INCREDIBLE INDIA !! [BLOG#32]

JALAKANDESWARAR TEMPLE

Jalakandeswarar Temple is a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva which is located in the Vellore Fort, in heart of the Vellore city, in the state of Tamil Nadu, India.


The temple of the Vijaynagar period stands inside the Vellore Fort, which is under the control of the Archaeological Survey of India, along with the St. John’s Church, Tippu Mahal, Hyder Mahal, Candy Mahal, Badhusha Mahal and the Begum Mahal.
According to legend, there used to a giant ant-hill which had grown over a swayambhu Shiva Lingam at the location where the sanctum sanctorum of temple now stands. This ant-hill was surrounded by stagnant water, as a result of collection of rain water. Chinna Bommi Nayaka, a Vijayanagar chieftain, who was controlling the fort had a dream where the Lord Shiva asked him to build a temple at that location. Nayaka, proceeded to demolish the anthill, found the lingam and build the temple in 1550 CE, and since the Lingam was surrounded by water (called Jalam in Tamil) the deity was called as Jalakandeswarar (translated as “Lord Siva residing in the water”). The temple was built during the reign of the Vijayanagaram king Sadasivadeva Maharaya (1540–1572 CE). The temple also has the statue of Sri Akhilandeshwari Amma, the consort of Jalakandeswarar.


The Jalakanteshwara Temple is a fine example of Vijayanagaram Architecture. The temple has exquisite carvings on its gopuram (tower), richly carved stone pillars, large wooden gates and stunning monoliths and sculptures. These Vijayanagara sculptures are similar to the ones present in Soundararajaperumal Temple, Thadikombu, Krishnapuram Venkatachalapathy temple, Srivilliputhur Divya Desam and Alagar Koyil. The Gopuram of the tower is over 100 ft. in height. The temple also has a Mandapam, with the hall supported by carved stone pillars of dragons, horses and yalis (lion like creature).
The temple itself is built in the middle of a water tank (called Agazhi in Tamil), and there is water surrounding the temple like a garland. The circumference of the water tank is 8000 ft. The wedding hall (Kalyana Mantapam) inside the temple has a two-faced sculpture, that of a bull and an elephant. The water used for bathing the deity (abishekam) is drawn from an ancient well called the Ganga Gouri Thertam, within the temple.


Behind the Nandi statue, there is an earthen lamp, which is said to revolve when some people place their hands on it. The revolving is said to indicate that their wishes have been granted. Some devotees of the temple worship the golden and silver lizard sculptures and the snake sculptures in order to get relief from ‘sarpa dosham’.
The temple was mutilated during the Muslim invasion and capture of Vellore Fort. Following the desecration of the temple during Muslim invasion and rule, worship in the temple was stopped. An Islamic structure was also built to serve as a makeshift mosque, after destroying an Amman (Nagalamman) Temple, which stood on that site. The temple was being used as an arsenal for nearly 400 years. On the fears of desecration, the main deity was moved away to the Jalakanda Vinayakar Temple in Sathuvacheri for safe keeping. The temple was vacant for nearly 400 years. In 1921, the Vellore Fort was handed over to the Archaeological Survey of India for maintenance. At that time, the temple was not used for worship, and the ASI was keen to maintain this status quo. However, in 1981, the deity was brought inside the fort by Mailai Sundaram Guruji of Thangal Ashram and re-installed inside the temple, and worship re-instated.


Several attempts had been made in the 20th century, to re-instate the main deity inside the Jalakandeswarar Temple. However, the Archaeological Survey of India wanted to maintain the status quo, and did want the temple to be used for worship. However, on 16 March 1981, the deity was removed from the Jalakanda Vinayakar Temple in Sathuvacheri and secretly brought inside the fort, hiding it inside a closed truck, and stealthily installed in the early morning hours. The temple was open to religious practices from 1982.

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INCREDIBLE INDIA !! [BLOG#30]

TULJA BHAVANI TEMPLE

Shree Tulaja Bhavani Temple (Marathi: श्री क्षेत्र तुळजा भवानि देवस्थानम्) is a Hindu temple dedicated to goddess Bhavani. It is located in Tuljapur in Dharashiv district of Maharashtra, India, and is considered as one of the 51 Shakti Pithas. It is situated 45 km from Solapur. The temple was built in 12th century CE by Maratha Mahamandaleshwara Māradadeva of the Kadamb dynasty.


