Karnataka is replete with hill stations, beaches and temple towns, which are easily accessible by bus. There is no dearth of weekend getaways. For those of you who want to visit a temple town, Dharmasthala, which is about 300 km from Bangalore, is a good option. This popular town known for its temple also has several places en route that can be easily covered over the weekend.
A picturesque town in Dakshina Kannada district, it is on the banks of river Nethravathi. Home to the 16th century Manjunath Temple — which houses the shrine of Manjunath, the incarnation of Lord Shiva — it attracts a huge number of devotees as well as tourists through the year, especially during its annual festival held sometime in November or December. The festivals is called the Laksha Deepothsava, where one lakh lamps are lit.
The journey to this town through Yediyur and Hassan and finally through the meandering Western Ghats road along the Bangalore-Mangalore highway is indeed panoramic. And if you are travelling during the monsoon, you will pass through numerous gushing waterfalls.
Whether it is early in the morning or late in the evening, as you reach the temple premises, be prepared to stand in a serpentine queue to get a darshan of the shrine. The place is always crowded, but it is worth it if the purpose of your visit is a religious one. Post-darshan, you can join the other devotees for the anna dana or the free meal at a huge dining hall, where hot meals are served every day.
There is also a museum that houses some old manuscripts and paintings. You can also visit the car museum which has a couple of vintage cars on display.
One remarkable attribute about this temple is that the Hindu Brahmins carry out all the puja-related work but the temple administration is managed by the Jains. And they work with such harmony and precision, that it is a system worth replicating. Where else can you find such unity and cooperation?
Ujire is about 8 km away from Manjunath temple. You can take a bus and visit the popular Surya Temple there. It is believed that whatever you pray for in this temple in good faith, your wishes will be fulfilled. You can end your day by the riverside. However, many go for a dip in the river before paying their obeisance at the temple.
The next morning, you can head to Kukke Subrahmanya, which is 50 km away. This quaint village is blessed with nature’s bounty. Mountains, rivers and forests—it has everything. It is known for the Kukke Subramanya temple. The over one-hour bus ride to this village is something which you will love, as the road takes you through cocoa estates and coffee plantations. After a darshan at the temple, you can try out the Dakshina Kannada cuisine in one of the restaurants. Boiled rice dose and rava patrode, which is the steamed taro leaves in spicy coconut batter, are a must try.
Buses are available from Bangalore, Hubli, Dharwad, and Belgaum. Apart from the state-run, Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) buses, there are private operators that ply their buses to the temple town. You can book your bus tickets for Dharmasthala at www.ticketgoose.com.
Where to stay?
There are hotels to suit every pocket in Dharmasthala. Some of them that are worth trying out include Kamath Resort (Tariff- Rs 1,000 onwards), Stream of Joy (Tariff- Rs 1,000 onwards) and Riveria Eco-Stay (Tariff- Rs 1,000 onwards).
Whether you are visiting this place as a tourist or as a devotee, it is a beautiful town that is worth a trip. Have you visited Dharmasthala? Share your interesting journey with us.