Though Murdeshwar (also called Murudeshwar), the coastal Karnataka town, came into prominence with the construction of the second tallest Shiva statue of the world and the tallest rajagopuram in Asia in 2008, its antiquity dates back to the Ramayana.

The town, referred to as Mrideshwar in ancient chronicles, is associated with the legend of Ravana, the demon king, who was also an ardent devotee of Lord Shiva and his quest for the Atma-Linga (Soul of Shiva), which he wanted to carry to his homeland Sri Lanka. Lord Vishnu’s intervention eventually foiled his plan, and in a series of events, some portion of the Atma Linga he was carrying is said to have fallen at the spot where Murdeshwar stands today. This makes the place a holy site for all Shaivites and Hindus.

The main attraction of the place is obviously the Shiva statue and the temple gopuram beside it. Set against the backdrop of the Arabian sea, the 249-ft gopuram or the temple spire, which can be accessed by a lift, gives a breathtaking view of the sea and the 123-feet Shiva idol from the top. The base of the of the temple measures 105 feet in length and 51 feet in breadth.

The rajagopuram was built under the guidance of Tamil sculptor SK Achar who built ‘Vivekanada Rock’ in Kanyakumari along with his sons Dakshinamurthy and Swaminathan and a big team of 500 Tanjore-based sculptors. The construction was started in 1990 and the second phase started in 1998. It was financed by businessman and philanthropist Dr RN Shetty, at a cost of approximately Rs 50 million. The idol is designed such that it gets the sunlight directly and thus appears sparkling.

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. Entry into the sanctum is banned for all devotees.

Murdeshwar lies on the Mumbai-Managaluru rail route and can also be easily accessed from Karnataka towns like Udupi or Shimoga or from Goa by road. Gokarna, also a holy place and a sea Island is one of the best places in India for scuba diving and snorkeling and it is hardly 20 kms from Murdeshwar.

Behind the temple complex of Murudeshwar, is also an imposing fort that finds its origins in the era of the Vijayanagara kings. It is said to have been renovated after that by none other than Tipu Sultan. The Murdeshwar and Bhatkal beaches are also beautiful escapades for the nature lover. The Murdeshwar beach is very close to the main temple and can be a good place for an evening walk. Since the temple and the Shiva statue are built on a hill, from the beach below, the view above is one of grandeur and magnificence and the edifices look all the more huge.

resort, is close by (about 75 km by road) and can be visited together on a single trip. Netrani

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