Malai Mandir and festival of Skanda Sashti

Uttara Swaminatha at Malai Mandir

Malai Mandir

Malai Mandir is a place to experience divine feelings, peace. Situated at the heart of Delhi, This temple complex houses the temples of Shri Swaminatha Swami, Shri Karpaga Vinayakar, Shri Sundareswarar, Devi Meenakshi, The Navagraha Sannidhi, Shri Idumban Sannidhi, Shri Adi Sankara Hall and Silpa Kala Mandapam.

Malai Mandir at New Delhi
Malai Mandir at New Delhi

This temple was erected to celebrate the conquest of Lord Murugan over the demon kings (the triumph of good over evil) . Skand Sashthi is the most important event here.

Abhishekam’s for various temples

The Maha Kumbhabhishekam for Lord Swaminatha was performed on the 7th of June, 1973. Later on, temples of Shri Karpaga Vinayakar, Shri Sundareswarar and Devi Meenakshi were consecrated and the Maha Kumbhabhishekam performed on the 13th June 1990.

Uttara Swaminatha at Malai Mandir
Uttara Swaminatha at Malai Mandir

The Navagraha Sannidhi along with a Sannidhi of Idumban was consecrated on the 7th of July, 1995. Shri Adi Sankara Hall was inaugurated on the 9th of November, 1997.

The third Punarudharana,Ashtabhandhana, Swarna Rajathabhandana Mahakumbhabhishekam of the temple was performed on the 27th of June, 2001.

Lord Swaminatha Temple

The temple of Lord Swaminatha has several unique features. This is the only temple where Brahmasthana Prathista has been done. Deities delineated in human form are not normally house in the Brahmasthana or the very centre of the garbha graha. Lord Skanda is an exception.

The shrine has become famous as Sahasrara Kshetra and has been sung by poets as the seventh Padai Veedu. The six important shrines of Lord Subrahmanya at Tiruchendur, Tirupparankundram, Swami Malai, Palani, Pazhamudircholai and Tiruttani represent the six centres (chakras) Mooladhara, Swadisthana, Manipuraka, Anahata, Visudhi, and Agyaya. The Sahasrara of Brahmarandhra Kshetra was missing all these centuries and Uttara Swami Malai has filled the void.

Temple’s important feature

One important feature of this temple is that this temple of Lord Swaminatha is assembled and not constructed. The 900 massive stones, some of them weighing three to four tons each, stand assembled together without the use of cement or mortar. Only the crevices have been filled with the time-tested adhesive material made of lime and sand, ground to a paste with molasses and fruit juice.

The Story of Skanda Sashti

Skanda Sashti is observed on the sixth day of the bright fortnight of the Tamil month of Aippasi (October – November). This day is dedicated to the second son of Lord Shiva – Lord Subramanya, also known as Kartikeya, Kumaresa, Guha, Murugan, Shanmukha and Velayudhan. It is believed that on this day, Lord Kartikeya has annihilated the mythical demon Taraka.

Devas requested Lord Brahma

The Story of Skanda Shasti is the story of the birth of Skanda or Kumara and the fulfillment of the purpose of His divine incarnation. All Devtas were at great pain at the hands of Tarakasura, and went to Lord Brahma for help.

Lord Brahma told that only Lord Shiva can help here. Upon Brahma’s suggestion, they sought the help of Parvathi and Kama (the god of love). Parvathi agreed to help and engaged herself in severe penance to attract Shiva’s attention. Kama also agreed to help and engaged himself in the Kama also agreed to help and engaged himself in the suicidal mission of arousing Shiva from His state of Samadhi. Kama shot his arrows of love at Shiva who was eventually disturbed and the fire of anger from his third eye burnt Kama into ashes.

Birth of Skanda

The penance of Parvathi and the sacrifice of Kama paid off. Shiva was aroused from his Samadhi. However, none could bear the sparks of His fiery seed. It fell into the mouth of Agni, and afterwards received by Ganges, who in turn threw it into Sara Vana (forest of arrow like grass). Thus Saravanabava was born. He was also Skanda – Shiva’s power of chastity preserved through penance.

Skanda was raised by the six mothers of the divine constellation of Krithikai (pleiades) .Kartikeya divided himself into six babies to be nursed by six mothers. When Parvathi came and gathered all the six babies, He became Shanmukha – the one with the six faces and one body.

