Places to visit in Murudeshwar - A Travel guide
Murudeshwar, a coastal town located in Karnataka state, India is a fantasy land for staunch devotees of Lord Shiva. This temple town is famous for the gigantic statue of Lord Shiva situated atop a small hill overlooking the Arabian Sea. Another famous landmark in Murudeshwar is a 22-storey tall Rajagopuram. Besides the temples and mythological chronicles ascribed to Murudeshwar, this town is also ideal for tourists seeking adventures like trekking and water sports including snorkelling and scuba-diving. We realized that even if you are non-religious, Murudeshwar is a fantastic place to visit. Murudeshwar is a must-visit place near Gokarna and is often clubbed with other places to visit near Gokarna. This blog will serve as a complete travel guide to Murudeshwar and will highlight all the things to do and places to visit in Murudeshwar.
How to reach Murudeshwar
Murudeshwar is a coastal town in Karnataka in Uttara Kannada district. It is located about 200 kms south of Goa and 140 kms above Mangalore city. A protrusion called as Murudeshwar island (though technically not an island) is a major attraction of this town as it houses some lovely monuments.
Air: Mangalore airport, located about 140 kilometres away, is the nearest airport to Murudeshwar. From Mangalore, you can easily hire a taxi, take a state-run bus or take a train to Murudeshwar.
Rail: Murudeshwar railway station is connected to all trains running on the Western Rail lines or the Konkan Rail line. Hence, it is well connected to Bengaluru, Mangalore, Pune, Mumbai or Goa.
Road: Several government and private buses operate from major cities to Murudeshwar. Private taxis can also be hired from the surrounding major towns to reach Murudeshwar.
We drove to Murudeshwar on a rented scooter from Gokarna. The road from Gokarna to Murudeshwar is a national highway and hence, excellent in condition. The distance of 78 kilometres can be easily covered in couple of hours. We also stopped on the way to visit the beautiful Apsarakonda waterfalls, garden and beach.
Best time to visit Murudeshwar
For temple visit, trekking to nearby hills and sight-seeing the places to visit in Murudeshwar, October to March is the best time to visit Murudeshwar. April and May are hot and humid summer months and June to Mid-September is the rainy season.
For water adventure activities or sports like snorkelling and scuba diving, March to May and October are the best months to visit Murudeshwar. Even November to February is a good time for water sports, but the water will be cold, so depending on your body sensitivity you can choose when to visit Murudeshwar. Water sports are closed during the monsoon months (June to September). Water sports and under-water activities can be clubbed with other places to visit in Murudeshwar.
For the Shiva devotees, the festival of Maha Shivaratri in March is the best time to visit Murudeshwar. It is celebrated with great pomp and cheer in this temple town.
Places to visit in Murudeshwar
Here is list of 7 places to visit in Murudeshwar -
Lord Shiva statue
A gigantic statue of Lord Shiva stands tall on a hill named Kanduka which is surrounded by sea on three sides. This statue is the second tallest statue of Lord Shiva in the world (the first being in Nepal). This majestic piece of art is 123 feet tall and can be seen from a long distance. Shivamoga Kashinath and several notable sculptors took 20 years to build this statue. It was financed by a renowned businessman named R.N. Shetty, at a cost of INR 5 crore. This Shiva statue, located in the centre of a temple complex, has become an esteemed landmark in Murudeshwar and is a must-visit place to visit in Murudeshwar. Taking a parikrama (circumambulation) of the statue is highly recommended. The statue can also be viewed from the top of Rajagopuram situated just beside it.
Note: The statue can be viewed from a distance at any point in time. However, for a close-up view, you will have to follow the temple complex timings from 6 AM to 1 PM and 3 PM to 9 PM.
The 22-storeyed Gopuram in Murudeshwar is the second tallest Gopuram in the world (the first being in Tamil Nadu, India). It is the only Gopuram in the world that has an elevator. It was inaugurated on May 2008. The Gopuram is 249 feet tall and is guarded by two big elephants at the entrance. In case you are new to this term - Gopuram, it refers to a huge structure at the entrance of the temple built in dravidian style architecture. Gopurams are commonly found in temples of Southern India.
