Exploring the Murdeshwar Temple


This blog is about my trip to a town called Murdeshwar, situated on the National Highway in the district of Uttara Kannada. Murdeshwar is a famous pilgrimage center and also a beautiful tourist attraction in South India. I have visited this place many times before, but I still feel visiting this place again and again because of the picturesque Western Ghats, surrounding nature, beach, and the statue of Lord Shiva. The connecting road to this town is a beautiful national highway and hence I enjoy the driving. This time we traveled from a town called Shirali, near Murdeshwar. So the drive was of short duration of about 15 minutes.  

View of Murdeshwar Kanduka Hill

Why is Murdeshwar so popular?

 This town is well known to have one of the most religious temples dedicated to Lord Shiva. Murdeshwar is also famous for having the world’s second tallest statue of Lord Shiva, built on the Kanduka Hill which is surrounded on three sides by the Arabian Sea waters. The town has a railway station on the Mangalore–Mumbai Konkan railway route. The other attractions include the beautiful beach, water sports activities, food joints and also the scuba diving activity in nearby Netrani Island.  During the festival of Mahashivratri, devotees from Karnataka and other Indian states visit this place in large numbers to offer their prayers to Lord Shiva. This is a place where devotion and tranquility blend harmoniously. More over, Sri Murdeshwar Temple is one of the five Panchalinga Kshetras of Lord Shiva in Karnataka. The other four Temples are Dhareshwara, Sajjeshwar, Gunavanteshwar and Gokarna

Let’s dig to the roots, Unraveling the Mythological Connection:

The story of Atma Linga: 
We all know about the demon king Ravana of Lanka, because of his greed, decided to acquire the sacred Atma Linga from Lord Shiva and fervently prayed to Lord Shiva for it. Finally, Shiva was moved by his devotion and granted him the Atma Linga. Shiva also warned him that the Atma Linga should not be kept on the ground at any cost during his journey back to Lanka. 

Foreseeing the consequences of this incident, Lord Vishnu decided to stop Ravana from carrying the Atma Linga to Lanka. So He asked the help of Lord Ganesha to disrupt Ravana’s journey to Lanka with the Atma Linga. Lord Ganesh, disguised as a brahmin boy, met Ravana on his way. Ravana wanted to perform his regular puja rituals and he requested the brahmin boy to hold the Atma Linga for a while so that he could perform his rituals. 

The brahmin boy agreed to his request but tricked Ravana by placing the Atma Linga on the ground and thereby it became immovable. (This exact location is now known as Gokarna, the home of Sri Mahabaleshwar temple).

Ravana, knowing  that he had been fooled, became furious and attempted to uproot the linga. But when he could not do so,  with great anger, tried to smash it, but the force of his onslaught only succeeded in scattering the fragments of the Linga to various locations.

Picture showing an illustrative model displayed inside the Cave

Later on, these locations also became religious places known as Murdeshwar, Shri Gunavanteshwar Temple in Gunavante, Shri Dharanath Temple in Dhareshwar and Shri Sajjeshwar Temple in Karwar, Shri Sadashiva temple in Surathkal.

The Architectural Marvels of Murdeshwar:

The whole temple complex is situated on the Kanduka Hill having a small altitude. Also, this hilly region is like a peninsula because it is surrounded by the waters of the Arabian sea on three sides. And the whole Kanduka hill is filled with varieties of structures, statues and each and every one is an architectural marvel. Lets explore one by one.

First, the gigantic Raja Gopuram:

The entrance tower of Murdeshwar
The entrance tower of Murdeshwar

The Rajagopura of Murdeshwar temple stands as an awe-inspiring testament to India’s rich architectural heritage and religious devotion. This towering structure marks the grand entrance.

The Rajagopura’s beauty lies in its exquisite and intricate carvings. The sculptures depict various mythological tales, Gods, Goddesses and celestial beings. Similar to most of the South Indian temples, the style of the Rajagopura’s carvings belongs to the Dravidian architectural tradition. This style of temple architecture flourished during the Chola, Pandya and Vijayanagar dynasties.

The tower is a 249 feet tall structure with 20 floors. The base of the tower itself is the first entrance to the temple complex. On either side of the Gopuram entrance, two life size elephant statues welcome the devotees into the temple complex. This is a popular spot for clicking photos.

This Gopura has an elevator that will take you to the top floor from where you can have the wonderful view of the 123 feet Sri Shiva idol and the surrounding Arabian sea. The ticket price for the elevator ride is INR 10 per person.

Then, we move into the temple complex for a blissful experience:

As we move towards the temple entrance, we can feel the positive vibes within us. The entire floor area is covered by green mat to avoid summer heat and it gives a lush green look. There is a well organized footwear stand near the entrance. 

Passing through the entrance of the majestic Gopuram, we then joined a thin queue of devotees who were waiting to go inside the temple premises. It was almost 7.30pm and the security guard was announcing that the entrance would be closed at 8pm and so the queue was moving quickly. After about twenty minutes of moving in the queue, we were in front of the main deity, the Mahtobar Shri Murdeshwar Dev (also called Mridesa Linga)

The pleasure of standing in front of the Deity:

Mahtobar Shri Murdeshwar Dev
Mahtobar Shri Murdeshwar Dev

All the walls are plated with silver plates with intricate carvings giving a rich look. The ambience is totally divine. The inner sanctum is softly illuminated by the flickering glow of oil lamps, creating a soothing and peaceful ambiance. In the presence of the deity, a sense of calmness envelops you, allowing you to feel a deep connection and inner peace. It’s a moment where worries fade away, and you can simply bask in the serenity of the divine presence.

