Considered as the most ancient existing temple of the Gowda Saraswat Brahmins, the known history of the Temple dates back to 8th century A.D. The Temple was last renovated in 1799 – 1804 A.D. after it was demolished by a nearly ruler. H.H Srimath Vibhudendra Tirtha Swamiji, the then Peetadhipathi of the Kashi Math Samsthan took the initiative in resurrecting the Temple and re-installing the presiding deity Shri Bhadra Narasimha.
MANJESHWAR or Manjulakshetra with its Puranic background is celebrated for its Temple dedicated to Srimad Anantheshwara, that is Shri Shiva accompanied by Shesha or Anantha. Evidently, the town derives its name from the presiding Deity Srimad Anantheshwar changed into "Madanantheshwar" and then into Manjeshwar by efflux of time and long usage. The image of Lord Shiva is believed to be an "Udbhava" or "Swayambhoo" (Self emergent). Besides the image of Shiva, there are in the temple images of Lord Narasimha and Subramanya, the latter Deity rarely worshipped in South Canara. Originally in the Madras State but now in Kerala, Manjeshwar is situated 17 Kilometers south of Mangalore on the Cochin - Mangalore section of the Southern Railway, the Temple is about a Kilometer and a half from the Railway Station, being easily accessible by metalled road. By road, it is about 23 Kilometers south of Mangalore on the National Highway 66. The nearest Airport is Mangalore.
The Sanctum Sanctorum The Sanctum Sanctorum (Sri Garbhagriha) has two parts. One can be seen by devotees and the other hidden behind the Altar(Simhasana). The entire Simhasana is built over an anthill called Rohini or Ruvvani in Konkani.
Visible at the bottom is the granite Shivalinga of Srimath Anantheshwara after whom the temple is named. This Linga is considered self emerged (Swayambhoo). The period of its discovery is not known. On the second rung are two Deities of Nagaroopi Subramania- one is ancient and the other recently installed. At the centre is Sri Bhadranarasimha – the presiding Deity in standing position flanked by Sridevi and Bhudevi- His consorts. Visible at the top are the idols of Sri Vittala, Sri Vedavyasa, Sri Laxminarasimha, Sri Keshava, Sri Krishna, Sri Karalanarasimha and others. Many other idols are partially visible Including the Utsavamurthy of Utsava Narasimha. These are indicated in the diagram.
Rohini:Hidden from public view is the anthill Ruvvani – the abode of Sri Vasuki. With everence to the live snakes believed to still inhabit the underground paths to the Ruvvani, the entire temple premises inside and outside the Sanctorum have no cement or tiles flooring. Only mud cover is plastered with cow dung from the Goshala. During rainy season water from the roofs is allowed to seep through the flooring in order to keep the snake paths cool
The Ruvvani is surrounded by Lingas of Sri Chandramouleeshwara, Sri. Nandikesha, Sri Kubera, Sri Varunadeva and Sri Veerabhadra. The mud from Ruvvani is offered as Moola Prasad by the Chief Priest only on request.
Namaskara Mantapa is now completely rebuilt over the most sacred "NADE" of the temple in front of the Garbhagriha. The divine vibration (saanidhya) of this place is difficult explain but can only be felt.
Till 1958 AD the Namaskara Mantapa was narrow and made of thatched roofing and arecanut tree pillars. In 1958 one RCC structure was erected which had deteriorated and had to be removed to enable the renovation of the Temple.
The new Namaskara Mantapa: (erected in 2011 AD) has 8 pillars made of black granite from Tamilnadu. The wooden structure and carvings are made from Burmah Teak – around 300 years old. The roofing is made from high quality copper sealed with beewax. The flooring is only of mud covered with a layer of cowdung.
The DevadarshanThe phenomenon of Divine Oracle manifesting from time to time (last witnessed 75 years ago) uses this Nade for interacting with the Devotees in sign language. It is also the requirement of the DEVADARSHAN that the flooring is maintained in its natural form.
The central portion of the Namaskara Mantapa: The central Portion covers the Vimana of the Sri Garbhagriha. It has the silver sculpture of Lord Vishnu in Ananthashayana posture flanked by Hanuman and Garuda. The opposite side facing the sanctum has Sri Mahavishnu in sitting posture accompanied by Astha Laxmis – Adilaxmi, Dhanalaxmi, Dhanyalaxmi, Gajalaxmi, Santanalaxmi, Veeralaxmi, Vijayalaxmi and Vidyalaxmi.Navapada: Immediately after one enters the temple from the Mahadwara, one can see on the ceiling a ‘Navapada’ formation in wooden carving. This is a Vastu of defined formation. There are 81 small squares, each one having pattern which is different from the other. There are 81 patterns in all. This is supposed to be highly potent arrangement and ideal for meditation. It is said to attract and concentrate cosmic energy at its centre. Usually, all temples having Navapada arrangement are with 9 squares, some 25 or even 45. But, Navapada with 81 squares is not found anywhere else in southern India. Manjeshwar Temple also has a 9 square formation in the Mukhamantap ceiling.
Namaskara Mantapa – Left Hand Side :
he left hand side has carvings of KESHAVADI the 24 names of Sri Vishnu chanted regularly by Vaishanavites during the Sandhyavandan as well as during most rituals. The tantrasara Sangraha by Srimath Madhwacharya gives the description of the 24 images of Sri Vishnu. These sculptures are made according to the dictate given there. These images all look alike except for the ways they hold the “Ayudhas”. The Shankha, Chakra, Gada and Padma are held by the 24 images in 24 combinations. The figures start with KESHAVA at the corner closest to the sanctum which is generally used for offering Saastaanga Namaskara to the Deity.
