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Pancha Linga Temples – Five Shiva Temples Associated With Atmalinga In Coastal Karnataka

The Pancha Linga Temples are a group of five sacred Shiva temples in coastal Karnataka, each associated with parts of the Atmalinga that Ravana was carrying from Kailash to Lanka. According to legend, Ravana performed severe austerities to please Lord Shiva, who granted him the Atmalinga with the condition that once placed on the ground, it would become immovable. Ravana, while transporting the Atmalinga, had to place it down, resulting in its installation at Mahabaleshwar. In his anger, Ravana flung away the casket and the cloth covering the Atmalinga, which scattered across various locations, each becoming a site of worship. These sites are now known as the Pancha Linga Temples.

Murudeshwara Temple

Murudeshwara Temple is associated with the cloth that covered the Atmalinga, which flung all the way to Murudeshwara and became the Mridesha Linga. The Shivalinga appeared from the sea and manifested at this location. The temple is known for its massive Raja Gopuram and the towering statue of Lord Shiva. The original Shivalinga is below the ground and not visible to the public; only those performing seva can catch a glimpse of it.

Gokarna Mahabaleshwar Temple

This temple houses the world's only Atma Linga of Lord Shiva. The tip of the Atmalinga is visible year-round, but the entire Linga is exposed for darshan only once a year. This is the main and complete Linga that Ravana could not move. It is believed that darshan of this Linga fulfills all the devotees' desires.

Sajjeshwara Temple

Sajjeshwara Temple in Karwar District is where the casket that carried the Atmalinga fell, transforming into a Shivalinga. Located about five kilometers from Karwar town, it is the smallest of the five temples and is seldom visited by devotees.

Dhareshwar Temple

Near Kumta, Dhareshwar Temple is where the strings of the Atmalinga’s casket fell and became a Shivalinga. The temple is one of the significant stops on the Pancha Linga pilgrimage.

Gunvanteshwar Temple

The lid of the casket carrying the Atmalinga fell at the site of Gunvanteshwar Temple and turned into a Shivalinga. This temple is located near Idagunji, which is famous for its temple of Lord Ganesha.

Significance of the Pancha Linga Temples

Each of these temples holds a unique piece of the sacred Atmalinga, making them significant pilgrimage sites for devotees of Lord Shiva. Visiting these temples is believed to confer great spiritual merit and fulfill the devotees' wishes. The spread of these temples across coastal Karnataka also highlights the region's rich mythological heritage and the deep-rooted worship of Shiva.