Lord Shanmukha
Lord Shanmukha

Killing of Tarakasura

Shanmukha became Kumara – the powerful virile adolescent who was also the beautiful and the handsome (Muruga) . He was made the General (Deva Senapathi) of the God’s army. “….Of the army generals I am Skanda.”..(The Gita). Skanda received from his mother Parasakthi an all powerful Vel (lance). Hence He is also Sakthi Velan. He engaged the armies of Simhamukha, Surapadman and Tarakasura on a six day battle and vanquished all of them on the sixth day. The Asuras were annihilated and the Devas were liberated. The sixth day (Sashti) of the waxing moon (sukhla) in the month of Ashada (Oct/Nov) is celebrated as Skanda Sashti.

Killing of Demon by Lord Subramanya
Killing of Demon by Lord Subramanya

Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga – Lord Shiva as Mahakal

Lord Shiva as Mahakal

Lord Shiva is worshipped as Mahakala. Located in the ancient city of Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh, is the temple of Mahakaleshwar. This temple is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas in India.  There is an interesting story which explains about the Mahakaleshwar form of Shiva. This form of Lord Shiva is a fierce form which is beyond imagination and description. This story took place when Ujjain was known as Avanti and is mentioned in the Shiva Purana.

Lord Shiva as Mahakal
Lord Shiva as Mahakal

The Story of Mahakala

Once there lived a pious man in Avanti (nowadays Ujjain),  who was an ardent devotee of Lord Shiva. He had four sons and the family worshipped Lord Shiva daily.

Not far away from their home in a hill named Ratanmala. There lived an Asura (demon) named Dooshana. Demon Dooshana hated all forms of Shiva and vedic worship. He went around killing people who worshipped Shiva. Soon Dooshana came to know about the family in Avanti that worshipped Lord Shiva.

He arrived with his army and attacked the city. But the family continued to worship Shiva in the form of a Shivling.

Finally, the demon and soldiers reached the home of the pious man and started hurling weapons. The demon broke open the door and advanced towards the Shivling by raising a sword.

Suddenly, there was a deafening sound and there appeared a dreadful form beyond explanation before the Shivling. A single glance by the Mahakala form of Shiva burned the demon and his army into ashes. Uncontrollable and unsatisfied, the form of Shiva gave a huge roar; the entire universe trembled in fear.

But the family was but delighted to see Lord Shiva and continued chanting his glory and prayers. Before his true devotees, Shiva is always the Bholenath – one can be easily influenced. Hearing the prayers of his devotees, His anger subsided.

But the family who was aware of the dangers of the world realized that the form of Shiva as Mahakala was essential for peace and prosperity and asked him to reside in this form at Ujjain. Since then Shiva remains at Ujjain Mahakala Temple as Mahakala – the one with the power to annihilate all living and non-living.

Unknown facts about the Mahakaleshwar Temple

One of the oldest places of pilgrimage, the temple finds mention in ancient texts and scriptures and has been eulogised by the great Sanskrit poet and dramatist in emotive terms.

Mahakaleshwar Temple, with its astonishing architectural beauty, dominates the skyline of Ujjain and instills a sense of reverence among the devotees. The lingam at this spiritually important shrine is believed to be swayambhu (self-arisen).

Mahakaleshwar Ujjain
Mahakaleshwar Temple at Ujjain

The idol of Mahakaleshwar is known to be dakshinamurti, which means that it is facing the south. This is a unique feature, upheld by the tantric shivnetra tradition to be found only in Mahakaleshwar among the 12 Jyotirlingas. The idol of Omkareshwar Mahadev is consecrated in the sanctum above the Mahakal shrine. The images of Ganesh, Parvati and Karttikeya are installed in the west, north and east of the sanctum sanctorum.

To the south is the image of Nandi, the vehicle of Lord Shiva. The idol of Nagchandreshwar on the third storey is open for darshan only on the day of Nag Panchami. The temple has five levels, one of which is underground.

The temple itself is located in a spacious courtyard surrounded by massive walls near a lake. The shikhar or the spire is adorned with sculptural finery. Brass lamps light the way to the underground sanctum. It is believed that prasada (holy offering) offered here to the deity can be re-offered unlike all other shrines.

Bhasma Aarti at Mahakaleshwar

One of the most important rituals of Mahakaleshwar is Bhasma Aarti. The temple opens in the morning at 4AM with a special aarti – the one of its kind Bhasma Aarti – where the aarti is performed with sacred ash – Bhasma. Since ancient times, this bhasma used to be the fresh and burning hot ash from a funeral pyre, since Lord Shiva is believed to live in and enjoy the atmosphere of a cremation ground. However, now, the temple has changed its ways in keeping with modern times and the aarti is now performed with bhasma made with cow dung, what we call Vibhooti.

Mahakal Bhasma Aarti at Ujjain
Mahakal Bhasma Aarti at Ujjain

While those who have seen the original aarti (which was performed till about 15years ago) maintain that it was a different experience which can not be recreated. The present aarti is also a grand experience.

