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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Swaminarayan Akshardham, Delhi, India

Deities: Harikrishna Maharaj, Swaminarayan Bhagwan, Krishna, Radha, Rama, Shiva, Ganesh, Hanuman, Neelkanth
Location: Delhi, India
Best time to visit: All year around
Known as: Akshardham
Significant: Guinness world record as ‘World’s comprehensive Hindu temple’
Festival & Event: Janmashtami, Ram Navami, Maha Shivaratri, Hanuman Jayanti
STD Code: 0091-11

What is ‘Akshardham’:
Akshardham means the eternal, divine abode of the supreme God, the abode of eternal values and virtues of Akshar as defined in the Vedas and Upanishads where divine Bhakti, purity and peace forever pervades.

Swaminarayan Akshardham in New Delhi epitomises 10,000 years of Indian culture in all its breathtaking grandeur, beauty, wisdom and bliss. It brilliantly showcases the essence of India’s ancient architecture, traditions and timeless spiritual messages. The Akshardham experience is an enlightening journey through India’s glorious art, values and contributions for the progress, happiness and harmony of mankind.

The grand, ancient-styled Swaminarayan Akshardham complex was built in only five years through the blessings of HDH Pramukh Swami Maharaj of the Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS) and the colossal devotional efforts of 11,000 artisans and BAPS volunteers. The complex was inaugurated on 6 November, 2005.

For the first time ever in the world witness the heritage of India in all its facets, insights and beauty at the Swaminarayan Akshardham through its monument, exhibitions, verdant gardens and other attractions.

What to See:

The beautiful Mandir built without steel, consists of 234 ornately carved pillars, 9 ornate domes, 20 quadrangled shikharas, spectacular Gajendra Pith (plinth of stone elephants) and 20,000 murtis and statues of India’s great sadhus, devotees, Acharyas and divine personalities.

The Mandir is a fusion of pink stone and pure white marble, where pink stone symbolizes Bhakti in eternal bloom and white marble that of absolute purity and eternal peace. Akshardham was created by HDH Pramukh Swami Maharaj in fulfilment to the wish of his guru, Brahmaswarup Yogiji Maharaj, the fourth successor in the spiritual hierarchy of Bhagwan Swaminarayan. In only a short time span of five years Swaminarayan Akshardham became a reality through the blessings of Pramukh Swami Maharaj, 300 million man hours of epic services rendered by 11,000 volunteers, sadhus and artisans and the immense sacrifice, austerities, prayers of hundreds of thousands of young and old devotees of BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha.

Inauguration: 06 Nov 2005, Kartik Shukla Panchami, Labh Pancham, Vikram Samvat 2062
Height: 141.3 ft
Width: 316 ft
Length: 356 ft
Organizer: BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha.
Creator: HDH Pramukh Swami Maharaj

Garbhagriha (Inner Sanctum):
In the inner sanctum lies the 11 feet high beautiful and divine murti of Bhagwan Swaminarayan and the murtis of Guru Parampara, namely, Aksharbrahma Gunatitanand Swami, Bhagatji Maharaj, Shashtriji Maharaj, Yogiji Maharaj and Pramukh Swami Maharaj; where every sincere prayer is answered. One can also have the darshan of the deities of Sanatan Dharma: Shri Sita-Ram, Shri Radha-Krishna, Shri Lakshmi-Narayan, Shri Shiv-Parvati, avatars and twenty-four Chaturvyuh or Keshava murtis of God.

The divine serenity in the Garbhagriha inspires peace and divine happiness.

Mandapams (Ornate Domes):
The majestic Mandir has 9 magnificent domes, 234 intricately carved pillars, 20 quadrangle-shaped shikharas, 20,000 carvings of great sages, deities, celestial beings, 500 murtis of Paramhansa of Bhagwan Swaminarayan and many statues of devotees, birds and animals embellish the inside and outside walls of the Mandir.

The inside of the Mandir has 8 ornately carved Mandapams, each featuring the forms of Bhagwan Swaminarayan, avatars and the deities of Sanatan Dharma.

Vibhuti Mandovara (Ornate External Wall):
The ornate external wall of the Swaminarayan Akshardham Mandir is known as the Mandovara.

