22 August 2009

Pancha Bootha Sthalams/Temples - Appu sthalam (Water) - Tiruvanaikaval

Appu sthalam (Water) - Tiruvanaikaval Thiruvanaikoil is a beautiful small urban village at Tiruchirappalli district ('Trichy', 'Thiruchirapalli', 'Tiruchinopoly', 'Tiruchi') in Tamil Nadu of Southern India. Thiruvanaikoil is also familiarly known as Tiruvanaikoil, Tiruvanaikaval, Thiruvanaikaval, Thiruvanaika, Thiruanaikaa. Thiruvanaikoil is around 3 Kms away from the heart of Trichy city and adjacent to Srirangam another small historic town and one of the holy places in India. Thiruvanaikoil and Srirangam are in the banks of river Cauvery. Literally these two places form an island, surrounded by river Cauvery and river Coleroon. This ancient temple dedicated to Shiva (Jambukeswara) and Parvati (Akhilandeswari) is one of the foremost Saivite shrines in Tamilnadu. This large temple celebrates Shiva as Jambukeswara, an embodiment of the element water and is often referred to as Appustalam and is hence one of the Pancha Bhoota Stalams the other four being Tiruvannamalai (fire), Chidambaram (Space), Kanchipuram (Earth) and Kalahasti (Air) respectively. The Sri Jambukeshwara Temple is dedicated to Lord Siva and has five concentric walls and seven gopurams. It is built around a Siva lingam partly submerged in water that comes from a spring in the sanctum sanctorum. Non-Hindus are not allowed inside the temple. The complex was built in the same time when Sri Ranganathaswamy temple was also built. The presiding deity is Lord Siva as Kalahasteeswarar. The Siva Linga here is one of the five supreme Lingas representing the five elements (Panchabutha Lingams): water (appu), fire (tejas), air (vayu), ether (akash) and earth (prithivi). The Linga form in Kalahasti is believed to represent vayu. Even today the flame placed in Garbhagraha inside the temple flickers indicating the presence of the wind while there is no entry of wind to disturb the flame. The air is just sufficient to breathe in. This according to a belief is the existence of Shiva in the temple. According to the legend there was once a forest of jambu trees in the place of modern Tiruvanaikka. Nearby was a tank called Chandratheertha which was filled by water from the river Cauvery. Lord shiva appeared as a Lingam under one of the trees. The lingam came to be called the Jambulingam. Due to a curse, two of the shiva ganas Pushpadanta and Malyava, were born in the forest as a white elephant and as a spider. The elephant worshipped the Lingam with flowers and with water brought in its trunk. The spider too worshipped the Lingam, spinning out a web over the Lingam to prevent leaves of the tree from falling on it. The spider's web appeared to be unclean for the elephant and it destroyed the web. This lead to big clash between the two and ultimately resulted in their death. Lord shiva granted Mokshaa (salvation) to both. The spider was born in a royal Chola family as the great king Ko Chenkannan who built about 70 temples (Maadakovils) including the temple of Jambukeswarar at Tiruvanaika. Because the king remembered about his earlier birth, he built the temples in a such way that no elephant can enter the sanctum sancotrum and come near the Sivalingam. The temple at Tiruvanaikaval is a big one covering an area of about 18 acres with high walls and gopurams on all the 4 sides. The temple has 5 prakarams. The main sanctum sancotrum (the 5th prakaram) can be reached by entering a series of Gopurams (Towers). The shrine for female deity Akilandeswari is situated in the 4th prakaram. Theerthams: There are nine Theerthams (Holy Water Points) near this temple.
  • Sreemath Theertham
  • Rama Theertham
  • Chandra Theertham
  • Agni Theertham
  • Indira Theertham
  • Akasthiya Theertham
  • Jambu Theertham
  • Surya Theertham
  • Brahmma Theertham


With this Post, my Chapters on "PanchaBootha Sthalams/Temples" comes to an end. More on Temples to follow...

Pancha Bootha Sthalams/Temples - Akasa sthalam (Space) - Chidambaram

Akasa sthalam (Space) - Chidambaram The temple occupies an area of about 51 acres. Four imposing towers rise on the four sides of the temple. Each of these towers rises to about 135 ft and are comprised of 7 storeys and are topped with 13 copper 'Kalasam' (finials). The entrances at the base of these towers are quite large rising at least to a height of 40 ft. The outer perimeter wall is about 30 ft high enclosing the outer 'street' (veedhi) and the inner enclosures (praharam). The shrines of Mukkuruni Vinayagar, Katpaga Vinayagar, Subramanya, Somasundarar, Sivakamasundary and Pandyanayagar are all built along this outer 'street'. The sacred tank 'Sivaganga' and the thousand-pillared mandapam - 'Raja Sabah' - are also situated along this 'street'. The second 'praharam' (enclosure) is connected to the outer 'veedhi' by two entrances, one on the west and the other on the east. On entering the second praharam you can see the shrine of Kalasamhara moorthy, Oorthavathandava moorthy, Luxmi and Thandayuthapani. The Flagstaff can be seen on the southern section and the 'Nrithya sabah' houses the idol of Oorthavathandava moorthy. The shrine of 'Pollapillaiyar and the shrines for the four 'Nayanmars' Appar, Sundarar, Sambanthar and Manikkavasagar are seen here. The 'Deva Sabah' is also situated along this corridor. At the entrance to the inner enclosure the golden roof of 'Chittambalam' comes into view. It is in this 'manadapam' that Lord Nadarajah performs his dance (the Anandathandavam) eternally. The Chitsabah and the Kanakasabah are linked together and are called 'Ponnambalam'. This is also called as 'Chittambalam' and 'Gnanasabah'. There isa small entrance to the right of theDancing Siva ('Nadarajah'). During 'pooja' the curtain hung at the entrance is drawn aside and 'araathi' is shown. There are no images inside but only a garland of golden 'vilva' leaves is seen. This represents the 'Chidambara Rahasyam' representing the Lord in the form of space. Chidambaram thus represents one of the five elements (ether) and is called 'Aakasa sthalam'.As you stand in front of the 'Chitsabah' at the entrance to the inner circuit you can see the South facing Nadarajah and the East facing Govidaraja Perumal (Vishnu). There is no other temple in the south where you can see both the Saivite god Shiva and the Vaishnavite god Vishnu from the same spot. Legends Rishi Madyandinar had a son. He, under the direction of his father, came to the forest of Thillai and worshipped the 'Lingam', which had appeared there. He usually got up early before daybreak to collect flowers with which to perform his pooja. One morning he could not collect the flowers early as it was dark and cloudy and he could not see the flowers. After daybreak he went to collect the flowers and found that the flowers had been polluted by the bees and was grief stricken. Lord Shiva on seeing his devotee grief stricken took pity on him and gave him the eyes and limbs of a tiger so that he could see in the dark and climb trees easily to collect the flowers. Thus he came to be known as 'Vyagrapadar' and the forest where he lived as 'Vyagrapuram' or 'Puliyoor'. During this time the rishis living in the forest known as 'Tharukavanam' became very arrogant as they had mastered all the 'Vedas', 'Agamas' and 'Shastras' and could raise powerful creatures from the sacrificial fires to do their bidding. Lord Shiva wished to show these rishis their limitations and appeared as a handsome mendicant with Vishnu as his wife 'Mohini'. This created chaos in 'Tharukavanam' as the wives of the rishis fell under the spell of this charming, handsome mendicant while the youthful rishis fell for the allure of Mohini. The older rishis became very angry and wanted to destroy the pair. They raised a sacrificial fire ('Homam') from which appeared a tiger which was directed at the pair. Lord Shiva killed the tiger, peeled off its skin and tied it around his waist. Then the rishis produced a poisonous serpent, which Lord Shiva caught and wore around his neck. The rishis also sent a demon 'Muyalakan' against Lord Shiva whom he crushed under his feet. Then the rishis sent the sacrificial fire against him which he put on his left hand. The rishis having lost the fire sent the vedic 'mantras' which the Lord wore around his ankles. At this the rishis conceded defeat and the Lord revealed himself by dancing the 'Oorthava thandavam' with his matted hair unfurling in all eight directions and the world reverberating to his steps.Lord Vishnu described this incident to Adishesa, the serpent on which Lord Vishnu reposes. Adishesha wished to see this dance and taking leave of Lord Vishnu went and prayed to Lord Shiva to grant him the honour of witnessing his dance. Lord Shiva advised Adhishesha to go to Vyagrapuram where he would one day perform this dance. Adishesha was then born on this land and was given the name Pathanjali. Pathanjali approached Vyagrapadar and told him of his quest. As Vyagrapadar himself was eager to see the Lord's dance he was delighted to receive Pathanjali and accompanied him to the temple of Lord Shiva and prayed for the Lord's appearance. On an auspicious day the celestial beings arrived at Thillai along with other Rishis, and sages and assembled where Vyagrapadar had his temple. The heavenly musicians too arrived. Then Lord Shiva appeared with one of His right hands beating the drums and the other hand bestowing grace.With His left hand holding the fire and the other pointing to his right leg trampling Muyalakan under the foot, He appeared with His left leg raised in a dancing pose. The guardian of the forest in Thillai, Goddess Kali, refused to allow Lord Shiva to dance in Her domain. Lord Shiva therefore challenged Her to a dance competition on condition that if He won then She would be banished from that area. The competition began. While Naradha played the veena, Nandikeswara played the drums and other celestial musicians accompanied with their instruments Lord Shiva danced with his hair flung in all directions. With the 'vedas' as his anklets, the serpent as his waist band, the tiger skin as his attire with Ganga and the crescent moon on his crest, He performed the 'Ananda thandavam'. At one stage Lord Shiva took a pose with His left foot raised above His head but modesty prevented Goddess Kali matching the same pose. Thus She lost the competition and had taken residence in the northern end of Chidambaram in the Thillaiamman temple. Every devotee who comes to Chidambaram after worshipping at the Natarajar temple visits this temple too. Pathanjali and Vyagrapadar prayed to Lord Shiva to remain at Thillai as the eternally dancing god 'Lord Natarajar' so that all the earthly beings could witness his dance and receive his grace and blessing. Opening Timings: The temple is open from 6 am to 12 noon and then from 5 pm to 10 pm

