Basar Saraswati, Nizamabad, Andhra Pradesh, India

Deities: Basar Saraswati
Location: Nizamabad (at Basar), Andhra Pradesh, India
Known as: Basara Saraswati
Festivals: Akshara Abhishekam, Devi Nava Ratri, Dattatreya Jayanthi, Vasanta Panchami
Best time to visit: All year around

Basara Saraswati Temple of Goddess Saraswati at Basar is one among the two temples of this Goddess. The other is in Kashmir.

This temple is the most important and most visited place is the temple of Basar, the abode of Goddess of Learning, Goddess Saraswati.

Basar is a village situated on the banks of river Godavari; the serene and pious nature attracts the kith and kin. Built at the confluence of the rivers Mangira and Godavari this temple is adorned by the goddess of knowledge and wisdom The Goddess Saraswati.

This is an ancient temple dedicated to Saraswati – one of the few of its kind all over India. It is said to have been installed by Sage Vyasa in the days of the Mahabharata. Another legend relates it to Valmiki the author of Ramayana. The current structure dates back to the Chalukya period. There is an image of Lakshmi beside Saraswati. Mahakali temple, Papahareswar Temple and Pataleswar Temple are the other places of worship here.

According to a popular legend Great Sage Vyas along with his son sage Shuka and other disciples desponded and dejected by the Kurukshetra War left on a pilgrimage towards Dakshinapatnam (southern India). He retired on the banks of River Godavari for a penance. This was later called Vasar in his honour and gradually is being called as Basar.

During his stay, Sage Vyas bought three handfuls of sand and made them into three heaps daily after the morning bath. The heaps have transformed into the divine trio The Lakshmi, The Sharada and The Gowri. The idol made of sand is smeared with turmeric.

Another popular legend says that Great Sage Valmiki prior writing his Magnus opus The Ramayan; installed Goddess Saraswati and seeks her blessing. One can find the marble Samadhi of Valmiki near the Saraswati temple.

The temple is an example of the Dravidian architectural splendour. The Garbh Gudi or Garbh Griha, Gopurams, Prakarams and the like all are sculptured with grandeur. The idol of Goddess Lakshmi is installed along with Goddess Jnana Saraswati.

The goddess adorns the throne in sitting posture, which is of 4 feet tall.

Another object of attraction is the granite pillar that emits the sound of ‘Saptaswaras’ when struck with a stone, drawing visitors’ attention. Another speciality is the tree called ‘Oudumbra’ at the base of which are installed the sacred sandals of Dattatreya’. It is believed that a barren woman is gifted with a child on mere touch of them.

Devotees stream the temple for the ritual of ‘Akshara Abhishekam’ of their children; the formal starting of education deeming it to be auspicious.

Festival:
The annual festivals of ‘Devi Nava Ratri’, ‘Dattatreya Jayanthi’, and ‘Vasanta Panchami’ are celebrated with utmost dedication and devotion and draws devotees from all parts of the country from all walks of life. A shrine one must visit in one’s lifetime; the abode of Goddess of learning and knowledge is the BASAR Saraswati temple in the Muthol taluq in the district of Adilabad in Andhra Pradesh.

How to Reach:
Basar is well connected by rail and road. One can go by train, The Secunderabad – Manmad Express that stops at Basar. And all state transport buses from Hyderabad.

Accommodation:
The temple authority provides the Devasthanam Choultry for the devotees and visitors for their stay. There are many guesthouses, restaurants and hotels available on reasonable tariffs.
For more information on Basar Saraswati, please visit: www.basaratemple.org

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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Mukteswara Temple, Bhubaneshwar, Orissa, IN

Deity: Lord Shiva
Location: Bhubaneshwar, Orissa
Built in: 950 A.D
Attraction: Gem of Orissan Architecture
Best time to visit: October to March

This temple is considered to be the gem of Orissan architecture. The sculptured gateway, the Jagamohana with diamond shaped latticed windows and decorated interiors and the plethora of sculptural work all deserve mention in this temple. Although it is only a small monument rising to a height of 35 feet. Literally every inch of its surface is carved. This temple has also been described as a dream realized in sandstone and it is a monument where it is said sculpture and architecture are in complete harmony with one another. This temple dates back to the 10th century.

