Gujarat – Sri Somanth Temple

Name of the Temple

Sri Somanth Temple

Period of origin

Before 2000 years

Name of deity

Moolavar: Somanath

Ambal: Parvathi

Sthalapuranam:

According to Prabhaskhand of Skanda Purana, the legend goes like this Chandra married the twenty seven daughters (stars) of Daksha, but was very partial and showed lot more love and affection to rohini. The remaining twenty six wives not only felt neglected but also insulted. They were disappointed with their husband and went and complained to their father. Daksha was upset to see his daughters suffer thus, and tried twice to convince his son-in-law to change himself, but in vain. He put a curse on him that Chandra would be “decreasing” in size.

The Devas (Celestial gods) were very sad at Chandra’s plight and went to Brahma. The Creator, in order to find out a remedy for this condition of Chandra and get a solution for redressing the curse. Brahma told them that the only way out was to worship Vrishabhdhwaj Shankar at Prabhas Kshetra Mahamrityunjay. Chandra went on a penance for six months and prayed to Lord Shiva, at the end of which Shankara appeared before him. He gave Chandra the boon that in a month, he would grow for fifteen days in one half and in the other half he would keep losing one Kala (shade) per day and decrease in size. He was pleased with the Devas and in order to increase the prestige of the place, Lord Shiva Himself came to be known as Someshwar, meaning famous moon (Soma). The Devas established a Someshwar Kund there. By taking a holy dip in this pond or Kund, it is believed that one would obtain release from all the sins. Chandra or moon is also called Som. That is why this JyotirLinga has become famous as Somanath. Chandra or moon looks very bright here. Therefore, this place is also known as “Prabhasapattana”. Moon had built a golden temple, followed by a silver temple by Ravana, Bhagvan Shree Krishna is believed to have built Somnath temple with Sandalwood.

The research based on ancient Indian classical texts show that first Somnath Jyotirling Pran-Pratistha was done on the auspicious third day of brighter half of Shravan month during the tenth Treta yug of Vaivswat Manvantar. Swami Shri Gajananand Saraswatiji, Chairman of Shrimad Aadhya Jagadguru Shankaracharya Vedic Shodh Sansthan, Varanasi suggested that the said first temple was built 7,99,25,105 years ago as derived from the traditions of Prabhas Khand of Skand Puran. Thus, this temple is a perennial source of inspiration for millions of Hindus since time immemorial.

The later sources of history account for several desecrations by Muslims invaders during eleventh to eighteen century A.D. The temple was rebuilt every time with the reconstructive spirit of the people. The modern temple was reconstructed with the resolve of Sardar Patel who visited the ruins of Somnath temple on November 13 1947. Then President of India, Dr. Rajendra Prasad, did the Pran-Pratistha at the existing temple on 11 May 1951.

Other spots in the temple are Shri Kapardi Vinayak and Shri Hanuman Temple in addition to Vallabhghat. Vallabhghat is a beautiful sunset point. The temple is illuminated every evening. Similarly, the Sound and  Light Show “Jay Somnath” is also displayed every night during 8.00 to 9.00, which allows the pilgrims an ethereal experience in the backdrop of grand Somnath temple and the holy wave sounds of the Ocean.

Somnath Temple is well-visited by religious travellers throughout the year but weather wise the best time to visit Somnath is between October to March. These months are pleasant and cooler and are perfect for sightseeing and temple visits.

Route:

The nearest airport to Somnath is Diu that is 90 kms away. From Diu Airport you can hire a taxi, which will cost you around Rs 2000, The nearest railhead is in Veraval in Konkan that is only 5 kms away. Taxi charges minimum fare of Rs 150 to reach Somnath from the railway station, connected by a good road network to the other nearby places like Veraval 7 km, Mumbai 889 km, Ahmedabad 400 km, Bhavnagar 266 km, Junagarh 85 km, and Porbandar 122 km.

Temple Timings:

6:00 am to 9:00 pm

Temple Telephone Number:

94282 14909, +91-2876-659093

Temple Address:

Sri Somanth Temple

Prabhas Patan -362 268,

Ta. Veraval

Girsomnath, Dist

Gujarat.