21 August 2009

Pancha Bootha Sthalams/Temples - Prithvi sthalam (Earth) - Kanchipuram

Prithvi sthalam (Earth) - Kanchipuram This is one of the most revered temples to Shiva; it is one of the Panchabhoota Stalams signifying the 5 elements of wind (Kalahasti), water (Tiruvanaikka), fire (Tiruvannamalai), earth (Kanchipuram) and space (Chidambaram). It is a vast temple with many an endowment from the Vijayanagar rulers, as seen in the long corridors, towering gopurams and mandapams. This is the 1st of the 32 Tevara Stalams in the Tondai region of South India. There are several Shiva temples scattered all over Kanchipuram, and it is to be noted that there is no separate shrine for Parvati in any of them. The Kamakshiamman temple is the only Ambal shrine in Kanchipuram. In Kanchi, the Ekambreswarar, Kamakottam temples with Kumarakottam in between denote Somaskandar. History: This vast temple with high rising Gopurams dominates the skyline of Kanchipuram the historic capital of the Pallavas. Kanchipuram - a temple town is considered to be the foremost among the seven prime pilgrimage centers in India. Along with Mamallapuram and Tirukkalunkunram, this town attracts the attention of several tourists in Chennai. Also in Kanchipuram is the grand Varadarajar temple along with several other temples revered by the tamil hymns of the Alwars of the 1st millennium. The Pallavas, Cholas and the Vijayanagar Kings especially Krishna Deva Raya have contributed to this temple. Second century AD Tamil poetry speaks of Kamakottam, and the Kumarakottam (currently the Kamakashi Amman temple and the Subramanya temple). Tiruvacakam, Tirukkovaiyaar, Kanchipuranam, Manimekalai etc. speak of the glory of Kanchi the city.The existing structure then, was pulled down and rebuilt by the Pallava Kings. The Cholas who came in later also made several contributions to the temple. Architecture: The temple covers an area of over 40 acres. The Raja Gopuram or the entrance tower to the temple which rises to a height of 172 feet was built by the Vijayanagar Monarch Krishnadevaraya. The pillared hall in front of the sanctum was also built by the Vijayanagar Kings. Deities: The presiding deity here is Ekambareswarar or Shiva, worshipped as the Prithivi Lingam. A Somaskanda panel featuring Shiva, Parvati and Skanda adorns the rear of the main shrine, which has been held in worship for centuries together. It is believed that Parvati, the consort of Shiva worshipped him in the form of a Prithivi Lingam, or a Lingam improvised out of sand, under a mango tree. Legend says that the neighboring Vegavati river overflowed and threatened to engulf the Shiva Lingam and that Parvati or Kamakshi, embraced the Lingam, and Shiva, touched by the gesture materialized in person and married her. In this context he is referred to as 'Tazhuvakkuzhainthaar' in Tamil. As mentioned before, there is no separate shrine for Ambal or the Goddess in the temple as she is worshipped along with Shiva, as in every other Shiva temple in the precincts of the town of Kanchipuram. There is another shrine of Shiva and Kamakshi under the Stala Vruksham or the Temple tree, which is a mango tree said to be 3500 years old. The mango tree is said to be the embodiment of the four Vedas and the tree is said to bear fruits of four different tastes each season here. The Saint poet Sundaramoorthy Nayanar is said to have recovered his eyesight (left eye) after offering worship here. Festivals and Services: Six worship services are offered each day in this temple - namely UshadKalam, Kaalasanthi, Uchi Kaalam, Pradosham and Sayarakshai and Ardhajamam. Colorful festivals such as Ani Tirumanjanam (June-July), Adi Kritikai (July-Aug), Avani Moolam (Aug - Sep), Navaratri (Sep-October), Kartikai Deepam (Nov-Dec), Thai Poosam (Jan-Feb), Panguni Uthiram (Mar-Apr), Chitra Pournami (Apr-May) and Vaikashi Vishakam (May-June) mark the temple's annual calendar. The Panguni festival lasts for 13 days and it is during this festival that the wedding of the presiding deity is celebrated, and the venerated Tamil poems of the Nayanmars (Tirumurais) are sung in great splendor. Nilaathungal Tunda Perumaal - Vishnu is worshipped in a small shrine in one of the corridors.The works of the Alwars refer to the Vishnu shrine here and it is revered as one of the 108 Divya Desams as well. Travel Air : The nearest airport is Chennai, 71km northeast. Rail: From Chennai Beach Station one has to go via Chingleput (Chengalpattu). Bus: There are regular buses to Kanchipuram from Chennai A convenient way to get to Kanchipuram is to get a tourist taxi from Chennai, which should be around Rs 1200 roundtrip plus driving around in Kanchi. Both ITDC and TTDC operate daily conducted tours from Chennai to Tirukkalukundram, Kanchipuram, and Mamallapuram.

Pancha Bootha Sthalams/Temples -Thejo sthalam (Fire) - Tiruvannamalai

Thejo sthalam (Fire) - Tiruvannamalai Tiruvannamalai is one of the greatest Saivite shrines in Tamil Nadu,India, on a sprawling 24 acre temple campus, drawing hundreds of thousands of pilgrims every full moon. The hill here is considered to be a manifestation of Shiva. Tiruvannamalai is one of the Panchabhoota Stalams signifying the 5 elements of wind (Kalahasti), water (Tiruvanaikka), fire (Tiruvannamalai), earth (Kanchipuram) and space (Chidambaram). Kartikai Deepam festival here is of great significance. Manikkavacakar composed his Tiruvempavai here. The Paatala Linga shrine is connected with the spritual savant Ramana Maharishi. Arunagiri Nathar began composing his Tiruppukazh here at this temple.

The temple has 9 towers and seven parakrams. The main tower (Rajagopuram) is 217 feet high with eleven stories, and is the second largest tower in South India.