Tourists have access to the 18th floor, from where they can view the life-size statue of Lord Shiva with the Arabian Sea in the backdrop. The four windows located in four different directions on the 18th floor provide breathtaking panoramic views of Murudeshwar town, the Shiva statue and the sea from various angles. The entire Gopuram is intricately carved with figures of heavenly beings, Gods and Goddesses. It is lit up with beautiful yellow lights during the evening time. We highly recommend you to experience the view from the 18th floor of the Gopuram. We regard the Gopuram to be the best place to visit in Murudeshwar.
Note: The entrance to Gopuram is free of cost. You will have to remove your footwear on a stand outside the Gopuram. If you wish to enjoy the views from the 18th floor of Gopuram, the charge for the elevator is INR 10 per person. The elevator operates from 6 AM to 1 PM and 3 PM to 9 PM.
Views from 18th floor of Gopuram (Click to enlarge)
Murudeshwar Temple is located in between the Shiva statue and the Gopuram. The temple and the Gopuram have the same entry points. The granite temple is built in age-old Dravidian style architecture and is also known as the Kethappa Narayan Temple. While the temple is modernized, the sanctum sanctorum is still dark and ancient. The main deity in the Murudeshwar temple is that of Sri Mridesa Linga, also called as Murudeshwar. A piece of Atma-linga believed to be thrown here by Ravana is buried 2 feet below the ground level in the sanctum sanctorum of the temple. Thousands of pilgrims and Lord Shiva devotees flock this temple daily.
Note: Entrance to the temple is free of cost. However, if you want to perform any Abhishek (religious ritual), you will be charged for that. You will have to remove your footwear before entering the temple. Do not forget to buy the tasty laddus (sweet) as prasad (food offering) sold outside the temple (INR 20 for 1 big laddu).
Murudeshwar Statue Park
Besides the Lord Shiva statue, there are series of other statues and sculptures that narrate various folktales from the past. These folktales are mythological stories of significance. The Murudeshwar statue park houses life-size statues of Lord Ganesha receiving Atma-Linga from Ravana, that of Lord Krishna and Arjuna in a golden chariot from Mahabharata (Geetopadesha), various statues of sages meditating in different poses, and a statue of a Surya Chakra. The statue park is an ideal place for photographers who can try their hands by clicking the statues from various angles. All the statues are surrounded by lush green, well-manicured lawns.
Note: Entry to the Statue Park is free of cost. The park remains open from 6 AM to 1 PM and 3 PM to 9 PM.
A cave or rather a museum located beneath the Shiva statue is named as ‘Bhukailash’. Wonderfully sculpted statues depict the story of Atma-Linga and importance of Murudeshwar. Light and sound effects are used to narrate the story in Kannada, Hindi and English language. You have to move clockwise while listening to the story to relate it to the sculpted statues. All the sculptures are built and coloured beautifully with clear expressions on the faces of the statues. We rate the caves as one of the best place to visit in Murudeshwar for those interested in understanding the history behind this temple town.
The story is – Mother of Ravana (Demon King of Lanka) was a strict devotee of Lord Shiva and expressed her desire to worship the Atma-Linga (the soul of Shiva). Hence, Ravana went to Kailash and worshipped Shiva. Lord Shiva, impressed by Ravana’s penance, appeared before him and gave him a boon. Ravana asked for the Atma-Linga as a boon, which he received on a condition that he will take the Atma-Linga directly to Lanka without placing it on the ground, failing which the Atma-Linga will get embedded permanently wherever placed. Sage Narada knew that if Ravana takes the Atma-Linga successfully to Lanka, he will become indestructible and immortal. Hence, he approached Lord Ganesha and Lord Vishnu for help and they together devised a plan.
When Ravana was nearing Gokarna, Lord Vishnu masked the sun with his Surya Chakra giving the appearance of evening time. Seeing this, Ravana believed that it was time for his evening ritual that he performed without fail each day, hence he started looking for someone who could hold the Atma-Linga for him till he completed his evening prayers. At this time, Lord Ganesha appeared in front of him disguised as a shepherd and agreed to help him. Handing over the Atma-Linga to Lord Ganesha, as soon as Ravana went to perform his evening ritual, Lord Ganesha placed the statue on the ground in Gokarna, permanently embedding it on the earth. Lord Vishnu then removed his Surya Chakra away and it was daylight again. Ravana realising that he had been tricked and cheated, tried to uproot the Atma-Linga but it failed to move. Due to force exerted by Ravana, some pieces of Atma-Linga were scattered which were thrown by Ravana in four different directions. Murudeshwar is one such region, where a piece of Atma-Linga was thrown. The other places are Surathkal, Gunavanthe and Dhareshwara. Murudeshwar temple stands on the very place where the scatters of Atma-Linga fell.