 

Ujjain – Sri Mahakaleshwar Temple

Name of the Temple

Sri Mahakaleshwar Temple

Period of origin

Before 2000 years

Name of deity

Moolavar: Mahakaleshwar

Ambal: Parvathi

Sthalapuranam:

Shiva is worshipped as Mahakala in Ujjain and the MahakalaShiva Temple in Ujjain is counted third among the twelve Jyotirlingas. There is an interesting story which explains about the Mahakaleshwar form of Shiva – a fierce form which is beyond imagination and description. The story took place when Ujjain was known as Avanti and is mentioned in the Shiva Purana.

Once there lived a pious man in Avanti who was an ardent devotee of Lord Shiva. He had four sons and the family worshipped Lord Shiva daily. Not far away from their home in a hill named Ratanmala there lived an Asura (demon) named Dooshana. Demon Dooshana hated all forms of Shiva and vedic worship. He went around killing people who worshipped Shiva. Soon Dooshana came to know about the family in Avanti that worshipped Shiva. Soon the demon arrived with his army and attacked the city. But the family continued to worship Shiva in the form of a Shivling.

Finally, the demon and soldiers reached the home of the pious man and started hurling weapons. The demon broke open the door and advanced towards the Shivling by raising a sword. Suddenly, there was a deafening sound and there appeared a dreadful form beyond explanation before the Shivling. A single glance by the Mahakala form of Shiva burned the demon and his army into ashes. Uncontrollable and unsatisfied, the form of Shiva gave a huge roar; the entire universe trembled in fear.

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

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

As per another legend. The most popularly accepted legend is that of the demon Dushana who was killed by Shiva who appeared in the form of light and took the form of a linga in response to the prayers of the people of Ujjain. Apparently, Kalidasa’s epics give a detailed description of the temple as it was in those days. Of course, the temple was plundered by invaders and was later re-built by other kings. The present temple was built during the reign of Peshwa Bajirao I.

The temple is a three tiered one, with Mahakal at the lowest level, which is actually below the ground. At the middle (ground) level is a temple to Omkareshwar, and over it is a shrine to Nagachandreshwara. This is an interesting shrine which is opened only on Nagapanchami day every year

The temple is a huge one with a pond at the centre, from which water is drawn for performing abhishek to the lord. All the corridors around the pond, which once were part of the circumambulatory path, are now modified into queues for the pilgrims who arrive for a glimpse of the lord. And yes, it is only a glimpse that you get, and a moment to touch and bow, before you are whisked off by the multitude of pujaris whose sole concern seems to be the making of more and more money from the devout.

The temple opens in the morning at 4 am with a special aarti  the one of its kind Bhasma Aarti  where the aarti is performed with sacred ash (Bhasma). Since ancient times, this bhasma used to be the fresh and burning hot ash from a funeral pyre, since Lord Shiva is believed to live in and enjoy the atmosphere of a cremation ground. However, now, the temple has changed its ways in keeping with modern times and the aarti is now performed with bhasma made with cow dung, what we call Vibhooti. While those who have seen the original aarti (which was performed till about 15years ago) maintain that it was a different experience which cannot be recreated

There are many smaller shrines surrounding the main sanctum, which line the outer corridors of the temple. Some of them are quite ancient and have interesting stories attached to them. There are supposed to be 84 Mahadev (Shiva) shrines in Ujjain, many of which are within this temple. Of these, the most important are Swapneshwara Mahadev (the one who helps ridding one of nightmares), Chandradityeshwara Mahadev, Trvishtapateshwara Mahadev, Anadikalpeshwara Mahadev, and Vruddhakaleshwara Mahadev (which is considered by some to be the original Jyotirlingam). There are also shrines to other deities such as Ganesha, Hanuman and the navagrahas within the temple grounds

Route:

It is well connected to all major railway stations in India. Direct train services are available to Bhopal, Indore, Pune, Malwa, Delhi and many other cities. Devi Ahilyabai Holkar Airport in Indore is the nearest airport to Ujjain, which is situated 55 km away. Taxi services are available from Indore airport to Ujjain, costing about Rs 1000. International travelers can get connecting flights to Indore from Delhi (800 km) or Mumbai (655 km) airport.

