Mookambika Temple, Kollur, Karnataka, India

Deities: Goddess Mookambika
Location: Kollur, Karnataka
Built in: Sanakanna Nayaka King of Keladi
Importance: one of the seven Mukti Sthalas
Best time to visit: September-October
STD Code: 0825

Namasthe Jagadatri Sadbrahma Rupe
Namasthe Haropendra Datryadivandye
Namasthe Mahalakshmi Kolapuresi.

Kollur is one of the most important places of pilgrimage in Karnataka is in the distance of 128 Kms from Mangalore. The temple here is dedicated to Mookambika and stands on a spur of the Kodachadri peak.

The Goddess Mookambika is in the form of Jyotir-Linga incorporating both Shiva and Shakthi. The Panchaloha image (five element mixed metal) of the Goddess on Shree Chakra is stated to have been consecrated by Adi shankaracharya during his visit to this place. There is an exquisite sculpture of Panchamukha Ganesha here.

The main statue in the temple is the Shiva linga called the Jyothirlingam. This Jyothirlingam in front of the image of the Goddess Mookambika is of great antiquity. A golden line divides this lingam into two unequal parts and is visible only in the light of reflected sunlight pointed at the lingam. The right portion of this lingam is said to represent Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva – as the conscious static principles and the larger left part Lakshmi, Saraswathi and Parvathi – the creative energy principles.

It is a belief that the three goddess and the three lords emerged out of it. Temple of Mookambika Devi is one of the ‘Seven Muktisthala’ pilgrimage sites in Karnataka.

Tippu Sultan of Mysore had visited this temple and a special ‘mangala arthi ( Deeparadhana)’ was conducted at his behest. That pooja is being continued even today and it is called ‘Salam Mangalarthi’ which follows the main pooja during night session.

According to the legends, Kola Maharshi who was doing penance here was disturbed by a demon who was also engaged in doing penance to please Lord Shiva, to get a boon from Him. To prevent the demon from fulfilling his evil desire, Adi Shakti made him dumb (mooka) and when the Lord appeared before him, he could not ask for anything. Thereupon he got enraged and soon began troubling Kola Maharshi who prayed to Adi Shakti for deliverance. Adi Shakti, who vanquished demon Mookasura, was extolled by the gods as Mookambika. At Kola Maharshi’s prayer, the Divine Mother accompanied by all the Gods; stayed there to be perpetually worshipped by the devotees.

It is believed that Sri Adi Shankaracharya had a vision of Sri Mookambika Devi and he installed the deity here. The story goes like this. Adi Shankara mediated at Kudajadri hills and Devi was incarnated before him asking for his wish. He revealed his wish to incorporate Devi to a place in Kerala to worship where his wanted.

Devi agreed and put forward a challenge that she will follow Shankara and he should not look back until he reaches his destination. But to test Shankara Devi deliberately stopped the voice of her ornaments when they reached Kollur, and Shankara turned back because of doubt.

Devi then asked Shankara to install her vigraha as he sees her. Kollur was also a part of ancient West coast which stretched from Gokarna to Kanyakumari.

Sri Mookambika Temple celebrates various festivals and regularly conducts Pancha Pooja and Thrikala Bali. Various celebrations of the temple can broadly be classified as Nithyothsavam, Varothsavam, Pakshothsavam, Masothsavam, and Varshikothsavam.

Navarathri days are considered to be the most auspicious time to worship all Shakthi devathas. It is also the most important festival of Mookambika. Thousands of pilgrims throng the temple on those nine days. Vijaya Dashami day is the most auspicious day for beginning education (Vidya Arambham).

How to Reach:
by Road: Mangalore city is only 50 km away from Udupi. Express buses ply between Mangalore and Udupi at regular intervals.
by Rail: The railway station at Udupi falls on the Konkan Railway network and there are trains to most major cities of the state.
by Air: The nearest airport is the Mangalore airport located at Bajpe, 60 km away from Udupi. There are 2 flights daily from Mumbai and from Bangalore.Sri Mookambika TempleP.O. Kollur – 576 660 Udupi dist. Karnataka State INDIA.

