Sunday, December 19, 2010

Shwedagon Pagoda



Name : The Shwedagon Pagoda officially titled Shwedagon Zedi Daw ([ʃwèdəɡòun zèdìdɔ̀]), also known as the Golden Pagoda.

Location :

This is a 98-metre (approx. 321.5 feet) gilded stupa located in Yangon, Burma. The pagoda lies to the west of Kandawgyi Lake, on Singuttara Hill, thus dominating the skyline of the city.

Legend :

According to legend, the Shwedagon Pagoda is 2500 years old. Archaeologists believe the stupa was actually built sometime between the 6th and 10th centuries by the Mon, but this is a very controversial issue because according to the records by Buddhist monks it was built before Lord Buddha died in 486 BC. The story of Shwedagon Pagoda begins with two merchant brothers, Taphussa and Bhallika, from the land of Ramanya, meeting the Lord Gautama Buddha and receiving eight of the Buddha's hairs to be enshrined in Burma. The two brothers made their way to Burma and with the help of the local king, King Okkalapa, found Singuttara Hill, where relics of other Buddhas preceding Gautama Buddha had been enshrined. When the hairs were taken from their golden casket to be enshrined some incredible things happened:

" There was a tumult among men and spirits ... rays emitted by the Hairs penetrated up to the heavens above and down to hell ... the blind beheld objects ... the deaf heard sounds ... the dumb spoke distinctly ... the earth quaked ... the winds of the ocean blew ... Mount Meru shook ... lightning flashed ... gems rained down until they were knee deep ... all trees of the Himalayas, though not in season, bore blossoms and fruit "

History :

The stupa fell into disrepair until the 14th century when the Mon king Binnya U of Bago had the stupa rebuilt to a height of 18 meters (60 ft). It was rebuilt several times and reached its current height of 98 meters (320 ft) in the 18th century. The Mon kingdom possessed two great pagodas of especial sanctity, the Shwemawdaw at Bago and the Shwedagon.

Originally only twenty-seven feet high, it was raised to a height of sixty-six feet in 1362 by King Binnya U as an act of special piety. Dhammazedi's immediate predecessor, his mother-in-law Queen Shinsawbu (1453–72), raised its height to 40 meters (129 ft). She terraced the hill on which it stands, paved the top terrace with flagstones, and assigned land and hereditary slaves for its maintenance.

When in 1472 she yielded up the throne to Dhammazedi, she retired to Dagon, and during her last illness had her bed placed so that she could rest her dying eyes upon the gilded dome of the sacred fane. The Mon face of the Shwe Dagon inscription catalogues a list of repairs beginning in 1436 and finishing during Dhammazedi's reign. It mentions Queen Shinsawbu under a terrific Pali name of sixty-six letters. By the beginning of the 16th century the pagoda had become the most famous place of pilgrimage in Burma.

Description :

It is the most sacred Buddhist pagoda for the Burmese with relics of the past four Buddhas enshrined within, namely the staff of Kakusandha, the water filter of Koṇāgamana, a piece of the robe of Kassapa and eight hairs of Gautama, the historical Buddha.

A series of earthquakes caused damage to the Pagoda. The worst damage came from a 1768 earthquake that brought down the top of the stupa and it was raised to its current state by King Hsinbyushin (lit. Lord of the White Elephant) of Konbaung Dynasty. A new crown umbrella called hti was donated by King Mindon Min in 1871 after the annexation of Lower Burma by the British.



An earthquake of moderate intensity in October 1970 put the shaft of the hti visibly out of alignment. A scaffold was erected and extensive repairs to the hti were made.

The pagoda is listed on the Yangon City Heritage List.

Design :

There are four entrances to the Paya that lead up a flight of steps to the platform on Singuttara Hill. The eastern and southern approaches have vendors selling books, good luck charms, Buddha images, candles, gold leaf, incense sticks, prayer flags, streamers, miniature umbrellas and flowers. A pair of giant leogryphs called chinthe (mythical lions) guard the entrances and the image in the shrine at the top of the steps from the south is that of the second Buddha, Konagamana.



The base or plinth of the stupa is made of bricks covered with gold plates. Above the base are terraces that only monks and men can access. Next is the bell-shaped part of the stupa. Above that is the turban, then the inverted alms bowl, inverted and upright lotus petals , the banana bud and then the crown. The crown or umbrella is tipped with 5,448 diamonds and 2,317 rubies. Immediately before the diamond bud is a flag-shaped vane. The very top, the diamond bud is tipped with a 76 carat (15 g) diamond.

The gold seen on the stupa is made of genuine gold plates, covering the brick structure attached by traditional rivets. Myanmar people all over the country, as well as monarchs in its history, have donated gold to the pagoda to maintain it. It was started in the 15th century by the Mon Queen Shin Sawbu who gave her weight in gold and continues to this day.

Great Bell of Dhammazedi, Singu Min Bell and Maha Tissada (three-toned) Gandha Bell :

In 1608 the Portuguese adventurer Philip de Brito e Nicote, known as Nga Zinka to the Burmese, plundered the Shwedagon Pagoda. His men took the 300-ton Great Bell of Dhammazedi, donated in 1485 by King Dhammazedi who succeeded Shin Sawbu. De Brito's intention was to melt the bell down to make cannons, but when he carried it across the Bago River it fell into the river. To this date, it has not been recovered.



Two centuries later when the British landed on May 11, 1824 during the First Anglo-Burmese War, they immediately seized and occupied the Shwedagon Pagoda. They used it as a fortress until they left two years later. There was pillaging and vandalism, and one officer's excuse for digging a tunnel into the depths of the stupa was to find out if it could be used as a gunpowder magazine. The Maha Gandha (lit. great sweet sound) Bell, a 23-ton bronze bell cast in 1779 and donated by King Singu and popularly known as the Singu Min Bell, was carried off with the intention to ship it to Calcutta. It met the same fate as the Dhammazedi Bell and fell into the river. When the British failed in their attempts to recover it, the people offered to help provided it could be restored to the stupa. The British, thinking it would be in vain, agreed, upon which divers went in to tie hundreds of bamboo poles underneath the bell and floated it to the surface. There has been much confusion over this bell and the 42-ton Maha Tissada (three-toned) Gandha Bell donated in 1841 by King Tharrawaddy along with 20 kg of gold plating; this massive ornate bell hangs in its pavilion in the northeast corner of the stupa. A different but less plausible version of the account of the Singu Min Bell was given by Lt. J.E. Alexander in 1827 . This bell can be seen hung in another pavilion in the northwest of the pagoda platform.

The Second Anglo-Burmese War saw the British re-occupation of the Shwedagon in April 1852, only this time the stupa was to remain under their military control for 77 years until 1929, although the people were given access to the Paya.

Rituals :

Visitors must remove their shoes before the first step at any of the entrances. The southern and eastern approaches have traditional shops with wide gradual staircases. In addition these entrances have an elevator and the infrequently used western one is equipped with escalators. Burmese walk around the stupa clockwise (let ya yit).

