Vitla also Vittal is a town in Bantwal taluk of Dakshina Kannada district, India, around 18 km from Bantwal in Bantwal Taluk and at a distance of 40 km from Mangalore.
Panchalingeshwara Temple is a Hindu temple located in the village of Vittal in the Dakshina Kannada district of Karnataka, India. The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is known for its unique five lingas or Panchalingas, which are believed to represent the five elements of nature - earth, water, fire, air, and ether.
The temple's architecture is typical of South Indian temples, with a gopura or tower at the entrance and a large central hall or mandapa. The sanctum sanctorum or garbhagriha, where the lingas are located, is surrounded by a circumambulatory path or pradakshina patha.
The temple is believed to have been built in the 10th century during the rule of the Chola dynasty. It underwent renovations and additions during the Vijayanagara Empire and the Keladi Nayaka dynasty.
The annual car festival or Rathotsava is one of the major events at the Panchalingeshwara Temple, which attracts devotees from nearby villages and towns.The festival is usually held during Sankranti, Uttarayan and is celebrated with great enthusiasm and devotion.
During the festival, the deities of the temple are taken out in a grand procession on a beautifully decorated chariot or ratha. The chariot is pulled by hundreds of devotees while singing hymns and chanting mantras.
The festival lasts for nine days, during which various religious and cultural activities are organized. Devotees perform special prayers and rituals, offer flowers, fruits, and coconuts to the deities, and seek their blessings.
Nandi - the decorated bull which is the designated vehicle of Lord Shiva.
When the Panchalingeshwara idol is taken in a procession around the temple pond by the devotees, it is called "kere habba" or "kere utsava", where "kere" refers to the pond or lake. This is a common practice in many villages of Karnataka, especially during festivals or special occasions.
During the procession, the idol is placed on a decorated palanquin or a boat and taken around the temple pond or lake, accompanied by singing, dancing, and chanting. Devotees offer prayers and participate in the procession by carrying lamps, flowers, and other offerings. The festival is considered to be a way of seeking the blessings of the deity and is an important cultural tradition in the region.
The Panchalingeshwara Temple is a significant pilgrimage site for devotees of Lord Shiva and a notable example of South Indian temple architecture.
The Rathotsava at Panchalingeshwara Temple is a vibrant and colorful celebration that reflects the rich culture and traditions of Karnataka. It attracts a large number of devotees and visitors every year and is a must-visit event for anyone interested in Hindu festivals and traditions.