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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Bankey Bihari Temple, Vrindavan, Uttar Pradesh, India

Deities: Lord Bankey Bihari (a form of Lord Krishna)
Location: Raman Reti, Vrindavan
Built by: Swami Haridas
Built in: 1864
Attraction: One of the most famous temples

Bankey Bihari Temple is the prime attraction and the highly revered shrine of Vrindavan. In Uttar Pradesh, Vrindavan is a small town that is celebrated for this holy shrine of Lord Krishna. Bankey Bihari Mandir is the popular temple amongst the Vaishnavites of India. The present temple was built by Swami Haridas in 1864. Here, Lord Krishna is observed in his phase of childhood. The services offered to the Lord are made in such style, as if, nurturing a small child.

In the phrase Bankey Bihari, the term ‘Bankey’ suggests ‘bent at three places’ and ‘Bihari refers ‘the Supreme enjoyer’. Thus, Bankey Bihari is the benefactor of bliss and pleasure. Lord Bankey Bihari is also known Thakurji, the owner of everything. The black wooden idol of Bankey Bihariji was brought in this temple from Nidhivan by Swami Haridas. The services made to deity are regarded as the ‘sewa’ of the deity. At that time, Swami Haridas tendered the ‘sewa’ of Bihariji to Goswami Jagannath.

Ever since, the ‘sewa’ of Bihariji is performed by the descendants of Goswami. Unlike other temples of the Hindus, this temple doesn’t observe the ‘Mangal Aarti’ that is a kind of wishing good morning to the Lord because the child sleeps till late in the morning. Bihariji is worshipped in a different way, classifying the services into three parts, Shringar, Rajbhog and Shayan respectively. During Shringar, the lord is bathed, dressed and decorated with jewellery.

In the forenoon, Thakurji is offered Rajbhog, which is a feast including the best delicacies to satisfy the taste buds of the child. The third sewa is known as ‘Shayan’ and in this service; Bankey Bihari is made to sleep. This temple opens late in the morning because it is considered that the lord plays at night and gets up late. The divine aura of the shrine makes one to forget all his/her miseries and bestows the eternal bliss.

Another attraction of this temple is that the deity is clothed and offered food as per the season and occasion. During the months of ‘Saawan’ (monsoons), the temple is decorated with flowers and lights. This decoration of temple is called as ‘Bangla’ that suggests bungalow of the Lord. The temple doesn’t comprise any bell or conch because the sound disturbs Bihariji.

The temple has many features that are unique in their own way. Bankey Bihari has a kind of magnetic appeal in his eyes and to prevent the attraction, a curtain is made after every 1 minute. The charisma of the Lord is really strong and it is believed that, if one stares into the eyes the God for a long time, the individual would lose his self-consciousness.

The only thing that is common throughout the temple is the chant of ‘radhe radhe’. The Lord loves the name of ‘Radha’ that is why the shrine is always reverberated with the chant. The structure of the temple is imbibed from the Rajasthani style of architecture. Even after 150 years, the temple has not lost its charm. In fact, thousands of devotees come to visit this temple everyday.

The festival of ‘Janmashtami’ (Birthday of Lord Krishna) is celebrated here with full gusto and fervor. The whole temple is festooned with flowers and lights. For the day, the ‘darshan’ of the deity is not allowed as the Lord is said to be in the womb of her mother. The ‘darshan’ is allowed only when the clock strikes 12 in the night. During months of Sawan and Phagun, the altar of the Lord is brought out of the main shrine, so that devotees can get the ‘darshan’ of Bihariji.

Even in the month of Phagun, the temple observes much celebration. On Holi, Bankey Bihari is supposed to play Holi and the whole town of Vrindavan gets submerged in colours. Bankey Bihari Temple is also one of the richest temples of India. People donate huge amounts of money and gifts for the services of the Lord. Bankey Bihari is truly the epitome of devotion, dedication and is a ‘must-visit’.

