So it had been my desire to visit this place for quite a while now. The last time I was near Murudeshwara was when I had stopped by over a long weekend, a ride taken to visit Gokarna. Too bad, I didn’t realize back then that it was hardly 70 kms from Gokarna. So I had made it a point to ensure that this visit happened this year. And thankfully, it did happen. I had planned a trip in Karnataka, specifically off the locations that had interesting stories with regards to it’s grand mythological and historical references. A seed had been planted in my head, after reading Dr. Devdutt Patnaik’s books on mythology. I was all the more fascinated and had read two books of his on Lord Shiva. A belief doesn’t become stronger unless you have corroborated stories or beautiful understanding about any subject. That’s when I realized that this trip was going to be even better.
Night Train to Murudeshwara
A night’s journey in the Matsyagandha Express was smooth as I traveled sleeping like a log and woke up to realize Murdeshwar had already arrived at 4.30 in the morning. I had anticipated that I’d reach there early in the morning, but had not thought about what I’d do after reaching there so early. Having said that, as always, I tried my luck in the Railway quarters, only to realized there was one room available and there were a middle aged couple along with me who had to visit someone in the town and I decided to go into the waiting room and sleep some more before I headed to the temple.
Fresh early morning cold with beautiful breeze certainly enchanted my mind and made me realize that my week long tour of Karnataka had already begun. After taking a short nap for an hour, I decided to stroll near the station and see what’s around. Silent as a grave, yet serene, the railway station was quite a beauty. I decided to click some snaps of the sunrise which certainly gave solace to the mind.
After freshening up, the best thing I could do is get a cup of tea and head towards the temple. But since I didn’t want to carry my backpack, I decided to keep it in the cloak room and come back in the afternoon and collect it. The problem was, my backpack, didn’t have a lock and they wouldn’t accept it. But thankfully, the railway employee suggested that I can keep the bag safe with the canteen guys and collect it later. I picked up my DSLR and my mobile phone with me, after which I didn’t have any valuables and I felt free to keep the bag with him. Nonetheless, the best part about travelling across South India, is that more often than none, you will encounter really amazing people who would help you out at each step of the way.
So there I began towards the temple, it was hardly 3 kms from the railway station and I decided to walk it up enjoying the early morning breath of fresh air…
Amazingly, Murdeshwar is quite unknown and secluded and hadn’t it been for the second largest statue of Lord Shiva constructed by the R.N Shetty trust, it’d not be as fascinating as it is or attract so much crowd. Yes there is historical significance of this place connected with the Atma Linga story of Ravana and Lord Shiva. Which is probably why it’s more significant and hence someone took the initiative of building something here. Also, just across the Murdeshwar beach are the Nettrani Islands where you can Scuba Dive, which I’d had to save for later as this was a shoestring budget trip
While I approached the village and I could see the Lord Shiva statue’s head in the distant horizon, I saw a crowd that had gathered nearby. Just near a small tank near another temple, there was a group of onlookers to this interesting game of fetching the bananas. To begin with, there was a pulley on which a bunch of bananas were attached. On the edge of the tank on top of the wall, a group of young boys, decked with flower crowns waited their turn to jump in the air and try to bring down that bunch. While they tried their best to do so, the person who controlled the pulley tried his best to not let them have it. Enjoying this activity with a playful spirit others were cheering for these boys. While I’m sure there must be some significance, symbolic, religious or historic, when I asked around, very few knew what it was. All I got to know was it was a sacred activity performed by boys of the landlord’s family. My best guess is that these boys were entering into adulthood and this is a significant symbol of them trying to fight for the price catch (Metaphorical: A wife, materialistic life, food for themselves, responsibilities) well that was my best guess.
As I walked past the village, and reached closer to the Temple, I could see the Murdeshwar beach in the vicinity and it was truly beautiful. Something that gave joy to my sight and peace of mind to my soul. The next thing was to of course, visit the temple itself and then behind it the Lord Shiva’s Statue…
There is a lift that will take you to the top most floor. All you have to do is pay 10 rupees and wait a bit with other people. But once you go on top, you’ll realize that the wait is worth it… From the top, you can see the Lord Shiva’s Statue, which will give you the top view and that is also very enchanting, with the sea in the backdrop.
