Monday, June 22, 2009

Murudeshwar, dedication to Lord Shiva

When the rainy season sets in the konkan coast, it squeals and unleashes the turbulence of a typhoon heralding the onset of monsoon. Nature ‘s fury can only be tamed by the lord Shiva, and true to his spirit we experienced the turbulence beyond compare on the shores of the Arabian sea.


The credit for construction of the temple with the tallest Shiva statue & Gopuram in the world should go the patron R.N. Shetty of the Naveen tiles fame. Murudeswar happens to be native place of the patron. He was of the firm belief that the Lord blesses all the piligrims who worship him with devotion. The old temple built during the vijaynagar era was crumbling for want of renovation.

One day in his dream, the Lord blessed him with a boon that his prosperity will be linked with the renovation of the temple. The renovation work was a stupendous task considering that the temple was located on the sea shore which can be turbulent during the monsoon. So he hunted for the architect of Vivekananda memorial Mr S.K. Acharya. On developing a rapport with the architect through a mutual friend, he convinced him to be a guiding force behind the construction. In 1977 the renovation work began in right earnest with donation being solicited from the Public at large like the Vivekanada memorial. All the materials such as granite were sourced from nearby Shimoga and thirthalli taluk.

The combination 3 decade of experience of R N Shetty and Acharya, with the blessings of the Lord Maradeswar the construction of the temple was completed in 1998. Thereafter the grandiocese plan to emulate the Vivekananda rock memorial in terms of constructing the Tallest Shiva statue and the gopuram was envisoned. The tall gopuram was fully thrown open to the public on 24th April 2009 after a full decade of construction effort.

At 11.15 am on 6/6/09 we reached Murudeswar cross on NH 17 travelling by Rajhamsa bus from Kumta, a distance of 70 km approximately. It was a slight drizzle and we alighted into the waiting auto beckoned by the bus driver. Just as we travelled the drizzle became a downpour, we were lucky to find a cloak room @ VRL roadways counter near Kamat Yatri nivas. We deposited our luggage and wanted to quickly complete the dharshan before 1 pm, because the luggage counter would close by than. Lest we realized that nature would take over and display the fury of Rudra tandav. My wife somehow had an intuition of events to unfold………….she was against visiting the temple in monsoon. Murudeswar can be reached from Mangalore too convinient by train or bus. A convinient passenger train departs Mlore to reach Murudeswar by 10.45 AM and on the return around 5 pm the same train can be boarded from Murdeswar. By bus one can travel upto Bhatkal and take a local bus or get down at the junction Murudeswar cross and catch an auto.

After depositing our luggage, we took a walk across the bridge with the lashing of the wind along with torrential downpour. The waves were pounding the temple premises with gutso, but still it was surmountable, we parked our slippers on the shoe rack with the caretaker missing from the counter…… We entered the gopuram, which is known as Raja gopuram, which raises upto 249 feet according to fact files. But considering the fondness of the patron R.N. Shetty , for no 6 and multiples it could be either 246 or 252 feet. But if one adds the number 249 it totals to 6. The gopuram is considered to be tallest in the world. It consists of 20 storied structure, with 2 lifelike elephants statue guarding the enterance.

As we entered it was pleasant to walk on the rubberized carpet into the temple premises. If one just lifts their head, a life like statue of Lord Shiva measuring 123 feet, which is once again considered to be tallest in the world, literally emerges and fills the devotee into humility. The steel railing is carefully placed at the centre of the staircase considering the nature’s fury. We did not require the support as we entered the temple. We were pleasantly surprised with the unfettered view of the Lord Maradeswara. Priests beckon for conducting special appeasement of the Lord, which is voluntary seva or custom, which is paid form of pooja.

We ignored appeasement, on the hindsight cost me a flutter of a lifetime. We were advised to seek the token for free food or prasadam, which opens @ 12.30 pm and closes sharply @ 1.00 pm. We got the coupon for free food @ 12.05 pm, which meant I had 25 minutes for photography. Well there was two other option one is to sit and admire at temple in the pouring rain or stand in the queue for free food. I chose the third one of trying to photograph foolishly though. First I went on the terrace where no admission board was prominently displayed but I was permitted. I went uptstairs and tried to squeeze my head into an opening, covering my Sony digital camera with make shift polyethene raincoat, I banged my head .........khatakkkkkkkk ......with force on the ceiling. Well singing praise of the lord I proceeded to photograph and videograph the scenary unfolding amidst torrential rainfall.

Again I had 15 minutes remaining, which I thought can be used for purchases of books pertaining to history of the temple and some exclusive postcards. I foolishly handed over the plastic sheet and took the umbrella. I managed to walk down the staircase by holding the steel railings, in between the granite stones were extremely slippery, which I managed to circumvent without any major incident. I entered into precints of the gopuram, my umbrella acted as parachute with typhoonic wind velocity may be measurable @ 90 kmphs approximately. I luckily treaded on to the rubberized carpet, maybe upto 5 feet, with wind ferocity I was drawn uncontrollably on to the granite portion and from thereon for the next 2 minutes, I was only a mute witness to natures fury. As I stepped on the wet granite, my 98 kgs frame slid landing me on my bum with a bath towel cushioning my fall. I was grabbed by fellow devotees in an urge to help a fellow men, suddenly I was lifted off the ground by pairs of helping hands, in the bargain my brand new umbrella was ripped beyond salvage. Luckily lord saved my Camera, which was tucked into my banian with a strap around my shoulder.

bought the books and postcard from the counter and marched back into the temple like wounded soldier in the battlefield, with blood stains on my elbow. My wife was surprised to hear my turmoil on the tarmac of temple tower. The neighbours in the queue certified my experience, stating that I was one of the few lucky piligrims who experienced the toss. After applying band aid we proceeded to have our free lunch. In between I thought I will use my time to shoot some turbulent sea shots from the safety of the window, I aimed and clicked……………..booooooooooooooooom went the sound and alas the flash was down. Maybe the electrical charge of the nature was too overpowering for H3 too handle. I just checked all other functions were ok. I just quickly removed the battery and packed the camera into a dry handkerchief and deposited the same in my wife’s purse. We finished our lunch just 10 minutes short of deadline and proceeded to collect our luggage at the counter.

Alas one more, surprise was in store, one of my slipper was blown into the sea. With one slipper on I marched ahead to find the luggage counter closed for lunch ahead of time. Luckily the lodge owner of Kamat was the owner of the luggage counter, we request him to once again open the counter. He obliged. Now we found to our horror that there were no autos. The errand boy suggested we walk ahead to catch an auto from the stand. Most of the autos had vacated the place due to the fear of being plunged into the sea. We waited helplessly, suddenly we found an auto braving into our shelter as if sent by the Lord. The auto driver was so helpful in finding us a shoe shop. I quickly asked the owner to give me a paragoan slipper as replace for my bata. The driver at last dropped us back to our boarding station, wherein we missed the bus, and we resigned once to the waiting game, which was just 5 minutes, once again the Lord helped us with a comfortable bus ride back to udupi.

We were blessed with continuous rainfall, and the journey went on smooth, except for an oil tanker accident. In the end, we reached Mulki and proceeded towards our hideout without much ado. The moral of the story is that Fortune favours the brave, and lord helps the devotees who determined.

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