This gorgeous statue of Shiva on the coast of the Arabian Sea is believed to be world’s second tallest idol of the Lord. Situated in Karnataka’s Bhatkal Taluk in Uttara Kannada district, Murudeshwara is dedicated to the Atma-Linga of Lord Shiva.
The mighty statue of the Lord is so huge that passengers on board trains on the Konkan Rail route can catch glimpses of the gigantic divine creation.
Interestingly, the temple’s history dates back to the times of Ramayana.
According to a legend, Ravana, who was a big devotee of Lord Shiva wanted to obtain the Atma-Linga to become immortal. Hence he did severe penance to please Lord Shiva. Fortunately for him, the Lord appeared and presented the Atma-Linga to Ravana on the condition that it shouldn’t be placed on ground until he reached Lanka.
Anticipating Ravana’s treachery, Sage Narada sought help from Lord Ganesha to prevent Lankeshwar from taking the Atma-Linga to Lanka.
Lord Vishnu hid the rays of the Sun from falling on earth to dupe Ravana. When Ravana was nearing Gokarna, Ganesha appeared before him in disguise of a little boy.
The Demon King, who was a staunch Brahmin, had to perform a few rituals in the evening. Thinking that the day was nearing its end due to the illusion, he handed over the Atma-Linga to the little boy and warned him not to place it on the ground. The little boy agreed on the condition that he would place the Linga on the ground if Ravana did not return after he called out his name thrice.
Ravana performed the rituals and when he returned to the spot where the little boy was standing, he found the Atma-Linga on the ground. Since he knew he was tricked by the Gods, he broke it in a fit of rage.
Temples have been built in those places where pieces of the Atma-Linga fell. Sadashiva temple in Surathkal, Sajjeshwar, Guneshwar and Dhareshwar are temples built around the pieces of the Atma-Linga. The place where the cloth covering the Linga fell is known as Mrideshwar, now popular as Muredshwara.