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

Dharmasthala Temple is an 800-year-old religious institution in the temple town of Dharmasthala in the Dakshina Kannada district of Karnataka, India. The deities of the temple are Shiva who is referred to as Manjunatha, Ammanavaru, Chandranath and the Dharma Daivas (guardian spirits of Dharma) namely Kalarahu, Kalarkayi, Kumaraswamy and Kanyakumari. The temple is considered unique since it belongs to the Shaivite sect of Hinduism. The priests are Shivalli Brahmins who belong to the Vaishnava sect of Hinduism and the administration is run by a Jain Bunt family called the Pergades.

Sri Manjunatheshwara Temple, Dharmasthala

Situated on the banks of river Nethravathi and surrounded by the lush green forests and hills of Malnad, Dharmasthala is known for it’s beautiful surroundings and Sri Manjunathaswamy Temple. In Dharmasthala, charity is a way of life, extended to all without discrimination. Sri Dharmasthala which is one of the sacred places in South India and is a famous pilgrim centre. It is situated in the village of Dharmasthala, in Beltangady Taluk of South Kanara district about 75 kms from Mangalore

Originally this place was called Kuduma, it has rich history of over 800 years. The History of this place says that, one day about 800 years ago, angels in the form of human beings came to house of pious people, Barmana Heggade and his family. The couple received the visitors with joy and respect. Impressed with the hospitality and the treatment given by the family, the angels appeared in their dream and promised to stay at Kuduma. They also ordered Barmana Heggade to give donations and food for the needy everyday. As per the wish of the angels Barmana Heggade built temples for Kalarahu, Kalarkai, Kumarswamy and Kanyakumari and performed the rituals and ceremonies from time to time.

Sometime later when Annappa Swamy, the messenger of the angels brought Shivalingam from Kadri in Mangalore, Heggade built a temple of Manjunatha Swamy and installed the Kadri’s Shiva Linga there. Henceforth, several ceremonies were held together for Manjunatha Swamy, Chandranatha Swamy and the angels. Kuduma became Dharmasthala, the place where Dharma is a way of life.


The word “Dharma” traditionally means religion, ritual, duty, righteousness, and alms. It also implies justice, truthfulness, freedom from fear, faith, solace, fulfillment and peace.

Dharmasthala is the perfect embodiment of the word “Dharma” for it displays every shade of meaning with which the word is imbued. The greatness of Dharmasthala, however is the fact that it has added an active element to “Dharma”, such that it touches the lives of people with a transformational directness that is unique.

To those that come for worship, Dharmasthala represents religious tolerance wherein caste, creed and faith of pilgrims are no bars. For here, the Jain Theerthankara is worshipped on the same consecrated grounds as the native Daivas and Lord Manjunatha (Lord Shiva). The priests are Vaishnavite Brahmins and the guardian of the temple is Heggade, a Jain by faith. Altogether forming a confluence of faiths that harmonize in belief of the Omnipotent.

To those that come for justice, Dharmasthala is the scale that does not tip in favour of a lawyer’s glib tongue. Here, without any legal formality or argument the Heggade dispenses justice, acting in the tradition of his ancestral role as the Heggade and representing the presiding deities.

To those that come in need, Dharmasthala is an Oasis, where succour, solace and hope abound in the serenity of the temple and in the free hostelries that provide food and shelter and to those that come in curiosity, Dharmasthala is a miracle of paradoxes. Here different faiths co-exist in harmony just as traditions make room for experimental services, High or low, rich or poor, devout or atheist, at Dharmasthala all are equal.

Dharmasthala Manjunatha Temple – Family History

The creator of the Pergade family is Birmanna Pergade and his spouse Ammu Ballalthi. They are the hereditary trustees of the Dharmasthala Manjunatha Temple. The eldest member of the Pergade family acts as the Dharma Adhikari or the Chief Administrator. He assumes the title of the Heggade. The feudal lord of the temple town was Heggade who also took the responsibility to solve the criminal and civil disputes of the people.

Till this day, the Heggade, who is the eldest living member of the Pergade family, sits each day and solves disputes relating to criminal and civil cases. This is known as hoyulu. The Pergade family have continued this tradition of assuming the position of Dharma Adhikari since twenty generations. Veerendra Heggade is the present Chief Administrator or Dharma Adhikari.

Ganesha festival, Navaratri and Deepavali festivals are celebrated with grandeur at Dharmasthala. The annual festival or carnival called Pattanajae Jatre is held in April every year before the onset of monsoons. People flock from far and near during these times.

Laksha Deepothsava
Festival of lights and grand illumination celebrated for five days in the month of Kartika (November – December) during this festival, there is cultural activities, Sarva-Dharma & Sahithya Sammelana. There are special seminars are as follows:

  • Fine arts on the third day.
  • Religions of the world, on the fourth day.
  • Literature on the fifth day.
  • Special Poojas to Chandranatha Swamy.

Shri Bahubali in Dharmasthala

Dharmasthala is famous for Sri Manjunatheshwara Temple and Bahubali monolithic statue of 39 feet height and weighing more than 210 tons. This statue, located on Ratnagiri Betta, was brought to this location from Karkala in 1982. Confluence of various religions is the evidence of the tolerance and spirit of oneness that is the quintessence of Dharmasthala.


Legend of Bahubali
Bharatha and Bahubali were the sons of the first Jain Theerthankara, King of Rishabha. After is reign he gave Bharatha, his elder son, Ayodhya to rule. To Bhaubali he gave Podanapura. Bharata then acquired the celestial spinning Chakra Ratna, that empowered him to conquer the world.

With his chakra, Bharata conquered many kingdoms and achieved total sovereignty over them then he set to conquer his brother Bahubali’s Podanapura. On requesting Bahubali to accept his supremacy, Bahubali refused, thus infuriating Bharatha.

To avoid a bloody war, the two brothers fought each other hand to hand. Bahubali vanquished his arrogant and acquainting brother and would have killed him, when realization dawned on him. This realization brought disillusionment with the world of lust and greed. Bahubali renounced the world and handed over his kingdom to Bharatha.

He assumed the role of Digambara to begin penance naked and standing until he gained enlightenment. This symbolizes total detachment from the material world owing only to service the mankind.

Annappa Betta
This hill is also called as Badinede Betta. His Shrine and dwelling place of four Dharma Daivas – Kalarahu, Kalarkayi, Kumaraswamy and Kanyakumari situated on this hill.

Manjusha Museum
This Museum near the Temple has a antique collection of swords, armory even old cameras etc. Collection of Temple chariots of various temples of Karnataka are exhibited outside the museum in a shed. There is one more vintage car collection from Sri Veerendra Heggade which is worth a visit for those with similar passion.

Veerendra Heggade


D Veerendra Heggade is the 21st Dharmadhikari of Shri Kshetra Dharmasthala. Born to Rathnamma and Ratnavarma Heggade in November 25, 1948. Being the eldest son, he had t take up the mantle of Heggadeship at the age of 20 on October 24, 1968. He promoted the carving and installation of the Bahubali statue at Dharmastala.

Under his guidance and able initiatives, “grameenaaabhivruddhi yojane” means “Village Welfare Programs have helped numerous farmers with agricultural credit, technical training, health and hygiene programs, and women empowerment.

Mr. Veerendra Heggade was awarded honorary doctorates from Mangalore University, Gulbarga University and Karnataka University. He was also conferred the “Padma Bhushan” award instituted by the Government of India from President K R Narayanan in 2000 for social service.

See Also:
shri dharmasthala, Website


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