In the last 800 years this is the only and largest, intricately carved Mandovara in India with dimensions of 611ft x 31ft. It comprises 200 sculptured stone figures of India’s great Rishis, sadhus, devotees, Acharyas and divine incarnations.

The Mandovara is made of different layers: Gajstar, Sinhstar, Vyalstar, Kumbhstar, Kalashstar, Gavakshstar, Jangha and Chhajja with a total of 4,287 carved stones. The Kumbhstar includes 48 ornately carved murtis of Shri Ganeshji.

Narayan Pith (Bronze Relief Work):
Beautiful bronze relief panels illustrate the divine incidents from the life of Bhagwan Swaminarayan.

Gajendra Pith (Elephant Plinth):
India’s legacy of love and reverence for nature is found in the Vedic mantras. Our great Rishis and ancestors lived in the lap of nature’s bounty. They coexisted with the forces of nature and all its wealth of animals and plants”.

The people of India, are nature lovers, preserving and offering respect to its denizens. Indian lore

vividly depicts this wonderful relationship, which is eloquently reflected in our culture and way of life.

The Gajendra Pith is a unique, captivating feature of Swaminarayan Akshardham Mandir. It pays tribute to elephants, symbolizing the entire animal kingdom. Sculptured according to the ancient Shilpa Shastras of India it is ornately carved in pink stone, stretching for 1,070 ft and featuring stories and legends of elephants with nature, man and God. Every panel reflects the messages of social harmony, peace and spiritual faith.

The Gajendra Pith, weighing 3,000 tons, has 148 full-sized elephants, 42 birds and animals, 125 human sculptures and decorative stone backdrops of trees, creepers and royal palaces.

Gajendra Pith is presented in three categories:

Elephant and Nature: In the lap of India’s lush jungles elephants frolic and live in their elements.
Elephant and Man: For thousands of years a unique relationship exists between man and elephant.
Elephant and the Divine: Wonderful stories illustrated in stone of elephants with God.

Narayan Sarovar (Sacred Water Lake):
Where there is pure water, there lies a pilgrim place and therein the gods sport”.
Rig Ved 4.9.3, Bhavishya Puran: 1.130. 15

From Vedic times India has a glorious tradition of water pilgrim places in the form of rivers, stepwells and lakes. Following this tradition, a sacred water lake, Narayan Sarovar, surrounds the main Akshardham Mandir. The lake contains holy waters from 151 rivers and lakes sanctified by Bhagwan Swaminarayan, including Mansarovar.

Surrounding the Narayan Sarovar are 108 Gaumukh, symbolizing 108 names of God, from which holy water issues forth. Fully-bloomed lotus flowers in the lake impart an inspiring message of purity and detachment.

Neelkanth Abhishek (Ritual Worship):
Devotees offer Abhishek (ritual pouring of water) to the murti of Neelkanth Varni and express their reverence and prayers for spiritual upliftment and fulfilment of wishes.

Parikramas (Colonnade):
From ancient times the Parikramas (circumambulatory path) of Mandirs are pathways to express reverence and devotion to the deities of Sanatan Dharma.

The Swaminarayan Akshardham Parikramas is made of red stone from Rajasthan, consisting of,152 pillars, 145 windows and 154 samvaran shikharas; amounting to a total of 53,956 stones. It surrounds Akshardham like a beautiful decorative garland. Every window and gallery in the lower Parikramas provides different views and insights to Akshardham Mandir. You can hear the soothing sound of water issuing from the 108 Gaumukh. The soft chanting of the holy names of God permeates the Parikramas, giving an experience of peace and divinity. The two-tiered Parikramas is the first of its kind in India.

Length: 3,000 ft.

Hall of Values::

Sahajanand Darshan (Audio Animatronics Shows)
Experience the timeless messages of Indian culture featured through the life of Bhagwan Swaminarayan.

