Also known as “Dakshin Kasi” due to its sacredness is a Hindu shrine located in Karnataka known as Mahabaleshwar Temple. This “Lord Shiva” dedicated temple is located in a town called Gokarna in the Uttara Kannada district. This temple possesses a Shivlinga (also known as pranalinga/atmalinga) that is said to provide blessings to all genuine devotees that worships it. Furthermore, this temple was first constructed by Mayurasharma, a Brahmin scholar who existed during the Kadamba dynasty. In addition, the architecture used in constructing this temple is typically “Dravidian” in style.
a. How to reach the Mahabaleshwar Temple
Mahabaleshwar Temple Map
1. By train:
The closest railway station to this temple is located in Gokarna at a distance of 6 km. The Gokarna Railway Station is well connected to a number of major cities and towns in Karnataka such as Mysore, Mangalore, Udupi etc.
2. By road:
If you intend to drive to this temple the ideal starting points would be Mangalore, Bangalore, Karwar, Udupi, and Coimbatore.
- Via Mangalore:
There are two routes from Mangalore to this temple, and they are via NH66 and via SH27 and NH66.
- Via Bangalore:
There are two routes from Bangalore to this temple, and they are via NH48 and via NH48 and NH67.
- Via Karwar:
There is one route from Karwar to this temple, and it is via NH66.
- Via Udupi:
There is one route from Udupi to this temple, and it is via NH66.
- Via Coimbatore:
There are three routes from Coimbatore to this temple, and they are via NH48, via NH69, and via NH275 and NH66.
3. By air:
The nearest airport to this temple is located in Dabolim in Goa. The Dabolim International Airport is well connected to major cities in the country as well as to international destinations.
b. Religious significance of the Mahabaleshwar Temple
According to popular folklore belonging to this region Ravana once travelled up to Mount Kailash to perform severe penance so as to impress Lord Shiva. Such was his passion to impress that he not only performed the “Tandava” (Shiva’s cosmic dance) but he also cut his ten heads and gifted it to Lord Shiva. Impressed by Ravana’s devotion, Shiva then granted him a wish. It was then that Ravana requested the lord to gift him an “atmalingam” as well as wife as beautiful as Goddess Parvati. In response Shiva gave Ravana the atmalingam with a condition that that this lingam during the course of his journey back home under no circumstances should be placed on the ground. In addition, Shiva also requested Parvati to accompany him since he considered his wife to be the most beautiful woman on the earth. Now this boon by Shiva to Ravana resulted in the other gods panicking since they sincerely believed that it would be misused. As a result Lord Vishnu in the guise of an old Brahmin approached Ravana, and asked him about his beautiful companion. In reply, he boasted that he had acquired Goddess Parvati as a gift from Lord Shiva himself. To this boastful answer Vishnu transformed the beautiful Goddess to an old and fragile woman forcing him to abandon her, and thereby continue with his journey (with the atmalingam) back home. Now Ravana wanted to take a break during his journey since he needed to have his routine evening bath. Now to do so he would have to find someone to hold the atmalingam for him. It is then that he encounters a small boy (who happens to be Lord Ganesha in disguise), and requests him to do so along with the instruction that he should avoid placing it on the ground. The small child then on purpose placed the atmalingam in the ground and disappeared. It is then (after bath) on seeing that the small boy has disappeared placing the atmalinga on the ground that Ravana gets extremely angry, and tries to pull the lingam from the ground. Unfortunately, though even after many attempts Ravana is unable to do so, and it is at this spot that this temple was then constructed, and was aptly named (by Ravana) Mahabaleshwar meaning “all powerful” in reference to the atmalingam.