Ananta Vasudeva Temple, Orissa, IN

Deities: Lord Vishnu
Location: Bhubaneswar, Orissa
Built In: 1278 A.D.
Built by: Chandrikadevi
Significance: The only Vaishnava Temple present at Bhubaneswar
Best time to visit: October to April
STD Code: 0674

Bhubaneswar (‘The Lord of the Universe’), the capital city of the state of Orissa. Bhubaneswar is one of the most rich cities in India, here lord Shiva is known as Tribuhuvaneswara or “Lord of the Three Worlds”, from which the city derives its name. Bhubaneswar is known as Temple Town and Cathedral City on account of its many temples in the extravagant Orissan style.

This is one of the few Vaishnavite temples in Bhubaneswar. It dates back to the 13th century and it enshrines images of Krishna, Balarama and Subhadra. It is located on the eastern bank of the Bindu Sarovar Lake. It is located in a walled compound along with numerous structures. Balarama stands under a seven hooded serpent, while Krishna holds a mace and a conch.
Architecturally, it is almost a reduced copy of the Lingaraja temple, but the grouping of the four component parts, with their roofs presenting the appearance of ascending peaks culminating in the highest ‘Mastaka’ of the ‘Deul’ at a height of 18.29m, is more effective.

The plan of the Anata-Vasudeva temple differs considerably from that of the other temples. The main temple stands on an uniform platform, a peculiarity which is the first of its kind in a dated temple, and has a three- chambered frontal adjunct consisting of Jagamohana, the Natamandira and the Bhogamandapa. It is stated in the epigraph that a temple was built for Sri Krishna & Valaram on the bank of Vindu Sarovar tank by Chandrikadevi, daughter of Ananga-Bhimadev III, in the Saka era of 1200 (1278 A.D.).

It is further distinguished by an ornamental platform, relieved with ‘Khakhara-Mundis’, carved pilasters, ‘Nagas’, ‘Nagis’ and ‘Vidalas’ between two sets of three mouldings each. Though the ‘Deul’ is ‘Pancha-Ratha’ on plan, a new feature is introduced in the division of the corner ‘Ratha’ of the ‘Bada’ in two equal parts, both on the same plane; the inner one is crowned by a miniature ‘Rekha’ above the mouldings of the ‘veranda’.The facets of the ‘Rathas’ are richly imprinted with fine scrollwork, ‘Jali’, creepers and flower-shaped motifs, the central facets of the corner ‘Ratha’ having female figures. The ‘Khakhara-Mundis’ on the intermediary ‘Rathas’ of the lower ‘Jangha’ contain the eight ‘Dikpalas’, seated on their respective mounts, while the corresponding spaces on the upper ‘Jangha’ have their female counterparts.

The carvings on the central projections containing a banister window are neatly done. The banisters of the north window have the figures of Rama, Lakshmana, Sita, Hanuman and a monkey-attendant.

Other Temples:
Lingaraja Temple
Mukteswara Temple
Parasurameswara Temple
Bramheswara Temple
Rajarani Temple

How to reach:
by Air: Bhubaneswar is connected to the cities of Calcutta, Delhi, Chennai, Mumbai, Vishakhapatnam, Hyderabad, and Raipur through regular flights. Biju Patnaik Airport in Bhubaneswar is the only major airport in the state.
by Rail: Bhubaneswar is directly connected by rail with Calcutta, Puri, Madras, Delhi, Bombay, Bhubaneswar, Guwahati, Hyderabad, Tirupati, and Trivandrum.
by Road: Roads are linked with Bhubaneswar and Berhampur, Chilka, Cuttack, Konark, Paradip, Puri, Rourkela, Sambalpur and other places. Interstate bus services operate daily between Calcutta and Puri via Bhubaneswar and Tatanagar (Jamshedpur).

Visit www.Mandirs.com for more information on Mandirs (Temples), Festivals, and News.

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Dattatreya Temple, Ganganapur, Maharashtra, India

Deities: Lord Dattatreya
Location: Ganganapur, Maharashtra
Best time to visit: October to February
STD Code: 02433

Dattatreya Temple is located at Ganganapur, Maharashtra. The presiding deity is Dattatreya, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu Dattatreya. The shrine at Ganganapur is in the process of assuming the form of a temple.

It is currently more like an ‘Ashram’. The main gate faces towards the west and is built in the Maratha model of ‘Nagarkhana’. A spacious mandap (hall) is provided for the gathering.

There is a raised platform – the ‘holy of holies’ in the southern side of the hall. Dattatreya Temple has a very small room divided into two by a wall. There are two doors, and in the inner portion, there are the images of Dattatreya and the ‘Nirguna padukas’– a pair of sandals. . It is these Padukas that are the object of worship at this place. It is a symbol of the constant and eternal presence of Dattatreya in his form as Nrisimha Sarasvati.There is a very small opening in the wall in the form a silver-plate framework, which allows pilgrims to have a glimpse of the image.

Dattatreya is considered to be the incarnation of either Vishnu or the all-powerful Trinity of Hindu mythology viz. Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh. Dattatreya is the son of the sage Atri and his wife Anasuya. Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh (Shiva) greatly pleased at his tapa made their appearance before him and asked him as to what he desired. On his replying that he wanted nothing more than a son of divine powers, having the qualities or ‘gunas’ of all the three of them, they promised him that in the second part or yuga of the Vaivaswat manvantar, children would be born to him who would be incarnations of themselves. Accordingly, in due course Anasuya gave birth to a number of children, the number being variously stated to be either ten or three. Any way, three of her children were the amshas or parts or part. Incarnations of the three gods. The first son, Soma, was an avatar of Brahma, the second Datta that of Vishnu and the third Durvasa that of Shiva. The three gods of the Trinity. It is Dattatreya.

