Sunday, February 28, 2016

History beneath Jaipur

History beneath Jaipur

When surveys showed two ancient water tanks buried under a planned section of Metro rail in Jaipur, the government worked quickly to preserve and incorporate them into the overall design

For a hundred years, the people of Jaipur had no clue about what lay right beneath their homes. Until last year the Rajasthan government launched its Rs. 3,149 crore Phase I of the Jaipur Metro. As the government made preparations to dismantle two roundabouts in the heart of the city, Choti and Badi Chaupar on the Chandpole-Surajpole stretch, ground surveys indicated that underneath lay buried two nearly 250-year-old bavdis or kunds (tanks) that once brought water to the city centre from the surrounding Aravalli Hills.

The kunds were right in the path of the 12.06 km Mansarovar to Badi Chaupar metro line. The rail portion between Chandpole and Badi Chaupar had been planned as an underground section to protect several heritage monuments in the area. As debates raged about how to proceed after the discovery of the kunds, Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje Scindia asked the Jaipur Metro Rail and the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation officials to alter the design, if required, but to protect the heritage structures at any cost.

The Rajasthan government engaged the services of leading Mumbai-based conservation architect Abha Narain Lambah to map the heritage structures and old buildings. “We convinced people that proven technology, which has been used in fragile areas the world over, would be used and no harm would come to any of the monuments,” says Nihal Chand Goel, CMD, Jaipur Metro Rail Corporation.

“Mr. Goel has a strong connection with Jaipur, and he said there are old photographs of Jaipur taken around this area. We began researching, and found pictures shot by Lala Deen Dayal in the 1890s, which showed the two chaupars,” says Lambah.

Two retired Archaeological Survey of India officials joined Lambah’s team of conservation architects and excavations began in August 2014. “Nobody living knew about these kunds. Around the 1870s, when piped water supply arrived, people were apprehensive and the then ruler of Jaipur had to convince his people that piped water was not bad. The water tanks then slowly became redundant; they were filled with earth and converted into places of beauty and recreation,” says Goel. Later, when Prince Albert painted the city pink, gardens were built around the tanks, which gradually transformed into one of the most congested traffic circles in the old city.

The square kunds had eleven steps and tunnels entering them from four sides, with water bubbling out of beautifully carved marble gaumukhs. “It was a total surprise for us to find the kunds, made of stone masonry, completely intact. We have now mapped and numbered each stone and gaumukh. Everything has been preserved at the government-run Albert Hall until the metro project is complete. We will then restore it all as it was originally,” says Lambah.

According to her team’s research, the tanks brought water from the Aravalli Hills through tunnels into the city centre. The tunnels run along long lengths of Jaipur city and probably connected to the Jal Mahal or Talkatora reservoirs. The teams found them to be well-preserved with arched masonry and lime plaster-lined walls of 500 mm thickness, and large enough for a man to pass through.

Says Lambah, “There is an ancient Persian system of Qanats, an elaborate tunnel network, used for irrigation where there was no surface water. The archaeologists also found material from Bikaner archives that showed that even pitrupaksha rituals were performed in these kunds; like the Banganga tank in Mumbai. Where else will the poor go for water?”

To preserve the tanks, the Jaipur Metro Rail Corporation has altered its design. “We lowered the railway tracks by about one metre and make incidental design changes to accommodate the tanks above the metro stations at Choti and Badi Chaupar,” says Goel. He talks of how people often see development and heritage as two opposing things. “There is no dichotomy; both can co-exist and work with each other. The metro rail rejuvenates the city, and we can also restore a lost chapter of history which becomes a tourist attraction.”

Lambah visited several metro stations, including at Athens and Lisbon, where the developers have used heritage buildings discovered during excavations as part of the railway system. “Lisbon metro station is located in an old heritage building. You come out of the station and you are in a heritage building, with a Starbucks coffee shop, escalators and ticketing,” she says.

The Athens model was chosen for Jaipur. “In Athens, it is open to the sky. It doesn’t rain too much in Jaipur. So we decided to have a sandstone railing as enclosure and keep the station open-air. In Athens, they found 2,000-year-old ruins and they put a glass wall to protect it and made a museum out of it,” she says.

The Rajasthan government plans to set up a museum in the underground station area and use the tunnel heads to let people walk into the tanks. It is also thinking of converting the surface into a pedestrian urban plaza in the evenings, where arts and crafts can be displayed. When completed, this could become a model project for other parts of India on heritage preservation during development.

Sri Kodanda Rama Temple Gollala Mamidada

Sri Kodanda Rama Temple Gollala Mamidada

Sri Kodanda Rama Temple that is found at Gollala Mamidada village in East Godavari district. Sri Rama Navami festival. The Gollala Mamidada Temple homes the deities of Lord Rama, Mother Sita and Lakshmana. The Gollala Mamidada Temple has a powerful Gopuram that is at a height of over 170 feet.

Gollala Mamidada may be a well-known place within the district wherever Srirama Navami is celebrated in a very grand manner. The temple was built in 1889 by Dwarampudi Subbi Reddy and Rama Reddy.Celestial wedding of Lord Rama and Sita are performed at the temple on April a grand scale. The Kalyanam attracts thousands of devotees as Gollala Mamidada is additionally called Chinna Bhadradi.

The nine-day celebrations can begin on Apr 19, in keeping with temple authorities. Elaborate arrangements are created for the devotees to safeguard them from hot summer heat. Notably, Ms Dwarampudi Mahalakshmi is that the acting hereditary trustee of temple.

The marriage of Sita and Rama will begin at twelve hour followed by chariot procession and different ceremonies.

The Kalyanam here is fashionable once Bhadrachalam Kalyanam. Hence, various devotees throng the temple to witness the celestial wedding.

The speciality of the competition is that the celebration of ‘Ooyala Seva’ and ‘Sri Pushpa Yagam,’ which is able to be conducted on a grand note.

The Kalyanam are performed under the management of temple main clergymen Rejeti Venkat Kurma Ranganathacharyulu, Rejeti Narsimhacharyulu and Ponduru Satyanaranacharyulu of Kakinada Notably, the devotees believe that their needs would be consummated if they witness the Kalyanam and childless couples would sire children. Similarly, the devotees assume that it’s an honest omen to consume the sweet delicacy (Paayasam) created with talambralu used for Lord’s Kalyanam

New Vrindaban, West Virginia, USA.

New Vrindaban, West Virginia, USA.

New Vrindaban is an unincorporated area and ISKCON (Hare Krishna) intentional community located in Marshall County near Moundsville, West Virginia. The town consists of 1,204 acres (4.87 km2) (of which 0.1 km2 is of water),[3] and several building complexes, homes, apartment buildings, and businesses including the Sri Sri Radha Vrindaban Chandra Temple (RVC Temple) and Prabhupada's Palace of Gold. New Vrindaban was founded in 1968 under the direct guidance of A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and named for the Indian city of Vrindavan.

The community was founded in 1968 by Kirtanananda Swami and Hayagriva Swami, two early disciples of A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. New Vrindaban developed under the guidance of Kirtanananda Swami (honored as "Srila Bhaktipada" after March 1979), and by the mid-1970s the live-in population had grown to over 100.

ISKCON New Vrindaban is strictly vegetarian and believes that meat consumption creates negative karma. Alcoholic beverages and illegal substances (such as drugs) are prohibited in the main Holy sites around the Temple of Understanding Circle Drive.

According to ISKCON News, on 4 July 1983 Vedavyasa Priya Swami installed the statue of Sri Nathji at the RVC Temple. Conversely, according to Gargarishi Das, the deity was not installed by Vedavyasa Priya, but was installed instead by Kirtanananda Swami.

In October, 1986, a census report showed 377 adults living at the community.

On March 16, 1987, during their annual meeting at Mayapur, India, the ISKCON Governing Body Commission expelled Kirtanananda from the society for "moral and theological deviations." The community of New Vrindaban was expelled from ISKCON a year later.

After Kirtanananda Swami left New Vrindaban, and new leadership stabilized, the community was readmitted to ISKCON. The Pittsburgh Tribune Review reported in 2006 the population stood at about 100. However, this number only indicated how many people were members listed in the community directory rather than official census numbers.

Bhoga Nandeeshwara Temple

Bhoga Nandeeshwara Temple

Bhoga Nandeeshwara Temple (also spelt "Bhoga Nandishwara" or "Bhoga Nandishvara") is a Vedic temple located in Nandi village, at the base of Nandi Hills (or Nandidurga) in the Chikkaballapur district of Karnataka state, India. It is dedicated to Lord Shiva.