The Shiv Linga is covered by silver mask of Sri Mrideshwar decorated with colorful flowers and the auspicious Bilva patra (Bel tree leaves). Bel leaves are important as their trifoliate shape signifies Shiva’s three eyes as well as the three spikes of the Trishul. Photography is not allowed in and around the deity. The only possible moment to take photos is when you are near the first entrance door and from here we can have a straight view of the deity.

Other attractions near the main deity:

  • The huge statue of Shiva which is around 123 feet high. The statue is built on the top of the hill such that it gets the full shine when the first light of the dawn falls upon it. This statue is considered to be the second highest statue of Lord Shiva in the world. You will feel awestruck by the statue’s overwhelming majesty. The statue was built by Shivamogga’s well known sculptor Sri Kashinath and his team. All credit goes to Mr. R.N. Shetty, a businessman and philanthropist for financing this statue.
  • Artificial Cave: Below this huge statue, they have created a artificial cave. Here, beautiful sculptures are displayed to narrate the complete story of atma linga. One visit this cave by paying an entry fees of INR 10. 
  • Rameshwara lingam at the bottom of the hill.
  • Shaneswar temple has been built next to the idol of Sri Akshaya Guna.
  • The statue of Sun Chariot.
  • The statue depicting Geetopadesham. 
  • Statue of Ganesha in disguise receiving the Atma Linga from Ravana.
  • Statue of Shiva’s manifestation as Bhagirath.
  • Sunset viewing: By the tim
    Sun set view in Murdeshwar beach
    Sun set view in Murdeshwar beach
    e we reached near the temple, the sun was about to set. Luckily we found a parking space for our Baleno and walked to the beach area. There was already a huge crowd and somehow we selected a convenient spot to watch the sunset. The sun was almost near the sea horizon.The sky is constantly changing. As the sun sets, the clouds are painted with a changing palette of hues, ranging from fiery pink to vibrant orange. The ocean’s surface is already being touched by the golden disc. During the final moments, it seemed to be hurrying to disappear beneath the horizon’s line and dispersing its final light. 

How to reach murdeshwar:

By Air: The Mangalore International Airport is the nearest one, 159 kilometers away. Alternatively, Shivamogga’s Airport is about 190 kms from Murdeshwar.

By Rail: The city has a regular railway station, about a kilometer away from the temple. Some of the popular trains are Poorna Express (#11098), KARWAR EXPRESS (#16513), BENGALURU EXPRESS (#16514), MADGAON PASSR (#56640). Please check the IRCTC website for latest schedule.

 By Road: Murdeshwar is situated on the major National Highway #66 (previously known as NH17) connecting Maharashtra and Kerala and hence it is easily reachable from any city. From Bangalore-490 kms, from Shimoga 190 kms, Udupi 104 kms, Karwar 120 kms, Panjim 220km. Karnataka State Transport buses are also available from many important cities.

Temple timings:

06:00 am to 12 noon and 03:00 pm to 08:15 pm.

Is there any specific dress code for the devotees?

The temple does not specify any strict dress code for visitors and devotees, but it is recommended to dress modestly and respectfully during your visit.

Where to stay in Murdeshwar:

We stayed in the RNS Highway Hotel which is on the National Highway and is just 1.5km from the temple. The rooms are neat and clean and also it is a budget friendly accommodation. Actually we wanted to stay in the RNS Residency hotel which is a luxury accommodation and is just beside the temple. But rooms were not available on our dates.  Alternatively, Hotel Kamat Yatri Nivas near the entrance is a decent hotel and many more hotels are available near the entrance.  

Restaurants near the temple:

There are a number of restaurants available near the temple. Most of them serve vegetarian food. But there are some hotels which serve authentic coastal fish food near the beach area.

Water sports and other activities:

Apart from the darshan of Lord Sri Mrideshwar, the next most sought after attraction is the  Murdeshwar beach. This is very famous for various water activities like paragliding, Riding water scooter, speed boat riding, boat riding in local fishing boats. As we approached the beach area, young ones were already enjoying the water scooter and speed boat rides. We just strolled on the beach for  a while watching all the activities and returned.  All the beach activities depend on the weather conditions. But one must be careful before venturing into these activities. Some private operators are arranging Scuba diving, snorkeling etc in a nearby location called Netrani island. There are lots of food stalls and food trucks on the beach area for food lovers.

Best time to visit Murdeshwar:

Murdeshwar being a coastal region, summer will be very hot and rains will be very harsh during the rainy season. So plan your journey accordingly. During Maha Shivaratri festival, it may  be difficult to get accommodation. Between October and February the weather will be comfortable to enjoy the trip.

Nearby religious tourist places:

  • Idagunji: Sri Idagunji Maha Ganapathi Temple
  • Shirali: The Chitrapur Math is the holiest temple of the Chitrapur Saraswat Brahmin community
  • Gokarna: Shri Mahabaleshwar Temple      


As our enchanting spiritual journey comes to a close, we find ourselves grateful for the divine experiences and serenity Murdeshwar Temple bestowed upon us. The harmonious blend of spirituality and natural beauty leaves an indelible mark on every soul who seeks solace within its sacred precincts. Embrace the memories and enrich your spirit, for Murudeshwar Temple’s timeless allure will forever resonate in your heart. Until we meet again on another sacred odyssey!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top