Inside, the temple is very serene and there’s ample space for you to just sit and meditate. It’s a blissful experience. But, one of the fascinating things you’ll notice is the Temple’s smaller gopuram has enchanting encryption and engraving which is also gold plated. It contains the entire story of Ravana being tricked by Ganesha with the help of Lord Vishnu in order to protect Lord Shiva’s Atma Linga. (The source of power to immortality.)
After that, to get an up-close and personal view of Lord Shiva himself, I headed to the base of the statue, which has the cave, in which a description of the entire story of how Murudeshwara became a significant place in the context of Ravana, Lord Shiva and the Atma Lingam. They also play an audio clip inside the cave, which tells you the story in Kannada and English if I remember correctly.
The Story of Murudeshwara
Ravana’s mom just like Ravana, was a stout devotee of Shiva. Also, she knew about the Atma-Linga of Lord Shiva and the powers it could give his son. The Hindu gods attained immortality and invincibility by worshipping a divine Lingam called the Atma-Linga. She convinced his son Ravana, to pray to Lord Shiva and attain the Atma Linga.
Ravana promised his mother that he’ll seek out Lord Shiva, pray to him and conduct penance but at whatever cost, he’ll get the Atma-Linga
By this time Narada had asked Lord Vishnu to change Ravana’s mind. By this time Narada had asked Lord Vishnu to change Ravana’s mind. As a result of this plot, Ravana asks for Goddess Parvati, and Lord Shiva offers her to him.
On his way back to Lanka Narada tells Ravana that Lord had not given him the real Parvathi and that the real Parvathi was in Pathala who was a King’s daughter in the world below the earth.
So Ravana frees his companion,goes to Pathala and marries a king’s daughter ,assuming her to be the real Parvathi.
He then returns to Lanka, where his mother asks him for the Linga. Ravana then comes to know of the tricks played on him by Lord Vishnu.
He therefore prays to Lord Shiva again, begging for his forgiveness. This time, it’s even more difficult to get Lord Shiva’s attention. He then decides to offer sacrifice by cutting his heads.
Lord Shiva is moved by this dedication and restores his heads. Also when he appears, Ravana requests the AtmaLinga as his boon. Lord Shiva agrees to give him the boon with the condition that it should never be placed on the ground. If the AtmaLinga was ever placed on the ground, all the powers would return to Lord Shiva again.
Having obtained his boon, Ravana started back on his journey to Lanka. Sage Narada, who came to know of this incident, realised that with the AtmaLinga, Ravana may obtain immortality and create havoc on earth. He approached the Lord Ganesh and requested him to prevent the AtmaLinga from reaching Lanka.
Lord Ganesh knew that Ravana was a very devoted person who used to perform prayer ritual in the evening every day without fail. He decided to make use of this fact and came up with a plan to confiscate the AtmaLinga from Ravana.
As Ravana was nearing Gokarna, Lord Vishnu blotted out the sun to give the appearance of dusk. Ravana now had to perform his evening rituals but was worried because with the AtmaLinga in his hands, he would not be able to do his rituals. At this time, Lord Ganesh in the disguise of a Brahmin boy accosted him. Ravana requested him to hold the AtmaLinga until he performed his rituals, and asked him not to place it on the ground. Ganesh struck a deal with him saying that he would call Ravana thrice, and if Ravana did not return within that time, he would place the AtmaLinga on the ground.
As predicted, before Ravana could return after completing his rituals, Ganesh had already placed the AtmaLinga on the ground. Ravana got angry and in an enraged state, he hit Ganesha.
Vishnu then removed his illusion and it was daylight again. Ravana, realising that he had been tricked, tried to uproot and destroy it.
Due to the force exerted by Ravana, some pieces were scattered. One such piece from the head of the linga is said to have fallen in present day Surathkal. The famous Sadashiva temple is said to be built around that piece of linga. Then he decided to destroy the covering of the AtmaLinga, and threw the case covering it to a place called Sajjeshwara, 23 miles away. Then he threw the lid of the case to a placed called Guneshwara (now Gunavanthe) and Dhareshwara, 10–12 miles away. Finally, he threw the cloth covering the AtmaLinga to a placed called Mrideshwara in Kanduka-Giri (Kanduka Hill). Mrideshwara has been renamed to Murudeshwara.
