Nellitheertha . The main deity of the temple is Sri Somanatheshwara (Shiva) . The temple also has MahaGanapati (Elephant - headed God) and Jabali Maharshi as deities here. In fact, the Jabali Maharshi Brindavana was recently constructed. In typical Tulu-naadu (Tulu is the native language in this part of the woods) tradition, the temple also has its set of "Bhootas" . Bhootas are considered as the "Ganas" or warrior-assistants of the Gods. According to mythology, bhootas are appointees of Shiva and they administer the temple/village. The main bhootas of the Nellitheertha temple are Pili-Chamundi (Pili means Tiger in Tulu), Kshetrapala, Raktheshwari and Doomavathy.
The Lingam of Shri Somanatheshwara has been made out of pure Saligrama and is considered very sacred. The Lingam has been built as Ardhanareeshwara. There are other artifacts in and around the temple which are pointers to the past glory of this place. Among them are:-
• Arasule Mancha (King's seat) is situated near the main entrance of the temple towards the north. Historical evidence suggests that this seat was where the king of the land used to be seated when he visited the temple. It is believed that even today, the spirits of the former rulers visits the place at night and so it is prohibited to sit on the seat after dusk.
• Arasule Mantapa (King's abode)
• Jina Vigraha (Jain Statue) . The temple of Shri Mahaganapati has been rebuilt recently and is splendid in itself.
• Amblattapadavu hillock . This hillock is about 300-500 feet high and offers a splendid scenery from the top. One can spot places such as the Bajpe Airport, Mangalore, Panambur, the MRPL refinery and Suratkal. On a day with clear skies, one can even spot the Arabian Sea. Amblattapadavu offers a wonderful view of sunrise and sunset everyday.
• Nagappa Kere (Snake Pond) is a small pond situated to the north of the temple. This natural pond, along with its religious significance, is also a scenic spot. All devotees who want to enter the cave temple have to clean themselves by taking bath in this pond and only then are they allowed into the cave. The lake is at its best immediately after the monsoons (Oct—Dec) when its crystal clear water is a swimmer's delight. There are plans to build a small herbal park around this pond as also a small deer park.
The Nellitheertha temple is a symbol of secularism. The temple and the cave is open to members of all beliefs and castes. Any person, above the age of 5, is allowed to enter the cave irrespective of gender. Truly, Nellitheertha is a special and model place.
THE CAVE TEMPLE
The main attraction of the temple is the cave. Situated right at the entrance of the temple towards the left of the main door, this huge cave is one of nature's wonders. Unspoilt by human indulgence, the cave is a nature lover's delight. A visit to the inside of the cave is considered a sacred and spiritual experience by devotees. The entrance to the cave is huge and wide. Within a few feet, the trail narrows down and one is forced to bend and crawl forward. Subsequently, one has to fall flat on the tummy and crawl ahead. Finally, after about 300-400 metres, the cave widens again and we find a huge lake in there. There is a natural Shiva Lingam in front of the lake and devotees pray and worship the lingam. The most amazing part of the cave is the fine quality of the mud available inside. It is said that the mud here has healing powers and is treated as prasadam by devotees. Right behind the Shiva Lingam, a second cave starts off. Not many people have ventured into this second cave till date. A few who have gone ahead vouch for the extreme terrain they have encountered. It surely will be challenging for the adventure lovers.
The name Nellitheertha also has its etymological roots in the cave. Inside of the cave, drops of water, in the shape of amla (gooseberries) constantly keep dripping down. In fact, the lake is made up of these drops of water. Hence the name Nelli (Amla) Theertha (holy water). Another unique aspect of the cave is that it is closed for nearly 6 months a year. The cave is open only between October and April. Though there are religious reasons associated with this (it is said that the cave is open 6 months a year for humans and is meant for Gods and Rishis the remaining 6 months), the point is that the 6 month break each year helps the cave to "rejuvenate". The water freshens up and the animals inside enjoy the lack of disturbance. Yes, there are plenty of animals inside the cave. Most common among them are snakes (of all varieties), scorpions, porcupines and thousands of bats. These are considered sacred and troubling or hurting the animals in any manner is strictly forbidden.
Legend also has it that Maharshi (Saint) Jabali used this cave as his abode. Hence the name Jabaleshwara for the presiding deity. It is believed that Maharshi Jabali performed Tapas (penance) here to Lord Durgaparameshwari to request her to kill Arunasura (a demon). It is said that Sri Durga acceeded to Jabali's request and destroyed Arunasura at Kateel (another fabulous and famous temple town - very close to Nellitheertha). There is a spot inside the cave which is widely believed to be where Maharshi Jabali perfomed his Tapas.
