Kukke Subramanya Temple is dedicated to Lord Subrahmanya and is located in the western ghats of Karnataka. The Kukke Subramanya Temple is on a land mass that is sandwiched between two water bodies – River Kumaradhara and the Darpana Theertha. The Kukke Subramanya Temple is one of the seven Mukti Sthalas of Karnataka.
The Kukke Subramanya Temple main entrance faces west. The pilgrims have to enter and descend a few steps and go around the sanctum to reach its entrance in the east. The Garuda pillar can be seen between the sanctum and the portico entrance. The main idol shows Lord Subrahmanya standing above the Serpents Vasuki and Shesha.
A cluster of Lingas called as the “Kukke Lingas” can be seen in the northern corner of the Kukke Subramanya Temple. The history and the origin of the prefix “Kukke” before the Lingas and Lord Subrahmanya is conflicted. According to some, that the word Kukke meaning Basket in Kannada was added because in ancient times, these Lingas were worshiped together in a basket. Some other explanations put forward are Kukke derives from the old Sanskrit word “Kukshi” which means Cave. It is believd that Vasuki, the serpent installed these Lingas initially in a cave.
Shrines dedicated to Lord Bhairava, Lakshmi Narasimha, Lord Ganapathi and Umamaheshwara are built around the Kukke Subramanya Temple Complex.
Kukke Subramanya Temple History
The Kukke Subramanya Temple is vividly described in the chapter named Sahyadrikhanda in Skanda Puranam. As per the Puranas, the Subrahmanya Kshetra is situated on the banks of the River Dhara. The place Subrahmanya was known as Kukke Pattanna in ancient times.
In the scriptures of “Shankara Vijaya”, Anandagiri mentions that Sri Adi Shankaracharya visited the place and has referred the place as “Bhaje Kukke Lingam” in his work “Subrahmanya Bhujangaprayata Stotram”.
The legend of the origins of the Kukke Subramanya Temple is explained in detail in the Skanda Puranam. The snake king Vasuki was hiding in the cave called Biladvara (located near the Temple) to escape from Garuda who was hunting for snakes to satisfy his hunger. Vasuki was a great devotee of Lord Shiva. Garuda spotted Vasuki and started attacking it viciously.
The great Sage Kashyapa Muni intervened and instructed Garuda to go to the Ramanaka islands (present day Fiji) to hunt for snakes. He requested Vasuki to pray to Lord Shiva for protection. After his penance, Lord Shiva appeared to Vasuki and informed him that in the next Kalpa, his son Karthikeya (Subrahmanya)will come and reside there to bless and protect them.
Eventually in the next Kalpa, after killing the demon Tarakasura, Lord Subrahmanya along with his brother Lord Ganesha arrived in Kumara Parvatha. Lord Indra received them with good wishes. He offered Lord Subrahmanya a marriage proposal with his daughter Devasena. The Lord agreed and the divine marriage was conducted on the Kumara Parvatha mountain.
The marriage happened on the day of “Margashira Shuddha Shasthi” and was attended by Lord Vishnu, Lord Shiva, Lord Brahma and many others. During the coronation ceremony, water from the holy river was collected and brought down to Earth in the form of the stream Kumaradhara.
Vasuki, the serpent was also present at the ceremony. Lord Subrahmanya gave him his darshan and promised to stay with them for their protection.
There is another little known version of the story present behind the origin of the Kukke Subramanya Temple. It is believed that once an argument happened between Katru and Vinatha, wives of Sage Kashyapa. It was decided that the loser of the srgument will become the slave of the winner. Katru lost the argument and along with her snake children, became a servant of Vinatha.
Garuda, Vinatha’s son harassed the snake children and wanted to harm Vasuki. Vasui was an ardent Shiva bhakt and requested his help. Lord Shiva then asked Lord Subrahmanya to protect the snakes from Garuda. Lord Subrahmanya arrived at the place and gave refuge to the snakes from Garuda. On the insistence of the snakes, he took abode here among the snakes.
