Based on my personal visit in August 2015 …. Rajesh Deshpande © 2015
Destination type – Pilgrimage, Beaches. Trip type – Leisure
Murdeshwar is a serene coastal village and a pilgrimage in the Bhatkal taluk of Uttar Kannada (North Canara) district of Karnataka, India popular for the tallest Shiva effigy in a sitting posture in India and a twenty storey Rajgopuram. The Shiva temple is setup amidst the backdrop of the Arabian Sea on a rocky hillock called Kanduka Hill that sprawls in to the sea. Murdeshwar beach is located amidst a perfect blend of azure waters contrasted by a beautiful landscape of lush green hillocks in the backdrop. The ambiance is made near perfect with coconut trees and areca groves.
The Legend of Murdeshwar
According to legend, Ravana of Ramayana fame, the daemon king of Lanka was a devout worshipper of Lord Shiva. He obtained the Atma Linga as a boon from Lord Shiva. Knowing that Ravana is in possession of the Atma Linga, the gods were terrified. They hatched a plan with the help of Narada to trick Ravana for confiscating the Atma Linga. Lord Shiva had cautioned Ravana that he must not keep the Atma Linga on the ground during his journey back to Lanka.
Knowing that Ravana was disciplined about his daily rituals, Lord Ganesh disguised as a brahmin boy appeared before Ravana and offered him to hold the Atma Linga while Ravana performed his daily rituals. Believing the brahmin boy, Ravana handed over the Atma Linga to Lord Ganesh and started performing his rituals. Lord Ganesh kept the Atma Linga on the ground. This infuriated Ravana and in a fit of anger, with all his might Ravana tried to uproot the Atma Linga but it didn’t budge a bit. Due to Ravana’s might, the Atma Linga got twisted and looked like a cow’s (Go) ear (Karna). The place where the Atma Linga became immobile is thus called as Gokarna and the Atma Linga itself is called as Mahabaleshwar. The furious Ravana pulled and threw the case of the linga, which fell 23 miles away at Sajjeshwar. He threw the lid to the south 27 miles away at Guneshwara which is called “Vamdev Linga”. He threw the cloth wrapped around the Atma Linga to the south, 32 miles away at Kanduka hill on the seashore which took the form of “Aghora” at Murudeshwar. The thread around the Atma Linga was flung to the south at Dhareshwara, which is called as “Tathpurusha Linga”.
How to Reach?
By Rail – Being a pilgrimage. Murdeshwar has its own railway station. The railway station is just 2 Kms. away from the temple. From Mumbai and Mangalore, the best train to reach Murdeshwar is the 12619 DN / 12620 UP Matsyagandha Express which leaves from Mumbai daily at 15:20 Hrs. and reaches Murdeshwar next day morning at 05:45 Hrs. after a total journey of about 14 Hrs. Many other south bound trains like Netravati Express, Kochuveli Express, Madgaon Mangalore Express also pass from Murdeshwar.
By Road – From Mumbai, Canara Pinto and SRS Travels operate daily buses to Murdeshwar. Karnataka state run KSRTC buses are available from Madgaon to Murdeshwar. For a drive down from Mumbai, the traditional route is through NH-17 (Panvel Kochi highway) passing through Panvel, Pen, Mangaon, Khed, Chiplun, Ratnagiri, Kudal, Mhapusa, Panaji, Madgao, Canacona, Karwar, Gokarna and Honnavar. Murdeshwar is about 750 Kms from Mumbai. Alternate route is through the Mumbai Pune expressway and NH4 passing through Pune, Satara, Karad, Kolhapur, Nipani, Belgaum, a right turn on SH52 just on the outskirts of Dharwad at Narendra toll plaza leads towards the coastal village of Gokarna and ahead to Murdeshwar. This route has many tolls which amount to about Rs. 700/- for the 750 Kms. journey up to Murdeshwar.
By Air – Nearest airport to Murdeshwar is Mangalore International Airport about 156 Kms. away.
Where to Stay?