The day of the week a person is born will determine their planetary post, eight in all as Wednesday is split in two, a.m. and p.m. They are marked by animals that represent the day, galon (garuda) for Sunday (ta nin ganway), tiger for Monday (ta nin la), lion for Tuesday (in ga), tusked elephant for Wednesday a.m.(bouddahu), tuskless elephant for Wednesday p.m. (yahu), mouse for Thursday (kyatha baday), guinea pig for Friday (thaukkya) and naga (mythical dragon/serpent) for Saturday (sanay). Each planetary post has a Buddha image and devotees offer flowers and prayer flags and pour water on the image with a prayer and a wish. At the base of the post behind the image is a guardian angel, and underneath the image can be seen the animal representing the day. The base of the stupa is octagonal and also surrounded by small shrines, eight in number for each day of the week.



Most Myanmar people are Buddhist, at the same time believing astrology which originated from Hindu Brahmanism. It is very important for every Myanmar Buddhist people to recognize the day of their birth, such as Sunday, Monday, Tuesday etc. Otherwise, he or she may not know which part of pagoda platform to go and make special devotional acts either his or her desire or by the advice of Astrologer.

Myanmar astrology recognizes the seven planets, namely Sun, Mon, Mars, Jupiter, Mercury, Venus, and Saturn. In addition, it recognizes two other planets, Rahu and Ketu. All the Myanmar names of the planets are borrowed from Hindu astrology, but the Myanmar Rahu and Ketu are different from the Hindu Rahu and Ketu. The Myanmar considers them to be distinct and separate planets, whereas Hindu astrology considers them to be either the Dragon's Head and Tails, or Ascending and Descending Nodes. To the Myanmar people, Ketu is the king of all planets. As with other Nations the Myanmar name the seven days of their week after the seven planets, but Myanmar astrology recognizes an eight days week, Wednesday being divided into two days; until 6 p.m. it is Wednesday, but after 6.pm. to the midnight it is Rahu's day.

Most Myanmar Buddhist approach an astrologer for something or another, whether to go ahead with a move to a new house or get married or pass exams or doing new business. The astrologer would do some calculations according to the magic formulas he alone knows and arrive at a certain conclusion. The astrologer would sometime say that he or she is under the bad influence of a certain planet and to counter this the clients should go to his or her birthday planetary post and pour a certain number of cups of water or place papier mache umbrellas or flowers etc. as "yadaya" or to put it in English, a symbolic counter to avert the bad influences the subject is under currently or looming in the future by using the inherent powers in his or her offering plus some personal wishes.

The pilgrim, on his way up the steps of the pagoda, buys flowers, candles, coloured flags and streamers. They are to be offered in honour of the great stupa wherein are enshrined the relics of Buddha. This act is the act of dana, or giving, an important aspect of Buddhist teaching. The donation boxes around the pagoda receive offerings large and small, given to the pagoda for general purposes. All donations are voluntary, from the smallest coin put into the box to the priceless jewels hung on the top of the pagoda. No fees are ever requested at pagoda for use of the lifts or for the minding of footwear. The pilgrim can make whatever donation he chooses and may even make none if he wishes.

Websites :

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shwedagon_Pagoda

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Thiruvannamalai Srinivasa Perumal - Srivilliputhur



Name : Thiruvannamalai Srinivasa Perumal Temple

Location :

This holy place Thiruvannamalai, being called South Thirupathi, is on the top of a small hill, just 3 Km away from Srivilliputhur in Tamilnadu.

Legends :

The Lord is said to protect the public in the form of a hunter. The Lord is all blessingful. It is also said that the mount is but Adisesha himself. There is also a tank at the foothill with beautiful Lotus flowers. It is also called Koneri washing of the sins of the devotees bathing in the tank.

Description :

Lord Srinivasa Perumal is in standing posture. The appearance of this Deity is the re-embodiment of Lord Venkatesa Perumal of Tirupathi. The adoration of this God can be equated to a pilgrimage to Tirupathi.

At downward slope of this hill is the Gopalswamy temple, in the eastern part. Vanappechi Amman temple is found in the western side. A tank called “Koneri Theertham” is at the foot of the hill. On the bank of this tank, a 12' height and 8' breath statue of Lord Vinayaka exists.

There are broad steps to climb up to this hill. At present, a ceiling has been set up over these steps for providing shadow to the climbing devotees. Here, every Saturday is considered to be significant for worship.

Festival :

During all the 5 Saturdays of ‘Purattasi’ month, Garuda Sevai festival is celebrated in grand mannar. Special buses are operated from all parts of the district to this holy place. People from in and around of Madurai, Theni, Ramanathapuram, Tuticorin and Kanyakumari visit this place for worship. Everyday from morning to night, State Transport Corporation buses and Mini buses are operated from Srivilliputhur bus stand to Thiruvannamalai.

Websites :

http://www.srivilliputhur.com/srivilliputhur-temples/Thiruvannamalai,Srivilliputhur.html

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Koneswaram - Thirukkonamalai [Sri lanka]



Name : Shankari Devi & Trikoneswara Temple

Location :
Along with the temple of Shaankari Devi, there is a temple of Lord Shiva – TRIKONESHWARA Temple. The temple is located on the North Eastern coast of Sri Lanka in a city that is presently known as Trincomalee (a vulgarized form of Thirukkonamalai). The city is well connected by roads. The temple itself is reached by a rigorous hike up the Konamalai. Vehicles can also drive up to the very door step of the temple. The place is as much Tamil as any temple in Tamil Nadu, with even the priests and commoners speaking the language, which is a great convenience.

Legends :

It is but a well known fact that there are a number of holy places referred to as the Shakthi Peethas where the Mother has manifested herself in various forms to offer protection and happiness to all her devotees who take refuge in her. As I have written earlier, these places were chosen by the goddess herself, for these were the spots where many of her Angas (body parts) fell when they were cut off the body of the burnt Dakshayani by Vishnu’s Sudarshana Chakra (See Daksha’s Yagna). However, there is much confusion and controversy over the number of these Shakthi Peethas and their specific locations. Some mention them to be 51 (Panchasat Shakthi Peethas) in number while others say that there are 18, still others maintaining that there are just 4 Adi Shakthi Peethas.

Turning to literary evidence, one of the most authoritative works that we can lay our hands upon is the AshtaDasaShakthiPeetha Shloka by Shankara himself. Starting with the verses “Lankaayam Shankari Devi”, Shankara details the locations and the names of 18 Shakthi Peethas strewn across the body of the subcontinent. The first amongst them is what he mentions as the Peetha of Shankari Devi in Lanka. This is believed to be the spot where the groin of Sati Devi is said to have fallen and is exalted as one of the most sacred spots in Sri Lanka.

1) Ravana Legend :

Long long ago, in the Tretha Yuga, Parvathi was suddenly hit with a strong desire. She wanted a house, a large palatial mansion, where she could live happily with Shiva and her children, Heyrambha and Skanda. Coyly, she approached Shiva. “Swami, I have one request to make of you” she said, her head hanging down with shyness.

Shiva smiled his all-knowing bubbly smile. “Devi, you know full well the repercussions of your previous request to me. But still, you have a desire. Speak away.”

“I want a house Swami. I want to live in a lovely mansion, attended by Yoginis and playing with our children. Please grant me this wish” said Parvathi.

Shiva laughed. “Shakthi, who are you speaking to? Have you forgotten that you are talking to me, who is extolled as the yogi of yogis, who has achieved supreme control over his senses and who sees no difference between the luxurious and the mundane.”

“I fully understand Swami, but it is you who does not understand my intentions for the goodness of this world. I want a house and I want it now.” said Shakthi with a hint of finality.

