Dharmasthala- an oasis of religious tolerance

Located on the banks of river Nethravathi, Dhramasthala is an 800 year old temple village which houses the famous Sri Manjunatheshwara Temple. This is one of the most important pilgrim destinations for Hindus, especially the Shaivaite sect. However, Dhramasthala is not just limited to one particular faction of people, but it welcomes people from all caste, creed and faith with open arms.

The fact that the high priests of the temple belong to the Shivalli Brahmins- a staunch Vaishnavaite sect- stands testament to the high degree of tolerance of the region. Also, the Jain Theerthankara is worshipped on the same grounds as Lord Manjunatha, making it an important Jain religious installation as well. The guardians of the temple- the Heggade family are Jain by faith. This culmination of different faiths has led to a harmonious enrichment of the local heritage.

Another interesting feature of Dharmashala is that the eldest living member of the Heggade family solves local disputes of the village, be it criminal or civil, everyday. The village has continued to bestow the title of Dhramadhikari-The Administrator of Dharma.

Dharmasthala celebrates a number of festivals in full pomp and vigour. This includes Ganesh Chaturti, Navarathri, Deepavali, annual carnival etc. These festivals are truly a treat to the mind, body and soul, and hoards of people travel from all over the country to witness these festivals first hand.

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