Another Legend of Mahakal

According to the Puranas, the city of Ujjain was called Avantika and was famous for its beauty and its status as a devotional epicenter. It was also one of the primary cities where students went to study holy scriptures. According to legend, there was a ruler of Ujjain called Chandrasena, who was a pious devotee of Lord Shiva and worshiped him all the time. One day, a farmer’s boy named Shrikhar was walking on the grounds of the palace and heard the King chant the Lord’s name and rushed to the temple to start praying with him. However, the guards removed him by force and sent him to the outskirts of the city near the river Kshipra. Rivals of Ujjain, primarily King Ripudamana and King Singhaditya of the neighboring kingdoms decided to attack the Kingdom and take over its treasures around this time. Hearing this, Shrikhar started to pray and the news spread to a priest named Vridhi. He was shocked to hear this and upon the urgent pleas of his sons, started to pray to Lord Shiva at the river Kshipra. The Kings chose to attack and were successful; with the help of the powerful demon Dushan, who was blessed by Lord Brahma to be invisible, they plundered the city and attacked all the devotees of Lord Shiva.

Mahakaleshwar Shivji
Mahakaleshwar Shivji

Upon hearing the pleas of His helpless devotees, Lord Shiva appeared in his Mahakala form and destroyed the enemies of King Chandrasena. Upon the request of his devotees Shrikhar and Vridhi, Lord Shiva agreed to reside in the city and become the chief deity of the Kingdom and take care of it against its enemies and to protect all His devotees. From that day on, Lord Shiva resided in His light form as Mahakala in a Lingam that was formed on its own from the powers of the Lord and His consort, Parvati. The Lord also blessed his devotees and declared that people who worshipped Him in this form would be free from the fear of death and diseases. Also, they would be granted worldly treasures and be under the protection of the Lord himself.

Mallikarjun Jyotirlinga – Lord Shiva’s temple

Srisailam Bhramaramba Mallikarjuna swamy temple

The Jyotirlinga of Mallikarjun : Lord Shiva Temple at Srisailam

Mallikarjun at Srisailam is one among the twelve Jyotirlinga, situated at Srisailam in Andhra Pradesh.  Mallikarjuna is an ancient temple of Lord Shiva that is architecturally and sculpturally rich.

Srisailam Bhramaramba Mallikarjuna swamy temple
Srisailam Bhramaramba Mallikarjuna swamy temple

Story behind Mallikarjun Temple

Once, Shiva and Parvati decided to find suitable brides for their sons, Ganesha and Kartikeya. They argued as to who is to get wedded first. Lord Shiva said that the one who goes round the world in Pradakshinam could get married first. By the time Lord Kartikeya could go round the world on his vahana peacock, Lord Ganesha went round his parents 7 times. Lord Siva got Buddhi(intellect), Siddhi (spiritual power), and Riddhi (prosperity) married to Lord Ganesha. Lord Kartikeya on his return was enraged and went away to stay alone on Mount Krouncha in the name of Kumarabrahmachari.

Lord Shiva and Kartikeya
Lord Shiva and Kartikeya

On seeing his father coming over to pacify him, he tried to move to another place, but on the request of the Devas, stayed close by. The place where Lord Shiva and Parvati stayed came to be known as Shrisailam. Lord Shiva visits Lord Kartikeya on Amavasya day & Parvati Devi on Poornima.

Another story

Once, a princess named Chandravati decided to go to the Jungles to do penance and meditation. She chose Kadali Vana for this purpose. One day, she witnessed a miracle. A Kapila cow was standing under a Bilwa tree and milk was flowing from all of its four udders, sinking into the ground. The cow kept doing this as a routine chore everyday. Chandravati dug up that area and was dumb founded at what she saw. There was a self-raising Swyambhu SivaLinga. It was bright and shining like the sun rays, and looked like it was burning, throwing flames in all directions. Chandravati prayed to Siva in this JyotirLinga. She built a huge Shiva Temple there. Lord Shankara was very pleased with her. Chandravati went to Kailash wind borne. She received salvation and Mukti. On one of the stone-inscriptions of the temple, Chandravati’s story can be seen carved out.

Mallikarjun as a Shakti peeth

Srisailam or Mallikarjun is one among the Maha shakti peeth. It is believed that Sati Devi’s upper lip has fallen here.  It is a place where Shakti peetha and Jyotirlinga are together.

Visiting this JyotirLinga not only blesses one with innumerable wealth, but also name and fame and fulfils all the desires. Mahashivratri is the main festival celebrated at Srisailam Mallikarjuna Swamy temple.