Shiva realized the thought behind Shakthi’s request and finally he gave his assent. Waving his hands in front of him he said, “Vishwakarma, I am in need of your help”. Lo, before him stood the Devaloka Architect, with a chisel in one hand and a hammer in the other. He bowed to the divine couple and awaited his instructions.

“Vishwakarma, build me the best palace ever seen in this world so that Uma can have her desire satisfied.” intoned Shiva.

In an instant Vishwakarma flew southwards and chose a beautiful spot on the island of Lanka. There he raised a magnificent structure, gleaming with gold and gems, cooled with water fountains and filled with the smell of any divine flowers in the garden, a palace that befit to be the residence of the Mother of the three worlds.

Parvathi was extremely pleased with the outcome and wanted to perform the Griha Pravesha of this beautiful palace with the help of the best of the Brahmanas. Shiva and Shakthi came down to Lanka to find a suitable brahmana for the Grihapravesha. It was then that the distant but powerful chant of “Om Namah Shivaya” reached their ears. Following the divine sound they came to a place where they beheld a ten-headed man, performing austere tapasya invoking Shiva. Shiva smiled at Shakthi and then spoke out.

“Ravana, you have achieved the purpose of your tapas. So strong was your tapa that it not only drew me to you but also attracted Shakthi along with me to the place of your penance. You will achieve all that you desire.” he blessed.

Realising that Ravana was the son of the great saint Vishravas and very well versed on all the four Vedas, Parvathi is suddenly sure that he would be the right brahmana to perform the Grihapravesha to her house. Ravana gladly accepts the invitation and sets a date for the auspicious entry into the palace (Ravana is believed to have been an authority in Astrology too and is said to have authored a separate book on Astrology titled Ravana Samhita)

On the prescribed date, Ravana performed the ceremony with much grandeur and splendor with the correct usage of all the mantras and shlokas. Shiva and Parvathi entered their mansion and added further sanctity to the spot. Parvathi was extremely pleased with Ravana’s prowess in the Vedas and offered him any boon that he wanted as dakshina for performing the ceremonies.

Shiva, however laughed silently besides Parvathi. “It is not proper for a Brahmana to ask what he wants for dakshina. He should be pleased with what the Yajamana or Yajamani gives him. However, as Shakthi herself offered you the boon, you may ask whatever you please.”

Ravana smiled at the couple and realized suddenly what he wanted. He had fallen in love with the palace itself. He had admired every piece of woodwork, every carving and every room that had been designed by Vishwakarma. “Jaganmata, I would like this house of yours in return for my ceremonies.” He asked.

Parvathi smiled at the play of fate and granted him his wish. Ravana was thrilled but at the same time guilt rattled him. He felt ashamed at robbing Parvathi of her house. “Devi,” he exclaimed, “do continue to live in Lanka as long as you please. This land is but equivalent to one speck of dust on your feet. Please give your consent to stay here and bless this land forever.”

Parvathi smiled again. “Ravana, I accept your invitation. My shakthi will always pervade this place. But on one condition- I will go away from the island the moment you disobey any of my commands.” Ravana agreed to her condition and with one last Tathastu, Parvathi returned to Kailasha.

Ravana built a gigantic temple, replete with architectural details, dedicated to the goddess Shankari Devi. The temple was located on the top a cliff that fell sharply into the magnificent sea below. Around the temple, Ravana set up a beautiful garden, one of the best in all of Lanka. The goddess smiled on the people of Lanka and the kingdom prospered.

Trouble began when Ravana, overcome by carnal desire, kidnapped Seetha and brought her to Lanka. Shankari devi was angered by this base action of Ravana. She asked him to leave Seetha and return her to Rama. But lust clung to Ravana like a leech and he did not obey Devi’s advice. Highly disappointed, Shankari left the island country and with her left all the peace and prosperity of the kingdom.

We are of course familiar with the remainder of the story detailing the Rama-Ravana war and the subsequent defeat of Ravana. When Vibheeshana was crowned by Rama as the emperor of Lanka, he prayed that Shankari devi once again take residence in the island nation. Shankari Devi accepted his prayers and re entered her temple, bringing glory to Lanka again.

2) Adisesha Legend :

When this universe was born, Parameshwara had delegated various tasks to various gods and demigods and blessed them with the required powers. Adisesha was assigned with the duty of holding up the earth, steadily until the next Mahapralaya. Having heard about this Vayu, the wind god, was furious. “Sesha”, he taunted, “how can you, who is afraid of Garuda, be the perfect choice to hold up this earth”. Adisesha was livid. “I live just by eating you, oh Wind. I am much stronger than you are” he slashed back. Blinded by fury, they attacked each other. Adisesha coiled himself around Kailasha and sneered at Vayu. “If you are as powerful as you say, try blowing away one peak of this great mountain”. Vayu turned into a hurricane and attacked Kailasha. The worlds trembled at the force of this combat and the devas yearned for refuge at Shiva’s feet. Shiva then ordered Brahma to create another Kailasha to the south and then descended with Parvathi to reside at the Southern Kailasha.

“Adisesha,” said Shiva. “All this is another play of mine. I have decided to protect the people of Bharatha Khanda from the south too. This war of yours will end just as successfully in my favour. Listen to me.” Adisesha lifted three of his thousand hoods to look and listen to the lord. At that instant, Vayu broke away three peaks from Kailasa. By Parameshwara’s orders he placed these three in Thondai naadu (ThiruKaalahasthi), Chozha Naadu (Thirichirapalli {See Thayumanavar}) and in Eezha Naadu (Thirukkonamalai, Lanka) respectively. The third hill came to be known as Thirukkonamalai and lies along the same longitude as Kailasha, thus earning the name Dakshina Kailasha. This was where the famed Shankari Devi temple was located.

For those of you who did notice the past tense in the last sentence, it was not a mistake. Sadly, the temple no longer exists. All that remains of the magnificent temple, that was lovingly build by Ravana, is but one pillar.

3) Kethu Legend :

Foraging around for legends, we came across a few that were vital to the temple. The Asura, Kethu, stealthily swallowed a portion of the Divine Nectar obtained by churning the Ocean of Milk, which would confer immortality on him alone. Vishnu beheaded him and Kethu wandered headless until Brahma took pity on him and transformed him into the planets Rahu and Kethu. Restless with the burden of sin, Kethu came to Ketheeswaram, propitiated Lord Siva and obtained moksha. Thus the place came to be known as Tiru — Kethu — eeswaram.

The other legends of Linga and Macchendira Malai Legend are detailed in the blog post http://kshetrapuranas.wordpress.com/2010/12/05/grandeur-lost-the-story-of-lankas-lone-shakthi-peetha-thirukkonamalai-sri-lanka/

Description :

Built atop Swami Rock, a rocky promontory overlooking the Trincomalee harbor, the temple has lay in ruins, been restored, renovated and enlarged by various royals and devotees throughout its history.



Koneswaram is heralded as a grand seat of Shiva worship in the 6th-7th century CE Tamil hymn canon Tevaram. Its bronze idols date from the 10th century CE and reflect the high points of Chola art. The temple has been administered and frequented by Tamil Hindus and is located in Trinconamalee, a classical period port town with a mixed Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim population.

Koneswaram was developed in the post classical era, between 300 CE and 1600 CE by kings of the Pandyan and Chola empires as well as local Vannimai feudal chiefs with decorations and structural additions such as its thousand pillared hall furnished by kings of the Pallava dynasty and the Jaffna kingdom.



