History of Dharmasthala

History of Dharmasthala:

Dharmasthala, located in Dakshina Kannada district, about 300 km west of Bangalore, the capital of Karnataka, has not just remained a source of inspiration to the devout but has been propagating the meaning of Dharma to encompass the advancement of society at large. It has played a proactive role in bettering the lives of poor communities far and wide. Established about 600 years ago, the temple has been managed by a Jain family. Millions of pilgrims visit Dharmasthala temple every year to seek the blessings of Lord Manjunathaswamy.

Now, the present head of the temple is Dharmadhikari Dr. Dharmasthala Veerendra Heggade. Born on November 25, 1948, Dr. Veerendra Heggade, son of Shri Ratnavarma Heggade, assumed the responsibilities of the temple at the tender age in 1968. Since then he has carried the family heritage to greater heights. Dr. Heggade rapidly grew into the responsibilities of his office and started to transform the charitable work of the temple into a modern rural development institution, which touches the lives of people with a transformational directness that is unique. His remarkable service to mankind for the last four decades won him several awards and accolades from across the world.

Dr. Heggade has left no field/activity untouched. He and the temple management reach out to the needy people in Karnataka and other parts of the country through charity, empowerment, knowledge-building, finance and technology. Dr. Heggade initiated a wide range of works and has set up schools, medical, dental, engineering, business management and, law colleges and hospitals throughout the region. Dharmasthala is also engaged in several other works such as preservation and promotion of art, architecture and culture, with Dr. Heggade taking an abiding interest.

Because of Dr. Heggade’s yeoman service, Dharmasthala has become well-known beyond its neighbourhood. Under the present regime, the temple has become not only an abode of peace but also a philanthropic institution for the poor and the needy.

In the early 1980s, Dr. Heggade conceived two institutions - Shri Kshethra Dharmasthala Rural Development Project (SKDRDP) and Rural Development and Self-employment Training Institute (RUDSETI). Both were established in 1982. While SKDRDP was set up to serve the people in the rural areas, RUDSETI was established to offer training to unemployed youth to take up self-employed venture through entrepreneurship. Both institutions aim at poverty alleviation through sustainable livelihood programmes for small and marginal farmers, landless labourers, women and educated youth, with the target group largely from weaker sections.

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