Bhavani is a form of the goddess Durga who is worshipped in Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Telangana, Northern Karnataka, and Nepal. “Bhavani” literally translates to “giver of life”, meaning the power of nature or the source of creative energy. She is considered to be a mother who provides to her devotees and also plays the role of dispensing justice by killing Asuras. Along with temples of Renuka at Mahur, Mahalaxmi at Kolhapur, and Saptashringi at Vani, the temple of Bhavani at Tuljapur forms the four great Shaktipitha in Maharashtra. Shivaji, the founder of the Maratha kingdom, was reputed to frequently visit this temple to seek blessings. The history of the temple dates back to the days of ‘ Skanda Purana ‘ as it finds a mention in that holy script. According to the epic story, there was a sage “Kardam” and his consort “Anubhuthi’ with an infant, in this area. After his death his wife “Anubhuthi” performed a penance for goddess in the name of Bhavani on the banks of the river “Mandakini” to look after her child. There was a demon (Rakshasa) by name “Kukur” who tortured her. Then Goddess Bhavani rescued Anubhuthi and killed the demon. The goddess on the prayer of her favourite devotee settled on the hill of “Bala Ghat”. Since then the Mother Goddess came to be called as Bhavani of Tuljapur or Tulja Bhavani. The Bhavani temple is the place where Shivaji, the founder of the Maratha empire was blessed by the Goddess.


Tulajapur is at 45 km from Solapur. Historically this temple was built in the 12th century CE. There is another Tulja Bhavani temple built in 1537-1540 in Chhattisgarh. There is a third temple of Tulja Bhavani in the village of Patnakuva Gandhinagar in Gujarat. According to the priest, this Goddess came here from Tuljapur during 14th century. The Goddess is said to be swayambhu (self emanated). The Goddess is kuldevi (clan goddess) for many Maratha clans of Maharashtra. The Goddess is either revered by or is the Family Deity for many other Marathi castes at different levels of social hierarchy.
Along with temples of Renuka at Mahur, Mahalaxmi at Kolhapur, and Saptashringi at Vani, the temple of Bhavani at Tulajapur forms the four great Shaktipitha in Maharashtra. Many legends are associated with the temple. One legend involves a demon, Madhu-Kaitabh, who was wreaking havoc upon both the gods and humans. Unable to find any solution, they turned to Lord Brahma for help, who advised them to turn to the Goddess Shakti. She took up the form of a destroyer, and powered by the other (Sapta) Mata Varaahi, Brahmi, Vaishnavi, Kaumaari Indraani, and Saambhavi, vanquished the demon and restored peace. Legend also states that Bhavani finished another demon that had taken up the disguise of a buffalo (Mahisha), and took shelter on the Yamunachala Hill which is part of Balaghat mountain range. The Tulajabhawani temple is located on this hill. Another legend mentions the story of a sage known as “Kardam” After his death his wife “Anubuti” had performed a penance at the banks of river “mandakini ” for Bhavani mata to look after her infant child. While performing the penance the demon known “Kukur” tried to disturb her penance during which the Goddess came to the aid of “Anubuti” and killed the demon “Kukur”. From that day onwards the Goddess Bhavani came to be known a Tulaja Bhavani.


The main entrance of the temple bears the name of Sardar Nimbalkar. The other two entrances are named after the parents of Chhatrapati Shivaji, Shahaji and Jijabai. As one enters the Sardar Nimbalkar entrance, there is a temple dedicated to Markandeya Rishi on the right. After descending the stairs, one sees the main Tulja Temple. There is yagna kund (Holy fire pit) in front of this temple. On the floor near two main gates (Raja Shahaji Mahadwar and Rajmata Jijau main gate), there are two libraries named, Shree Santh Dnyaneshwar Dharmik Library and Shree Tukaram Dharmik Library. After alighting from the stairs, there is `Gomukh Theerth` on the right side and `Kalakh`, also known as `Kallol Theerth` on the left side. Before entering the sanctum sanctorum of the Goddess, devotees take a dip here in these theerths (Shallow tanks of “holy” water). There are also Amruth Kund and a Datta temple on the premises. A Siddhi Vinayak temple is situated on the left side of the main gate whilst on the right, there is a temple of Aadishakti, Aadimata Matangadevi. A temple of goddess Annapurna is also present in the main complex.