In 1624 CE, the Koneswaram temple was largely destroyed by Portuguese colonials. Hindus built a successor temple at a nearby site in 1632 CE - the Ati Konanayakar temple in Tampalakamam - to house some of the destroyed temple's idols, where they are still worshipped. In the 1950s, the ruins of the original temple were discovered underwater beside Swami Rock. It was rebuilt of much more modest dimensions at its original site by local Hindu Tamils 450 years after its destruction.

Sinhalese Buddhists have claimed that the Tirukoneswaram temple was originally exclusively a Buddhist temple. They cite and interpret historical information of three Pagodas at the Koneswaram site as alluding to Buddhist temples. Buddhists have also claimed that the site was the location of the ancient Gokanna Vihara built by King Mahasena.

Solitary Pillar :

The recently recovered Panchaloha idols are worshipped in the Vasantha Mandapam. There is a separate smaller temple dedicated to the goddess worshipped as Mathumai Ambal. Though many pilgrims worship her as Shankari Devi, the Peetha Nayaki of the Shankari Shakthi Peetha, she is not the ancient Shankari devi who was worshipped by Ravana and Shankara to whom the grandest temple on Lanka was built.



The form of Shankari devi as described in the Dhyana shloka does not match the divine form of Mathumai Ambal. The original idol is lost forever. People worship the lone pillar standing at the summit of the hill as the only remnant of the grand Shankari temple. Many believe that the pillar itself marks the exact position of the Shakthi peetha though this is a debatable topic.

Mavaliganga Theertha :

The temple theertha, the Mavaliganga, bubbles up from a well at the western portion of the hill, circumambulates the hill and empties into the Indian Ocean. It is believed that when Parvathi once examined Shiva’s matted locks, she caught sight of a woman’s face for a fleeting second. The terrified Ganga froze into and ice drop which was covertly scooped up and dropped into the sea by Shiva. It is believed that it is she who wells up in the Sivanolipadam hills on northern Lanka, flowing towards Thirukkonamalai as Mahabaliganga, towards Ketheeswaram (the only other Paadal Petra Thalam in Lanka) as Manikka Ganga and towards Kathirgama as Kaveri Ganga.

Bilva Tree :

The temple offers a spectacular vista of the calm Indian ocean stretching out for miles. By the edge of the cliff, stands an ancient Bilva tree, under which Sri Rama is said to have meditated.



Nearby Attractions :



The Kannyayi Hot Springs :

Among the sights of the place are the seven hot springs of Kanniyayi, on the road to Trincomalee. About a mile on a side road branching from the main route, the springs are worth a visit. A high wall assembles all the seven springs in a rectangular enclosure. Each enclosed in a dwarf wall forms a well of its own. The water is mildly hot; the temperature varies but slightly in each. In effect, a public bathing resort, the use of the springs is controlled by the neighboring Mari Amman Kovil who holds the lease of the wells. People believe that bathing in these well will refesh themselves.

Festival :

Workers of the Sri Lanka Port Authority in Trincomalee will be holding the ‘Theppath Thiruvilazh’ (Boat Festival) as usual this year also on 13 April in the Dutch Bay Sea. Lord Konesar, chief deity of the temple with his consort Mathumai Ambal will be taken in boat around the temple from the Swami Rock via Back Bay Sea to the Dutch Bay Sea. Religious discourses and cultural items will take place throughout the night of 13 April in the Dutch Bay sea beach. Thereafter the deity will be taken to the temple next day early morning by road through the Fort Frederick entrance, the sources said.

Pathirakali Ambal Temple and some other Hindu Temples are holding their water-cutting festivals in the Back Bay Sea for several centuries.

Websites :

http://kshetrapuranas.wordpress.com/2010/12/05/grandeur-lost-the-story-of-lankas-lone-shakthi-peetha-thirukkonamalai-sri-lanka/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Koneswaram_temple

http://kataragama.org/sacred/koneswaram.htm

http://www.hinduonnet.com/thehindu/fr/2003/01/10/stories/2003011001480800.htm

Monday, December 6, 2010

Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep



Name : Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep

Location :

Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep is a Buddhist temple in Chiang Mai Province, Thailand.
The temple is located 15 km from the city of Chiang Mai and is a sacred site to many Thai people. From the temple impressive views of Chiang Mai can be seen and it remains a popular destination of foreign visitors.

Legends :

The original founding of the temple remains a legend and there are a few varied versions. The temple is said to have been founded in 1383 when the first chedi was built. Over time the temple has expanded, and been made to look more extravagant with many more holy shrines added. A road to the temple was first built in 1935.

1) White Elephant Legend

According to legend, a monk named Sumanathera from Sukhothai had a dream; in this dream god told him to go to Pang Cha and look for a relic. Sumanathera ventured to Pang Cha and is said to have found a bone, which many claim was Buddha's shoulder bone. The relic displayed magical powers; it glowed, it was able to vanish, it could move itself and replicate itself. Sumanathera took the relic to King Dharmmaraja who ruled the Sukhothai.

The eager Dharmmaraja made offerings and hosted a ceremony when Sumanathera arrived. However the relic displayed no abnormal characteristics, and the king, doubtful of the relic's authenticity, told Sumanathera to keep it.

However, King Nu Naone of the Lanna Kingdom heard of the relic and offered the monk to take it to him instead. In 1368 with Dharmmaraja's permission, Sumanathera took the relic to what is now Lamphun, in northern Thailand. The relic apparently split in two, one piece was the same size, the other was smaller than the original. The smaller piece of the relic was enshrined at a temple in Suandok. The other piece was placed by the King on the back of a white elephant which was released in the jungle.



The elephant is said to have climbed up Doi Suthep, at the time called Doi Aoy Chang (Sugarcane Elephant Mountain), trumpeted three times before dying at the site. It was interpreted as a sign and King Nu Naone ordered the construction of a temple at the site.

2) Another more recent legend about Doi Suthep concerns a monk in the 1930's. In 1934, there was still no road leading up the mountain and the faithful had to make the arduous climb in order to visit the temple. Pra Krubra Srivichai, a local monk, thought that the temple needed better access and organized the local villages in order to build a road. A statue honouring Srivichai still remains, at the base of the mountain. It is believed to be good luck to pay homage to him before ascending Doi Suthep.

Description :

It is easy enough to get to Doi Suthep. Public transportation may be used to travel the road 16 kilometres northwest out of Chiang Mai, past Chiang Mai University and ascend the winding road up the mountain to the base of the temple.

Doi Suthep is part of Doi Suthep-Pui National Park, which is easily accessible from Chiang Mai. Huay Kaew Road connects the northwest corner of the old town directly with Doi Suthep. After a few kilometers we had entered the park and stopped off at Huay Kaew Waterfall, which was running low as winter is the dry season, but was still a nice diversion and a good place for a cold drink.

There are two choices once you have reached the base of the temple - either hike up the 290 steps to the temple gate (admiring the longest Naga staircase in Thailand on the way) or, hop on one of the cable cars and get conveyed to the top. Most opt for the walk.