The original temple in the complex, identified as one of the oldest temples of Karnataka, dates back to the early 9th century. The earliest inscriptions referring to the construction of the temple for Shiva, according to the Archaeological Survey of India, are from Nolamba dynasty ruler Nolambadiraja and the Rashtrakuta emperor Govinda III dated c.806, and copper plates of the Bana rulers Jayateja and Dattiya of about c.810. The temple was later under the patronage of successive notable South Indian dynasties: the Ganga Dynasty, the Chola dynasty, the Hoysala Empire and the Vijayanagara Empire. In the post medieval era, the local chiefs of Chikaballapura and the rulers of the Mysore Kingdom (Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan) controlled the region before it eventually came under British rule after the death of Tipu Sultan in c.1799. The architectural style is Dravidian. The temple is located at a distance of 60 km from Bangalore. The temple is protected as a monument of national importance by the Archaeological Survey of India.

The temple complex has two large shrines: the "Arunachaleswara" shrine to the south built by the Gangas of Talakad, and the "Bhoga Nandeeshwara" shrine to the north built by the Cholas. It has the sculpture of a king considered to be that of Rajendra Chola. In between there is a small intervening shrine called with "Uma-Maheshwara" shrine with a kalyana mantapa ("marriage alter") supported by ornate pillars in black stone with reliefs depicting of the Hindu gods Shiva and his consort Parvati, Brahma (the creator) and Saraswathi, Vishnu (the preserver) and his consort Lakshmi, the god of fire Agni and his consort Swaha Devi, and decorative creepers and birds in bas-relief. This is typical to Hoysala architecture.

According to the art historian George Michell, the temple is a typical 9th-10th century Nolamba construction with pilasters on the outer walls of the shrines, perforated decorative stone windows which contain figures, of a dancing Shiva (south wall of the Arunachaleshwara shrine) and Durga standing on a buffalo head (north wall of Bhoga Nandeshwara shrine). Pyramidal and tiered towers (shikhara) rise from the two major shrines. Each major shrine has a large linga in the sanctum (the universal symbol of the god Shiva) with a sculpture of Nandi (the bull) in a pavilion facing the shrine. According to Michell, during the 16th century Vijayanagara period, a pavilion with elegant pillars was added in between the two major shrines. The pillars crafted out of grey-green granite have relief sculptures of attendant maidens. Michell feels the minor "Uma-Maheshwara" shrine was added in between the two major shrines (behind the pavilion) during the post Vijayanagara rule of the Gowdas of the Yelahanka dynasty. The minor shrine has a procession of deities and sages in wall relief. The wall that links the two major shrines was cleverly constructed so as to be in-distinguishable from the two original shrines. A spacious pillared hall was also added in front of the two major shrines.

The "Arunachaleswara" and the "Bhoga Nandeeshwara" forms of Shiva represent, according to Hindu legend, two stages in the life of the god Shiva: childhood and youth. The "Uma-Maheshwara" shrine has relief depicting the third stage, Shiva's marriage to the goddess Parvati. Hence this shrine is popular with newly weds who come to seek blessing. The Yoga Nandeeshwara temple on top of Nandi hills represents the final "renunciation" stage in the life of Shiva and hence this temple is devoid of any festivities.The large shrines each have a sanctum (garbhagriha), a vestibule (sukanasi) and a closed hall (navaranga or mantapa). The vestibule and hall are provided with perforated stone screens called Jali. Each shrine has a nandi mantapa in front (hall with the sculptured image of Nandi the bull) facing the sanctum. The outer bounding wall (prakara) of the complex has two minor shrines for Devi, the female form of divinity ("divine core of all Hindu goddesses"). To the north of the shrines is a second compound with a navaranga mantapa (pavilion) with Yali pillars. Beyond this compound is a large stepped temple tank (kalyani or pushkarni), locally called "Sringeri Teertha" (the mythical source of the Pinakini river) where lamps are lit on certain festive days.

Source: Wikipedia

Maangaadu Sri Kamakshi Amman

Maangaadu Sri Kamakshi Amman

Maangaadu is a small beautiful village located at the outskirts of Chennai, Tamil Nadu near Poonamallee.

As per the legend, one day in Kailash, Parvathi Devi playfully closed the eyes of Lord Shiva from behind, with her palms. As a result of this, the whole universe was surrounded with darkness and all the living beings suffered. Lord Shiva became angry and the Goddess craved for his pardon.

Lord Shiva guided her to the earth and asked her to perform a severe penance to join him again. As per the God’s instructions she came down to earth and reached this place of dense Mango grove called Maangaadu. (means ‘Mango forest’ in Thamizh)

She started her rigorous penance here in the standing posture on the Panchagni (Fire). She stood one legged on Panchagni with right leg folded. She was holding her right hand raised above her head holding the Japamala (Rudraksha). Even today we can see this Moorthi of Sri Tapas Kamakshi at Maangaadu.

Even today, no abhishekams are performed to the Sri Chakra as it contains rare herbs. Only Kumkuma Archana is performed that too only to the Sri Chakra and not the idol, as the powers of Sri Kamakshi Amman has been instilled in the Chakra by Sri Aadhi Sankaracharya.

The idol Sri Aadhi Kamakshiamman made of Panchaloha (5 metals) was installed by Sri Kanchi Paramacharya Swami in the later years.

Six weeks worships are very popular here. The devotee who has some prarthana or wish can choose any one day of the week and to visit the temple along with 2 lemons, of which one will be retained at the temple and the other one has to be taken back home.

Again the following week, on the same day, he or she has to carry the old lemon from home along with 2 other fresh lemons. Like wise, if one visits on the same day for six weeks continuously, the Ambaal grants the wishes of the devotee.

Golden Chariot is very popular here which is pulled everyday between 6.30 and 7.30 pm.

Maangaadu is just 24 kms from Chennai city and is located off the Chennai Bangalore highway on the way from Poonamallee to Kunrathur.

Amrutesvara Temple, Amruthapura

Amrutesvara Temple, Amruthapura

The temple is a built according to Hoysala architecture with a wide open mantapa (hall). The temple has a original outer wall with enique equally spaced circular carvings. The temple has one vimana (shrine and tower) and therefore is a ekakuta design, and has a closed mantapa (hall) that connects the sanctum to the large open mantapa.

It is medium-sized Hoysala temple with certain vastu features similar to the Veera Narayana Temple, Belavadi in mandapa structure and size. The open mandapa has twenty nine bays, and the closed mantapa has nine bays with a side porch that leads to a separate shrine on the south side. The shrine is square in shape has the original superstructure (shikhara) which is adorned with sculptures of Kirtimukhas (demon faces), miniature decorative towers (aedicule). Below the superstructure, the usually seen panel of Hindu deities is absent. The base of the wall has five mouldings which according to art critic Foekema is an "older Hoysala style". The Sukanasi, the tower on top of the vestibule that connects the sanctum to the closed mantapa (the Sukanasi appears like the nose of the superstructure), has the original Hoysala emblem of "Sala" fighting the lion.

The rows of shining lathe turned pillars that support the ceiling of the mantapa is a Hoysala-Chalukya decorative idiom. The mantapa has many deeply domed inner ceiling structures adorned with floral designs. The outer parapet wall of the open mantapa has a total of hundred and forty panel sculptures with depictions from the Hindu epics. Unlike many Hoysala temples where the panels are small and carvings in miniature, these panels are comparatively larger. The Ramayana is sculpted on the south side wall on seventy panels, with the story proceeding quite unusually, in anti-clockwise direction. On the north side wall, all depictions are clockwise, a norm in Hoysala architectural articulation. Twenty five panels depict the life of the Hindu god Krishna and the remaining forty five panels depict scenes from the epic Mahabharata.

Ruvari Mallitamma, the well known sculptor and architect is known to have started his career here working on the domed ceilings in the main mantapa.[9] The large stone inscription near the porch contains poems composed by medieval Kannada poet Janna who had the hororific Kavichakravarti (lit, "emperor amobg poets")

Uthiramerur Sri Sundara Varadhar

Uthiramerur Sri Sundara Varadhar

Uthiramerur village is located about 85 kms from Chennai off the GST Road. This is an ancient village well known for its temples, architecture, sculptures and stone inscriptions.

The main temple here is for Sri Sundara Varadaraja Perumal which is said to be built in 750 AD during Pallava rule. A king called Nandivarma Pallavan has donated this whole town to 1200 vedic scholars who settled down here. Those days this place was called as Uthiramerur Chaturvedhimangalam.

Later it has been renovated by Rajendra Chola in 1013 AD and again renovated by Krishnadevaraya in 1520 AD.

Lord Vishnu is generally seen in either of the 3 forms, Ninraan (நின்றான் - Perumal in standing posture), Irundhaan (இருந்தான் - Perumal in sitting posture) or Kidandhaan (கிடந்தான் - Perumal in reclining posture like Ranganathar)

This is one of the few temples where you can have dharshan of Perumal in all his 3 forms.