Festival:
During the month of Magba is the most popular, the purpose of the utsava being the -punya-smarana’ of the Guru, Shri Nrisimha Sarasvati. It was on the first day of the month that Shai Guru brought to an end his existence in this world, and it is his death anniversary that is celebrated during the four days. The other important festivals are Shripad Shrivallabha, Datta-jayanti and Nrisimha-jayanti.

How to reach:
Mumbai to Ganagapur Rail Distance – 526 Kms .From ‘Ganagapur Road’ to Ganagapur City (town), where Datta Mandir is situated is around 30 minutes journey by road.

Visit www.eTirth.com for more information on Temples, Ashrams, Gurus, Festival and Daily Panchangam (Hindu ephemeris).

If you love to read visit www.KathaVarta.org for Religious stories.

Last but not least, if you want to visit above Holy Pilgrimage, please contact and visit our associate partner www.YatraKhoj.com and e-mail at yatrakhoj@yahoo.com.
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Chatturbhuj Temple, Orccha, Madhya Pradesh, India

Deities: Lord Rama
Location: Orccha, Madhya Pradesh
Built in: 1573
Built by: Raja Madhukar
Best time to visit: October to March
STD Code: 0091-7680

Travel to Orchha and visit the Charurbhuj temple, constructed between the years 1558 and 1573 by Raja Madhukar, the Chaturbhuj Temple is a bold concept and as enormous as any European cathedral. While earlier temples had fairly small enclosures, the Chaturbhuj Temple has a huge cross-shaped congregation hall Conical shikharas (spires) crown the sanctuary of the spacious Chaturbhuj Temple, which is similar to the Kushak Mahal in Chanderi.

One of the city’s greatest attractions is the Chatturbhuj Temple, which is situated right opposite the Raja Mahal.Orccha in Madhya Pradesh. Dedicated to the four-armed deity, Chatturbhuj (which literally means four-arms).

The temple has plenty of light and space inside, a feature unusual for a Hindu temple. Maharani Ganesh Kunwar, wife of Orchha’s ruler, Raja Madhukar, constructed the temple to specially house the idol of Lord Rama.

The Temple has a huge cross-shaped congregation hall that caters to devotees of the Krishnabhakti cult, who throng the complex. Over the lintel of the doorway are carved exquisite figures of Brahama, Vishnu and Mahesh. It is a nirandhara temple of a modes size similar to Javeri in plan and design consisting of a sanctum, mandapa and an entrance porch.

The Legend said Maharani Ganesh Kunwar, wife of Orchha’s ruler, Raja Madhukar, constructed the temple to specifically house an idol of Lord Rama. While she was persuading the Lord to travel from his abode in Ayodhya to Orchha, he expressed the desire not to be displaced from the place he’d made his home.

The queen already had an idol of Rama installed in Rani Niwas (her private apartments), and when the Chaturbhuj Temple was completed, she decided to move the deity there. According to Orchha folklore, Lord Rama refused to move. The king immediately realised that his wife was honour-bound not to move the idol, and saved the day by installing the idol of Chaturbhuj (Lord Vishnu with four arms) in the temple instead. That is how the shrine became the Chaturbhuj Temple. Raja Madhukar Shah provided a kalasha or horn-shaped crown, made of over 100 pounds of pure gold, on top of the temple. However, a few years, later robbers made off with the kalasha.

Other Attraction in Orccha
Raja Mahal
The Laxminarayan Temple
Jahangir Mahal
The Phool Bagh Garden
Janki Mandir
Hanuman Mandir

How to reach:
by Air – Nearest airports from Orchha are Gwalior (25Kms) or Khajuraho (1732 Kms.).
by Rail – The nearest railway station is at Jhansi (18 km from Orchha).
by Road – Orchha lies on the Jhansi – Khajuraho road. Regular bus services connect Orchha with Jhansi. There is regular bus service from -Jhansi (25Kms).

Visit www.eTirth.com for more information on Temples, Ashrams, Gurus, Festivals and daily Panchangam.

Jagdish Temple, Udaipur, Rajasthan, India



Deities: Lord Laxmi Narayan
Location: Udaipur, Rajasthan
Built by: Maharana Jagat Singh
Built in: 1651 A.D
Highlights: Intricate carvings on pillars
Best time to visit: September to March
STD Code: 0294

If you are looking for some unique vacation destination then you may simply go for Udaipur. It is considered as one of the most colourful and beautiful holiday destinations of Rajasthan. A major tourist attraction of Udaipur is Jagdish Temple.

The Jagdish Temple is located at a distance of 150 meters from the City Palace Complex in Udaipur, Rajasthan, India. Maharana Jagat Singhji constructed this religious shrine in 1651. It took more than 1.5 million rupees to construct this stunning temple that dominates the Udaipur skyline.

The temple, 80 feet high, is on a 25 feet high platform accessible by a flight of 32 steps. The bold structure of the temple, representing the variety of scenes relating to the life on this Earth as well as the World beyond, is a delight to an architect who should minutely examine these figures engraved with all well-thought details. The ornamental decorum and the architectural beauty of the temple defies any description.

It is one of the largest Vishnu temples in the northern region of India. This elevated temple is easy to view from City Palace. The foothold of the Jagdish temple steps has two spotless white elephants on both the sides to greet you to the temple. The exterior wall of the holy temple is made up of local stone. The principal god in this pilgrimage center is lord Vishnu or Jagannath which is an idol of black stone.

A three-storied structure, the Jagdish Temple has three shrines. Spread across three storeys, Jagdish Temple has 50 pillars in both the first and second storeys. The main shrine dominates the center flanked by two smaller shrines. An excellent example of Indo-Aryan building styles, the Spire that is beautifully decorated with architectural ornaments of musicians, dancers, elephants and horses.