As per another legend, after killing the demon Tarakasura in the battle, Lord Subrahmanya washed his sword in the adjoining water stream named Dhara. Henceforth, the stream was named as the Kumaradhara.
Significance of Kukke Subramanya Temple
The region of Subrahmanya is among the seven Mukti Sthalas in Karnataka. The other six are Udupi, Kollur, Kumbhashi, Kodeshwara, Sankaranarayanan, and Gokarna. These places are together known as the Parashurama Kshetras. It is believed that these Temples were built on land which was claimed by Parashurama from the sea.
It is mentioned in ancient scriptures like the Subrahmanya Mahatmaya, that Lord Subrahmanya installed Shiva Lingas in three locations around the Kukke Subramanya Temple. He was followed by several Gods and Goddesses who installed small Lingas as a mark of respect to Lord Shiva. As time went by, people collected all these Lingas and kept them inside the Kukke Subramanya Temple for worshiping.
The Kukke Subramanya Temple and its surroundings have played vital roles in various Yugas of the Hindu calendar. It is believed that in the Satya Yuga (first of the four Yugas), Lord Subrahmanya was anointed as the Senapati of the demigods on the banks of the stream Dhara. In the Treta Yuga, Lord Parashurama visited the Temple and the stream to absolve himself od the sins of eliminating the Kshatriya race twenty one times. In the Dvapara Yuga, Samba, son of Lord Krishna came here and bathed in the water of the Dhara to relieve himself from Leprosy.
The Kukke Subramanya Temple is also extremely significant to the followers of Lord Vishnu. The Kashikatte Ganapathi idol situated just 250 meters away from the Temple is believed to be ancient and installed by the Sage Narada himself. It is believed that the Pandavas arrived at the Kukke Subramanya Temple and paid their respects to the Lord.
Thousands of pilgrims visit the Kukke Subramanya Temple to perform the Ashlesha Bali Pooja and the Sarpa Dosha Pooja from all over the country. Lord Subrahmanya is considered as the protector from the Kaalsarpa dosha and the Sarpa Dosha.
On the south-eastern side of the Kukke Subramanya Temple Complex, a shrine dedicated to Samputa Narasingha is located. It is believed that the shrine was established by Sri Madhavacharya. It is believed that when Sri Madhavacharya visited Badrinath, he met Ved Vyas (one of the seven immortals believed to be still roaming the Earth). Ved Vyas gave him eight Saligrama Shilas (they are fossilized stones, each representing Lord Vishnu). Six of the Shilas are worshiped in the Kukke Subrahmanya Temple.
Apart from these Shilas, he was also given a Narasimha Saligrama which is believed to be so powerful that, if uncovered will destroy the three worlds. Sri Madhavacharya put this Narasimha Saligrama along with 22 Laxminarayana Shilas and five of the Saligrama Shilas inside a box (Samputa) and established it inside the shrine. The Box or the Samputa is worshiped till date.
It is believed that people whose lives have been affected by the Sarpa Dosha should offer Sarpa Samskara Pooja at Kukke Subramanya Temple as it will relieve one from long suffering ailments, infertility and blindness. It is believed that by taking a dip in the Kumaradhara Theertha, one can obtain the cure for severe skin diseases like Leprosy.
Kukke Subramanya Temple Timings
- Kukke Subramanya Temple opens at 7 am and closes at 8 pm. Afternoon break timings are from 1:30 pm to 3:30 pm.
- The morning Pooja or the UShakala Pooja along with the Go-pooja (worshiping Cow) is performed between 5:30 AM to 6 AM.
- The afternoon Poojas begin at 10 AM and continues till 12:15 PM.
- The Theertha Prasada are distributed between 12:30 PM to 1:30 PM and from 7:45 PM to 8:30 PM.
- Anna Santharpane (Annadanam) takes place twice a day, once between 11:30 AM to 2 PM and then between 7:30 PM to 9:30 PM.
- The Hannukai Seva and the Nisha Pooja takes place between 3:30 PM to 6 PM and 6 PM to 7:45 PM respectively.
