Sahasralinga, located in Karnataka’s Sirsi, is a rather unique place because the Lingas here are carved on rocks on the bed of river Shalmala.
“Sahasra” translates to thousand, meaning thousands of Shiva Lingas are carved on the rocks. Each Linga has a Nandi in front of it. Surprisingly, no two Lingas come in the same shape or size.
They can be seen in their full glory only when the water level drops in the river. The best time to see these idols is between October and March, when water levels in the river are low.
This open-air temple is a major tourist attraction in the state and is located around 14km from Sirsi.
It is believed these Lingas were installed by King Sadashivaraya of the Vijayanagara Kingdom between 1678 and 1718 in the hope of begetting an heir, a wish that was fulfilled by Shiva.
It is said after the king’s death, the river devoured these Shiva Lingas beneath the waves, to hide this propitious place from the eyes of all.
Given the force of the river water, some of the Lingas have become dislodged and disfigured.
Every year on the occasion of Maha Shivratri, thousands of devotees throng the place to offer prayers.