When I asked my European friends who also spend time in India about Murdeshwar, home to the second largest statue of Shiva in the world, I didn’t get the enthusiastic, excited reaction that I was expecting. Naturally, I recognize that we all see things differently and no matter what their response might be, I had to see it for myself.
My friends compared Murdeshwar to an Indian Disney Land mentality and complained that it was new and lacked the splendor of antiquity. I enjoy an outing and am not so critical. Feasting visually upon the second largest statue of Shiva in the world was enough for me to want to go there. My friends who hadn’t been there before and I got off to a late start. We were on Indian time and not in any particular hurry. After a few rickety bus rides we arrived at the junction that leads you to the temple town of Murdeshwar, which is one of the many names for Lord Shiva. This area is on a slope, surrounded on three sides by the magnificent Arabian Ocean in the state of Karnataka. The origins of this place is a complicated story mentioned in the Ramayana. I’m not sure that I completely follow what happened here but a piece of the covering of the precious and sacred, Atma-Linga, landed here, where the temple complex and statue now stand.
Tall was the theme. We arrived in the nick of time as the elevator to the top of this enormous tower was soon closing. The views of both the all mighty Shiva, the Destroyer and the view of the sea in two directions were spectacular.
As fantastic as the views were and the Shiva statue impressive, it was the people who captivated my attention. When I studied my photographs from this day, there were very few of the statue and the surrounding buildings.
I love it when I am one of the sole foreigners around. My adrenaline starts pumping with eager anticipation and my eyes take it all in with pleasure.
The mood was a curious upbeat mix of holiday makers and the devout. No one is shy or subtle in the display of their faith, causing me to ponder my Western skepticism that always leads to faith envy.
In my next post I will share with you more of the people I photographed while visiting Murdeshwar, another remarkable and outstanding adventure in India.