The sanctum is built in such a way that all 3 forms of Lord Vishnu are set one above the other as 3 levels or floors.

The presiding deity is Sri Sundara Varadaraja Perumal here in standing posture along with Sri Devi and Bhoodevi in the first level.

There is a staircase on which one can climb with much ease to go to the next floor, just above the main sanctum. In this next level Sri Vaikunda Varadhar is seen in the sitting posture.

While climbing up to the next level there is Sri Parthasarathy preaching Gita to Arjuna on the outer wall facing south. Lord Narasimha is present on the outer wall facing west and Sri Varaha Perumal with Lakshmi facing North. Here Varahar is in sitting posture with Sri Lakshmi sitting on his lap looking at Varahar's face in a praying gesture.

There is also Sri Dhakshinamurthy on the tomb facing south which is unusual in Vaishnavite temples.

In the third (upper most) level the Lord is in reclining posture on Aadhiseshan as Sri Ranganathar. Lord Brahma is seen on a Lotus emerging from Ranganathar’s navel. Lord Shiva is seen near the feet of the deity with the Deer and Mazhu (a weapon) on his hands.

Lord Ranganatha is seen blessing Markandeya Rishi with his right hand. Bhoodevi is in a praying gesture standing opposite Markandeya.

Other than these three, there are other deities called Achudha Varadhar, Aniruddha Varadhar and Kalyana Varadhar in the 3 sides of the prakaaram.

It is said that Pandavas during their Agnanavaasam where they hid themselves and roamed around in forests have visited here and worshipped Lord here. It is said that Sundara Varadhar was worshipped by Yudhishtira, Vaikunda Varadhar by Bheema, Achudha Varadhar by Arjuna, Aniruddha Varadhar by Nakula and Kalyana Varadhar by Sahadeva.

All the above 5 Gods are the principal deities here, though Sundara Varadhar remain the main deity.

It is also said that Pandavas lost their power and wisdom and after worshipping here, they gained all their power back.

This is one of and most ancient and wonderful temples filled with architectural brilliance with great sculptures all around.

Uthiramerur is also known as the birth place of democracy. The stone inscriptions in this town explains how constitutions were laid for democratic administration and also about electoral systems etc., People here have followed the election system called “Kudavolai” system for electing their favorite leaders in the local elections and the rules for nominating in elections and the voting systems which is the fore runner for today’s electoral systems.

Aazhwaars like Thirumazhisai Aazhwaar, Thirumangai Aazhwaar, Poigai Aazhwaar & Peyazhwaar have composed hymns on this temple.

Uthiramerur is well connected by road with buses plying from Chennai and Kanchipuram.

A must visit place for the lovers of temples, culture and heritage.

Pancha Bhoota Stalam

Pancha Bhoota Stalam

Pancha Bhoota Stalam refers to the five Shiva temples,dedicated to Shiva, one of the most powerful Vedic god among the thirimurthis and also merciful among them, each representing the manifestation of the five prime elements of nature- land, water, air, sky, fire. Pancha indicates Five, Bhoota means elements and Stala means place. All these temples are located in South India with four of these temples in Tamil Nadu and one in present-day Andhra Pradesh. The five elements are believed to be enshrined in the five lingams and each of the lingams representing Shiva in the temple have five distinct names based on the elements they represent.

According to Vedas life and the various species originated by the combination of planetary globes and the five manifestations of nature namely air, water, fire, land and sky. Bhoota in Sanskrit means compound and maha bhoota indicates a big compound. According to Ayurveda, an ancient Indian medical system, the equilibrium of the body with the pancha bhoota is governed by the principles of tridoshas -kaph(phlegm), pitta(bile), vayu(gas), dhātu and malas(waste products). Rabindranath Tagore, a nobel lauerate for literature, in his poem, Pancha bhoota, has explained the emotional faculty of the human mind is keenly sensitive to all objects of light, colour, sound, effect of speed, sun, moon and stars.

In Tiruvannamalai temple, Shiva is said to have manifested himself in the form of massive column of fire, whose crown and feet could not be found by the Hindu God of creation, Brahma and Hindu God of preservation (or maintainer) Vishnu. A celebration of this manifestation is seen even today in the age old traditions observed during the festivals of Sivarathri and Karthigai Deepam. Agni Lingam explains the mythics of life - duty, virtue, self-sacrifice and finally liberation by and through ascetic life -duty, virtue, self-sacrifice and finally liberation by and through ascetic life at the end of Agni kalpa. In Thiruvanaikaval temple, Shiva represents water element where the appu lingam is submerged in water and a perennial sub terrain spring gushes around the lingam. In Chidambaram, empty space is worshiped as Shiva (akasha lingam) to signify God is beyond human comprehension. It is unusual where there is no physical stone lingam present, unlike other temples of Shiva.
— with Nyanassankar Thangavelu.

Saraswati Temple, Kuthanur Tiruvarur District

Saraswati Temple, Kuthanur Tiruvarur District

Saraswati is the goddess of learning and spouse of the Brahma, the Creator as per the Hindus. But, there are very few temples can be seen all over India, which is dedicated to this deity. Kuthanur is a small village the Tiruvarur district of Tamil Nadu, where an important temple dedicated to Saraswati can be seen. Kuthanur is situated on the banks of the Arasilar River, a branch of the Kaveri.

One can see a very charming deity of goddess in a seated yogic posture (padmasana) on a lotus in principal sanctum of this small Saraswati temple. She is seen having four arms. She holds the rosary (japamala) in her upper hands and the water-pot (kamandala), while one of her two lower hands is in the chinmudra (indicative of knowledge) and the other holds a palm-leaf manuscript. The processional image (utsava-murti) is in metal and is very much like the stone idol.

According to a story associated with this place, Ottakuttar, a famous Tamil poet who lived in the Chola times of the 12th century A.D. and a contemporary of Kamban, was associated with Kuthanur, where he performed penance to this deity. It is said that once he had a vision (darshan) of goddess Saraswati at this place and consequently became a great poet earning fame and name. It is said that this village was known as Kuthanur after the name of Ottakuttar. This Saraswati temple is said to be constructed by this poet. A statue of Ottakuttar can be seen at the entrance of this shrine in honour of his association of this place.

Every year, thousands of devotees visit this temple specifically on Saraswati Puja and Vijayadashami festivals to seek the blessings of this deity of Knowledge, who is believed to cure speech defects. Everyone places notebooks and pens in front of the deity as per the Hindu custom and then use them. Some people also offer white saris and lotus flowers to the goddess Saraswati. The Maha Kumbabhishekam of this Saraswati temple was performed after a long time in 2003.

Prasat Phnom Rung

Prasat Phnom Rung

By Saj Sadanand

Khao Phnom Rung is an extinct volcano which has been dormant for 900,000 years. Situated in Buriram Province in the Isan region of Thailand. .When the sanctuary was built on the top of Khao Phnom Rung, slight alterations were made of the crater, and it was turned into a huge reservoir with sufficient water supply for consumption. Phnom Rung has been the original name of the mountain itself and the sanctuary on top of it since at least 989 or the 11th century A.D. The word appeared in 4 Khmer alphabet inscriptions written in the Khmer language discovered at Prasat Phnom Rung. The word "Phnom Rung" derived from a Khmer word "Vnam Rung" which means a large mountain, the same meaning as the words "s-Thuadri" and "S-Thula Saila" in other Khmer alphabet inscriptions written in the Sanskrit language. Prasat Phnom Rung is a sanctuary dedicated to the pasupata sect of Saivaite Hinduism, which believed in the God Siva. The construction of Prasat Phnom Rung on the top of the mountain was, therefore, compared to that of the God Siva's residence, which is belived to be situated on the top of mount Kailasa. The buildings within the complex of Prasat Phnom Rung can be divided by chronological order into 4 periods. The most ancient are the two brick towers of Koh Kare style built around the 10th century A.D. The second period is attested by Prasat Noi, which was built around the 11th century A.D. in Baphuon style. The third period is when most of the structures within the complex were constructed including the main tower around the 12th century A.D. in the Angkor Wat style. The last period is apparent from the two late-rite libraries or Bannalai built between the 12th-13th centuries A.D. in the Bayon style.

Prang Noi

Prang Noi

Prang Noi was built by Hindus in the late of 10th century A.D. In the first half of Baphuon style. The entrance of the Prang is only in the eastern. The top of the Prang is probably non-finished. The bas-relief on the eastern pediment if this Prang depicts the scene of Krishna lifting the Govardhana mountain the eight incarnation of the Lord Vasudeva

Karaneeswarar Temple, Mylapore

Karaneeswarar Temple, Mylapore

The Karaneeswarar Temple is a 12th-century Hindu temple in the neighbourhood of Mylapore in Chennai, India. The temple is dedicated to Shiva. The main deity is a Shivalinga. There are also shrines to Sarvamangala Vinayaka, Dandapani, Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswathi.

