Gokarnanatheshwara Temple




The Gokarnanatheshwara Temple, otherwise known as Kudroli Sri Gokarnanatha Kshetra, is in the Kudroli area of Mangalore in Karnataka, India. It was consecrated by Narayana Guru. It is dedicated to Gokarnanatha, a form of Lord Shiva. This temple was built in 1912 by Adhyaksha Hoige Koragappa.

The temple is 2 km from the centre of Mangalore city. The temple has Gopuram (tower like structure) decorated with murals of various gods and goddesses. Murals depict scenes from Hindu epics and legends.
The Billava community was traditionally suppressed by the upper caste treating them as untouchables. It is in such a scenario that the community found a messiah in Narayana Guru. Narayana Guru has been regarded as the up lifter of the downtrodden and a visionary social servant.

Learning about the work undertaken by Narayana Guru in establishing social equality through his temples in Kerala, a prominent Billava leader Adhyaksha H. Koragappa visited Shri Narayana Guru in 1908. Adhyaksha Hoige Koragappa was a very well-known businessman in Mangalore, renowned for his integrity and philanthropy. He owned a large tile factory in Hoige Bazaar where he had his business offices. The tile factory was called King George Tiles. The Tile factory is defunct and the factory buildings long since demolished. Shri Koragappa also conducted extensive trade in the 1900s up to the Second World War, with business enterprises in the Middle East, Africa, Singapore, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Myanmar, trading in Mangalore tiles, copra, spices and other natural products. He was a very wealthy businessman who was also honoured by King George V for his philanthropic work. An additional reason for Shri Koragappa to undertake the trip was that his son-in-law H. Somappa was very ill. Adhyaksha Koragappa went to Shri Narayana Guru for his blessings to cure his son-in-law. The Gokarnath temple pond in Kudroli had a marker in marble in memory of H. Somappa. In the “modernization” of the temple this plaque was thrown away and the history of the temple thereby suppressed by vested individuals. This desecration is not forgotten and people losing elections happened after this terrible act. The samadhi of both H. Koragappa and H. Somappa with appropriate markers lies in the family plot in Gori Gudde in Attavar, Mangalore. The plot and samadhi of Adhyaksha Koragappa is in terrible condition, the great builder of this magnificent temple lies in a forlorn, forgotten piece of land, and history is erased from memory. Adhyaksha Koragappa was also a great devotee of Bhagawan Nityananda of Ganeshpuri and Bhagawan performed several miracles at the home of Adhyaksha Koragappa on Goods-shed Road in Bunder. The first meeting of Bhagawan Nityananda and Adhyaksha Koragappa is described in the book Avadhoot Bhagawan Nityananda, on page 31. The book is authored by Swami Vijayananda of Nityananda Dhyana Mandira, Bevinakoppa. It is an astonishing fact, that given the close connection that the Supreme Dattatreya Avadhoot Bhagawan Nityananda had with Adhyaksha Koragappa, the authorities of the Gokarnath Temple never installed a statue of Bhagawan Nityananda in the temple premises. The eminent Indian-American mathematician Sagun Chanillo is a great grandson of Adhyaksha Koragappa and the grandson of H. Somappa.
Till Shri H. Somasunder, Adhyaksha Koragappa’s son was the president, temple matters were carefully addressed, but now this temple has become a tourist attraction and operates as one, with no sanctity. In the name of progress, individuals managing the temple affairs conduct business to win elections and in violation of Dharma and long established Shastric injunctions and protocol.
Narayana Guru visited Mangalore in 1908 after accepting the invitation of Adhyaksha Koragappa. After visiting, Narayana Guru selected the place in Kudroli while riding in a horse-drawn coach provided by Adhyaksha Koragappa. With the blessings given by Shri Narayana Guru to Adhyaksha Koragappa to commence work, smooth progress in the temple’s construction was ensured.

