Dharmasthala Temple

Weather :

Time Required : 2-3 hrs

Entry Fee : No entry fee

Timings : 6:00 AM - 8:30 PM

Dharmasthala Temple, Dharmasthala Overview

Possessing a rich history that is more than 800 years old, the Sri Manjunatha Swamy Temple in Dharmasthala, also known as the Dharmasthala Temple is one of the most famous and most respected temples not only in southern India but all across the country. The presiding deity of this religious institution, Manjunatheshwara, is worshipped at this temple in the form of a shivalinga, and people from near and far flock in large numbers to seek his blessings. The river Nethravathi that flows in this region is also a famous attraction in this area, and pilgrims halt especially to take a bath in this river on their way to the temple. 

What adds to the uniqueness of the Manjunatha Temple is the fact that this Shiva temple belongs to the Shaiva sect of Hinduism, is beseeched by Vaishnava priests, and is administered by a Jain Bunt family known as the Pergades. Thus, this historical structure also represents a place overflowing with religious tolerance, where caste, creed and faith of pilgrims do not really matter.

The Dharmasthala Temple is situated in the southern part of Karnataka, and other than the presiding deity Shiva, who is referred to as Manjunatha; other deities like Ammanavaru, the Tirthankara Chandraprabha, and the protective gods of Jainism, Kalarahu, Kalarkayi, Kumarasvami and Kanyakumari are also worshipped here. One of the most sacred places in south India, it is a must visit by all, irrespective of the religion that they belong to! 

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History of Dharmasthala Temple

The story of the Manjunatha Temple goes all the way back to 800 years. The village of Dharmasthala was then known as Kuduma and was home to a Jain couple Birmanna Pergade and his wife Ammu Ballalthi, who lived in a house called Neliyadi Beedu. The couple was really simple, devoted and selfless, and was known all across the village for their generous and loving nature.

The guardian angels of Dharma assumed human forms and descended on Earth to look for a place where Dharma was being practised, and where they were sure that it would be continued and propagated. The angels reached Pergade's residence and were received with great honour and respect. The Daivas were quite pleased with the couple's dedication and appeared in Pergade's dream that night. They explained the real reason behind their visit, expressed their contentment with the couple, and instructed Pergade to use his house to worship the Daivas. Pergade then built himself another house and used Neliyadi Beedu to worship the Daivas: a practice that continues to this day.

After some time, the Daivas reappeared in Pergade's dreams, and this time they instructed him to build four different shrines to consecrate the four Daivas- Kalarkai, Kalarahu, Kumaraswami and Kanyakumari. They also asked him to choose two people who belonged to noble families to acts as the oracles of the Daivas, and four other people who could sincerely and honestly assist Pergade in this duties and responsibilities. The Daivas promised that in return, they would offer protection to the family of Pergade, and fame for the entire district. Pergade gladly agreed to this and built the shrines as asked by the Daivas. Brahmin priests were invited to perform the rituals at the shrine, and Pergade was asked to install a shivalinga beside the Daiva. The Daivas then sent Annapa Swami to bring the Manjunatheswara's linga from Kadri in Mangalore. Afterwards, the Manjunatha temple was built around the linga.

Architecture of Dharmasthala Temple

The architecture of the Manjunatha Swamy Temple belongs to the age-old Sapta-Konkana region, and the temple was originally built from clay, wood and laterite. The front pavilion of the temple is supported by wooden pillars, while the entrance comprises of sloping roofs, and is a three-storeyed structure. One can also find an eleven-metre high statue of Bahubali inside the temple complex. Nrusimha Saligrama, who is an avatar of Lord Vishnu, sits beside the main linga of Manjunatheshwara in the temple. Shrines of Goddess Ammanavaru, or Parvathi, and Lord Mahaganapati can also be found inside the sanctum sanctorum.

The Dharmasthala Temple complex also houses the temple of Goddess Durga to the west and the temple of Lord Ganesha to the north. The temple also holds particular importance for maidens. It is believed that those who enter into the holy bond of matrimony in this temple lead happy married lives. Shrines belonging to the four Dharma Daivas - Kalarahu, Kalarkai, Kumaraswamy and Kanyakumari are also located near the main temple.

Annaprasadam at Dharmasthala Temple

Thousands of devotees who visit the Manjunatha Temple each day are offered free food in the temple complex. This Seva is known as Annaprasadam and is open to people of all creeds, cultures and cultures. The Annapurna Choultry, where the food is prepared and served, is a modern, hygienic and automated kitchen, which is designed to feed around 30,000 to 70,000 people each day. It is a tradition not to leave the temple premises without having tasted the food since it is considered that one’s pilgrimage is incomplete if he does not do so.

The workers in the kitchen make sure that this sacred belief is preserved, and thus they serve a three-course meal to the devotees. Another added feature of the Annapoorna Choultry is the fact that it is eco-friendly, and is run on alternate forms of energy, such as biogas. Even the disposal system has been developed in such a way that the waste that is disposed off is transformed into a sustainable form of energy. The National Geographic Channel also featured the kitchen as one of the most efficient and resourceful mass kitchens of India in one of its shows.

Shri Mudi at Dharmasthala Temple

Following the Vaishnavite tradition, devotees who visit the temple can offer their hair to the Almighty. This act of tonsuring, or sacrificing the hair, symbolises that the devotee has given up on materialism to please the Lord, and it provides satisfaction to the pilgrim. A unique centralised tonsuring system is built at the entrance of the Manjunath Temple, and devotees who wish to offer their hair have to visit the Seva Counter at Shrimudi and then pay a fee for the same. Shri Mudi can be rendered by all, irrespective of their caste or creed. After the hair have been offered, devotees need to visit the Nethravati River to purify themselves.

Festivals at Dharmasthala Temple

Festivals like Diwali, Ganesh Chaturthi and Shivratri are celebrated with great zeal and enthusiasm at the Sri Manjunatha Swamy Temple every year. The temple is also especially known for its annual festival 'Deepotsava', which takes place every year in November or December. This festival is marked by the lighting of numberless lights in the temple, and the temple is a sight to behold during this time.

Dharmasthala Temple Dress Code

A proper dress code is to be followed by all devotees who visit the temple, in accordance with the norms of the temple. Male devotees should remove their shirt and vest before they enter the Sanctum Sanctorum. Men who are wearing half pants and women in nightgowns will not be allowed inside the temple for darshan.

Dharmasthala Temple Timings

The schedule that is followed at the Sri Manjunatha Swamy Temple is as follows:
1. Darshan, Pooja and Prasadam (mornings): 6:30 AM - 2:00 PM
2. Abhisheka and Archane: 8:30 AM - 11:00 AM
3. Darshan, Pooja (evenings): 7:00 PM - 8:30 PM

In addition, the Thulabhara Seva can be offered at the temple at 7:30 AM and 12:30 PM on any day.

Tips For Visiting Dharmasthala Temple

1. Note that children below the age of 2 years are not allowed inside the sanctum sanctorum.
2. Carrying bags are not allowed inside the temple.
3. Using mobile phones inside the temple premises is not permitted.

How To Reach Dharmasthala Temple

Manjunatha Temple is located in the village of Dharmasthala, in the Belthangady Taluk of South Kanara District of Karnataka. It is situated on the Mangalore-Charmady Road, about 40 miles away from Mangalore, and can be easily reached by using any means of public transport.

Buses are an excellent option to take you to the temple. The Karnataka Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) is a very convenient option, and KSRTC buses regularly ply to all parts of the state.

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