Set in sylvan surroundings on the Western Ghats, this well known pilgrimage center on the banks of Netravati river, in Belthangady taluk of Dakshin Kannada district, is an interesting amalgam of faiths. It is arguably the most visited religious place in Karnataka. Dharmasthala is a remarkable example of communal, religious and cultural harmony. The Manjunatha Temple is a prominent Shaivaite Center, that has Madhwa Vaishnavaite priests and is administered by a hereditary Jain family, the Heggades. The Jain influence can be seen in the 39 ft. statue of Lord Bahubali, on the hill near the temple. In fact, the Jain Tirthankara and Lord Manjunatha (Shiva) are worshipped on the same consecrated ground. In Dharmasthala, religious charity is a way of life. Irrespective of caste, creed, or religion, pilgrims are given free meals here. During the annual festival, Laksha Deepotsava held in November-December, one lakh lamps are lit and literary/ religious discourses are held.
History of Dharmasthala: Dharmasthala Temple originated 8 centuries ago when the divine intervention convinced local village chief Birmanna Pergade to dedicate their life for Dharma (justice). The Pergade Family shifted to another house and began worshipping the gods at their original home-Nelyadi Beedu. Again upon divine intervention, four different Daivas (Gods) were established and trained priests were appointed to perform temple rituals. Upon suggestion from priests a Shiva Linga was obtained from Kadri near Mangaluru and Manjunathaswamy Temple was built around it. Descendents of Pergade family run the temple management till date, with Dr Veerendra Heggade being the current Dharmadhikari (leader)
Reason to visit Dharmasthala
Manjunatha Temple: Visit the Manjunatha Temple to seek blessings from Lord Manjunatha. Temple offers a wide range of pooja and sevas, including Tulabhara (balancing devotee with equal weight of materials such as rice, coconut etc.
Mass Marriages: Sri Kshetra Dharmasthala temple management regularly organizes mass marriages where young couples from financially weaker backgrounds can tie knots and have an affordable marriage with blessings of Lord Manjunatha.
Car Museum: Dozens of vintage cars owned by Dr Veerendra Heggade are exhibited in the car museum, which is a must visit when in Dharmasthala.
Places to visit near Dharmasthala:
- Sri Chandranatha Swamy Basadi
A beautiful basadi called Sri Chandranatha Swamy Basadi, built-in white marble is located nearby. It has holy shrines of Dharma Devathas. This Basadi is an important centre for Jains.
- Manjusha Museum
Dharmasthala also has the Manjusha Museum that houses a wide range of objects, including ancient scripts on palm leaves, silver jewellery, religious objects including bells, and bronzes, as well as household goods such as sewing machines, spectacles, typewriters and cameras
- Lord Bahubali Statue
The king turned saint Lord Bahubali symbolizes the spirit of non-violence, universal brotherhood and sacrifice. Dharmasthala has a stone monolith of Lord Bahubali which stands tall at 39 ft.
- Kukke Subramanya (55 kms), Moodubidiri (51 kms) and Mangaluru (75 kms) can be visited along with Dharmasthala.
How to reach Dharmasthala:
Dharmasthala is 311 kms from Bengaluru and 75 kms from Mangaluru. Mangaluru is also the nearest airport. Putturu railway station is closest (49 kms). It has good bus service from Mangaluru city.
Places to stay near Dharmasthala: Dharmasthala Temple management runs a guest house which can be booked online. Private lodges and hotels are available near temples.