Sunday, May 31, 2009
Name : Pavala Kundru (Coral Rock)
Location : Thiruvannamalai, TamilNadu
Legend : Pavala Kundru has a rich meaning, dating from the Puranas. It is where Parvati did her tapas, her penance, after blindfolding Siva and bringing destruction to the universe. It is also where she and Siva merged into one, becoming half man and half woman, representing the synthesis of masculine and feminine energies. The Ardhanariswara form illustrates how the female principle of God, Shakti, is inseparable from the male principle of God, Siva.
Description : In recent times Pavala Kundru is associated with Ramana Maharshi’s stay at the Temple. Currently there is a dispute underway regarding construction on the adjacent Coral Hill. But probably the most charming recent assocation of the Temple is its colony of beautiful Langur Monkeys.
History of Pavala Kundru : In 1790 Tippu Sultan captured Tiruvannamalai over-riding the Treaty of Mangalore (1784 A.D.) in which he and the English agreed to mutual restoration of conquests and exchange of prisoners.
Tippu Sultan, it is said, occupied the hillock of Pavalakkunru after destroying the small shrine that was there.Ramana Maharshi said that whatever Temple might have existed on or about Pavalakkunru seemed to have disappeared probably on account of Tippu Sultan’s invasion. The present Temple was probably built only a hundred and fifty years ago.
Website : http://richardarunachala.wordpress.com/2009/05/04/pavala-kundru-tiruvannamalais-coral-rock-temple/
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Name : Harsh Nath Temple
Location : located at 11 kms away from Sikar, Rajasthan.
Description : Harsh Nath Temple is the ancient shrine of 10th century located on the high hills of Aravali is famous for the ruins old Shiva Temple. The ruins of the temple are strewn all over the area.
Every year thousand of visitors made their way to Sikar just for gaining the history of structuring the Harsh Nath temple. As the temple locates on the hill it gives pleasure for worldwide adventurous tourists too. Harsh Nath Temple also provides an important evidence in making Sikar an ancient town of Rajasthan.
Monday, May 25, 2009
Name : Surkhanda Devi
Location : It is about 8 km. from Dhanolti on the motor road running from Mussoorie to Chamba and is connected with Narendra Nagar which is about 61 km. and with Tehri which is about 41 km. by motor roads in Uttaranchal. To reach the temple one has to leave the Mussoorie-Chamba road at Kadu Khal and climb a steep ascent of about 1.5 km. on foot.
Legend : The legend is that Sati, the wife of Siva, gave up her life in the yajna by her father. Siva passed through this place on his way back to Kailash with the dead body of Sati whose head fell at the spot where the temple of Surkhanda Devi stands.
Description : Surkhanda Devi temple is at an altitude of 2903 m and ringed by dense forests in a sanctified spot. People from all corners throng to this shrine. For reaching the temple, one has to walk 2 km from the motor road at Kaddulkhal.
Provides a panoramic view of the Himalayan peaks and the Bhagirathi river. It is placed in the midst of an apple growing region.
Festivals : Ganga Dussehra Fair held every year between May and June, attracts thousands of devotees.
Sunday, May 24, 2009
Name : Candi Ceto
Location : High on the mountains near Solo in Central Java, the temple of Candi Ceto is sited. Candi Ceto is situated further up the Candi Sukuh temple in the mountains. The temple is at an elevation of five hundred meters or 1630 ft above the sea level. One can get a splendid view of the city from the temple. Located high up on the mountains one will certainly enjoy the trip.
Description : Inscriptions found here is evidence to the fact that the Candi Ceto temple dates back deep into history. Some of the dates found inscribed here are AD 1468, 1472 and 1475. The basic layout and design of the temple is similar to that of the Sukuh temple but the Candi Ceto temple has many more terraces. There are as many as 14 terraces. As at Candy sukuh the main deity portrayed here is Bima. Tattered fragments of narrative relics were found in one of the lower terraces. This apart there are large numbers of small stone turtles.
One of the most interesting remains found here at the Candi Ceto is a dilapidated figure lying flat on the ground. At the western end is a large linga similar to that found at Candi Sukuh , lying horizontally and pointing to the west. At its base is a composition representing a tortoise on the back of a huge bat. On the tortoise's back is a number of sea creatures pointed in various compass directions.
During the 1970s a new gateway was built. New structures were also added to the upper terraces which include stone walls and floors. 50 meters further up, there are slopes which are used for bathing purposes. Several statues and a wooden shrine are to be found here. Till the late 1970s high profile people used to come here to meditate. They believed that this place had supernatural powers. Local residents still continue to devote offerings for the deities.
Name : Candi Barong
Location : Hamlet Candisari, Bokoharjo, Prambanan Bokoharjo, Prambanan
Description : Actually this temple complex is located on the ground berundak 3 with some buildings in the temple every terasnya. But on the highest terrace of the HILL there are 2 temples to worship the god Vishnu and the goddess Sri as a symbol of fertility. Each temple has a size of approximately 8 meters x 8 meters to 9 meters high.
Candi Barong have tense and decorations such as dragon-like BARONG on the entrance door is a temple of Hindu which is located not far from the temple of Queen Boko, namely in Candisari hamlets, villages Bokoharjo, Prambanan, Yogyakarta. This temple was built in the century to about 9-to-10 and at the time of Ancient Kingdom of Mataram.
Name : Ratu Boko Palace
Location : about three kilometres south of Lara Jonggrang Prambanan temple complex in Yogyakarta Indonesia
Not many people know that this palace is witness of the initial triumph in Sumatera land. Balaputradewa once fled to this palace before leaving for Sumatra when he was struck by Rakai Pikatan. Balaputradewa rebelled because he felt to be second person in the reign of Old Mataram Kingdom because of Rakai Pikatan's marriage to Pramudhawardani (Balaputradewa's sister). After his defeat and escape to Sumatra, he became the king of Sriwijaya Kingdom.
Description : It was a well defended palace-fort, some kind of citadel. Situated up on the hill, the Ratu Boko complex consist of: Series of Gates.
Protective wall, Roofless temple for cremation ceremony, Some walled structure of living space (pendopo). The body and roof is made from decayed material like wood or clay roof, but the base of building (palace) remains.
Small miniature of temple for religious ceremony within living space (serve like home temple)
Bathplace (pemandian), series of pools encirceled with walls and series of gates.More foundations and floor of buildings, also walled enclosure with gates.
Aeschetic small cave for meditation At the northern part from pendopo, isolated from the rest of the site, lies two caves that were formed of sediment stones. The upper cave is called Gua Lanang (Male Cave) and the lower cave is called Gua Wadon (Female Cave). In front of Gua Lanang, there is a pond and three effigies. Based on the research, the effigy is known as Aksobya, one of Buddha Pantheons. The cave probably functioned as a meditation place.
This site is located 196 m above the sea level, on the highest point in the site, there is a small pavilion from which one will be able to see a panoramic view of Prambanan temple with Mount Merapi as the background.
King Boko Palace was a glorious building that was constructed during the reign of Rakai Panangkaran, descendant of Sailendra dynasty. The palace that initially was named Abhayagiri Vihara (that means a monastery on a peaceful hill) was built for seclusion purpose and to focus on spiritual life. From this palace, you will feel peace and will be able to see Yogyakarta city and Prambanan temple with Merapi Mountain as the background.
This palace is located 196 meters above the sea level. The area of the palace as wide as 250,000 m2 is divided into four, namely center, west, southeast, and east parts. The center part consists of the main gateway, square, Combustion Temple (cremation place), pond, square terrace and assembly hall. Meanwhile, the southeast part includes hall, platform, three temples, pond, and a complex for princess. The caves, Buddha effigy, and a pond are in east part while the west part consists of hills only.