- The devotees can offer Sevas at Kukke Subramanya Temple between 7 AM to 10 AM.
The Kukke Subramanya Temple administration requests the male devotees to remove their shirts and vests before entering the Temple premises. Clothes such as Coats, Hats, Turbans, Bermuda and Shorts, and Lungi are not allowed inside the Temple. The Women are requested to dress decently.
Festivals celebrated at Kukke Subramanya Temple
- Champashashti Mahothsavam – The Kukke Subramanya Temple Ratha Yatra is celebrated in a grand manner during the month of Karthika Margashira. The idol of Lord Subrahmanya is decorated and taken out in a procession around the streets of Subrahmanya in several Vahanas exclusively decorated for the Lord. The Lord is taken around in different Vahanas like Sheshavahana, Ashwa Vahana, Mayura Vahana, and finally the Brahma Ratha on the Maharathotsavam day. The Laksha Deepotsavam is also celebrated in the Temple, where a lakh Deepams are lit and worshiped. The Moola Mrithike Prasadam is also distributed to the devotees on these days.
- Makara Sankranama – The festival is celebrated in almost all parts of the country under different names. The festival signifies the beginning of the harvest season. People pray for a bountiful harvest on the day. In the Kukke Subramanya Temple, the Kukke Lingas are taken out of the sanctum and are taken around the town in a procession.
- Mesha Sankranama – The festival falls on the day when the Sun enters the zodiac Mesha (Aries). It represents the spring equinox. The festival is celebrated in the month of April. Several Poojas and bhajans are performed for the God on the day.
- Mahashivaratri – The festival is celebrated in February or March. The festival signifies the marriage of Lord Shiva with Goddess Parvati. Some also believe that this is the day when Lord Shiva absorbed the poison that turned him blue during the churning of Amrit episode in mythology. The day is celebrated with great reverence. Devotees keep fast and sing bhajans throughout the night and into the day. Special Poojas are performed for the Linga. Thousands of pilgrims from in and around Karnataka visit the shrine to receive blessings from the God themselves.
- Naag Panchami – The festival is celebrated on the fifth day of the full moon in the month of Shravan (June). The day is dedicated to worshiping of the Nagas or serpents that are considered as the lowest Loka of the Seven Lokas or realms of the universe. They are worshiped for their blessings are sought for the well-being of the family.
Kukke Subramanya Temple Pooja List and Pooja Details
The special Pooja can be performed at the Kukke Subramanya Temple in two slots – one at 7:00 AM and the other at 9:15 AM. It is believed that the months of Shravan (June-July), Karthikai(November) and the Margashira are the most auspicious months to perform the Pooja.
Sarpa Samskara for Kalasarpa Dosha
The Sarpa Samskara Pooja is performed by the people who have Sarpa Dosha in their fortune. The Sarpadosha is a curse affecting a person who has knowingly or unknowingly harmed a Sarpa (snake or a serpent) in this birth or in the previous births. It is believed that by performing Poojas like the Sarpadosha and the Ashlesha Bali, one can relieve himself from the ill-effects of this curse. In the Temple, the seva requires the devotee to stay for 2 days. In one Seva, a maximum number of 4 persons can attend the Pooja. The Seva can be performed on all days except Dasami, fasting days like the Ekadasis, Grahan, Shivaratri and during the Temple festival.
- Nagaprathishtha – This Pooja is performed for relieving one from the curse of the Sarpa Dosha. The Pooja takes place in the Nagaprathishtha Mandapam in the outer quadrangle of the Kukke Subramanya Temple. The Pooja can be performed on all days except on Ekadashi and fasting days.
- Mahapooja – All the Poojas and rituals of the day are performed for the God on behalf of the devotee’s name.
- Panchamritha Abhishekam – The idol of the God is bathed with the five Amrits (Panch Amrit) which are Milk, Ghee, Honey, Curd, and Sugar.
- Karthik Pooja – A special Pooja complete with the recital of hymns from the Karthik Purana and Lamp offerings is performed for the God on behalf of the devotee.