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Madhukeshwara Temple, Banavasi, Karnataka, India

Deities: Lord Shiva
Location: Banavasi, Karnataka
Significance: Presiding deity is a honey colour lingam
Best time to visit: October to March
STD Code: 08384

Banvasi was the capital of the Kadambas, the first kingdom of ancient Karnataka. This is where the eminent poet Pampa wrote his poems.

The Madhukeshwara Temple, famed for its architecture, derives its name from the honey-coloured lingam in the inner sanctum of the temple. An imposing Nandi faces the lingam. Of special interest is the intricately carved stone cot, which was actually used by the kings Built around 1500 years ago.

Madhukeshwara temple is the major attraction of Banawasi. It is around this the village has grown. The temple provides the earliest evidence of the architectural splendor of the ancient times of the Kadamba dynasty. It is dedicated to the Lord Shiva was modified with additional structures by later dynasties. This unique feature of the temple illustrates how the architectural styles evolved from the 9th Century to present times.

The innermost sanctum sanctorum is built in a very plain style with minimal carving on the door and the lintel. The Sankalpa mantapa in front reveals the influence of the Chalukyan style. There is a seven foot huge Nandi idol made of a single stone. The Nritya mantapa or the dancing hall was added during the Hoysala period and has exquisite carving on the pillars and the ceiling. This is the spot where the legendary Shantala challenged the famed musician Allama Prabhu. She went on to become the wife of king Vishnuvardhana and inspired the renowned dancing sculptures of Belur and Halebid.

Legend has it that he was originally Mayura Sharma, a Brahmin studying in Kanchipuram. Humiliated by the Pallava princes, he vowed revenge. He took up the study of warfare or Kshathriya Vidya and became a warrior king who established the Kadamba dynasty in 345.A.D.

The annual cultural festival “Kadambotsava” is held in the month of December. Now, centuries later, Banavasi is returning to its former glory as a cultural capital. Every December, folk dancers, classical musicians, drama troupes, Yakshagana artistes assemble for ‘Kadambothsav’, a huge cultural festival bringing together artistes and performers from all over south India. This big event, organized by the state government, is attended by dignitaries and eminent literary personalities.

How to reach:
by Air: Hubli Airway situated 102 kms from sirsi.
by Rail: Nearest rail head is Shimoga is 112 km away.
by Road: Sirsi is 18 km away

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Hayagriva Mahadeva Temple, Hajo, Assam, India

Deities: Lord Shiva, Vishnu
Location: Hajo, Assam
Built in: 1583
Built by: King Raghu Deva
Best time to visit: October to April
STD Code: 0361

Hayagriva Mahadeva temple of Hajo is about 30 miles to the west of Guwahati. It is situated on the Monikut hill near Hajo of Kamrup district.It is known that the temple was constructed by the King Raghu deva Narayan in 1583. According to some other historians. King of Pala dynasty constructed it in 6th century. It is a stone temple and it enshrines an image of Hayagriva Mahadeva.The rows of elephants are seen on the body of the temple and they are fine specimens of Assamese art.

This temple is important for both the Hindu and the Buddhist community. Within the temple is an image of Vishnu which quiet closely resembles the one at Jagannath Temple in Puri in Orissa. For the Buddhist of the region, the temple is important because they believe that it was here that the Buddha attained Nirvana. The temple suffered destruction at the hands of Kalapahar who was also responsible for destroying a number of other temples in India.

Quiet nearby is a small temple which was constructed by Ahom king Pramatta Singh The Hayagriva Mahadeva temple can be reached by ascending long stone stairway at the foot of which there is a pond. In this pond resides a huge turtle.

Doul, Bihu and Janmashtami festivals are celebrated every year in the temple. Moreover this temple preaches both Hinduism and Buddhism, which attract Buddhist Monks from far flung places.

How to reach:
by Air: The airport at Guwahati is the closest one from Hajo.
by Rail: Guwahati also happens to be nearest railhead to reach Hajo. Trains from here link to New Delhi and Kolkata directly and provide connectivity to destinations.
by Road: Buses also connect Guwahati to various destinations one can be easily reached by road from here. Also, Hajo, itself is connected by road to various parts of Assam.