If you enter from the palace gateway, you will directly be guided to the center part. Two high gates will welcome you. The first gate has three entrances while the second one has five. If you look it in detail, you will read 'Panabwara' writing on the first gate. Based on Wanua Tengah III inscription, the word was written by Rakai Panabwara (the descendant of Rakai Panangkaran) who took over the palace. The intention of carving his name on the gate was to legitimate his authority, to give 'power' to the gate in order to look more glorious and to give sign that the building was the main building.
Close to the place, you will also find Combustion Temple. The temple is of square form (measuring 26 meter x 26 meter) with two terraces. The function of the temple is to burn dead body as the name suggests. Around 10 meters away from the Combustion Temple, there are sacred terrace and a pond.
A mysterious well will be seen if you walk southeastward of the Combustion Temple. As the legend tells, the well was named Amerta Mantana that means sacred water treated with charms. At present time, the water of Amerta well is still used. The legend tells that the water brings luck for anyone who uses it. Hindu people use it in Tawur Agung ceremony, one day before the Nyepi day. Using water in the ceremony is believed to support the achievement of the objective, namely to self purify and to return the earth and its content to its initial harmony. IndonesiaTravelVisit.com suggests that you visit Prambanan temple one day before Nyepi day to see the ceremony process.
Even though it was built by a Buddhist, there are Hindu elements in it. This can be seen from the presence of Lingga and Yoni, Ganesha statue, and golden plate with the writing "Om Rudra ya namah swaha" on it as form of worship to Rudra as the other name of Shiva. The Hindu elements proved religious tolerance that is reflected in architectural works. In fact, Rakai Panangkaran who embraced Buddhism lived side by side with Hindu people.
Friday, May 22, 2009
Name : Satgarah Temples. Other temples in this complex include Mallot Temple and Katasraj temple. Among this Satgarah and mallot are Hill temples.
Location : KatasRaj is a Hindu temple situated are located 40 kilometres from Chakwal District in Katas village of Punjab in Pakistan.
Legends : Many legends are associated with the temples, some of them involving Shiva himself.
1. Legend says that the five Pandava brothers, heroes of the Sanskrit epic Mahabharata, stayed here for four out of the 14 years that they spent in exile.
2. Another legend involves the death of Shiva's wife Satti; the story goes that when she died he cried so much and for so long that his tears created two holy ponds - one at Pushkara in Ajmer and the other at Ketaksha, which literally means "raining eyes" in Sanskrit. It is from this name that the word Ketas is derived. Another version of the legend mentions the two pools at Katasraj and Nainital.
3. Another legend involves the death of Shiva's horse Katas; the story goes that when that horse died he cried so much and for so long that his tears created two holy ponds - one at Pushkara in Ajmer and the other at Ketaksha, which literally means "raining eyes" in Sanskrit. It is from this name that the word Ketas is derived.
Another version of the legend mentions the two pools at Katasraj and Nainital.People bathe in that holy pond and seek forgiveness as Hindu belief holds that bathing in the pond (especially on certain occasions) causes the forgiveness of sins and helps attain salvation. Many people believe that this will come from bathing in the pond at any time. Depth of this holy pond is still a mystery.
Description : Dedicated to Shiva, the temple has existed since the days of Mahabharata and the Pandava brothers spent a substantial part of their exile at the site.
The Ramachandra temple is situated to the east of the Hari Singh Haveli and is closed from all sides except for an entrance on the east.
The Hanuman temple is on the western extreme of a high rectangular enclosure with entrances on the south and the north. The temple's ceiling is undecorated, and lime-plastered. The Shiva temple is also built on a square platform. Its entrance is a recessed round arch with faint cusps and a rectangular opening to the north.
The lake in the complex is believed to have magical powers and supposed to be where Yudhisthira defeated the Yaksha with his wisdom to bring his brothers back to life.
With the major temple complex and the pond on the right. It is a picturesque sight.
Even nowadays, worshippers from all faiths perform pilgrimages to the temple every year and bathe in the sacred pool around which Katasraj is built.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Name : Kbal Spean ("Head Bridge")
Location : It is an Angkorian era site on the southwest slopes of the Kulen Hills in Cambodia, 25 km from the main Angkor group.
Description : It is commonly known as the valley of a 1000 Lingas. It consists of a series of stone carvings in and around the Stung Kbal Spean river. The motifs for the stone carvings are roughly three: myriads of lingams, depicted as neatly arranged bumps that cover the surface of a rock; lingam - yoni designs; and various Hindu mythological motifs, including depictions of gods and animals.
The majority of Kbal Spean's archaeological vestiges date to the 11th to 13th centuries. Construction of Kbal Spean was started by King Suryavarman I and later completed by King Udayadityavarman II.
It is commonly known as the valley of a 1000 Lingas due to the presence of the estimated one thousand lingas, which are sculptures dug in the Siem Reap riverbeds. Lingas were believed to fertilize the water of the East Baray and irrigate the rice fields in Cambodia.
Name : Sri Aruloli Thirumurugan Temple, or better known as the Penang Hill Hindu Temple.
Location : Until the hill train is in operation again, the only two ways to reach Bellevue Hotel is by either jeep or by hiking. Sri Aruloli Thirumurugan is located at Gun Hill, a small hillock in Penang Hill, Malaysia.
Description : This is one of the oldest Hindu temples in Penang. It started off in the 1800's as a small shrine to the Hindu deity Murugan - the deity associated with Thaipusam - by the Indian sepoys and sedan chair carriers, and is located at a mount within Penang Hill called Gun Hill. A trident, or Murugan Vel, was installed there by the devotees. Over the years, it was enlarged and rebuilt. The present-day incarnation of the Sri Aruloli Thirumurugan is a very ornate Hindu temple in the Dravidian architectural style of South India.
The Dravidian style of constructing Hindu temples calls for four principal parts. The temple proper, or vimana, is the shrine with a tower, a mandapa, or porch, gopurams, or gate towers, and chawadis, or pillar halls. In addition, there would usually be a tank of water for use in sacred rituals or for cleansing.
The sculptures on the gopuram and vimana are exquisitely ornate and colorful. Photography enthusiasts should enjoy capturing every small detail of the temple. From the location of this temple, one can get good views of the surroundings.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Name : Mullayanagiri
Location : Mullayanagiri, the tallest peak in the vicinity (and also the tallest in Karnataka @ 1930m)
Trekking : The trek continues mainly through the grass lands for abt 2-3 more hrs. There are about 3-4 intermediate small hills before reaching the top. On the hill, just before Mullayanagiri, one has to take the path to the left, along the hill and the path becomes rocky here. Avoid the temptation to continue straight ahead at this point and find a way along the shola forest and then had to climb up a reasonably steep part of the hill to get to the top.
Temple : There is a small temple on top of the hill, where we camped. This is a small hillock in the temple compound, which is the highest point in Karnataka. U r not supposed to wear footwears inside the compound and be careful abt that. The priests stay in the temple compound and they may even make coffee / tea. One more thing to note is that, there is not water source all the way till the hilltop and be sure u have enuf water with you.
Website : http://www.indiareviewsblog.com/2007/06/27/very-scenic-mullayanagiri-to-baba-budangiri-hills-trek-karnataka/
Name : BABA BUDAN
Location : North Of Chikmagalur, Karnataka
Highest Point : Mullaiyanagari
Altitude : 1926 m Above Sea Level
Description : To the north of Chikmaglur town is the Baba Budan Range or Chandra Drona Parvatha as it was known in the ancient times, which has one of the highest mountain peaks between the Himalayas and the Nilgiris.
The loftiest point of the range is Mullaiyanagari, which is 1926 m above sea level. A beacon lighted here during Deepavali can be seen at Chikmagalur.
The peak takes its name from the Muslim saint, Baba Budan, who resided here more than 150 years ago and reared coffee from the seeds he had secured from Yemen.
Bababudangiri mountain boasts of the Dattatreya peeta (a Hindu temple) and a Muslim dargah in the same premises. They are present side-by-side in the same underground cave.
