Karnataka is a place that has preserved its cultural heritage in modern times. There are many places in the state that are blessed with natural beauty and hence the state is one of the most visited places in the country, visited by both domestic and foreign tourists from different parts of the world. One of the main attractions of the state is definitely its temples, as they are not just sacred places of worship but they are also steeped in the country’s history, heritage and traditions. Plus, most of these temples are ancient and are architectural wonders.
There are thousands of temples all over the state and to select few among them is difficult but here are the 10 most famous temples in Karnataka that are not just well-known in India but all over the world.
1. Kollur Mookambika Temple
Located in Kollur which is at a distance of 130 km from Managaluru or Mangalore, the Mookambika temple is one of the most famous temples in India. The temple is built among the hills of Kodachadri in the western ghats. It is believed that the temple was built at least 1200 years ago. The legend behind the temple is that goddess Parvati killed a demon named Kamasura who was harassing the people of the region. The goddess first made him dumb or mooka, but as he would not relent even then, the demon was killed. The people started worshiping the goddess at the spot, and eventually a temple was built here. The best time to visit the temple is during the Navaratri festival but it is very crowded at that time. Temple trust also serves free food to devotees.
2. Udupi Srikrishna Temple
Udupi Srikrishna temple is famous for its unique Krishna idol which has its back to the entrance. Hence, the deity cannot be seen from the front entrance but from the back door and through a window. It is said that Kanakadasa, an ardent devotee of Krishna, was denied entry to the temple owing to his caste. So, he would stand at the back of the temple and pray fervently to the lord. Sri Krishna was touched by his devotion and he turned to Kanakadasa and even today, the idol remains thus and can be seen only through a window, called as Kanakana kindi or Kanaka’s window. The temple is well-connected by road, rail and air and hence easily accessible.
3. Dharmasthala Manjunatha Temple
Dharmasthala Manjunatha temple is situated on the banks of Netravati River and is one of the most famous temples in Karnataka. It is also a unique temple as along with the temple deity, lord Shiva, a Jain Theerthankara is also worshiped at the temple. The temple management has people from different walks of life. On a daily basis, more than 10, 000 people visit the temple. Devotees are served free food at the temple complex. The annual festival of the temple, called as the Lakshadeepa festival, is held either in November or December and is visited by devotees from all over the world.
4. Gokarna Mahableshwar Temple
Gokarna is a renowned pilgrimage centre located in North Kannada district and a popular tourist destination with beautiful beaches and other scenic spots. The Mahableshwar temple is dedicated to lord Shiva but there is also a Ganapathy temple. The temple is famous as the Kashi of the South or Dakshina Kashi. The legend behind the temple is that once Ravana, after severe penance got Atmalinga from lord Shiva who told him that he should not keep it anywhere down as it would get fixed there. Lord Ganpathy tricked him into doing so and the spot where the Shivalinga was kept is where the temple came up. The temple is believed to have great powers.
5. Murudeshwara Temple
The main attraction of the Murudeshwara temple is the huge Shiva idol which can be seen even from far away. It is the second tallest statue of lord Shiva in the world. Located on the Kanduka hill, on the beach of Arabian sea, it comprises a huge tower of 20 storeys. Devotees can climb up the tower after buying a ticket of Rs.10 and get an amazing view of the surroundings. The temple offers a serene atmosphere to pray to lord Shiva.
6. Kukke Subramanya Temple
Located in Sullia Taluk in South Kannada District, the Kukke Subramanya temple is surrounded by amazing natural surroundings with rivers, hills and forests. Dedicated to lord Subramanya or the lord of Serpents or lord Kartikeya, the son of lord Shiva, the temple is one of the most revered temples in India. It is said that Vasuki, the serpent god and other snakes sought the help of lord Kartikeya to protect them from Garuda and the lord took them under his refuge and that was why he was called as Subramanya. There are bus services available to the temple from different parts of the state and it is also accessible via air or railways.
7. Kateel Durgaparameshwari Temple
Located in Kateel town in Dakshina Kannada, Kateel Durgaparameshwari temple is dedicated to goddess Durga and is one of the most popular pilgrimage centres in India. It is located on an islet on the Nandini river and surrounded by scenic beauty. It is just 29 kms from Mangalore.
8. Horanadu Annapurneshwari Temple
Horanadu Annapurneshwari temple is situated on river Badra’s banks and is also known as Sri Kshetra Horanadu. It is dedicated to Annapurneshwari Devi or the food goddess. It is also one of the oldest temples in the state as it is believed that the temple was built by the revered sage Agasthya. The idol is very beautiful that has the Goddess in the standing position, with four hands. It is believed that those who come to the temple and pray to the Goddess will never go hungry in their life.
9. Guddattu Mahaganapathi Temple
Guddattu Mahaganapathi temple is believed to have been built 800 years ago and stands in a unique location below a huge granite rock. Guddattu is a village off NH 66 and around 90 kms from Mangalore. It is believed that the idol of Ganapathy was self-manifested or ‘swayambhu’. The main ritual here is ‘Ayarkoda’ or pouring thousand pots of water on the idol.
10. Sri Virupaksheshwara Temple
Sri Virupaksheshwara temple is situated near the Tungabhadra river and amongst Hampi monuments. It is dedicated to lord Shiva and one of the oldest temples in Karnataka. It has a beautiful architecture and a treat to your eyes and soul.
Visiting the Karnataka temples means following traditional practices and encompassing one with spirituality. Most of the temples have dress code and hence it is better to check that before visiting. Unlike the temples in North India, where the devotees can access the sanctum, it is not allowed in south Indian temples. Some temples may be open throughout the day but most of the temples are closed in the afternoon.