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Dattatreya Temple, Ganganapur, Maharashtra, India

Deities: Lord Dattatreya
Location: Ganganapur, Maharashtra
Best time to visit: October to February
STD Code: 02433

Dattatreya Temple is located at Ganganapur, Maharashtra. The presiding deity is Dattatreya, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu Dattatreya. The shrine at Ganganapur is in the process of assuming the form of a temple.

It is currently more like an ‘Ashram’. The main gate faces towards the west and is built in the Maratha model of ‘Nagarkhana’. A spacious mandap (hall) is provided for the gathering.

There is a raised platform – the ‘holy of holies’ in the southern side of the hall. Dattatreya Temple has a very small room divided into two by a wall. There are two doors, and in the inner portion, there are the images of Dattatreya and the ‘Nirguna padukas’– a pair of sandals. . It is these Padukas that are the object of worship at this place. It is a symbol of the constant and eternal presence of Dattatreya in his form as Nrisimha Sarasvati.There is a very small opening in the wall in the form a silver-plate framework, which allows pilgrims to have a glimpse of the image.

Dattatreya is considered to be the incarnation of either Vishnu or the all-powerful Trinity of Hindu mythology viz. Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh. Dattatreya is the son of the sage Atri and his wife Anasuya. Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh (Shiva) greatly pleased at his tapa made their appearance before him and asked him as to what he desired. On his replying that he wanted nothing more than a son of divine powers, having the qualities or ‘gunas’ of all the three of them, they promised him that in the second part or yuga of the Vaivaswat manvantar, children would be born to him who would be incarnations of themselves. Accordingly, in due course Anasuya gave birth to a number of children, the number being variously stated to be either ten or three. Any way, three of her children were the amshas or parts or part. Incarnations of the three gods. The first son, Soma, was an avatar of Brahma, the second Datta that of Vishnu and the third Durvasa that of Shiva. The three gods of the Trinity. It is Dattatreya.

During the month of Magba is the most popular, the purpose of the utsava being the -punya-smarana’ of the Guru, Shri Nrisimha Sarasvati. It was on the first day of the month that Shai Guru brought to an end his existence in this world, and it is his death anniversary that is celebrated during the four days. The other important festivals are Shripad Shrivallabha, Datta-jayanti and Nrisimha-jayanti.

How to reach:
Mumbai to Ganagapur Rail Distance – 526 Kms .From ‘Ganagapur Road’ to Ganagapur City (town), where Datta Mandir is situated is around 30 minutes journey by road.

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Dakshineswar Temple, Kolkata, West Bengal, India

Deity: Goddess Kali
Location: Kolkata
Built in: 1885
Built by: Rani Rashmoni
STD Code: 033
Best time to visit: October to March

The Dakshineswar Kali Temple located in Dakshineswar locality, Kolkata. Situated on the eastern bank of the Hooghly River, the presiding deity of the temple is Bhavatarini, an aspect of Kali.

The temple compound, apart from the nine-spired main temple, contains a large courtyard surrounding the temple, with rooms along the boundary walls. There are twelve shrines dedicated to the aspects of Shiva, Kali’s companion, along the riverfront, a temple to Radha-Krishna, a bathing ghat on the river, a bookshop, a shrine to Rani Rashmoni. The chamber in the northwestern corner just beyond the last of the Shiva temples is where Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa spent a considerable part of his life. It is Holiest place in the Universe.

Dakshineswar Ramakrishna Sangha Adyapath operates in the region. The compound contains many orphanages, schools and homes for elderly people. The organization has been dedicated to the great spiritual leader.

In the year 1847, the wealthy widow queen Rani Rashmoni prepared to go upon a long pilgrimage to the sacred city of Banaras to express her devotions to the Divine Mother. In those days there was no railway line between Calcutta and Banaras and it was more comfortable for rich persons to make the journey by boat rather than by road. We are told that the convoy of Rani Rashmoni consisted of twenty four boats carrying relatives, servants, and supplies.

But the night before the pilgrimage began, the Divine Mother, in the form of the goddess Kali, intervened. She appeared to the Rani in a dream and said, “There is no need to go to Banaras. Install my statue in a beautiful temple on the banks of the Gangas River and arrange for my worship there. Then I shall manifest myself in the image and accept worship at that place.” Profoundly affected by the dream, the Rani immediately looked for and purchased land, and promptly began construction of the temple. The large temple complex, built between 1847 and 1855, had as its centerpiece a shrine of the goddess Kali. A scholarly and elderly sage was chosen as the head priest and the temple was consecrated in 1855. Within the year this priest died and his responsibility passed to his younger brother, Ramakrishna, who over the next thirty years would bring great fame to the Dakshineswar temple.