Once inside Wat Suthep, you are free to wander the grounds, admiring what each section has to offer. Like many temples in Thailand, there are elements of Hinduism mixed in with Buddhism and an intriguing array of statues, including a model of the Emerald Buddha and a statue of the Hindu God Ganesh, peek out from corners, cubby holes and from the sides of temple buildings. There are Metal bells, double-stacked, line a couple of walls and are kept busy throughout the day. Signs above the bells admonish visitors "not to push the bell."



In the middle of the temple is the sacred square cloister area, where, upon shedding shoes and ascending another dozen steps, visitors can see the Lanna-style, copper-plated chedi topped by a five-tiered gold umbrella. It is considered one of the holiest areas in Thailand contains a piece of holy relics of Lord Buddha. Monks inside are kept busy blessing the devout with holy water and the smell of incense and burning candles fill the senses as you circumnavigate the cloister.

Views of Chiang Mai can be seen on the other side of the temple. The lookout area is the other side from the entrance gate and viewers can gaze down at the city of Chiang Mai and its international airport far below. From here, you have a clear view of the winding Ping River and the surrounding mountains.



Thanks to the roads made by of Monk Srivichai, so it is now easy to pay a visit to Doi Suthep, although the old hiking trail does still exist for those yearning for a more difficult challenge. Either way, the beauty, the holiness and the legends of Doi Suthep wait to be explored.

Tourists attractions :

For the first-time visitor to Chiangmai, the temple part of the tour usually takes them to the famed Doi Suthep or further afield to Doi Inthanon. Then comes the elephant rides and the paltry attempt at giving you a glimpse of the hill tribes. And the other highlight — the tourist trap called the Night Bazaar, where all manner of ethnic handiwork, handicraft, antiques and touristy clothes are on offer.

The other delights of Chiangmai is a favourite local breakfast fare, kao soi. It is a scrumptious bowl of flat green noodles in a curry gravy served thick chilli paste and your choice of chicken, beef or pork.

Sankhampang Hot Springs :

You can proceed to a popular local destination, Sankhampang Hot Springs (www.skpHotsprings.com). It’s about 45 minutes from the city and is run by the Tourism Authority of Thailand together with the Agricultural Cooperative and Sankhampang Village Cooperative.



The first thing that greets you here is the slight smell of rotten eggs. Yes, that’s right, there’s sulphur in the air. Then you will hear the sound of spouting water. The place has two small geysers. There’s a small well where you can boil eggs. And where do you get the eggs? At a nearby stall, of course. It takes 15 minutes of dipping in the hot water for the eggs to be ready.

There’s also a little stream running through the park where you can soak your feet or any other body part of choice. Of course, you can also take baths. There are individual rooms (separated by gender) just for that, and facilities for group baths as well, for a price. There’s even a big sulphur swimming pool if you’re game for it.

If you plan to spend the night, there are rooms and chalets available. You don’t have to worry about food because there is also a restaurant that serves pretty good food, and reasonably priced, too. The tom yam kung and the vegetable salad are scrumptious.

If the therapeutic effects of the mineral bath is not enough, you can always drop in at the booths that offer Thai massage.

River Ping Cruise :

Another calming activity is a night cruise on the River Ping, which runs through Chiangmai (www.chiangmai.bangkok.com). The operators pick you up from your hotel and take you to the docking bay. You pass through all the local markets to get to it. Food is served once the boat starts its journey.

Chiangmai Zoo :

You can also make a trip to Chiangmai Zoo (http://chiangmaizoo.peam.biz/) just 15 minutes outside the city. The zoo, open from 8am-5pm daily, is internationally acclaimed. The locals are proud of the fact that they have pandas, one of the few outside China.

Visitors to the zoo can expect a varied terrain, for there are loads of slopes to walk on and lots of greens. If the heat gets to you, just pay a small fee and take the tram (like we did). And if you want an aerial view, why not take the monorail which offers just that and some great views of Chiangmai too.

There’s also the usual animal shows and animals. The Siberian tiger and the Humboldt penguins were the standouts. The penguins were charmers, playing with visitors by the window.

Websites:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wat_Phrathat_Doi_Suthep


http://www.doisuthep.com/index.php?lang=en

http://thestar.com.my/lifestyle/story.asp?file=/2010/12/4/lifetravel/7276121&sec=lifetravel

Monday, November 29, 2010

Saptashrungi Devi temple




Name : The Saptashrungi Devi temple

Location :

The Saptashrungi Devi temple is located at Vani which is 60kms from Nashik in Maharashtra.

Legend :

Saptashrungi Devi is believed to be Mahishasur Mardini, the slayer of the demon Mahishasur, who took the form of a buffalo. Hence, at the foot of the hill, from where one starts climbing the steps, there is the head of a buffalo, made is stone, and believed to be that of the demon.



It is believed that the Devi Mahatmya, a sacred book which extols the greatness of Devi and her exploits was composed at this place by the sage Markandeya, who performed rigorous penance on a hill opposite the one on which the Devi resides, which is now named after him.

Description :

The temple, which sort of sticks to the cliff, is 1230 meters above sea level. There is an old path with steps cut out of the mountain, which starts right at the foothills, at Vani and goes all the way to the mountain.



This temple is one among the 51 Shakti peethas located on the Indian subcontinent. The Devi is said be swayambhu (self-manifested) on a rock on the sheer face of a mountain. She is surrounded by seven (sapta-in Sanskrit) peaks (shrunga-in Sanskrit), hence the name- Sapta Shrungi Mata (mother of the seven peaks). The image of the Devi is huge-about 10 feet tall with 18 hands, holding various weapons. The idol is always coated with Sindoor, which is considered auspicious in this region.



Now, a motorable road has been built, which goes up to an altitude of 1150 meters. From that place one has to climb only 500 steps to reach the shrine, which only takes about forty five minutes.

Website :

http://anushankarn.blogspot.com/2007/11/saptashrungi-devi-temple-vani.html

http://goddessblogg.blogspot.com/2010/10/goddess-saptashrungi-mata.html

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Shree Chandreshwar Bhootnath Temple, Goa.


Name : Shree Chandreshwar Bhootnath Temple, Goa.

Location :

The ancient Chandreshwar Temple also known as the Chandranath Temple and is situated on the road to Quepem, about 14 km from Margao. It is located on the Chandranath parvat, a heavily wooded hill on Paroda Parvat.

History :

According to an ancient Sanskrit inscription, a temple has stood on this magical spot for nearly 2500 years. However, the present building, dedicated to Shiva, is comparatively modern, dating from the late 1600s. The only part of the shrine that is definitely a vestige of the Vedic age is its cavernous inner sanctum, hollowed from a hug back bolder, around which the site's seventeenth-century custodians erected a typically Goan-style structure, capped with a red-tile room and domed sanctuary tower.

The temple is associated with the Bhoja dynasty who were the rulers of the region till the 8th century. Also from the Bhoja's family deity, Lord Chandreshwar the name of their capital Chandrapur (today's Chandor) was derived.

Description :



One can reach the Chandreshwar temple by the granite stone steps from the hill's base or by a drive up over a metal led road. The temple situated 350 meters above Chandranath Hill. It can be reached by climbing the huge granite steps. The main approach to the temple is metalled road and you have to enter the temple by alighting these granite steps. The whole place is strangely infested by small rock crabs.

Pilgrims arrive the main entrance for darshan, or the ritual viewing of the God. A wild-eyed golden Chandreshwar deity, Shiva as "Lord of Moon", stares out from an ornately decorated sanctum, wrapped in brocaded silk.