Caves : Three large caves here said to have been sanctified by 3 siddhas contain their icons and gaddiges (tomb) and an annual 'jatra' is held here in their honour.
The enthralling scenery around makes this a much frequented pilgrim centre. Seethala contains a 'matha' and the dual shrine temple of 'Seethala-Mallikarjuna'.
Waterfalls : A short distance from here are the three waterfalls with epic associations, namely Gada Theertha, Nallikayi Theertha and Kamana Theertha.
Gada Theertha, according to a myth was created by the pandava prince, Bheema with his 'gada', the club, to quench the thirst of his mother during their exile.
The Ritual : Pilgrims who bathe here in the Nellikayi Theertha formed by Manikya Dhara waterfall, leave behind one item of their clothing as per a local belief.
Name : Kedareshwar Cave
Location : Harishchandragad, Ahmednagar, Maharashtra
Legend : It seems that the Shivalinga had Four pillars around it. One pillar was entirely damaged and cannot seen now. Two pillars have their remains stuck to the cave roof. Only one pillar is fully seen. Local legend holds that when the fourth pillar breaks, the world will come to an end.
Description : Going rightwards of Harishchandreshwar temple, we come across a huge cave. This is the cave of Kedareshwar, in which there is a big Shivlinga, which is totally surrounded by water. The total height from its base is five feet, and the water is waist-deep.
It is quite difficult to reach the Shivlinga, as the water is ice-cold. There are sculptures carved out here. In monsoon it is not possible to reach this cave, as a huge stream flows across the way.
Website : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harishchandragad
Name : Harishchandreshwar
Location : Harishchandragad is a hill fort in the Ahmednagar region of Maharashtra.
Description : This temple is marvelous example of the fine art of carving sculptures out of stones that prevailed in ancient India. It is about 16 m high from its base. Around this temple there a few caves & ancient water tanks. The river Mangal Ganga is said to originate from one of the tanks located close to the temple. The top of the temple resembles construction with the north-Indian temples. Harishchandragad is necessarily a two day trek , one can do the overnight stay in the caves, which are clean and well maintained
A similar temple is situated in Buddha-Gaya. Here we can see many tombs, in which a typical construction is seen. These are built by well-finished arranging stones one on top of the other. There are three main caves near the temple. The cisterns near the temple provide drinking water. A short distance away, another temple called Kashitirtha is located. The fascinating thing about this temple is that it has been carved out from a single huge rock. There are entrances from all four sides. On the main entrance there are sculptures of faces. These are faces of guards of the temple. On the left side of the entrance is a Devnagri inscription, which is about saint Changdev.
The various Puranas (ancient scriptures) like Matsyapurana, Agnipurana and Skandapurana include many references about Harishchandragad.
Fascinating Spots :
Saptatirtha Pushkarni : To the east of the temple is a well-built lake called “Saptatirtha”. On its bank are temple-like constructions in which there are idols of Lord Vishnu. Recently these idols have been shifted in the caves near the temple of Harishchandreshwar. These days many trekkers have been responsible for the sad plight of this beautiful place, as they throw plastic wastes and other things in the pond. 7 years back the water was potable, and now it isn’t suitable even to swim.
Kedareshwar Cave : Going rightwards of Harishchandreshwar temple, we come across a huge cave. This is the cave of Kedareshwar, in which there is a big Shivlinga, which is totally surrounded by water. The total height from its base is five feet, and the water is waist-deep. It is quite difficult to reach the Shivlinga, as the water is ice-cold. There are sculptures carved out here. In monsoon it is not possible to reach this cave, as a huge stream flows across the way.
Taramati peak : This is the topmost point on the fort. It is the second highest peak in Maharashtra after Kalsubai. Leopards are seen in the forests beyond this peak. From here we can have a glimpse of the whole range of Naneghat and the forts near Murbad.
Caves on Harishchandragad : These caves are situated all over the fort. Many of these are situated at the foot of Taramati peak & are the place of accommodation. A few are near the temple, whereas some are near the citadel and some far away in the forests. A 30 feet deep natural cave is on the northwestern side of the fort, to the right of Kokan Kada. Many other caves are still said to remain undiscovered.
Nageshwar temple near Khireshwar : This is a great antique construction, and diverse artistic works are seen on this. On the ceiling of the temple are beautiful carvings.
Konkan Kada :
The major attraction of Harishchandragad is Kokan Kada . Its beyond description, one should actually see it to experience the nature's architecture. Konkan kada should be visited in the evening as well as morning. In evening one is enchanted by the sunset where as in the morning one can experience the divine feeling of being in the heavens. Taramati and Rohidas , the two peaks atop Harishchandragad, are also worth visiting as they offer beautiful views of the sahyadri ranges. The ancient temple of Lord Shiva atop Harishchandragad is also good sight for observing. An ancient temple and the caves present at the base village Khireshwar are also worth seeing.
Please follow the link to download the map of Harishchandragad. This map has been provided by courtesy of Mr. Mahesh Chengalva.
Website : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harishchandragad
Name : Agastya Mala (also known as Agastyarkoodam or Agasthyakoodam)
Location : It is a 1,868 metres (6,129 ft) peak within Neyyar Wildlife Sanctuary in the Western Ghats of South India. The mountain lies on the border between the Indian states of Kerala (in Kollam and Thiruvananthapuram District) and Tamil Nadu (in Tirunelveli). The perennial Thamarabarani River originates from this hill and flows into the Tirunelveli District of Tamil Nadu.
Description : Agastya Mala is a pilgrimage centre for devotees of the Hindu sage Agastya, who is considered to be one of the seven rishis (Saptarishi) of Hindu Puranas.
There is a full-sized statue of Agastya at the top of the peak and the devotees can offer pujas themselves. Agasthyar was a sage of Dravidians and is considered to be one of the seven Rishis (Saptharshis) of Hindu mythology. Tamil language is considered to be a boon from Agasthyar.
Name : Biligiri Rangaswamy Temple (BR Hills)
Location : The hills are in the Yelandur and Kollegal Taluks of Chamarajanagar District of Karnataka. The hills are contiguos with the Satyamangalam range southwards, in the Erode District of Tamil Nadu. The hills that give the range its name are situated 90 km from Mysore and 220 km from Bangalore.
Importance of the Hills : The BR hills links the Eastern Ghats and the Western Ghats allowing animals to move between them and facilitating gene flow between populations of species in these areas. Thus, this forms Biligirirangaswamy sanctuary which serves as an important biological bridge for the biota of the entire Deccan plateau.
Description : The BR hills are famous for the temple of Lord Ranganatha or Lord Venkatesha which is situated on the highest peak of the hill range, on the 'white cliff' which gives the hill its name.
The local form of the deity is called Biligiriranga and is depicted in a unique standing position. This is the only place in the country where it is depicted as being in this position. Devotees flock to the place in large numbers to catch a glimpse of the deity. The local tribes present a large pair of sleepers measuring 1 foot and 9 inches, made up of skin, to the Ranganathaswamy once in two years.
Festivals : The Annual Car festival of the deity held during “Vaishakha “in the month of April, is famous in the region and attracts thousands of pilgrims from far and wide., the ratha festival is celebrated at Biligiriranga Hills.
Name : Himavad Gopalaswamy Betta
Location : It is located in the Chamarajanagar district of the state of Karnataka,at a height of 1454mt. and is extensively wooded. It is approximately 220 km from Bangalore and 75 km from Mysore on the Mysore Ooty road -10 km away from Gundlupet.
Legend : Legend says that sage Agastya, performed intense penance and as a result lord Vishnu blessed this place and promised to reside here. As this was a place of worship and penance, it used to be called as 'Hamsatheertha', which means the lake of swans in Sanskrit. Swan acquires a mythological significance in Hinduism, symbolizing knowledge, tranquility and salvation.
