A cave temple of Mangalore that attracts devotees and nature lovers.

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Nellitheertha Somanateshwara Cave Temple is one of the holiest temple in Karnataka and is dedicated to the Indian deity Lord Shiva. It’s worth the visit for devotees as well as nature lovers.

Nellitheertha Cave Temple dates back to atleast 1487 CE, there are evidences to suggest that the place existed much before that. The temple also has Mahaganapathi and Jabali Maharshi as deities here.

The history tells us that there was a demon called ‘Arunasura’ who got the Gayatri Mantra from Sage Jabali and soon started misusing the power. The cave was used by Jabali to perform penance to appease Lord Sri Durga Parameshwari. She took the form of a Wasp and killed Arunasura. Lord Durga assured Jabali that Shiva, Vishnu and Durga will grace that region. Hence you can find Vishnu Temple in Kompadavu, Durgaparameshwari temple in Muchur and Lord Shiva made Nelliteertha as his abode. The temple also has a set of ‘Bhootas’. According to mythology Shiva appointed ‘Bhootas’ to administer the village. The main Bhootas of the temple are ‘Pilichamundi’, ‘Raktheshwari’, ‘Kshetrapala’ and ‘Doomavathy’.The sacred Somanteshwara Lingam is made of Saligrama. The other artifacts are ‘Arasule Mancha’, ‘ArasuleMantapa’, ‘JinaVigraha’.

The main attraction of the temple is the cave. A small pond ‘Nagappa Kere’ is situated at the north. Inside the cave water drops constantly keep drippin down in the form of gooseberries (Amla), hence the name Nelli(Amla) Teertha(holy water). The entrance to the cave is huge, but the trail gets narrow and one has to lay flat on his tummy and crawl inside. After about 300-400 the cave widens again and there is a lake. There is a Shiva Lingam in front of the lake. The fine quality of mud available here is treated as prasadam and is said to have healing powers.

Every year, around the last week of December or first week of January the temple conducts its annual ‘Jaatre’.The Unique aspect of the cave is that it is closed for 6 months in a year. It is open between October and April. It is said that the cave is open 6 months a year for humans and for the remaining 6 months it is meant for Rishis. The fact is that the during the 6 months break the water freshens up and the animals are not disturbed.

You can also watch the video about this below.

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