A huge brass image of Garuda, the vehicle of Lord Vishnu stands guard in front of the main shrine. It houses a bronze figure of the mythological half-man, half-eagle creature that transported Lord Vishnu. This huge brass icon is said to be the largest and heaviest in India.

Jagdish Temple also has a mandap and porch. The interiors look stunning with intricate carvings and friezes-adorned walls. A Sanskrit inscription in the porch written by Krishna Bhatt in the year 1651gives a detailed history of the reign of Maharana Jagat Singh.

Four smaller temples stand around the boundary of the main shrine and are dedicated to Ganesh, the elephant-headed god, Surya the Sun god, Amba (Ambika) the Mother Goddess, and Lord Shiva. A smaller temple dedicated to Krishna and his consort Radha is nearby.

Udaipur Temples:
Eklingji Temple
Jagat Temple
Jagdish Temple
Kankroli Temple
Nathdwara Temple
Ranakpur Temple
Rishabdeo Temple

How to reach:
by Air: Udaipur Airport namely Maharana Pratap Airport is located near Dabok at a distance of 22 kms from the city of Udaipur.
by Rail: Udaipur Railway Station is located at a comfortable distance from the city of Udaipur. Rajasthan Railways connects Udaipur station with all the other cities of Rajasthan as well as India.
by Road: Udaipur is well connected by road to major cities in India. Brilliant road network ensure people to enjoy a relaxed journey to and from Udaipur.

Visit www.eTirth.com for more information on Temples, Ashrams, Gurus, Festival and Daily Panchangam (Hindu ephemeris).

If you love to read visit www.KathaVarta.org for Religious stories.

Last but not least, if you want to visit above Holy Pilgrimage, please contact and visit our associate partner www.YatraKhoj.com and e-mail at yatrakhoj@yahoo.com.
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Dah Parbatiya, Tezpur, Assam, India

Deities: Shiva, Rama
Location: Tezpur, Assam
Known As: Dah Parbatiya
Best time to Visit: All year around

Introduction:
Tezpur is the headquarters of the Darrang district of Assam. It is a railway station on the North-East Frontier Railway and is about 150 kilometres, from the Rangiya railway junction on the main line. It is a fine town and is widely known in India and outside in recent years. It may be noted here that it was the first major town of India to receive Dalai Lama when he came to India after the Tibetan Uprising. Tezpur has all facilities for tourists such as hotels, Dak bungalows, etc.In pre-historic times Tezpur was known by the name Sonithpur or “the city of blood”. It was the capital of Banasura, a great friend of Naraka, the Danava king of Pragjyotisa. At that time the whole of the present Darrang district and the North Lakhimpur subdivision were included in the kingdom of Bana.

Bana was a great devotee of Shiva and is said to have constructed the Mahabhairava temple. Bana had many sons and one daughter named Usha who was secretly married by Aniruddha, the grandson of Krishna. Aniruddha was then captured but was subsequently released by Krishna, who defeated Bana in a great battle fought on the site of what is now known as the Tezpur bil.

Even in historical times that Tezpur was the centre of cultural activity is seen by the ruins of a temple discovered at Dah Parbatiya to the west of the present town. Professor R. D. Banerji, who explored the region, gives the following description about the ruins:”Close to the modem civil station of Tezpur is a small village of Dah Parbatiya which possesses the unique distinction of having within its limits the ruins of the oldest temple in Assam. The ruins consist of the remains of a brick temple of Shiva, of the Ahom period, erected upon the ruins of a stone temple of the later Gupta period, Circa sixth century A.D.

The former collapsed, during the earth quake of 1897, revealing the door-frame of the older structure”, which, according to him belongs to the Pataliputra school. He has assigned this door-frame to the Gupta period because of its use of,

(1) trefoil medallions in Caitya windows on the lintel,
(2) the use of the figures of river goddesses on the lower parts of the iambs,
(3) the false recessed angles of the lintel,
(4) the flying figure in high relief in the centre of the lower part of the lintel,
(5) the particularly expressive figures of Ganas on the arms of the cruciform bracket capitals of the pilasters.

This beautiful lintel is one of the best specimens of its class of the Gupta period. The carving ran the jambs are continued overhead in four out of the five bands. The lower part of the jambs consists of single panels, in very high relief against which are the figures of the river goddesses with female attendants on each side. The river goddesses exceed the limits of the panel but the attendant figurines have been kept very well within bounds.

There are three attendants in the case of Ganga on the right, but two only in that of Yamuna to the left. Behind the back of each figure appear two flying geese pecking at the halo of the goddess, a new feature in the Gupta art.

There are five bands of ornament on each jamb: –
1) A Meandering creeper rising above the head of a Naga.
2) The body of the Naga and the Nagi rising from the top of the square panel at the bottom of each jamb an continued between the first and the second bands of the lintel. The tails of these two serpents are held by the figures of Garuda in high relief against the lower part of the lintel.
3) Ornamental foliage consisting to it. These stem with amorini clinging to it. These three bands are continued overhead on the lintel as its lowermost bands of ornaments.
4) A pilaster, square in section bearing on it square bosses covered with arabesque as projections, which acts as supports to anumber of human or divine figures, and ends in a cruciform bracket capital.
5) A double intertwined creeper forming conventional rosettes which is continued o the side projection of the lintel.

The lintel consists of a separate piece in which the lower part bears the first three bands of the jambs. The fourth band, the pilaster appears to support an architrave bearing on it five caitya windows of two different types:
(a) a trefoil in which all three arcs are of the same size; there are three caitya windows with such medallions, one in the centre and two near the ends;
(b) also trefoils in which the upper are is larger than the two arcs on the sides. The central medallion of these five contains a seated figure of Shiva as Lakulisa.

