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Kunkeshwar (Sindhudurg)

Just stand facing the sea from atop a small hillock; witness the golden ball submerging in the ocean; and enjoy the breeze wafting in from the ocean. And behind you will be the ancient temple of Shiva. To experience this supreme moment of being in absolute communion with nature and the forces that rule the universe, go to Kunakeshwar. Assuredly, there is no other place that will fill you with this feeling of tranquility and peace.

About 510 kilometers from Mumbai, Kunakeshwar, located in the Devgad taluka of Sindhudurg district, is worth a visit at any time of the year. Just 15 kilometers from Devgad, it has a beautiful temple dedicated to Lord Shiva situated on a small hillock that provides a mesmerising view of the Arabian Sea and the silky white sand of the long beach with the waves gently coming ashore. The temple here is an ancient one. It was constructed in 12th century CE in the Yadava period. In recent times it was renovated by Nilkanthpant Amatya Bavadekar on the orders of Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. There is a ‘shivling’ in the sanctum of the temple.

Since the temple is so close to the seashore, it has had to be fortified with a 10-meter stone wall. The height of the temple is almost 20 meters. Its courtyard of stone slabs lends a special character to the temple. There are quite a few legends associated with the temple, one of them being about a cow in the jungle of Kunaki that used to shower a stone with its milk. Angered by this repeated occurrence, its owner struck the stone with a hammer and was taken aback to find blood streaming out of it. Realising that this was but a godly phenomenon, he started praying to the stone. And that is how the place came to be known as the abode of Lord Kunakeshwar.

Another legend about the construction of this temple revolves around an Iranian sailor whose ship was trapped in a cyclone off the coast. As the ship began to sink quickly, he saw the light of a lamp on the shore. He prayed to the source of this light to save him and promised to build a temple there. The cyclone calmed down suddenly and the sailor landed safely on the shore. He then built a temple as promised. However, he thought that his being a non-Hindu would not make the temple acceptable to the locals and he therefore committed suicide by jumping into the sea from the hillock. There is a tomb that has been constructed in the temple complex in his memory. To the west of the temple is the tomb of Naro Nilkanth Bavdekar.

In front of the temple are six ‘deepmalas’ and an idol of Nandi seated on a platform. On the spire are sculpted images of Gandbherund and Kamdhenu. Kunakeshwar is a Shiv Panchayatan temple and besides the ‘shivpindi’ is an icon of Parvati. A small temple of Shridev Mandalik is located behind the Nandi. Between the four pillars is the icon of a tortoise. The Ganesha image here has only three hands.

Distance from Mumbai is 510 kms.