Jyotirlinga : Somnath ( Temple of Lord Shiva )

Somnath Mandir at Night

Somnath : Foremost of the twelve Jyotirlinga

First among the twelve jyotirlinga, located at Prabhas Patan in Saurashtra – Gujrat.  Somnath means,  ‘The protector of Moon God’.  Somnath temple was destroyed many times by Islamic kings and rulers and recently was rebuilt in November 1947, by Sardar Vallabhbhai Patael.

Somnath Mandir at Night
Somnath Mandir at Night

Legend :

According to Skanda Puran, Moon God (Chandra) was married to 27 (stars) of Daksha. Moon was more affectionate to his wife Rohini, and  didn’t show any interest in rest of his wives. This arouse anger and feeling of insult among them. Dissappointed with the behaviour for their husband one they went to their father Daksha and complained his about Moon. Daksha was very sad to see his daughter’s suffering so he decided to convince Moon but all in vain. Out of anger he cursed Moon that he would be decreasing in size.

Somnath Temple
Somnath Temple

Devas were very sad at Chandra’s plight, and went to Brahama for help. Lord Brahma, the Creator advised them to pray to Lord Shiva.  Chandra went for a penance for six months after which Lord Shiva appeared and granted him a boon.

Lord Shiva said, that in every month for 15 days he would grow in size and in another 15 days, he would be loosing 1 kala per day and decrease in size. That is why this place is also known as Somnath, Protector of Moon ( Moon is also known as Som). Lord Shiva is known as Someshwar. Devas have established a Someshwar kund and it is believed that taking a holy dip in kund, a person is relieved from all sins.

Chandra or Moon looks bright here hence, this place is also known as Prabhashpattana.

Chandra was first one to receive benefit so he built the temple in gold. Later, it was rebuilt by Ravana, in silver; then by Krishna in wood and by Bhimdev in stone.

Somnath temple was subjected to series of attacks, it was destroyed and rebuilt several times. In  725, an Arab governor of Sindh, Junayad, destroyed the temple, in 815 it was reconstructed in red sand stone. In 1024, Muslim invader, Ghazini again destroyed the temple and looted the treasure. Once again n 1292, temple was destroyed by Allaudin Khilji’s army.

Somnath_temple_in_1869
Somnath_temple_in_1869

In 1701, temple was totally destroyed, plundered and looted in a horrible way, many people were killed and lots of money were stolen.

In 1783, the temple was rebuilt at a site adjacent to the ruined temple by Sadhvi Alalya Devi, Holar.

Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, renovated the temple on the advice of Kakasaheb Gadgil of Maharashtra. Jyotirlinga was reinstated on friday 1951 by Dr. Rajendra prasad(President).

Inspite  of destruction, the faith of devotees was never destroyed, and Somnath revived its grandeur.

 

Sankat Mochan temple (mandir)

Sankat Mochan Temple

The Sankat Mochan mandir is situated in the holy city of Varanasi. The legend is that this temple was established by Tulsidas, the great poet, who wrote Ramcharitramanas.

This temple is dedicated to Lord Hanuman, whose other name is Sankar Mochak, which means reliever of troubles. As per the Vedic Astrology, Lord Hanuman defends and liberates human being from the wicked effects of ‘Shani’ (Planet Saturn). All those, who have ill-placed Saturn in their horoscope, should offer homage at this temple to get relief from the distress. In the earlier times, the temple was very small in its size. Later, the temple complex was extended attributable to the kind donations made by the devotees.

Sankat Mochan mandir
Sankat Mochan mandir

Every Tuesday and Saturday, thousands of devotees queue up in front of the Sankat Mochan temple to offer prayers to Lord Hanuman. According to Vedic Astrology, Hanuman protects human beings from the anger of planet Saturn and those who have ill placed Saturn in their horoscope visit the Sankat Mochan temple to get remedy. People put “Sindoor” on the statue and offer “laddoos” to Lord Hanuman. The “Sindoor” or Vermilion, from the statue of Lord Hanuman is put on the foreheads of devotees.

Festivals celebrated at Sankat Mochan Temple

On the day of  Kartik Krishna Chaturdashi, special prayers are made to the Lord Hanuman. An annual festival is also observed on the full moon night of the month of ‘Chaitra’, which is also known as Hanuman or Mahavir Jayanti. At this juncture, a procession is taken out in the streets of Varanasi. The festival too, attracts plenty of visitors to Sankat Mochan Temple.
Lord Hanuman
Lord Hanuman

Durga temple is very close to this temple and on the day of Mahavir Jayanti, a special procession which starts from the Sankat Mochan mandir ends at Durga mandir.