Temple : This temple was built by the King Chola Ballala during AD 1315. Later the Wodeyars of Mysore who were ardent devotees of Lord Venugopala displayed keen interest in maintaining the hill temple. The temple is dedicated to Gopalaswamy, which is one of the names of the Hindu God Krishna. The gopuram of the temple is single-tiered and rests on the compound wall of the enclosure. A dhwajastambha (flag-pillar) and a bali-peetam (sacrificial altar) is present in the mukha mantapa (inner-porch). The parapet wall of the facade of the mukha mantapa contains the sculpture of dashavatara (the avatars of the Hindu God Vishnu) with the centre portion of the sculpture depicting Krishnavatara (the avatar of Vishnu in which he appeared as Krishna). There is a shikhara tower over the garbha griha (sanctum sanctorum).
The garbha griha contains an idol of Krishna holding a flute under a tree. Krishna is flanked by his friends and the posture is that of a dance with the left big toe resting on the right one. The panel also features several characters and icons from Krishna's avatar.
Lord Gopalaswamy's idol is flanked by his consorts, Rukmini and Satyabhama. Cows and cowherds are featured towards the right side of the panel.
Access : There is a motorable road all the way to the top of the hill. Entry fee is collected at the forest depeartment checkpost at foot of the hill. Visitors are allowed from around 6am till 5pm. Overnight stay on top is not allowed. Trekking and videography in the surrounding hills are allowed only with prior permission and to be accompanied by the forest department guides.
There is a forest department guest house at the top of the picturesque hill, which can be reserved in advance through the forest office in Mysore or Bandipur. The guest house provides basic accommodation, food and other essentials should be brought along by visitors.
Website : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Himavad_Gopalaswamy_Betta
Name : Kiyomizu (full name Otowa-san Kiyomizu-dera). It takes its name from the waterfall within the complex, which runs off the nearby hills. Kiyomizu means clear water, or pure water.
Location : Eastern Kyoto, Japan
Description : It was founded as early as 798 by the Hosso sect of Buddhism, as one of the six virtually extinct schools of Nara Buddhism. The present buildings were reconstructed in 1633 and some were recently restored.
The Veranda : The main hall has a veranda, supported by tall pillars, that juts out over the hillside and offers impressive views of the city. The popular expression "to jump off the stage at Kiyomizu" is the Japanese equivalent of the English expression "to take the plunge". This refers to an Edo period tradition that held that, if one were to survive a 13m jump from the stage, one's wish would be granted. Two hundred thirty-four jumps were recorded in the Edo period and, of those, 85.4% survived. The practice is now prohibited.
The Waterfall : Beneath the main hall is the Otowa waterfall, where three channels of water drop into a pond. Visitors to the temple collect the water, which is believed to have therapeutic properties, from the waterfall. It is said that drinking the water of the three streams confers wisdom, health, and longevity. However, some Japanese believe that you must choose only two — if you are greedy and drink from all three, you invite misfortune upon yourself.
The complex also offers various talismans, incense, and omikuji (paper fortunes).
Festivals : The site is particularly popular during New Year's and obon (Japanese Buddhist custom to honor the departed spirits of one's ancestors in the summer)
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Name : Paro Taktsang (or) Tiger's Nest
Location : The temple hangs on a cliff at 3,120 metres (10,200 feet), some 700 meters (2,300 feet) above the bottom of Paro valley, some 10 km from the district town of Paro (Bhutan).
Legend : The name Taktsang (stag tshang) means "Tiger's lair", the legend being that Padmasambhava (Guru Rinpoche) flew there on the back of a tiger.
In the 8th Century CE Guru Rinpoche visited Bhutan and blessed it as the second Kailash. At that time malignant spirits abounded and, in order to subdue them, he assumed the terrifying form of Guru Dorje Dröllo one of the Eight Manifistations of Guru Rinpoche (gu ru mtshan brgyad) and consecrated Paro Taksang as a sacred site to protect the Dharma and subdue harmful forces.
Description : It is one of the most famous Buddhist monasteries in Bhutan. It was built around the Taktsang Senge Samdup cave where Guru Padmasambhava is said to have meditated in the 8th Century. Completed in 1692, today it is the most well known as thirteen taktsang or "tiger lair" caves.
Famous visitors include Milarepa, Machig Labdrön, Thang Tong Gyalpo, and in the 17th century Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal.
The monastery includes seven temples which can all be visited. The monastery suffered several blazes and is a recent restoration. It has survived four catastrophic fires and an earthquake. Visitors ascend the slope to the monastery on foot or on mule-back.
Hiking Adventure : Start the day with a short drive to Sartsam Chorten. From here you hike (1 ½ hours) to the viewpoint of the monastery. The trail climbs through beautiful pine forest, many of the trees festooned with Spanish moss, and an occasional grove of fluttering prayer flags. Stop for a rest and light refreshments at the Taktsang Jakhang (cafeteria) and then walk a short distance until you can see, clearly and seemingly within reach, the Taktsang monastery.
Pilgrimage to Paro Taktsang : Those who wish to go on pilgrimage to Paro Taktsang and nearby sacred sites, should obtain a special permit from the Department of Culture, Ministry of Home & Cultural Affairs, Thimphu. In order to maintain the sanctity of the place, ordinary tourists without a permit may not be allowed to go beyond Tsogyal Pangchung (meadow of Yeshe Tsogyal) before the Shelkarchu waterfall. At that place there is however an excellent view of Taktsang and a place to offer butterlamps.
The complete pilgrimage to Taktsang consists of an outer (), middle () and inner() pilgrimage ( explained clearly in the website : http://rywiki.tsadra.org/index.php/Paro_Taktsang
Name : Shri Digamber Jain Siddha Kshetra Kunthalgiri.
Location : Kunthalgiri, Taluka – Bhoom, Dist. – Osmanabad (Maharashtra)
Legend : Once upon a time while Ram – Lakshmana with Seeta were in nearby forest during their 14 years period of living in forest, they heard uproar and many terrible sounds on the hill. They came to know that a god of heaven (enemy of previous life) troubling to both saints. Ram – Lakshmana then went to hill and freed them from trouble (Upsarga). Simultaneously both the ascetic saints attained Kevalgyan (Super natural knowledge) and also salvation from there.
Description : Kunthalgiri is the only sacred place of southern India from where two ascetic saints named Shri Kul Bhushan & Desh Bhushan achieved salvation and went to Moksha in the period of Lord Munisuvratnath (20th Teerthankar).
This Kshetra is situated on 175 feet high hill. Two ancient images of foot pairs of Kul Bhushan & Desh Bhushan are installed here in the main temple. It is said that a celibaty of village Babavar Shri Metashah saw a dream in a night that where a cow allows her milk to suckle by her calf, at that place there are lying the feet images of Lord Kul Bhushan – Desh Bhushan. According the dream, Shri Metashah searched that place and dig there to get ancient feet images. Thus these feet images were recovered. All the public present there viewed the images with worship full of devotion and enthusiasm. They took the images and installed them on a high rock.
Shri Kul Bhushan & Desh Bhushan were prince of a state, due to some unexpected event both were inspired to accept asceticism, thus they put off their clothes & ornaments and became ascetic saints and started Tup (Penance) to purify soul from affection, spiritual ignorance and so many ailments and to achieve salvation.
Atishaya : It is said that in the main temple of Kunthalgiri. The Kul Bhushan Desh Bhushan Temple, about 50 years ago sound of bells were heard in night and consecration took place. In the morning water of consecration was found in temple.
Website : http://www.jainteerth.com/teerth/kunthalGiri.asp
Name : Shri Digamber Jain Siddha Kshetra Kundalgiri (Kundalpur)
Location : Kundalpur, Dist. – Damoh (M.P.)
Description : Here are 63 temples of various types, among them 22nd temple is famous for Bade Baba Bhagwan Adinath the principal deity and 49th is called Jal Mandir, an attractive temple situated in the middle of beautiful pond Vardhaman Sagar.
There are 40 temples on hill and remaining 23 in valley. Temples No. 41 to 47 are small in size while No. 48 to 60 are big temples with beautiful spires.