History: In Thiruvannamalai, Lord Shiva took the form of a column of fire which had no beginning or end. This was done to destroy the ego of Lord Vishnu and Brahma. Lord Shiva in ardhanarashwari with one half being Goddess Umadevi is said to have given dharshan to his devotees. This temple was expanded by Chera, Chola, Pandiya and Nayak rulers. Auspicious Day: Pournami (Full Moon) Day. and also yearly once karthigai deepam

Pancha Boodha Sthalams/Temples -Kalahasteeswarar-Kalahasti [Kattru/Wind] Sthalam/Temple near Tirupathi

Vayu sthalam (Air) - Kalahasti
This ancient temple dedicated to Shiva is one of the Pancha Bhoota Stalams (temples celebrating Shiva as the embodiment of the primary elements), air being the element in case here, the other five temples being Tiruvannamalai (Fire), Chidambaram (Space),Tiruvanaikkaval (Water) and Kanchipuram (Earth) respectively.
Kalahasti is located near the pilgrimage town of Tirupati and is visited by thousands of pilgrims. This temple is also associated with Rahu and Ketu, (of the nine grahams or celestial bodies in the Indian astrological scheme).
Antiquity: This temple has been referred to in pre-Christian Tamil literature. The Tamil Saivite saints of the 1st millennium CE have visited this temple and sung its fame. The adjoining hill Dakshina Kailasam has many a fine Pallava carving.
The Tamil Cholas and the Vijayanagara Rulers have made several endowments to this temple. Adi Sankara is said to have visited this temple and offered worship here. There are Chola inscriptions in this temple which date back to the 10th century CE.The
Telugu poem 'Sri Kalahasti Satakam' explains the traditions associated with this temple.Muthuswamy Deekshitar, one of the foremost composers in the Carnatic Music Tradition has sung the glory of this temple in his kriti 'Sree Kaalahasteesa'.
Other works on this temple include the Sree-Kalattipuranam of the three brothers Karunapprakasar, Sivapprakasar and Velappa Deekshitar, Tirukkalattipuranam by Aanandakoottar of Veerainagar and Tirukkalatti Ula by Seraikkavirayar.
Architecture: The vast west facing Kalahastiswara temple is built adjoining a hill, and on the banks of the river Swarnamukhi. At some points, the hill serves as the wall of the temple. The temple prakarams follow the contour of the adjoining hill and hence the temple plan is rather irregular. North of the temple is the Durgambika hill, south is the Kannappar hill and east is the Kumaraswamy hill.
Krishnadevaraya built a huge gopuram, a few feet away from the entrance to the temple. The entrance to the temple is crowned with a smaller tower. There is an underground Ganapati shrine in the outer prakaram, while in the innermost prakaram are the shrines of Shiva and Parvati.
The present structure of the temple is a foundation of the Cholas of the 10th century, as testified by inscriptions; improvements and additions were made during the subsequent years of the Chola rulers of Tamilnadu and the Vijayanagar emperors.
The Manikanteswarar temple, also in Kalahasti dates back to the period of Raja Raja Chola I (early 11th century), and it was reconstructed in stone in 1196 by Kulottunga III. Shiva here is also referred to as Manikkengauyudaiya Nayanar. There is also a Vishnu shrine in this temple.
Legends associated with this temple: The legend here is similar to that of the Jambukeswara temple at Tiruvanaikka. Shiva is said to have given salvation to a spider, elephant and a serpent who were ardent devotees of the Shiva Lingam located here. The spider is said to have attained salvation in Kritayuga (the first of the four yugas in the Hindu tradition), while the elephant and the snake were devotees in Treta Yugam, the succeeding aeon. The elephant's devotional outpouring was a source of disturbance to the serpent's display of devotion and vice versa, resulting in animosity between the two, until Shiva's intervention gave both the devotees their liberation.
Kannappa Nayanaar, a hunter is said to have been a great devotee of Kalahasteeswarar. Legend has it that he offered his own eyes to the Shivalingam, and for this reason earned the name Kannappan (his original name being Thinnan), and the distinction of having his statue adorn the sanctum. Nakkiradevar, Indra, Rama, Muchukunda and others are believed to have worshipped Shiva at this temple.
Festivals: Maha Shivaratri which occurs in the Tamil month of Maasi (Feb 15 through March 15) is one of the greatest festival seasons here, and the celebrations are marked by processions of the deities. The fifth day of the festival in the month of Maasi coincides with the Maha Shivaratri.
Access and Accomodation: Tirupati (30km) is the nearest airport and is perhaps the most convenient base for visiting Kalahasti as it (Tirupati) is endowed with several modern lodging facilities. A one day trip from Chennai is also possible, as Kalahasti is well connected by road with Tirupati and with Chennai and is only a four to five hour drive from Chennai. If well planned, Tirupati, Tirumala and Kalahasti can be covered in a day's trip from Chennai by car.

Pancha Bootha Sthalams/Temples of Lord Shiva

Shiva is worshipped as the embodiment of the primary elements of wind, water, fire, earth and space. Here, I take you on a tour to the shrines dedicated to Nature's five elements known as the Panchabootas - Wind, Water, Fire, Earth and Space. Lord Shiva epitomes these five elements. They are:
  • Sri Kalahasteeswarar, Kalahasti (Kattru / Wind): Shrine of the Wind in Kalahasti near Tirupathi, is situated on the on the banks of the River Swarnamukhi.
  • Ekambareswarar, Kanchipuram (Nillam/Earth):Built by the Cholas, the shrine is the abode of Lord Shiva worshipped as the Parvathi Lingam, was later rebuilt by the Pallava kings
  • Natarajar, Chidambaram (Agayam / Space):Nataraja is Lord Shiva in the Ananda Tandavam. Chidambara Rahasyam, the concept of nothingness (aroopam) is the speciality of this temple.
  • Jumbukeswarar, Tiru Aanaikkaa (Neer / Water): Dedicated to Water this temple is near Trichy and Srirangam; a natural spring is within the sanctum.
  • Annamalaiyar, Thiruvannamalai (Neruppu / Fire): The most revered Lord Shiva Temple in Tamil Nadu is seated on a hilltop.
The following Post of mine will begin with the first of the Panchabootham Sthalams "Kalahasteeswarar, Kalahasti[Kattru/Wind] Sthalam/Temple.

19 August 2009

Jyotirlinga Sthalams/Temples - Kusumeswara/Grishneswara.

This Jyotir Lingam exists at Devagiri near Ellora. The Lord is known by several names - Kusumeswarar, Ghushmeswara, Grushmeswara, Grishneswara. There once lived a pious brahmin & his wife. He was a great devotee of Shiva. He was not blessed with a son. At the persuasion of his family, he got married to Kusuma, in order to give him a son. Kusuma was an even greater devotee of Lord Shiva. Everyday she would make one Siva Linga, worship it and then immerse it in the temple tank. Soon she was blessed with boy baby. The first wife was seeting with jealousy & ill treated Kusuma. Putting all her faith in the Lord, Kusuma bore all the sufferings humbly. When the boy grew older, they planned his wedding. The jealous first wife, killed the boy with an axe. Kusuma was deeply grieved, yet did not stop her daily worship of Lord Siva. She continued to make the Lingam, worshipped & immersed it in the tank. To the surprise of one and all, her son rose out of the water one day, coming back to life.
Lord Siva apperaed before them & blessed them. He declared that he would give darshan to devotees in his Jyotir Linga swarupam at the same spot where Kusuma immersed the Lingams. This Jyotir Lingam is considered to exist in two places, one at Devagiri near Ellora & the other at the Kailasa temple at Ellora.
On How to Get there: By Air - Nearest airport is Aurangabad. By Rail - Aurangabad is directly connected by rail with Bombay, Manmad, Nasik Road, Kalyan, Secunderabad (Hyderabad) and with other cities via Manmad. By Road - Aurangabad is well connected by good motorable road with Ajanta 106 kms, Bombay 392 kms, Ellora 30 kms, Nanded 272 kms, Nasik 221 kms, Pune 229 kms Shirdi 136 kms and other important cities.
With this, my Chapters on "Jyotirlingam Sthalams/Temples" comes to an end. The next Chapters of mine will be on " Pancha Bootha Sthalangal - Siva Temples".