History and legend

This temple is the abode of Lord Sri Karaneeswara and Mother Porkodi Amman.[1] The temple is located at Bazaar road in the middle stretch of the popular Kutcheri road in Mylapore. It is about half a kilometre from the famous Kapaleeswarar temple. From Sanskrit language, Karana means "cause". Karana + Iswara (Lord) = Karaneeswara, "the Lord who is the cause". The general belief is – He is the primordial cause of this universe which is His very form. He is also the Lord who can teach us the causality behind all events.

Lord Karaneeswara is more than happy to grant material boons as well. The worship of Sri Karaneeswara and Mother Porkodi blesses one with a happy family life; there will be much amicability amongst all members of the family. Mix coconut oil, sesame oil (gingelly) and castor oil in equal parts and use this mixture to light oil lamps in multiples of six (6, 12, 18, 24 and so on) in this temple. Pradakshinam (circling the temple) is also very important here. The temple is worth visiting for its calm environment.

Another legend goes like this :–

Karaneeswara temple is one of the Sapta Sthana Shiva temples in Mylapore (one of the seven sacred Shiva temples in Mylapore). As per the legend, there used to be a young Brahmin in Mylapore who used to perform poojas to Shiv Linga. Through his penance, the young Brahmin found out that Lord Shiva was the cause of creation, protection and destruction of this universe. Thereafter, the Shiv Linga (the main deity of this temple) was called as Karaneeswara. (Karaneeswara means one who has causes). Even though there is no solid proof, it is widely believed that this temple might belong to the 12th century AD.

The main deities of the temples are Karaneeswara (Shiva) and his consort Porkodi Amman. Both the deities are found in two separate shrines. The temple has a small tower and as per the tradition followed in all old South Indian temples, this temple also has bali peeth, flag staff and Nandi idol facing the main shrine. The entrance of the main shrine has the idols of Ganesha and Dhandayudhapani (Subramanya).

The following shrines are also found in this temple:

• Natraj with Sivakami
• Hanuman
• Bhairav
• Arunachaleswarar in the form of big Linga with Unnamulai
• Subramanya-Valli-Devasena
• Ganesha with his consorts Siddhi and Buddhi
• Saneeswarar
• Navagraha

The following deities are additionally found in this temple:

• Ganesha
• Nalvar – the four great devotees of Shiva
• Sekkilar
• Surya
• 3–4 Shiv Lingas under the tree

The belief is that a visit to this temple would cure you from all your diseases.

Thirukkarugaavoor Sri Garbharakshaambigai

Thirukkarugaavoor Sri Garbharakshaambigai

Thirukkarugaavoor is about 20 kms from Kumbakonam. This is an unique temple Lord Shiva and Parvathi who bless the world as Sri Mullaivana Naathar & Sri Garbharakshaambigai here.

Legend has it that, thousands of years back this place was called Mullaivanam (forest filled with Jasmine creepers).

There lived a saint by name Nidhruva Rishi along with his wife Vedhika in Mullaivanam. They remained childless for years which was making them depressed. They took the advice of Gautama & Karthikeya Rishis and started worshipping Lord Shiva and Parvathy at the temple here.

Out of sincere prayers Vedhika became pregnant. The couple were too happy. When Vedhika was in the final trimester of pregnancy, Nidhruva Rishi had to be out of home to visit Sri Varuna.

One day, after a tiring house hold chores and the pain due to pregnancy, Vedhika was lying down and taking rest. When she was half asleep, a Rishi called Urdhvapaadha came at the door calling for Bhiksha. Vedhika didn’t notice the Rishi and didn’t respond to him with her hospitality. Saint Urdhvapaadha, without knowing the pregnancy of Vedhika, thought that she is ignoring him and cursed her to be affected with a serious disease.

The curse started spoiling not only Vedhika’s health and also the baby in her fetus. The fetus got deformed and Vedhika realized that it was because of the curse by Saint Urdhvapaadha. She prayed Goddess Parvathi Devi at the temple for rescue. The Goddess with her fullest mercy collected the deformed embryo in a divine pot and made it to evolve as a healthy baby.

Vedhika was blessed with a beautiful male baby and they named him Naidhruva. As there was no mother’s feed for the baby, Goddess sent Kamadhenu to arrange milk for the baby. Kamadhenu appeared and scratched her legs on the ground and a milk pond formed there on the earth, for the baby.

The pond then formed is called as ‘Khseera Kundam’ (Milk Pot) which is today’s temple tank in front of this temple.

Vedhika’s husband Nidhruva came back and was thrilled to hear the whole story and the mercy of the Goddess. The couple prayed the Goddess to take abode in the same village and bless every couple who pray them, with the child and safe pregnancy.

The Goddess agreed to them and settled down in Mullaivanam in the name of Sri Garbharakshaambigai (meaning the savior of fetus). From then, the village also got its name as Thirukkarugaavoor (Thiru – God, Karu – Fetus, Kaa – saves).

Even today Sri Garbharakshaambigai blesses the childless couples with the child and also the pregnant women for safe delivery of baby. According to the native villagers, to their knowledge, none of the women at Thirukkarugaavoor has ever had a miscarriage or any fatality during delivery.

In this temple Ghee is offered as Prasadham for the childless couple which they have to take everyday for about 48 days. Also a Sloka (given below) is given at the temple to be chanted by the expectant mother to pray Sri Garbharakshaambigai, everyday till delivery.

“Hey Sankara samarahaa Bramadhaadhinaadhari
Mannaadha saramba sarisooda
harathirisoolin Sambo sugaprasava
grudh bhavamey dhayaalo
hemadavi vanesa paalayamaam namaste!

Himavath yudhdharey paarsvey
suradhara naama yaashinee
Thasyaaaa smarana maathrenaa
vichalya gharbinee bhavethu!!”

Castor oil is offered as Prasadham here, to the pregnant women to be applied on their abdomen during pregnancy for a safe labor.

Everyday, one can witness many couples happily coming back to the temple with their new born to thank the Goddess and seek her blessings by keeping the baby at her Lotus Feet.

Lord Shiva here, is in the form of Lingam. It is said that the deity here is made of ant hill mud (Putru MaN) and is a Swayambu Murthy (which evolved on its own). Hence there are no Abhishekams here for the Lord. Instead a rare fragrant herb called Punugu is applied on the Lingam (Punugu Chattam).

It is believed that by offering Punugu Chattam to Mullaivana Nathar, one gets relieved of any kind of skin diseases.

One can see the impression of the Jasmine creeper on the Shiva Lingam here, as this place was full of Jasmine creepers which were covering this Lingam.

Another rare feature is the moon rays falls directly on the Lingam here during the Full moon day of Thamizh month, Panguni.

Sri Mullai Vananathar Thirukkoil, Thirukkarugavur, Papanasam Taluk.Thanjavur

Sri Parayadi Muthukarupanna Swami temple

Sri Parayadi Muthukarupanna Swami temple

The deity of the presiding deity is made of Navapashana.

The vimana above the sanctum sanctum is of Padma design. Lord Mukthivinayaka blesses the devotees. Navagraha shrine is in the prakara. Nagar shrines are under Arasa Maram – Bodhi tree in the form of anthills. Deva Bhudhagan and Akasa Bhudhagan, the guardian deities are on both sides of the sanctum sanctum. Sri Agni Veerabadra appears in killing posture of Daksha. As He has all Shiva attributes, devotees offer the first worship to Agni Veerabadra and then to Karuppanar. In the hill behind the temple, Lord Shiva blesses the devotees as Akasha Linga on a square peeta. Mother Parvathi sitting in a meditating posture, is performing Shiva Puja with Lotus flowers, a rare darshan in this temple. The perennial Parayadi Theertham-holy spring is at the foot of the hills.

Devotees pray for child boon, prosperity and fearlessness.

Presiding deity appears majestically with fine physical features, twisted moustache, Nama the Vishnu Tilak in forehead and holding a sickle. He is stamping a witch under His left leg and is holding his head. The face and chest of Lord is made of Navapashana. They use to fan the Swami from sweat. During the Arthajama Puja – the last puja at night, a water bowl is placed in the sanctum to quench the thirst of Lord. This water is offered as Theertha Prasad to devotees.

Next morning while opening the temple, the priest use to knock the door twice and wait for a while. He again knocks then as if seeking the permission of the Lord to open the doors, open and begin the pujas. Devotees call the Lord Aiya as if calling their fathers.

