Thanks to my friends Ananthu and Bharata, I was able to obtain information and photos of the Sri Shishileshwara Temple at Shishila near Dharmasthala. This article is with their kind permission.
Shishila is a small village about 32kms from Dharmasthala in Dakshina Kannada district. It has a beautiful Shiva Temple. It is believed that the idol, in the form of a Linga, surfaced on its own and was never established by anyone (Udbhava Linga). The temple is on the banks of the river Kapila (a small river which later merges with Netravati).
The main deity here is Sri Shishileshwara. Along with this, idols of Sri Durga and Mahaganapati are also present. Due to Ananth’s visit during noon, the temple doors were closed and therefore the photographs of the idols could not be obtained.
The main bhootas in this temple are Pili Chamundi, Rakteshwari and Rudrandi.
How to get there: From Dharmasthala, take the road towards Kokkada and travel 16kms. On the Kokkada-Shibaje road, turn towards Shibaje and travel a further 16kms to reach Shishila.
Contact: by snail mail
Sightseeing: There are many scenic places around the Shishila temple that is a nature lover’s delight. Kumara hill, Meena Gundi, Kavina Kana, Remnants of an old fort and other places are all very close to Shishila.
Along the river Shambhavi in Dakshina Kannada, an unbelievable number of ancient and beautiful temples exist. Most of these are thousands of years old and carry an amazing amount of historical significance. There are mainly a lot of Shiva and Durga temples along this line. Even after dedicating myself to just this stretch every time I visit Tulu Nadu, I have not yet managed to cover even half of them.
Sri Mundkur Durga Parameshwari Temple is another such wonderful temple. It is along the Shambhavi river coast and can be reached if one takes the Belmann-Moodabidri road from Udupi. Along with Inna-Muddanu, this temple also was established by Sage Bharadwaja Bhargava. In fact, this temple along with Inna is the Kula Devata temple for many people in Tulu Nadu who have Bhargava Gotra. On the day I visited this temple, a special alankara with Sandal paste was made to the main idol and Devi was looking resplendent in a golden hue.
The Ganapathi idol in the temple is fully covered with silver and looks very auspicious. This temple has a history of more than 1200 years old. The priest of the temple took me to the well used to draw water for the rituals. The rings of the well have not been changed over the years and stand as archaeological proof for the age of the temple. There are deep grooves on all the rings which stand as testimony to the fact that this temple has been in existence for thousands of years.
This temple, over the years, had been patronised by the rulers of Moodabidri. In fact, legend has it that the King and Queen of Moodabidri, when visiting the temple praying in front of the idol, the ear rings of the Queen dropped down. The Queen gave it as an offering to the idol. The ear rings are used to decorate the idol of Durga even today. Two wooden pillars were also carved on behalf of the King in memory of this event.
From one of the books available at the temple, I managed to obtain a photo of the idol without any decoration. It is an amazing carving!
The annual festival in the temple starts from the 22nd day of Makara (Feb) and is held for 8 days. It is considered very auspicious to offer ‘Jaji’ and ‘Mallige’ flowers to Durga here. Hence, a lot of devotees visit this temple carrying these flowers.
Name: Sri Durga Parameshwari Temple
Location: Mundkur, Udupi District
Main deities: Durga, Ganapathi
Bhutas: Doomavathy, Varahi, Pili chamundi, Rakteshwari
Address: Sri Durga Parameshwari Temple, Mundkur, Karkala Taluk, Udupi district – 576121
Contact: by snail mail
How to get there: From Udupi, take the Karkala road via Padubidri. A few kilometres later, take the deviation to Belmann. Mundkur lies on this stretch.
Specialities: Mundkur is surrounded by the river Shambhavi on three sides (East, South and West). Around Mundkur, four Shiva temples are located – Posaral towards South-East, Inna-Muddanu towards North-East, Ulepadi towards South-West and Bola towards North-West.
Inna Muddanu is another beautiful Shiva temple on the banks of River Shambhavi in Tulu Nadu. I was told by the priest of Posaral temple that there are 11 Shiva temples just on the banks of the river itself. Inna is one of them. The main deity of this temple is Sri Mahalingeshwara. As found in almost every other temple in Tulu Nadu, there is also a Ganapathi idol here towards the South West corner of the temple.