How to reach:
By taking local Buses, Rickshaws or by hiring Taxis from Vrindavan.

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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Dwarkadhish Temple, Mathura, Uttar Pradesh, IN

Deities: Krishna, Balaram, Radha
Location: Eastern part of Mathura
Built by: Seth Gokul Das Parikh
Built in: 1814
Significance: One of the most visited temples of Mathura
Known as: Brajbhoomi, The birth place of Lord Krishna
Best time to visit: October to March

The land of love and Bhajans, Mathura is the birth place of Lord Krishna replete with imposing temples.

Mathura is as old as the Himalayas that was born two millions years ago out of the Tethys Sea. The main shrine embraces the images of Lord Krishna and his beloved Radha. Apart from the image of Radha-Krishna, the shrine has images of other Gods of the Hindu Pantheon.

Dwarkadhish Temple is not only an important temple of Mathura but also of India. Built in 1814, Dwarkadhish Temple is situated in the heart of the city of Mathura. Dwarkadhish Temple that is currently managed by the followers of the Vallabhacharya sect is the most visited temple in Mathura. Located in the eastern part of Mathura, not far from the Yamuna River, the temple is architecturally very interesting.Lakhs of tourists and devotees visit the holy state of Mathura each year from various parts of the world.

History:
The origin of Mathura is ancient. It is said to be the birthplace of Lord Krishna, the popular incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Mathura and the area around it, including Vrindavan, are linked with the childhood exploits of Lord Krishna. It is mentioned in the ancient Indian epic of Mahabharata. It later became a part of the Mauryan Empire. King Ashok, the great Mauryan ruler, built a number of Buddhist monuments in and around Mathura in the third century. Between first century BC and first century AD, Mathura was the center for arts. The sculpture making and stone carving styles of this period are referred to as belonging to the Mathura School of Art. The main theme of these sculptures was inspired by the life of Lord Buddha.

The decline of Buddhism in this region following the decline of the Mauryan Empire saw the rise of Hindu influence. However, in the 11th century AD, Mahmud Ghazni destroyed a large number of Buddhist and Hindu shrines. In the 15th century, Sikandar Lodhi, one of the Sultans from Delhi, continued the pillage of this city. The last great Mughal ruler and a fanatic Muslim, Aurangzeb flattened the Kesava Deo temple and a built a mosque here. The Afghani marauder Ahmed Shah Abdali dealt the final blow in 1757, when he torched the city. It came under British rule in 1804.

Janmashtami in Mathura:
The main Janmashtami celebrations in Mathura take place at the birth place that is now converted into a big temple known as Krishna Janma Bhoomi Mandir. On this day, devotees keep a day long fast and break it at midnight after the birth time of Lord Krishna. At midnight the idol of Lord Krishna is bathed with milk and curd and then rocked in a cradle. A popular belief is that if inhabitants make any wish while rocking the cradle then the wish will come true. Along with Rasleela, Jhanki the most important feature of the Mathura Janmashtami celebrations are the Jhulanotsav and Ghatas. This can only be seen in Mathura City. During Jhulanotsav, Swings are put in courtyard of temples and houses to welcome Lord Krishna’s birth. It symbolizes cradling of Lord Krishna. Ropes of swings are decorated with flowers to give a festive look.

Major Attractions:
Katra Keshav Dev
Gita Mandir
Dwarkadhish Temple
The Vishram Ghat
Government Museum
Kusum Sarovar
Lake of Tears

How to reach:
by Air: The nearest airport is situated at Kheria in Agra at a distance of 62 km. The nearest international airport is in Delhi which is connected to almost every important city.
by Rail: Mathura is on the main lines of the Central and Western Railways and is connected with all the important cities of the state and country such as Delhi, Agra, Mumbai, Jaipur and Gwalior.
by Road: Mathura is connected to all the major cities by National Highways. It is linked by the regular state bus services of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Haryana.

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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