Temple Timings:

4 am to 11 pm

Temple Telephone Number:

0734-2550563

Temple Address:

Sri Mahakaleshwar Temple

Ujjain,

Madhya Pradesh – 456006

 

Gujarat – Sri Nageshwarar Temple

Name of the Temple

Sri Nageshwarar Temple

Period of origin

Before 2000 years

Name of deity

Moolavar: Nageshwar

Ambal: Parvathi

Stahala Theertham : Gomathi river

Sthalapuranam:

There is a popular legend, related to Nageshwar Jyotirlinga. According to the legend, there was a businessman with an immeasurable faith in god and karma. He was highly devoted to Lord Shiva. Despite being busy in his business and work, whatever spare time he used to get, he exhausted it in praying, adoring, and serving Lord Shiva. Seeing his devotion in Lord Shiva, a monster names Darukk got angry .Being a monster in nature, he was never in favour of Lord Shiva and in fact hated him.

That demo, always looked for an opportunity, to disrupt merchant’s devotion. One day that merchant was going in a boat for some business purpose. The monster saw this, and with the found opportunity he attacked the merchant’s boat and took all the travellers to the capital and imprisoned them.

Even in the prison, the merchant use to pray Lord Shiva constantly. When the demon, got to know about it, he got aggressive and visited the merchant in prison, in the spirit of angle. The merchant was meditating at that time .The monster, started to resent at the merchant in that state only. When the demon saw, that his resentment is not affecting the merchant at all, he instructed his slaves to kill the merchant. Even this instruction could not act as a barrier to his meditation. The merchant kept on praying for his and his fellow people’s liberation. Lord Shiva was pleased with this devotion, and appeared in the prison in the form of Jyotirlinga and gave Pashupata, a weapon to the merchant, to protect himself. He killed Rakshas Darukk, and his disciples from the weapon given by Lord Shiva. Since then this Jyoitirlinga is established there, and was named Nageshwar.

Present Temple was renovated by Late Gulshan Kumar. He initiated the work in 1996 and his family completed the work after his assassination. The entire project cost Rs.1.25 crores. Gulshan Kumar Charitable Trust bore the entire expense of the project. Nageshwar Temple is visible from a distance of 2 km. A huge, attractive statue of Lord Shiva in meditation pose greets devotees outside the temple. It’s a 125 feet high and 25 feet broad statue. Main entrance is simple but beautiful. First is a hall or sabha mandap, where the Puja material counters are located. The Jyotirlinga is in a basement type sanctum. Main Jyotirlinga is situated below the sabhamandap floor. The Jyotirlinga is moderately big and shalunka is plated with silver. A silver replica of Nag (snake) is also placed. Behind the Jyotirlinga there is an idol of Goddess Parvati. At Nageshwar Jyotirlinga, only male devotees can enter and perform puja in Garbhagriha. They have to wear a dhoti. No one knows the reason for this male only practice.

The temple is visited by thousands of pilgrims every year. The Jyotirlinga situated in the temple is considered to protect everybody from all sorts of poisons. It is believed that one who offers prayers in the temple becomes poison free. The temple is located between Dwarka Island in Gujarat on the coast of Surat. According to the legends, a devotee called Supriya was attacked by a demon named Daaruka in a boat.

The demon imprisoned the devotee and several others in his capital called Daarukaavana. It is believed that Lord Shiva appeared in the form of Jyotirlinga and rescued the imprisoned and vanquished the demon. The Shivalingam in the temple faces South with the Gomugam facing East. There is a legend regarding the position of the idol. It is believed that a devotee called Naamdev was singing bhajans in praise of Lord Shiva and was asked by other devotees to stand aside and not to hide the image of Lord. On being asked to do so Naamdev argued and asked for one such direction where Lord is not present, this angered the devotees and they picked him up and placed him on the south side. To everyone’s astonishment even the Linga was then facing South with the Gomugam facing east. The other two temples dedicated to Nageshwar Jyotirlinga are situated near Audhgram near Purna and another near Almora in Uttar Pradesh. There are many more Jyotirlinga in India, named as Nageshwar Jyotirlinga. There have been many beliefs related to this fact. Jyotirlinga in Hyderabad and Andhra Pradesh is also famously known as Nageshwar Jyotirlinga. In Almoda, Jageshwar Shivalinga, is also popularly called Nageshwar Jyotirlings by the devotees. But in Shivapuran, the Jyotirlinga established in Dwarka is the only one considered as Nageshwar Jyotirlinga. According to many religious scriptures, Nagesh Dwarkavne is one of the 12 Jyotirlingas. This place today is well known as Jageshwar.

