Dharmasthala
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Dharmasthala   |   Dakshina Kannada

Dharmasthala is an Indian temple town on the banks of the Nethravathi River in the Belthangadi taluk of the Dakshina Kannada district in Karnataka.

The town is known for its Dharmasthala Temple which houses the shrine of Shiva, Manjunatha, Ammanavaru, Chandranath and the Dharma Daivas (guardian spirits of Dharma) namely 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 Madhva order.

Lakshadeepa, the festival of lights, is the annual festival of Dharmasthala in November–December. On an 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 judgements that are said to represent the will of the deities.

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 "Manjusha Museum" and a car museum house 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 renovation of temples across Karnataka and every year, a Sarva Dharma Sammelan (multi religious meet) is held at Dharmasthala, wherein spiritual leaders from various faiths and schools participate.

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 and weighs about 175 tonnes. This is one of the five stone statues of Bahubali located in Karnataka and it is more than 20 feet in height. and is revered by Jains as a symbol of sacrifice. Kukke Subramanya Temple dedicated to Lord Subramanya is just 62 km from here. Sringeri and Horanadu are less than 100 km from here.

Photography: [Dinesh Kumar (DK): #1]


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