The principle theme of sculpting one’s life for happiness, success and peace of mind is portrayed in this exhibition. The exhibits portray the messages of ahimsa, endeavour, prayer, morality, vegetarianism, family harmony, etc. through fifteen 3-D dioramas and presentations from the life of Bhagwan Swaminarayan. Exquisite settings and statues in each diorama are brought to life through robotics, fibre optics, light and sound effects, dialogues and music; transporting the audience to 18th century India.
Unique 3-D dioramas and walk-through dioramas
Statues come to life through animatronic technology
A fresh experience, a new message and a novel presentation in every diorama

Neelkanth Darshan (Giant Screen Film)::
An epic period film featuring an exciting and inspiring pilgrimage of Neelkanth Varni, a child-yogi, of 18th century India. This unique period film, Neelkanth Darshan, was shot in the icy peaks of the Himalayas in the north to the pristine shores of Kerala in the south. The large format film depicts India’s holy places, festivals and spiritual traditions on a giant screen that is over six stories high. Neelkanth Darshan is the first ever wide format film filmed in India and produced by an Indian organisation.

The international large format version of Neelkanth Darshan film is Mystic India.
Filmed in 108 locations of India with 30 giant settings
45,000 cast in colourful costumes
A vivid experience of 18th century India presented on a giant screen
Giant screen: 85′ x 65′ ft

Neelkanth Varni:
A beautiful 27 ft. high bronze murti of Neelkanth Varni stands in a determined pose outside the large format film theatre.

Sanskruti Vihar (Boat Ride for India’s Glorious Heritage)::
A 12-minute spectacular boat-ride experience of the 10,000 year old India’s glorious heritage.

:- Savour the world’s oldest Vedic village life and bazaar
:- Sail through Takshshilla – the world’s first university
:- Journey through the labyrinth of ancient discoveries and inventions by the great rishi-scientists of India

Yagnapurush Kund (Musical Fountains)::
The fascinating web of life on earth is intricate, precise and beautiful. Its fragile network shows an uncompromising interdependency between man, nature and God. Therefore what we receive for sustenance by way of earth, water, fire, air and space, we need to repay and sacrifice with body, mind and heart.

To fulfil this function in life, India’s great sages and Rishis established the Yagna tradition. They chanted mantras, offered grains and ghee in a sacrificial fire (Yagna Kund) to appease the deities of earth, water, fire, air, etc. Yagna means to sacrifice or generously give in appreciation to others.

The Yagnapurush Kund is a fascinating combination of a Vedic Yagna Kund and a musical fountain. It is the world’s largest Yagna Kund measuring 300′ X 300′ with 2,870 steps and 108 small shrines. In its center lies an 8-petaled lotus shaped Yagna Kund designed according to the Jayaakhya Samhita of the Pancharatra scripture. Its perfect geometric forms testify to ancient India’s advanced knowledge in mathematics and geometry. At night the center comes to life with a colourful musical water fountain that echoes the Vedic sentiments of India.

Yagnapurush Kund has been so named after the founder of BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha and the third successor of Bhagwan Swaminarayan, Swami Yagnapurushdasji (Brahmaswarup Shashtriji Maharaj).

Bharat Upavan (Garden of India)::
Through the millenniums people have always looked up to role models for inspiration, guidance, peace and courage. Their sterling lives radiate a perennial glow for the whole of mankind, regardless of all human, geographical and cultural distinctions.

India, which has the most ancient civilisation in the world, that hosts one sixth of humanity and has the largest democracy in the world, has produced from its vast cultural matrix a legion of role models for the world to emulate.

Bharat Upavan exudes a magnificent natural and cultural ambience through its manicured lawns, lush gardens and wonderful bronze statues of the great role models of India. India’s child gems, valorous warriors, freedom fighters, national figures and great women personalities inspire visitors with values and pride for our great nation.

Yogihriday Kamal:
This is a special lotus of auspicious sentiments.

Yogiji Maharaj, the who dreamed of Akshardham, always prayed, “May God do good of all”. He had infinite faith in God and man.

Every petal of Yogihriday Kamal reflects the auspicious sentiments of Yogiji Maharaj.

Ever since time immemorial great thinkers, scientists, writers, international personalities, saints and sages from every corner of our earth have expressed their prolific faith in the religious scriptures, God and man. Here, every petal inspires with messages from internationally renowned personages about faith in God and faith in man.