Recently some scholars found complementary evidences of the name Nageshwar from Hindu scriptures. Nag means snake. Panini, the famous grammatologist of 5th century BC has mentioned in his book Ganapatha that the region was known as Kutch, Saurastra and Anarta was the land of snakes. They were denizens of patallok and they used to come in this region. Nag girls were known for their beauty. Hindu scriputres narrate that King Yadu of Yadu clan fame was married to a Nag girl. Skand Puran mentions that the King Raivat of Kushsthali was an avtaar of Takshak Nag and he ruled over this region. Interestingly, Dwarka is also known as Kushsthali in Hindu scriptures.

Route:

There is regular bus service from Jamnagar, Rajkot and other nearby towns connected to Dwarka. Dwarka is a station on the Ahmedabad-Okha broad gauge railway line connected to Jamnagar, Rajkot (217 kms) and Ahmedabad (378 kms).  Jamnagar, 145 kms away, is the nearest airport.

Temple Timings:

5:00 Am to 9:00Pm

Temple Address:

Sri Nageshwarar Temple

Dwaraka

Jamnagar

Gujarat

 

 

Omkareswar – Sri Omkareswar Temple

Name of the Temple

Sri Omkareswar Temple

Period of origin

Before 2000 Years

Name of deity

Moolavar: Omkareshwar

Ambal: Parvathi

Sthala Theertham: Narmada River

Sthalapuranam:

It is said that once, sage Narada, during one of his earthly travels, sang the praise of Mount Meru’s magnificence to Mount Vindhya. Jealous of the praise, Mount Vindhya prayed to Lord Siva for more splendor than Meru. Lord Shiva blessed Vindhya with the boon of perpetual growth on the condition that it would not hinder his devotes with its growth. However, Vindhya soon forgot the condition and grew so much that it hid the sun and the moon. The devotees then approached Saint Agasthya for help, who tricked Vindhya into not growing any further. The Jyotirlingas that Shiva had placed near Vindhya as a sign of his boon then came to be known as Omkareshwar and Mamleshwar. The Omkareshwar temple is built in stone and boasts of extraordinary construction and a highly regarded extravagant style. There are various other stories also related to the history of this temple. The second story is about King Mandhata’s penance and the severe austerities he practiced for Lord Shiva. It is said that Mandhata, along with his two sons, meditated with all his might till Shiva manifested himself as a Jyotirlinga and came to the king. No wonder then that the mountain is called Mandhata in honour of this great king. Another story talks about a great war that broke out between the Gods and the Demons in which the Demons ultimately won. Thus defeated, the Gods all prayed to Shiva who appeared at this spot in the form of Omkareshwar Jyotirlinga and rose out of the ground to defeat the demons.

Omkareshwar is a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. This sacred island, shaped like the holiest of Hindu symbols ‘Om’, is about 2km long and 1km wide. Omkareshwar Temple is situated on the mountain Mandhata by the banks of Narmada River in Malva, Madhya Pradesh which is 77km away from Indore. The temple is one of the 12 Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva which are spread throughout India and is closely linked with the Mamleshwar Temple which is situated on the southern end of the Narmada River. It is said that both Omkareshwar and Mamleshwar are two halves of the same ancient Linga that Lord Shiva had himself created and then divided into two. Here, at the banks of Narmada, devouts gather to kneel before the Jyotirlinga at the temple of Shri Omkar Mandhata. And here, as in so many of Hindu shrines, the works of nature complement those of man to provide a setting that is awe-inspiring and magnificent. The shrine follows a North Indian style of stone-architecture and is embellished with beautiful carvings in the support structure

Apart from the main shrine, other major temples like Siddhanath Temple, Satmatrika temple, etc are great places to visit while you are here. A fresco of elephants, carved on a stone slab, is also a major draw on account of being a classic example of early medieval Brahmanatic architecture. The best time to visit the temple is during the major festivals dedicated Lord Shiva. Shivratri, believed to be the birthday of Lord Shiva, is the main day when one should visit this temple. For this festival, Shiva is decorated in the most exquisite and elaborate manner and the entire place echoes of religious hymns and incantations

