Mahabaleshwar Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is one of the important pilgrimage sites for the Hindus.This Holy shrine is one among 275 Shiva Sthalams.
Mahabaleshwar Temple is deemed to be as holy as the Shiva Temples of Kashi or Varanasi and is counted among the seven sacred Muktikshetras.
Mahabaleshwar Temple is popular among devotees due to a Shiva Linga present here, otherwise known as Pranalinga or Atmalinga.The temple built in Dravidian Architectural Style, with granite stones, has the Atmalinga enshrined in it on a "Square Saligrama Peetha".
According to the legend, the Atmalinga was perforce placed at Gokarna, in the temple precincts where it is presently deified, by Ravana, the demon King of Lanka of epic Ramayana fame when he carried it from Mount Kailash in the Himalayas. Pilgrims take a holy dip in the Arabian Sea before visiting the temple for worship.
The Shiva Linga has a hoary legend. It is said to bestow immense blessings to devotees who even glimpse it.The Gokarnam shrine is one of the Paadal Petra Sthalam of the 7th century Tevaram canon.
The Mahabaleshwar Temple is considered as pious as the Shiva temple at Varanasi or Kashi in North India on the banks of the Ganges India and hence is known as the Dakshin Kasi (South Kasi).
Enclosed by a 5 ft high stone wall, this temple is divided into two areas, the sanctum sanctorum and the central hall. Swayambhu, which is the 500 years old self-originated lingam, is enshrined within the sanctum sanctorum. This self-originated lingam is in the shape of Rudraksha and is called Mahalingam, which is considered to be superior to the twelve Jyothir Lingams.
Lord Shiva's trishul, Rudraksha, damru and a bed which are around 300 years old, are kept inside this temple. Moreover, the temple also comprises a square shaped raised platform. According to the legend, the Maratha ruler, Shivaji weighed his mother Jijabai in gold at this platform and then gave away the gold in charity.
It is said that devotees who catch a glimpse of the linga are showered with blessings. Mahabaleshwar Temple is thronged by hundreds of devotees during the occasion of Shivarathri.