An iota of this faith can
Transform the face of our world,
And also one’s own life

Shri Swaminarayan Mandir (BAPS)
‘Swaminarayan Akshardham’
National Highway 24
Near Noida Mor
New Delhi
INDIA – 110092
Tel: 0091-11-2201-6688, 2202-6688
Fax: 0091-11-2201-5757

Web: www.akshardham.com

Teli ka Mandir, Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh, India

Deities: Lord Vishnu
Location: In the complex of Gwalior Fort, Gwalior
Built in: 11th century
Also known as: Oil man’s temple
Significance: An Ancient Temple
Highlights: Fusion of Southern and Northern architectural styles of India
Best time to visit: July to March

The tallest structure in the fort, the 100 ft high Teli-ka-Mandir (oil man’s temple) dates back to the 9th century, and is the most impressive of all the temples in the Gwalior fort. Constructed by the Pratihar Rajas, this Vishnu temple is an amalgamation of the Dravidian (from South India) and the Indo-Aryan (North Indian) architectural styles.

The roof is typically Dravidian but the sculptures and embellishing inside are Indo Aryan in nature. The10m high doorway has a Garuda statue on top. Although many opine that it is closer in design to the temples of Orissa than the South, there are several theories as to how the shrine acquired its name.

Although commanding in appearance, this temple consists only of the sanctuary with a porch and doorway leading into the inner chamber. There is no mandapa and no pillared hall which is so characteristic of the fully developed temple in this part of the country. This structure is a rare specimen of a Brahmanical sanctuary, for, the shape of its roof bears testimony to its Buddhist heritage. Instead of a spire it has a ridge of the type found on the vaulted roof of a Buddhist chaitya-hall.

The origin of the primordial shrine dates as far back as 8th or 9th century AD when Adivaraha Mihir Bhoj of Kannauj ruled over the dominions of Central India. The extraordinary temple is ensconced within the premises of the spectacular Gwalior Fort. The temple’s architecture, design and layout are rather interesting and depict the consummate skill and expertise of the ancient craftsmen and architects. The temple represents a roundish barrel or a shikhar and presents a stunning sight. There are several surmises and conjectures regarding the construction of the venerable shrine.

The porch and the doorway are imprinted with elaborate carvings. One can trace figures of amorous couples, coiled serpents, gods and goddesses on the doorway. The central position on the doorway is dominated by the figure of flying Garuda. The weird and wonderful arrangement of two architectural styles attracts countless visitors throughout the year. Teli Ka Mandir boasts about the heritage and rich of India.

Also dedicated to Vishnu is the graceful little Sas-Bahu-ka-Mandir, built in 11th century. Another landmark is the historic Gurudwara Data Bandhi Chhod built in the memory of Guru Hargobind Sahib, the 6th Sikh Guru who was imprisoned here by Jehangir for over two years. At the time of his release, he wanted 52 Hindu kings who were his fellow prisoners, released with him. Jehangir was very impressed with the Guru and agreed to his condition. And, finally, within the Fort complex, housed in the erstwhile barracks of the British soldiers, is Gwalior’s unique gift to modern India Scindia School. Acknowledged as one of the finest schools in India, it is only fitting that the country’s young citizens receive the best educational grounding surrounded by monuments to a past which is a constant inspiration.

Some believe it was so named because it was built in the Telengana style; others say this was because it was built by telis (oil merchants). A more recent study ascribes it to Telap Raj, a prime minister of the region. Dedicated to Lord Vishnu, a garuda (mythical bird) can be seen on top of the 10-metre-high doorway.

Other Attractions:
Gwalior Fort, Man Mandir, The Sas-Bahu temples, The Chhatris, Tomb of Mohammad Ghaus, Jai Vilas Palace, Surya Mandir (the replica of the Puri Sun Temple).

How to reach:
by Air: India Airlines flights connect Gwalior with Delhi, Bhopal, Indore and Mumbai thrice a week.
by Rail: Gwalior is on the Central Railway’s main Delhi-Mumbai and Delhi-Chennai lines.
by Road: Gwalior is connected by regular bus service with Agra, Mathura, Jaipur, Delhi. One can easily reach Teli Ka Mandir by taking local Buses, Autos or by hiring Taxis from Gwalior.

