Sahasralinga is a pilgrimage site located near Sirsi(18km) in North Karnataka. The place is unique because the lingas are situated on the rocks of the river Shalmala. Sahasra translates to ‘thousand’, meaning thousand lingas were carved on the rocks. Linga is a manifestation of Lord Shiva, one of the trinities of Hinduism. Each linga has a nandi (bull) in front of it; nandi is the vehicle of Lord Shiva and the duo can be found in all Shiva temples. Carved on the riverine rocks, Sahasralinga looks very artistic and beautiful. They can be clearly seen when the water level is low in the river.
the history of Sahasralinga says, that these were carved on the orders of the king Sadashivaraya. We can find many lingas of different shapes and sizes on these rocks. Unfortunately, many have been submerged or destroyed due to the lack of restoration. Recently, a bridge has been built across the river Shalmala which gives good view of these sculptures.
Surprisingly, there is another Sahasralinga in Cambodia with the same name! This Sahasralinga also has various lingas carved on the rocks of a river. It is near to Angkor Watt, the largest Hindu temple outside India. Some researchers say, it may be because many Hindu Kings spread there kingdom in South East Asia and maybe that’s why it has resemblance.
Today, this holy site is a picnic spot for the locals and there is an urgent need to preserve these beautiful sculptures which might vanish after a time. A visit to Sahasralinga will engulf your mind with the serenity of nature.