When one turns in clockwise direction, he can see Narayana, Madhava, Govinda, Vishnu, Madhusoodana, Trivikrama, Vamana, Sridhara, Hrishikesha, Padmanabha, Damodara, Sankarashana, Vasudeva, Pradyumna, Anirudha, Purushothama, Adhokshja, Narasimha, Achyutha, Janardhana, Upendra, Hari and finally Krishna ending at the same corner. Out of these 23 have human face and the 19th one Sri Narasimha has the face of Lion.
Namaskara Mantapa- Right Hand Side
The temple is a predominant Shivakshetra too and also a centre of Naga worship. It is said that Lord Parashurama himself anointed 108 Shivalingas in Parashrama Kshetra. Srimath Anantheshwara is one of them. The five Lingas representing five Deities in the Sanctum and the Vasuki (Not seen by public) are shown in Murthy form on this wing of the Namaskara Mantap. Sri . Chandramouleeshwara (Shiva) carrying the Crescent moon on His headgear can be seen in the eastern side in the centre. He is flanked by Devi Parvati and Shri Ganapathi, Next to Parvati is Sri Subramanian and next to Ganapathi is Sri Nandikesha (Nandi ). Next to Nandi is Veerabhadra. Next to Sri Subramania is Kubera- the Lord of wealth and Varunadeva- one of the highly revered Devas riding on a combination of a crocodile and swan (Hamsa). The Linga forms of these Deities in Garbhagriha are not visible to the public.
The opposite side has at the centre Saraswati- Goddess of learning and knowledge. Her name is synonymous with the Saraswat community. She is worshipped in the form of books in Manjeshwar Temple . She is depicted in Murthy form now. Next to Her is Sri Vedavyasa- the greatest of sages and considered an incarnation. And is worshipped in idol form in the Garbhagriha. On the right side of Vedavyasa is Maharudra who is worshipped I Linga form in a separate sanctum behind the Garbhagriha. Next to Maharudra is Vayu sitting on a deer followed by Agni the Lord of fire. On Sri Saraswati’s left is Suryadeva and Indra sitting with His Consort Indrani on His vahana-Airawata. Next to Indra is Sri Anantha who is the chief of all Nagas- predominant among them are called ‘Navanagas’, who are depicted on the south and north side of the right wing of Namaskara Mantap. They are in order of clockwise direction – Ananta, Vasuki, Karkota, Takshaka, Padma, Shanka, Gulika, Shesha and Mahapadma. The Navanagas are capable of awarding boons to devotees who pray for children, cure for various diseases, wealth, condoning of sins etc.
The present design of the Namaskara Mantapa attempts to depict the Uniqueness of the temple wherein the three styles of worship- the Vaishnava, the Shaiva and the Naga worship are all prominently seen under one altar without clashing with one another. The Vedic Devas like Indra, Vayu, Agni and Surya who are regularly worshipped during Yajnas and other Vedic rituals are also depicted. The images are draw from Kashyapa Shilpashastra and other traditional Shilpashastra books.
Immediately after one enters the temple from the Mahadwara, one can see on the ceiling a ‘Navapada’ formation in wooden carving. This is a Vastu of defined formation. There are 81 small squares, each one having pattern which is different from the other. There are 81 patterns in all. This is supposed to be highly potent arrangement and ideal for meditation. It is said to attract and concentrate cosmic energy at its centre. Usually, all temples having Navapada arrangement are with 9 squares, some 25 or even 45. But, Navapada with 81 squares is not found anywhere else in southern India. Manjeshwar Temple also has a 9 square formation in the Mukhamantap ceiling.
Shesha Teertha, Jogigana, Nagakatte :
Among the five Teerthas in Manjeshwar Namely - Sheshateertha, Rama Teertha, Matsyateertha, Chakrateertha and Kanvateertha the Sheshateertha is considered the most sacred. This is a tank on the southwest direction of the temple. The two Swamijis of Sri Kashi Math H.H. Srimath Vasudendra Teertha and H.H. Srimath Varadendra Teertha were given Sanyasa deeksha after ritual bath in the Sheshateertha. Sheshateertha is also used for Jaladhivasa of Naga Idols before Pratishta. A bath in the Teertha followed by Angapradakshina (Madastana) around the Sri Garbhagriha as a mark of total surrender to the Lord is considered to be a very important Seva, in Manjeshwar.
On the rearside of the temple is the "Vovala flower Tree" where it is believed that the power of a sadhaka yogi Still pervades. One version says that the great Yogi-Sri Matsyendranath-the founder of the famous Natha Panth performed his penance: (Tapasya) here while on a pilgrimage to all Shiva shrines in the country. His invisible power is still protecting the temple and its devotees. He is still believed to help devotees in their difficulties like Lost or stolen property, sickness in the family etc. A stone is installed on the-temple outer wall to offer coconuts to the Jog;. During the annual festival thousands of coconuts are offered to the Jogi in front of the Deity offer the Rathayatra.
Naga Katte :
Devotees with Nagadosha perform the ritual called Nagapratishta. The Naga Idols carved on granite are installed for permanent pooja after elaborate rituals. These idols are installed on this Katte in front of the temple where on Ashwatha tree is planted. On Nagapanchami day thousands gather here for Nagapooja.
Vasantha Mantapa :
Vasantha Mantapa on the left side of the temple is a beautiful mantap wherein Lord sits after Utsavas. The Mantap is fully covered with silver.