The presiding deity of the temple is Shri Bhutnath or Chandreshwar whom the Bhoja kings regarded as the titular deity. The Bhoja kings ruled South Goa before the Christian till the middle of 8th century. And in fact they named their capital Chandrapur after the deity.



In the Shri Chandranath Temple At Quepem in Goa , you will find the Shiva Linga carved out from the rock. The surprising and most amazing fact is that on full moon night, water oozes out from the Shiva Linga whenever moon light falls on it and temple is so designed that Shiva Linga receives moonlight on every full moon. Scientists suggest a meteorite fell on Chandranath Mountain during the pre-historic period.

Bhootnath :

Next door, a smaller temple is dedicated to Chandreshwar's attendant deity, Bhootnath who is the lord of ghosts. The temple's ancient chariot is well known for its wood carvings. The tree temple chariots are housed by a corner building. A palanquin procession of the deity is held every Monday evening wherein food is offered to the devotees.

Festivals :

The main festival here is the five-day Hanuman Jayanti, along with Dushera and Mahashivratri.

Parvathi and elephant-headed Ganesh respectively, sculpted in stone - are housed in small niches to rear of the shrine. The circumambulatory passage, which has to be walked around in clockwise direction, hugs the base of the boulder that forms the temple's heart A small Nandi Bull lies among there from which the view west out to sea and south across the Assolna estuary to the Cabo Da Rama headland can be seen.



Websites :

http://www.goaholidayhomes.com/info/220/chandreshwar-temple-near-paroda/

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fv8cObq3iKM

http://ddmtravel.com/1_26_Temples.html

Friday, November 26, 2010

Devarayanadurga BhogaNarasimha temple and Yoga Narasimha temple



Name : Devarayanadurga BhogaNarasimha temple and Yoga Narasimha temple

Location :

It is 65 km from Bangalore, Karnataka India, by road on Tumkur road. The nearest railway station is 25 km away in Dabbaspet.

Description :

Devarayanadurga is a hill station near Tumkur. The rocky hills are surrounded by forest and the hilltops are dotted with several temples including the Yoganarasimha and the Bhoganarasimha temples and an altitude of 3940 feet. It is also famous for Namada Chilume, a natural spring considered sacred and is also considered the origin of the Jayamangali river. Another famous temple in the area is the Mahalakshmi Temple at Goravanahalli.

Legend :

Under the Hoysalas, there seems to have been, on the hill, a town called Anebiddasari or the precipice where the elephant fell. A rogue elephant, which the sthala purana describes as a Gandharva suddenly appeared before the town to the great consternation of the people and after doing considerable mischief, tried to walk up the steep rock on the west, when it slipped, fell back and was killed. The hill is accordingly called as Karigiri in the Puranas.

Under the Vijayanagara Kings, the use of the same name continued, and a large tank, named Bukkasamudra, was formed after throwing an embankment across the gorge from which the river Jayamangali has its source. Remains of the embankment and of the adjacent town can still be traced.

Temples :

BhogaNaraishma temple is at the base of the hill and Yoga Narasimha temple is on top of the hill. The vehicles can go a good 2Kms through the zig zag road towards the top. But to reach the temple one has to climb a good few hundred steps. Here again we can have a quick look at the temple, the temple is good and we had a good time there.



On the third elevation stands, facing east, a temple of Narasimha, known as the Kumbhi. This Narasimha temple consists of a Garbhagriha, a sukanasi, a navagraha and a mukhamantapa and is similar to the plan of the temple below. In addition to the temple there are three sacred ponds or Kalyani here known as Narasimha-teertha, Parasara-teertha and Pada-teertha.

There is also another temple, said to be older than Lakshmi Narasimha swamy, dedicated to Hanuman, also known as Sanjivaraya, who stands with folded hands.

Higher up above is a small shrine of Garuda.

Giri-Pradakshina :

Legend has it that the devotees of Hindu temples used to perform the ritual of circling the hills on which the temples were situated. As an effort to revive the practice, a large number of Devotees perform the Giri-pradakshina

Festivals :

Car Festival: Devarayana Durga Sri Bhoga Narasimhaswamy jathra/Car festival, an annual Car festival is held during Phalguna Masa shuddha poornima day some where in the Month of March/April in Devarayanadurga. On this day the chariot/car/Ratha of Sri Bhoga Narasimhaswamy is drawn in the main Ratha beedhi of the hill town. The festival draws devotees from all over Bangalore-Tumkur and surrounding region.

Narasimha Jayanthi: Devarayanadurga Sri Lakshminarasimhaswamy's Narasimha jayanthi, an annual celebration of Narasimha avathara day takes place during Chaitra Shudha chathurdashi (May month) at which thousands of people gather and many pendals are built to serve then with summer drinks like Panakam, buttermilk, phalamruth and free feeding is done to all devotees coming for the darshan of lord.

Namada Chilume :

At the base of the hill on the road leading to Tumkur, is a place called Namada Chilume (chilume means spring). Myth has it that Sri Rama on his way to Lanka halted here. As he did not find water anywhere around to wet the "Nama" (a kind of paste Hindus apply on their forehead), he shot an arrow into the ground, and a spring sprang and thus the name (Rama)-Namada chilume. The spring can be still seen, and there is a foot impression of Lord Sri Rama near that.

Websites :

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Devarayanadurga

http://nithinkamath.info/archives/2008/01/devarayana-durga-trip/

Friday, November 19, 2010

Mundeshwari temple




Name : Mundeshwari temple

Location :

Mundeswari temple is located 10 kilometres from the small town of Bhabhua, 120 kilometres from Varanasi and 175 kilometres from Patna in Bihar. This temple, one of the earliest specimens of Nagara temple architecture in Bihar, situated at a village Ramgarh on a 600 feet high hill.

History :

As per the prevalent version, the temple was built in the period of 3-4 BC with the Narayana, or Vishnu, as the presiding deity. The statue of Narayana has disappeared due to the ravages of time. During 348 AD, a new deity Viniteswara was set up as a minor deity in the temple, holding a subsidiary position to Narayana, the main deity.

Around the seventh century AD, Shaivism (Religion based on Lord Shiva) became the prevalent religion and Viniteswara, which was a minor deity, emerged as the presiding deity of the temple. The Chatur Mukhalingam (Lingam with four faces) representing him was accorded the central place in the temple, which it holds even now.

After this period, the Cheros, a powerful aboriginal tribe and the original inhabitants of the Kaimur hills, ascended to power. The Cheros were worshippers of Shakti, as represented by Mundeswari, also known as Maheshmardini and Durga. Mundeswari was made the main deity of the temple. However, Mukhalingam still occupied centre stage in the temple. So the image of Durga was installed in a niche along one wall of the temple, where it resides to this day, while the Mukhalingam survives as the subsidiary deity, though in a central position.

Description :

Situated atop the Kaimur Hill (608ft), the temple is in an octagonal shape. Since the temple buit in 3century B.C. rituals and worship have been taking place at the temple without a break. Thus making it one of the oldest functional temple in the world.



On entering the door, the pride of place is held by a lingam with four heads in the centre of the temple. This is the “Chatur Mukhalingam” which represents the Viniteswara , said to be set up in 348 AD by Dandanayaka Gomibhata.



