Murudeshwara is a town in the Bhatkal Taluk of the Uttara Kannada district in the state of Karnataka, India. The city is located 13 km from the taluk headquarters of Bhatkal. Murudeshwara is famous for the second tallest Shiva statue in the world, the city is located on the coast of the Arabian Sea and is also famous for the Murudeshwara Temple. Murudeshwara has a railway station on the Konkan Mangaluru-Mumbai railway route.
The origin of the name “Murdeshwar” dates back to the time of the Ramayana. The Hindu gods achieved immortality and invincibility by worshiping a divine Linga called Atma-Linga. King Lanka Ravana wanted to achieve immortality by obtaining the Atma-Linga (Soul of Shiva). Since the Atma-Linga belonged to Shiva, Ravana worshiped Shiva with devotion. Pleased by his prayers, Shiva appeared before him and asked what he wanted. Ravana asked for the Atma-Linga. Shiva agreed to give him the blessing on the condition that he never lay down on the ground before reaching Lanka. If the Atma-Linga is ever placed on the ground, it would be impossible to move it. Having obtained his blessing, Ravana set out on his journey back to Lanka.
Lord Vishnu, who learned of this incident, realized that with the Atma-Linga, Ravana can obtain immortality and wreak havoc on the earth. He approached Ganesha and asked him to prevent the Atma-Linga from reaching Lanka. Ganesha knew that Ravana was a very devout person who performed prayer rituals every night without fail. He decided to make use of this fact and came up with a plan to confiscate Ravana’s Atma-Linga.
As Ravana approached Gokarna, Vishnu blotted out the sun to give the appearance of dusk. Ravana now had to perform the night rituals for him, but he was worried that with the Atma-Linga in his hands, he would not be able to perform the rituals for him. At this moment, Ganesha disguised as a brahmin boy approached him. Ravana asked him to hold the Atma-Linga until he performed his rituals and asked him not to place it on the ground. Ganesha made a deal with him saying that he would call Ravana three times, and that if Ravana did not return within that time, he would place the Atma-Linga on the ground.
Ravana returned and found that Ganesha had already placed the Atma-Linga on the ground. Vishnu then removed the illusion from him and it was day again. Ravana, realizing that he had been deceived, tried to uproot and destroy the linga. Due to the force exerted by Ravana, some pieces were scattered. One such piece of the linga head is said to have fallen in present-day Surathkal. The famous Sadashiva temple is said to have been built around that piece of linga. He then decided to destroy the cover of the Atma-Linga and threw the case that covered it to a place called Sajjeshwar, 37 kilometers away. He then threw the lid of the box to a place called Guneshwar (now Gunavanthe) and Dhareshwar, 16-19 kilometers away. Finally, he threw the cloth that covered the Atma-Linga to a place called Mrideshwar on Kanduka-Giri (Kanduka Hill). Mrideshwar has been renamed Murdeshwar.
- Shiva statue: A huge statue of Shiva, visible from great distances, is present in the temple complex. It is the second tallest Shiva statue in the world. The tallest statue of Shiva is found in Nepal, known as (Kailashnath Mahadev Statue). The statue is 123 feet (37 m) tall and took about two years to build. The statue was built by Kashinath of Shivamogga and several other sculptors, financed by businessman and philanthropist Rama Nagappa Shetty, at a cost of approximately Rs 50 million. The idol is designed to receive direct sunlight and therefore appear bright.
- Murdeshwar Temple and Raja Gopura: This temple is built on the Kanduka hill, which is surrounded on three sides by the waters of the Arabian Sea. It is dedicated to Sri Lokankara, and a 20-story gopura is built in the temple. The temple authorities have installed an elevator that offers a view of the 123-foot Sri Shiva idol from the top of the Raja gopura. There is also a Rameshwara linga at the foot of the hill, where devotees can do seva themselves. A Shaneswar temple has been built next to the Sri Akshayaguna idol. Two life-size concrete elephants stand guard on the steps leading up to him. The entire temple and temple complex, including the 209-foot-tall Raja Gopura, is one of the tallest.
There are statues of Sun Chariot on the side of a park, swimming pool, statues representing Arjuna receiving Geetopadesham from Lord Krishna, Ravana being deceived by Ganesha in disguise, the manifestation of Shiva as Bhaghirnath, descending from the Ganges, carved around the hill.The temple is completely modernized except for the sanctum sanctorum which is still dark and retains its composure. The main deity is Sri Mridesa Linga, also called Murdeshwar. The linga is believed to be a piece of the original Atma Linga and is about two feet below ground level. Devotees who perform special sevas such as Abhisheka, Rudrabhisheka, Rathotsava, etc., can see the deity standing before the threshold of the sanctuary and the Linga is illuminated by oil lamps held nearby by the priests. The Linga is essentially a rough rock inside a hole in the ground. Entrance to the sanctuary is prohibited for all devotees.