HISTORY OF THE PLACE
The holy place Nellitheertha and the temple have a long and glorious history. Although the first recorded material mentioning Nellitheertha dates back to 1487 A.D , there is ample evidence available at the place to suggest that the temple existed much before that. At its glorious peak, there used to be daily festivities performed under the aegis of the ruler of Nellitheertha. From that grand state, the temple gradually declined and its existence itself was threatened towards the later part of the twentieth century. Since then, devotees and well wishers have got together to restore the temple to its previous grandeur. With the blessings of Shri Somanatha , the temple renovation work is now on in full swing.
In the state of Karnataka and indeed in entire India, the South Kanara district occupies a unique place. The evergreen forests, amazing flora and fauna, the numerous temples and places of worship and monuments all make this district a huge attraction. The lifestyle of the people here exemplifies the concept of unity in diversity. For the people of Dakshina Kannada, art worship is a means of reaching the God and enriching the culture of the land. Naturally, therefore, one can observe the people seeing God in everything they do. Throughout the land, beautiful caves and lakes have become centers of spiritual and religious significance. Also, this land has given a multitude of scholars, artists, kings and other great contributors to the nation.
Historically, the Nellitheertha region was under the administration of the Chowta family. The chowtas are a famous name in Tulu Naadu and it is said that the temple flourished under their administration and was a major center for religious and cultural activities under their reign. Even today, the descendants of the chowta clan take an active interest in the maintenance and development of the temple.
There are some artifacts and archeological evidence available at the temple which point to a Jain interest and influence at the temple. These are evidence to suggest that the temple and the region was probably under the administration of Jain kings of the region.
For more details visit www.nellitheertha.com
||The nearest city to Nellitheertha is Mangalore. About 360 kms from Bangalore.
||9 hour and 1 hours by road.
||2 hour and 1 hours by road.
- The nearest city to Nellitheertha is Mangalore (about 360 kms from Bangalore). You can find a direct bus to Nellitheertha from the Mangalore Central Bus Stand. A taxi should cost you around 250-300 rupees. Get on to the Moodabidri road and pass through Gurupura, Kaikamba and approach Yedapadavu. Just before you reach Yedapadavu, you need to deviate to the left and travel about 8kms to reach the temple.
- Another route is to take the Mangalore - Udupi highway and take a deviation to the right at Mulki. On that road, reach Kinnigoli and continue until you hit a V-intersection. Take the road to the left and travel 13kms to reach Nellitheertha (through Mucchur town) .
- You can also reach Nellitheertha from Bajpe via Kathelsaar. This would mean you need to take the Mangalore—Bajpe—Kathelsaar– Nellitheertha Road. This is actually the shortest route to Nellitheertha from Mangalore and is about 14 kms shorter than the Moodabidri route.
- Nellitheertha is extremely close to Kateel which is one of the most famous temples in South India. It is about 8 kms from Kateel and can be reached via Ekkaru—Neerude.
|When to go:-
||The cave is closed for nearly 6 months a year. The cave is open only between October and April. Though there are religious reasons associated with this (it is said that the cave is open 6 months a year for humans and is meant for Gods and Rishis the remaining 6 months), the point is that the 6 month break each year helps the cave to "rejuvenate". The water freshens up and the animals inside enjoy the lack of disturbance.
It is believed that Sages and gods occupy the cave for six months and hence, even to this day, humans are allowed to enter the cave only six months a year (from October to April).
||Depertment of Tourism, Government of Karnataka, Lighthouse Hill Road, Hampankatta, Mangalore. Tel: 0824-2442926.
KSTDC(bookings and info) Badami House, NR Square, Bangalore Tel: 080-2275869, Fax: 2352626 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
|Where to stay :-
||The Taj Manjarun Hotel (Tel: 0824-2420420; Tariff: Rs 1,200-3,995).
Hotel Mangalore International ( Tel: 0824-2444860-64; Tariff: Rs 350-1,390)
Hotel Manorama (Tel: 2440306;Tariff: Rs 275-725)
Hotel Moti Mahal (Tel:2441411-2; Tariff: Rs 950-1,800)
Hotel Navarathna (Tel:2441104-08 ;Tariff: Rs 275-750)
Poonja International (Tel: 2440169-71; Tariff: Rs 500-2200)
Hotel Srinivas (Tel: 2440061-65; Tariff: Rs 275-800)
Hotel Woodlands (Tel:2444754; Tariff: Rs 400-800)
Summer Sands Beach Resort (Tel: 2467690-92; Tariff: Rs 650-3760)
|Where to Eat :-
Galley (Tel: 0824-2420420)
Ganesh Vilas (Tel:2440632, 2440440)
Heera Panna (Tel: 2441104-08)
Hotel Woodside (Tel: 2440296)
Hotel Moti Mahal (Tel: 24414112)
Yuvaraj (Tel: 2440171)
Summer palace (Tel: 24676990-92)