No abishek is performed on Lord. To soften the fury of Lord, they use to burn the Darba grass on new moon days, mix it with some cosmetic powders and five varieties of oil and apply it. Butter is applied on full moon days. They offer seven varieties of fruits as nivedhana, which then is offered as Prasad to devotees. As the Lord would be furious during the oil application time, children and women are not allowed in the shrine.
As the Lord of the temple is the personal bodyguard of Lord Shiva, special pujas are dedicated to Him on Shivrathri night. They offer the plantain tree skin (mattai in Tamil). This is also offered as Prasad. It is believed that this Prasad would bless families with continued generations. Akasha Bhudagan and Deva Bhudagan, the securities in the sanctum sanctorum are colossal in size with sickle and dandas in their hands.
Lord Dakshinamurthi appears in yoga posture. There are no banyan tree, Muyalagan at His feet and disciples. He is holding flowers in His upper hands. Those who need relief due to Jupiter transition effects pray here.

There was a Shiva temple at the top of the hills in ancient days. Muthukaruppanna Swami was the security to Lord then. When a witch hunt tried to take Lord Shiva from here, Muthukaruppannaswami prevented his attempt and killed him. He then stayed here for ever. The Shiva temple at the top of the hill disappeared in the days followed. Muthukaruppannar Himself became popular then in the region. A temple was built then. As He is under the rock – Parai in Tamil, He is named Parayadi Muthiah.

Kiramchi temples near Udhampur in Kashmir

Kiramchi temples near Udhampur in Kashmir

The temples dated circa 8th-9th century A.D. Kiramchi may have been founded by Raja (King) Kichack, a contemporary of the Pandavas of the Mahabharata. The latter are said to have spent a long time here during their exile. Kiramchi is also believed to have been the capital of Bhuti, one of the principalities of Jammu region ruled by the successors of King Daya Karan who founded the Bhutial dynasty. The last Bhutial ruler, Himmat Singh, gave up Bhuti to Raja Gulab Singh in 1834 whose descendants ruled Kashmir till India’s independence in 1947.

Dedicated to Lord Shiva, but only one of the seven temples has a small Shivalinga. Another is used by devotees of Maa (Mother) Durga. While some of these temples have been restored, others are in their original state. Excavations have unearthed many terracotta figures, copper coins, iron arrow heads, beads of semi-precious stones, pestles and earthen pots on this site.

Jageshwar is a Hindu pilgrimage town in Almora district, Uttarakhand,

Jageshwar temple

Jageshwar is a Hindu pilgrimage town in Almora district, Uttarakhand, believed to carry the Nagesh Jyotirlinga dedicated to Shiva, located 36 km northeast of Almora, in Kumaun region. The temple city comprises a cluster of 124 large and small stone temples, dating 9th to 13th century AD, with many preserved by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), which include Dandeshwar Temple, Chandi-ka-Temple, Jageshwar Temple, Kuber Temple, Mritunjaya Temple, Nanda Devi or Nau Durga, Nava-grah temple, a Pyramidal shrine, and Surya Temple, amongst which the oldest shrine is the Mrityunjaya Temple and the biggest shrine is the Dandeshwar Temple. Once the centre of Lakulish Shaivism, Jageshwar is located at an altitude of 1870 mts, in the Jataganga river valley near a Deodar forest (Cedrus deodara) starting from Artola village on Almora–Pithoragarh highway, where two streams Nandini and Surabhi flow down the hills in the narrow valley and meet near the sacred spot.

Most Hindus believe that Jageshwar is the place of Nagesh, 8th among the Dwadasa Jyotirlingas (the twelve resplendent lingas of Shiva established by Vishnu), which is stated to exist in the forest of Deodar or daruka (Sanskrit: दारूक वन, transliteration: daruka van) -

सौराष्ट्रे सोमनाथं च श्रीशैले मल्लिकार्जुनम् ।
उज्जयिन्यां महाकालमोकांरममलेश्वरम् ।
परल्यां वैद्यनाथं च डाकिन्यां भीमशंकरम् ।
सेतुबंधे तु रामेशं नागेशं दारूकावने ।
वाराणस्यां तु विश्वेशं त्रयंम्बकं गौतमीतटे ।
हिमालये तु केदारं घुश्मेशं च शिवालये ।
ऐतानि ज्योतिर्लिंगानि सायं प्रातः पठेन्नरः ।
सप्तजन्मकृतं पापं स्मरणेन विनश्यति ।
— Dwadasa Jyotirlinga Stotra by Adi Shankaracharya

The ancient treatise Prasadmandanam describe this place as an abode of Shiva:

हिमाद्रेरूत्तरे पार्श्वे देवदारूवनं परम्
पावनं शंकरस्थानं तत्र् सर्वे शिवार्चिताः।

Jageshwar was once the center of Lakulish Shaivism (Lakulish is 28th Avatar of Shiva). Origin and history of Lakulish (Shiva with a wooden Stick) traverse back to Gujarat region of current India. The resemblance between Kumaoni language and Gujarati language probably hints at the fact that followers of Lakulish settled at Jageshwar. Local folklore still talks about a man who will walk this place with a wooden stick in his hand.

There is no definite dating of the construction of Jageshwar group of temples but according to the ASI, they belong to the post-Gupta and pre-medieval eras and are estimated to be about 450 yrs old. These temples range in the period from the 8th century (early Katyuri Dynasty) to the 18th century (Chand Dynasty). The temples were renovated during the reign of Katyuri King Shalivahandev. There is an inscription of Malla Kings on the main temple premises indicating their devotion to Jageshwar. The Katyuri Kings also donated villages to the temple priests for its maintenance. The Chand Kings of Kumaun were also patrons of the Jageshwar temple.

Numerous Jageshwar temples were constructed or restored during the Gurjara Pratihara era.

It is believed that Adi Shankaracharya visited Jageshwar and renovated and re-established many temples before leaving for Kedarnath. The Samsan ghat of Jageshwar is also the cremation ground of the erstwhile Chand Kings. It is possible that sati, the act of self-immolation, may have been performed here. The temples architecture belong to the Nagara [this link is not to an appropriate entry] style, characterized by a tall curved spire surmounted by an amalaka (capstone) and a kalasha crown. Most of the temples enshrine a stone lingam, surrounded by stone sculptures of various deities. The pilgrimage to Jageshwar was considered as sacred as the famous chardham yatra.

Before the construction of roads, pilgrims passed through Jageshwar en route to Kailash and Mansarovar. Due to the restrictions on pilgrimage to Kailash Mansarovar in the past, pilgrims were diverted towards Kedarnath; however, this center has re-attained its past glory.

Thiruvalidhaayam Thiru Valeeswarar Temple Chennai

Thiruvalidhaayam Thiru Valeeswarar

Thiruvalidhaayam (which is called Paadi nowadays) is situated in the suburbs of Chennai, about 2 kms west of Villivakkam towards Ambattur.

The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva who is the main deity called Sri Valeeswarar and Goddess Sri Jagathambigai.

As the sage Baradhwaaj (not the one who is among 7 Saptharishis), had worshipped Lord Shiva here in the form of a Karunkuruvi (black bird) called Valian (வலியன்) the place came to be known as Thiruvalidhaayam and the Lord Valeeswarar.

This village had been a storage place of weapons during the war times. Such places used by the kings for storing weapons were called as Paadi Veedu in ancient days. Also the kings, before starting to the battlefield pick up their weapons from such Paadi Veedus and worship Sri Kaali and proceed to the battle. Hence the place could have become to known as Paadi in later days. As there is also a Padai Veettu Amman temple nearby this temple, which is believed to have been worshipped by the ancient kings.

It is said that, two daughters of Brahma, Kamalai and Vimalai were much fond of Lord Shiva and wanted to marry him. They went to Lord Shiva and prayed to grant their wish. Lord Shiva explained them that he is already married to Parvathi and can’t marry them again, but they can get married to his son Sri Ganesha who is blessed with equal divinity. Later Lord Ganesha, after killing the demon king Gajamukhaasura, came to this place and married both of them.

This wonderful temple has many inscriptional evidences right from the 12th century. Thirugnana Sambandar has sung hymns on Lord Shiva here.

Arunagiri Nathar has sung praise on Lord Muruga at this temple.

Another rare feature here is that, this is one among the just 3 temples where Guru Bhagavan had worshipped the Gods. The other 2 are Thiruchendur and Thenkudi Thittai.

Guru Bhagavan has a separate shrine here at the outer praakaram.

Lord Shiva here is worshipped by Saint Agasthiyar, Baradhwaaja Rishi, Lord Surya (Sun God), Lord Chandra (Moon God), Yama, Agni, Sri Rama, Sri Anjaneya (Hanuman), Sukreeva, Lava, Kusa, Manmadha & Lord Indra at various periods and each connected with a story here.

A beautiful Nandhi and a grand Dhwajasthambha (Flag Pole) fascinates while one enters the temple.