This Kshetra Kundalpur is a place full of natural attractive beauty famous for miraculous colossus of Bade Baba Bhagwan Adinath in sitting (Padmasana) posture 15 feet in height and is a place of salvation of Antim Kevali Shridhar Kevali.
Main Temple & Idol : Main temple at Kundalpur is Bade Baba Adinath’s Temple. The colossus is a piece of art rare in the world and two idols of Gomukha Yaksha and Chakreshwary Devi are carved in the back.
Website : http://www.jainteerth.com/teerth/kundalpur.asp
Name : Sonagiri Temples
Location : Sonagiri lies on Datia Gwalior road (Madhya Pradesh). Buses are available from Gwalior (65Kms), Datia(15kms) and Jhansi(45kms) to reach Sonagiri.
Legend : Sonagiri ( literally, the golden peak) is a place sacred to Digambar Jains. This is a place where King Nanganag Kumar achieved liberation from the cycles of death and life along with the fifteen million followers.
Description : There are seventy seven beautiful Jain temples in hills and twenty six temples in village.The temple no.fifty seven(57) on hill is the main temple. This temple has attractive artistic spire. In this temple the principal deity is Lord Chandraprabhu, eleven feet in height. Two other beautiful idols of Lord SheetalNath & Parsvnath are installed.
There is a column of dignity (Manstambh) 43 feet in height and an attractive model of Samavsharan. The samavsharan of Bhagwan Chandraprabhu came here for seventeen times. Nang, Anang, Chintagati, Pooranchand, Ashoksen, Shridatta and many other saints achieved salvation from here. This is the unique place known as Laghu Sammed Shikhar covering the area of 132 acres of two hills.
The most beautiful temple, among 77 temples, is the temple dedicated to the 8th Jain Tirthankar, Chatranatha.
This sacred place is popular among devotees & ascetic saints to practice for self discipline, austerity, and to attain Nirvana(salvation).
Annual festival ( Mela ) : From Falgun Shukla 14 to Chaitra Krishna 5
Website : http://www.datia.nic.in/sonagiri.htm
Name : Kunti Betta
Location : Pandavapura Taluk. 130 Kms from Bangalore, 4 Kms from Pandavapura, 25 Kms from Mysore
Legend : The hill is named after the mother of Pandavas/five brothers in Mahabharatha. The legend of this place narrates that Pandavas spent the last few days of their exile in the hills and named the hill after their mother Kunti whom they missed. Kunti Betta is the location where Bheema destroyed the demon Bakasura. The town nearby is called as Pandavapura after the Pandavas.
Diety : The temples are dedicated to Kunti, Mallikarjuna / Shiva and Lord Rama.
Description : The hill has twin peaks with rocks uniquely arranged with clumps of trees growing here and there. It is a perfect place to try rock climbing or to trek on the path and visit some interesting sites pertaining to the legends associated with the place
As the climb gets steeper you will be surprised to land on a flat terrain, where there is evidence of the land having been cultivated a few centuries ago. This place has a rock pond (water collects in the rock like a pond) known as Kunti Kola and a footprint of Bheema is present on the rock.
The hill was also popularly known as French rocks as the French troops had camped in this region in the 18th century to help Tipu Sultan in his war against the British. From the top of the hill the expanse of Tonnur Kere/lake can be viewed.
Monday, May 18, 2009
Name : Nandi Hills or Nandidurg
Location : It is situated in the Chikkaballapur district of Karnataka state. It is located just 16 km (till base) 24 km (top of the hill) from Chickballapur town and approximately 60 km from the city of Bangalore.
Description : Nandidurg hill, known commonly as Nandi Hills, gets its name from an ancient Nandi temple situated on this hill. This temple has a thousand year old sculpture of Nandi. Nandi is the bull in Sanskrit, Kannada and Telugu. He is the sacred abode or Vahana to Lord Shiva. An ancient lord Shiva and Parvati temple also adorns this hill. During the Chola reign, Nandi Hills was known as Ananda Giri, Hill of Happiness. There is an ancient temple of Yoga Nandeeswara atop the hill.
Sunday, May 17, 2009
Name : Batu Caves - Murugan Temple
Location : Batu caves is a limestone hill, which has a series of caves and cave temples, located in Gombak district, 13 kilometres (8.1 mi) north of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It takes its name from the Sungai Batu or Batu River, which flows past the hill. Batu Caves is also the name of the nearby village.
Description : The cave is one of the most popular Hindu shrines outside India, dedicated to Lord Murugan. Batu Caves was promoted as a place of worship by K. Thamboosamy Pillai, an Indian trader. He was inspired by the 'vel'-shaped entrance of the main cave and was inspired to dedicate a temple to Lord Muruga within the caves.
Wooden steps up to the Temple Cave were built in 1920 and have since been replaced by 272 concrete steps. Of the various cave temples that comprise the site, the largest and best known is the Temple or Cathedral Cave, so named because it houses several Hindu shrines beneath its 100 m vaulted ceiling.
Rising almost 100 m above the ground, Batu Caves temple complex consists of three main caves and a few smaller ones. The biggest, referred to as Cathedral Cave or Temple Cave, has a 100 m-high ceiling, and features ornate Hindu shrines. To reach it, visitors have to climb a steep flight of 272 steps.
At the base of the hill are two more cave temples, Art Gallery Cave and Museum Cave, both of which are full of Hindu statues and paintings. This complex was renovated and opened as the Cave Villa in 2008. Many of the shrines relate the story of Lord Murugan's victory over demon Soorapadam. An audio tour is available to visitors.
The Ramayana Cave is situated to the extreme left as one faces the sheer wall of the hill. On the way to the Ramayana Cave, there is a 50-foot (15 m) tall murti of Hanuman and a temple dedicated to Hanuman, the noble monkey devotee and aide of Lord Rama.
A 42.7m (130 feet high) high statue of Lord Muruga was unveiled in January 2006, having taken 3 years to construct. It is the tallest Lord Muruga statue in the world.
Festivals : It is the focal point of Hindu festival of Thaipusam in Malaysia which attracts over 1.5 million pilgrims yearly, making it one of the largest annual gatherings anywhere in the world.
Name : Manki Point, kasauli
Location : Manki Point is just 4 km from Kasauli bus stand. Kasauli is located 77 km from Shimla, 65 km from Chandigarh and 50 km from Panchkula.
Legend : According to legend Kasauli came into being when Lord Hanuman, on his way to getting the Sanjeevani herb (Magical Herb) touch the hill by his foot thus top of hill is in foot shape. Description : This Hanuman Mandir is situated atop the 300 m high hillock, called Manki Point, where Lord Hanuman is supposed to have rested his feet. There is about more than 200 plus upstairs for the main temple from the main gate of the temple. This temple lies within the confines of an air force radar station and base and is subject to security restrictions (no cameras or bags allowed). This temple is located in the middle of the Air-Force base camp, so the whole area is protected by the air force.
You have to bring with yourself ID proof like Voter Card, Driving License, PAN Card, Adhaar Card etc. if you want to visit the Hanuman temple. On a clear day, one can get views of nearby cities like Chandigarh. One can reach this point by road or on foot. On foot, it takes nearly two hours from Kasauli town but the scenery and harmony you enjoy makes the walk worth the effort.
Other Attractions :
You can visit the Air Force base camp where you can see dummy model of aircraft, weapons and other instruments which are used by the Air Force. You can also visit famous Kasauli Market , Kasauli Christ Church and open area of Kasauli forest with your family/friends. You can also visit Baba Balak Nath Temple at Garkhal which is about 3KM from Kasauli bus stand.
Name : BABA BALAK NATH TEMPLE
Location : On the Graner Hill top, Kasauli
Located 77 km from Shimla, 65 km from Chandigarh and 50 km from Panchkula.