Being an important pilgrimage destination, Murdeshwar has ample accommodation available. The height of luxury for a comfortable stay at Murdeshwar is undoubtedly Hotel RNS Residency situated on the Kanduka hill besides the temple. RNS Residency is a beach-side luxury hotel, offering the poise of stay and affluence to the core. The sea facing deluxe rooms are an inimitable feature of the place offering unrestricted and imposing views of the ocean, beach and the village.
RNS Residency Hotel is an allure for the panorama of Murdeshwar with the beach on one side, the tallest Shiva effigy to the east and the renowned Murdeshwar Temple little ahead of the Shiva effigy. It is managed by the Hubli based Naveen Group which also runs other hotels in Murdeshwar – Naveen Beach Resort, RNS Highway Hotel and RNS Guest House.
Murdeshwar also has budget hotels offering basic accommodation to the pilgrim and the backpacker like the Kamath Yatri Niwas, RNS Guest House and Dhenu Atithya near the market.
Things to see
The beach at Murdeshwar is littered by local fishermen and pilgrims in the near vicinity of temple. The beach is narrow and the waves carry strong undercurrents making it unsafe for swimming especially during monsoons. However, during low tide the beach is ideal for a stroll over the portion where water ebbs inwards. About a kilometer ahead alongside the beach, the views of the Temple and Shiva effigy are spectacular.
The most spectacular sight at Murdeshwar is the temple of Lord Murdeshwar. The temple is open from 3 AM to 1 PM and again from 3PM to 8 PM. It remains closed for two hours in the afternoon from 1 PM to 3 PM. The temple offers free meals to pilgrims daily between 12:30 PM to 2:30 PM. Entrance to the temple is through the 20 storey Rajgopuram. Pilgrims are required to deposit their footwear in the stands provided outside the temple. Once inside the precincts, steps on the left hand side lead to the main temple. Experience the sacred chants, fragrance of flowers, havans and incense sticks, and the soothing light from the lit oil lamps. A feeling of calmness creeps in unknowingly due to the divine ambiance. Pilgrims can visit the viewing gallery on the 18th storey of the Rajgopuram through an elevator (Rs. 5/- per pilgrim) for an imposing 360 degree view of Murdeshwar.
After a visit to the temple, proceed to see the second tallest Shiva effigy in India by climbing 108 steps behind the temple. The temple of Rama and the artificially constructed cave beneath the Shiva effigy is a must visit. The cave has an audio visual depiction of the story of Murdeshwar with numerous colourful statues of Hindu deities. Entry fee of Rs. 10/- per pilgrim is collected near the entrance of the cave which is fully air-conditioned. Also see the Shani temple besides the cave and the Mahabharata Chariot.
In and Around Murdeshwar
Jog Falls – is the second tallest non-tiered waterfall in India with a height of about 1000 feet. The Sharavathi River plummets from the plateau to the plains creating the magnificent Jog Falls. It is in the Sagara Taluk of Shimoga district of Karnataka. Jog Falls is also known as Jogga Falls or Gerusoppa Falls. It is at a distance of about 90 Kms from Murdeshwar in the Western Ghats. From Murdeshwar it takes about three hours to reach Jog Falls driving non-stop. Another route to reach Jog Falls is from Sagara Railway station which is about 35 Kms away on the plateau. From Murdeshwar drive north towards Honnavar on NH-17 and take a right turn to reach Jog Falls on NH206.
Jog Falls are a group of four independent torrents called Raja, Rani, Roarer and Rocket which plummet creating a roaring sound and blissful sight. The best time to visit Jog Falls is in the monsoon months from July to September when they are in full glory. It is indeed a spectacular sight to see milky torrents plummeting down about 1000 feet leaving the tourist awestruck. There’s ample parking facility and well laid pavements leading to ample viewing points providing unrestricted views of the falls. KSTDC Hotel Mayura runs a decent restaurant in the vicinity offering south indian thali meals and tiffin (snacks like idli and vada). There’s good facility of clean public washrooms. An entry fee of Rs. 10/- per tourist is charged at the check post.