The idol of Goddess Tulja Bhawani is believed by her devotees to be `swayambhu` (“self-manifested” or “that which is created by its own accord”). The high granite idol is three-foot tall, with eight arms holding weapons, and bearing the head of the slain demon Mahishasura. The Goddess is also known as Tulaja, Turaja, Tvarita and Amba.The Goddess is kuldevi (clan goddess) for Maratha clans of Maharashtra. The Goddess is either revered by or is the Family Deity for many castes including Bhope, Dhangar,Mali, Deshastha Brahmin, Bharbhunja, Burud, Kolhati, Gavli, Jogi, Johar, San Teli, Gavandi, Pangul, Sonar, Lonari, Kasar, Bhute, Kalar, Aagri and Koli.Adi maya Adi shakti temple is the temple north to the Tulajabhavani temple. First this pooja starts, and is then followed by the pooja of Tulajabhavani which then takes place.

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INCREDIBLE INDIA !! [BLOG#29]

POLALI RAJARAJESHWARI TEMPLE

Polali Rajarajeshwari Temple is a temple located in Polali, Dakshina Kannada district in Karnataka. The primary deity of the temple is Shri Rajarajeshwari. The temple was constructed in the 8th century AD by King Suratha and has been developed by many dynasties which ruled over the region. The idol of Sri Rajarajeshwari, another name/form of the divine Goddess Sri Lalita Tripurasundari, is completely moulded from clay with special medicinal properties. The temple portrays Hindu architecture with roofs adorned with wooden carvings of gods and copper plates. Daily and special poojas are conducted in the temple under the auspices of the head priest madhava bhat. Annual festivals are held in the temple with much fanfare. Polali Chendu festival is an important festive event where football is played to represent the fight of good over evil. The Chendu festival is followed by the annual festival in March, which lasts for a month and is attended by people from all over the world.


The temple is located in Polali on the banks of the river Phalguni in Kariyangala village of Bantwal taluk, Dakshina Kannada, Karnataka. The temple is surrounded by lush paddy fields. The Phalguni river flows on the northern side of the temple. The nearest city from the temple is Mangalore at 19 km away.
The place where the temple was located was known as Pural in ancient times. The word Pural means Flute in Tulu language. The origin of the word Pural is the Mugera language. The word Pural or Purel also has the meaning of changing sides, which may also apply in this case as the river takes an abrupt turn near the temple. In Sanskrit, it was referred to as Paliapura, which later came to be known as Polali in Kannada. In several ancient epigraphs and records, the main deity of the temple was referred to as Porala Devi.

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The temple has been referred to in many ancient inscriptions, including the Markandeya Purana, Ashoka inscriptions and travel accounts of ancient travellers. According to an inscription discovered in the vicinity of the temple, the temple around the clay idol was built in 8th century AD. It is a widely held belief that the temple was built by King Suratha, and that the king offered his own crown, studded with precious jewels, to be placed on the head of the deity. The king, having lost most of his kingdom in a war and being betrayed by his own ministers, is believed to have taken refuge under a sage named Sumedha in forests located around what is the location of the temple now. The clay idol of the main deity in the temple is historically believed to be up to 5000 years old. The king is reported to have carved the clay idol of Shri Rajarajeshwari himself and offered penance to the deity in return for his kingdom. Many ancient inscriptions alluding to the temple were reported around the temple, but were lost over time primarily due to the neglect of their keepers. The remaining inscriptions, which are available today were obtained in kariyangala village, Ammunje and in the temple itself and is now under custody of the Karnataka Government.


The region surrounding the temple were ruled by many dynasties including Kadamba, Chalukya, Alupa, Rashtrakoota, Hoisala, Vijayanagara, Ikkeri, Mysore etc. Most of these dynasties spent a lot of resources on this temple and donated agricultural lands for the benefit of the temple. Kings from the Alupa dynasty, which ruled the region around 710 AD to 720 AD were particularly noted to have contributed to the development of the temple and to have encouraged the worship of Shri Rajarajeshwari in the region. In later years, Queen Chennammaji of Keladi is reported to have visited the temple and gifted the temple with a grand chariot.