The ruins have revealed some best sculptural specimens. Among them we may first mention the ceiling slab which bears the carving of an embossed lotus (Vishwa Padma). The second vessel of the Vishwa Padma bears in relief the figure of a vidyadhara holding a scarf or a necklace with both hands and hovering in the sky as if to make obeisance to the deity below.

His legs are so arranged as to be symmetrical with the circular course of the seed-vessel, a feature generally met with in Gupta and Pala sculptures of Bengal. While the facial type is local, the decorative and anatomical details of the vidyadhara recall late Gupta and Pala features. A high crown (kirita-mukuta) with a frontal coronet adorns his head, perforated patra-kundala are seen in the ears while his under-garment reaching the ankles has an elegant central tassel.

Another frieze shows a royal archer shooting a deer couple when in coition. The scene seems to represent, according to T. N. Ramachandran, the Mahabharata story of Pandu, the father of Pandavas, who was cursed to die with his sexual desires ungratified as a result of his having shot a deer couple (really a sage and his wife in the guise of deer) in coition.

A more interesting and complicated dancing figure of the time is recovered from the ruins. Here is shown a shikhara of foliage with amalak and lotus-bud finial flanked by a god and goddesses both dancing with their legs resting on elephants in turn supported by lotuses. Both the gods and goddesses have four hands holding bow, arrow, rosary and sword and with perforated patra-kundala in the ears and a kirita-mukuta on the head with a frontal tiara.

We have the earliest dancing scene in a slab recovered from Tezpur. The slab is divided into a number of sunken panels by means of circular pilasters, each containing a male or female, two females, or two males. Beginning from the right we find a man fighting with a lion, a male playing on a flute, and a female dancing by his side, one playing on a pipe, another on a drum, a male playing on a drum and a female dancing, a man playing on cymbals and a woman dancing, a male playing on a lyre and another dancing to his right, a male playing on a drum and another dancing to his left.

The whole composition seems to be natural, full of action, and lively, and is represented with considerable success. The temple walls were generally decorated with sculptures depicting various scenes from the Epics and the social and domestic life led by the people of the period. We have already noticed a frieze from the ruins of this temple, which illustrates the Mahabharata story of Pandu.

Another frieze from the same ruins, having five panels, shows Rama and Lakshmana seated, the latter behind the former, while Sugriva is kneeling before Rama in supplication and Hanuman and another monkey are watching the scene with reverence. The scene portrayed evidently relates to the incident from the Ramayana, in which Hanuman succeeded in securing the friendship of Rama for the protection of Sugriva. Another frieze found in the same place represents the well-known scene from the Mahabharata, namely, the Garuda-garvabhanga, or the extermination of Garuda’s pride.

Another frieze belonging to the 10th century A.D., and consisting of three panels, illustrates
(i) a woman in her toilet,
(ii) a man dragging a fallen woman from a scene where another is about to thrash her, while a second woman is dissuading him, and
(iii) a man advancing with a raised mace.

A second frieze from the same place, which is divided into four panels, contains the following scenes from left to right:
(a) an ascetic pushing a goat before him,
(b) another ascetic dancing with shula and dhakka in his hands and Kamandalam hanging from his right arm, and
(c) a seated woman in an ecstatic mood. Yet another frieze divided into two big panels illustrates a combat between two warriors. The actual combat is shown in one panel, while in the other, one of the warriors marches off in triumph with the severed head of the other held in his hands, the headless trunk staggering behind.

These sculptures give us some glimpse of the contemporary life of the people. But the diversities of scenes of these sculptural depictions are so numerous that we have only pointed out a few leading varieties. Of the sculptural, designs, we may mention the caitya-windows of two different types on a lintel. One of these patterns is a trefoil in which all the three arcs are of the same size, in the other the upper are is larger than the two arcs on the sides. The interior of the sunken panel is entirely covered with geometrical patterns with a half rosette in the centre.

In the delineation of vegetable life the artist was in the height of his form. Combined with a considerable amount of faithful representation and integrity there is an amount of luxuriance of decoration and of picturesque arrangement. As floral ornamentation could be employed for any decorative purpose and any vacant space could be filled up with such devices, naturally they became varied in form and numerous in numbers. Of the floral designs, the lotus was by far the greatest favourite, and it was carve in various forms, in bud, in a half open state, and in full-blown flowers.

In Deo Parbat there is a beautiful representation of a cluster of lotuses in full bloom and appears to be issuing from a pond. Another illustration from the same place exhibits a row of busts with hands holding lotuses; their patra-kundala was also designed like full-blown lotuses.

In the delineation of vegetable life the artist was in the height of his form. Combined with a considerable amount of faithful representation and integrity there is an amount of luxuriance of decoration and of picturesque arrangement. As floral ornamentation could be employed for any decorative purpose and any vacant space could be filled up with such devices, naturally they became varied in form and numerous in numbers.

Of the floral designs, the lotus was by far the greatest favourite, and it was carved in various forms, in bud, in a half-open state, and in full-blown flowers. In Deo Parbat there is a beautiful representation of a cluster of lotuses in full bloom and appears to be issuing from a pond.

Another illustration from the same place exhibits a row of busts with hands holding lotuses; their patra-kundala was also designed like full-blown lotuses.

Among the images of Gods mention may first be made of a four-armed Shiva as Tripurari and in dancing pose, now in Assam Provincial Museum. The image, in its two main hands holds bow and arrow. A tiara is seen on the head while circular patra-kundala adores the ears.An interesting figure of Siva as Lakulisa is found carved on a caitya-window in the ruins of Dah Parbatiya. Lakulisa is usually represented as seated on padmasana, with penis erect and a matulinga (citron fruit) in the right hand and a staff in the left. Our Lakulisa is a seated figure with a rope tied round his leg. A female is holding a cup to his left while another stands to his right.

