Kailash Temple, Ellora, Maharashtra, IN

Deities: Lord Shiva
Location: Ellora, Maharashtra
Built in: 8th century
Built by: Rashtrakuta king Krishna
Also known as: Kailasanatha Temple
Best time to visit: October to February
STD Code: 02432

Kailash Temple , also Kailasanatha Temple is one of the 34 monasteries and temples, extending over more than 2 km, that were dug side by side in the wall of a high basalt cliff in the complex located at Ellora, Maharashtra Ellora that lies just 30 kms from Aurangabad. It was built in the 8th century by the Rashtrakuta king Krishna.

At Ellora, 34 cave temples were carved out of the hillside with hand tools. Only 12 of these 34 caves in the centre are the most impressive. The massive Kailash Temple (cave 16) is nearly one a half time taller than the Parthnon and occupies almost twice its area. It is believed that it was constructed by excavating approx. 200,000 tones of rock and is possible the world’s largest monolithic structure. Representing Shiva’s Himalayan home, the temple is exquisitely sculpted with scenes from Hindus mythology, each pulsing with drama, energy and passion.

Kailash Temple at cave 16, were a big Shiva-linga (form of Lord Shiva) is worshiped. It is the biggest building carved in a stone in the whole world. Is a part of Ellora Cave Complex. Beautiful sculptures from Ramayana and Mahabharata are carved on the walls of this cave temple.

History:
The depiction of the demon Ravana shaking Mount Kailash is a masterpiece contain the scenes of semi-mythological history, the royal court and popular life of the ancient times, as told in romances and plays. Some pictures recall the Greek and Roman compositions and proportions, few late resemble to Chinese manners to some extent. But majority belongs to a phase which is purely Indian as they are found no where else. These monuments were constructed during two different periods of time separated by a long interval of four centuries. The older ones were the product of last to centuries before Christ and belong to Himalaya period of Buddhism in later part of 2nd century AD when Buddhism was divided into two sections, after the conduct of the fourth general council under another great king, Kanishka.

Architecture:
The scheme of the Kailash temple is basically divided into four main parts: the body of the temple itself, the entrance gateway, an intermediate nandi shrine and the cloisters surrounding the courtyard. One cannot help but be aware of the spiritual energy that went into its creation – a jewel hewn out of the rock itself. One of the India’s greatest architectural treasures was hewn out of the solid rock of the hillside to form a free-standing temple consisting of a gateway, two-storied halls and the main shrine within. The most majestic creation is the Kailash Temple, a full-sized freestanding temple flanked by huge elephants all carved from solid rock, pillars and podiums, as the workers dug away some 200,000 tons of rock. The result is an awe-inspiring representation of Shiva’s Himalayan abode. Nearby caves are alive with stone murals depicting divine struggles and victories. With these caves before us, it is clear that India far surpasses the rest of the world in the glory of its rock-cut architecture.

Festival:
Every December, the Ellora festival of music and dance at the Kailasha Temple, which is attended by large number of people.

How to reach:
by Air: Aurangabad airport is situated the closest to the magnificent caves of Ellora. Approximately 15 km away, the airport is connected with the Delhi and Mumbai international airport, by public as well as private airlines.
by Rail: The rail head that lies nearest to the Ellora Caves comprises of the Aurangabad railway station. It falls on the South Central Railway Line and is situated about 30 km from Ellora. There are direct trains linking this station with most of the key cities in India.
by Road: Aurangabad city is located closest to Ellora Caves and is well connected with them by road. One can easily find taxis as well as buses plying between the two destinations. From Aurangabad, one can also find buses and taxis to Mumbai,

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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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Sun Temple, Modhera, Gujarat, India

Deity: Lord Surya/Sun
Location: On the banks of Pushpavati river in Modhera, Gujarat
Built by: King Bhimdev of the Solanki dynasty
Attraction: Marvellous architectural work
Significance: One of the few Sun Temples across the country

Modhera or Modherapura also known as Mundera is said to have been the original settlement of modha Brahmans. The remains of an ancient Sun Temple at Modhera draw hundreds of tourists, to this village 30 km south of Patan, near Ahmedabad. The Sun Temple was built by Raja Bhimdev I of Solanki .Solankis were considered to be Suryavanshis, or descendants of Sun god. The temple was so designed that the first rays of the sun fell on the image of Surya, the Sun God, at the time equinoxes.