Records written by Abdul Razzak in 1448 suggest that the temple was initially built from molten brass. He recorded that the temple had four platforms. An image of the deity, 5 to 6 feet in height, with red rubies for eyes were present on the highest of the platforms. Today, the idol of the main deity, Shri Rajarajeshwari is a stucco image of the deity with a height of 10 feet. The clay used for making the idol was specially prepared with herbal mixtures for added strength. The temple also has smaller idols for other deities including Subramanya, Bhadhrakali, Mahaganapathi and Saraswathi. During a religious event named Lepashta Gandha, the idols are coated with a special soil mixture with eight medicinal properties once every 12 years. The soil used for coating was prepared hundreds of years ago and not prepared freshly on each occasion. The roof of Mukhamantapa, a section of the temple has many Gods and Goddesses exquisitely carved in wood. The roofs of other sections of the temple like the Dhwajastambha, the Garbagriha and the Pillar of lights are covered in copper plates.

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INCREDIBLE INDIA !! [BLOG#27]

SIVASAGAR SIVADOL TEMPLE

Shiva dol (meaning the temple of Shiva) is a group of structures comprising three Hindu temples of Sivadol, Vishnudol (temple of Vishnu) and Devidol (temple of Durga in the local Assamese language) shrines, and a museum. These are located on the banks of the Sivasagar (“the ocean of the god Shiva”) tank, also known as the Borpukhuri tank, in the heart of Sivasagar, in the Indian state of Assam. The tank was constructed between 1731 and 1738 and the temples were built in 1734 by Bar Raja Ambika, queen of Ahom king Swargadeo Siva Singha (1714–1744). The height of the Sivadol (dol means temple in Assamese) is 104 feet (32 m) and the perimeter is 195 feet (59 m) at the base. It is crowned with an 8-foot (2.4 m) high golden-dome.


Sivasagar Sivadol is located at 26°59’18″N and 94°37’59″E, in the heart of the Sivasagar city, which was known earlier as Sibsagar in the Sibsagar district of Upper Assam in Northeast India.
Sivsagar, present day Sivasagar, was the capital of Ahom kingdom. The Ahoms had migrated from South China in 1228 and established their first capital at Charaideo 28 kilometres (17 mi) from present day Sivasagar in 1253. Initially they were / Ancestor worshippers close what we see in Taoism and Shinto, and very much a part of the practices till date Buddhists some of the practices of Mahayana and Theravada school of thoughts, though Hinduism came to prevail. It was the capital of the Ahom Kingdom till the British Raj was established in India. The tank was constructed between 1731 and 1738 and the temples were built in 1734 by Bar Raja Ambika, queen of Ahom king Swargadeo Siba Singha.


The Sivsagar tank was built by Bar Raja Ambika, the chief consort of Siva Singha in 1733. A battle was fought against the Moamoria rebels In its vicinity in the reign of Gaurinath Singha.The Sivasagar tank, also known as the Borpukhuri tank, was built by constructing embankments and the water level thus created in the lake remains above the adjoining ground level. The lake has a total area of 257-acre (104 ha) with a water spread of 129-acre (52 ha). It is said that the lake water remains stable throughout the year without any fluctuations even during the monsoon months. The depth of water in the lake is 27 feet (8.2 m). Many notable structures have been built on the banks of the lake. Three Hindu temples Sivadol, Visnudol and Devidol, a Buddhist shrine and a bird watching tower to watch wintering birds visiting the area, are located on its east bank. The Tai Museum located on the west bank of the tank is built with red bricks. A church and two mosques are also located on the bank of the tank.


The Sivadol or Shiva temple, built in the Shikhara architecture (more specifically Ahom temple architecture), has a central tower which is said to be the tallest Shiva temple tower in India at a height of 104 feet (32 m). The base of the temple measures 195 ft (59 m) in circumference. The temple is built with stone and bricks. Inside the Garbhagriha (sanctum sanctorum), the Shiva Linga (aniconic symbol of Shiva) is deified, which is in a reverse setting. The Shikhara or Vimana (temple tower), which rises above the sanctum sanctorum, has a four-tiered, 8 feet (2.4 m) mastaka and is crowned by a kalasha made of gold. The tower itself is built with parallel ridges and furrows. The lower part of the tower is flanked by four smaller identical towers, which are known as the angashikaras. The garbagriha, where the main deity is deified in the form of a reversed Shiva linga, is interconnected with an antarala, a small antechamber, which has a roof known as do-chala, which is akin to a typical hut built in Assam. The antarala is also connected to one of the mandapas (outdoor halls). The exterior walls of the temple are embellished with sculptures and floral designs set in Bas-relief.