Note: Entrance fee of INR 20 per person is collected to enter the cave/ museum. The cave is open to visitors from 6 AM to 1 PM and 3 PM to 8 PM.
Murudeshwar beach is a long stretch of clean, white sandy beach. The water at the beach is shallow and is safe for swimming. The view of Murudeshwar temple, Shiva statue and Gopuram from the Murudeshwar beach is spectacular and is a delight for photographers. The hues in the sky during the sunset time add extra charm to the whole environ. With the night lights turned on, the Shiva statue and Gopuram look stunning from the beach during night time and you can endlessly marvel on its beauty. During summertime, a range of water activities is operated on Murudeshwar beach that includes banana boat ride, jet-ski, water scooter, speed-boat ride, water-skiing and boating to Netrani Island. Murudeshwar beach also houses a fast-food centre and a flea market selling little trinkets and souvenirs at a cheap rate.
Note: The beach is best visited during sunset time.
Netrani Island: Netrani Island is located about 10 Nautical miles or 19 kilometres away from Murudeshwar temple. It can be reached by boat from Murudeshwar beach. Several local water sports operators will arrange for a boat for you to reach Netrani Island. The island is heart-shaped and is often referred to as ‘Pigeon Island’ owing to the presence of a large number of pigeons on the island. The sea-be surrounding the island is rich in marine biodiversity and plenty of rare varieties of corals, fishes and other aquatic species have been spotted here. Owing to the crystal clear water, Netrani Island is considered to be the best snorkelling and scuba diving site in Karnataka state. Several scuba and snorkelling operators manage these water sports on the island. October to March is considered to be the best time to visit Netrani Island for the water sports.
Note: The diving packages start from INR 5000 inclusive of underwater photographs. Do carry proper attire and accessories if you plan to experience the water activities.
Duration of visit to Murudeshwar
The first 5 places listed above are on Murudeshwar Island and can be covered in around couple of hours. Amount of time you spend on Murudeshwar beach and Netrani island purely depends on your interest. So in terms of itinerary, if you start in morning from a place like Gokarna, Udupi or Mangalore, you can reach Murudeshwar before noon and cover all places including adventure sports the same day. You can also visit any pending place next day morning. Hence a one night stay is recommended for Murudeshwar, not just to ensure you have enough time for all activities/places, but also to see the majestic Shiva statue and Gopuram at different times of day. If you are into photography, you would understand the importance of different lighting conditions. Here are some of our favourite shots from Murudeshwar clicked at different times of the day -
This article on Murudeshwar will be incomplete without mentioning the name of the person behind all this developmental progress. Mr. R.N. Shetty (RNS), a native of Murudeshwar, has played a big role in modernising the temple town of Murudeshwar. He holds the credit of the creation of the various monuments like Shiva statue and Gopuram and the various sculptures in the Murudeshwar temple complex by financing their built-up. Everything that exists on the Kanduka Hill is developed and maintained by Mr. R.N. Shetty. As you roam around Murudeshwar town, you would also find hotels, hospitals and colleges in his name.
Stay options in Murudeshwar
While there are plenty of basic accommodation facilities, there are a very limited number of reliable and good options to stay in Murudeshwar. RNS group of hotels owned by Mr. R.N. Shetty provide good accommodation option right next to the Murudeshwar temple complex. We stayed at RNS Residency hotel in a cosy room facing the sea. Our room was comfortably large with a big balcony overlooking the Arabian Sea. The views from the balcony were breathtaking. Though the hotel is more than 20 years old and you might want read mixed reviews on internet, we highly recommend the RNS Residency as a stay option for all tourists travelling to Murudeshwar. Its location right on the edge of Murudeshwar Island was enough for us to book it. And the facilities we experienced were good enough for the price paid. Also the restaurant in the hotel serves amazing vegetarian food. If you have limited budget, you can try RNS guest house which is right next door to RNS residency and is little cheaper with lesser facilities.
Murudeshwar turned out to be a much better place to visit than what we had expected. We are not really much into temples or religion but the aura of the Shiva statue, the interesting stories behind the place, the well maintained area and the location of Murudeshwar Island and our hotel made it for us. We could not help but feel awed by the magnificent structures and sea around us.
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