Most of the well-known temples of coastal Karnataka are of Shaivite faith and all of them are unique in their own right. Most of them are near a beach, which can serve as a place to relax after visiting the temple.
Mangalore is well connected by air and train. Those travelling from the South should first reach Mangalore and work their way up or down. Those visiting from the north can reach Gokarna from Panjim, Goa and travel down the coast.
For anyone planning a trip to the temples in coastal Karnataka, I shall give some personal insights based on my recent summer visit.
I will also mention things that are a must-do and those that are a children-friendly), so be sure to keep an eye out for these!
Gokarna (translating to ‘Cow’s ear’) is home to the Mahabaleshwar (“all-powerful”) temple, which houses the Atmalinga / Pranalinga of Lord Shiva. It is an ancient temple with magnificent rock carvings. It is said that Ravana accidentally set down the idol at Gokarna, permanently deifying it here.
At Gokarna, you can reach and insert your hand down into the holy water of the Shiva Lingam to obtain the blessings of the Lord.
There is an ancient Ganesh Temple at Idagunji. The food hall is located some distance from the temple, but tokens should be purchased at the temple itself. Remember this should you dine there.
The chilled buttermilk packets sold here are fused with chilli pepper powder and ginger. It is utterly delicious and sure to be a hit with your kids.
This destination is more of a tourist spot than a temple, and there is something for everyone to enjoy.
There is the Narayan Temple at Murudeshwara, but there is also so much more. The Temple is near the Arabian Sea, so people can enjoy the cool breeze while they traverse the beach.
Apart from the beach, Murudeshwara has a Statue Park with a gigantic 123 feet idol of the head of Lord Shiva. The towering statue is the second largest statue of Shiva in the world, and the tallest in India.
Ride up to the 18th floor of the Temple Gopuram elevator, which allows you to get a scenic view of all the listed things.
There is also a cave with beautiful figurines depicting the story of “Ravananugraha” and it is worth visiting.
Kollur is full of beautiful scenery. There are rich green trees and flowers like a forest. The Mookambika temple is dedicated to the Goddess Saraswathi and many kids start their Aksharabyasa (first written word) here.
Don’t miss the Kerala style drummers as the Goddess is carried in a palanquin around the outer square of the temple. The inner square is where the Sanctum Sanctorum lies.
Both of the temples in Sringeri are very hoary and are built in the ancient style, complete with stone carvings.
The Sharadhamba Temple has an idol of the Goddess Saraswathi. This idol is also referred to as ‘Sringeri Saradha’.
The Adisankara temple contains statues of all three major Hindu deities, Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva along with their respective consorts. The three idols are located on three different sides of the temple. On the fourth side (West side) is the statue of the Lord Ganesha.
There is a bridge above the river Tunga outside the temple which connects to the Sharadha Peetam. People can get their feet wet in the river.
Watch the wonderful rock carvings on the temple exterior depicting the Dasavatharam (10 avatars of Vishnu).
The Udupi Temple is one of the most popular temples in India. The Temple contains the idol of Lord Krishna (Udupi-Krishna). However, the door to the idol is not open but enclosed by a gate. There are nine holes (Navagraha) through which to view the small idol. The temple door is left wide open for only one day in the whole year, Vaikunta Ekadasi.
Don’t be distraught by the long lines as they move pretty fast. The Krishna deity comes up quickly on the right, so devotees should be alert. People are only allowed five to seven seconds to observe the idol, so be prepared to maximise the viewing time.
There is a Ghosala (cow shelter) in the temple. People are allowed to feed and pet the cows there.
The food served at the Udupi Temple is delicious. Please note that men should wear a traditional ‘Panche or dhoti’ instead of a pant and shirt to gain access to the special food served by the Pejawar Mutt Swamiji.
The Sri Gokarnatheshwara temple in Manguluru (Mangalore) is absolutely splendid. The golden place of worship contains idols of Lord Hanuman, Shirdi Sai Baba, Lord Krishna and Lord Shiva. Built in 1912 by Kerala reformer Sri Narayanaguru, it has since been renovated in Chola style.
The temple is close to Mangalore Railway Station (3 km), so it is a quick stop for those hurried for time.
There are figurines of various animals such as giraffes, lions, and tigers in a place outside the main temple, almost like a zoo.
Two temples which were not visited due to the paucity of time were Guddattu and Kateel.
The Vinayaka temple in Guddattu is unique as the statue of Lord Ganesh is situated neck-deep in water, with only the head and a portion of the trunk being visible.
The Durga Parameshwari Temple in Kateel is on an islet about 26 kilometres from Mangalore. It is dedicated to the Goddess Durga.
The temples we visited were all magnificent in their own way. Be sure to keep my points in mind and not miss out on things which turn a good temple visit into a great one. Don’t hesitate, because it’s fun for the whole family. Plan your trip now!