Some of the unique sculptures set on the outer walls of the temple are of the goddess Durga, which are seen carved with 2 arms, 4 arms, 6 arms, 10 arms and 16 arms. The sixteen armed Durga holding various weapons is a “pan-Himalayan” theme adopted in plastic arts of Ahom temple architecture. Durga is depicted decimating Mahishasura, the demon king with a buffalo head, by thrusting a spear. She is riding a lion, her mount, which supports her in the fight with the demon. This feature represents the harmonious blend of Brahminical Hindu culture with the Shaktism cult which the royalty of Ahom dynasty had adopted as their religious practice throughout their kingdom.

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INCREDIBLE INDIA !! [BLOG#17]

BRAHMESWARA TEMPLE

Brahmeswara Temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to Shiva located in Bhubaneswar, Odisha, India, erected at the end of the 9th century CE, is richly carved inside and out. This Hindu temple can be dated with fair accuracy by the use of inscriptions that were originally on the temple. They are now lost, but records of them preserve the information of around 1058 CE. The temple is built in the 18th regnal year of the Somavamsi king Udyotakesari by his mother Kolavati Devi, which corresponds to 1058 CE.

Historians place the temple to belong to the late 11th century as ascertained from an inscription carried to Calcutta from Bhubaneswar. The inscription indicates that the temple was built by Kolavatidevi, the mother of Somavamsi king Udyota Kesari. It was built with four Natyasalas at a place known as Siddhatirtha in Ekamra (modern-day Bhubaneswar). The inscription was recorded during the 18th renal year of Udyotha Kesari, corresponding to 1060 CE. Since the inscription is not in its original place, historians indicate the possibility of the reference to another temple, but based on the location and other features specified, it is ascertained that the inscription belongs to the temple. Also, another issue raised by Panigrahi is that the four cardinal temples are Angasalas (associate temples) and not Natyasalas (dance halls) as indicated in the inscription.

The temple is classified as a panchatanaya temple where apart from the main shrine, there are four subsidiary shrines in the four corners around the temple. The temple on account of its later origin has a perfectly developed structure compared to its predecessors. The vimana of the temple is 18.96 m (62.2 ft) tall. The temple is built with traditional architectural methods of wood carving, but applied on stone building. The buildings were built in a shape of full volume pyramid, and then they would be carved inside and outside. The total area of the land is 208.84 sq. m. and the temple is built on an area of 181.16 sq. m. The basic structure of the Orissan temple has two connecting buildings. The smaller is the Jagmohana, or assembly hall. Behind it is the Shikhara, the towering sanctuary. Later temples have two additional halls in front—one for dancing, and the other for banquets.

The Brahmeswara shows quite a bit of affinity with the much earlier Mukteswar Temple, including the carved interior of the Jagmohana, and in the sculptural iconography such as the lion head motif, which appeared for the first time in the Mukteswara, and is here evident in profusion. There are quite a number of innovations, however, including the introduction of a great number of musicians and dancers, some holding lutes, on the exterior walls. For the first time in temple architectural history, iron beams find their first use.

On sandstone walls, there are symbolic decorations and the notion of godlike figures that help the believer in his meditation. The carvings over the door frame contain beautiful flower designs as well as flying figures. Like the Rajarani, there are images of the eight directional Guardian Deities. There are also quite a number of tantric-related images, and even Chamunda appears on the western facade, holding a trident and a human head, standing on a corpse. Shiva and other deities are also depicted in their horrific aspects.One of the lost inscriptions stated that a Queen Kolavati presented ‘many beautiful women’ to the temple, and it has been suggested that this is evidence of the ‘Devadasi’ tradition, which assumed such importance in later Orissan temple architecture and temple life.

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