According to the legend of the place, the great sage Bhargava performed penance of Lord Shiva at a nearby hill. Pleased with the penance, Lord Shiva blessed Bhargava and granted a boon that he would come down and stay in the form of a Linga nearby. That is how the Inna temple came into being. Even today, Inna Mahalingeshwara (along with Sri Durga Parameshwari of nearby Mundkur, also established by Sage Bhargava) is the Kula Devata for a majority of families from the Bhargava Gotra in Tulu Nadu.
The garbha gudi and theertha mantapa are also built in typical Dakshina Kannada temple style. The main Bhuta worshipped in the temple is Varahi (Panjurli).
The mantapa also has beautiful carvings on the pillars. The Nandi idol in the mantapa is also very beautiful.
Name: Sri Mahalingeshwara Devasthana.
Location: Inna Muddanu, Udupi District.
Main deities: Mahalingeshwara, Ganapati
Address: Inna Muddanu Sri Mahalingeshwara Devasthana, Karkala Taluk, Udupi District – 576 146
Telephone: 08258 – 268108
How to get there: On the Udupi Mangalore highway, turn right at Padubidri towards Karkala. After about 8 kilometres, you will reach Adve. Turn right here and travel about 3kms. You will find a board for Inna. Turn left here and travel a further 3kms to reach Inna.
Specialities: The temple was recently renovated in 2006 and is in excellent condition. There are lots of facilities to take care of travelers here. This place has a recorded history of more than 1300 years. It is certainly worth a visit the next time you are around Udupi.
Palimaru is a small village very close to Udupi. This village is the headquarters of the Palimaru Matha, one of the 8 mathas founded by Sri Madhvacharya. The first pontiff of this matha was Sri Hrishikesha Theertha, who was a direct disciple of Srimadacharya. The current pontiff is Sri Sri Vidyadheesha Theertha Swamiji.
The moola devaru of the Matha is “Sita Lakshmana Sahita Sri Rama”. Since the Swamiji was not in Palimaru when I visited the place, we could not get to see the main idols. The Garbha Gudi was also locked. But the matha itself is amazing. It is as if one has gone back 800 years into history. The matha and the temple is built in typical Dakshina Kannada style.
Another main attraction of the matha is the Mukhya Prana or Anjaneya temple. It is situated right behind the main temple. This temple was constructed a few years back and is very well known in Dakshina Kannada already. People call it the temple of the “Mathanaduva Anjaneya” or “Talking Hanuman”. Countless devotees have had their wishes fullfilled here after sincere prayers. The small temple is very beautiful to look at and the idol itself is very attractive. This temple is one of my favorites in Dakshina Kannada.
Another of the glorious attractions of the temple is the Brundavana of Sri Sri Vidya Manya Theertha Swamiji, the previous pontiff of the Palimaru Matha. He was one of the greatest Yatis of the 20th century and the Guru of several Dvaita scholars and pontiffs such as Sri Sri Vishvesha Tirtha Swamiji of the Pejavara Matha and Sri Sri Vishva Priya Theertha Swamiji of the Adamaru Matha. I call Sri Sri Vidya Manya Theertha the Raghavendra Swamiji of the 20th century.
Right behind the Anjaneya Garbha Gudi is located the Brundavanas of several past pontiffs of the Palimaru Matha. Some other brundavanas are located to the southern side of the temple. There is a board put up there which gives details of the Swamijis whose brundavanas are located at this matha. The earliest brundavana was from the 1300s!
The matha also has a beautiful Pushkarani with crystal clear water. Right behind the matha flows the Shambhavi river. There is a mini-bridge-cum-dam built over the river there. The sceneries around the river are breath-taking.
Name: Sri Palimaru Matha
Location: Palimaru, Padubidri, Udupi District
Main deities: Sri Rama, Mukhya Prana
Address: Sri Palimaru Matha, Near Padubidri, Udupi District
How to get there: On the Udupi Mangalore highway, turn towards Nitte/Karkala at Padubidri junction. Travel 4-5 kms to reach a junction called Adve. Turn right here and travel about 3-4 kms to reach Palimaru matha.
Other specialities: There is also a very ancient Shiva temple located at Palimaru village. In the Anjaneya temple, the priests perform Vayu Stuti Purascharane to the main idol based on our request. A lot of people come here and get the Purascharane done. It is considered very auspicious.
