India is full of temples and religious places. In the name of pilgrimage, almost all Hindus keep travelling across India for several centuries. Mother Goddess worship is very common in India. Kollur town in Karnataka state in the southern part of India is an important Shakti Peeth (abode of mother Goddess) in the entire country. The mother Goddess in Kollur is called as Mookambika.
Kollur Mookambika temple is one of the most sacred sites of Karnataka state. Thousands of devotees throng to this temple daily. It is impossible to enter into the temple without waiting for hours and hours in the long queue. The temple is located in a beautiful hilly area surrounded by forests and Mookambika wildlife sanctuary.
This particular region of Karnataka state is popular for temples. Some of the popular pilgrimage sites located near Kollur are Udupi, Dharmasthala and Subramanya.
There was a saint called Kola Maharishi who was looking for a peaceful site. He atlast found a place called Maharanya in the middle of a forest surrounded by waterfalls, hills and rivers. He also found a self manifested (swayambu) Shiv Linga idol there. He started doing daily poojas to that idol and stayed there.
A demon (asura) named Kumbhasura won the entire universe and ultimately came to this site (as per some versions, the name of the demon is Mahisasura). He had declared himself as the God; he didn't like Kola Maharishi worshipping Shiva in this site. He chased him away and stopped all the religious activities in this site. As he had earlier got a boon that he could be killed only by a woman, none of the three supreme Gods of Hindus - Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma could do anything. All of them together took a form of woman called Mookambika. Mookambika killed the demon.
Upon request from Kola rishi, the Goddess merged into the Shiv Linga idol and the golden streak (swarna rekha) was formed to visibly divide the idol into two parts. The left part has Saraswati, Lakshmi and Parvati whereas the right part has Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. The site was called as Kolapuram in the name of Kola rishi and later becamed Kollur.
As per another legend, the demon was trying to get the boon of immortality from Lord Shiva. The Goddess Mookambika made him dumb (Mooka) and thus he could not ask for this boon. Later, she killed him in a site called Maranakatte (meaning the platform of death) near Kollur. Upon request from the demon while dying, the Goddess got the name "Mookambika" and also stayed in the same site (Kollur).
The huge temple of Mookambika can be dated to 12th or 13th century AD, except for the sanctum sanctorum which is much older. It is believed that the Panchaloka (five precious stones) idol of Mookambika was installed by Adi Shankaracharya. After killing the demon, the Goddess was very angry. To pacify her, he installed the chakra. (Similar stories are told for many Shakti shrines across the country). The Goddess idol is found with four hands - the upper arms holding conch and discus; the lower arms are in varada mudra and abhaya mudra. The goddess is in the sitting posture and is extremely beautiful. The small Shiv Linga with the swarna rekha is also found inside the main shrine; however, it is very difficult to spot from outside the shrine.
The current structure of the temple is a combination of Kerala temple architectural style and Vijayanagara style. It is evident that the temple was renovated mutliple times in the past.
The inner prakara has an idol of Lord Ganesha. The outer prakara is much wider and has lot of shrines. The shrines such as Shiv Linga, Partheswar (Shiv Linga), Panchamukha Ganesha, Nanjundeswara (Shiv Linga), Anjaneya, Subramanya in the form of serpent, Venkataramana and importantly Veerabhadra (the guard of the site) are found in the outer prakara.
Shankara peeth, the place where Shankaracharya performed dyaan is found behind the main shrine. Saraswati Mandap, the site where Shankaracharya wrote the popular 'Soundarya Lahari' is also found in the outer prakara.
The main shrine has the golden vimana. The long lamp post and the stone flagstaff are found in front of the main shrine.
The sacred site is considered as one of the seven sacred sites of Karnataka state.
Balampuri Vinayak Temple:
To the west of Mookambika temple in a corner a small but popular temple of Balampuri Vinayak is located. The white marble idol of Gaesha (Vinayak) alone is found in this small temple.
|Maranakatte Brahmalingeshwar Temple|
Maranakatte is a small village at a distance of around 21 kms from Mookambika. It is the site where the demon was killed by Mookambika. On the banks of Brahmakunda stream, the temple of Brahmalingeshwara - a temple with rare idols, is located. The small temple faces the east direction whereas the main shrine faces the north direction. As per a legend the demon Muka was reborn as Maranakatte Brahma in her service.
The main shrine houses the idol of Brahmlingeshwara with fearsome features and holding a sword on his right arm. He is flanked by Malayali Yakshi and Vata Yakshi - two female village deities on either sides. Also, there are two dwarapalaks in the form of fearsome soldiers are found on the two corners of the main shrine.
There is a unique shrine for Haiguli and Chikku (bhutas or ghosts). Actually, three idols of tigers are found in this shrine. Probably ghosts are worshipped in the form of tigers here. There is another shrine called as Chikamma and Parivar where the idols of many soldiers are found.
|Maravanthe Varaha Vishnu Temple|
Maravanthe is a small beautiful coastal village located at around 30 kms from Kollur. A small Kerala type rare temple is located in this village. Behind the village the river Sauparnika flows as a wide basin before joining the sea. The temple faces the coast. A lot of tourists throng to the famous Maravanthe beach.
The temple is rare as it is dedicated to Varaha - the boar incarnation of Lord Vishnu. It cannot be found commonly in other places. The temple is called as Varaha Vishnu Narasimha temple. There are three main shrines each dedicated to Varaha, Narasimha (lion incarnation of Vishnu) and Vishnu. Also, there is a boar idol (Varaha) found in the temple.
|Mastikatte Van Devta Temple|
On the way to Mookambika, just 2kms away, the temple for Van Devta (forest deity) is found below a tree. This place is called as Mastikatte.
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