To the right of this central statue is the presiding deity of the temple, Durga or Maheshmardini with ten arms and riding a buffalo representing an Asura. This is unique in itself, as generally Durga is represented as killing the ‘asura’ in the form of a buffalo. There is exemplary lattice work in stone on the window nearest the door and a variety of figures of dancers and musicians on the front temple door.

The clear indication that Shiva and Shakti were worshipped here is also an indication that the temple might be part of the Tantric cult which is quite popular in the Eastern part of India.

Apart from Shiva and Shakti, the temple also has idols of other popular gods in the Hindu pantheon including Ganesha, Surya, Vishnu and Mother Goddess. Temple materials and idols can be found scattered near this very rare octagonal shaped temple.



Experts believe that the temple was built during the Shaka Era. Interestingly, the present caretaker of the temple is Muslim, yet another example of the religious harmony same as we can see in Amarnath yatra.

Museum :

Various steps have been taken to improve the area in recent times. Of great interest is the museum built halfway up the hill on a small peak by itself. This museum, being new, is a small island of excellence, a clean, sparkling building with the paint still fresh on its walls. It has one big hall and an additional smaller room. The big hall has a collection of various statues and rock carvings mostly dating to the 6th and 7th centuries AD. It contains figures of religious significance drawn through the ages. The sculptures are well labeled but need more exhaustive descriptions regarding the significance of the exhibits. The smaller room has a large number of photographs of the rock paintings of the stone age period found in and around Karar village in the Kaimur Hills. Due to lack of space, some rock sculptures are languishing in the open space encircling the museum.

Festivals :

The temple attracts devotees during festivals like Ramnavami and Shivratri. People from these districts flock to the temple regularly all round the year. Of particular significance is the period of Navratra when thousands of people from the Rohtas, Gaya, Aurangabad, Bhojpur, Varanasi, Mirazpur and surrounding districts of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh districts come to the temple and a mela is held. During this period, the temple and the area around the hill is a riot of colour.



The guest house at the base of the hill, the concrete road up the hill, the sodium vapour lamps lighting up the temple and the hill road in the night and the market complex built for the mela have brightened up the whole environment recently.

Websites :

http://www.hindu-blog.com/2008/01/mundeshwari-temple-in-bihar-is-it.html

http://www.dailypioneer.com/297555/Unknown-wonders-of-Eastern-India-Mundeswari-Temple.html

http://picasaweb.google.com/arusinha/Mundeshwari#

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Hiranyakeshi Temple




Name : Hiranyakeshi Uppam (temple) is a place from where the Hiranyakeshi River springs originated from the mouth of caves.

Location :

Hiranyakeshi Temple is located at Amboli in Sindhudurg District of Maharashtra. It lies at the origin of Hiranyakeshi River.

Description :



The river Hiranyakeshi originates from a cave adjacent to the temple of Goddess Parvati at the foot of a mountain. Water rushes out with tremendous force to fall into a squarish tank or ‘Kund’, from where it flows out. Hiranyakeshi temple houses a Shivling, Ganapati idol and of course the Hiranyakeshi Devi idol. Hiranyakeshi is name of Mata Parvati, the one with Golden hair, Hiryana being Gold and Kesh means hair. The temple is said to house a natuarally created shivlingam (Swayambhu)made of red stone. However this lingam cannot be seen as it is covered by another Shivlingam which is used for daily offerings and prayers. There is also a statue of Mata Parvati with golden colour hair.

This River came from DEER like Statchue. In Sanscrit DEER called as HIRAN. So name Hiranyakeshi.



The nearby Maruti Mandir was built by a holy baba from Goa. The Hiranyakeshi is a Purvamukhi River means east facing,the river Hiranyakeshi flows eastwards. Fishing can be enjoyed at the river. Its flow around 80Km and then joins the Ghataprabha River.

Cave Temple :

Next to this temple, there is an entrance to a cave which is not safe to enter in the monsoons when it becomes a safe harbour for a lot of creepy crawlies.



Local people say that an expeditiation was held in 1981 a seven member team from Pune which revealed that there are seven water Kunda (pond)behind the temple and after that there is also a cave which can accomodate 200 people. The place is a delight for natural beauty lovers. The area is covered by dense forests and you can even spot some rare breed of birds in this area.



Website :

http://www.oktatabyebye.com/travel-blog/1582-travel-blog-rambling-around-4579.html

http://chiksunny.sulekha.com/blog/post/2008/01/spectacular-sindhudurg.htm

Vyasa Muni Guha & Jnana Saraswathi Temple - Basar



Name : Vyasa Muni Guha

Location :

Basar is a village situated on the banks of river Godavari in Andhra Pradesh.
Vyasa Muni Gruha, is a cave on top of a hill next to the Jnana Saraswathi Temple in Basara.

Legend :

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

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

Another popular legend from Brahmanda Purana says that Sage Valmiki prior writing his magnus opus The Ramayan; installed Goddess Saraswathi and seeked her blessing. One can find the marble samadi of Valmiki near the Saraswathi temple.



Description :

Vyasa Muni Gruha, is a cave on top of a hill next to the Jnana Saraswathi Temple in Basara. This cave has a narrow entrance and one has to wriggle through it to enter the small enclosure. Here you can see an idol of sage Ved Vyasa. Legend says that Ved Vyasa stayed here during his tapasya.



Alternate Location :

Vyasa did most of his writing work on the banks of the river Saraswathi. You can see his cave near the beginning of the Saraswathi waterfall, 4 km from Badrinath. See Vyasa, Saraswathi and Yamuna. Unfortunately for us the river Saraswathi started drying up thousands of years ago and went underground in those ancient days. Today we can see the remnants of civilization on what was once the Saraswathi river bed. For a long time people thought that the Sarawathi was an imaginary river, but now, we know that it was a real river.

Temples nearby :

The temple of Goddess Saraswathi at Basar is one among the two temples of this Goddess. The other is in Kashmir. Built at the confluence of the rivers Mangira and Godavari this temple is adorned by the goddess of knowledge and wisdom The Goddess Saraswathi. The image of Lakshmi stands besides the Goddess Saraswati in the sanctum sanctorum.

Due to the presence of Saraswati, Lakshmi and Kali, Basara is considered as the abode of the divine trinity. Devotees stream the temple for the ritual of ‘AksharaAbhishekam’ of their children; the formal starting of education deeming it to be auspicious.



You can see the temple lined with small shops selling notebooks, slates, writing pads of various shapes and sizes. Devotees buy the stationary and perform Aksharabhayasam of their children. This was conducted in the outside Parihara with a priest in front of a bronze idol of Saraswati. The beauty of this place is its calmness, not being crowded and no queues compared to most temples in India. The nearby mountain has an Idol of Goddess Saraswati on the top of the rock.

Festivals :

The annual festivals of ‘Devi Nava Rathri’, ‘Dattatreya Jayanthi’, and ‘Vasantha Panchami’ are celebrated with utmost dedication and devotion.

Website :

http://www.nirmalcity.com/basar_saraswati_temple_telangana.html

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Koh Sireh Temple



Name : Koh Sireh Temple

Location :

Koh Sireh Temple, which sits at the top of a steep hill close to Phuket Town on the east side.

Description :

I could not collect more information about this temple from Internet.
The only website which had good info is http://www.kirjon.com/sacred-sites/sireh_temple.htm

The temple is situated on the top of a steep hill.
You also can enjoy great views over the town Phuket and the Phang Nga bay.
There is a Big reclining Buddha statue on the temple and the temple has stairs decorated with dragon sculptures.