The sanctum is in a circular kind of shape at the back. This type of architecture is called Gaja Brishta Vimana or Thoonganai Madam (தூங்கானை மடம்) as this looks like a back of a sleeping elephant.

Ambaal Sri Jagadhambigai is facing towards South. A beautiful Simha Vaahana faces the Goddess from the outer Praakaram.

The inner praakaram is decorated with Sri Dhakshinamurthy, a Shiva Linga worshipped by Anjaneya, Nayanmars, Sri Durga, Brahma etc.,

Wonderful sculptures beautify the pillars of the inside Stone Mandapam. We can see the brilliant sculptures (in the pics) like Sri Parvathi embracing Shiva Lingam, Kannappa Naayanaar plucking out his eye for Lord Shiva and Lord Shiva stopping him, an ancient Sadhu or traveler with Thambura like musical instrument and some baggage on his head etc.,

The temple also maintains a Ghoshala, a rare sight in today’s temples and a Nandhavanam along the walls of outer praakaram which adds beauty to the temple.

There are mentions about this temple saying “Jayangonda Chola Mandalathu Puzhal Kottathu Ambathur Naattu Thiruvalidhaayam” (ஜயங்கொண்ட சோழ மண்டலத்து புழல் கோட்டத்து அம்பத்தூர் நாட்டுத் திருவலிதாயம்), in ancient inscriptions, which explains that, this place was under Ambathur & Puzhal territories in ancient days.

A beautiful Valampuri Vinayagar sitting under an Arasa Maram outside the temple, welcomes you in.

The Theertham for this temple is called Baradhwaaja Theertham and Sthala Viruksham (tree) is Paadhiri.

This temple is also a Guru Parihaara Sthalam situated in Chennai.

Lakshmi Narayan Temple Chamba of Himachal Pradesh.

Lakshmi Narayan Temple

Largest and oldest temple in Chamba. Laxmi Narayan Temple is situated in Chamba of Himachal Pradesh. Lakshmi Narayan Temple was built by Sahil verma in the 10th century.

Laxmi Narayan Temple is the largest and oldest temple in Chamba. Laxmi Narayan Temple has been built in Shikhara style. There is a group of six stone Sikhara temples. The three Sikhara temples are dedicated to Vishnu and other three are dedicated to Shiva. The six Shikhara style temple is famous for its finely executed classical forms.

Laxmi Narayan Temple is the most famous temple of Chamba. Laxmi Narayan Temple is famous for both architectural marvel and great historical significance. Wooden umbrella are built to keep the snowfall off the roofs. The wheel shaped roof stop cold. The every ruler of Chamba added to the temple. The Radha-Krishnan temple was built by Rani Sarda. The Shiva Temple complex was built by Sahil Verma.

Importance of Lakshmi Narayan Temple

Image of Lord Vishnu was made of rare marble imported from Vindhyachal Mountains. The king sacrificed eight of his sons to get the marble for Lakshmi Narayan Temple. The king eldest son Yugkara succeeded to fetch the marble. King was attacked by the robbers but with the help of a saint the king managed to save himself. Great effort of king the deity of the Lord could be made.

Gopeshwar temple in Uttarakhand

Gopeshwar temple in Uttarakhand

Gopinath Temple is situated in Gopeshwar village now part of Gopeshwar town. Gopinath Temple is an ancient temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, located at Gopeshwar, in Uttaranchal. The temple stands out in its architectural proficiency; it is topped by a magnificent dome and the 30 sq ft (2.8 m2) sanctum sanctorum, which is aessible by 24 doors.

The remains of broken deities found around the temple testify the existence of several more temples in ancient times. There is a trident about 5 m high, which dates back to the 12th century, in the courtyard of the temple made of eight different metals. It boasts the inscriptions attributed to Anekmalla, the king of Nepal who reigned in the 13th century. Four short inscriptions written in Devanagri, which dates back to a later period, are yet to be deciphered, baring one.

Legend is that the trident got fixed in this spot, when Lord Shiva threw it at Lord Kama to kill him. The metal of the trident is not weathered by the elements and this is a wonder. The legend goes that the trident belonged to Shiva who threw it at Kamdeva ( The God Of Love) to kill him and it got fixed in this spot. It is believed that while brute force can not move this Trident, the slightest touch by a true devotee can cause a tremor in it. The metal of the trident does not appear to have become weathered by the elements over the century.

Tungnath- highest Shiva temple in the world

Tungnath Temple

Tungnath is the highest Shiva temple in the world and is one of the five and the highest Panch Kedar temples located in the mountain range of Tunganath in Rudraprayag district, in the Indian state of Uttarakhand. The Tunganath (literal meaning: Lord of the peaks) mountains form the Mandakini and Alaknanda river valleys. Located at an altitude of 3,680 m (12,073 ft), and just below the peak of Chandrashila, Tungnath temple is the highest Hindu shrine dedicated to Lord Shiva. The temple is believed to be 1000 years old and is the third (Tritiya Kedar) in the pecking order of the Panch Kedars. It has a rich legend linked to the Pandavas, heroes of the Mahabharata epic.

According to Hindu epic Lord Shiva and his consort Parvati both reside in the Himalayas: Lord Shiva resides at Mount Kailash. Parvati is also called Shail Putri which means 'daughter of hills'.

The Tunganath myth is indelibly linked to the origin of the Panch Kedar temples built by the Pandavas. The legend states that sage Vyas Rishi advised the Pandavas that since they were culpable of slaying their own relatives (Kauravas, their cousins) during the Mahabharata war or Kurukshetra war, their act could be pardoned only by Lord Shiva. Consequently, the Pandavas went in search of Shiva who was avoiding them since he was convinced of the guilt of Pandavas. In order to keep away from them, Shiva took the form of a bull and went into hiding in an underground safe haven at Guptakashi, where Pandavas chased him. But later Shiva’s body in the form of bull’s body parts rematerialized at five different locations that represent the "Panch Kedar" where Pandavas built temples of Lord Shiva at each location, to worship and venerate, seeking his pardon and blessings. Each one is identified with a part of his body; Tungnath is identified as the place where the bahu (hands) were seen: hump was seen at Kedarnath; head appeared at Rudranath; his navel and stomach surfaced at Madhyamaheshwar; and his jata (hair or locks) at Kalpeshwar.

Legend also states that Lord Rama, the chief icon of the Ramayana epic, meditated at the Chandrashila peak, which is close to Tungnath. It is also said that Ravana, also of Ramayana fame, did penance to Shiva, the lord of the peaks, when he resided here.

Pancheshti Sri Agatheeswarar

Pancheshti Sri Agatheeswarar

Pancheshti is a very small village located on Chennai Kolkota highway, about 30 kms from Chennai. After crossing Red Hills and Karanodai on the highway, you have to take a right turn to enter this village. The temple is just 500 meters off the highway.

Pancheshti had got its name from Pancha Ishti. Pancha means 5 and Ishti means Yagna means Penance which is performed to get some wish fulfilled.

According to legend, there lived a demon king called Sukethu, who along with his family suffered some curse. To get him relieved of the curse, Sage Agasthiyar performed about 5 yagnas called Deva Yaagam, Brahma Yaagam, Bhootha Yaagam, Pithur Yaagam and Manusha Yaagam here. Hence this place got its name Pancha Ishti which later corrupted to become Pancheshti and now Panchetti.

It is said that Sage Agasthiyar stayed here for long and worshipped Lord Shiva and also helped the Devas like Lord Indra, Indrani (Indra’s wife) and Viswaroopan to get relieved of their curses, by performing Pradhosha Poojas.

A king called Mithradhwaja, who was ruling this part with his capital as Kanchipuram, used to visit this temple on all Pradhosham days to worship Lord Shiva here. Once during such visit, he heard a voice crying for savior. When he went near, he saw a tiger trying to kill a old man who was a passer by. The king asked the tiger to leave the old man. The tiger replied that it is also old and has to feed it’s family, for which the old man is the prey. The king told the tiger to take him as the prey and leave the old man alive. The king also said that he is on his way to Pancheshti for Pradhosha Pooja and on return he will offer himself to the tiger. The tiger agreed. After his pooja the king returned to the tiger and asked to take him as the prey. The tiger vanished and Lord Shiva gave Dharshan to him along with Parvathi. The king who was overwhelmed with the mercy of the Lord, has contributed a lot to this temple.

The Lord here is a Swayambhu (self evolved) Lingam, which is said to be existed even before the arrival of Sage Agasthiyar here. As Agasthiyar worshipped here, the Lord here is called Sri Agatheeswarar.

The Ambaal (Goddess) here is Sri Anandhavalli, who is so beautiful in standing posture facing south. She is made of green granite and is three eyed, hence considered powerful. As she has her left foot forward, she is believed to be the destroyer (Chathru Samhaari) of all the evil forces or enemies. Worshipping her here eliminates all the evil forces, enemies and hurdles in one’s life.