The white dome which is made of soft soap stone is the major attraction of the temple. The beauty of the temple is its tower which is built on the ancient Nagara pattern, and consists of 5 distinct layers, that features the image of various Hindu Gods. A visit to the temple can take you to the glorious times of the 17th century when temples were not merely places of worship; they were destinations for instilling faith and awe amongst people and places of self-reflection. This temple lives up to all these expectations and hence is a major religious site for Hindus all over the world

Route:

Omkareshwar is connected to Indore, Ujjain, Khandwa and Omkareshwar Road by regular bus services including Volvo buses and private buses the nearest airport, Indore – 77 km from the shrine, is connected to Delhi, Mumbai, Bhopal and Gwalior with regular flights, Nearest railhead is Omkareshwar Road on the Ratlam-Khandwa section of the Western Railways.

Temple Timings:

5 am to 9.35 pm

Temple Telephone Number:

07280 – 271228

Temple Address:

Sri Omkareswar Temple

Omkareswar District

Khandaw

Madhya Pradesh

Parali –  Sri Vaidyanatha Swamy Temple

 Name of the Temple

Sri Vaidyanatha swamy Temple

Period of origin

Before 1500 Years

Name of deity

Moolavar: Vaidyanathar

Ambal: Yogeshwari

Sthala Theertham: Parali Theertham, Suriya Theertham, Ganga Theertham

Sthalapuranam:

Once the Demon King Ravana went to Kailasa mountain and did a severe penance to please Lord Shankara. Put up with cold, heat, rains and fine and even then when Lord Shiva did not appear before him, he began to cut his head off in order to offer it to the Shiva Linga. Then the Lord appeared after Ravana tried to offer his tenth head. He restored all of Ravana’s heads and granted him boons. Ravana expressed his desire to take Lord Shiva to Lanka as a boon. He said, “I want to take you to Lanka”. Shankara, who is very soft hearted to His devotees, agreed to accompany Ravana to Lanka. He told Ravanan, “You must carry my Linga with care and devotion, but do be careful not to put it down on the earth until you reach your destination, or else, it will stay at whichever place you put it down” Shiva cautioned.

Ravana began the journey homeward carrying the Shivaling. On the way, he wanted to relieve himself by urination. He bid a cowherd boy to hold the Linga while he relieved himself. The cowherd was not able to bear the weight of the Linga and when he could no longer hold it, he put it down on the earth. And the Shiva Linga put there stayed as Lord Shiva already ordained and came to be known as Vaidyanatheswar.

Here, the gods were sad about Ravana taking away Shiva to his Lanka. They requested saint Narada to do something. Narada met Ravana and said to him by way of praising his penance and Tapas. “You made a mistake in trusting Shiva. Believing Shiva’s word was wrong. Go to him and slander him and get your way. Go to Kailasa and move it entirely. Your success will be gauged by your art of moving Kailasa from there”. Ravana was tricked into believing Narada. Ravana promptly carried out Narada’s bidding. Lord Shiva saw the ego driven mischievous Ravana and told him: “A unique power is soon going to born which will destroy your pride in the strength of your arms”. Narada informed the Gods of these tidings and his success in his mission. The gods were relieved and were happy. In the meanwhile, Ravana too was happy with the boon he received from Lord Shiva. He returned and was in a trance and was under the influence of Shiva’s mythical power. He was heady and drunk with power. He decided to conquer the entire universe. To subdue his ego only God had to descend on the earth in the Avatar of Rama. Yogeshwari of Ambejogai was married to Lord Vaidyanatha of Parali. But by the time the marriage party reached, the auspicious time of the wedding had passed. As a result the people of the marriage party turned into stone statues. Yogeshwari was waiting away from Parali. This is one story that is frequently heard there.

When the Gods and Demons made their combined effort in Amrit Manthan (Churning for Nectar), fourteen gems emerged. There were Dhanwantari and Amrit Ratnas in it. When the Demons rushed to grab Amrit, Lord Vishnu hid the Amrit and Dhanwantari in the Shiva Linga of Lord Shankara. Just as the Demons tried to touch the Linga, flames started emanating from the Linga. The scared Demons ran. But when devotees of Lord Shankara touched the Linga, there was a free flow of Amrit from the same. Even today, devotees touch the Shiva Linga as a part of taking Darshan. Here, there is no discrimination between caste, creed or color. Anyone can come and visit this place. As the Lingamurthy is supposed to have Amrit and Dhanvantari, it is also known as Amriteshwar and Dhanvantari.