We have given above an exhaustive account of the ruins of the Dah Parbatiya Siva temple, the oldest and the finest piece of architectural work in Assam. It points to the fact that both architectural and sculptural skill of the Assamese craftsmen had reached its height during the period under review. In the present state of our knowledge we are not in a position to say definitely about the mode of worship at the temple, as the temple is found only in ruins.

OTHER REMAINS:
The other temple remains that exist in or near Tezpur are undoubtedly ‘extensive and varied in character.’ Some of these remains came to light by chance excavation. At the time of the construction of a Deputy Commissioner’s office in Tezpur in the year 1906 the remains of an ancient building of great artistic merit were discovered. These remains were removed, in the first instance, to the compounds of European officers and the Tea-planters Club from where they were finally shifted to and arranged at the Cole Park. Prof. R. D. Banerji who visited the park gives the following description about the artistic merit of these remains: -“On examination of the remains in the park at Tezpur and those preserved in the Planters’ Association or Club at the same place I find that the carvings belong to three different periods of history and therefore must have belonged, at least to three separate buildings.

The most remarkable sculptures of the first group are two shafts of pillars at the entrance to the Planters’ Club and heavy lintel of a stone door-frame now lying in the public park. The shaft of one of these pillars is sixteen sided, the upper end being ornamented with a broad band having kirtimukhas at, the top and the lower with dentils.

Over this band the shaft is round and appears, to be lathe-turned like the upper parts of the western Chalukyan columns of the Bombay Presidency. In the second pillar the upper part of the shaft is dodecagonal and near the top is divided into three raised horizontal bands two of which contain ‘kirtimukhas and third a series of diamond shaped rosettes. In style, both of them belong to the same period and appear to have come from one and the same building.

The lintel of the stone doorframe in the public park also belongs to the same period and most probably to the same building. It is divided into two different parts. The upper part represents five miniature temples with phallic emblems of Siva in each of them.

In the lower part we see a continuation of the ornamentation on the jambs, viz., two vertical bands containing meandering creepers and two others consisting entirely of rosettes which turn an angle and are continued on the soffit of the lintel. In the centre of the lower part of the lintel is a small niche containing a miniature of Ganesh. It appears from the nature of the carvings that the temple to which these three architectural specimens belong was erected late in the tenth century A.D. The length of the lintel is 6′ 10″ and the breadth 1′ 5 1/2.”The second group of sculptures at Tezpur consists of specimens from a massive, temple on the ruins of which the office of the Deputy Commissioner has been built. On each side of the entrance of the Planters’ Club at Tezpur lie the door sill and the lintel of the principal entrance to the enormous temple. The size of the lintel enables us to determine the size of the door-frame and consequently of the principal entrance to the sanctum. The enormous lintel is 10′ 3″ in length and 1′ 8″ in breadth. There are three raised panels on it, one in, the centre and one on each side and each of them is divided into a large niche in the centre with a smaller one on either side.

The size of the lintel enables us to determine the size of the door-frame and consequently of the principal entrance to the sanctum. The enormous lintel is 10′ 3″ in length and 1′ 8″ in breadth. There are three raised panels on it, one in, the centre and one on each side and each of them is divided into a large niche in the centre with a smaller one on either side. The panel on the left contains a standing figure of Brahma in the central niche with an attendant on each side.

The central panel is occupied by a figure of Surya with two attendants while the panel on the extreme right contains a standing figure of Siva with an-attendant in each of the side niches. The space between these raised panels is divided into six niches, three to the left of the central panel and three to the right. They contain six, divine figures which cannot be identified. All the niches are separated from each other by a round pilaster 2′ in height, the height of the lintel itself being 2′ 7 1/2”.

According to the general practice in Hindu temples, the presiding deity of the temple generally occupies the niche or panel of the lintel of the stone doorframe of the sanctum. It appears certain, therefore that this gigantic temple was dedicated to Surya or the Sun-god. The sill of this door-frame is also of gigantic dimensions and shows a vase in the centre flanked by two lions satatant.

Each end is occupied by a niche containing a male and a female and flanked by a smaller and narrower niche on a recessed corner, containing a single human figure. It is a pity that the jambs of this enormous door-frame have not been discovered as yet. The large jamb in the public park appears to belong to a much later period. It is impossible therefore to deduce the height of the door-frame correctly, but it is obvious from the length of the lintel and the sill that the height of this’ door-frame could not have been less than 15′.

If the height of the stone doorframe of the main entrance to the sanctum was 15′ then the height of the interior of the chamber must have been 20′-25, leaving us to imagine the total height of the spire or shikhara of the original temple, which must have been considerably over 100′. The majority of the carved stones in the public park at Tezpur are taken from the plinth mouldings and string-courses of the gigantic temple, the door-frames of which have been described above.
The string-courses were ornamented with kirtimukhas of various shapes and sizes and sunken panels containing ornamental rosettes and meandering creepers. Some of them are evidently portions of enormous capitals, which were held together by metal clamps or dowels. In the centre of some of these pieces there is a projecting niche flanked by round pilasters containing divine figures.

In one of these niches we find a fat female squatting on the ground, holding a piece of cloth over her head, while a female stands to her left with her hand clasped in adoration. The second specimen of the same type contains the figure of a goddess holding a lyre in her hands, evidently Sarasvati, the goddess of learning.

Another slab bears on it a conventional representation of a Chaitya-window pattern, so common in the temples of Central India, especially those in the Rewa, State and at Khajuraho. The interior of the sunken panels is entirely covered with geometrical patterns with a half rosette in the centre. The second group of sculptures at Tezpur belongs to a temple erected in the twelfth century A.D. if not later.

