There are several routes to reach Nellitheertha.
From Mangalore, take the route towards Moodabidri. Travel beyond Gurupura, Kaikamba and reach Yedapadavu. Here, take a deviation towards Muchur. Nellitheertha is 8 km away from Yedapadavu.
Reach Kateel from Mangalore. Nellitheertha is about 5 km away from Kateel.
While driving from Bangalore, one can take a deviation at B C Road and go through Polali and Kaikamba and reach Nellitheertha. This avoids having to travel through Mangalore.
1) The history of the temple dates back to 1487. Inside the cave, water drops keep dripping down in the shape of gooseberries (amla) to form the lake and hence the name Nelli (Amla) Theertha (holy water)
2) There was an Asura named Arunasura who managed to get the blessing of Sage Jabali and got from him the sacred Gayathri Mantra. He started misusing the power of this Mantra and began to harass the world. Maharishi Jabali was not aware of this as he was performing meditation all the while. Learning from Narada Maharishi of Arunasura’s atrocities, Jabali decided that he had to set right a situation that he in a way helped create.
It is believed that the cave in Nellitheertha was used by Sage Jabali to perform a penance to appease Lord Durga Parameshwari. Lord Durga appeared in front of Sage Jabali and assured him that she would kill the demon Arunasura. She later took the shape of a wasp and killed Arunasura on the banks of the river Nandini. At that place today is a beautiful temple of Lord Durgaparameshwari and the place is very well known as Kateel.
Lord Durga also assured Sage Jabali that Shiva, Vishnu and Durga herself would grace that region and that there would be temples to worship all three of them in the vicinity. One can find a Vishnu temple near Nellitheertha at a place called Kompadavu. Lord Durga is worshipped in a place called Muchur, again near Nellitheertha. And Lord Shiva made Nellitheertha his abode.
Nellitheertha Cave Temple dates back to at least 1487 CE. It is dedicated to Lord Shiva. To the right of the temple there is a natural cave which is about 200 metres (660 ft) long. As there is no proper gateway to the temple, the visitors are forced to crawl in on their knees to peep inside the sanctum. There is a lake and a Shiva Lingam inside it.
The main deity of the temple is Sri Somanatheshwara (Shiva). The temple also has MahaGanapati (Elephant – headed God) and Jabali Maharshi as deities here. In fact, the Jabali Maharshi Brindavana was recently constructed. In typical Tulu-naadu (Tulu is the native language in this part of the woods) tradition, the temple also has its set of “Bhootas”. Bhootas are considered as the “Ganas” or warrior-assistants of the Gods. According to mythology, bhootas are appointees of Shiva and they administer the temple/village. The main bhootas of the Nellitheertha temple are Pili-Chamundi (Pili means Tiger in Tulu), Kshetrapala, Raktheshwari and Doomavathy.
The Lingam of Shri Somanatheshwara has been made out of pure Saligrama and is considered very sacred. The Lingam has been built as Ardhanareeshwara. There are other artifacts in and around the temple which are pointers to the past glory of this place. Among them are the “Arasule Mancha” (King’s seat), “Arasule Mantapa” (King’s abode) and the “Jina Vigraha” (Jain Statue). The temple of Shri Mahaganapati has been rebuilt recently and is splendid in itself.
The most beautiful aspect of the temple is the Cave. Apart from the cave, of course, there are numerous other places surrounding the temple which are worth visiting. To the east of the temple’s entrance is the Amblattapadavu hillock. This hillock is about 300-500 feet high and offers a splendid scenery from the top. One can spot places such as the Bajpe Airport, Mangalore, Panambur, the MRPL refinery and Suratkal. On a day with clear skies, one can even spot the Arabian Sea. Amblattapadavu offers a wonderful view of sunrise and sunset everyday.
The “Nagappa Kere” (Snake Pond) is a small pond situated to the north of the temple. This natural pond, along with its religious significance, is also a scenic spot. All devotees who want to enter the cave temple have to clean themselves by taking bath in this pond and only then are they allowed into the cave. The lake is at its best immediately after the monsoons (Oct—Dec) when its crystal clear water is a swimmer’s delight. There are plans to build a small herbal park around this pond as also a small deer park.
Courtesy :Hill Temple Blogspot