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2023 - The Year That Was

Places impact you for a variety of reasons. And the same place impacts different people in different ways. This is especially true when it comes to spiritual experiences, where every single person’s experience is unique. And personally, every spiritual experience is unique, the same person can have different deeply spiritual experiences at different places, at different times. This thought has emerged because of my own experiences over the years, but especially so this year, with different and unique experiences at various places I have visited recently. I began this year with a visit to Baroda (Vadodara) with friends. It was meant to be a relaxed trip, a touristy trip, with our sons. We enjoyed ourselves to the hilt, but the highlight of that trip was a visit to the Lakulisha temple at Pavagadh. It was the iconography of the temple that I connected with, and I spent a few hours simply lost in the details of the figures carved around the temple. There was an indefinable connect with

Mookambika Temple, Kollur

The festival of Navaratri has begun. The nine days and nights celebrating the victory of good over evil are usually filled with events and this is one of the busiest periods for us. Since the last few years, you have seen photos of the Navaratri Bommai Kolu we place in our house. This year, due to bereavement in our family, we cannot perform the festival. Instead, I have decided to post about some of the Devi temples we have visited across the temple. I begin this series with the Kollur Mookambika Temple in Karnataka.

The temple of Mookambika at Kollur is one I have visited a number of times. Set amidst the picturesque Kodachadri hills of the Western Ghats, on the banks of the Sauparnika River, Kollur is today a bustling town, which has grown by leaps and bounds around the temple.

The evergreen hills and the perennial river trace back their history to the days of legends when a sage and a demon meditated at this site side by side. While the sage had no aim but to eventually achieve oneness with the Lord, the demon obviously had power and invincibility on his mind. Which is why, when the time came for the Lord to grant their boons, the goddess of speech made the demon a mute. Thus foiled from his aims, the demon came to be known as Mookasura – the demon who was mute. Of course, being a demon, he turned to troubling the sage and disturbing his penance. The sage invoked the help of the Goddess, who obliged. She appeared on this site with all the other Gods and vanquished the demons. On the sage’s request, she agreed to remain here, and came to be known as Mookambika – the vanquisher of the demon Mooka.

The first temple here is said to have been built by Parasurama, but the most recent legend relates to Adi Shankara. It is said that Adi Shankara, after setting up his ashram at Sringeri, wished to build a temple to the goddess in his hometown – at Kalady in  Kerala. The goddess appeared to him on these hills, and she agreed to go with him. However, she had a condition. He was to lead her, with complete confidence, without looking back to make sure she was following. Under this condition, she was ready to go wherever he wished. However, if he looked back even once, she would stop, and stay there forever. Adi Shankara agreed, and they set out over the hills that would eventually lead them to Kerala. The sound of the goddess’ anklets were enough to assure Adi Shankara that she was indeed following him. However, as they walked along the Sauparnika, the soft sand on the banks of the river deadened the sound of the anklets, and for the first time, Adi Shankara felt a twinge of doubt. He turned back, and there she was, right behind him, but turned to stone. And that is where she is said to still stand today! The present temple itself is said to be around 1200 years old.

The fame and importance of this temple comes from the multifaceted goddess. She is not just Parvati or Shakti, who annihilated the demon. She is also Lakshmi, who blesses her devotees with wealth and prosperity. She is also Saraswati, who bestows the gift of learning. She is an amalgamation of all these, because it is the combined power of strength, confidence and wisdom which brought about the end of the demon. She is also seen here as a lingam – the form of Shiva – probably because she first appeared here with her consort, who was ready to grant the demon a boon. But it is this form she chose to leave behind as a reminder of her presence.

A Dwarapalaka (guiardian deity) at the doorway

Photography is not allowed inside the temple, so I have just a few clicks from outside the temple. I was especially fascinated by the detail on the pillar outside the temple, the Dhwajasthambam, - which stands on a beautifully worked tortoise....

This is just the Dhwajasthambam, which stands just outside the main sanctum – but it makes me wish I could take a camera inside and click away!

Map of the area

The nearest city is Mangalore, which is 140 Km away. Udupi is 80 Km away.

How to reach:

By Train: Mangalore and Udupi are well connected by trains to all parts of India. Kundapura and Baindur Railway stations are the ones nearest to Kolur. Baindur Railway Station, which falls on the Mumbai – Mangalore route, has now been renamed ‘Mookambika Road’.