Jyotirlinga Sthalams/Temples - Kedarnath

Kedarnath is situated in the Himalayan slopes in the Gharwal district of Uttar Pradesh. The uniqueness and greatness of this temple sees mention in the vedas, ithihaasaas, epics. The term Kedara for the Lord denotes * The Lord who holds the holy Ganges in his matted locks & allows it to flow evenly to the world. * It could also mean the mark that is left on the Lord's head from the time when Arjuna got the Paasupathastram.
This shrine is located at an elevation of 11,735 feet above sea level. The region of the Himlayas, where the shrine is located is known by several names such as Gandhamadana parvatham, Sumera parvatham, Pancha parvatham, etc. (Pancha parvatham, for this is the spot of five sacred peaks namely Rudra Himalayas, Vishnupuri, Brahmapuri, Udayagiri & Swargarohini.
The exterior of the temple is rather simple, but the interior is adorned with marvellous sculptures. In the garba griha is an irregular shaped conical rock which is about five feet by four feet. Lord Siva in the form of jyotirlingam is worshipped here as Lord Kedareshwar. It is believed that the jotirlingam is actually the rump of the bull, which was the form that Lord Siva assumed, when the Pandavas tried to reach him to atone the sins of the Kurukshetra war. Since it was not time designated for humans to worship the Lord here, Lord Siva tried to go away in the form of a bull. It is believed that temple structure that exists till date was actually the one constructed by the Pandavas.
The sannadhi of the Lord is facing South. There are the idols of Kedaragowri, Krishna, Pandavas, Draupadi, Vinayagar, Veerabadrar, Kaarthikeyan, Nandi.. The shrine is covered by snow for 6 months in a year (closed from Oct-Nov upto Apr-May). It is believed that this is the time when the Devas are worshipping the Lord. There is mountain path called Sorga Vaasal, through which the Pandavas, Sankaracharyar are supposed to have gone through. he river Mandakini flows down from near this area
On How to Get there: By Air - The nearest convenient Air port is Delhi. Which is further well connected to Mumbai, Calcutta and rest of India through Air network. By Rail - The nearest convenient railway station are Dehradun and Haridwar. These are well connected with Delhi, Mumbai, Calcutta and rest of India through Rail netwaork.
By Road - Kedarnath is connected by road with Badrinath (242 KM), Dehradun (268 KM), Delhi (450 KM), Haridwar (250 KM), Kotdwar (256 KM), and Rishikesh (226 KM).
Route : Rishikesh to Kedarnath vai Rudraprayag :- Rishikesh -> Rudraprayaga -> Agastamuni -> Kund -> Gupta kashi -> Phata -> Soneprayag -> Gauri Kund.Gouri Kund to Kedarnath is 14 KM. This distance has to be covered by foot, ponies, palkies.

Jyotirlinga Sthalams/Temples - Triyambakeshwar Temple

The Triyambakeshwarar temple is located in the Triyambak town near Nasik, Maharashtra. The temple is in the Indo Aryan style. The temple structure with excellent adornments of idols and sculptures, is surrounded by a massive stone wall. There is a huge bull in front of the temple & another marble Nandi is seen on the inside. The sculptural adornments continues even to the garbagriha with human, animals and yakshas carved . From the Jyotir Lingam at the centre of the garbagriha, trickles the Ganges continuously throughout the year. Sometimes, it is said flames issue forth as also a rumbling sound.
Rathayatra of Trimbakeshwar - On the full moon day of the month Kartika , called Tripuri Paurnima- sometime in November
On How to Get there: By Air - Nearest airport is Nashik 39 kms. By Rail - Nearest railhead is Nashik Road 44 kms on Central Railway. By Road - Bombay - Trimbakeshwar 180 kms. Nashik - Trimbakeshwar 28 kms. State Transport buses ply between Nashik - Trimbakeshwar frequently.

Jyotirlinga Sthalams/Temples - Viswesam - Kasi Viswanathar

Kasi is amongst the holy spots for visit by the Hindus in Benares in Uttar Pradesh. It is believed that a visit to Kasi ensures liberation & hence pious Hindus seek a visit during their lifetime. This is the location of the Benares Hindu University, the place of learning of several aspects of Hindu culture. The Lord himself has declared this spot as his Royal residence. Goddess Parvathi's mother felt ashamed that her son-in-law had no decent dwelling. To please Parvathi Devi, Siva asked Nikumbha to provide him with a dwelling place at Kasi.
On the request of Nikumbha, Aunikumbha a brahmin made Divodas construct a temple for the Lord here. The pleased Lord granted boons to all his devotees. But Divodas was not blessed with a son. The angered Divodas demolished the structure. Nikubha cursed that the area would be devoid of people. When the place was emptied Lord Siva once again took residence here permanently. The Lord along with Parvathi Devi once again started blessing his devotees with wonderful boons.
Parvathi Devi was so pleased that she offered food (annam) to one and all and hence is worshipped as Annapoorani. The Lord himself is seen with a bowl in his hands asking for annam from the seated Devi at the Devi's shrine adajacent to Viswanathar's shrine. This is considered to be one of the 52 Sakthipeedams (the place where Parvathi's left hand fell, when her corpse was cut by Mahavishnu's sudarsana chakram). The Siva lingam is placed in a square shaped brass plated pit. Devotees are permitted to offer worship such as abhishekam with holy ganga water, garlanding the Lord, karpoora aarathi, etc. personally to the swaymbhu lingam.
There are several smaller shrines around the main shrine. The head of each ghat has a Siva linga shrine. The Lord can be seen placed on a pedestal at every location in the city, even if there is not shrine as such. Behind the temple is situated the temple of Dhundhiraja Ganapathi.
On How to Get there: By Air - There is direct, daily flight connection between Varanasi and New Delhi. Varanasi is also connected by air to Agra, Khajuraho, Calcutta, Bombay, Lucknow and Bhubaneshwar.
By Rail - The city is linked by trains with all metros and major cities across the country - New Delhi (760 Kms.), Bombay (1509 Kms.), Calcutta (735 Kms.), Madras (1970 Kms.) , Lucknow (286 Kms.).There are three railway station - Kashi, City and Varanasi Junction (also known as Varanasi Cantonment), which is the main station and has computerised booking.There are not many trains running directly between here and Delhi or Calcutta but most Delhi to Calcutta trains do pass through Mughal Sarai, 18 km south of Varanasi. This is about 45 minutes by bus or shared autorickshaw.From Varanasi Junction, expresses take 13 to 16 hrs. to Delhi and 13 hours to Calcutta. Other expresses take 28 hrs. to Bombay, 39 hrs. to Madras, 3 hrs. to Allahabad, 41/2 hrs. to Patna, 5 hrs. to Lucknow. By Road - Varanasi is connected with Calcutta (677 Kms.), Delhi (765 Kms.), Madras (1901 Kms.), Bangalore (1763 Kms.) and to the rest of the country by good motorable, all-weather roads.

18 August 2009

Jyotirlinga Sthalams/Temples - Nagesam - Nageswara (Naganathar),in Gujarat

Nageshwar is located near Dwaraka in Gujarat, on the way to Beti Dwaraka. There once lived a rakshasa called Daruka, who was extremely cruel and tortured the good ones. But yet he was a great devotee of Lord Siva. A Siva devotee, Supriya who was a merchant reached the Darukavanam, where Daruka lived with his wife Daruki, while sailing with his goods.
Daruka asked Supriya to teach him the path of devotion to Shiva, the norms of performing pooja and penance. Fearing that Daruka would use any additional powers gained by such penance, to bad use, Supriya refused to guide him. The enraged Daruka began to torture BoldSupriya. Supriya however was staunch is his faith in the Lord and was unmoved by any torture. Lord Shiva was pleased and appeared and killed the demon Daruka. Daruki, Daruka's wife, now started giving even more trouble than her husband. Shiva vanquished her too and gives darshan to his devotees at this place as Nageshwar
The Sivalingam is facing South, with the Gomugam facing East. There is a story for this position. A devotee by name Naamdev was singing bhajans in front of the Lord. Other devotees asked him to stand aside and not hide the Lord. To this Naamdev asked them to suggest one direction in which the Lord does not exist, so that he can stand there. The enraged devotees carried him and left him on the southside. To their astonishment, they found that the Linga was now facing South with the Gomugam facing East.
On How to Get there: By Air - Jamnagar, 145 kms away, is the nearest airport.
By Rail - Dwarka is a station on the Ahmedabad-Okha broad gauge railway line connected to Jamnagar, Rajkot (217 kms) and Ahmedabad (378 kms). By Road - There is regular bus service from Jamnagar, Rajkot and other nearby towns connected to Dwarka.

