In the Bhatkal Taluk of Uttara Karnataka, is the picturesque town called Murudeshwara. Against the backdrop of a beautiful beach is the giant statue of Sri Mahayogi, which is Lord Shiva. The town gets its name from the deity of the temple, situated on the Kanduka hill. This temple has a 20-storied Gopura and is surrounded by the Arabian Sea on three sides. The main deity of the temple is Mrideshwara, which is another name for Lord Shiva. There is a story behind how this Linga was established in this temple. And so the legend goes…….
Ravana, the King of Lanka wanted to be immortal and invincible. The Hindu gods, when in desire of attaining immortality and invincibility, would do so by worshiping a Linga called the Atma-Linga. Learning this, Ravana decided to pursue the task of attaining the Linga. The Atma-Linga belonged to Lord Shiva. And so, Ravana started to worship Lord Shiva and performed intensive prayers. Pleased by his prayers, Lord Shiva appeared before him and asked him what he wanted.
Meanwhile, Sage Narada had heard of this, and knowing that Ravana’s intentions would not be pure, asked Lord Vishnu to change Ravana’s mind. As a result this, Ravana asks for Goddess Parvati instead of Atma-linga as a boon and Lord Shiva obliges.
On the way back to Lanka, Ravana learns from Narada that Shiva has not given him the real Parvathi and that the real Parvathi was in Pathala. Ravana then goes to Pathala in pursuit of the real Parvathi and marries Mandodari, assuming her to be real Parvati.
When he returns to Lanka, Ravana realizes that he has been tricked and as a result starts worshiping Lord Shiva with devotion stronger than ever. Lord Shiva, once again pleased by his devotion, appears and this time, Ravana requests the Atma-Linga as his boon and Shiva obliges. But he puts forth a condition that it should never be placed on the ground and that if the Atma-Linga was ever placed on the ground, all the powers would return to Lord Shiva. Having obtained his boon, Ravana started back on his journey to Lanka.
Once again, Sage Narada decides to intervene. This time, he approaches Lord Ganesha and requests him to prevent the Atma-Linga from reaching Lanka. And so Lord Ganesha comes up with a plan.
As Ravana is on his way back to Lanka, he approaches the town of Gokarna. Lord Vishnu blots out the sun to deceive him, to create the illusion of dusk. Now, Ravana was a huge devotee of Lord Shiva and had the habit of performing evening rituals, without fail. As he thought it was dusk, Ravana now had to perform his evening rituals but was worried because he would not be able to do so with the Atma-Linga in his hands.
At this time, Lord Ganesha disguised as a Brahmin boy appears and Ravana requests him to hold the Atma-Linga until he is done performing his rituals. Ganesha agrees to do so and says that he would call out Ravana’s name thrice, and that if Ravana does not return within that time, he would place the Atma-Linga on the ground.
As one would expect, Ganesha places the linga on the ground, before he returns. Lord Vishnu then removes the illusion of dusk, and Ravana sees that there is daylight again. Ravana, realising that he has been tricked, tries to destroy the Linga. As a result of his anger and might, the Linga gets scattered into a few pieces.
One of the pieces from the head of the linga is said to have fallen in present day Surathkal around which, the Sadashiva temple is built. The case used to cover the Atma-Linga, lies in Sajjeshwara and the lid of the case lies in Dhareshwara. And the cloth covering the Atma-Linga now lies in Mrideshwara on the Kanduka Hill. Mrideshwara has hence been renamed Murudeshwara.
The story of this place is certainly intriguing and is the reason behind why thousands of devotees visit this place to offer their prayers. The town is easily approachable and the tourism department has done a great job in making the visitors’ stay comfortable.
What’s more? The District Administration of Uttara Karnataka has launched an app, in collaboration with CoRover Private Limited, called CoRover Connect, which connects the tourists visiting this place. It allows them to connect amongst themselves, and with the staff. It also has a PANIC BUTTON in case of emergencies. Use the app to make your visit comfortable!
So what’re you waiting for? Pack your bags right away and visit this tranquil town.