Legend : It is believed that Baba Balak Nath ji one night appeared in dreams to a local resident - named Vijay Kumar and told him to built a temple at the place, where the present temple is located. This temple is of its own kind where many issue less couples visit to be blessed with a child, whose baptism ceremony is also performed in the same very temple. A number of photographs of such blessed children are the evidence, which are kept as record by Baba Vijay Kumarji in the temple.
Name : Baba Balak Nath Temple
Location : Baba Balak Nath Temple is situated 70km from Bilaspur and 30km from Hamirpur. This place called Deothsidh in the Dhaulagiri Hills of Hamirpur, Himachal Pradesh. It is one of the most significant temples of north India, placed atop an outstanding hill.
Legend : Baba Balak Nath Sidhpeeth is one of the most famous pilgrims in Himachal Pradesh, also known as the God`s own land. The ancient Cave and temple architecture relates to the Deot Sidh era in Hamirpur District. Lakhs of devotees from India and abroad visit this temple to reinforce their firm faith in the "Siddha Tradition". There are a number of myths and legends surrounding the Baba Balaknath Temple in Hamirpur in Himachal Pradesh. The history of this temple states that Baba Balaknath was born in three ages in different forms and in every birth he was a devotee of Lord Shiva. Baba Balaknath worshipped Lord Shiva and even helped out people in distress. Till today pilgrims convey a number of their desires to Baba Balaknath in order to turn them into reality.
Description : A cave, created from rock, enshrines a magnificent idol of Babaji. It is also believed to be the sacred abode of Babaji. Devotees offer `Rot`, prepared with flour and sugar/gur at the altar of Babaji. Some even present goats for sacrifice. However, females are prohibited to enter the inner cave; a raised platform just opposite to the cave has been specially erected for female worshippers for Babaji`s `Darshan`. Six km from Baba Balak Nath Temple, there is spot named Shahtalai, where Baba is assumed to have observed penance. It is also considered exceedingly sacred to the pilgrims. The trustee board, Sidh Baba Balak Nath Temple Trust looks after the proper functioning and maintenance of the temple. Sunday is considered an auspicious day of Babaji, thereby attracting thousands of faithfuls. Una Railway Station is the nearest railhead.
The devotees who visit Baba Balaknath Temple offer Rot along with sugar or Gur (Jaggery) at the altar of Babaji. Females are not allowed to enter the cave and they can only get a glimpse of the idol from an outside dais. During the Navratris, pilgrims throng to the Temple. Government of Himachal Pradesh makes arrangements in tents for their accommodation and provides them with other bare necessities. A few kilometers away from the Baba Balaknath Temple, lies the Shah Talai connected by a ropeway, which is also an important tourist attraction.
Website : http://www.indianetzone.com/22/baba_balak_nath_temple_hamirpur_himachal_pradesh.htm
Name & Deities :
1) Sri Lakshmi Narasimhar in Padmagiri
2) Sri Venkatesa Perumal in Sudharsa malai
Location: Pazhaya Seevaram is one of the famous temple of Sri Lakshmi Narasimhar. This sthalam is found in between Chengalput and Kanchipuram, on the shore of River Palar. There are lots of buses available from Kanchipuram to this Temple.
This sthalam is one among the sthalam that is found in the hilltop where Sri Narasimhar along with the Thaayar gives his special seva to His Bhaktas. The mountain, which is found, is called with the name “Padmagiri”. This kshetram is also called with name as “Sathya Varadha Kshetram”.
Once, Vishnu Chitthar, a great muni in Naimisaranyam asked to the other Rishis to say which is the best and great sthalam where he can get the seva of Sriman Narayanan in Archai (one among the 5 Nilayas (or) forms of Sriman Narayanan) roopam, where he can get the complete credit of his tapas.
On hearing this, Mareecha muni, one among the muni in that group answered that there exists an sthalam, where the Perumal has already given full palan (credit) for the tapas and is gifted with nature’s beauty. He also added that the muni, who got the seva of the Perumal, is Atthiri Muni and he the wish of seeing the Perumal in Archai roopam and performed severe tapas in the place “Padmagiri”. And as a result of the tapas, the Perumal came in front of him in the form of Sri Lakshmi Narasimhar. Atthiri muni wished that the Perumal should stay in that place and the entire Bhaktas of Human community.
Triveni Sangamam :
Triveni Sangamam means 3 rivers joining in one place. In this Pazhaya Seevaram sthalam, we can find 3 rivers getting merged. The three rivers are Palaaru (Kshera Nadhi)- Cheyyaru (Bahoo nadhi) and Vegavadhi (Saraswathi). This Triveni Sangamam is termed as the Triveni Sangamam of south.
In Krutha yugam, there lived a great Sri Vishnu Bhaktan, who wanted to take bath daily in the river Ganga, which emerges from the foot of Sriman Narayanan. He took bath in this Sangamam and treated this water as the Ganga River and worshipped the Perumal in Sudharsana Malai (mountain). Another saint lived here and treated this river as the river Yamuna. Because of this, both the rivers Yamuna and Ganga emerged here and the other river Vegabagha (Saraswathi river) also emerged and these 3 rivers merge in the great Pazhaya seevaram sthalam. This river flows in between Padmagiri and Sudharsana malai.
It is 100% evident that if you take bath in this river and get the seva of Sri Lakshmi Narasimhar in Padmagiri and Sri Venkatesa Perumal in Sudharsana malai is equivalent to 100 times to that of taking bath in Prayagai.
It is also 100% evident that if we take bath in this river for a month without any interruption and be rested under the shadow of Pippali tree in Padmagiri, is said to cure all sorts of sins and diseases.
Sudharsana Malai (mountain):
On the opposite side of Padmagiri (also called as Seevara malai) another mountain is found which is called as “Sudharsana malai” where Sri Prasanna Venkatesa Perumal is giving his seva. This Perumal gave his Prathyaksham to Brighu Muni and King Chakravarthy.
Festivals - Paarvettai and Seevaram : During the 3 day of Pongal festival in Thai month (Jan 14 – Feb 15), the utsavar Sri Varadhar of Sri Varadharajar temple, Kanchi is taken towards this Seevaram sthalam and this is one among the great utsavam of Sri Varadhar (Malai utsavam).
Lots of Bhaktas from Various parts come to Seevaram to visit Sri Varadharajar and Seevaram Paarvettai Utsavam is one of the worlds known utsavam among Sri Vaishnavites.
Not only in religious way, this sthalam is said to be an sthalam, which is surrounded by herbal trees, silent atmosphere and can cure lots of diseases as it is.
The temple is maintained in a great manner by the authorities. In the districts, this is one among the great sthalam and well-maintained sthalam and has been very appreciated by the government for maintaining the temple in a good way.
Lots of Utsavams are performed in this sthalam. Bramhotsavam in Aani month, Theerthavari in Swathi and Paarvettai during Thai month are said to be some of the Utsavams that are performed in a great manner.
Website : http://hindulistings.com/blog/category/hindu-temples/
Friday, May 15, 2009
Name : Agasthiswarara Swamy Temple, Thiruchchunai
Location : In the Madurai - Tiruchchirappalli highway. From karunagalakkudi bus stop about two km.
God : Agasthiswarar
Goddess : Padalambikai
Great saints visited : agasthiyar
Legend : Sage agasthiyar when passing across this place, it was time for him to worship the Lord shiva, his beloved. This place was very attractive refreshing with a cool pond (chunai) on the big rock nearby, the sage decided to do the worship there itself. He made a shiva li.ngam out of the rock with his hands itself and worshiped the Lord with devotion. So the Lord is called agasthIshwara swAmy. (pirAn malai the place where the Lord showed him His blissful marriage posture is near this place.)
Specialities : It is a small but marvelous temple with a very scenic and serene surrounding. Espeically at twilight very refreshing and very nice place to meditate. The temple well located on the top of the rock is seen from the distance when one passes through the madhurai - thiruchchirAppaLLi highway near kottAmpatti.