The Sun Temple at Modhera dates back to early 11th century CE and was built by King Bhimdev I in 1026 CE. It was during the same period that the Jain temples at Mount Abu were constructed by Vimal Shah. The Rudra Mahal temple at Siddhapur also dates back to this period.  Also re-constructed at the same time was the Somnath temple at Somnath Patan. Interestingly, the grand Brihadeeswarar temple at Thanjavur in South India was constructed during the same time.

Even in its ruined state, the sun temple at Modhera is magnificent. There is no worship offered here now. There is no shikhara either. The temple has a sanctum, a pradakshina patha and a sabha mandap in front. The exterior of the sanctum has many carved images of the Sun God, portrayed as wearing a belt and long shoes as in the Dakshinaarka temple at Gaya. The mandapa in front of the sanctum has beautifully carved pillars with exquisite toranas adorning the entrances. The exterior of this temple is intricately carved. In front of the temple is a colossal tank, which was once known as Surya Kund or Rama Kund. The tank has a series of carved steps leading to the bottom. Several miniature shrines adorn the steps of the tank – which is an art gallery in itself.

History:
According to the Skanda Purana and Brahma Purana, the areas near Modhera were known during ancient days as Dharmaranya (literally meaning the forest of righteousness). According to these Puranas, Lord Rama, after defeating Ravana, asked sage Vasistha to show him a place of pilgrimage where he could go and purify himself from the sin of Brahma-hatya (the sin of killing a Brahmin, because ravan was a Brahmin by birth). Sage Vasistha showed him Dharmaranya, which was near the modern town of Modhera. In the Dharmaranya, he settled at a village Modherak and performed a yagna there. Thereafter he established a village and named it Sitapur.This village is about 8 km from Becharaji Modherak village and it subsequently came to be known as Modhera.

Festival:
Modhera dance festival is the major festival that is observed by the Sun Temple. This dance festival is organized to keep the Indian traditions and culture alive. It is held in the third week of January every year. The classical dance forms in the premises of this temple revive the imperial ambiance during the period.

How to reach:
One can easily reach Modhera Sun Temple by taking regular Buses or by hiring taxis from anywhere in Gujarat.

Lingaraj Mandir, Bhubaneshwar, Orissa, IN

Deities: Lord Shiva
Location: Bhubaneshwar, Orissa
Built in: 11th century
Significance: Self-Originated Lingam

Lingaraj Temple is believed to be the oldest and largest temple of Bhubaneshwar. The temple of Lingaraja is highly revered by the followers of Hinduism. Lingraj Mandir is easily accessible from the city. The term ‘Lingaraj’ suggests ‘the king of Lingas’, where ‘linga’ is the phallic form of Lord Shiva. In the 11th century, Lingaraj Temple was built by the King Jajati Keshari, who belonged to Soma Vansh. It is thought that when the King shifted his capital from Jaipur to Bhubaneshwar, he started the construction of Lingaraj Temple.

This ancient temple has also been referred in the Brahma Purana, a Hindu scripture. Not less than 1000 years old. However, there are many parts that are acknowledged to date back the 6th century. It is said that when the construction of Lingaraj Temple was about to complete, the Jagannath cult started growing. This belief is further empowered with the fact that Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva are worshipped here.

Lingaraj Temple depicts the rich legacy of Indian culture and traditions. The colossal temple attracts thousands of devotees and pilgrims to its doorstep every year. The spiritual ecstasy offered by the temple is worth feeling for once.

The Temple Architecture:
The Lingaraj temple is divided into four distinct chambers interconnected to each other; the external part (Jagamohana), the inner sanctum sanctorum (Garbhagriha), and a conical beehive shaped tower forming the third part (Natay mandap and the Bhoga Mandap). The temple complex has a planned drainage system and is designed well to keep monsoon rains off the walls. The fact is endorsed by the use of completely different type of sandstones and the architectural style followed, which relates to a much later period of history.

Other attraction near by:
Ananta-Vasudeva Temple
Bindusagar
Bhaskareswar Temple

Festival:
During the month of March-April, the whole city unites to celebrate the four-day Chariot festival. Dazzling in its own way, the fiesta is celebrated with great pomp and show. Major attractions include drawing Lord Lingaraj on his chariot to Rameswara temple and fairs organized by the state government. Plan your trip during this season to enjoy the joyous festive moment.

How to reach:
One can easily reach Lingaraj Temple by taking local buses or by hiring Taxis from the city of Bhubaneshwar; the Biju Patnaik Airport can help you to reach the temple.

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.