Near Parali Village, the temple is built with stones on a high mound. The temple is surrounded on all four sides by strong walls. The insides have corridors and a courtyard. Outside the temple there is huge Deep Stambh or pillar. The main gate or the Mahadwar has a Minaret nearby. It is called a Prachi or Gawaksha, i.e., window. With the help of the location of these special prayers are held for Sun God, based on the sunrays falling through these windows, directly on to the Lingamurthy.

There is a strong, wide staircase to enter the Temple. It is called ‘Ghat’. The old Ghat was built in the year 1108. The inner portal of the temple and the court hall are both of the same size. Therefore, the deity’s Darshan has to be done from the courtroom itself. No other place has this type of arrangement. At other places, the inner portal or the Garbhagriha is visually deep. The Lingamurty at Vaidyanath is made of Shaligram stone. It is beautiful and very smooth and is in a benevolent attitude. On all the four sides of the temple, Nanda Deeps (lights) keep burning. Vaidyanath temple was renovated in the year 1706 AD, by Shiva devotee Ahalyadevi Holkar. She obtained some special stones from the nearby mountain range of Trishula Devi range, which is close to Parali. This place was Ahalyadevi’s favorite.

Late Nanarao Deshpanda built the wonderful court hall of the temple. The artisans were brought from the village and with the help of the devotees. A Rama Rajeshwar Mahadev Temple too is built in memory of them near to the Vaidyanath temple. Within the premises of the Vaidyanath temple itself, there are eleven more temples for Shiva. The Veerashaiva Lingayats consider Vaidyanath Temple as the best. Srimant Pershwa donated a large piece of land as an endowment to the temple commission. Today this establishment works through a committee. Several auspicious events are arranged here. Travelers can stay here in comfort. Just as Parali is a place of pilgrimage for Shiva devotees, it is also a meeting point for Hari Hara. In this mixed holy place, Lord Krishna’s festivals too are celebrated along with Lord Shankara’s festivals, with great festivity. The water from the Harihar Teerth is brought for the daily worship of Vaidyanath. Every Monday devotees gather here in great numbers.

On Chaitra Padva, Vijayadashani, Tripuri Pournima, Maha Shivaratri and Vaikunth Chaturdashi, big celebrations take place. During these celebrations, there is no distinction between Bel and Tulsi. Mahadev is offered Tulsi leaves and Vishnu is offered Bel leaves. This unique practice is seen only in Vaidyanath. During the rainy season (Sravan) worship of Vaidyanath, the entire area of Parali echoes with the chanting of Rudrabhisheka Mantrochchar. The regular Puja is also done with great devotion and dedication. Markandeya, obtained his boon of life here in Parali from Vaidyanatha. This story is from Shivapuran, Markandeya was not blessed with a long life. Yama wanted to take his life in accordance with the time of Markandeya’s life. But Shiva released him from imminent death and from Yama. A pond is named after him. It is here that this happened. The story of Satyavan and Savitri too is based in Parali this holy place. On the Narayan mountain, the Vata Vriksh or Banyan tree of Savitri’s story, is still here to be seen. There is a temple of Vateshwara there.

Route:

Hyderabad to Parli Vaijnath is 318 km and takes approx 5 hrs, 39 mins by road.

Temple Timings:

6 am to 12 noon and 4 pm to 9 pm

Temple Telephone Number:

+91-6432 232295

Temple Address:

Sri Vaidyanatha swamyTemple

Parali

Maharashtra

 Srishailam – Sri Mallikarjunar temple

Name of the Temple

Sri Mallikarjunar temple

Period of origin

Before 1500 years

Name of deity

Moolavar: Mallikarjuna

Ambal: Pramarambal

Sthala Theertham: Pala river

Sthala Virksham: Marudha tree

Devaram : Appar, Tirugnansambanthar, Sundrar

Sthalapuranam:

Sage Siladha performed severe penance on Lord Shiva seeking child boon.  Two sons were born to him, Nandhi and Parvathan.  Sanakadhi Rishis called on the sage and said that Nandhi would live on earth only for a short while.  Siladha fell in grief. Nandhi assured his father and said that he would win death by his penance on Lord Shiva.  Pleased with his penance, Lord Shiva appeared and made him His vahan and also passed the order that devotees should come to Him only after being allowed by Nandhi.  Nandhi’s place of penance is at the foot of the hills known as Nandiyal.  His brother also performed penance of Lord and became a hill – Parvatha Hill – Parvatha Malai in Taimil.