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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Devaki Krishna Temple, Goa, India

Deities: Lord Krishna and his mother Devaki
Location: Marcel, Ponda taluka, Goa
Significanse: The only temple in India with the presiding deity of Devakikrishna
Best time to visit: May to September
STD Code: 08343

Shri Krishna Govinda Hare Murare, He Natha Narayana Vasudevaya

An India pilgrimage tour remains incomplete without visiting Sri Devaki Krishna Temple. Goa temples are symbols of ancient Indian culture and heritage. They form an indispensable part of India pilgrimage tour. Naturally, forms part of any Goa temples tour.

Three Kilometers away from Banastari Bridge on Panaji-Ponda road, you will reach one of the notable Goa temples named Sri Devaki Krishna Temple at Marcel. The Garbha Griha contains the beautiful idol of Devaki and Lord Krishna. The idol of Devaki is in standing posture with a child.

The temple with a man sized idol of Sri Swamy Ravalnath was consecrated in February 1974 by Sri Srinivasa Prabhu the oracle of the temple. In a separate temple a man sized stone idol of Sri Devaki holding the baby Krishna has been installed and it was consecrated by H H Srimad Sudheendra Thirtha Swamiji in 1981. The oracle is organised every full moon day. The idols of the temple were carved by the famous sculptor Renjal Gopal Krishna Shenoy.

Devaki- Krishna Temple displays the eternal love of mother. The Garbha Griha contains the beautiful idol of Devaki and Lord Krishna. The deity is the idol of Devaki is in standing posture with a child Krishna, sitting astride her. This is one of the rare sculptures found in India. Pilgrims on India pilgrimage tour will appreciate the posture with mother Devaki standing and Krishna on her hips. Could the Baby Jesus and his Mother, Mary, represented in so many of the neighboring churches here have given this temple its inspiration, or is it simply an astonishing coincidence of the overlapping of Western and Eastern traditions?

The uniqueness of the Devki Krishna temple lies in the fact that it is the only temple in India with the presiding deity of Devakikrishna, a confluence of Lord Krishna and his mother Devaki.

Apart from the chief deity of Devakikrishna, the temple enshrines the deities of Bhumika Devi, Laxmi Ravalnath, Mallinath, Katyayani, Chodaneshwar and Dhada Shankar. Originally located at the Chorao Island, all the deities were moved to Mayem in Bicholim to escape the wrath of the Portuguese rulers. They were finally established at the present location at Marcel.

In response to his mother’s wish, Lord Krishna once again assumed the form of his childhood, climbed up the laps of Devaki as she was churning curds, sucked her breast-milk, broke pots of curds, swallowed lumps of butter, and stood up with the churning rod in one hand and the churning rope in another, after snatching them away from his mother’s hands. Devaki’s joy knew no bounds, as she witnessed this sport of the Lord. Rukmini, who also sighted this childhood posture of the Lord, requested him to get an image of it carved out in Shaligrama Shila for her daily worship. When Krishna departed from earth at the close of Dwapara Yuga, this rare image was deposited by Arjuna at a holy spot called Rukmini Vana in Dwaraka. In the course of the Kali Yuga, a merchant carried this image as merchandise from Dwaraka, mistaking it for a clod of Gopichandan in which the image lay hidden. The ship was wrecked near the sea-shore of Vadabhandeshwar (near Malpe port) Madhvacharya came to know the wreckage of the ship by intuition, got the image dug out of the ship, kept it immersed for a few days in the holy tank of his mutt, and installed it for worship on an auspicious Makara Sankranthi day, nearly 700 years ago. Hence forth, Lord Krishna became the presiding deity of Udupi. He is the source of happiness and salvation of all good people. Madhva installed this image of Krishna with the avowed purpose of removing all obstacles and relieving the pains, which beset His devotees on their way to salvation.

The major festival is Malni Purnima from Paush Vadya is celebrated over here with great fervour and excitement during January-February. The pilgrims from all over India would be visiting Devaki-Krishna temple on the Malin Purnima. This is the main festival of this temple that attracts the devotees from every where. The three anniversaries of the temple as well as Navarathri festival is celebrated annually. Shri Chandika Yajna is also organised annually.

