playing with memories

facts, fiction, and somewhere in between

Sri Manjunatha Swamy (Shiva) Temple, Dharmasthala 2

According to the Sri Manjunatha Swamy Temple website,

“These chariots are yet another portion of our heritage that drew the attention of Shri Heggade. These beautiful chariots of the Gods have become victims of the ravages of time. Even the temples, who once took great pride in these beautiful works of art and wooden sculpture, were unable to maintain them. Such temple chariots were brought to Dharmasthala and restored to their original grandeur by a team of dedicated craftsmen. Today they are drawing crowds of visitors who stand in awe and admiration in front of these beautiful wooden wonders who were once called chariots of the Gods.”

A travel blog opinionations offers a few more details about the chariots,

“Another interesting exhibit at Dharmasthala are ancient temple chariots. The beautifully carved rathas are kept for display outside the museum premises, under shelters. These include chariots from Sri Kodandarama Swamy Temple, Hiremagalur; Sri Gangadhareshwara Temple, Srirangapattana; and Sri Malleshwara Swamy Temple, Fort Bellary. These are a result of the personal interest in heritage and arts of Dr. Veerendra Heggade, the Dharmadhikari of Shri Kshetra Dharmasthala (Manjunatha Swamy Temple).”

Here are more photos of wooden carvings on the chariots in Sri Manjunatha Swamy Temple – and a photo of a separate statue of an idol on a horse (last photo) tucked away behind the chariots:

Sri Manjunatha Swamy (Shiva) Temple, Dharmasthala 1

Dharmasthala, in Karnataka, is really famous for the Sri Manjunatha Swamy (Shiva) Temple and it’s a popular attraction for Hindu pilgrims – particularly worshippers of Lord Shiva. The journey to Dharmasthala (from Udupi, Mangalore, Bangalore, etc) through forests is serene and beautiful, and there’s a sense of unburdening that happens – or, at least, it happened for me.

The Sri Manjunatha Swamy Temple has a history that apparently dates back 800 years, but the main temple building you see as you enter the temple premises seems to be new (but I may be wrong here – see first photo) and looks like a mansion built in old South Indian style… similar to the Mookambika Temple. Of course, the main (and original) temple lies inside the temple complex and its architecture is quite exquisite with beautiful carvings on wood and brass.

You can find information on Sri Manjunatha Swamy Temple on their website (

Since photography of the temple is not allowed, I decided to take photos of several ancient wooden chariots which were on display outside the temple complex, across the road, next to the parking area. These chariots (or rathas) are not a part of the temple, but were salvaged from other temples in the region and partly restored for display here. The wooden carvings on the chariots are quite amazing and tell many stories.

Manjunatha Temple Dharmasthala 9


Sri Rama Kshetra, Nithyananda Nagar, Dharamsthala 4

As you enter the main gate of the Sri Rama Kshetra temple complex, there’s a sort of tall-ish brick-and-mortar cottage, its walls containing colourful murals (frescos, I think) of scenes from the Ramayana. Here are some photos of those murals/frescos:

Sri Rama Kshetra 31

Sri Rama Kshetra 32

Sri Rama Kshetra, Nithyananda Nagar, Dharamsthala 3

Here are a few photos of the hundreds of sculptures that decorate the side façades of Sri Rama Kshetra temple in Nithyananda Nagar, Dharamsthala, Karnataka:

Sri Rama Kshetra 20

Sri Rama Kshetra 28

Sri Rama Kshetra, Nithyananda Nagar, Dharamsthala 2

I learnt that the architecture of Sri Rama Kshetra is along the lines of the temples of Tamil Nadu, though there is no ‘gopuram’ (tower) here. The granite stones for construction were brought from Rajasthan, and the sculptures on the temple façade were crafted by artisans from Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Maharashtra and Rajasthan. Strangely, there was no mention of Karnataka. Here are lots of pictures of the temple’s front façade as you enter the temple (the temple faces East):

Sri Rama Kshetra 17

Sri Rama Kshetra, Nithyananda Nagar, Dharamsthala 1

Sri Rama Kshetra (also Shree Rama Kshethra) is a temple dedicated to Lord Rama. It is located in the scenic foothills of the Western Ghats in a place called Nithyanand Nagar, Kanyadi Village, near Dharamsthala in (Dakshin) Karnataka, a couple of hours drive from Mangalore (70 kms) or Udupi through forests and villages. Stories suggest that Lord Rama had stopped here on his way to find his wife Sita.

It’s a relatively new temple, for which the foundation stone was laid in 1978. The temple was built thereafter, and construction of some sort or the other is still going on. The ‘Prathista Brahmakalashotsava’ of the temple was held in 2007. Sri Rama Kshetra contains many idols of Hindu deities (36, I was told) and is really a beautiful temple. You can find information on the temple at

As photography is not allowed inside the temple, I shall share pictures of Sri Rama Kshetra from the outside with an architectural perspective.

Sri Rama Kshetra 1

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