Jyotirlingam Sthalams/Temples - Rameswaram Jyotirlingam Temple in Setubandha, TamilNadu

This shrine is located at the extreme south eastern point of the Indian peninsula, in Tamilnadu. The sethu bridge was constructed to link this land to Lanka for the Varnarams to reach Lanka. This island temple resembles the Panchajanya (Vishnu's conch) and like the Tamil letter 'OM'.
The jyotirlingam was worshipped by Lord Rama to atone the sin of killing Ravana. Hanuman flew to bring the Linga from Kailasa, for Lord Rama to wroship. As it was getting late, Rama worshipped the Lingam that was made of sand by Sita Devi. This Lingam worshipped by Lord Rama is known as Ramanathar. When Hanuman returned he was disappointed that his Lord had not used the Lingam that he had brought. Lord Rama pacified Hanuman & named this Lingam Kasi Viswanathar. Devotees have to worship Kasi Viswanathar before worshipping Ramanathar.
Rameswaram is famous for the many teerthams. There are a total of 51 teerthams, 22 of them situated within the temple. Pilgrimage is considered complete with a bath in the Agni teertham. These waters are considered to have medicinal qualities. It is the custom to worship at Dhanushkodi before going to Rameshwaram. Several spots in this island are associated with Lord Rama. The Kothandarama temple stands at the spot where Vibeeshanan sought refuge to Rama.
The temple is situated on the eastern coast. It is a huge structure with three parakarams and several mandapams with mini shrines to other deities. There is a huge Anjaneya in a mini shrine. There is a huge Nandi measuring 12 feet in length and 9 feet in height., with the idols of Viswanatha Naicker and Krishnama Naicker. There are shrines for Ganapathi and Subramanya. To the right of the Lord's shrine is the shrine for Parvathi. To its North is the Kasi Viswanathar's shrine.
On How to Get there: By Air - The nearest airport is Madurai which is 173 kms.
By Rail - Well connected to major cities like Chennai,Madurai,Coimbatore,Trichy and Tanjavur. By Road - Connected with all important towns of Tamil Nadu,buses and taxis ply regularly.

Jyotirlingam Sthalams/Temples - Bhimashankaram Temple in Pune, Maharashtra

Bhimashankaram is located at Bhuvanagiri village in Pune, Maharashtra. River Bhima has its source here.
This temple in the Nagara style is an old and not a very large structure. The jyotir Lingam is situated on top of the Sahyadri hill temple. Lord Siva is considered to be taking rest here after the Trpurantaka samharam. The sweat drops of Lord Siva were converted as steam & is running as Bhimarati. New structures have been added. There are two idols of Nandideva. One idol is old, while the other is of fairly recent addition. There is a theertham & a well behind the temple structure. The Bhimashankarar Lingam measures around one and a half feet & quite narrow. The Goddess is worshipped as Kamalaja. Shivaji, the Maratha ruler had made rich endowments for the maintenance of the temple. The moola lingam is at a lower level.
There is another temple at Guwahati in Assam known as the Bhimshankaram and there is a belief that this is the real Bhimashankaram. Bhima was an asura, son of Kumbakarnan & Karkadi. On hearing that his grandfather, uncles & father had been killed by a brahmin & kings, he set out to destroy them. He undertook severe penance & got immense might and power from Lord Brahma. King Priyadarman of Kamarupa was also put under prison. Priyadarman & his wife Dakshinadevi prayed sincerely to Lord Shiva everyday. Fearing that they would overcome him, Bhima asked them to stop their prayers. When they refused, he set out to kill them. Lord Siva rose out of the Lingam that they had been worshipping & slayed Bhima. On the request of the Devas, Lord Siva resides here under the namam Bhimashankarar.
On How to Get there: By Air - The nearest airport is the Pune Airport which is at a distance of 95 kilometres from Bhimashankar.
By Rail - The nearest Railhead is the Pune which is at a distance of 95 kilometres from Bhimashankar. By Road - Bhimashankar is situated around 260 kms from Mumbai via Pune.From Pune You have to take the road that goes to Wada to reach Bhimashankar.

Jyotirlingam Sthalams/Temples - Vaidyanathar Temple, Bihar

Vaidyanatham is located at Deogarh in Bihar.
The temple structure has a great amount of woodwork. The main sabha mandapam has several huge (wide as well as tall) pillars. There are twenty two other temples in the temple complex. The top of the Siva Lingam is slightly bent. It is said that once Ravana, the king of Lanka, prayed to Lord Siva to make his capital of Lanka invincible. After severe penance, he received the Aathma Lingam from Siva. Unable to carry the huge Lingam, Lord Siva made the Lingam into two halves & placed it in a kavadi.
As Ravana was carrying this back to his Lanka, Lord Varuna caused his stomach to be filled with water. Ravana was desperate to releive himself. Seeing Lord Ganesha in the form of a brahmin boy, he gave it to him to hold (Lord Siva had said that the Aathama Lingam could not be placed on the ground, for wherever it was placed, it would take root). Before Ravana could get back, Lord Ganesha put the Aathmalingam down. The enraged Ravana tried hard to pluck the Lingam from the ground. One half exists in Kokarnam. Ravana started severe penance to Lord Siva, plucking & throwing one head after the other into the homa gundam. Lord Siva revived him by putting his heads back in place. Because of this role of Siva as a healer, as a physician, he came to be called Vaidyanathan (Vaidyan - physician).
On How to Get there: By Air - Nearest Airport is Patna
By Rail -The nearest Railway Station is Baidyanath Dham (Deoghar) which is a terminal station of a 7 kms branch line orignating from Jasidih Jn. By Road - By road Baidyanath Dham (Deoghar) to Calcutta 373 kms, Giridih 112 kms, Patna 281 kms, Dumka 67 kms, Madhupur 57 kms, Shimultala 53 kms etc.

Jyotirlingam Sthalams - Omkaareshwar Jyotirlingam Temple, Madhya Pradesh

Omkareshwar is situated on the Mandhata hills in Madhya Pradesh, known in ancient times as Shivpuri. The temple dates back to the Krita Yuga. River Narmada flows here around the Mandhata hill in the form of an Om (Omkaram).
The Jyotir LingaBoldm split into two, and there are two Siva lingams, Omkareswarar & Amaleshwarar (Amareshwarar). Mandhata was a great Emperor of the Ishvaku clan who ruled this land. He did great penance in this land & there is an ashram called Mandhata ashram here.
It is said that once, sage Naradar during his visit to the Vindyas, sang the praise of mount Meru to Mount Vindhya. On hearing this, Mount Vindhya prayed to Lord Siva to gain in importance. Lord Siva blessed him & appeared here as Omkareshwarar & Amaleshwarar and gave the boon of grwoing, but without hindering Siva devotees.. But the Vindhyas did not stop growing, and even obstructed the sun and the moon. Sage Agasthyar subdued its growth by saying it should not grow till he gets back there. He never went back & hence the growth was arrested.
The Omkareshawar temple is built in the North Inidan style of architecture, with high spires. Devotees consider worship to Panchamuga Ganesha, to be very auspicious. There is a shrine for Annapoorani. Siva Lingas of various sizes are sold in great numbers in this place.
Getting there and Around By Air - Nearest airport is Indore- 77 Km By Rail - The nearest railway station is Omkareshwar Road- 12 Km on the Ratlam-Khandwa section of the Western Railway
By Road - Omkareshwar is connected to Indore, Ujjain , Khandwa and Omkareshwar Road by regular bus services

Jyotirlinga Sthalams/Temples - Ujjain ( Maha Kaalam)

