Kapileshwar temple Belagavi, is known as the Kashi of the south. There is an inscription in the Kamal Basti which suggests this temple is one of the oldest in the state and dates back to 1000 AD.
The shrine is revered as the southern equivalent of Kasi—Dakshina Kasi. It is staunchly believed that pilgrimage to Jyotirlingas, numbering 12 and scattered across India, won’t be complete without worshipping the presiding deity of this shrine. As in Kashi, the devotees are allowed close access to Shiva which gives devotees much spiritual bliss. Legend has it that the linga here was venerated by Kapila Muni and hence the name Kapileshwar. It is said that the saint worshipped Shiva by starting a fire and pouring oblations dear to Him as aahudhi.
The Shiva linga is said to be self originated—Swayambhu. There is a rare confluence of three sacred trees—banyan, peepal and ficus.
Mural paintings, depicting themes from Bhagavatam, Gajendra Moksham and Linga Purana adorn the four walls. Emancipation of Ahalya, cursed to become a stone, by the magic touch of Lord Ram’s lotus feet—a scene from the Ramayana—is depicted in sparkling colours.
Adi Sankara had visited the shrine in the 8th century. Swami Vivekananda, the champion of Hindu cause, culture and philosophy, had a darshan of the lord during his brief spiritual sojourn in Belgaum. Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi had prostrated before this lord of the world (Viswanath) in 1924. Revolutionary freedom fighter Bal Gangadhar Tilak had also visited the shrine.
Mahashivratri is celebrated in a grand fashion here— lakhs of devotees visited the shrine this time. It is festive time at the temple on Mahashivratri.