Of late I have developed a sudden interest in exploring the Western Ghats – a biodiversity hotspot which is older than Himalayas. The Ghats lie parallel to the western coast of India and is spread across 5 states: Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and my home state Kerala. Though I have been to a dozen of touristy hill stations of this region, I haven’t done full justice in exploring the magical Ghats. Over the last few weeks I was busy finalizing the places to visit. At first my attention was drawn towards the hill forts of Maharashtra and then towards the peaks in Kerala. But then my friend Aakri shared his plan to visit Kollur Mookambika temple and Kudachadri peak in Karnataka with much interest. Couple of days after that I received a WhatsApp message regarding KSRTC starting a new bus service to Kollur from my hometown Thiruvananthapuram. Though 95% of these forwarded messages are fake, this one was genuine. As the monsoon rains gained strength each passing day, the travel plan to the Ghats was finalized.
1200+ years old Mookambika temple is located in the middle of a wildlife sanctuary of the same name. It is one of the holiest places of worship for Hindus. According to the legend, Goddess Saraswati first muted Kaumasura, a demon who had obtained special powers from Lord Shiva through penance and later killed him. After turning dumb, the demon was called Mookasura and by killing him, Goddess got the name Mookambika.
July 1, 2016: I reached Kollur after a long overnight bus journey (around 18 hours) from my hometown. Though the promised arrival time was 9:30 AM, it took another 3 hours to reach the destination. The nearest bus station is half a kilometer away but KSRTC bus drops you right at the back of the temple. There are plenty of hotels and vegetarian restaurants in the vicinity. Prior reservation of rooms is not necessary except during festive seasons. For a modest rate of 300Rs/day I got a basic non-ac single room in a hotel which was just a stone’s throw from the temple. After a quick fresh up I visited the temple. I was just in time to witness the Bali Utsava after which the temple will remain closed for 2 hours. During Bali Utsava (Shiveli) the representative idol of the main deity is taken around the temple 3 times. Rest of the day I was free and was planning to visit nearby temples but heavy rains delayed it by 2 hours. By 6 PM I came back to my room after visiting 3 temples: Maranakatte Brahmalingeshwara, Hattiangadi Siddi Vinayaka and Maraladevi.
I visited Mookambika temple for the 2nd time at around 7:00 PM during the time of Mangalarathi (Deeparadhana). Bookings for Seva and Prasad were taken from the counters. A token for Special Darshan (a separate and shorter queue to enter sanctum sanctorum) was also taken as there were a sizeable number of visitors. Even though this temple is located in the Udupi district of Karnataka, most of the visitors are from the neighboring Kerala.
Tips for first time visitors
- Hotel rooms need not be reserved during non-festive seasons. There are plenty of budget accommodation available in the locality.
- Sevas can be booked online through the official website or at the counters inside the temple. There are separate counters for collecting the Prasad
- It is advisable to travel by train rather than bus for better comfort. Nearest railway station is Byndoor (BYNR) which is around 30 km away. From the station taxis/buses are available.
- The bus station is just half a kilometer away from the temple
- Historic temples of Murudeshwar (60 km) and Udupi (75 km) are nearby, so plan accordingly.