Ujjain, in Madhya Pradesh is one of the seven Moksha Sthalams. It is of historical importance, for it is the place of Vikramaditya & of poet Kalidasa. Ujjain is famous for the two Kali temples - Kali Devi who gave darshan to king Vikramaditya & a temple for the Mahakali who gave darshan to Kalidasa.
The theertam opposite the Mahakaleshwarar temple is known as Koditheertham & it is said that the colour of the waters of this theertham keeps changing. The Moola lingam is very small & is located underground. The lingam in the top level is called Ongareshwarar. The Kali Devi who gave darshan to Vikramaditya is known by the name Harasiddhi Matha.
There once lived a brahmin in Avanti, who had four sons, who were great devotees of Lord Siva. Dushanan, a demon was giving trouble, disturbing all good & religious activities. The brahmins from all over the land gathered with the four sons & performed pooja to Lord Siva. The spot where they had taken mud to make the Lingam, had become a huge pond. When Dushanan came to disturb their pooja, Lord Siva rose from this pond as Mahakaleshwarar & destoryed Dushanan. On the request of the brahmins, Lord Siva gave darshan to devotees at this sthalam, one of the Jyotir Linga sthalams.
HOW TO GET THERE : By Air : Indore- 53 KmBy
Rail : The nearest railway station is Ujjain By Road : Well connected to all cities.
Temple Website www.mahakaleshwar.nic.in

Jyotirlinga Sthalams / Temples - Mallikaarjun Mahadev Temple - Sri Sailam AP .

This sthalam is situated in Andhra Pradesh. It has been constructed in the traditional Dravidian style. This sthalam, along with Thiruppudaimarudur near Ambasamudram and Thiruvidaimarudur is considered an Arjuna Shetram. The three Saivaite saints Thirugnanasambandar, Thirunavukkarasar and Sundarar have sung in praise of this Lord. Adi Sankarar is said to have composed the Sivananda Lahari at this sthalam.
The presiding deities are Mallikarjunar and Brahmaramba. Lord Nandikeswarar in the form of a mountain is considered to be holding up Lord Siva. Mallikarjunam has been mentioned in the Thevaram as Paruppadam. The lord is hence known as Paruppadanayagan & the devi Paruppadanayagi. The theertham is known as Paruppadatheertham.
Sthala Puranam:
When Siva and Parvathi decided to find suitable brides for their sons, Ganesha and Muruga argued as to who is to get wedded first. Lord Siva bade that the one who goes round the world in Pradakshinam could get married first. By the time Lord Muruga could go round the world on his vahana, Lord Ganesha went round his parents 7 times (for according to Sastras, going in pradakshinam round one's parents is equivalent to going once round the world (Boopradakshinam). Lord Siva got Siddhi & Buddhi, the daughters of Viswaroopan married to Lord Ganesha. Muruga on his return was enraged and went away to stay alone on Mount Kravunja in the name of Kumarabrahmachari. On seeing his father coming over to pacfy him, he tried to move to another place, but on the request of the Devas, stayed closeby. The place where Lord Siva and Parvathi stayed came to be known as Sri Sailam. Lord Siva visits Lord Muruga on Amavasai day & Parvathi Devi on Pournami.
The temple is situated facing East. The centre mandapam has sveral pillars, with a huge idol of Nadikeswarar. Ambal's sannadhi is to the west of Iswaran Sannadhi. River Krishna runs along the foothills. Since it runs underground during parts of its journey, It is known as Paadaala Gangai. Devotees believe in a darshan of the the Sri Saila Sikaram from the Sikareswarar temple situated six miles from Sri Sailam.
By Air - Nearest airport is Hyderabad. By Rail - The nearest railway station to Srisailam is Markapur Road. By Road - Srisailam is well connected by APSRTC bus services.

17 August 2009

Somnath Jyotirlinga Shrine - (Kathiawad), Gujarat

The Somnath temple is dedicated to Someshwara, another name of Lord Shiva with moon on his head. The temple is situated in Saurashtra. It is believed that Somraj, the Moon God himself had originally built the temple out of gold. Somnath is the first of all the 12 jyotirlingas. Though the temple is of Hindu origin, the Architecture has Jain influences.
The Somnath temple has been destroyed six times and have been rebuilt. The temple faces the east direction. Externally the Somnath temple resembles the Rudramala temple at Siddhapur. The dome of the temple is the biggest ever made in this century. The temple has large central hall with entrances on three sides, each protected by a lofty porch. The temple carvings and the sculptures speak about the great artistic endeavor made by the craftsmen of that era. At a certain interval in the balconied corridor is a deformed Nataraja statue. Somnath is also known by different names like- Deo pattan, Prabhas Pattan or Pattan Somnath. It is believed that 2000 priests served the idol of the temple. The Somnath temple has a long history attached to it. The first temple of Somnath is believed to have existed before the christian era. The second temple was built by the Maitraka Kings of Vallabhi in Gujarat. The Pratihara King- Nagabhata II constructed the third temple. The fourth temple was built by the Paramara King Bhoj of Malwa and the Solanki King. Kumarpal built the fifth temple and was again destroyed by Mughal emperor Aurangazeb. The present temple is the seventh temple and has been rebuilt and taken care by Shree Somnath trust.
By Road :State Transport buses and private luxury coaches connect various centres of Gujarat. By Rail :Veraval (5 kilometres) is nearest railway station .
By Air :The nearest airport is at Keshod, 47 kilometres, which is connected with Bombay.
Temple Website www.somnath.org

The 12 Jyotirlinga Shrines of Lord Shiva

India is a country with thousand race, the land of thousands beliefs and the abode of a million Gods. The most important pilgrim centres particularly for the Shaivities are 12 Jyotirlingas which are situated in different parts of India. Reference of these Jyotirlingas is also found in the Shiv Purana. They are called jyotirlingas because Lord Shiva is said to have revealed himself to his devotees in the form of Jyoti / light. Even today devotees are said to have got his darshan in the form of jyoti at these places. The 12 jyotirlinga shrines, popularly known as the Dwadasa Jyotirlinga shrines are considered to be very holy by the Hindus. The Jyotirlingas have held an important position in the Indian belief system. The Jyotirlinga temples have a rich tradition and each temple has a legend attached to it. They are situated in different parts of India. These temples provide a fine view of Indian architecture and definitely add to the rich glory and tradition of Indian history. These places are a must visit both in terms of pilgrimage and as tourist destinations.
The Dwadasa Jyotirlinga shrines or the 12 shrines enshrining Shiva in the form of a Jyotirlingam, have been held in reverence since time immemorial in the Indian system of beliefs. The southernmost of these is located at Rameswaram, while the northernmost is located in the snowy heights of the Himalayas at Kedarnath. These temples are closely linked with legends from the puranas and are rich in history and tradition.
................It is said that One who recites these 12 names regularly in the morning and evening washes all the sins committed in the previous 7 births and attains all the powers and Siddhis.
The 12 Jyotirlinga temples are the following:
  • Somnath Jyotirlinga Shrine
  • Mallikaarjun Mahadeva Temple
  • Mahakaleshwar Temple
  • Nageshwar Jyotirlinga Temple
  • Rameshwar Jyotirlinga Temple
  • Grishneshwar Jyotirlinga Temple
  • Tryambakeshwar Jyotirlinga Temple
  • Bhimashankar Jyotirlinga Temple
  • Kedarnath Jyotirlinga Temple
  • Omkareshwar Jyotirlinga Temple
  • Baijnath (Vaidhyanath) Jyotirlinga Temple
  • Vishwanath Jyotirlinga Temple
My next posting will commence with the first of the Jyotirlingas, the "Somnath Jyotirlinga Shrine "in (Kathiawad), Gujarat.

