The sacred shrine of Devi Mookambika is at the foot of a hill known as Kudashatri. River Sowparnika, originating in the hill, flows by the side of the temple.
Yogis and rishis have performed penance on this holy soil. Skanda Purana speaks about the glory of this Maha Aranyapuram. Here a sage by name Kola did penance. Devi Adi Shakti, who vanquished demon Mookasura, was extolled by the Devas as Mookambika.
Devi Shakti appeared before Sri Adi Sankara too in this Kudashatri hills. The Swayambu Lingam with a golden rekha in the middle is worshipped as Shiva-Shakti Swaroopa. The devotees believe that all the 3 Shaktis - Mahakali, Mahasaraswathi and Mahalakshmi - are enshrined in this sacred idol of Mookambika.
The Panchaloha idol of the Devi was installed by Sri Adi Sankara himself. He prescribed the various rituals and puja rites for worship and installed Sri Chakra before the Goddess. The Devi is in Padmasana posture holding Shankha and Chakra, and is showing Abhaya Varada Mudra. The images of Kali and Saraswati are enshrined near Mookambika.
The Sankara Simhasanam, a stone peetam in the shrine, is revered highly by devotees. Sri Adi Sankara used this place for meditation. Devotees meditate here and seek the Guru's blessings.
An Anjaneya idol is installed by Sri Vadi Raja. A marble idol of Vinayaka with ten hands is enshrined on the southern prakara.
The hill Kudashatri has some excellent places for pilgrims to explore. Ambavanam and Chitramoolam, a cave, are believed to be places where Sri Adi Sankara did tapas.
The waters of Sowparnika are said to possess medicinal properties and a bath in the river refreshes one's mind and body.
Shukla Theertham is a tank one kilometer away. There is a shrine of Sri Siddeswara.
This temple can also be reached from Mangalore, Udupi and Kundapur.
According to Puranas, Gautama Rishi, who was doing penance in Kumbasi, was harassed by an asura by name Kumba. Pandavas, who were here on a pilgrimage, came to his rescue. Bheema invoked Lord Vinayaka, got a sword and vanquished the demon. Lord Vinayaka is a Swayambu Murthi and is in standing posture.
There is a small shrine in the midst of the temple tank. This has Surya Pushkarni on the one side and Chandra Pushkarni on the other side. There are images of Hari and Hara and the Kamandala of sage Gautama. Pujas are offered to the Kamandala as Devi Ganga is believed to be present in it.
Lord Brahma is believed to have performed penance and had darshan of Lord Siva as Kotilingeswara. In the sanctum, the Lingam is enshrined in a shallow Peetam. There are shrines for Vinayaka, Parvati and Ardhanareeswara. Koti Theertham is the sacred water. The main festival is on Full Moon day during November-December.
Sankaranarayana (24 km from Kodeshwara): The shrine of Lord Sankaranarayana is on the banks of Varahi river. A sage by name Kroda was doing penance here to have darshan of Hari and Hara in one form. There are two Swayambu Lingams in the sanctum. According to another legend, Siva and Vishnu appeared here to vanquish Kara and Ratta, demon brothers.
There are separate shrines for Sri Venugopal, Subramanya and Panchamukha Anjaneya. A rare feature in this temple is that water is perennially seeping from the sanctum and prakaram.
Agni Theertham is near this sanctum. Bhargava Theertham and Koti Theertham are outside the temple. Kroda Theertham is located on the hill.
Gokarna: This is the sacred abode of Atma Lingam brought by Ravana from Mount Kailas. According to Hindu mythology as he was carrying it to Lanka, Devas tried to stop him. Vinayaka came to their rescue. He appeared before Ravana as a Brahmachari boy. When Ravana gave the Atma Lingam to the boy to hold it, Vinayaka kept it on the ground and it got rooted. Even Ravana could not remove it. Hence the Devas named the Lingam Mahabaleshwar. The shrine faces west. Gokarna is hailed as one of the Parasurama Kshetras as the sage hurled his axe from here to redeem the land from sea.
According to Puranas, at the time of creation of the world, Lord Shiva emerged from the ears of Bhoomidevi at this spot. Hence the Lingam that appeared here came to be known as Adi Gokarna ('Go' means Earth and 'Kama' means ear). The sanctum of Mahabaleshwar reveals only a 3 feet by 3 feet square Saligrama Peetam. There is a golden rekha on the Peetam and a small hole in the middle through which one can have a glimpse of the 'siras' of Atma Lingam. The six foot tall Lingam inside can be seen only once in 40 years when the Ashta Bhandana Kumbabhishekam is held. In this temple devotees are allowed to perform puja to Atma Lingam.
Chandikeswara, Vinayaka, Adi Gokarneswara and Dattatreya have separate shrines too. Devi Parvati is enshrined behind the main temple. She is known as Thamra Gowri. An image of Lord Ganesha is installed outside the temple. A small dent visible on His head is said to have been caused when Ravana hit Him. Devotees congregate here for Shivaratri festival.
Koti Theertham is the sacred tank. It is customary to have a sea bath here, make a Lingam out of sand and offer worship before proceeding to the temple. Pilgrims perform the shraddh ceremony for their ancestors on the shores of Gokarna.
There are four other Shiva shrines around Gokarna, together known as Pancha Maha Kshetras. They are Sejjeshwara, Gunavanteshwara, Murudeshwara, Dhareshwara and Mahabaleshwara.
Sadhasringagiri: Indranila mountain to the east of Himalayas is the dwelling place for Lord Vishnu, Mount Kailash is the abode of Lord Shiva and Sadhasringagiri that of Lord Brahma. According to a legend, once an enraged Garuda uprooted this hill and flew down south. While the divine bird was flying over Gokarna, the weight became unbearable. Sage Agastya came to his rescue and got the hill dropped in the sea here. The hill picturesquely rises on the southern side of the sea. The scenic beauty is a visual treat.
Situated on the hill is a shrine for Rama, Sita and Lakshmana. Manikeswara and Siddeswara are also enshrined. Pandavas are said to have visited this place, and hence the other name Pandavakudi.