverings of the Linga to Dhareshwar, Gunavanteshwara, Murdeshwar, and Shejjeshwar temples.
Ravana could not lift the Linga from the ground again and called shiva linga as Mahabala (you are too strong). And ever since the Linga illustrious as Mahabaleshwara.

Lord Shiva learned all these from Vayu deva (Wind god), and came on to Earth with Goddess Parvathi Devi and his train of Gods, he visited these five places and worshipped the linga, which had now taken five forms. He acknowledged that these five places would be his “Pancha kshetras” (Five Holy Places). It is said that the second part of the Lingam got twisted around and became known as Murdeshwar.

Overlooking the sea, a lovely temple is constructed over this part of the Lingam. This place, known as Murdeshwar, is situated between Bhatkal and Honnavar on the west coast highway. The remnant of the Atmalingam, which came off like a blade, is known as Dhareshwar (Dhar means a sharp edge) and is at a place called Dhareshwar nearby. Interestingly, there are a total of six temples on the coast, between Gokarna and Kasargod, all of which show Ganesha in the same posture. These temples are located at Idagunji (66 Km), Anegudde (150 Km), Hattiangady (142 Km), Mangalore (SharavuMahaganapathy, 230 Km), and Kasargod (MadhurMahaganapathy 280 Km).

Also, the legend of the Atmalingam doesn’t end with the Mahabaleshwara temple. It is said that frustrated with the events, Ravana flung off all the accessories the lingam came with, and as each of them touched the ground, each turned into a lingam! There are 5 such temples around Gokarna. Other than the main temple, these are at Sajjeshwar (the casket carrying the lingam, 35 Kms from Karwar), Dhareshwar
(the string covering the lingam. 45 Km from Gokarna) Gunavanteshwar (the lid of the casket carrying the lingam, 60 Km from Gokarna) Murudeshwar, the cloth covering the lingam, 70 Km from Gokarna).

Nearby Places to Visit

There are a lot of old temples in Kumta. Sri Kumbheshwar, Uppina Ganapati, Shantika Parameshwari, Mahalasa Narayani, Shanteri Kamakshi, Kavur Kamakshi and Shankar Narayan temples are some of them. Many of these feature period architectures and period art forms, especially the Kavi Art.

  • Location: Dhareshwar kumta
  • Best Time to visit: Anytime
  • Entry fee: None
  • Timings: 6.00AM to 1.00PM and 4.00PM to 9.00PM
  • Distance from Kumta Bus Stand: 08km
  • Nearest Railway station: Kumta 08kms
  • Nearest Airport: Goa Airport 176kms Hubli Airport 178kms