Prime Attractions:
Dona Paula
Aguada Fort
Archaeological Museum & Portrait Gallery
Archives Museum Goa
Bondla Forest
Miramar Beach
Sri Kamakshi Temple
Sri Mahalakshmi Temple
Sri Manguesh Temple
Sri Saptakoteshwara Temple
Sri Shantadurga Temple at Kavalem
Sri Vithal Temple

How to reach:
By Road: Ponda is served by regular buses from Panjim and Margao, and lies on the main route east to Karnataka. The Kadamba Bus Stand is on the main square, next to the auto-rickshaw rank. There are many buses and private vehicles available to reach the temple of Devaki-Krishna temple.
By Air: The nearest airport was Dabolim airport.
By Rail:
The Margao is nearest railway station.

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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Shore Temple, Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu, India

Deities: Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu
Location: Mahabalipuram, Tamil NaduBuilt in: 7th centuryAttraction: One of the earliest structural temples in South India
Significance: Listed as World Heritage Site

The Shore Temple (700-728 CE) is so named because it over looks the Bay of Bengal. It is a structural temple, built with blocks of granite, dating from the 8th century AD. It was build on a promontory sticking out into the Bay of Bengal at Mamallapuram, a tiny village south of Chennai in the state of Tamil Nadu, India. The village was a busy port during the 7th and 8th century reign of the Pallava dynasty during the reign of Narasimhavarman II. Mamallapuram was its original name. It was changed in course of time to Mahabalipuram.

The shrines have a square lower storey and a pyraidal superstructure. The tower is more tapering than the monolithic structures. A sixteen sided polished Siva Linga – in the bigger shrine. There are Somaskanda panels in the rear walls of the Siva shrines.

The site is famous for the rock-cut caves and the sculptured rock that line a granite hill, including one depicting Arjuna’s Penance as well as for other temples in the area. It has been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is one of the oldest structural (versus rock-cut) stone temples of South India. A few years ago and they are probably the most photographed monuments in India.

The main shrine faces the sea on the east and the gateway, the forecourt and the assembly hall of the Shore Temple lie behind the sanctum. The temple has shrines to both Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu. The main sanctum and one of the two lesser ones on the west are dedicated to the Shiva. The enclosing wall has a series of Nandi bulls on it.

Interconnected cisterns around the temple meant that the sea could be let in to transform the temple into a water shrine. A stone wall as been added to protect the shrine from the rising seas and further erosion in the recent times. There are three temples of which two Shiva Temples face east and west respectively. The other one is the Vishnu Temple. The Vishnu temples were built by Narasimha Varman I and the other two were built by Narasimha Varman II. One can find the beautifully carved twin Dwarka Palaks (gate keepers) at the entrance of the east facing Shiva Temples. On both sides of the temple inside are the marvelous sculptures of Lord Brahma and Lord Vishnu with their better halves. The top part of the Shivalinga figure inside the temple is found damaged. There are sculptures of Somaskanda – lord Shiva with his better half, Parvati, and his sons, Skanda and Ganesha are found on the near wall. Apart from Lord Shiva’s sculpture, one can find the sculptures of Narasimha and Goddess Durgha also.

The central shrine is in the form of a rectangle. It has a magnificent statue of lord Vishnu which is known as Sthala Shayana Perumal or Ananthasayana which means sleeping Vishnu. The peculiarity about this particular temple is – Vishnu reclines on the floor listening silently the sounds of names. The figure of Vishnu is found in segments which are to be looked through various doors. The other sculpture is portrayed in such a may that Lord Vishnu seated in mount Garuda helping Gajendra, the elephant, found in the southern wall and the northern wall is the portrayals from the life of lord Krishna. The grand temple is surrounded by mandapas and compound walls. There is a rock-cut of a lion rode by two young women. The lion has a small cut, a square shaped cut in its belly. A Huge rock near by the temple has been the target of the waves to touch it from the ancient days. There is also a carving of a buffalo demon running with a stick in his hand, located in the northern side. The temple looks beautiful due to the lights during weekend evenings.