- Sahasra Namarchana – The Archana is performed for the God by reciting his thousand names and praising him on behalf of the devotee.
- Satyanarayana Pooja – The Pooja is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. The Pooja can be performed on any day but is believed to be extremely auspicious if performed on the eve of Chithra Pournami. The Pooja is performed to attain peace, prosperity, to remove obstacles and to be free from the negative thoughts. The Pooja usually begins with Ganapathi Pooja and then the Navagraha Pooja.
Besides these Sevas, one can also perform the Thulabhara Seva, Ear piercing, Choula (Hair removal for children), Nandadeepa for one month, Panchakkajaya, Naamkarana, and Vehicle Pooja.
How to reach Kukke Subramanya Temple: Road, Rail and Air
- By Air – The nearest airport is the Bajpe International Airport at Mangalore at a distance of 120 km. Trains and buses are available from Mangalore that arrive at the Subrahmanya Road station and the bus stand respectively.
- By Train – The nearest railway station is the Subrahmanya Road station at a distance of 12 km from the Kukke Subramanya Temple. Regular trains are available from Bengaluru, Mangalore, and Mysore and other nearby towns to the Subrahmanya town.
- By Road – The Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) operates buses from all major cities and towns in Karnataka to Subrahmanya. Regular buses are available from Bengaluru, Mangalore, Mysore, Dharmasthala and many other small towns.
Kukke Subramanya Accommodation
The Kukke Subramanya Temple administration has constructed several Guest Houses and Choultries that can be booked by the devotees for a stay. The Guest houses are Akshara, Ashlesha, Karthikeya Kripa, Kumara Kripa, Skanda Kripa, a choultry and a Temple Cottage.
Besides these, several privately owned Lodges and Hotels operate out of the Subrahmanya town. They offer basic facilities and are very clean.
Where to eat
The Kukke Subramanya Temple provides Annadanam free of cost every afternoon and evening to all the devotees. Apart from that, several small hotels are available to the pilgrims. They mainly serve vegetarian South Indian cuisine. Alcohol and smoking are prohibited around the Temple premises.
- Sowthadka Shri Mahaganapathi Temple – The unique temple dedicated to Lord Ganapathi is located 3 km away from the town of Kokkada in the Dakshina Kannada district. The temple lies 35 km from the Kukke Subrahmanya Temple. In Kannada, “Southe” means Cucumber and “Adka” means a vast plain. The idol of Lord Ganapathi is placed in open without a Garbhagriha and is open for 24 hours.
- Somnatheshwara Temple – The Temple is situated about 2.5 km from the Temple, on the banks of the river Kumaradhara. The Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The Linga of Lord Shiva is said to be at least 1000 years ago. The Temple, unfortunately, was not well maintained and abandoned until recently. The Subrahmanya Matha has taken over the administration recently and restarted the worship there.
- Sri Manjunatha Temple – The famous Temple of Dharmasthala located along the banks of River Nethravathi is situated 55 km away from the Kukke Subrahmanya Temple. The main deity of the Temple is Lord Manjunatha, another form of Lord Shiva. The unique feature of the Temple is that along with Lord Shiva and Parvati, the Gods of Jainism Chandraprabha, and others are also worshiped.
- Kollur Mookambika Temple – The famous and revered Sri Mookambikai Temple is located in Kollur which is 150 km from Horanadu. The presiding deity is Goddess Mookambikai also known as Devi and in front of her idol, is a Jyotirlinga of Lord Shiva. The unique feature of the Linga is that it is divided into two unequal parts – The Smaller right part represents Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva and the larger Left part represents Durga, Lakshmi, and Saraswati.
- Sringeri Sharada Peetham – The holy town of Sringeri is located at a distance of about 93 km from Horanadu. The Temple was the first of the four Ammaya Peetham established by Sri Adi Shankaracharya in 8th century AD. Sri Sharadamba believed to be an incarnation of Goddess Saraswati is the presiding deity of the Temple.