Kulai is a very, and I mean very ancient temple in Tulu Nadu. It is a small locality on the outskirts of Mangalore city, and has been merged within the City limits now. It is located on the Mangalore – Udupi highway, close to Suratkal. The main deity in this temple is Lord Vishnu, known as Vishnu Murthy.
The antiquity of the temple can be guaged by a close look at the main deity’s idol. Even without any scientific examination, it becomes clear that the idol is several hundred years old, at the least. In true Tulu Nadu style, the temple also has a Ganapati idol. In addition, the temple has a very attractive and revered Naga statue.
The main Bhuta in the temple is Panjurli which has its own “Gudi” towards the South-east corner of the temple. The temple also has an attractive “Pushkarani” or pond and a separate section for conducting Bhuta Kolas.
Name: Sri Vishnumurthy Devasthana
Location: Kulai, Dakshina Kannada district
Main deities: Vishnu, Ganapati, Nagas
Address: Sri Vishnumurthy Devasthana, Kulai, Mangalore – 575019
Contact: By phone or snail mail
How to get there: On the Mangalore – Udupi highway, Kulai is located 17kms from Mangalore, just prior to Suratkal. You will find the temple arch on the right as soon as you enter Kulai limits (while traveling from Mangalore). The temple is a kilometre away once you enter through the arch.
Annual festival: Starting from the 18th day of Meena masa, for five days (typically in the first week of April)
Best time to visit: October to May
Specialities: Being a Vishnu temple, Kulai is very well known for the numerous “Bhajan” programs held there. You are sure to attend a Bhajan session if you happen to visit on a Saturday or a Wednesday.
No, this is not the name of a temple 🙂 I am writing today about another unique aspect of temples in Tulu Nadu. Almost all the temples here have “Bali Kallu” or “Bali Stones”. These are small stones laid around the sanctum sanctorum and the outer perimeter of the temple.
These stones are representative of the various GaNas present in the temple. I have seen these Bali Kallus in almost all temples in Dakshina Kannada and Udupi. They represent the various Grahas, Matrukas, Adityas, Rudras, Kshetrapala and so on.
During the annual festival in temples, a majority of the ceremonies concern these Bali Kallus. It is said that the festival is actually meant to please these lesser deities as they are the ones who really take care of the Grama (village) for one whole year. Hence, there is a system of bringing the God’s idol out for “Bali” or rounds during the festival and during these rounds, the various Bali Kallus are offered Puje. In some sense, it is equivalent to the boss of the organization (Lord) offering annual bonuses to the employees (gaNas).
Seemanthooru is a small village near Mulki, close to the Mangalore – Udupi Highway. The village is close to the Mulki railway station. The name Seemanthooru is an offshoot of “Shrimantara Ooru” which means “land of the rich!”. Seemanthooru was indeed the land of the rich. I was recently discussing the history of another temple – Atturu Bailu Ganapati devasthana and the priest there mentioned that they (priests) were originally from Seemanthooru and hundreds of years ago, they came down to Bailu.
Seemanthooru has a Janardana temple. It is known as the Sri Adi Janardana Devasthana. It has a very interesting story behind why the temple is called as “Adi” Janardana temple.
Speciality: The Seemanthooru Janardana temple was established by Bhagawan Parashurama. It is one of the several temples in the Tulu Nadu region that was established by Parashurama. According to Shastras, temple idols established by Rishis and Aparoksha Gnanis (realized souls) never get “damaged”. A few hundred years ago, the idol of Janardana was damaged ( I believe the hand got broken). A few villagers got together and made a new idol and established the same, after which the temple and village declined. Upon enquiring with scholars, it emerged that the original idol still has the full Sannidhana and hence the problem. The idol was repaired and placed back. The original idol is now known as “Adi Janardana” and the new idol is also within the same temple. Hence this unique temple has two Janardana idols!
Another unique feature of this temple is that it is one of the very few temples in Tulu Nadu that does not have a Ganapati idol! When I checked this with the priest, he mentioned that Seemanthooru Janardana is the “Akhilanda Koti Brahmanda Nayaka” and hence there is no other idol! Now, note that several Vishnu temples in Tulu Nadu do have Ganapati idols and hence Seemanthooru is really different.
Name: Sri Adi Janardana Devasthana.
Location: Seemanthooru, Mulki, Dakshina Kannada.