Quite enchanting and after having spent more than an entire day in this enchanting place, I returned to collect my backpack and take a bus to Bangalore… From there, my next stop was Sravanabelegola! Another ancient and yet very enchanting place full of beauty and history.
So, I’m all set with my backpack and with a lot of hopes from this trip. This journey has long been on my bucket list and I’ve been working quite hard to make it happen. Finally, this is part of my first ventures as a part time travel writer, and beginning my career into a whole new dimension. Yes, there are a lot of ifs and buts still, as far as my whole plan goes, but that’s the best part about it…
As far as this trip is concerned… I’m sure there isn’t any doubt, that this is going to be another #SriniOnTour that will rock. This time around, I may not be able to blog on the go, due to connectivity and rains, I’ve decided to avoid carrying my laptop… besides my backpack is already about 10 kgs… which we would carry all the way up to the West Himalayas. So I’ve decided, I’d upload a lot of photos on twitter and facebook and showcase my journey as a live photo-blog.
Also joining me on this trip are a some of my close friends with whom i regularly go on trips/treks.. Swapnil, his wife, Mangesh and his friend…
This journey is also inspired by my conversation time and again with Chris Collins – (http://nicolaskumar.com/) Author of (Valley of Flowers) – Chris, thanks for all your advice and help… As soon as I’m back from this trip, the first thing on the agenda is to get the book and read it… That way, I’d be able to relate to everything in it much better.
So here’s the plan (Some details might be helpful for others who plan to travel here)
Leave for Haridwar via Dehradun Express tonight…
Reach on the 31st July, just in time for the Maha Aarti.. Which is a beautiful and a spectacular sight and something that we should not miss… Hari-Ki-Pauri as it’s popularly known…
A few more locations in Haridwar, mainly…
Maya Devi Mandir , located on upper road. This temple is one of the 51 “shakti peeths” and its the presiding deity of Haridwar. It is from this temple Haridwar derives its other name Mayapur.
Bharat Mata Mandir, 5 km north of the center. Dedicated to Mother India, this is half temple, half nation building exercise, with seven floors stacked with deities, saints, and secular heroes of all Indian faiths. Some signage in English.
Bilkeshwar Mahadev Mandir , Shiva temple located on a hill.
Depending on how much time we have on our hands, we’d plan to see these places.
We take an early morning train to Rishikesh. Hemkunt Express – Leaves Haridwar at 6.50 AM and reaches Rishikesh by 8.00 AM. That’s the only train available in the morning. Else we might have to take Vikrams/Rickshaws costs (Rs.60-70) max per rick.
I checked out info for white-water rafting and most places say the season is September-November and March-April-May ideal for rafting. But we can get to know once we are there….My friend Swapnil has also got a few contacts, who say they might be able to arrange for the rafting.
Let’s see how it goes. Besides River Rafting we can visit these places on the 2nd at Rishikesh…
Lakshman Jhula, Trayambakeshwar Temple, Lakshman Jhula. is 13 stories high, with different deities throughout. edit
Triveni Ghat, This is a bathing ghat. Daily in the morning and evening there are thousands who take bath here and enjoy the Maha Aarti being performed. It very soothing to sit on the banks of the river and enjoy the cool breeze from the river.
3rd August onwards we report to YHAI Basecamp and follow their itinerary…
4th August – We take a bus from Rishikesh – Joshimath
5th August – Orientation walk / Visit to Auli and Tapovan
6th August – Joshimath to Govindghat by Bus…
6th August – Govindghat – Ghangaria Ghat (A trek of 13kms) This one’s going to be the real test as the place that we would trek would have rain, and there are some really slants that we have to overcome carrying at least 10kgs of backpack is certainly going to be a challenge. While we have trekked over 20-30 kms in a day, this 13km trek would be with full supply backpack and the altitude would be quite challenging, add to that the cold and rain… Should be fun at the same time.
7th August – Ghangaria Ghat to Valley of Flowers… Now this is the most beautiful place that we hope would really make the 13km trek the previous day, worth it’s while… It’s about 8kms to and fro. This should be easier as our backpack would be at the camp and the trek is much lighter. But the beauty of the park and the flowers in the valley… would really be amazing.. The photos will tell you for sure Stay tuned… In the meantime you can also read my poem about the Valley of Flowers here
8th August – Ghangaria Ghat to Hemkund Saheb – This is another amazing place, a worshipping shrine for Sikhs, this place is divine and much more beautiful in terms of the scenic locations and I hope to get a glimpse of some glacier / Ice as well…
9th August – We trek back to Govindghat.. The 13km trek.. This should be easier as it’s downhill…
10th August – Govindghat to Badrinath is around 25 kms and this would be a bus journey. Some rest to our ailing legs
11th August – Badrinath – Vasudhara falls around 16km trek to and fro. This is a beauty… In the cold and the rain, it’s quite a pretty sight I’ve heard.