The current temple structure was built in early 1900s by the educationist and freedom fighter, Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya.

 

Kedarnath – Jyotirlinga

Kedarnath Temple

Kedarnath temple

One of the holiest Hindu temples dedicated to the Lord Shiva and is located on the near Mandakini river. Here, Shiva lingam is pyramid shaped and hence is unique among Shiva temples. Pandavas are believed to have built this temple.

Due to harsh weather conditions, the temple is open only between the end of April (Akshay tritya) to Kartik Purnima (the autumn full moon, usually November) every year. During winters, the vigrahas (deities) from Kedarnath temple are brought to Ukhimath and worshipped there for six months.

Kedarnath is located on a ridge which juts out at right angles from below the 23000 feet high snowy peak of Mahapanth. Kedarnath is located on the Rudra Himalaya range. The Rudra Himalaya range is also known as the Pancha Parvata; its five peaks are Rudra Himalaya, Vishnupuri, Bhramapuri, Udgari-Kanth and Swargarohini. It is believed that four of the Pandavas died on the last of these peaks.

 

Kedarnath Temple
Kedarnath Temple

Legend behind Kedarnath Jyotirlinga

Two incarnations of Lord Vishnu by the names of Nara and Vishnu did penance at Badrikasharama. Both of them used to worship the idol of Shiva daily. Lord Shiva used to arrive in his subtle form and accept their offerings without being noticed by them.
One day Lord Shiva appeared before them. Nara and Narayana eulogized him and requested to remain at that place forever. Lord Shiva accepted their request and established himself as ‘Kedareshwar jyotirlinga’.

There is another legend related to Pandavas. After the culmination of Mahabharata war, Pandavas wanted to be absolved of their sins which was due to killing of their own relatives in the war of Mahabharata.

Giving up all their belongings and ties, the Pandavas and Draupadi , accompanied by a dog, made their final journey of pilgrimage to the Himalayas in search of Lord Shiva .
Meanwhile at Kedarnath a very healthy and good looking bull joined them.  Shiva has taken the form of the bull, as he was unhappy with the Pandavas for their deceit during the war, and hence loathe to give them darshan.
The Pandavas sort of had the gut feeling that the buffalo was Shiva in disguise.  Bhima as usual jumped the gun and tried to catch the buffalo by its tail.  Lord Shiva just disappeared into the ground.

Then Bhima went after the buffalo with his mace. The buffalo was clever and Bheema could not catch it. But Bheema managed to hit the buffalo with his mace. The buffalo had its face hidden in a crevice-in the earth. Bheema started to pull it by its tail. In this tug-of war, the face of the buffalo went straight to Nepal, leaving its hind part in Kedar, a  hump above the ground as a Lingam,  and a blazing fiery column of light sprouted. This is why only the Kedarnath Shiva Lingam is a sort of a  hump.

The face of the buffalo is Doleshwar Mahadev located in Sipatol, Bhaktapur, Nepal.

It is also believed that Arjuna, one of the Pandavas worshipped Lord Shiva to attain the divine weapon, Pashupatastra.

Some important and famous places close to Kedarnath mandir

Badrinath – Badrinath which is near the Kedarnath is also a significant pilgrimage spot for the devotees of Lord shiva. The Neelkant peak behind the Badrinath temple is an abode of Lord shiva – like how the Mount Kailash is. It is called Indra Neel Parvat.

Gaurikund – Base for a trek to Kedarnath & serves as a roadhead, the village has hot springs & a temple dedicated to Gauri.

Gandhi Sarovar – A small lake from where Yudhishthir, the eldest of the Pandavas, is said to have departed to heaven. A km trek from Kedarnath, floating ice on the crystal clear waters.

Vasuki Tal – 6 km. At 4135 mtr. above sea level, this lake is extraordinary, surrounded by high mountains and offering an excellent view of the Chaukhamba peaks.

Gauri Kund – 15 km. The trekking base to Kedarnath and the road head, this village has a temple dedicated to Gauri and also thermal springs of medicinal value.

Gupt Kashi – 49 km. Famous for the temples of Ardhnarishwar and Vishwanathji.

Ukhimath – 60 km. Winter home of Lord Kedarnath temple, and the seat of the Rawal of Kedarnath during winter months.

Agastmuni – 73 km., Has a temple dedicated to the sage Agastya.

How to reach

By Air : The nearest convenient Air port is Jolly grant at Dehradun (121 Kms).

By Road : Kedarnath is connected by road with Badrinath (242 KM), Dehradun (268 KM), Delhi (450 KM), Haridwar (250 KM), Kotdwar (256 KM), and Rishikesh (226 KM).