ROMANCING THE stone…. if anyone understood the joyous meaning of the phrase, it was the Oriyas. Orissa’s temple architecture is a heady display of the most exotic delineations of religious architecture in the world. Bhubaneswar, also known as the Cathedral city, had thousands of temples once upon a time, but only a few hundreds remain now. Of these a few are perfection personified.

About the Deity:
Mukteswara temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva, and is carved with figures of ascetics in several poses of meditation. The highlight of the temple is the magnificent torana – the decorative gateway, an arched masterpiece, reminiscent of Buddhist influence in Orissa.

On the outer face of the compound wall are niches containing a variety of divinities. These include Saraswati (sitting on a lotus with two female attendants by her side), Ganesha (with his attendant mouse), and Lakulisha (the fifth century founder of the Pashupata sect of tantric Shaivism), who is portrayed sitting cross-legged, with two miniature ascetic figures in the triangular side panels. The fact that these wall niches include Buddhist and Jain images as well as Shaivite (Hindu) ones attests once again to the synthesis which was so much a part of Orissan religious life. It’s extraordinarily beautiful sculpture includes elaborate scrolls, graceful female figures, monkeys, peacocks, and a wealth of delicate and lovely decorative detail. On the eastern side of the temple compound is a sacred tank, and in the south west corner is a well which is said to cure fertility problems. Several small shrines will be noticed within the compound, many with lingam inside. These were offering shrines depicting utmost faith in God for all purposes during that era. One more interesting feature about the temple is that it has got a well in its eastern part. It is believed that a dip in this holy well cures the problem of infertility.

On the exteriors of compound wall, one can see variety of divinities in the alcoves. On the convoluted horseshoe shaped ‘chaitya’ arch, there is an image of fabled lion head with open jaws, served by attendants. Later, this type of image was imprinted in various temples of Orissa. Mukteswara Temple is a site of Indian Heritage and this exotic shrine attracts many devotees & tourists to its doorway round the year.

Architectural Wonder:
The sculptured gateway, the Jagamohana with diamond shaped latticed windows and decorated interiors and the plethora of sculptural work all deserve mention in this temple dedicated to Shiva The sculptural decoration of the Mukteswara is exquisitely executed. The beautiful sculptures eloquently speak of the sense of proportion and perspective of the sculptor and their unique ability in the exact depiction of the minute’s objects. The builders of Mukteswara Temple introduced new architectural designs, new art motifs and new conceptions about the iconography of the cult images. There are a number of depictions of skeletal ascetics among the sculptural images, most of them shown in teaching or meditation poses, which seems appropriate as the name Mukteswara means “Lord who gives freedom through Yoga”.

The Mukteswara is important as a transition point between the early and later phases of the ‘Kalinga’ School of Temple Architecture. The builder has successfully combined many elements of the old with new designs and conceptions. Many of the innovations took root, and became essential features of all later temples. Because of this, one scholar has described the Mukteswara as “harbinger of the new culture”.

Other Attractions Around:
Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary, Chilika Lake, Cuttack, Gopalpur on Sea.

How to reach:
One can easily reach Mukteswara Temple by taking regular Buses or by hiring taxis from anywhere in Bhubaneshwar. Air links to Delhi-Calcutta. Rail links to Calcutta, Madras, and Delhi.

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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Vaishno Devi Temple, Jammu and Kashmir, India

Deities: Goddess Vaishnavi
Location: Katra, 61-km from Jammu, J&K
Altitude: 1,700m (5,100ft)
Best Time to Visit: March to July and September to October

Faith has moved mountains. From a cave shrine tucked away deep in the Trikuta Mountains of Kashmir the call of Mata Vaishno Devi.