By Air: The nearest airport is the Mangalore Airport, located 120 Km from Kollur.

By Bus: Luxury Buses plying on the Mumbai – Mangalore route stop at Kundapura, which is the nearest town. Besides, there are plenty of regular buses to Kollur from Udupi, Mangalore, Sringeri, and Shimoga.

Where to Stay: Kollur is a town which revolves around the temple. There are plenty of hotels / lodges/ guest houses/ dharamshalas / dormitories available for every budget. The accommodation built by the temple trust is also very good. There are also homestays around Kollur, but a bit farther away.

What to do: The temple is the main attraction for visitors to Kollur. However, once you have visited the temple, you can spend some time visiting some other interesting places around... such as the Marana Katte, which is where the Goddess is said to have slain the demon. This is a 3 hour one way journey by jeep, so this is something I have never had time for. However, considering that it is located in the midst of the jungle, it must be worth a visit.

Also, for nature lovers, the Aanejhari Butterfly camp 5 Km from the temple sounds to be an interesting place!


  1. An article apt for this occasion...

  2. Anuradha jee

    First of all many many Thanks for writing a post on this place called Kollur. I had been to this place in March 2012. My memories are refreshed by watching and reading the post. Specially I like to read the legends. This place is also away from crowd and daily hassles like a small hill station and one can find ultimate never ending peace here. While visiting places in Coastal Karnataka . This is a must visit.

    Also I had written a post on Udupi and Kollur translated in hindi as well where I had also managed to capture some pictures inside the temple . if you wish to see please go through

    Thanks once again . Keep Travelling & Keep Posting.

    1. Thanks so much, Vishal!! Yours is a much detailed post than mine!!! and I usually try to avoid taking pics inside the temple even if it is allowed, since i find it very distracting, and without pics, somehow I find it tough to write about places, which is why there are usually few detailed posts about the interiors of temples on my blog..

  3. You know your mythology so well!

    1. Oh yes, Mridula! I was brought up on these stories, and today I tell them to samhith, so am really steeped in them!

  4. I love this temple. A beautiful temple below kudajadri. Nice article Anu.

  5. the electryfying atmosphere of kollur,espy early morning,was to me also appeared to be the only temple where one found men and women meditating in the alcoves
    around parikrama. it was said that the original temple,some 40km.up in the hills,was the one visited by adisankara?! i believe not many go there-the road's extremely bad with only wobbly jeeps plying. wonder if thi place is known as 'marana katte'.
    [kukke subramanya was another place which had a similar effect]. bst wshs.

    1. Marana Katte is the same place. It is said that the devi was there originally, but Adi Shankara brought her down so that more people could come and see her. thank you so much!

    2. Hello madam , really very good blog..
      Wat anonymous had mentioned about original temple up above the hill is NOT maranakatte.. it is Mookambika devi temple on the top of Kodachadri hill..
      We will get maranakatte on the way to kundapura from kolluru...

      In Maranakatte we worship Brahmalingeshwara, haiguli and huli devaru..[ I m really proud that our ancestors worshipped huli devaru means God Tiger in Kannada.. we have to learn from them the method of nature conservation ]

  6. Once again an excellent piece. Though I too have visited this temple, I have learnt few extras, thanks to your post. The story of the sounds of anklets vamishing is associated with another temple in the Naxalite prone Bastar. The deity is Danteswari
    at Dantewara.

    1. Thanks PNS! I am not really surprised... it is quite a common thing to hear the same story at different temples in different parts of India... i have heard the same story about the anklets at other temples in karnataka and tamilnadu too :D but from what I have heard, I think this is one of the oldest temples to have this story.

  7. Next time do visit temple on the top of Kodachadri should reach the top of hill around 4 o clock .and the stay there at night because u can see both sunset and sunrise the next morning !! I had that chance twice..:-)

    you can reach the top of a hill by jeep or by trek.. I went by trek both Time... It's worth than going by jeep..

    don't miss this when u go to kolluru again... Dr.A

  8. I find the description quite close to my experience.One interesting observation in the temple is that the priests and many staff are from Kerala who speak Malayalam. The Devi is said to go to Chotanikkarai as Bagavathi after giving a special prasadam in the form of a Thailaprasadam. The Devi is said to return to Kollur next day morning.


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