Friday, May 23, 2008

Gokarna Part II – The Five Lingams

We continued our Gokarna trip by visiting four other Shiva temples in the vicinity, all connected to the same story of Gokarna.

The story of Gokarna mentions the Mahabaleshwara Lingam as the one brought from Kailas by Ravana, and kept at this place on the ground by Ganesha. (See my earlier post- Gokarna – Pilgrimage and Pleasure). However, the story does not end here. It is believed that, in his anger, Ravana flung aside the materials which covered the lingam- the casket, its lid, the string around the lingam, and the cloth covering it. All these items became lingams as soon as they touched the ground. These four lingams, along with the main Mahabaleshwara lingam are collectively called the ‘Panchalingams’. These are:

  • Mahabaleshwara – the main lingam
  • Sajjeshwar – the casket carrying the lingam. This temple is about 35 Kms from Karwar, and is a 2 hour drive from Gokarna.
  • Dhareshwar – the string covering the lingam. This temple is on NH17, about 45 Kms south of Gokarna.
  • Gunavanteshwar – the lid of the casket carrying the lingam. This temple is also on NH17, about 60 Kms south of Gokarna.
  • Murudeshwar – the cloth covering the lingam. This temple is also on NH17, about 70 Kms south of Gokarna.




Sajjeshwara Temple


The first temple we visited was Sajjeshwar, since it is the only one in a different direction. We hired a car from Gokarna for the purpose, and he charged us about Rs.800/- for the 4 hour trip. The route is a scenic one along the sea, passing through Karwar. The Sajjeshwar temple is a small one, not much visited, and, as a result, calm and quiet.




Dhareshwar Temple



The 3 other temples are all along the same route towards Udupi. First is the Dhareshwar temple, about an hour’s drive from Gokarna. This temple is open from 6AM to 10 AM and again from 4 to 9 PM. This is also a small temple, not very well maintained, but serene and calm. The temple precincts are huge, but need a lot more work to draw crowds.



The Gunavanteshwar Temple



From Dhareshwar, Gunavanteshwar is another hour away. This temple is open from 6 AM to 1 PM and from 3 to 8:15PM. This is another huge temple, but better maintained. Both these temples have a huge pond nearby.


The pond outside the Gunavanteshwar Temple


From here, Murudeshwar is another hour away. Murudeshwar is probably the most popular and the most well maintained among all these, including Gokarna. The temple is right on the seashore, and is an extremely picturesque sight by itself. Moreover, the whole place has been taken up and re-developed by one Mr. R.N.Shetty, and he has completely transformed a simple temple on the shore to an attraction for tourists. A huge Shiva statue is visible miles away, and is the major attraction for the average tourist. Under this huge statue is a sort of sound and light show which explains the story of Gokarna. Presently this show is available only in Kannada, but even then my 5 year old son enjoyed it immensely. He now knows the story by-heart, and takes great pleasure in explaining and enacting out the story to everyone he meets.



The Shiva Statue at Murudeshwar


A view of Murudeshwar

Besides this, a number of facilities have been constructed for tourists, with accommodation ranging from dormitories to AC suites. There is a wave pool near the complex, water sports facility, as well as a beachside restaurant.Recently, a huge Gopuram has been built, which is the largest in Asia! There are plans to have a museum inside this gopuram, and a lift has been installed inside. So, there is a lot more to look forward to!!!! We spent more than 2 hours at Murudeshwar, and it was truly great!! For more details, visit their website at http://www.naveenhotels.com/
Even apart from this, there are a number of places to stay at Murudeshwar, and in fact, it is a good place to stay if you want to visit temples in coastal Karnataka.
Our visit to Murudeshwar completed our circuit of the five lingams, or Panchalingams of Gokarna, but our trip wasn’t yet complete. We visited many more temples, so keep looking out for more…………….



Some other statues at Murudeshwar

Thursday, May 22, 2008

GOKARNA – Pilgrimage and Pleasure

Gokarna- This little place on the Konkan coast is famous for two things- to the religious; it is the great temple of Lord Mahabaleshwara that beckons, while for the hard core tourist, it is the fascinating Om Beach. Whether you are a tourist in search of the perfect beachside holiday, or a pilgrim looking for spiritual bliss, Gokarna is a great place to visit.
The nearest railway station is Gokarna Road, on the Konkan Railway. However, if, like us, you are unable to get tickets, the best option is to get on one of the many buses to Mangalore from Bombay, and alight at Kumta. Our bus left Mumbai around 4:00PM, and we reached Kumta at the unearthly hour of 3:45 AM. There was not a vehicle in sight, and we had to wait till we got a car to take us to Gokarna, about an hour away.
There are a number of lodges and hotels in Gokarna, and it is not difficult to get rooms at reasonable rates. We stayed at the Hotel Shri Sai Ram near the bus stand, which is run by a chap who lives in Bombay. At Rs.250/- per day, the rooms were comfortable.

Before I tell you about the temple, let me tell you the story of the temple……….
Ravana once wanted a lingam from Kailas for his mother, and he undertook severe penance to Lord Shiva. After years of penance, when there was no sign of the Lord, he grew desperate and started cutting off his heads one by one. At last, Shiva appeared, and gave him a lingam, warning him to keep it on the ground only on reaching Lanka. The gods were worried on seeing this, and planned to take the Lingam away from him, and sent Ganesha for the purpose. Meanwhile, it was evening, and Ravana wanted to perform his usual evening puja, and wanted someone to hold the lingam while he did so. At this time, Lord Ganesha came in the form of a young Brahman, and agreed to hold the Lingam for a while. He however said that the lingam was too heavy for him, and would call out thrice to Ravana before keeping it down. Ravana agreed, and went on to do his puja. As soon as he started, Ganesha called out to him thrice, and kept the lingam on the ground. Ravana rushed back, and tried to pull the lingam out of the ground, but it wouldn’t budge. However, it did get twisted, and bent out of shape. In his anger, he hit the young boy on the head so hard, that a depression appeared there, and his legs were pushed inside. Hence, in this place, the idol of Ganesha is a standing one, with extremely (and disproportionately) short legs, and a depression on the head. The Lingam, which is 3 feet tall, is actually under the ground, and is twisted on the top. This is coved by a huge Saligrama stone, supposed to be the largest ever, with a hole on the top, from which one can touch the tip of the lingam. This saligrama stone is lifted up only once in 60 years, when one can see the whole lingam.