Vaishno Devi is one of the holiest Hindu Pilgrimage sites which are dedicated to Goddess Shakti. The temple is located around 12 km away from Katra in the Udhampur district. The temple is situated at an altitude of 1615 m on the Trikuta Hills of Shivalik Range. Pilgrims, especially Hindus from all over the world visit Vaishno Devi making it the second most visited shrine in India after Tirupati Balaji Mandir.

The Vaishno Devi yatra is probably the most hallowed pilgrimage of Northern India and attracts over five million devotees a year. It entails a 13.5 km trek from Katra, which in turn is 61 km from Jammu. It is situated at an altitude of 1,700m. The abode of the goddess is in the mountains of Trikuta Hills, in the state of Jammu and Kashmir in north India.

The Goddess resides in a beautiful cave in the form of three ‘Pindis’ in the name of, “Maha Kali”, “Maha Laxmi” and “Maha Saraswati”. According to legends Goddess Durga has killed the demon Bhairon here. The cave ideally handles just 8 or 10 thousand people a day, as only 12 or 15 people are let into the cave at a time. On the full moon day in Kartika (October/ November) the line to get into the cave can be 4-km long. It is believed that the arm of Goddess Sati fell at this place.

Vaishno Devi only when the Goddess herself wants them to and beckons them. If you are reading this, probably this is your call for making the holiest trip of your life. Come prepared to lose your old self and find the new you who will be more wise and chaste.

Darshan:
The journey amidst snow capped mountains and sprawling forests arise from within the holy shrine of Maa Vaishno Devi. There is a common faith among the folk that Goddess-Vaishno sends a ‘Call’ to her devotees and that once a person receives it, wherever he or she is, marches towards the holy shrine of the great Goddess. A supernatural power seems to draw them through the mountain and they climb up those great heights step by step, chanting

‘Prem se bolo, Jai Mata Di’.

Discovery of the Holy Shrine:
According to a legend the holy shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi was discovered by a Brahmin, Pandit Sridhar about a thousand years ago. He used to live in Hansali village at the foothills of the Trikuta Mountains. One day, as he was grazing cattle, he met a beautiful child, Vaishnavi, on the hills. She urged him to call the people of his village to a feast. By mid-day when his guests arrived he had still not made arrangements for any provisons.

Suddenly, he saw Vaishnavi coming out of his hut and she asked Sridhar to call his guests saying the food was ready. He watched in amazement as all the villagers went inside his small hut and finished their meal. As they left, he called out to young Vaishnavi knowing that the answer to the mystery lay with her. But she was not to be found.

His search for her led him to a cave up a cliff where he thought he spied her. But in vain. As he wept in anguish a light shone on him, and he had a vision: Vaishnavi was transformed into a transcendental beauty with eight arms and astride a lion. She told him she was Shakti and in this cave she was manifested in her three forms of Kali, Lakshmi and Saraswati. Sridhar’s progeny have been worshipping the Goddess in this Holy Cave since those hoary days!

Other Shrines at Vaishno Devi:
Bhumika Temple
Ban Ganga Temple
Charan Paduka Temple
Ardh Kuwari
The Sri Ram Temple
The Bhairon (Bhairav) Temple

How to reach:
Vaishno Devi is located 14-km from the town of Katra and 52-km north of Jammu. Katra is situated at 2,800 feet and takes about 2 hours to reach from Jammu by bus.
by Air: The nearest airport is in Jammu, which is 48-km from Katra. There is a helicopter service that departs from the airport at Sanjhi Chat in Jammu in the morning.
by Rail: The nearest railway station is in Jammu, which is well connected to all the major cities in India.
by Road: There are regular buses leaving for the 52-km trip from the central bus stand in Jammu to where the road ends at Katra (2 hr). Walking From Katra it is a steep 13-km walk. You can rent a horse or be carried up from Katra. You can go up to the cave and back in the same day. It takes about 4 hours to climb up and 3 hours to come down. Pilgrims must get a Yatra- Slip from the tourist reception center near the bus stand in Katra to get passes Ban Ganga. It is hard climb to Vaishno Devi.

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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