Website : http://www.shaivam.org/siddhanta/sptcunai.html
Name : Vannivelampatti
Location : North of T.kallupatti 3 kms, near Virudhunagar
God : Agni Eswarar (Shiva)
Description : This is a Shiva Temple. I dont have more information about this temple now. I shall collect more information when i go there and post accordingly soon. Anyone have information about this temple can share with me.
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Name : Mangala Devi Temple
Location : 13 kms south east of kumily town, Kerala
Description : Mangala Devi Temple ( 1000 years old) situated at a height of 4000 ft. There is an idol of Kannaki devi. It is believed Chithrapournami is the festival and thousands of devotees participate in it.
Visitors to this ancient temple are allowed only on Chithra Paurnami festival days. Hidden in the dense forest at the top of a peak 1337 mt above sea level, the temple is built in traditional Kerala style of architecture. The peak commands a panoramic view of the eastern slopes of the Ghats and some hill villages of Tamilnadu.
Monday, May 11, 2009
Name : Wat Saket or also known as the Golden Mount, or 'Phu Khao Thong'
Location : Pom Prap Sattru Phai district, Bangkok, Thailand
Description : It rises within the compound of Wat Saket, an unusual temple that houses Buddha relics within its 58-metre-high chedi surmounted by a golden cupola.
The temple dates back to Ayutthaya era, when it was called Wat Sakae. King Rama I renovated the temple and renamed it to Wat Saket. During the reign of King Rama III the Chedi Phu Khao Thong (Golden mountain) was added to the temple. It was finished under King Rama V and then named Suwannabanphot. This building has become a popular tourist attraction in Bangkok.
The religious visitors place flowers near the date of the month they find auspicious and light candles. As you climb to the top, enjoy magnificent panoramic views of Bangkok. The cupola is covered with small golden squares reflecting in the sun and giving the place the name of Golden Mount.
No of Steps : 318 steps
Festivals : Wat Saket hosts an enormous annual temple fair in the first week of November, when the mount is illuminated with coloured lanterns and the compound turns into a massive fun fair. Admission to the chedi costs 10 baht.
Thursday, May 7, 2009
Name : The Surya Pahar temple
Location : It is situated amongst several archaeological remains in Golapara in Assam, India ( On the Dobapara road ). This temple is an ancient center of sun worship that is literally an art gallery of Indian sculpture.
Legend : Sun worship in Assam (as in other parts of India) goes back to ancient times. Assam has been referred to as Pragjyotishapura. According to the Kalika Purana of the 10th century CE, Bhrahma created Pragjyotishapura, as a city equal to the city of Indra the King of the Gods. The word Prag refers to the Eastern region and jyotisha refers to the word star-astrology. Pragjyotisha is also said to mean, ‘eastern city of astrology’. To the east of Guwahati, there is a hill temple known as Citracala, dedicated to the Navagrahams or the nine celestial bodies.
Description : Ruins of several old temples are scattered all over the hill. This hill is also the seat of a small modern sun temple. The Surya mandir on Surya Pahar is a modest structure and it enshrines a circular tablet, four and a half feet in circumference with carved images representing the various celestial bodies including Surya.
Sri Surya Pahar, a confluence of the three religion of Jainism, Buddhism, and Hinduism, is a treasure trove of ancient monuments, is situated about 12 kms. Southeast of Goalpara, 136 kms northwest of Guwahati.
In addition to being a confluence of the three religions which is evident from the innumerable sculptures , Sri Surya Pahar can also be called a garden of medicinal plants, most of which awaits identification.
The centermost figure in this sculpture is enclosed within an inner circle. The centermost figure is surrounded by 12 miniature figures in a seated posture. The centermost figure is Kasyapa muni (also considered to be Prajapati or the creator) , and the 12 figures around this figure are referred to as the 12 Suryas - sons of Kasyapa and Aditi.
Surya Pahar is an interesting archeological site, as several rock cut figures are seen here. Several granite Shiva Lingams are seen in the vicinity of the hill. Legend has it that there were once about a 100,000 Shivalingams here, as they had been installed with a idea of making this town second to none other than Benares as a pilgrimage site.
Saturday, May 2, 2009
Name : Kalaseshwara temple at Kalasa
Location : Just half an hour away from Horanadu is the temple of Kalasa. This is a temple on a hill, on the foothills of which flows the Bhadra River in Karnataka. This place seems to be a picnic spot, as it was filled with people even in may when there wasn’t that much water in the river. One has to climb a few steps to get to the temple.
Description : At the entrance of the temple are the statues of two elephants, regarded to be Ganesha and a she-elephant, his wife. It is believed that there was an Asura here, to kill whom, Ganesha descended on earth. The magical Asura took the form of a tree, and Ganesha assumed the form of an elephant to uproot him. Seeing the struggle, a she elephant in the forest came to help, and along with Ganesha succeeded in uprooting the tree and putting an end to the Asura. Since he had touched the she-elephant during the fight, Ganesha married her, and decreed that she should take her place by his side at this place. Both the elephant statues look identical, except that the male one is depicted as trampling the Asura beneath his foot. The idol of kalaseshwara, a lingam, is believed to be Shiva who manifested himself in a kalasam, a vessel in which water is kept, to the great rishi, Agasthya.
Name : Bhadrakali Temple
Location : Khundhar Pokhara, Nepal
Description : Built in the year 1817, this temple was previously known as "Mudule Thumpko". Situated 230 ft. above the sea level, this temple is surrounded by greenery which give it a peaceful environment. This temple came into origin when the Goddess " Bhadrakali" told the Priest to dig the hill. There they found the statue of the Goddess since then it has been worshiped as "BhadraKali".
Name : Yadagirigutta
Location : Yadagirigutta lies near Bhuvanagiri ( Bhongir). It is one of the important holy places of Nalgonda District, Andhra Pradesh. Yadagirigutta is famous for the Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy Temple.
Legend : In Tretayugam, there lived a sage by the name of Yadarishi, son of the great sage Rishyasrunga and Santa Devi who did penance inside a cave with the blessings of Anjaneya on this hill between Bhongir(Bhuvanagiri) and Raigiri (Now in Nalgonda district of Andhra Pradesh,India). Pleased with his deep devotion, Lord Narasimha, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu appeared before him in five different forms as Jwala, Yogananda, Gandabherunda, Ugra and Lakshminarasimha. They later manifested themselves into finely sculpted forms that later came to be worshipped as Pancha Narasimha Kshetram.
There are Puranic and traditional accounts of this Shrine, which are widely popular among the devotees. There is mention about the origin of this temple in the Skanda Purana, one of the famous 18 puranas.
Within the cave shrine, carved out of the living rock as are all the images, is the Jwala Narasimha, the Flame or Fire form which is difficult to see.
Description : Glowing bright atop the sikharam of garbha griha(Sanctum sanctorum) of this cave temple is the golden Sudarshana chakra (about 3 ft x 3ft) of Lord Vishnu (whose reincarnation is Lord Narasimha) the adornment as well as the weapon is a symbol this temple is identified by from as far away as 6 km. It is said that many years ago the chakra moved in the direction from which the devotees came as if like a compass guiding them towards itself.
Lord Narasimha is believed to have been worshipped by sages (rushis). The region of Yadagirigutta is reputed to be a "Rushi Aradhana Kshetram" or the place of worship for sages .
As the belief goes, Lord Narasimha has taken on the role of a "doctor" and is known as "Vaidya Narasimha" by his devotees at this shrine to cure many chronic diseases and the role of a 'do gooder' to those who are under the influence of bad planets, witch craft and black magic. Many instances are cited of the Lord appearing in the dreams of the devotees, and administering medicines and operated the patients and blessed them with good health. Many devotees tell of vivid dreams in which the Lord comes to heal them from chronic or terminal illnesses, and even mental or emotional problems. A mandala (40 day) pradakshina is very popular made by many a devotee cured of a long standing ailment or chronic disease. Often times, the Lord Himself has imparted mantrOpadEsham to select devotees in their dreams.
