Murudeshwara is a popular pilgrimage and beach destination located in the Bhatkal Taluk of Uttara Kannada District, in the South Indian state of Karnataka. Bounded by the Arabian Sea on its three sides and the rolling hills of the Western Ghats, the coastal town of Murudeshwara lies in between Honnavara and Bhatkal, on National Highway 17.
Murudeshwara town, earlier known by the name ‘Mrideshwara’, is named after the ancient Murudeshwara Temple of Lord Shiva. The ancient scriptures point to the existence of the town to the period of the Ramayana.
As per legend, the Demon King Ravana brought Atma – Linga or Mahabaleshwara Linga – from Kailasa Parvata but Lord Ganesha placed it in Gokarna. Ravana, in great anger, flung the other parts of the idol such as the casket, the lid, the string around the lingam and the covering cloth of the idol to Sajjeshwara, Guneshwara or Gunavanthe, Dhareswara and Kanduka Hill of Mrideshwara respectively. The lid took the form of Vamdev Linga, the thread as Tatpurusha Linga and the cloth became Aghora Linga or Mridesa Linga.
Knowing about this incident from Lord Vayu, Lord Shiva, along with Goddess Parvathi and Lord Ganesha, visited these places and consecrated the lingas. He declared these lingas as his ‘pancha-khshetras’ and also that worshipping these idols can wash off the sins of the devotees and transcend them from the cyclical re-incarnation of the soul by attaining Moksha.
‘Mrideshwara’ was later renamed as ‘Murudeshwara’ after the construction of the temple atop Kanduka Hill. Murudeshwara Temple is the chief attraction of the place with its 123 feet tall idol of Neelkanta or Lord Shiva and 249 feet high entrance tower, the Raja Gopura. Apart from being a pilgrimage destination, Murudeshwara is also known for the ‘Murudeshwara Fort’ located in its vicinity, which was renovated by Tipu Sultan.
Murudeshwara has beaches and activities like swimming, snorkeling and boat rides among other activities. Opportunities for trekking are available at Yana, located near the Sahyadri ranges – Bhairaveshwara Shikhara and the Mohini Shikhara. From Murudeshwara, excursions can be taken to destinations like Sirsi, Karwar, Gokarna, Kollur, Udupi, Mangalore, Dharmasthala and Subramanya. Tourists can sign up for Murudeshwara holiday packages to explore the destination better and soak in its sights and sounds.
Murudeshwara is located at a distance of 165 km from Mangalore, on NH 17. This town is connected to other destinations by some trains on the Mumbai – Mangalore route. Bajpe Airport of Mangalore is the nearest airport to Murudeshwara. To reach Murudeshwara, travellers can also travel by road. The destination is connected to other cities in Karnataka and neighbouring states. The best time to visit Murudeshwara is from November to February.