From Murdeshwar, tourist vehicles could be hired for a full day sightseeing to Jog Falls also covering enroute spots like Idegunji Ganesh Temple, Kasarkod Eco beach and the Apsarakonda Waterfall near Honnavar. Naik Travels near Murdeshwar temple provides Tata Sumo for Rs. 2500/- for a day trip. Their contact nos. are 09739479205 and 09482419565.
Idegunji – is a popular pilgrimage for the temple of Lord Ganesh. The idol of Lord Ganesh inside the temple is believed to be 1500 years old. Photography is not allowed in the temple precincts. Idegunji is a beautiful village setup amidst dense forest. A right turn off NH-17 while towards Honnavar leads to Idegunji.
Apsarakonda waterfall – is an enchanting waterfall in a romantic setup amidst dense vegetation underneath a hillock at Apsarakonda village off the NH-17 about 20 Kms from Murdeshwar towards Honnavar. Water plummets from an height of about thirty feet in to a pond which looks splendid. It can be visited during the excursion to Jog Falls.
Kasarkod Eco beach – about 3 Kms ahead towards Honnavar from Apsarakonda village is a long wide stretch of pristine beach with golden white sands at Kasarkod village. It is about 500 meters off NH-17 on the left hand side reachable through a narrow tar road.
Shirali – Is a village about 10 kms south of Murdeshwar towards Bhatkal. It is known for the 300 year old Chitrapur Mutt and the Mahamaya Ganesh Temple. It could be visited en-route Bhatkal or Udupi.
Bhatkal – The nearest town to Murdeshwar is 15 Kms down south. It is also a taluk town having important government offices. Bhatkal could be visited for shopping imported novelties at the gulf market and for relishing some lip smacking Mughlai cuisine. Besides this the serene Jali beach deserves a visit.
Kollur Mookambika Temple – About 60 Kms south of Murdeshwar off the NH-17 in the Kundapur Taluk of Udupi district is an important pilgrimage popular for the temple of Godess Mookambika. Pilgrims from all over Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka visit Kollur. The temple is built amidst dense forest on the banks of a tributary of the Souparnika river. The peak of Kodachadri mountain is visible from the temple where the original temple is situated is a delightful sight.
Annegudde Vinayaka Temple – is an ancient temple of Lord Ganesha in the Udupi district south of Kundapura at a distance of about 7 Kms from Kundapura bus stand deserves a visit to worship Lord Shri Siddhivinayaka. It is 72 Kms down south Murdeshwar on the coastline.
Maravanthe beach – is a pristine, untouched beach with an inimitable combination of river on one side and Arabian Sea on the other side with the NH-17 passing in between. The beach is in between Kundapura and Kollur.
What to eat?
Other than the temple and beach, a trip to Murudeshwar would remain incomplete without relishing the local cuisine of rice and fish curry. There are ample vegetarian restaurants around the temple serving South Indian meals and tiffin (which is snacks – idli, vada and dosa). Some stalls also sell popular street food of Mumbai – Bhel Puri and Pav Bhaji. There are tender coconut stalls all around. The Sea Lounge restaurant of Hotel RNS Residency serves decent vegetarian only North Indian and South Indian cuisine.
For lip-smacking seafood, Nayak’s Fishland Restaurant in the market is an ideal no frills place. A seafood thali (with mackarel) costs Rs. 60/- which includes rice and fish curry. The best on menu is the Surmai (King Fish) Fry and the Stuffed Pomfret Fry for Rs. 160/- The fish is fresh catch from the sea barely few yards from the restaurant. A hearty seafood meal for two costs Rs. 400/-. The restaurant of Naveen Beach Resort also serves delectable seafood.
There’s ample choice for vegetarian restaurants – Naveen Sea Restaurant opposite the Shiva statue, Kamath Restaurant and Royal Retreat Restaurant in the main market are good vegetarian eating joints.
The Laddoo Prasadam inside the temple costs Rs. 15/- a piece for a boondi laddoo which is unmatched in taste with an under tone of edible camphor and cloves.
…. Rajesh Deshpande © 2015