Main deities: Adi Janardana, Janardana
Address: Sri Adi Janardana Temple, Shimanthur, Post Panjinadka – 574 195, Mulky, D.K
Contact: By snail mail.
Telephone: 0824 – 2294745
How to get there: From Mangalore, reach Mulki using the Udupi highway and then turn right towards Kinnigoli. About 2kms later, you will find a temple arch. Turn left and travel 1km.
Annual festival: For 6 days starting Kumbha Masa Saptami (late February – early March)
Muchur is a small little village located close to Mudabidri. It is located 6 kms off the Kinnigoli – Mudabidri road. The village is famous for its Durga Parameshwari Temple. The temple is magnificent and large and has been renovated a few years ago.
The temple has a very close link to the Nellitheertha Somanatheshwara Temple. Local legend has it that when sage Jabali performed a penance at the Nellitheertha Cave, Lord Durga appeared there and assured him that the demon Arunasura would be killed (at Kateel). She then blessed the region to have three temples in close proximity. Thus the Nellitheertha, Muchur and Kompadavu (Vishnu) temples came into existence.
Specialities: The temple Bhutas here do not have any Bhuta Kolas done to them. Instead, the Maisandaya Bhuta which stays nearby in a chieftain’s house is brought to the temple during its annual festival and is treated as the main Bhuta and Kola is offered.
Address: Sri Durga Parameshwari Devasthana, Muchur, Neerude Post, Mangalore Taluk, Dakshina Kannada – 574163.
Contact: By snail mail.
How to get there: From Mangalore, take the Mudabidri Road, cross Gurupura, Kaikamba and Ganjimatha. Turn left towards Muchur as you near Yedapadavu. Muchur is 8kms from here.
Posaral is another beautiful, sleepy little village on the border of Udupi and Dakshina Kannada districts. It has an extremely old temple of Lord Mahalingeshwara and Mahaganapati. The temple was renovated in 2006 and we found that it has all the basic infrastructure.
The local priest informed us that there is recorded evidence of the temple having existed more than 1200 years ago.
We (me and my cousin Vasu) got hold of a book published by the locals about 2 years ago. It mentions the existence of a pillar in the village dating back to the 12th century in which the chieftain of Barkur has recorded his gifting of the village to some one from this place.
Name: Sri Mahalingeshwara Mahaganapati Devasthana.
Location: Posaral, Karkala Taluk.
Main deities: Mahalingeshwara, Mahaganapati, Nagas, Brahma.
The temple is located on the banks of the river Shambhavi. Another unique thing about this temple is that there are some very antique carvings on the pillars of the Theertha Mantap.
Specialities: The speciality of this temple is that the locals believe that the Lord here is very pleased with tender coconut abhishekam. So it is a custom to offer the Lord a few tender coconuts if one’s wishes (as requested to the Lord) comes true.
Address: Sri Mahalingeshwara Mahaganapati Devasthana, Saccharipete, Mundkur village, Karkala Taluk, Udupi – 576128.
Contact: By snail mail.
How to get there: From Mangalore, reach Mulki and then turn right towards Kinnigoli. After Kinnigoli, reach Moorukaveri and turn left towards Belmann. Reach Jaarikatte and turn right. You will find an arch to Posaral on the right side after about 2kms.
Yelinje was the first temple I visited as part of my project. This is a small but beautiful temple located near Kinnigoli, about 30kms from Mangalore. Yelinje has a Lakshmi Janardana temple. The temple also has a Mahaganapati idol. Here is some information on the temple.
Name: Sri Lakshmi Janardana Mahaganapati Devasthana.
Location: Yelinje, Mangalore Taluk.
Main deities: Lakshmi Janardana, Mahaganapati, Nagas.
Bhutas: Panjurli, Rakteshwari
Specialities: A Bavali Dhama (bat colony) right next to the temple. Hundreds of bats are perched on a few huge trees and survive on the temple food. The bats do not harm anyone.
How to get there: From Mangalore, reach Mulki and then turn right towards Kinnigoli. After Kinnigoli, reach Moorukaveri and turn left towards Belmann. Yelinje is located about 5 kms from here.
Annual festival: From Magha masa, Shukla paksha, shashthi till dashami (typically in February).
Misc: The temple was renovated in 2003 and is in reasonably good shape now. The temple area is very serene and is located amidst lush greenery. The drive from Moorukaveri to Yelinje is really enjoyeable.