Places of Interest:
To the north of the Kali-temple is a Dalan of Radha-Krishna. To the west, twelve Siva temples of Bengali atchala style stand in rows on the Hughli River with a ‘chandni-bathing ghat’, which is flanked by these Shiva temples, six each on either side. The temple compound on three sides – north, east and south – are enclosed by rows of guestrooms and offices.

How to reach:
by Air: Kolkata is well connected by air to all major countries in the world, as well as to Indian cities.
by Rail: Trains are available from all parts of the country to Calcutta. Most inward bound trains stop at Howrah, which is also the station from which major trains to other cities depart.
by Road: A few buses ply from Orissa and Bihar to Calcutta Buses are also available to nearby towns.

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Naina Devi, Bilaspur, Himachal Pradesh, India

Deities: Goddess Naina Devi
Location: Bilaspur, Himachal Pradesh
Built in: 1880
Built by: Raja Bir Chand
Importance: One of Shakti Pithas
Best time to visit: July to September
Altitude: 3,995m
STD Code: 01978

“O! Mother, you always prevail in heart of every individual in form of Wisdom, Wealth and Strength. Please shower your blessings on us.”

The most notable place of worship in the district is the temple of Shri Naina Devi. It is one of the 51 ‘Shakti Pithas’. Situated 60 km from Bilaspur district in Himachal Pradesh, Naina Devi Temple is one of the highly venerated Shakti Temples in India. The charming hill resort of Nainital gets its name from the Goddess Naina Devi. A temple dedicated to the deity stands here. The Naina Devi temple is situated atop Naina hillock in Nainital.

The word Naina is synonymous with Sati’s eyes. Since then, devotees started visiting this temple. On the right side of the temple there are idols of Lord Hanuman Ji and Ganesh Ji. After reaching the main entrance of the temple, there are two statues of lions. Inside the temple, devotees have darshan of three deities. On the extreme left is Mata Kali Devi, the centre representing two Netras or eyes is Maa Naina Devi and to right side is idol of Lord Ganesh.

There was a peepal tree which is existing even today in the temple premises. Naina often observed that milk would flow down from the breast of cows which have not given birth to the babies when they stand under that papal tree, Naina wondered over this incidence. One day Naina went under that tree and saw that there was an idol of durga beneath the leaves of the tree. The same day Durga Maa appeared in the dreams of Naina at night and said to him “I am Adishakti Durga” you should build a temple at this place under the peepal tree and I will become famous with your name. Naina was a staunch devotee of Durga and in the morning the next day he laid down for the temple. Very soon the information and importance of this place went around in all directions and devotees started powering in for darshan. This beautiful temple is known as Naina Devi Temple since then. There is also a cave near the temple which is known as the cave of Naina Devi.

The attractive lake of Nainital is said to be the eyes of Sati, wife of Lord Shiva. Sati had jumped into the sacrificial fire to escape the humiliation of her husband by her father, King Daksh. Then Lord Vishnu unleashed. His Chakra and cut the Sati’s body into fifty one pieces to save the earth from Shiva’s wrath. All the fifty one places – where parts of Sati’s body fell.It is believed that Sati’s eyes fell at the place where this temple is situated. Therefore, this temple is called Naina Devi.

To mourn the death of his beloved wife, Shiva carried her mortal remains across the country. The parts of her body fell at various places which today are sacred places of worship for Hindus. It is said that the shimmering green waters of the Naini Lake is a reflection of the emerald green eye of Sati. ‘Naina’ means eyes which symbolizes the eyes of Sati. On the northern side of the lake is built a temple dedicated to Sati and is called the Naina Devi temple.

Naina Devi welcomes one and all throughout the year. There are 3 festivals Navratris, Shravani & Chaitra.

The Navaratri celebration in Sept -Oct is the largest fair and two more annual melas i.e. Shravani Mela in July-August & Chaitra mela in March-April , attract lakhs of people of divergent religious faith, caste, creed and culture. The colourful melas become the melting pot of Hindus, Sikhs and others-a unique sight of real Unity in Diversity.