Sage Agasthiyar has installed a Maha Yantra, also called Durga Yantra (containing scriptures) just in front of Ambaal to bring down her fierce (Ugram). Abishegams are performed to this Yantra on Tuesdays and Fridays and also poojas during Rahu Kaalam timings.

The sculptures of Adhi Devathas (Gods) connected to the Maha Yantra which is installed in front of Ambaal, is sculpted at the ceiling (in the pic above) of the entrance in Raja Gopuram. This Yantra is called Ekadasa Kona (11 angled) Maha Yantra which contains sculptures of all the Gods pertaining to the Maha Yantra which is found in front of Goddess.

More importance is given to Ambaal in this temple and the Raaja Gopuram (Main Tower) itself is facing south towards Ambaal. All the sculptures in Raaja Gopuram are made to face Ambaal. Ashta Dhik Baalakas (Gods of 8 directions) Indra, Agni, Yama, Nrithi, Vaayu, Kubera & Eesaan are sculpted in a row near the entrance of Raaja Gopuram facing Ambaal here. Also the Navagrahas sculpted on the other side are again facing Ambaal. In Navagrahas, Lord Saneeshwara is seen with his Vaahana (carrier) as Eagle instead of crow, which is quite unusual. As all the Devas and Navagrahas face the Ambal here, it is believed that Ambaal is so powerful in removing Navagraha Dhoshas.

In Hindu mythology, any temple facing the South is called Parihaara Sthalam, in which one can find remedy for any kind of problems in life. Doing Annadhaanam (free feeding) here is considered most auspicious and believed that it will get us back the lost positions, possessions and will help attain God’s feet. Lighting the Ghee lamp here, one is removed of all his sins.

The Theertham (Pond) here is called as Agasthiya Theertham. It is said that, the pond originated from the saliva of Sage Agasthiyar. As per the legend, river Ganges (holy Ganga) merges in this Theertham during the Full moon days of Thamizh month ‘Vaikaasi’. If one makes a dip here in this water on the said day, it is said that he will never have a re-birth in this world again.

Vilvam tree is the Sthala Vruksham here.

This holy place is said to have references in ancient Naadi Astrology for various Parihaarams (remedies).

Sage Agasthiyar’s disciple, Sage Pulasthiyar has installed a Shiva Lingam in a separate shrine facing south, inside this temple. This God is called Ishta Lingeswarar who is worshipped for fulfilling one’s wishes, resolving any legal problems and to gain peace and harmony.

The other deities present here are Sri Vinayagar, Sri Dhakshinamurthy, Sri Maha Vishnu, Sri Brahma, Sri Durga etc. There is also a small shrine for Balamuruga in which Lord Muruga is seen in Srishti Kolam (means gesture of a creator), which he did when he captured the powers of Lord Brahma and started doing the job of creation by himself, when once Brahma couldn’t answer Lord Muruga on the meaning for Omkara.

The walls of Raja Gopuram of this temple, carries hundreds of sculptures which are feast to watch. Though this is a Shiva temple, the sculptures of Vaishnava concepts are given equal importance here. The entire walls of Raja Gopuram, have sculptures connected to incidents from all the 4 Yugas.

I was able to capture a few sculptures out of so many.

Hanuman meeting Sita Devi at Ashoka Vanam.

Another important thing which needs mention, is about the priest, Sri Rajamani Gurukkal whose family is ancestrally serving this temple and the God here. He patiently explains about each and every part of the temple, the legend, history and about the sculptures present here with the only objective of making every devotee to know about the significance of the temple and it's heritage.

All full moon days, Pradosham days, Pankuni Uthram, Vaikasi Visakam & Sivarathri days are most auspicious here and celebrated in a grand manner.

Mukteshwar Temple

Mukteshwar Temple

The Mukteshwar Temple is a single cella temple in Jakkanachari style. Similar temples were built under the patronage of Kalachuri or Seuna dynasties. This temple is a jewel of architecture of the 11th–12th centuries. It was built during the heyday of the kingdom ruled by the Kalyani Chalukyas and the Seunas of Devagiri. It is dedicated to an Udbhava (spontaneously born) Linga named Mukteshwar.

The dome of the temple is hollow and is closed by the slabs of the stupi. Shikhara of the Mukteshwara temple is 2.2 m in its axis at the base. The stupi is made of three beautiful lotiform mouldings diminishing in size and a lotus bud with its base.

The history of Mukteshwar Temple at Chaudayyadanapur is known through seven inscriptions in medieval Kannada, engraved on large steles. They provide information on the local rulers, kings of Guttala (Gupta ascendancy), on some constructions in the temple complex, on diverse donations to the deity.

They provide the details on a prominent religious leaders. Inscriptions introduce Muktajiyar, a Lakulasaiva saint, and Shivadeva, a Virashaiva saint, who entered the place on the 19 August 1225 and led there a long life of renunciation, asceticism and spiritual elevation. The legacy of this age of intense Shaivism is a jewel of architecture and sculpture.

Karkata Eswara Shiva Temple - Temple for Cancer Moon Sign

Temple for Cancer Moon Sign - Karkata Eswara Shiva Temple

Kartakeshwara Shiva temple is located in Tirudevankudi, Kumbakonam, TamilNadu. The legend of this temple is that a scorpion worshipped Lord Shiva here. This is the perfect temple for people of Karkata Rashi or Cancer Moon sign). There is a seperate shrine for Moon(Chandra) which the ruling planet for Karkata rashee. Lord Shiva is known as Karkateshwaran (Lord of Crabs).

Located amidst lush green fields, this temple is a must visit. Locally, it is known as Nandu koil (crab temple).This entire area once was a forest of plants of high medicinal value. These medicines were used in preparation of ayurvedic medicines. There were also 9 holy wells, the water from which was used along with the herbs. During one such occasion, the idol of mother Goddess was unearthed. So, she is called as Arumarundhu Nayaki ( Goddess of Medicine). Abishekam is performed with a special oil and it distributed to devotees, if we let the priest know in advance. Prayers are offered here for cure of ailments and good health. One of the greatest saints, Tirugyanasambandhar, has described the lord Shiva here as "Pini Neekum Sivan" (Lord who cures ailments).

There is one more shrine of Mathaji. She is called as Apoorva Nayagi ( Rarest of rare Goddess). From an architecture point of view, the temple is very old and has numerous inscriptions and paintings.

Ettumanoor Mahadevar Temple

Ettumanoor Mahadevar Temple

Ettumanoor Mahadeva temple is an ancient Shiva temple in Kottayam, Kerala, India. It has brought glory and fame to the place. Myths have it that the Pandavas and the sage Vyasa had worshipped at this temple. The name of the place has its origin from the word 'manoor', which means the land of deer. The temple is one of the major Shiva temples in Kerala counted along with the Shiva temples of Chengannur Mahadeva Temple, Kaduthruthy Mahadeva Temple, Vaikom Temple, Ernakulam Shiva Temple and Vadakkunathan temple.

The present temple building, with its gopuram and the fortress around it, was reconstructed in 717 ME (1542 AD). There are Dravidian mural paintings on the walls inside and outside of the main entrance. The fresco of Pradosha Nritham (Dance of Shiva) is one of the finest Wall painting in India. There is a golden flag staff inside the temple. On the top of it is the idol of a bull surrounded by small bells and metal leaves of the banyan tree and in terms of architecture this temples stands out to be an ultimate testimant for the vishwakarma Sthapathis, for their engineering skills. The temple roofs are covered with copper sheets and it has 14 ornamental tops. Bhagavati, Sastha, Ganapathy and Yakshi are installed here as subordinate deities. It is believed that the great philosopher, Adi Sankaracharya wrote 'Soundarya Lahari' while staying in the temple.

The origin of ETTUMANOORAPPAN is from Kattampakk, a small village in Kottayam district.

Ettumanoor Mahadeva Temple hosts the arattu festival celebrated on a grand scale on the Thiruvathira day in February–March every year. Lot of people come to this temple on the 8th and 10th day of the festival when seven and half elephants (in Malayalam: ezharaponnaana) made of gold (nearly 13 Kgms) will be held in public view. This statue was donated to the temple by a travancore maharaja. The temple, one of the wealthiest Devaswoms in Kerala, has many valuable possessions.

The Thulabharam is one of the important rituals of this temple. People make offerings to God for favours received. On balance, the child or man for whom offerings were promised to God, is weighed against offerings ranging from gold to fruits.

Masilamaneeswarar Temple

Masilamaneeswarar Temple

Location: Tirumullaivayil near Avadi .
Shiva: Masilamaneeswarar .
Ambal: Kodiyidai Nayaki .

