Untravel Coastal Special: Temple hopping along the Karnataka coastline

Part 1 of 3: If you have a palate for some magnificent ancient architecture and Hindu mythology, take a coastal trip to these temples in Udipi, Dharamsthala, Kollur, Gokarna and Sringeri.


India is one of the few countries that can boast of palm shaded pristine beaches, the warm glow of mesmerizing sunsets & sunrises and temptingly lethargic destinations along more than 7500km of its coastline.

Amongst these, the Karnataka’s virgin beaches have been discovered only by the intrepid. For those who are eager to be soaked in the warm clammy fish smelling air weighing down upon the coast and add it to the adventure that it promises, a trip through Mangalore to Murudeshwar is just what you need. These series of articles reveal some secret hideouts to stay, ideas to nudge that adrenalin, explore the best temple hopping route and even help you witness the trilling buffalo races in the region.

One does not particularly need a religious bone in their body to enjoy the impressive historic landmarks dotted along the Karnataka coast, in the form of ancient temples. The decided Hindu vibe of destinations like Udupi, Dharamsthala, Kollur, Gokarna and Sringeri testifies how deep the region is steeped in legends and mythology, drawing devotees from all around the world. It’s not just about the ritualistic ceremonies but also more about the faith that these stalwarts invoke in people. If you have a palate for some magnificent ancient architecture and Hindu mythology, these temple stops on the Karnataka coastline are worth your while.

The temple trail can be covered by making Mangalore the starting point, as it is well connected by air or rail from major cities in India and a host of overnight bus options from South Indian cities. Trace your way to Dharamsthala, Udipi, Sringeri, Kollur, ending the journey in Gokarna.

Shri Manjunathaswamy Temple, Dharamsthala – The synthesis of Jain and Shaivaite origins makes the Manjunatha shrine in Dharamsthala one of the most important pilgrimage centers of Karnataka. The 800-year-old temple is rife with legends, the most popular one about a Jain cheiftain and his wife’s adherence to Dharma, which was once tested by the Devas. The man, Barmanna Pergade, dreamt that he was to vacate his house and devote his life to spreading the message of Dharma. It was he built this temple, dedicated to Shri Manjunatheshwara (Lord Shiva) and the other of Shiva’s consort Ammanavaru. Timings – 6.30am-2pm, 7-8.30pm

Shri Krishna Temple, Udipi – This temple is the main draw for the city of Udipi, where most tourism revolves around this famous shrine. It is said that he idol of Sri Krishna’s idol was installed by Shri Madhwacharya in the 13th century. The saint was well known for his Dwaita philosophy and was responsible for creating eight mutts in the region. All of these, including the Sri Krishna Mutt stand in one cluster near the temple.

The main deity, five-year-old Krishna, can be viewed only from a small window here. The temple is held in high reverence by childless couples who offer swarna jhoola (golden crib) as they pray to bear an offspring. The best time to visit the temple is during the evening Aarti that starts at 7pm. Timings – 5am-9pm

Shri Sharada Peetham, Sringeri – The small town of Sringeri is home to Goddess Sharadamba (Saraswathi), whose idol was installed by Adi Shankaracharya himself. The temple lies on the scenic banks of River Tunga and is also the place where the saint set his four mutts in India. Presently, Acharya, Jagadguru Shankaracharya Sri Sri Bharati Tirtha Mahaswamiji lives here. Amongst the fifteen shrines in this vast temple complex, the most iconic one, that usually defines the landscape of Sringeri, is the Vidyashankara temple. Timings – 6am-2pm, 5-9pm

Shri Mookambika Devi, Kollur – The energy of Trishakti (Parvathi, Saraswathi and Maha Lakshmi) converges at the ancient temple of Mookambika in Kollur. The mixed architectural style of Kerala and Karnataka bridges boundaries between the two states and draws hoards of devotees from here. The idol of Sri Mookambika is in the form of a Jyotir-Lingam, which means that it incorporates both features of Shiva and Parvathi.

The legend goes that the Goddess struck the demon, Kaumasura, dumb, as he was about to ask Lord Shiva for the boon of immortality. To stop the demon from disrupting sage Kola Munivar’s puja, Goddess Parvathi began a bloody battle with Kaumasura, defeating him at a spot near the temple, called Marana Katte. The Jyotir Lingam seen in the temple appeared as result of sage Kola Munivar’s intense penance to Lord Shiva, who assured him the appearance of a swayambhu (self created lingam) after his puja was over.

Shri Mahabaleshwar Temple, Gokarna – The bipolar vibe of the coastal town of Gokarna is palpable as western backpacking travellers troupe into the holy city of Gokarna, making their way to the pristine beaches about 5km from the temple hub. While one might decide to stay in the more comfortable accommodations along the beach, the Mahabaleshwar Temple is bound to enthrall you just as much as Gokarna’s impressive topography. The Shiva linga at the temple is not visible as its entrenched in the ground but a unique practice here allows devotees to dip their hand in a milky pond to touch the irregular shaped lingam. The temple is also known as the Kashi of South India, as people arrive here to assuage their sins, just as Varanasi.

This is the first of the Untravel Coastal Special, a three-part travel series on coastal travel destinations in India.


  ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Even though Bangalore based travel writer, Supriya has always loved travelling mapless and ungoogled, she tweaked her vagabondish ways to pen guidebooks for Lonely Planet. She is currently authoring her sixth one more

   FOLLOW US

   SUBSCRIBE TO OUR NEWSLETTER
  Top Stories on TA






  Top Stories in LIFESTYLE






   Get stories like this in your inbox

  ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Even though Bangalore based travel writer, Supriya has always loved travelling mapless and ungoogled, she tweaked her vagabondish ways to pen guidebooks for Lonely Planet. She is currently authoring her sixth one more

Discuss this article on Facebook