The size of the stones indicates that the temple was very large in size and provided with a very tall spire. There are two specimens in the public park at Tezpur, which appear to belong to another temple of some later date. One of these is a high door-jamb and a second a slab bearing three sunken panels occupied by very crude human or divine figures.

The entire collection contains only a single specimen carved in the round, a lion, presumably on an elephant. The conventional representation of the lion shows that the inhabitants of the Assam valley were not, familiar with the king of beasts.

We need not be apologetic for giving this long quotation. Prof. R. D. Banerji’s description of the remains brings in full measure the artistic talents of the Assamese craftsmen which can be easily compared with those of craftsmen of Central and ‘Eastern India. It also gives an idea of aesthetic achievement, which the people of Assam attained during this period. The stone sculptures and rock carvings that have been discovered here not only indicate the geographical limit of the circulation of art specimens and the spread of Hindu culture into the remotest comer of the province, but also fully reveal how closely Assam’ followed the general art tradition and motifs of Northern India.

Visit www.eTirth.com for more information on Temples, Ashrams, Gurus, Festival and Daily Panchangam (Hindu ephemeris).

If you love to read visit www.KathaVarta.org for Religious stories.

Last but not least, if you want to visit above Holy Pilgrimage, please contact and visit our associate partner www.YatraKhoj.com and e-mail at yatrakhoj@yahoo.com.
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Parashuram Kund, Arunachal Pradesh, India

Location: Chongkham (Near Arunachal-Assam Border), Arunachal Pradesh
Dedicated To: Lord Parashuram
Festive Attraction: Makar Sankranti Festival
Best Time to Visit: December to February
Parshuram-kund, the important holy place for the Hindus is only 55 kms from Chongkham. Situated at the deep gorge of river Lohit, the place is visited by lakhs of pilgrims every year. The divine beauty of this area will definitely hypnotize a nature lover.

The Forces of Mystery
Tucked away in a remote corner of the state, lays a pilgrim spot relatively unknown as compared to other sacred places of India. However, Parashuram Kund has been a source of spiritual inspiration to lakhs of devotees since time immemorial.

Situated on the banks of the mighty Lohit River, where it enters the plains on the ArunachalAssam border. Parashuram (also spelt as Parashuram) Kund is magically transformed from a sleepy old place to an amazing congregation of seething humanity on Makar Sankranti Day, which normally falls in mid-January.

Legend
Legend has it that when Parashuram killed his mother with an axe at the behest of his father, the axe got stuck to his hands. He roamed all over India visiting holy places to atone for his sins, but the axe remained stuck to his hands. Ultimately, he came to a Kund known as Brahma Kund, now in Lohit district, on the advice of some sages.

He took a dip in the holy water of the Kund and the axe immediately became unstuck and fell from his hands. With a big sigh of relief and venting anger on the axe, he picked it up and threw it as far as he could into the mountains. The axe split the mountains, and the spot where it fell became the source of Lohit River. It was thus that this Kund came to be known as Parashuram Kund and now it is one of the many revered holy spots in the country.

Time of Festivity
Every year, by the end of December, frenzied activity is witnessed in this sleepy desolate place. The local administration starts gearing up to construct shelters for the thousands of pilgrims who will be streaming into this area around mid January. Along with the shelters, public facilities like toilets, ration shops, medical centres and arrangements for drinking water also come up in record time. Elaborate law and order arrangement is also made. The age-old inner line regulation introduced by the British in 1826 requires pilgrims to obtain permits before crossing the Arunachal-Assam border.

The Festive Galore
It’s a once-in-a-life-time opportunity to participate in the festivities at this sacred place on the Makar Sankranti Day. Hundreds of makeshifts shacks dot the landscape, erected by those who could not get accommodation in the government shelters. Adjacent to the shacks, countless little colourful shops contributed to the Mela atmosphere. One could see a wide variety of articles being sold ranging from gaudy trinkets, baubles, clothes, and toys to exotic herbal medicines including the famous Lizard oil, considered an aphrodisiac.

Face of Religious India
Taking a stroll around the place, one could see people from all walks of life. They had come from Assam, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and even Nepal. A few had come all the way from Andhra Pradesh. They had managed to reach this place in the middle of nowhere by various modes of travel, braving the discomfort and hardship. Some are rich, many are poor, some are young, others very old and had to be assisted by their younger relatives. Sadhus belonging to various sects swarm the place busy luring unsuspecting devotees into their respective ‘spiritual’ folds. The whole scene is indeed remarkable!

Night Time Attractions
At night, gazing down a little hillock, the view can take ones breath away – thousands of oil lamps were flickering in the soft cool breeze; thin wisps of smoke that rose from numerous kitchen fires and bonfires lit by the pilgrims to keep themselves warm, formed a ghostly shroud above the township. The entire place becomes alive; strains of music, and devotional songs wafted in with the breeze. All this activity continues late into the night, and the auspicious ceremony of Makar Sankranti begins at midnight. The devotees then start to head for the Kund.

Trail Towards The Kund
To approach the Kund, one has to climb a steep hill about 300-400 feet high and then come down on the other side, equally steep. But the going is tough and a small dirt track about four to five feet wide wound its way up the hill. At many places, steps had been cut and reinforced by bamboo at the edges. Thousands of people start their trek as midnight approaches, jostling their way while shouting continuous invocations to various Gods and Goddesses.

Nature’s Catastrophe
Looking down the winding path lit up with electric bulbs fitted into the trees one can see the Kund at a considerable distance down below. There is actually no Kund as such, for during the great earthquake, which shook the whole of the northeast in 1950. Lohit River changed its course and overran the Kund, completely covering it. Parashuram Kund, as it stands today, is actually a small alcove where the river has been split by some huge boulders, sending a narrow stream of water to embrace the revered spot. This is where the pilgrims take a dip to wash away their sins.

