September 29, 2022

Nellitheertha Cave, a cave temple like no other

**Representative image

All devotees wishing to attend the temple, regardless of social status and gender, must come on their knees. No, it is not a rule written in front of the temple. Nature just has its own way when it comes to certain things. Nellitheertha Cave Temple is a temple in Karnataka that has people on their knees and on their hands. Literally.

Nellitheertha Cave Temple, located at Nellitheertha, Dakshin Kannada, Karnataka, is a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, also known as Sri Somanatheshwara. The temple dates back to 1487 CE.

The 200m long Nellitheertha Cave leads to an area with a natural pool and a
shiver. To reach the inner sanctum, that is,
shiveryou have to crawl because after a certain point the cave becomes too narrow to walk or even crouch comfortably.

It is easy to say that the lake inside the cave and the
shiver is probably the result of centuries of constant falling water droplets. Nature does what it does best: weather. But there are legends.

It is said that the ancient cave of Nellitheertha was used by a sage named Jabali. It was in this cave that the sage Jabali used to perform penance, and Goddess Durga Parameshwari was very pleased. The reason he did the penance was that through his devotion and penance he would appease the goddess, who in turn would kill Arunsura, the demon.

Not too far from Nellitheertha is a place called Kateel where the demon Arunsura was eventually slain by the goddess Durga.

If you are wondering about the name – Nellitheertha, it is made up of
nelli meaning amla (gooseberry) and
theertha meaning holy water. It is said that the water droplets that have been falling for centuries are now creating the lake inside the cave and the
shiver, are about the size of gooseberry or amla. Hence the name.

Devotees believe that the water in the lake is sacred and that the mud present in it has therapeutic properties, it is healing mud. It is a common sight to see worshipers bringing cave mud home.

It is important to note that the cave is only open six months a year. When it is not open to visitors, i.e. from October to April, locals believe that the cave takes this time to rejuvenate and replenish the holy water. The same goes for the inhabitants of the cave – reptiles, amphibians, insects and bats. The inhabitants do not disturb the cave during this break period so that the animals can also breathe.

Curious to explore the cave now?

  1. Where is Nellitheertha Cave Temple located?
    The Nellitheertha Cave Temple is located in the holy city of Nellitheertha at Dakshina Kannada in Karnataka.
  2. Can I visit Nellitheertha Cave Temple anytime?
    Nellitheertha Cave Temple is open daily from 5:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
  3. Is Nellitheertha Cave Temple open all year round?
    No, the cave is closed and prohibited for six months (October to April).