The shrines have a square lower storey and a pyraidal superstructure. The tower is more tapering than the monolithic structures. A sixteen sided polished Siva Linga – in the bigger shrine. There are Somaskanda panels in the rear walls of the Siva shrines. These temples are refreshingly uncluttered, unlike later grandiose Dravidian architecture. The enclosure features two shrines that honor Shiva, facing Eastern and Western directions; superimposed between these two is a third shrine that honors Vishnu, as preserver of the Universe. He is depicted reclining on the serpent Sesha, a Hindu symbol for consciousness. The art in the sculpted panels of the temple laid emphasis on robust earthly beauties, imbibed with life. The sculptures are breathtakingly real and artistic. The Shore temple is not a living temple. It is speculated that this edifice was constructed essentially as a work of art rather than as a place of worship. The Pallavas who built this temple were great patrons of the arts and were very influential in their distinctive character of temple architecture. The lion was a prominent symbol of their regime. Shore Temple generates an exclusive combination of history and natural splendor. The temple was designed to grasp the first rays of the rising sun and to spotlight the waters after sunset. In the words of Percy Brown, Shore Temple served as “a landmark by day and a beacon by night”.

The Pallavas were followers of Jainism but the conversion of Mahendra Varman to Shaivism had drastic consequences on the future of Jainism and it also explains the Shiva and the Vishnu temple at Mamallapuram.

How to reach:
One can easily reach Shore Temple by taking regular Buses or by hiring Taxis from anywhere in Tamil Nadu.

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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Ashvakranta Temple, Guwahati, Assam, India

Deities: Lord Krishna
Location: Guwahati, Assam
Importance: It is believed that Ashvakranta is the site at which Krishna camped with his horses and army before he killed the demon Narakasura
Famous for: Images of Sri Krishna
STD Code: 0361

The land of Assam with its beautiful temples beckons all those who want to feel a divine connection. Sitting in the court of these temples as you meditate you feel a divine connection as nothing can beat the absolute tranquility that surrounds these temples. As far architecture goes, these carry the reflections of greater India.

The Ashvakranta temple in Guwahati in Assam is an ancient one and is associated with the legend of Krishna slaying the demon Narakasura.It is believed that Ashvakranta is the site at which Krishna camped with his horses and army before he killed the demon Narakasura, hence the name Ashvakranta.

According to the Naraka legend, Lord Vishnu placed him as the King of Pragjyotisa. At first Naraka was pious and ruled his country righteously. But soon he became friendly with Bana, King of Sonitpur, and a Shaivite king who had become all powerful by propitiating Lord Shiva.Legend has it that Naraka, the son of Krishna was appointed ruler of Assam. He fell into bad ways and began tormenting mortals and the Gods, especially under the influence of another demon Bana.

The sage Vashishta visited Kamarupa Desa with the intention of worshipping Kamakhya Devi. Naraka stopped him from doing so and hence the sage cursed him that he would be killed by his own father Vishnu.

As Narakasura’s attrocities increased, Vishnu (Krishna) invaded Kamarupa (Pragjyotishapura) and vanquished the demon. Upon being slain, the remorseful demon pleaded with Krishna, that his death would be celebrated with fanfare by humanity, in the wee hours of the new moon morning in the month of Libra. This legend forms the basis of the grandest festival in India Diwali- the festival of Lights.

Also located near Guwahati is Vasishtashrama or the hermitage of Vasishta, where he is believed to have carried out penances meditating upon Shiva. Legend has it that Indra along with heavenly damsels, rendered the nearby streams impure, and incurred the wrath of Vasishta. As a result of which he was born on earth as a mortal, who later on rose to be the founder of the Ahom dynasty of Assam.

This friendship between the two resulted in King Naraka becoming irreligious and presumptuous. Possessed by demonic ideas (“Asuram Bhavamwadya”), Naraka began to harass the Brahmanas and even neglected the Goddess Kamakhya, who was greatly favoured by Lord Vishnu.

Near By Attraction:
Ashvakranta Temple.
Kamakhya Temple.
Madan Kamadeva.
Sukresvara Temple.
Navagraha Temple.
Umananda Temple.
Ugratara Temple.

How to reach:
Guwahati is well connected to the major cities. It is the hub of the road network to the north eastern region and to centers west of Assam. The distance between Guwahati and Kolkata is 1151 km and between Darjeeling and Guwahati is 627 km.

