The Kollur Mookambika Temple is one of the most famous temples in South India. It has a regular number of devotees every year, who travel to the temple to seek the blessings of Mookambika Devi for all their concerns.
My journey started off with this feeling of searching. It was an early Saturday morning when I received a call from my best friend Sachu who said that he was in Mookambika with his family for their annual pilgrimage. He told me to visit him if I had the time. I boarded a bus immediately after his call as I thought I was close to Mookambika temple with Udupi being a temple town. Little did I know I was up for a journey to the beautiful temple which was seventy-seven kilometres from Manipal.
The journey was a very long and adventurous. I had heard a lot of stories about the temple from my friends in Kerala as it had a significance identical to Sabarimala and Guruvayoor. I had boarded five buses to reach Kollur. But each time the bus conductor asked me the destination, I had only one answer. The journey started feeling like I was travelling into a completely new world. The buses sped on past hills and fields. Slowly, the infrastructure like shops and bus stops started disappearing. It became vast stretches of beautiful forests. Just the sights in and around Kollur made me forget the time. The whole set of passengers got down at the Kollur bus stop and were immediately greeted by jeep drivers and autorickshaw drivers who were vigorously inviting the tired travellers to tour their hometown. I took an auto to the front of the temple where I met Sachu and his family. I was looking around at the beauty of the temple town which moved at a rhythmic elegance of its own. The town was bustling and crowded with devotees but still a peace enticing aura filled the premises. Devotees with bundles, clad in orange and black lungis had started singing praises of Goddess Mookambika in front of the sanctum of the temple. The temple priests were engrossed in their pujas and the entire town had folded its hands when the entrance to the sanctum was opened for the devotees. The temple had opened the sanctum that housed the four-handed panchaloha idol of the Goddess Mookambika who represented the Adi Parishakti. We entered the temple talking about the beauty of the infrastructure. I listened carefully to Sachu as he explained to me how the temple came to be.
Legend has it that Adi Shankaracharya had a vision of the goddess and wanted to install the deity at Kerala. The Devi agreed upon a condition that Shankara should not look back until he accomplished this mission. The Devi also decided to test him when he reached Kollur. She deliberately made the noises of anklets to force him to look back. The goddess told him to install the vigraha at the foothills of Kollur. The original temple was situated at Kodachadri peak where Shankara is said to have meditated. The temple was built in 800AD. The rich history made me catch a glimpse of the mountains which could be seen from the entrance of the temple.
I saw the pachaloha idol as everyone prayed for their needs. It is believed that the goddess grants everything to the devotees who come in search of her. The temple also had the banks of Sowparnika river as a place for a holy bath. The entire temple enveloped in the lap of nature gave a soothing avenue for the wary devotees and travellers.
As we dined a great feast at the temple hall, I enjoyed the bhajans that echoed all around Kollur. Everyone had immersed themselves in the peaceful atmosphere provided by the temple. Many young girls were getting ready for their debut performances at the temple. The peace and tranquillity I experienced there was immeasurable. As the afternoon slowly began, I decided to return to Manipal. Maybe it was the journey or the search that immersed me in the bliss of Mookambika. Each devotee was seeking something from the goddess. The goddess, being the mother of all cosmic energies listened to all their prayers at the temple.