About 15 km from Sirsi and when you reach Holgol, you will notice a small board with directions to Sahasralinga Shrine. If you follow the directions, you will reach the banks of river Shalmala. For a moment, you will wonder where the shrine is, or if you have missed it on the way. Well, you have not missed it for sure. That is because, unlike the other shrines that we usually know of, Sahasralinga is quite different. The shrine is in the river itself! Yes, Sahasralinga literally translates to thousand lingas. And true to its name, there are numerous lingas that are carved out of the rocks and are present in the middle of the river.
It is really a charming scene. The river flowing gently in the middle of lush green forests on both sides, huge number of diverse birds chirping melodiously, and the beautiful River Shalmala giving a religious twist with numerous shrines in itself!
The area has numerous lingas. And if you observe carefully, you also see Nandis facing the lingas. It is believed that there used to be one Nandi for every linga, but over a period of time, due to water currents, some of the lingas and Nandis have been washed away. It is also believed that there were thousand pairs of nandi and lingas in the region. As the lingas are carved on the river, it gets submerged in water when the water level increases. During monsoon, you may not be able to spot even one of the lingas. And during dry summer, you can spot almost all of them that exist today.
As per history, all these Shiva Lingas were built by Sadashivaraya, King of Sirsi during 16th Century. King Sadashivaraya was a believer of Lord Shiva. As he was childless for many years, he pledged to the Lord that if he had a child, he would carve thousand lingas. Few years later, he was blessed with a daughter and as a result of his pledge, these lingas are carved out on the rocks.
Every year, during Mahashivaratri, lots of devotees turn up to this place. Other than that day, the number of people visiting this place is very less. There have also been instances of people camping at this place and enjoying the mesmerizing riverside.
Other Places Around
- Shivaganga Falls (also called Ganesh Falls/Ganeshpal)
- Burude Falls
- Mattighatta Falls (also called Hase Halla Falls)
- Bheemanavare Gudda
Where to stay?
- Camping on the banks of the river
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