Route : Rishikesh to Kedarnath vai Rudraprayag :- Rishikesh -> Rudraprayaga -> Agastamuni -> Kund -> Gupta kashi -> Phata -> Soneprayag -> Gauri Kund.

Gauri Kund to Kedarnath is 14 KM. This distance has to be covered by foot, ponies, palkies.

By Rail : The nearest convenient railway station are Dehradun and Haridwar. These are well connected with Delhi, Mumbai, Calcutta and rest of India through Rail network.

Mangla gauri temple – Maha Shakti peeth

Mangla Gauri – Maha Shakti Peeth

There are eighteen locations which are treated as Maha Shakti Peeths. This is as per Adi Shankara (Ashtadasa Shakthi Peetha Stotram). Mangla Gauri temple in Gaya is one of them.

The temple faces east, and is built on top of the Mangalagauri hill. A flight of steps lead to the temple. The sanctum houses the symbol of the goddess and it also has some finely carved ancient relief sculptures. A mandap (small hall) is present at the front of the temple. The courtyard also houses a fire pit for the purpose of havans. There are also two minor shrines dedicated to Shiva and images of Mahishasura Mardini, Durga and Dakshina Kali.

Mangla Gauri temple at Gaya
Mangla Gauri temple at Gaya

The present temple dates back to 15th century. The shrine is dedicated to Shakti or the mother Goddess in the predominantly Vaishnavite pilgrimage center of Gaya.

This temple has great religious value and it is mentioned in various puranas. The name of the devi is Sarvamangala devi. Mangala gauri is worshipped as the goddess of benevolence. The Mangla Gauri temple in Gaya, one of the most holy sites has two rounded stones which symbolizes the breasts of the Goddess Sati, who is regarded as the first wife of Lord Shiva.

Mangla Gauri inner courtyard
Mangla Gauri inner courtyard

Some information on Gaya

Gaya is located in Bihar abut 100 kilometers away from the capital city of Patna. Historically, Gaya was the part of the ancient Magadh Empire. The city is located on the bank of Falgu River and is considered among one of the most sacred cities for Hindus. Three hills Mangala-Gauri, Shringa-Sthan, Ram-Shila and Brahmayoni surround it from three sides and make at a safe and beautiful site. Gaya is an ancient place and has great heritage and history. Various modes of transportation connect Gaya with other major cities of Bihar along with rest of India.

Maa Chinnamastika temple at Rajrappa

Maa Chinnamastika temple at Rajrappa

There is a famous temple in the state of Jharkhand, India which is at a place called Rajrappa. This temple hosts the idol of Maa Chinnamastika. There is an interesting story of Maa. This temple is situated on a hillock at the confluence of the Damodar and Bhera (Bhairavi) Rivers near the Rajrappa falls. The temple enshrines the Goddess Chinnamastika  (the beheaded Goddess Kali), one of the ten forms of the Goddess Durga. This temple known as Chinnamastika temple finds place in our vedas and puranas and it has been recognized as an ancient and strong source of Shakti.

Rajrappa temple of Maa Chinnamastika
Rajrappa temple of Maa Chinnamastika

Legend of Maa Chinnamastika (Chinnamasta)

Bhagwati Bhawani and her two friends were taking bath in Mandakini river. They felt very hungry while bathing and their color changed to black. They reuested Bhagwati devi  to give them something to eat. She asked them to wait for some time, but, due to hunger, they insisted.

Then they pleaded very softly saying “Mother gives food immediately to her children.”  Out of pity, Goddess had cut her head. The head came in left hand and 3 blood streams stated flowing. Two of them went towards the girls. Their hunger was finished drinking theh blood flow and the third stream was drunk by Goddess itself.  This is the story of Maa Chinnamastika.

The legend of Maa Chinnasmastika
The legend of Maa Chinnasmastika

The Chhinnamastika temple is popular for its Tantrik style of architectural design. In the month of January a special fair is held here on the festival of Makar Sankranti and attended by lakhs of people. A fair is also organized during the festival of  Vijayadashami and attended by large number of people.

Rajrappa is also a tourist attraction. Nearest town is Hazaibagh. Road Distance or driving distance from Hazaribagh to Maa Chhinnamastika Mandir is 88 kms. Nearest airport is Ranchi.

 

Vishnupad mandir – temple at Gaya

The Gaya town is an important entity for Hindu religion followers. This is because of the fact that here Hindus worship their forefathers. But this town has great significance because Lord Buddha attained enlightenment here.  But few people know that this place has a great temple of Lord Vishnu, where the foot of the lord is seen. This place has a story behind where Lord Vishnu helped mankind. Another great temple in Gaya is Mangla Gauri temple.