Myths, Beliefs and Faith
After taking bath in the Kund, visit the temple dedicated to Lord Parashuram, one of the very few that exist in India. A peculiar kind of belief is that one is not supposed to take a dip in the Kund if one’s parents are still alive.

After visiting this place one just can’t not help wondering what is that mysterious force, which makes 80 and 90 year old people, blind, legless and armless beggars converge at this sacred place from placed for away, once every year. Is it faith? Superstition or just misplaced frenzy?

How to Reach:
By Air: Nearest airport is situated at Mohanbari (Dibrugarh).
By Rail: Nearest railway station is Tinusukia.
By Road: There are two ways of approaching Parashuram Kund. One route is via Tezu, the headquarters of Lohit district in the eastern part of Arunachal. About 20-km away from Tezu, on the Tezu-Walong highway, one has to get onto a freshly prepared dirt track up to the banks of the Lohit River. Passengers and vehicles are then ferried across on boats to Parashuram Kund on the other bank. The other route is via a place called Wakro. Most of the pilgrims avail of this route.
Visit www.eTirth.com for more information on Temples, Ashrams, Gurus, Festival and Daily Panchangam (Hindu ephemeris).

Tirupati Balaji, Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh, India


Location: Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh
Familiarly Known As: Hande Anantapuram
Best time of Visit: September To February
Nearby Attractions: Puttaparthi, Veerabhadraswami Temple at Lepakshi, Raydurg Fort, Hemavati, Penukonda Fort.
STD Code: 08574

Tirupati City is located in the southeastern part of Andhra Pradesh State. It lies about 152-km northwest of Chennai in the Palkonda Hills. Tirupati is known as the abode of the Hindu god Venkateshvara (also spelt as ‘Venkateswara’), “Lord of Seven Hills”. About 10-km northwest of Tirupati, at an elevation of 750m, is the sacred hill of Tirumala, which was considered so holy that before 1870 non-Hindus were not permitted to ascend it.

BACK TO HISTORY – THE RULING DYNASTIES:
Tirupati was developed mainly by the contributions made by kings during their rule. Almost all the kings from great dynasties of the southern peninsula have paid homage to Lord Sri Venkateswara in this ancient shrine of Tirupati. The Pallavas of Kancheepuram (9th century AD), the Cholas of Thanjavur (a century later), the Pandyas of Madurai, and the kings and chieftains of Vijayanagar (14th – 15th century AD) were devotees of the Lord and they competed with one another in endowing the temple with rich offerings and contributions.

During the rule of the Vijayanagar dynasty contributions made to the temple increased enormously. Krishnadevaraya had statues of himself and his consorts installed at the portals of the Tirupati temple, and these statues can be seen to this day. There is also a statue of Venkatapati Raya in the main temple at Tirupati.

The decline of the Vijayanagar dynasty did not affect the contributions to this place as many nobles and chieftains from all parts of the country continued to pay their homage and offer gifts to the temple. Raghoji Bhonsle, the Maratha general, visited the temple and set up a permanent endowment for the conduct of worship in the temple. He presented valuable jewels to the Lord, including a large emerald, which is still preserved in a box named after the General. Among the later rulers who have endowed large amounts are the rulers of Mysore and Gadwal.

After the fall of Hindu kingdoms, came the Muslim rulers of Karnataka and after their downfall the British took over, and many of the temples came under their supervisory and protective control.

In 1843 AD, the East India Company divested itself of the direct management of non-Christian places of worship and native religious institutions.

PRIME ATTRACTIONS:
Lord Venkateswara Temple At Tirumala
Tirumala has the historic shrine of Sri Venkateswara (also known as Balaji), “the Lord of Seven Hills”, who is famous all over the country.

Padmavati Temple
In Tiruchanur, 5-km from Tirupati is this large temple dedicated to goddess Padmavati, the consort of Lord Venkateswara (Balaji). It also known as “Alamelumangapuram” and it is said that a visit to Tirumala is fruitful only after visiting the Sri Padmavati Devi temple.

Govindaraja Swami Temple
One of the most important temples in Tirupati is Sri Govindarajaswami Temple, which was consecrated by Saint Ramanujacharya in 1130 AD. It is located in the heart of the Tirupati.

Kodandaramaswami Temple
Located in the centre of the Tirupati town, the presiding deities over here are Sita, Rama and Lakshmana. Chola king built it during the 10th century AD. The temple of Anjaneyaswami, which is directly opposite, is a sub-shrine of this temple.

Sri Kapileswaraswami Temple
Situated about 3-km to the north of Tirupati, at the foot of the Tirumala Hills, is the only temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, in Tirupati. Annual Brahmotsavams and festivals like Vinayaka Chavithi, Maha Shivaratri, Skhanda Shasthi and Annabhishekam are performed in a grand manner. The sacred waterfall called “Kapila Tirth” (also known as “Alwar Tirth”) is located here.

Sri Kalyana Venkateswaraswami Temple
12-km to the west of Tirupati at Srinivasa Mangapuram one can find Sri Kalyana Venkateswaraswami temple, where it is believed that Lord Venkateswara stayed here after his marriage with Sri Padmavati Devi, before proceeding to Tirumala.

TRAVELLERS INFORMATION
Where to Stay in Tirupati
Accommodation is available at the Cottages, Choultries or Guesthouses in Tirumala. One can stay at the Hotels in Tirupati, which offer excellent accommodation facilities at reasonable prices. Free accommodation is also provided for pilgrims.

Conducted Tours of Tirupati
The Regional Tourist Information Bureau runs conducted tours subject to sufficient bookings.

