Dharmasthala is an Indian temple town on the banks of the theNethravathi River in the Belthangady taluk of the Dakshina Kannada district in Karnataka, India. It is a panchayat village, and it is the only village in its gram panchayat.
The town is known for its Dharmasthala Temple which houses the shrine of Shiva, Manjunatha, Ammanavaru, Chandranath and the DharmaDaivas (guardian spirits of Dharma) — Kalarahu, Kalarkayi, Kumaraswamy and Kanyakumari. The temple is unusual in that it is run by a Jain administration and poojas are conducted by Hindu priests of the Madhva order. Lakshadweep, the festival of lights, is the annual festival of Dharmasthala from November–to December. On average, the flow of pilgrims is about 10,000 people a day. A mechanised kitchen provides free food for all pilgrims, and there are guest houses with modern amenities.
Dharmastala represents religious tolerance. A Jain Tirthankara is worshipped beside Daivas and Lord Manjunatha (Shiva). The priests are Vaishnavite Brahmins and the guardian of the temple a Heggade (Jain). To those who come here for justice, the Heggade dispenses judgments that are said to represent the will of the deities.
District: Dakshina Kannada
Body: Gram Panchayat
Official Language: Kannada
Spoken Language: Tulu
Time zone: UTC+5:30 (IST)
Nearest city: Belthangady
Local legend says that the Shiva Linga in Dharmasthala was brought to Dharmasthala by a local person with great powers, named Annappa. Legend is that he used to work for the Heggade family. Once when the Heggade he was serving wanted to worship Lord Shiva, Annappa had assured him to get one linga and vanished from the sight. The next morning, he had already established the linga in Dharmasthala, a few metres away from Heggade's house. Later it was learned that the linga was from Kadri near Mangalore, from the Kadri temple. By then, Annappa had vanished and he was never again sighted in the vicinity. Now people in Dharmasthala worship Annappa asAnnappa Panjurli, a local god deva and a hero.
800 years ago, Dharmasthala was known as Kuduma in Mallarmadi, then a village in Belthangady. Here lived the Jain chieftain Birmanna Pergade and his wife Ammu Ballathi in a house called Nelliadi Beedu. Pergade and the local chieftains built several shrines and invited Brahmin priests to perform the rituals. These priests requested Pergade to install a Shivalinga beside the native Daivas. The Daivas then sent their vassal Annappa Swamy to procure the linga of Lord Manjunatheshwara from Kadri, near Mangalore. Subsequently, the Manjunatha temple was built around the linga.
Around the 16th century, Shri Devaraja Heggade invited Shri Vadiraja Swami of Udupi to visit the place. The Swamiji gladly came but refused to accept Bhiksha (food offering) because the idol of Lord Manjunatha had not been consecrated according to the Vedic rites. Shri Heggade then requested the Swamiji to reconsecrate the Shiva Linga himself. Pleased by the observance of the Vedic rites and Heggade's charity to all, the Swamiji named the place Dharmasthala the abode of religion and charity. Thus, the roots of charity and religious tolerance established by the Pergades 800 years ago have been nurtured and strengthened by 21 generations of the Heggade family of Tulu lineage (Heggade being a derivative from Tulu word Pergade). Today's Dharmasthala blossoms with the fruit of this selfless dedication.
Manjusha Car Museum
Sri Manjunatheshwara Cultural and Research Foundation, started by the Temple committee, is engaged in preserving ancient manuscripts and paintings. A museum of antique objects has been established called the "Manjusha Museum" and a car museum houses a rare collection of vintage cars.
Traditional folk arts like Yakshagana and ethnic crafts like Navalgund carpets and Kasturi embroidery are revived by Dr Heggade. Shri Dharmasthala Manjunatheshwara Dharmothana Trust is engaged in the renovation of temples across Karnataka and every year, a Sarva Dharma Sammelana (multi-religious meet) is held at Dharmasthala, where spiritual leaders from various faiths and schools participate.
The Gomateshwara statue at Dharmasthala
In 1973 a statue of Lord Bahubali, carved out of a single rock, was installed at Dharmasthala on a low hill near the Manjunatha temple. It is about 39 feet (12 m) high with a pedestal of 13 feet and weighs about 175 tonnes. This is one of the five stone statues of Bahubali in Karnataka.
The average flow of pilgrims is about 10,000 people every day. Every one of the pilgrims who visit Shri Kshetra Dharmasthala is an honoured guest irrespective of caste, creed, culture or status. The "Anna Daana" (free food) is one of the impressive events that take place in this village. Free food is provided to devotees and the temple has modern machinery and makes quality food continuously throughout the day. The dining hall is known as "Annapoorna".
Shri Kshetra Dharmasthala by the SDMCET Society manages 25 institutions ranging from primary schools, Gurukula to teach yoga, Sanskrit, and professional courses in engineering, medicine, and dental sciences in Dharmasthala, Ujire, Mangalore, Udupi, Dharwad, Hassan, Mysore and other places of Karnataka state.
The Siddavana gurukula started by the late Manjayya Heggade has become a model educational institution. Over 250 students are provided free lodging and boarding and learn yoga and Sanskrit in addition to the basic school curriculum. The speciality of this institution is its endeavour to teach values based on Indian culture.
Directions to Dharmasthala
Dharmasthala is well connected by road. State-owned KSRTC & also private companies provide bus services from several centres of Karnataka.
Mangalore Railway Station is the nearest railway junction to Dharmasthala, situated at a distance of about 74 km. The railway station is well connected to all the major cities and towns in India. Travellers can hire taxis/cabs or take buses to reach Dharmasthala from Mangalore.
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