The Aradhanam and Puja in this temple are performed according to Pancharatra Agamam. The puja vidhanam (Puja procedure) was set by Late Sri Vangeepuram Narasimhacharyulu who composed Yadagiri Suprabhatam, Prapatti, Stotram, Mangalashasanam and served as Sthanacharya of this temple
There are a number of busses from Hyderabad and Secunderabad. You can also take a train from secunderabad. You have to get down at Raigiri railway station. From there you can take AutoRickshaw or Tonga.
To get up to the hill you can walk the stairs (not very hard) or can take a bus.
Festivals at Yadagirigutta Sri Lakshminarasimha Swamy Temple :
Every year Sri Swamy vari Brahmothsavams are being performed during the months of Palgunam i.e. from Shudha Vidiya to Dwadasi for (11 ) days (normally in Febrauary & March).
During the Brahmothsavams cultural programs like Harikathas, Bajans, Vocal recites, Upanyasams, Bharatha Natyams and Dramas will be arranged with the well known artists and Scholars from the different places.
Name : Sri Panakala Lakshmi Narasimhaswamy
Location : Mangalagiri, Andhra Pradesh
Legend : This shape of the hill looks like an elephant. From all the directions, the hill appears in the elephant shape only. There is an interesting legend to show as to how the mountain came into existence. Pariyatra, an ancient king had a son Hrasva Srungi visited all holy and sacred places to regain normal bodily stature and finally visited this holy place of Mangalagiri and stayed for three years performing penance. All the Devathas (Gods) advised him to stay at Mangalagiri and continue to do penance in praise of Lord Vishnu. The father of Hrasva Srungi came with his retinue to take back his son to his kingdom. But Hrasva Srungi took the shape of an elephant to become the abode of Lord Vishnu who is locally known as Panakala Lakshmi Narasimhaswamy.
Description : Mangalagiri - The Auspicious Hill
Mangalagiri means The Auspicious Hill. This place is one of the 8 important Mahakshetrams (sacred places) in India. The eight places where Lord Vishnu manifested himself are (1) Sri Rangam (2) Srimushnam (3) Naimisam (4) Pushkaram (5) Salagamadri (6) Thothadri (7) Narayanasramam (8) Venkatadri. Thotadri is the present Mangalagiri. Lakshmi Devi has done tapas on this hill. That's why it got this name (The auspicious hill).
There are three Narasimha Swamy temples in Mangalagiri.
1. Panakala Narasimha Swamy on the hill.
2. Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy at the foot of the temple.
3. Gandala Narasimha Swamy at the top of the hill.
The temple of Sri Panakala Lakshmi Narasimhaswamy is situated on the hill. A dhwajasthambham was erected in front of the temple in 1955. Behind the temple there is the temple of Sri Lakshmi, to the west of which there is a tunnel which is believed to lead to Vundavalli caves on the banks of the Krishna. There was a cave next the devi temple on the hill. It is said that, there is a way to Vundavalli from that cave, and the sages used to go by that way to take bath in Krishna River. Now, the cave is very dark, and the way could not be seen.
The Demon Namuchi
The Lord that has established himself on the hill is in the form of Narasimha (man-lion) which Lord Vishnu assumed to kill Hiranyakasipu, a rakshasa father of Prahlada, a great devotee. He is also called as Sudarsana Narasimhaswamy. The legend says that Namuchi, a Rakshasa after great penance obtained a boon from Brahma that he would not be killed by anything that is either wet or dry. He began to harass Indra and the Devathas. Encouraged and supported by Lord Vishnu, Indra commenced destroying the army of Rakshasa Namuchi, who did in a cave in Sukshmakaram (small size) giving up his sthulakaram (Physical manifestation). Indra dipped Sudarsanam, the disc of Lord Vishnu in the foam of the ocean and sent it into the cave. Lord Vishnu manifesting himself at the centre of the disc destroyed the Pranavayuvu (life breath) of the Rakshasa with the fire of his exhalation. He thus got the name of Sudarsana Narasimha. The blood that flowed from the body of the Rakshasa seemed to have formed into a pool at the foot of the hill which is known hill. The Devathas themselves were unable to withstand the fire of the anger of the Lord and they prayed for appeasement. The Lord took amrutam (nectar) and cooled down. It was in Krithayugam. The Lord said that he would be satisfied with ghee in Threthayugam, with milk in Dwaparayugam and with panakam(Jaggery water) in Kaliyugam. Hence the Lord is called in Kaliyugam as Panakala Lakshmi Narasimhaswamy.
Story in Threthayugam
In Threthayugam, the second of the four yugas, people who enjoyed in heaven as a result of their good deeds in the world are most unhappy to return to this world (when once the fruits of good deeds are exhausted, the soul has to come back to the world). They prayed Indra, the Lord of heaven to save them from the impending fate. Indra advised them to spend their time in the world at Mangalagiri to attain heaven again. In Krithayugam, the first of the four yugas when the sinners were few, Yamadharmaraja, the Lord of hell advised them to wash off their sins by doing penance at Mangalagiri. Mangalagiri is in existence from the beginning of the Universe with the names Anjanadri in Krithayugam, Thotadri in Threthayugam, Mangaladri and Mukthyadri in Dwaparayugam and Mangalagiri in Kaliyugam affording salvation to sinners also. In Krithayugam, Vaikhanasa Maharshi worshipped the Lord and his idol is worshipped even today in the temple. It is also believed that Lord Rama while departing for Vaikuntam after completing his mission in that incarnation advised Anjaneya to stay at Mangalagiri and after obtaining his blessings to remain in this world for ever. Anjaneya took his adobe at Mangalagiri as Kshetrapalaka.
Panakala Narasimha Swamy - God Who Drinks Panakam
It is said that here, god is self-existent. In the temple, there will be no statue of the god, but there is only mouth, widely opened to 15 cms. The mouth is covered by metal face of the god. The temple will be opened till afternoon only, with the belief that devatas will perform pujas in the night. The God takes jaggery water as offering by a conch. The Jaggery water is actually poured into the mouth of the Lord, a gargling sound is clearly audible as if the Lord is actually drinking it and the sound becomes shriller and shriller as and when the Lord is drinking. The sound will come to a stop after sometime and the balance of the jaggery water is thrown out. This phenomenon happens not once in a day but is a recurring feature during the course of the day as and when devotees offer panakam (jaggery water). It will be interesting to note that even a single ant is not traceable near the Lord nor around the temple in spite of the offering of so much jaggery water. As the offering of the panakam to the Lord is peculiar, the Lord here is called panakala Narasimhaswamy. There is a legend about the offering of the panakam (jaggery water) to the Lord. It is said that the hill was once a volcano. Sugar or jaggery water, it is said, neutralizes sulphur compounds found in a volcano and prevents a volcanic eruption.
Gandalayam - Gandala Narasimha Swamy
On the top of the hill, there is no deity for the god. There is only facility to put a deepam. If anyone gets miseries, then they go there, lamp the deepam by cow ghee, and they lose the miseries. That lamp is visible from many villages.
Ksheera Vruksham (The milk tree)
Ksheera vruksham (the milk tree) on the Mangalagiri hill is of great attraction particularly to the woman. The legend goes to say that king Sasibandi was advised by Narada to visit pilgrimages. King left the kingdom, and his queen, and started visiting pilgrimages. The queen came to know about this, and grew furious and cursed Narada to become a Ksheera vruksham on the hill within the easy reach of devotees, blessing women at its very sight, with property, children and washing off the sins they committed out of ignorance or oversight, for having ill-advised her husband to desert her and take to penance. Narada took this not as a curse but as a boon as it meant service to humanity, blessed the queen with happy life with her husband and a thousand children. Even today the milk tree is on the Mangalagiri hill and throughout the year thousands of women visit and worship the tree for begetting children.