 

Vishnupad Mandir (Temple)

This temple is in the town of gaya, bihar, dedicated to Lord Vishnu. There is an interesting story behind this temple. Once a demon known as Gayasura, did a heavy penance and sought a boon that whoever sees him should attain salvation (Moksham). Since salvation is achieved through being extreme orthodox and too good (committing no known or unknown mistakes) in one’s lifetime, people started obtaining it easily. Unable to withstand this, Lord Vishnu asked Gayasura to go under the earth and he put his right foot on demon’s head. After pushing Gayasura below the surface of earth, Lord Vishnu’s foot print remained on the rock which is seen even today.

Though the origins of the temple are unknown, Ahilya Bai Holkar, the ruler of Indore, had rebuilt the present octagonal shrine with Lord Vishnu’s footprints at the centre in 1787. The 40 cm long footprint of Lord Vishnu is imprinted in solid rock and surrounded by a silver plated basin.

Vishnupad Mandir at Gaya
Vishnupad Mandir at Gaya

 This temple is situated in a huge complex along with about 24 other temples. The main temple is 30 metres tall and has a mandap attached to it. The temple has the footprints of Vishnu in an octagonal enclosure. The footprint has a silver umbrella above it. The temple is built of large gray granite blocks jointed with iron clamps. The octagonal shrine faces east. Its pyramidal tower rises up a 100 feet.

Lord Vishnu's feet imprint
Lord Vishnu’s feet imprint

This place is also believed to be the one under which the Lord Buddha meditated for six years.

Gaya is situated about 92 kms. south of Patna and 15 kms. north of Bodh Gaya. Gaya is one of the most important pilgrimage places for the Hindus and Buddhists as at bodh gaya, Bhagwan Buddha has attained enlightenment.

Mahavir mandir (temple) at Patna

Mahavir Mandir or Hanuman temple

One of the most famous Hanuman temple in country. The unique fact is that this temple houses two statues of Hanuman, one is believed to protect the good souls (paritranay sudhunay) and the other to eliminate the bad ones ( Vinashayati cha dushkritam).

Mahavir idols
Mahavir idols

Historically, this temple belonged to ramanand sect but from 1900, it was in the control of gosain sanyasis. in 1948, Patna high court declared it as  a public temple.

The current beautiful and grand temple was constructed in mid 1980s under the patronage of Kishore Kunal. This temple is very close to patna railway station.

Mahavir temple at night, Patna
Mahavir temple at night, Patna

This temple has three floors, ground, first and second. The ground floor contains the idols of Hanuman jee.

First floor

First floor has Lord Rama’s temple. Shri Krishna’s delivering Shrimadbhagwadgita to Arjuna is also portrayed here. Goddess Durga is also present on this floor. Lord Shiva, Parvati and Nandi are also present here. Shiva linga is also available to enable Rudrabhishek.

The floating Ram-setu Shila is also placed on this floor only. It has been kept in a glass container and is revered by the people. The volume of this stone is 13,000 mm, while the weight is approx. 15kgs.

On the first floor, while crossing Dhyanmandap, to the left  Lord Ganesha and Lord Buddha are available and further on, Lord satyanarayan, Lord Rama accompanied by Mother Sita and Goddess Sarasvati seem to cast a benevolent look on the devotees. In front of this façade of deities, below the Pipal tree, is the temple of Shani-maharaj. This temple, designed in the style of cave architecture, looks beautiful.

Second Floor

On the second floor,this  floor is mainly used for ritual purposes. Sanskar mandap is located at this floor only. Chanting of mantras, japa, recitals of Holy Scriptures, Satyanarayan katha and various other rituals are practiced and performed here. The floor also has the pictographic representation of the scenes from the Ramayana.

Shri Krishna janmabhoomi mandir (temple) at Mathura

Shri Krishna janmabhoomi temple

The city of Mathura contains the famous Shri Krishna Janmabhoomi temple.  This temple is the birthplace of  Lord Krishna, who is believed to be the eighth incarnation of Lord Vishnu.  This temple is actually  a prison cell belonging to Kansa, who was the uncle of Krishna and King of Mathura.

Shri Krishna Janmabhoomi temple at Mathura
Shri Krishna Janmabhoomi temple at Mathura

Janmbhoomi 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.