This is one of the Shivastalas in the vicinity of Chennai, near Avadi. It is considered special to worship Kodiyidai Nayaki here and Vadivudai Nayaki at Tiruvotriyur on full moon days. Ramalinga Adigalar refers to Shiva here as 'Mullaivayil Vaazh Masilamaniye'. Ten Tirumullaivayil is another Shivastalam with the same name Mullaivayil, in Chola Naadu. Tirumullaivayil is the 22nd of the 32 Tevara Stalams in the Tondai region of South India.

Legends: Nandi is said to have accompanied a devout King Tondaimaan in his battle, per the grace of Shiva. The feet of his elephant supposedly got entangled with the mullai creeper here; and when the obstacle was removed, the Shivalinga was revealed. Sage Sundara is said to have worshipped here first after losing his eyesight.

The Temple: This temple with a gajaprishta vimaanam common to this region occupies an area of about 1 acre . A grand Rajagopuram forms the southern entrance to this temple visible from a distance. The sanctum here has been in worship since the Sangam period. There are shrines to Rishabantikadevar, Natarajar and Bhikshatanar here. Elements of Pallava architecture are seen in this temple as in the lion pillars in the Vinayakar shrine. The nandi faces away from the sanctum in keeping with the legend. There are two Erukku pillars in front of the sanctum. Inscriptions from the period of Uttama Chola, speaking of Sembiyan Mahadevi's (10th century)endowments to this temple, are seen in this temple..

Festivals: The annual Bhrammotsavam is celebrated in the month of Vaikasi (Taurus), and Vasantha Utsavam in Aani. .

Manickavasagar and Lord Shiva

Manickavasagar and Lord Shiva

Saint Manickavasagar, then heading the cabinet of Pandya king, came to this place Tiruperundurai, now Avudayarkoil to buy horses. He heard sounds of Shivagama Mantras there and saw a Guru sitting there. The prime minister fell at the feet of the Lord and begged Him to teach him wisdom. While learning, Manickavasagar plunged into deep meditation. When he opened his eyes, he found his teacher absent in the place and understood that his Guru was none other than Lord Shiva Himself. He spent all the money he carried for buying horses in building a temple for his Guru-Shiva and dedicated himself in the service of Lord.

As the saint failed to carry out the order of the king, he ordered the saint to be arrested and jailed. Lord Shiva converted the foxes in the forests into horses, brought them to the king as instructed by Manickavasagar. After delivering the horses, Lord went away. However, at midnight, the horses became foxes and started howling. Angry king, made Manickavasagar stand on the sands of Vaigai river in Madurai under scorching Sun. To teach a lesson to the Pandya who acted against His devotee, Lord made Vaigai flow in spate. King ordered to strengthen the banks to avoid a breach. Lord also came to Madurai as a coolie for the repair work. The king struck him with a cane for not doing the work properly. The blow only fell on the king and every one in Madurai leaving its scar on them. The King came to know that all that happened was Lord Shiva’s design, fell at the feet of Manickavasagar and begged his pardon. Avudayarkoil was the ground for this Tiruvilayadal Purana story (an epic by Paranjothi Munivar speaking of the great plays enacted by Lord Shiva for His devotees).

Sri Amirtha Kadeswarar Temple

Sri Amirtha Kadeswarar Temple

Moolavar : Amirtha Kadeswarar
Urchavar : Somaskandar
Amman / Thayar : Vidyujothi Nayaki
Old year : More than 2000 years old
State : Cuddalur, Tamil Nadu

Shivalinga in the temple is made of Navapashana- nine herbals. The rays of Sun fall on the Lord on 3, 4 and 5 of Panguni-March-April and the rays of Moon on the Apipasi Annabishekam day. It is said that Sani Baghwan had eagle as his vahan the vehicle. It is said that Emperor Dasaratha gave him crow then replacing the eagle. Hence, it is said that Sani Bhagwan-Saturn in the temple with the eagle vehicle belongs to the period prior to Ramayana days. Special pujas are performed to him on Saturdays in the month of Purattasi-September-October.

The temple is in the shape of a Rath-Car. The left wheel is stuck to the earth as Lord Vinayaka pressed it. Lord Kunjithapada Nataraja graces with Mother Sivakami in a leaning position. The life history of the celebrated saivite Nayanmars are sculpted on the wall of the main shrine. The pleasing feature is that Lord Arthanareeswara graces with Nandhi the bull vehicle on the right wall while Lord Ranganatha is below. Special pujas are performed to Lord Ranganatha on Vaikunda Ekadasi day in December-January. On the back wall, Lord Vishnu graces with a Shivalinga on His hand with Sri Andal, Garudazhwar and Sri Anjaneya. Lord Muruga with His consorts Valli and Deivanai graces on the opposite side. Saint Arunagiriar has sung the praise he Lord of Muruga in this temple. Lord Gangadhara and Lord Aalinganamurthy also grace from this ghoshta walls. Lord Dakshinamurthi graces from the Vimna-tower above the sanctum sanctorum with a flute and Veena. Lord Vinayaka graces in the name of Aaravara Vinayaka.

Those facing adverse effects of Mars planet pray in this temple. Also those 60 years old (Sashti Aptha Poorthy) pray here for longevity with Homas,

It is believed that all the nine planets pray to Lord Shiva in this temple on their respective days. Accordingly, Lord Shiva is dressed with clothes of different colours attributed to the planets. The shrine is regarded as one meant to seek relief from various planetary problems faced by devotees. The Navagraha shrine is opposite to the shrine of Mother.

Mother Vidhyu Jothi Nayaki - Vidya-Saraswathi, Jothi-Mahalakshmi, Nayaki-Durga) combining the powers of three Shaktis graces as Saraswathi with Veena in the morning, with elephant as Mahalakshmi in midday and with trident as Durga in the evenings. Hence the name Vidyajothinayaki. Mother also has the name Jothi Minnammai. Those seeking wedding and child boon worship Mother with turmeric and bangles.

Saint Tirunavikkarasar’s hymn dedicating himself to the service of Lord saying “My job is only to serve my Lord” was sung in this temple.

Lord Vrushaba Thandavamurthi graces in a dancing form on His Nandhi-Vrushab or bull vehicle- is the procession deity with 10 hands. Special pujas are performed to Him on Pradosha days – 13th day of new moon or full moon day. His darshan is available only on this day. In the peeta-stage below are Mother Parvathi, Lord Vishnu, Bhairava, Veerabadra, Lord Vinayaka, Maharshis Narada, Brungi and Mruganda, Nandhi Deva, Gandharvas a group in the celestial world known for musical skills and Boodhaganas.

Lord Vinayaka, who destroyed the pride of Indira is in a separate shrine with the name Aaravara Vinayaka as He created great noise by pressing the Rath and taking the nectar pot-Amirta Kalasa. He looks with an indignant face with head leaning left.

Place for planet Mars: Before waging His war against demon Surapanma, Lord Muruga visited this temple to worship mother and get the bow. Hence, Muruga in the temple appears with a bow. Planet Mars worshipped Lord Muruga here. Mars is a procession deity here.

Lord Brhamma on the wall appears worshipping Lord Shiva. Yama the Lord of Death and his assistant Chitra Gupta are on both sides. Sage Patanjali is nearby holding Lord Nataraja on his head showing his overwhelming joy of enjoying the dance darshan of the Lord. Mother Durga appears without toe. Below Her are the Meru Mount and the Sri Chakra installed by Acharya Sankara.

Devas who churned the nectar ocean began to consume it without worshipping Lord Vinayaka who angrily took away the pot to teach them a lesson. When He passed through this place, once a Kadamba forest, a drop of nectar fell on the earth and it became a Swyambu Linga. Realizing their folly, Indira and Devas came here and begged Lord Vinayaka’s pardon who in turn advised them to worship Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva, responding to their prayers gave them the nectar and stayed here as Amirthakadeswarar – Amirtha-nectar, Kada the pot and Easwara the Lord.

Athithi, mother of Devas was worshipping Lord Amirthakadeswarar for granting the nectar to her children. Indira did not want to see his mother coming to this place each day and wanted to take the Lord to his Indraloka itself to help his mother. He changed the temple as a car and tried to pull it towards his place. Lord Vinayaka pressed the left wheel which got stuck to earth. Indira’s attempts failed to lift the car-temple. He begged Lord Vinayaka for help who agreed to let the temple if Indira installed a crore of Lingas. Indira took the challenge with pride but every piece got damaged. Realizing his pride, Indira fell at the Feet of Lord Amirthakadeswarar. Lord asked him to make one Shivalinga chanting His name thousand times. Indira made the Rudrakoteeswara Linga. Lord appeared before him and said that He wishes to stay here itself and do the worship for his mother. Indira obeyed. It is believed that Indira performs pujas to the Lord in this temple each day.