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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Jagannath Temple, Puri, Orissa, India

Location: Puri, Orissa
Built in: 12th century
Dedicated to: Lord Jagannath, Goddess Subhadra, Lord Balabhadra
Significance: One of the pilgrimages of the Hindus

The name Jagannath literally means “Lord of the Universe” It is said that the present temple was begun by King Chora Ganga Deva and finished by his descendant, Anangabhima Deva, during the 12th century.

Lord Jagannath is considered as the form of Lord Krishna.

The Blue Wheel – Jagannath Temple:
There is a wheel on top of the Jagannatha Temple made of an alloy of eight different metals known as ‘Ashta – Dhatu’. It is known as the ‘Nila Chakra’ (blue wheel). It is 11 feet 8 inches high and has a circumference of about 36 feet. A flag is tied every day on a mast attached to the Nila Chakra. On every ‘Ekadasi’ day a lamp is lit on top of the temple near the wheel. The main temple is surrounded by 30 different smaller temples. The ‘Narasimha temple’ adjacent to the western side of the ‘Mukti-Mandapa’ is said to have been constructed before the present temple.
In front of the main gate is an 11m pillar, called ‘Aruna Stambha’, which used to be in front of the Sun Temple in Konark. It was brought to Puri during the 18th century. The figure on top of the pillar is Aruna, the charioteer of the Sun God. In the passage room of this gate is a Deity of Lord Jagannatha called ‘Patita Pavana’ (Savior of the most fallen). This Deity is visible from the road so non Hindus can take ‘Darshana’ of the Lord.

The origin of Jagannath Mandir can be traced in the medieval times. The ancient temple is vital for Vaishnavites/ Hindus. The Vishnu Chakra is the highest point of the temple. The red flag over the Chakra indicates that the Lord is within the shrine. The Jagmohana and the Vimana are believed to made during the reign of Anantavarman Chodaganga Dev (1078 -1148 CE), who was the ruler of Kalinga.

Legend about the origin of Jagannath Temple:
The conventional legend says that the original image of Lord Jagannath (form of Lord Krishna) was found in the vicinity of a fig tree. The image was realized in the form of an Indranila (Blue Jewel). The sight of the image was so glittering that Dharma decided to bury it in the earth. Later, Kind Indradyumna of Malwa sought to locate the image. In order to find the image, he did strict penance and appeased the Lord. Subsequently, Lord Vishnu advised him to go to the Puri seashore, where he would get a floating log. From the log, he could make an image of Lord Jagannath. On finding the log, the King met two artists, who were none other than Lord Vishnu and Vishwakarma. They then made idols of Krishna, Balarama and Subhadra from the log.

Also, during lunar months of Ashadh, the deities change their bodies. This is known as Navakalebar or New Body Ceremony. During this time, the temple is throbbed with innumerable devotees.

There are as many as 24 festivals each year, the most important one of them being the Rath Yatra or the Chariot festival in the month June – July. The spectacular chariot festival involves the procession of three colossal chariots bearing the images of Jagannath, Balarama and Subhadra through the streets of Puri.Millions of devotees from every corner of the world gather round the temple during the ‘Ratha Yatra’ festival of Sri Jagannath.

The three of them are pulled in huge stringed chariots (Rathas) and the King of Puri himself sweeps the roads with a golden broom for the Lord of the World to pass.

Visiting Hours:
The temple gets open at 5am and is open till midnight. At 1 in noon the gates are closed for half an hour.

Entry Fee: Nil.

When to visit:
The best time to see the temple is during the Rath-Yatra. Else one can visit Puri during Oct.-April.Other Attractions near the Jagannath Puri Temple:Puri is a famous tourist spot. One can visit the Gundicha temple, Indradyumna tank, Siddha Hanuman temple nearby. Also in the vicinity are the Nandankanan Tiger safari and the famous Konark temple.

How to reach:
by Air: Puri can be reached by air as its nearest airport is in Bhubaneswar, 56 km away. Regular buses and trains service is available from Bhubaneswar to Puri.
by Rail: Puri railway station is a major railway station and is well connected with almost all the major cities of India.
by Road: Puri is connected with Bhubaneshwar, Konark, Berhampur, Taptapani, Sambalpur and Kolkata 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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