Mandarthi is a Hindu holy place located 25 km north to Udupi in the Udupi District of Karnataka state, India. The Goddess Sri Durgaparameshwari Temple resides here. The name derives from 'Manda-Aarathi' from Kannada, meaning the holy light.
Shree Durga holds a prominent place within the higher echelons of the Hindu pantheon but the worship of Sri Durga Paramesvari at Mandarthi a hamlet to the north of Udupi offers many fascinating contrasts. A Dhvajasthamba has been set up in front of the temple but no Dhvajarohana takes place. Mari pooja is observed in the temple along with agamic worship of devi including chandi homa and Navarathri. Folk traditions like walking on fire, animal sacrifice near the midst of a forest with a snake pit, which later acquired the form of a wooden image. Durga Paramesvari is now a stone image with all her conventional attributes but at the same time is poetically praised as a Sarpa Sundari. In short, this harmony of indigenous and Brahma cultures has created a deep solidarity amongst the various hierarchical groups of the Hindu society
The Sthala Purana has woven these religious perceptions and notions into a legend according to which live naga kanyas (serpent maidens) by name Devarathi, Nagarathi, Charurathi, Mandarathi and Neelarathi are cursed by Nandi to remain unmarried and to suffer in a forest fire. Subsequently a rash behavior on their nart subjects them to another curse by a sage called Vyagrapada that they would be entangled in a bamboo grove. Their prayers to siva and Parvati to overcome these curses are answered in the form of a savior called Devavarma the king of Avanthi who rescues the serpents form a blazing fire using a bamboo basket. He later releases these maidens into the places of their choice and while the first three serpents crawl back into their pits, Mandarthi is deified acquiring fame day by day. Devavarma marries Jalajakshi who is coveted by Mahisa, born of Malini a Kirata girl and Vyagarapada Risi. The demon chases Jalajakshi to the palace; a battle ensues between him and the king in which huge snake pits swallow all the an of Mahisa. At the behest of Risis, the king prays to Devi and she ultimately kills the demon with the help of Virabhadra, Hayguli, Kalkuda and Bobbarya. In doing so, she also calls upon Chamundi to kill all the Rakshasas and Vyag to kill glants hidden in animal boing. This legend accounts for the shrines of hayguli, Kalkuda, Bobbarya and Chamundi around the sanctum of Durga Parameshwari as her Parivara Devathas. Also,the temple and the goddess Durga Parameshwari is mostly worshipped by people of Udupi, Shimoga and Chikkamagalore District.
The temple celebrates Navarathri in a grand scale with chandihoma on all nine days. A five day mathothsava in Makara Masa and Jatra in the month of Kumba are annual and important events while Darshan of Virabhadra and Kalkuda every Friday draws devotees like a magnet. Kenda seve (walking on fire) in front of hayguli and huli devaru is considered to safrguard Mangalya Bhagya (longevity of husband) of the married woman. The various cultural and religious activities and in particular the Yakshagana conducted in the premises of Mandarthi temple reflect the dedication and devotion of the people in continuing the rich traditions of the region.