According to historians, the prison cell, popularly known as ‘Garbha Griha’, in the temple premise is the exact place where lord Krishna was born. The stone walled cell is reminiscent of the cruelty of King Kansa. Many statues and sculptures of the bygone era were found on excavating the site. During the excavation work various things were recovered that confirm this story. The articles that were recovered include utensils, some old figurines, and a rock platform that were commonly seen in the prisons of that period. These articles are displayed in a museum. Krishna Janmabhoomi Temple shares a common wall with a mosque, due to which there is heavy security in the temple. The present temple was built in the 20th century. A stone slab is present in the temple that symbolizes the original site where Lord Krishna was born.

Main gate (entrance) of Krishna Janmabhoomi
Main gate (entrance) of Krishna Janmabhoomi

The city of Mathura

Being the birth place of Lord Krishna, Mathura is one of the most sacred destinations of India. As the legend goes, Mathura was founded in the Treta era by Shatrughna, the younger brother of Lord Rama and later was under the royalty of King Kamsa, the maternal uncle of Lord Krishna.

Shatrughna killed the demon Lavanasura who has tormented everyone.  Lavanasura was the son of Madhu, the pious demon-king after whom the city of Mathura was named.  Madhu’s wife and Lavanusara’s mother was Kumbhini, a sister of Ravan. Lavanasura was the holder of the divine Trishula (Trident) of Lord Shiva, and nobody was able to kill him or prevent him from committing sinful activities.

According to Hindu mythology, Kamsa heard a divine prophecy saying that he would be killed by his sister Devki’s eighth son Krishna. Hence, he imprisoned Devki and her husband Vasudeva and kept on killing their children one after another. But when Lord Krishna was born, miraculously all guards went to sleep, prison gates opened and Vasudeva carried his son to Gokul crossing the wild river Yamuna in the mid night. The divine prophecy came true and Krishna killed tyrant Kamsa and ruled Mathura for a long time. Vrindavan is the place where Lord Krishna spent his childhood leaving a number of myths and legends of love and friendship behind.

Reading suggestion: Shri Krishna’s birth and Janmashtmi festival.

 

Akshardham temple- A fabulous creation

Akshardham Temple

Akshardham Mandir


Swaminarayan Temple Akshardham, is the world’s biggest and the most beautiful creation I have ever seen. This is situated in Delhi, India. A fabulous temple which is built with a combination of marble stone, sand stone and wood. This temple is spread over ground covering 86,342 square feet. It is 356 feet long, 316 feet wide and 141 feet high.

Akshardham Temple

Akshardham Temple (Mandir)

 

The Akshrdham temple is built to ancient standard without using any steel and as such is designed to last 1000 years. The intricate nature of carving both inside and outside is stunning. This building was inspired and moderated by Pramukh Swami maharaj, the spiritual head of Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha.

Wall design - external
Wall design – external
The ornate external wall. In the last 800 years this is the only and largest, intricately carved wall (mandovar) 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.
This temple consists of 234 ornately carved pillars, 9 ornate domes, 20 quadrangled shikhars, a spectacular Gajendra Pith (plinth of stone elephants) and 20,000 murtis and statues of India’s great sadhus, devotees, acharyas and divine personalities.
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 pinkstone, 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 back drops of trees, creepers and royal palaces.

 

This is the circumambulatory path (parikrama), in the temple is made of red stone from Rajasthan, consisting of 1,152 pillars, 145 windows and 154 samvaran shikhars; amounting to a total of 53,956 stones. It surrounds Akshardham like a beautiful decorative garland. Every window and gallery in the lower parikrama provides different views and insights to Akshardham mandir. You can hear the soothing sound of water issuing from the 108 Gaumukhs. The soft chanting of the holy names of God permeates the parikrama, giving an experience of peace and divinity. The two-tiered parikrama is the first of its kind in India which is present at Akshardham.

There are 108 gaumukh at Akshardham from which you can hear soothing sound of water while moving in circumambulatory path(parikrama).
This is view of garden. This is a special lotus of auspicious sentiments. , every petal inspires with messages from internationally renowned personages about faith in God and faith in man. Lush lawns, gardens and exquisite bronze statues of India’s child gems, valorous warriors, national figures and great women personalities inspire visitors with values and national pride.
This is Yagnapurush Kund which 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 Panchratra scripture. Its perfect geometric forms testify to ancient India’s advanced knowledge in mathematics and geometry which is follwed at Akshardham.
At night the center comes to life with a colorful musical water fountain that echoes the Vedic sentiments of India.
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, Shastriji 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 Keshav murtis of God.
Akshardham Temple at night
The magnificent beauty of temple at night. This temple building covers 32 acres area, 11,000 people worked on its construction and it was completed in just 5 years. It receives 100,000 visitors a week and 850 volunteers work their daily. The Akshardham temple is surely a gem of its times.