Gokarnanatha Kshethra, Mangalore, foundation stone was originally laid by the couple Siri Amma Poojaarthi and Chennappa Poojaary in 1908. They were foster parents of Koragappa Poojaary. Chennappa Poojaary is the son of Ugga Poojaary who was responsible to build Brahma Baidarkala Garadi Kshethra, Kankannady, Mangalore in the year 1882. Later the divine Shiva Linga was consecrated by Narayana Guru in Gokarnanatha Kshethra.

Narayana Guru formally consecrated the temple in February 1912 with the establishment of sacred Shiva Linga, which was brought by him. He named this place as Gokarnanatha Kshethra. Narayana Guru advocated that all God’s creation had the right to worship the Almighty and preached that people irrespective of the caste, creed or religion must worship one divine force, known by different names.

As per the Guru’s advice, idols of Ganapathy, Subramanya, Annapoorneshwari, Bhairava, the Nava Grihas (Lords of nine planets), Shanishwara and Krishna are installed at the Kshethra. This has helped devotees worship at all these sannidanams (abodes) and seek blessings and solace for their problems. Not only did Adhyaksha Koragappa donate the land needed for the Kshethra, in addition he was also chosen as the first administrative head of the temple. As per his will only a member of his family can become the administrative head.

Under the guidance of Shri Somasunderam, son of Koragappa, the temple has been renovated. Sthapadi K. Dakshinamoorthy was the architect who designed and built the present temple in the Chola style of architecture from its original Kerala style. The new gopuram is 60 feet in height and very beautiful. The renovated Gokarnanatha Kshethra was inaugurated by the former Prime Minister of India Rajiv Gandhi in 1991, shortly before his assassination during an election rally. A marble statue of Narayana Guru was erected at the entrance of the temple in 1966 and a crown studded with precious gems was given by the devotees later. It’s estimated the renovation cost Rs. 1 crore, and now it has become one of the largest temples in Mangalore.

Later in the year 2007 Bhagwaan Hanumaan Mandir was built in the Gokarnanatha Kshethra premises at the entrance. Bhagwaan Hanumaan Mandir in turn adds beauty to the Kshethra.

Festivals :

The temple observes many festivals. Maha Shivaratri, Navrathri, Krishnashtami, Ganesh Chaturthi, Nagara Panchami, Deepavali, Dasara, Sri Narayana Jayanthi are celebrated with traditional gaiety and splendour. It has worshipers from all over the world. The temples branches are in Mulki, Udupi and Katpady. In addition to idols of Sharada Matha and Maha Ganapati, life-size idols of Nava Durgas are installed in the premises in an attractive way during Navaratri. All religious rites are observed for the entire period. Tableaux form a special part of the festivities and are taken around the main thoroughfares of Mangalore. Idols are then immersed in the well-decorated temple ponds in the presence of devotees.

The dasara festival is celebrated with much grandeur. The dasara celebrations of this temple is popularly called Mangalore Dasara. Mangalore Dasara was started by B.R.Karkera.

The birthday of Sri Narayana Guru is ceremoniously followed. The Kshethra also follows the ritual of feeding devotees who visit it daily.

Community Sri Satyanarayana Pooja, Sri Shani Pooja, free mass marriages and distribution of scholarship to deserving students are traditions, too. Today, the Kshethra attracts devotees from all religions and communities. The Billava community has come of age. The Kshethra can be rightly called the melting pot of all religions symbolising unity in diversity.

Mangalore Dasara is celebrated in a very spectacular way by worshiping the idol of Ganesh, Adhi Shakthi Maatha, Sharada Maatha, Navadurgas such as Shaila Puthri Maatha, Brahmachaarini Maatha, Chandrakaantha Maatha, Kushmaandini Maatha, Skanda Maatha, Kathyaahini Maatha, Maha Kaali Maatha, Maha Gowri Maatha and Siddhi Dhaathri Maatha. All these idols are grandly worshiped for nine days of navarathri. On the tenth day, these idols are taken in the grand procession of Mangalore Dasara throughout the city; the procession returns to Gokarnanatha Kshethra on the next day morning where all the above idols are immersed in the lake inside the temple premises.

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