Built on the Kanduka hill lies the famous Murudeshwar Temple surrounded by the beautiful Arabian Sea on three sides. This temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and one can witness tourists and devotees across the globe.
Known to be the second-highest statue of Sri Anantadrishti (Lord Shiva) after Nepal, the huge structure can be seen from afar. It is 123 feet tall and was built in over two years. Right besides the temple is a 20 storeyed gopuram (considered to be one of the tallest gopurams in the world). One can witness a breathtaking view from the top of the storey of the magnificent Shiva statue. An elevator has been provided in the gopuram for the convenience of the tourists.
Well, who doesn't like to hear stories ? According to Hindu legends, Kaikesi, mother of King Ravana was a great devotee of Lord Shiva and used to make Lingas from the beach sand and pray daily. However, one day, the sea washed away her Linga at night. Ravana promised her mother that he will go to Mount Kailash and bring back the Lord Shiva Atma Linga for her. It is believed that the Hindu Gods achieved immortality and invincibility through worshipping the sacred Atma Linga (Soul of Lord Shiva). On hearing this, King Ravana also wanted to possess the sacred Atma Linga. King Ravana worshipped Lord Shiva with utmost devotion (one such was chopping one of his heads). Lord Shiva, who was pleased with the prayers, asked King Ravana on his desire.
At first King Ravana asked for Parvathi and Lord Shiva blesses him for the same. However on the way to Lanka, Narada Muni deceits him into believing that the one who is with Ravana is not Goddess Parvathi and the real Parvathi is in Pathala. Apparently, Ravana went to Pathala and married a king's daughter whom he believed to be the real Parvathi. On knowing the truth about being fooled by Narayana, he again sits to meditate and Lord Shiva once again pleased by his prayers ask for his desire.
King Ravana, this time undoubtedly asked for the Atma Linga. However the same was agreed to be given to him on a condition that it should never be dropped to the ground until he reaches Lanka. The challenge being that the Atma Linga could never be moved once surfaced to ground as all its powers will come back to Lord Shiva.Having attained His blessing, King Ravana began his journey back to Lanka. Narada on the other hand, who knew about this entire event, realized that King Ravana could gain immortality with the Atma-Linga and create havoc on Earth. He approached Lord Ganesha for help and requested him to prohibit King Ravana from taking the sacred Atma Linga to Lanka. Lord Ganesha was aware of the fact that Ravana would never fail to perform his daily rituals and takes bath every evening and took advantage of the same. He developed a plan to confiscate Ravana’s Atma-Linga. When Ravana was approaching Gokarna, Sri Mahavishnu (on the orders of Lord Ganesh) blocked the sun rays to give an appearance of dusk. Ravana had to perform his evening rituals now, but he was worried that he would not be able to do his rituals with the Atma-Linga in his hands. At this time, Lord Ganesha turned himself into a Brahmin boy’s disguise. Ravana told him to keep the Atma-Linga before he did his rituals and begged him not to place it on the floor. Lord Ganesha made a deal with Ravana that he would call Ravana three times, and if he did not return in that time, he would place the Atma-Linga on the floor. When Ravana returned after taking the holy bath and performing his rituals, he found that the Atma-Linga had already been placed onto the ground by the boy. Immediately Maha Vishnu removed his delusion and it was again daylight. Ravana, realizing he was tricked, tried to eradicate the linga and destroy it. He tried to lift it but all in vain. Several bits are scattered because of the force exerted by King Ravana. A part from the Linga's head is said to have fallen in Surathkal today. It is said that the famous temple of Lord Shiva is built around that piece of Linga. Then, he also destroyed the Atma-Linga cover and threw the case covering to a location 37 kilometers away called Sajjeshwar; and he threw the case’s lid to a place around 19 kilometers away called Guneshwar (now Gunavanthe) and Dhareshwar. Finally, at a place called Mrideshwar in Kanduka-Giri (Kanduka Hill), he threw the cloth covering of the Atma-Linga and it was renamed from Mrideshwar to Murdeshwar.
Isn't the story interesting?
If you are planning a trip to Murudeshwar, it is in Bhatkal taluk of Uttara Karnataka and has a station along the Mumbai-Mangaluru railway. Also, post the Darshan, one can spend some good time on the Murudeshwar beach that is adjoining the temple complex.