The temple attracts crowds from Phuket during Kathina Festival, a day when Buddhists offer donations at temples all over Phuket.Because of previous thefts at the Koh Sireh Temple, which sits at the top of a steep hill, there is tight security during these festivals.

Website :

http://www.kirjon.com/sacred-sites/sireh_temple.htm

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Bhimashankar Temple




Name : Bhimashankar Temple

Location :

Bhimashankar Temple is located in the village of Bhorgiri 50 km north west of Khed, near Pune, in India. It is located 110 km away from Pune in the Ghat region of the Sahyadri hills.
Regular pilgrims near Mumbai visit Bhimashankar from Karjat via Khandas.

Legend :

Eons ago in the dense forests of Dakini, on the lofty ranges of the Sahaydris lived an evil Asura by the name Bhima with his mother Karkati. Compassion and kindness shivered in the presence of Bhima. The divine and the mortals were scared of him alike. But he was confronted by certain questions about his own existence which continuously tormented him.

When Bhima could no longer sustain his agony and curiosity, he asked his mother to unveil the mysteries of his life. He urged his mother to tell him who his father was and why he had abandoned them in the wilderness of the forest. After much hesitation and with a lingering fear, Karkati his mother, revealed to him that he was the son of the mighty Kumbhakarna, the younger brother of the Lankadheeswara - the mighty all powerful King Ravana of Lanka.

Lord Vishnu in his incarnation as Lord Rama annihilated Kumbhakarna. Karkati told Bhima, that his father was killed by Ram in the great war. This infuriated Bhima and he vowed to avenge Lord Vishnu. To achieve this he embarked on a severe penance to please Lord Brahma.

The compassionate creator was pleased by the dedicated devotee and granted him immense prowess. This was a terrible mistake. The evil tyrant caused havoc in the three worlds. He defeated King Indra and conquered the heavens. He also defeated a staunch devotee of Lord Shiva – Kamarupeshwar, and put him in the dungeons.

He started torturing Rishis and Sadhus. All this angered the Gods. They all along with Lord Brahma beseeched Lord Shiva to come to their rescue. Lord Shiva consoled the Gods and agreed to rescue them from the tyrant. On the other hand Bhima insisted and ordered Kamarupeshwar to worship him instead of Lord Shiva.

When Kamarupeshwar denied, the tyrant Bhima raised his sword to strike the Shiva Linga, to which Kamarupeshwar was doing abhishekam and pooja. As soon as Bhima managed to raise his sword, Lord Shiva appeared before him in all his magnificence.

Then the terrible war began. The holy sage Narada appeared and requested Lord Shiva to put an end to this war. It was then that Lord Shiva reduced the evil demon to ashes and thus concluded the saga of tyranny. All the Gods and the holy sages present there requested Lord Shiva to make this place his abode. Lord Shiva thus manifested himself in the form of the Bhimashankar Jyotirlingam.

It is believed that the sweat that poured forth from Lord Shiva's body after the battle formed the Bhimarathi River.

Description :

There are 2 ways to go, basically the Ganesh route and Shidi(ladder) route once you reach the base village of Khandas near karjat. Shidi route is much shorter but risky and should be avoided in rainy seasons if you are not well experienced.

It is believed that the ancient shrine was erected over a Swayambhu Lingam (that is the self emanated Shiva Lingam). It can be seen in the temple that the Lingam is exactly at the centre of the floor of the Garbagriham (the Sanctum Sanctorum).



This temple also has shrines to Bhairavanath and Devi, and a temple tank by name Shivaganga.

Bhimashankar is also the source of the Bhima river, which flows south east and merges with the Krishna river near Raichur. It is one of the 12 Jyotirlinga shrines in India. Bhimashankar Temple is a buzzing temple with beautiful architecture. The Bhimashankar trek to the top goes through beautiful jungles, cliffs, plains and some thrilling patches.

Within the temple precincts there is also a small shrine dedicated to Lord Shani Mahatma (also called Shaneeswara).



There are Buddha style carvings of Amba-Ambika, Bhootling and Bhimashankar in the hills of Manmaad near Bhimashankar. This is at a height of 1034 mtrs. A big size bell in Hemadpanthi structure built by Nana Phadanavis is also a feature of Bhimashankar. Various places that could be visited in Bhimashankar are Hanuman Lake, Gupt Bhimashankar, Origin of River Bhima, Naag Phani (view point), Bombay Point, Sakshi Vinayak and a lot more.



Three worship services are offered every day. Mahashivratri is a season of greate festivity here.

Flora and Fauna :

Bhimashankar is a conserve red forest area and wildlife sanctuary where a variety of birds, animals, flowers, plants can be seen. A rare animal "Shekru" can be found in deep woods. Bhimashankar is worth visiting for jungle lovers and trekkers as well as for pilgrims. There is a beautiful spot called Naagphani (Snakes hood) from where one can see vast landscapes. Also an observant trekker can see the rare and huge shekru (mountain squirrel).

Theerthams :

The Mokshakund thirtha is located behind the Bhimashankara temple, and it is associated with the rishi Kaushika. There are also the Sarvathirtha, the Kusharanya thirtha where the Bhima river begins to flow eastward, and the Jyanakund.

Kaushika Maha Muni is said to have did 'Tapas' (penance) here. The place where he bathed is called Mokshakund thirtham which is located behind the Bhimashankara temple.

Accommodation :

Pilgrims usually stay here for three days. The local upadhyayas or priests make arrangements for the lodging and boarding of pilgrims at a small cost. Visitors are accommodated in either temporary hutments or in dharamshalas near the village. A new dharamshala is under construction. There are ST buses to return back.

Website :

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bhimashankar_Temple

Marthanda Bhairava Temple - Jejuri



Name : Marthanda Bhairava Temple. It is also known as Khandoba, Mhalsakant or Malhari Martand.

Location :

Jejuri in Purandhar district, located to the southeast of the Pune city in Maharashtra. The town is known for being the venue for one of the most revered temples in Maharashtra.

Description :

Regarded as the ‘God of Jejuri’, Khandoba is held in great reverence by the Dhangars, one of the oldest tribes in India. The temple is an ornate structure with little resemblance to other temples of the region. It is on the summit of an unpretentious hillock with a wall running around it like the ramparts of a fort.

A series of over 200 steps of dressed stone lead up to the temple. Flanking the steps on both sides are tall, tapering stone pillars with provisions for lamps.



In the innermost shrine of the temple, Khandoba appears as a linga, but what is strange is that his counterpart, Mhalsa Devi too appears as a linga. The two lingas are covered with silver masks, and dressed colourfully in all finery to symbolise divinity.

Khandoba, above anything else, is acknowledged to be the God who answers prayers, who fulfils every wish. The worshipper, in turn, is counted upon to take a vow before the deity that if the wish were granted, his or her gratitude would be demonstrated through an offering, penance or sacrifice.

The offering may be in various forms, simple gestures like sponsoring a special puja for the God, circumambulating the temple a number of times in obeisance or donating money to erect another deepmala.

Festivals :

A sword competition is held every year at the temple on the occasion of Dusshera. The one who lifts the sword of the temple high up, for the maximum time, is declared the winner.

Website :

http://www.deccanherald.com/content/110573/mythical-tales-jejuri.html

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