12th August – Badrinath to Rishikesh and check out after breakfast…
Post that, since it’s a long weekend and we have a couple of days on our hand we may just chill in Rishikesh and then head back to Delhi on 13th or 14th August, from where we catch a train and reach Mumbai by 15th August and celebrate Independence Day at home
All this ordeal would be quite an experience and certainly a journey worth sharing… For now, I’d be updating pictures at
So stay tuned and hope you enjoy the updates.
Sometimes it isn’t that difficult to find what you are really looking for. Sometimes there are signs that help you along. But most of the times, more often than none, you will realize that what you are really looking for has been there right in front of your eyes. Sitting right there at the corner of your eyes, while you’re off like a whirlwind across the world looking for whatever you won’t really find…
So finally, I’ve decided, come July, my travel spree will resume! Dedicate more time towards my writing, I will take that time to search my solitude and finally write as much as I want. Working towards my travel writing career is one thing and finally moving on from experimental writing and getting to write my second and actual book. Yes, finally I know that it’s about time.. Time to get started on that seed that has been burrowed inside my head quite a while ago. It’s time to start working on growing and nurturing that tree.
In one of my meetings with @amisht I learnt that writing a book is not like making a business plan. He told me that it’ll all come to me… There is always a theme and the incidents that happen to you are all a chain or a sequence of events, which you realize are like the dots that you connect… At the end of it all there is your answer. And I think I’ve started believing in that… There has to be some effort of sorts to make this happen. And now I know it’s time to put in that effort.
So here’s what I’m going to be doing. It’s not the greatest of adventures or for that matter a total absolution from this world. But it certainly is going to be an attempt. An attempt that I’d have to be resilient about, no matter how long it takes and how much distance I have to cover. Doesn’t matter how many hours I put in or how much blood, sweat and tears that go into it… I know it has to be done and it will be done. And yes, one thing I know, It’s going to be a wild adventurous spree… Of unknown locations and paths not traveled. But I think I have a reason for all of these travels that I will take. At the back of my mind I know it because, I know it as the ‘master plan’ And as I said before, a ‘master plan’ is never a master plan if it’s revealed. So without having much to give away about this plan, I’d like to share little bits and pieces of it as something I’d like to call ‘My Travel Bucket List’
Right now, now is the time… I’d make this list and when the time is right, I’d go there… Why?? The answer I don’t know yet, but it’s there somewhere at the back of my head and it will all be found, once I finish my ‘Master Plan.’ As soon as I visit those places, I’d go ahead and chalk them off ‘My Travel Bucket List’
So here we go! The first one on my list…
Destination 1: Rudra Prayag, (Uttarakhand)
There is something more than mystical about this place. It certainly is the most important place in my scheme of things. The beauty of this place lies within its certain strategic and geographical location. Spiritual as it may be, this is the place that one has to go through if you have to go into Kedarnath and Badrinath. Another historic and spiritual location for Hindus.
Named after Lord Shiva (Rudra), Rudraprayag is a town in Rudraprayag district in Uttarakhand. It’s one of the Panch Prayag (five confluences) of Alaknanda River, the point of confluence of rivers Alaknanda and Mandakini. Alaknanda then proceeds towards Devaprayag where it joins with Bhagirathi river to form the river Ganges. Kedarnath, a Hindu holy town is located 86 km from Rudraprayag.
Till recently, Rudraprayag was a part of District Chamoli and Tehri. In 1997, the Kedarnath Valley and parts of district Tehri & Pauri were conjoined to form Rudraprayag as a new district. The entire region is blessed with immense natural beauty, places of religious importance, lakes and glaciers.
So this is the destination that would be certainly on my mind… It’s only a matter of time before I got there… As I keep saying
“Soon I’d be free… Love, Life… Walking by the desires of my dreams on the crooked roads of my destiny.”