Surya Sthalams / Temples - Sun Temple at Surya Pahar in Assam

Sri Surya Pahar, a confluence of the three religion of Jainism, Buddhism, and Hinduism, is a treasure trove of ancient monuments, is situated about 12 kms. Southeast of Goalpara, 136 kms northwest of Guwahati.In addition to being a confluence of the three religions which is evident from the innumerable sculptures , Sri Surya Pahar can also be called a garden of medicinal plants, most of which awaits identification. The hills are also abode to rare primates and local legends claim that one less than a 100000 shivalingas dotted the hills but after centuries of neglect and pilferage, not all remain. All this together makes it a favored destination for naturalists and adventure tourists, in addition to religious tourists.Recent archeological find indicate that an ancient civilization flourished in and around Sri Surya Pahar and some scholars refer to the accounts of Chinese traveler, Huen Tsang and to the unearthed relics to claim that it was Sri Surya Pahar and not Guwahati that was the ancient land of Pragjyotishpur, capital of the Kingdom of Bhaskarbarman. The finding of the nearby archeological site of Pagletek is cited to strengthen this claim. The name Sri Surya Pahar implies association with the cult of 'Sun worship', and with references available in the Kalika Puran that there were two seat of Sun worship in Assam, Sri Surya Pahar stands identified as one of them. A carved stone slab, housed in the Surya Temple is worshipped as Surya. Archeologists have identified this circular carvings as Prajapati, which is in an inner circle, the outer circle of which includes twelve lotus petals, each seated with a figure of Aditya, each Aditya depicting the twelve solar divinity of Dharti, Mitra, Aryaman, Rudraara, Varuna, Surya, Bhaga, Vivashan, Pushan, Savitri, Tvastri and Vishnu. Other Brahmanical pantheon in Sri Surya Pahar includes the Twelve armed Vishnu, covered with a seven hooded canopy standing erect on a lotus, worshipped as Dasabhuja Durga , however some scholar argue that this is a likeness of Manasha. Other notable remains include Ganesha, Harihara, Shivalingas, Vishnupadas etc., all dated to the 9th century AD.Amongst the identified Jain figures in one of the first Tirthankara, Adinath , carved in sitting posture in the rocky ourcrop with two bulls in the base, also believed to be of the 9th century AD,.There also exist about 25 votive stupas of different sizes in the southern fringe of Sri Surya Pahar. The stupas are significant for it shows two points, . One ,that there was Buddhist influence in Kamarupa and two, much earlier then the rest of the country, because the design point to the early Hinayana stage of influence , earlier to the Mahayana and Vajrayana esotericism seen in Bihar and Bengal.Animalism, Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism all seem to have left their mark on this very sacred destination. Added to that, it's scenic beauty, wildlife and a live archeological spot at Pagletak ... Surya Pahar has something to offer for all. With this, my Chapters on Surya Sthalams/Temples comes to an end. The next Chapters of mine will be on " Jyotirlinga Sthalams/Temples".

Surya Sthalams/Temples - Ranakpur Sun Temple

Ranakpur is located at a distance of 98 km from Udaipur in Rajasthan. The sun temple at Ranakpur dates back to the 13th century CE. After its destruction, it was rebuilt in the 15th century. This temple built in the classic Nagara style exhibits a profusion of intricate sculptural work. It is built of white lime stone, and is very intricately ornamented. This temple faces east, and it has a sanctum crowned with a shikhara, and an octogonal mandapa preceding the sanctum. The octogonal mandapa has six verandas. The projections on the exterior of the sanctum are sculpted with images of the Sun God seated on (a chariot of) rearing horses. The mandap houses exquisitely carved pillars, with lathe turned capitals. Sculpted toranas join the columns, leading to the sanctum. Also in Ranakpur is the grand temple complex dedicated to the Jain Thirthankara Adinatha - the Chaumukh temple with 29 halls with 1444 pillars no two of which are alike. This marble temple dates back to mid fifteenth century.

Surya Sthalams /Temples - Arasavalli Temple in Andhra Pradesh

Slokam : " Harshavilli purivasam , Chayosha Padminiyutham Suryanarayanam Devam Nowmi Sarvartha Dayakam "

The famous Sun God Temple situated in Arasavalli Village which is at a distance of about 1 K.M. east of Srikakulam Town in Andhra Pradesh head quarters of the coastal district in Andhra Pradesh . It is one of the ancient and all among two sun God temples in our Country. According to Padmapuranam , Sage Kasyapa installed the Idol of Surya at Arasavalli for the Welfare of mankind . Therefore , the Surya is of Kasyapasa Gotra . He is also termed as planetary King . The ' Sthalapuranam ' of the temple narrates that lord Devendra had founded this temple and installed the existing idol of the sun God commonly known as Lord suryanarayana Swamy Varu under the following circumstances . Once Lord Devendra , Ignoring the words of Dwarapalaka Nandi , attempted to force his entry for Darshan of Sri Rudrakoteswara Swamy varu at an untimely hour when Lord siva was along with his consort . The Dwarapalaka Nandi in the discharge of his duties kicked the intruder . Thus kicked and injured by the Devine attendent Indra fell down senceless . And in his unconscious state Indra dreamt that he would be relieved of his pain of injury in his chest caused by Nandi if he built a temple and installed an Idol of the Sun God . After regaining his consciousness , he remembered what he dreamed about . Following his dream he pickedup handfulls of earth three times at a place where he lay ,and there he found this beautiful idol of sun God with his three consorts Usha , Chaya and Padmini . At the base of the idols are the figures of Mathara and Pingala the Dwarapalakas and high up are the two divine saints , sanaka and sanadana holding 'Chatrams'(An Umbrella ). The Sun God is depicted as riding over a chariot drawn by Anura, the Radhasaradhy . All these figures are exquisitely carved out of a single black finely polished grenite stone.

Historical Importance of the Temple Archeological experts say that the stone inscriptions available in the temple throw some light to the effect that Devendra Varma, the Ruler of the Kalinga Kingdom, must have build this temple and installed the image of the Sun God in it in the later half of the 7th Century . The translation of the stone inscriptions reveals the donation of some lands made to the Sun God for perpectual lamps to be installed in the temple , to run a school or a Hostel for the pupils learning Sastras and vedas . These donations are stated to have been made by the successors of the Calinga King Devendra Varma prior to 11th Century A.D. The temple is buildt in such a way as to make the Sun Rays focus on the feet of the God twice in the year in the months of March and September in the early hours of the day . The rays so focused on the feet of the Idol through the five entrance gates of the temple , remain for a few minutes .

Worship of Sun God This temple has the unique feature of attracting crouds of the people of different sects , cults end creeds together and making them believe the God is one and there is no difference between Siva and Kesava. The Five idols ( Panchayatana installed in a particular place in the temple) namely : - 1. Aditya 2. Ambika 3. Vishnu 4. Ganesha 5. Maheswara, represent all the faiths. Finally the devotees visiting this temple , go and worship the presiding diety the Sun God about whom the puranas speak as the embodiment of Trimurthies , Brahama ,Vishnu and Maheswara . The Lord who sees physically everything in the course of his daily round over the universe and who fully understands the truth behind all things , is not only regarded as Pratyaksha Daivam ( Visible God ) but also the source and sustainer of all life . The people who perform ' Suryanamaskara ' resite Maha Soura and Aruna Manthras containing Powerful beejaksharas of Rigveda and Yazurvada for giving good health, so that it is said that "Arogyam Bhaskaradhischet " . The mantra or Hymn is a spiritual formula hormonating sound which always protects the register in every way . This is the secrecy of the Sun God Worship. Sunday is considered as most auspicious day to Sun God worship.

The Pushkarini The Sun God said granted his wish and vanished. Indra dug with his ‘Vajrayudha’ and formed a pond, which is known as Indrapushkarini. Even today Devotees feel that they can attain the Grace of Lord Surya if they offer their prayers after taking a dip in the pushkarini. After taking a holy dip in the pushkarni, they turn towards the temple and open their eyes and do what to they see! Lord Surya’s idol before then in all its great splendor-and clad in golden colored angavastra. Thus the Sun God was consecrated here in Arasavalli by Lord Indra himself. Such is the glory and greatness of this temple.

Surya Sthalams/ Temples - Sun Temple at Unao, Madhya Pradesh

The sun has been revered as the life giving source of energy, in the Indian system of beliefs. Unao in Madhya Pradesh near Jhansi houses a temple to the sun, which is visited by many. The Bhramanya Dev Temple is also known as the Baramju temple. This temple was patronized by the Peshwas and by the ruler of Datia, a nearby town It is a well visited temple. Local belief is that worshippers find relief from ailments such as blindness and leprosy and other skin diseases. The stone image of the Sun God stands here on a brick platform covered with black plates. Twenty one triangles representing the 21 phases of the sun are engraved in the shrine.There is a protective brass cover for the image. Special worship services are offered on Sundays here.