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Eklingji Temple, Udaipur, Rajasthan, India

Deities: Lord Shiva
Location: On National Highway No.8, In Kailashpuri, Udaipur, Rajasthan
Built by: Bappa Rawal
Highlights: 50 feet high image of Lord Shiva

Importance:
One of the legends relating to Ekilngil is that after killing Vrakshasur, Indra had meditated and prayed to eklingji in repentance and to be free of the curse. According to another legend, Bapparawal had seen the Shivlinga in his dream when he was in trouble and when the problem was solved; he constructed the temple and later build Mewar.

Eklingji is located about twelve miles to the North of Udaipur in Rajasthan. This deity was regarded as the virtual ruler, by the Maharajas of Mewar – who considered them to be regents (Dewans) under Eklingji. Ekligji (Kailashpuri) is a town situated in a beautiful valley and it attracts multitudes of visitors throughout the year.

The existing structure is one built out of the ruins of a previously destroyed structure and it dates back to the 15th century CE. The architecture resembles that of the Jain temples of Gujarat Shiva is worshipped here as a four faced black marble image, the four faces representing Brahma facing west, Vishnu facing North, Maheshwar facing South and Surya (Sun) facing the east. The flat top of the composite idol is covered with a Yantra, a mystic symbolic drawing, standing for the ultimate reality. Shiva here is worshipped as the Ultimate Reality, the supreme power, and the wholesome one – Parabrahma.

The temple occupies an area of about 2500 sq. feet and is about 65 feet in height. The temple area is fortified and a strong wall runs around it. The main entrance to the temple on the Western side welcomes visitors into a big hall resting on profusely carved pillars. In this hall, is a silver image of Nandi. There are two more Nandis in the temple, one made of black stone and the other of brass.

Other deities housed in the temple complex include Parvati, Ganesh, Ganga, Kartikeya, Yamuna and Saraswati. There are also small temples dedicated to Ambamata, Kalka Mata and Ganesh in the temple complex. There is another temple called Nathon Ka Mandir. There are two tanks situated on the Northern side of the temple Karz Kund and Tulsi Kund. Water from these tanks is utilized for temple services. Temple services are performed in a very elaborate manner in the Vedic and Tantric styles.

The town of Eklingji is full of temples. There are about 70 temples in all. Mention must be made of the Sas-Bahu marble temple, dating back to the 11th century. It is a fine specimen of ancient art with sculptural details. The Adbhudji Jain temple is of black marble and it dates back to the 15th century CE. Other temples in Kailashpuri include those of Pataleshwar Mahadeo, Arbada Mata, Rathasan Devi, and Vindhyavasini Devi.

Festival:
Shivratri
is an important religious event, when the image of the deity is decked with jewellery.

How to reach:
One can easily reach Eklingji Temple by taking regular buses or by hiring taxis from anywhere in Rajasthan.

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.

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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.

History:
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.

Festival:
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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Banashankari Temple, Karnataka, India

Location: At Cholachigud, Near Badami in Karnataka
Built in: 17th century
Dedicated to: Goddess Banashankari
Significance: Banashankari is the incarnation of Goddess Parvati

Introduction:
The temple was built in 1915 by a devotee, Somanna Shetty who installed a deity of Banashankari Amma brought all the way from Badami in Bijapur district. Banashankari Temple is a popular and highly revered shrine of Karnataka. Located at Cholachigud, Banashankari Temple lies at a distance 50 kms from Badami. The town of Badami is another destination renowned for its ancient cave temples.

About us:
In the main shrine, the image of Banashankari Devi reveals the Goddess in a sitting posture. The Goddess can be seen seated on a growling lion and crushing a demon with her foot. The idol is carved out of a black stone. The Goddess Banashankari is depicted here with eight arms, holding trishul, damaruga, kamaalpatra, ghanta, Veda scripts and khadg-kheta in her different hands. It is believed that the Goddess was the ‘Kuladevi‘ of the Chalukyas.

The term Banashankari is derived from two words; ‘Ban’ (Van) meaning ‘forest’ and ‘Shankari’ meaning ‘the lover of Lord Shiva’.

Banashankari Temple of Karnataka is one of the finest pieces of Dravidian style of architecture. The temple is open to public everyday but special puja is performed on Tuesday, Friday and Sunday. The ancient temple of Banashankari represents the Dravidian style of architecture. ‘Haridra Tirtha’ is a large pond, which makes the foreground of this temple. This pond is encircled by stone mantapas on its three sides.

Festival:
The temple celebrates three cultural ceremonies in a year: September 13 – the birthday of Banashankari Amma, Dussehra Festival in October and the temple anniversary which falls in the end of December. Large crowd gather at the place during these occasions.

How to reach:
One can easily reach Banashankari Temple by taking regular Buses or by hiring taxis from anywhere in Karnataka.

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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