Other important temples in Himachal Pradesh:
Baijnath Temple
Jwalamukhi Temple
Bajreshwari Devi Temple
Masroor Rock Temple
Kathgarh Temple
Lakshami Narayan Temple
Chaurasi Temples of Bharmaur
Hadimba Temple
Bijli Mahadev Temple
Prashar Temple
Bhima Kali Temple
Hatkoti Temple

How to reach:
by Air: The nearest airport is at Shimla, 85 km away.
by Rail: The nearest broad gauge railhead is at Kiratpur Sahib (65 km), while the closest narrow gauge railway station is at Shimla.
by Road: Well-connected by the Chandigarh-Manali National Highway-21, Bilaspur can be reached by bus conveniently from New Delhi, Chandigarh, Shimla, etc.

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Ganapatiphule, Maharashtra, India

Deities: Lord Ganesha
Location: Ganapatipule, Maharashtra
Built in: 16th century
Best time to visit: November to February
STD Code: 0091-2357

Ganapatipule is an ideal place to forget all your worries and smile.

The sun-kissed beach and lush green of Ganapatipule inevitably draws tourists back, year after year. The added attraction is a 400-year old temple which houses the Swayambhu Ganapati.

Sparkling blue waters, endless stretches of golden or silver sand, sun beams dancing through the swaying palms, waves playing with the sand dunes, a cool breeze whispering sweet nothing in your ear. This is the land of Ganpatipule, one of Maharashtra’s almost virgin beaches.

Set along the western coast of maharastra, is a small little village called Ganapatiphulethe Ganapatiphule beach is as natural and pristine as ever. Even today, the waters are blue and the sands, white.

It is flooded by thousands of devotees and tourists every year. Thus the village got its name Ganapatipule, Ganapati the lord of the “ganas” or army and “pule” which means sand dunes, Ganapatipule is one of the “Ashta Ganapatis” (eight Ganapatis).

The vast ‘Konkan’ stretch abounds with scenic greenery There are narrow mud-roads, the earth is red and the roofed houses with clean courtyards add a quaint touch to the panorama. The local vegetation includes fruit-bearing trees like mango, betel nut, banana, jackfruit, coconut etc.
India has got its name from the Hindu deity Lord Ganesha. This lovely beach is known for the Ganapatipule temple. The temple is located on the foothills of the green-carpeted Konkan hills. Those who visit this sacred Ganapatiphule temple make sure to do a ‘pradhikshina‘ around the Ganapatipule temple.

It said that during the 16th Century AD, a villager, depressed with recurrent quarrels in his village, escaped to the Kerda jungles. On his way there, he came upon a naturally created Ganapati idol. Considering this as a good omen, he built a temple there. As the word spread, people gathered and gradually even settled there. They worshipped the idol, performed prayers and even made additions to the shrine. Hence, Ganapatipule became a famous Hindu pilgrimage site.

The local people of Ganapatipule believe that in an age when men were spiritual and miracles were a commonly visible fact, the scriptures talked of four Dwardatas (Welcoming Deities) to the subcontinent, where Ganapatipule is one of the Paschim Dwaar Devata (the Western Sentinel God).

The Temple of Ganapatipule becomes the centre of grand activity for the five days celebration of Ganesh Chaturthi when villager’s and pilgrims join actively in a procession honoring Ganapati. A taller idol is placed in an ornate palanquin and carried on the shoulders of the devotees through the village accompanied by a pujari or priest and a drummer. The idol in the sanctum is placed in a way that also makes it visible. The Swayambhu Ganapati Temple is one of the most famous pilgrimage centres.

Other attraction in Ganapatipule:
The baw PalaceMalgundJaigarh fortPawasVelneshwar

How to reach:
by Air: Nearest airport is Ratnagiri 50 kms.
by Rail: Ratnagiri on the Konkan Railway is the nearest railhead and Kolhapur 144 kms. on the South Central Railway.
by Road: Mumbai-Ganpatipule 375 kms. via Mahad. Pune-Ganpatipule 331 kms. via Satara.Kolhapur-Ganpatipule 144 kms.

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