Surya Sthalams / Temples - Modhera Sun Temple in Gujarat

The Sun Temple at Modhera dates back to early 11th century CE and was built by King Bhimdev I in 1026 CE. It was during the same period that the Jain temples at Mount Abu were constructed by Vimal Shah. The Rudra Mahal temple at Siddhapur also dates back to this period. Also re-constructed at the same time was the Somnath temple at Somnath Patan. Interestingly, the grand Brihadeeswarar temple at Thanjavur in South India was constructed during the same time. Even in its ruined state, the sun temple at Modhera is magnificient.. There is no worship offered here now. . There is no shikhara either. The temple has a sanctum, a pradakshina patha and a sabha mandap in front. The exterior of the sanctum has many carved images of the Sun God, portrayed as wearing a belt and long shoes as in the Dakshinaarka temple at Gaya. The mandapa in front of the sanctum has beautifully carved pillars with exquisite toranas adorning the entrances. The exterior of this temple is intricately carved. This temple has been designed such that the sun's rays illuminate the sanctum at dawn, during the time of the equinoxes.In front of the temple is a colossal tank, which was once known as Surya Kund or Rama Kund. The tank has a series of carved steps leading to the bottom. Several miniature shrines adorn the steps of the tank - which is an art gallery in itself.Modhera is now the site of several dance and cultural festivals. The sun temple and the ambience here provide a majestic backdrop for the exhibition of performing arts.

16 August 2009

Surya Sthalams / Temples - The Dakshinaarka temple at Gaya, Bihar

The Dakshinaarka temple in Gaya is an ancient shrine to the Sun God. Gaya has been an ancient pilgrimage center since time immemorial. The other well known temples in Gaya are the Vishnupaada Temple, the Mangalagowri Temple and the Prapitaamaheshwara Temple.
The ritual of offering pindas or offerings to the dead has been long associated with Gaya and has been mentioned in the epics. (Vaayupuraana). The Sun temple is an ancient structure in Gaya Offerings to the ancestors are made at the Surya Kunda or the Dakshina Maanas tank in front of the temple.
Origin of Sun worship: Sun worship apparently was very popular in the Magadha region which included Gaya. Numerous old images of the Sun God Aditya are found in the Gaya region and there are still quite a number of sun worshippers in Gaya. It is said that they may have descended from the fire worshippers of Central Asia. In fact, the granite image of Aditya (this particular image here is also referred to as Dakshinaarka) or the Sun God worshipped here is portrayed as wearing a jacket, a waist girdle and high boots in the Iranian tradition. Hundreds of people visit this temple on Sundays.
Antiquity: Sun worship in the Magadha region has been mentioned in the Puranas and thus this temple is said to be of very ancient origin. The current structure dates back to the 13th century, where the South Indian emperor Prataparudra of Warangal is said to have built it.
Architecture: This temple faces east and it stands close to the Vishnupaada temple. To the east of the temple is the tank Surya Kunda. The temple is a simple and plain one, with a dome over it. The comparatively larger sabha mandapa stands in front of the sanctum. Massive pillars line the mandapa where there are graceful stone sculptures of Shiva, Bhramaa, Vishnu, Surya and Durga.
Other related temples: There are two other notable Sun temples at Gaya, namely the Uttaraka temple near the Uttara Maanas tank and the Gayaditya temple on the river Falgu.
How To Get There: Air : Nearest Airport is at Patna 130kms away. Indian Airlines connect Patna to Bombay, Calcutta, Delhi, Ranchi and Lucknow.
Rail : Nearest railhead is Gaya, 12km from Bodhgaya. From Gaya local transport is available to BodhGaya.
Road : Bodh Gaya is well connected by road to Gaya (12kms), Patna 178kms via Rajgir & Nalanda and Varanasi (245kms). Attractions Chhath Puja

Surya Sthalams / Temples - Konark Sun Temple in Orissa.

The Sun Temple of Konark, often called as the Black Pagoda, was constructed in the mid thirteenth century by Raja Narasinghs Deva-I of the Ganga Dynasty. It is an ample testament to the artistic glory of the time. Conceived in the form of a huge chariot drawn by seven spirited horses on 12 pairs of exquisitely decorated wheels--after the mythical seven horse chariot of Sun God--the temple was unique in its architecture and implementation.
Legends of Konark
The local legends say that King Narasimha Deva-I of the Ganga Dynasty had ordered the temple to be built as a symbol of political supremacy of his dynasty. Over 1200 of the most capable artisans and architects worked continuously for 12 years on the construction of the temple. It is said that the king had already spent an amount equal over 12 years of the tax collections. However, the completion of the temple was still far from over. Enraged the king issued an ultimatum that the work be completed by a stipulated date with dire consequences otherwise. The team of architects headed by Bisu Maharana was unable to produce a solution to their architectural problem. It is said that Dharmapada--the young son of the chief architect Bisu Maharana--arrived there as a visiting onlooker. He became aware of the anxiety looming large among the architects. Although he did not have any practical experience of temple construction, he was careful in his study of the theories of temple architecture. He offered a solution to the problem of fixing the last stone at the top of the temple. He surprised everyone by doing that himself. But soon after his glorious achievement the dead body of this adolescent prodigy was found on the sea beach at the foot of the temple. It is often regarded that Dharmapada laid down his life to save his community. The temple was dedicated to the Sun-God (Arka), popularly called Biranchi-Narayan, and the area in which it is located was known as Arka-Kshetra as well as padma-kshetra. According to folklore, Samba, son of Lord Krishna, was struck with leprosy due a curse of Lord Krishna himself. Samba for 12 years underwent harsh atonement at Mitravana, near the convergence area of Chandrabhaga River with the sea at Konark. He was finally successful in pleasing the SUN god (Surya), the healer of all skin diseases, and was cured of his ailment. In gratitude, he decided to erect a temple in the honor of Surya. The day following his cure, while Samba was bathing in the Chandrabhaga, he discovered an image of the god, which had been fashioned out of Surya's body by Viswakarma. Samba installed this image in a temple he built in Mitravana, where he propitiated the god. Since then, throughout the ages, this place has been regarded as sacred.
Location of Konark - Konark is situated at latitude 19° 53' North and longitude 86° 06' East. It is a village in Gop police station under the Puri subdivision. From Pipli a 45 kilometres long road leads via Nimapara and Gop to Konark in the south-east. Konark is 66 kilometres by all-weather road via Pipli from Bhubaneswar, the Capital City of Orissa; and 84 kilometres from Puri, the district head quarters, also via Pipli. The entire territory lies in the Topical zone and hence is subject to high temperature. However the sea exercises a modeling influence on the climate of the Konark. So the Konarka has a pleasant climate all the year round. The maximum temperature in summer is 110° F and the minimum temperature in winter is 51° F. In Summer, cotton and in winter, light woolen clothing is required. People are hospitable in nature and Hindi and Bengali are understood and some times spoken by the people, besides Oriya. English is generally understood and spoken by all the literate people. Best season for visiting Konark is from October to April, specially the winter season
How To Reach Konark - The convenient way to get to Konark is drive either from Puri, 35 km or Bhubaneswar, 65 km. The drive from Puri along the sea front is a treat through coastal villages and its beautiful houses.Buses as well taxis are freely available from Puri. From Bhubaneswar, however the bus services less frequent and takes about 3-3 V2 hrs to cover the distance, while from Puri the service is very prompt, taking about one hour to reach Konark.A round trip from Puri to Konark by AC/non AC Car Rs. 750-1000/Rs. 500-750. More adventurous lot cycle to Konark from Puri and stay there overnight.
Konark Dance Festival The enthralling Konark Dance Festival is held every year, from 1 to 5 December, in Konark, in the backdrop of the mammoth Sun Temple. The festival has made the famous tourist destination that the Konark is even more attractive in the eyes of the tourists.
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