Local Temples:
10.00 am to 17.30 pm (Daily)
Bangalore-Tirupati- Bangalore: Daily
Madras-Tirupati- Madras: Daily
South India: Twice a month -(Departure Hyderabad) 12-Day tour
Tirupati-Tiruttani-Kanchipuram: Every Week (1 day tour)
Tirupati-Talakona-Horsley Hills: Every Week (2 days tour)
Bangalore-Mantralayam-Bangalore: Twice in a week (3 days tour)

General Information:
Climate: Tropical
Temperature Range:
Summer: Max 43°C and Min 22°C
Winter: Max 32°C and Min 14°C
Rainfall: Seasonal
Clothing: Light Cottons

Nearby Cities
Renigunta: 10-km
Chandragiri Fort: 12-km
Thalakona: 30-km
Gudur: 100-km
Horsely Hills: 151-km

How to reach TIRUPATI BALAJI:
By Air: Direct flights to Tirupati are available from Hyderabad and Chennai only.
By Rail: Tirupati is the nearest railway station. There are trains that travel via Renigunta or Gudur, but do not touch Tirupati. In such cases, Renigunta or Gudur, are convenient points to alight. From Renigunta / Gudur one can reach Tirupati by train, bus, or taxi.
By Bus: APSRTC buses run from all the important places in the state and between Tirupati and Tirumala. TTD also runs buses between Tirupati and Tirumala, free of cost.

Local Transport:
For local transportation Taxis, Unmetered Taxis, Rickshaws, City bus services, Transport and buses on hire are available.

From Tirupati to Tirumala
One can travel from Tirupati to Tirumala by road, or climb the hills on foot.

By Road:
There are two well-laid, all-weather, asphalt Ghat roads between Tirupati and Tirumala. The Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (APSRTC) runs a regular bus service between Tirupati and Tirumala. One can also save time by buying one’s Tirumala-Tirupati return tickets in advance at Tirupati. These tickets are valid for three days and ticket-holders can board any of the APSRTC buses returning to Tirupati. During Brahmotsavam and on important occasions like New Year’s Day, buses ply round the clock.

For Pilgrims: For the convenience of pilgrims arriving in groups, APSRTC provides contract carriages. The bus can either be booked then and there, or reserved in advance. At Tirupati there are 4 bus-stations located at different corners of the town.

Sri Venkateswara Bus Station (SVBS): The pilgrims coming by train can use the SVBS, which is located just opposite the Railway Station. Whenever trains arrive, buses are stationed right in front of the main gate of the railway station.

Balaji Link Bus Station (BLBS): For the pilgrims coming from Bangalore, BLBS is situated at Alipiri, at the foot of the hills. Here, there is ample space for parking tourist buses and vans.

Sapthagiri Link Bus Station (SLBS): SLBS serves pilgrims who arrive from Chennai, Hyderabad and Vijayawada sectors and is located in the central Bus Station Complex.

Sri Padmavati Bus Station (SPBS): SPBS is located at the rear of the railway station, and caters mainly to the needs of pilgrims arriving in tourist buses.

Note: For a safe journey to Tirumala, it is recommended that one should travel by APSRTC buses only. If one is using one’s own vehicle, do negotiate the hairpin bends on the Ghat roads carefully.

Walk:
For those of you who would like to climb the hills to Tirumala to fulfil a vow, there are two well-laid stone footpaths leading to Tirumala. These paths are called “Sopanamargas” (stairways).

The more ancient of the two Sopanamargas starts from Alipiri at the foot of the hills, is about 11-km in length, and is the commonly used route. The other Sopanamargas is from Chandragiri, though only about 6-km in length, it’s a difficult route and is mainly used by the local people and traders. TTD also provides several facilities for the pilgrims who walk up the hills to Tirumala.

FACILITIES FOR PILGRIMS
TTD or Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam manages the affairs of the temple, the well-being of the pilgrims, the upkeep of the environs in and around the Tirumala hills and sponsors several undertakings that are religious, charitable, social and educational in nature.

The TTD provides ample conveyance and halting facilities to thousands of pilgrims. Many pilgrims climb the hill by walk to fulfil the vow they have taken. Facilities like shelters, drinking waters, toilets, canteens, medical facilities etc are provided for a quick and relaxing walk uphill.

The number of pilgrims visiting Tirumala-Tirupati is increasing every year. To avoid stampedes, TTD has constructed the Vaikuntam Queue Complex, which is a series of inter-connected halls that lead to the main temple. Wide range of facilities ranging from canteen services, toilets, Television etc are provided within the queue complex.

Darshan:
Different Darshans are arranged for the convenience of the pilgrims, The ‘Sarvadarshan’ (meaning darshan for all, free of cost), special darshan (paid darshan), ‘Sudarshanam’ (free and paid darshan minimizing the waiting time) and special darshan for the physically disabled and the aged.

Commutation & Food:
The buses run by the Tirumala- Tirupati Devasthanam, starting from Tirupati, carry pilgrims and visitors up the hills through the Ghat road which is over 22 Km in length. There are also buses that take you to the different places of sight seeing within Tirumala. All these bus services are free of cost.

Vegetarian meals are provided free of cost to devotees, in the Sri Venkateswara Canteen Complex, from 10.00 am to 11.00 pm, everyday. One can avail this facility on production of the free meal coupon, which is distributed inside the temple after worshipping the Lord. About 20,000 pilgrims avail this facility every day.

Visit www.eTirth.com for more information on Temples, Ashrams, Gurus, Festival and Daily Panchangam (Hindu ephemeris).

If you love to read visit www.KathaVarta.org for Religious stories.

Last but not least, if you want to visit above Holy Pilgrimage, please contact and visit our associate partner www.YatraKhoj.com and e-mail at yatrakhoj@yahoo.com.
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