The temple is open from 6:00AM to 12:30 in the morning, and again from 5:00 to 8:30 in the evening. The usual custom is to take a bath in the sea, and then the ritual bath in the Koti Teertha, a pond near the temple, before going to the temple. The pond is extremely clean, and we enjoyed having a bath there.

The Bathing place at the Koti Teertha

We started our temple tour with the Mahaganapathy temple, which is right at the entrance of the temple complex, and then to the main temple of Mahabaleshwara, as the Lord is called, because he was stronger even than Ravana. The interesting thing about both these temples is that one can touch the idol and perform Abhishekam by ourselves, which is a rare custom in South Indian Temples, where we are kept at a safe distance from the idol always.

Here, the goddess is Tamra Gauri, who is said to have weighed the merits of Kashi and Gokarna, and found the scales of Gokarna to be heavier.

With us Indians, especially Hindus, appeasing our forefathers and ancestors comes on top of the list, and as in Kashi, it is the custom to perform the rituals at Gokarna. So, the rest of our morning after the temple visit was spent at the house of a priest, performing the rituals and partaking of the food specially prepared. To give them credit, I must mention that they were really conscientious, and did a good job.

Om Beach


This trip being a pilgrimage with my in-laws, more than a holiday, we did not have time for the beach. We drove along the road to the beach, and the huge waves beckoned to us, and we promised ourselves another trip just for the sea……………

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Coastal Karnataka Temple Tour

Hello everyone, I back from another vacation, this time to Karnataka. My son, Samhith’s birthday falls on 6th May, and we wanted to spend it at some temple. So, this time, we visited many temples in coastal Karnataka. Look out for many interesting posts on all the places we visited.
To give you all an idea of the places you can all soon read about, here’s the tour programme we followed:

Day1:

  • 3:00PM departure by Bombay- Mangalore bus.

Day2:

  • 3:45 AM Arrival at Kumta.
  • Car to Gokarna.
  • Visit to Gokarna Mahabaleshwara Temple
  • Performing the sacred rites for our ancestors.
  • Evening- Trip to Sajjeshwara Linga Temple near Karwar
  • Night halt at Gokarna



Day3:

  • Dhareshwar
  • Gunavanteshwar
  • Idagunji Ganapathy
  • Murudeshwar
  • Kollur Mookambika Temple
  • Annegudde Ganapathy Temple
  • Udupi – Sri Krishna Temple
  • Night Halt at Udupi

    Day4:
  • Viswaroopa Darshan and KsheerAbhishekam to Lord Krishna at Udupi
  • Kundapura – Kundeshwara Temple
  • Darshan and Pada Puja to Sringeri Acharya, who was camping there.
  • Hattiangady Ganapathy Temple
  • Sai Baba Temple
  • Vadabhandeshwara Temple
  • Malpe Beach
  • Night Halt at Udupi

    Day5:
  • Udupi to Sringeri by Bus
  • Sringeri Sharada Temple
  • Temples in Sringeri
  • Night Halt at Sringeri

    Day6:
  • Suprabhata Seva to Sharadamba
  • Shakatapuram – Temple and Darshan of Badari Shankaracharya
  • Horanadu
  • Kalasa
  • Night Halt at Sringeri

    Day7:
  • Dharmasthala
  • Subrahmanya
  • Madhur Mahaganapathy, Kasargod
  • Mangalore –
    Mangaladevi temple
    Gokarnanatha Temple
    Kadri Manjunatha Temple
    Sharavu Mahaganapathy Temple
    Venkatramana Temple
  • Kateel Durgaparameshwari Temple
  • Hosanadu Annapoorneshwari Temple
  • Night Halt at Sringeri

    Day8:
  • Bus to Bangalore
  • Night Halt at Bangalore

    Day9:
  • Bus to Puttaparthi

    Day 10 and 11:
  • Puttaparthi- Darshan of Sri Sathya Sai Baba

    Day12:
  • Bus to Bangalore

    Day 13 and 14:
  • Visit to Relatives at Bangalore

    Day15:
  • Bus to Bombay

    A long trip, wasn’t it? Well, the reason was a wedding at Bangalore that we had to attend, and the excuse for this long itinerary was my son’s date of birth on the 6th may, and his star birthday on the 9th. We always try to celebrate his birthday differently. Last year, we had been to Kodaikanal to have darshan of Sri Sathya Sai Baba, and the year before, we had been to Ganpatiphule. This year, we visited all these temples. I have put up my itinerary, so as to help people who would like to make a similar trip.


    So look out for more details of this long trip…..

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Check out my Squidoo Lens on Kumbhalgarh.....

Here's something new I have been doing..... I have joined Squidoo, and have started making my own lenses... For those who aren't in the know, Squidoo is a place on tne net where one builds a lens.... A lens is a single page, about just one thing, but in great detail....one can make hundreds and and hundreds of lenses, about anything we care to tell the world.....
Here's my lens, the most recent one, about Kumbhalgarh. Check it out, and while you are at it, check out my other lenses too.............

click here to see my lens

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