Chandra Gupta was the ruler of Mallikapuri region.  His daughter Chandrarekha, a Shiva devotee was worshipping Lord with jasmine and Arjuna flowers available in the region, hence the name Mallikarjuna of Lord here.  It is the faith of the Hindus that worshipping Nandhi Bhagwan during the Pradosha days even in small temples promises their wishes, the benefit of doing so at Srishailam, the very birth place of Nandhi is certainly manifold promising total salvation.

The temple is at the top of the hill facing east with Gopurams-towers on four sides. The main entrance is at eastern gopuram.  There is a Nandhi made of stone in front hall at the entrance.  Lord Siddhi Vinayaka blesses the devotees at the entrance. There are six temples said to have been built by Pandavas.  There is also a temple built in marbles for Lord Shanmuga.  Temples of Mother Rajarajeswari, Mother Annapoorani, Lord Sahasralingeswarar and Pancha Nadeeswaram are of spiritual importance.  The South Tower is called Ranga Mandapam.  The marriage hall-kalyana mandapam is at the east entrance.

Mechanized boats are available to visit Nagarjuna dam.  There are chatrams for the convenience of the devotee.  The temple is 3 km upward from the foot of the hills. As the temple is in a dense forest region, private vehicles are prohibited from 8.00 p.m. to 6.00 a.m next morning.  Only Government buses are allowed.  The devotee crowd is huge on Mondays and Fridays.

Sri Shailam in Andhra Pradesh is one among the 12 Jyothilinga Sthalas.  If Mount Kailash is the capital of Shiva sthalas, Sri Shailam occupies the second place.  The holy land is third in  rank among the 51 Shakti Peetas of Mother Uma.  It is said that the benefits of offering lakhs of alms-Dhans at Kurukshetra, bathing 2000 times in holy Ganga, performing penance on the banks of Narmada, living thousand years in Kasi can be derived by worshipping Lord Mallikarjuna once in life time, declares Skanda Maha Purana.

The hill is but Nandhi Himself on whom Lord Shiva is seated and ruling.  It is in this place  Nandhi became the vahan of Lord Shiva.  It is very beautiful.  While the Shiva shrine is at a lower level, Mother Pramarambal shrine is up by 30 steps.  The statue of devotee Mallamma shedding Bhakti tears is so realistic that no visitor can afford to miss.  There is a mutt here where Pandavas are said to have stayed.  The foot prints of Bheema are carved on a rock.  As Lord Shiva stood here with His trident, this is placed on the Vimana of Lord Mallikarjuna.

Route:

Those from Chennai may choose train up to Ongole and proceed to Sri Shailam by bus. Those preferring bus should reach Tirupathi and change to bus bound for Kurnool and get down at Nandiyal and reach Sri Shailam. Jeep facility is available for sightseeing in the hill area. The charge is about Rs. 200/=.

Temple Timings:

5.00 a.m. to 3.00 p.m. and from 5.30 p.m. to 10.00 p.m.

Temple Telephone Number:

+91- 8524 – 288 881, 887, 888.

Temple Address:

Sri Mallikarjunar Temple,

Sri Shailam-518 100 ,

Andhra Pradesh.

Tryambak – Sri Tryamgakeshwarar Temple

Name of the Temple

Sri Tryamgakeshwarar Temple

Period of origin

Before 1500 years

Name of deity

Moolavar: Tryambakeshwarar

Ambal:  Kolhambika

Sthala Theertham: Kushavarta Teertham,  Gangadwara thirtha, Varaha thirth

Sthala Virksham: Darba grass

Sthalapuranam:

Legend has it that Gowtama muni resided on the Bhramagiri hill here with his wife Ahalya, and by virtue of his devotion received from Varuna, a bottomless pit from which he received an inexhaustible supply of grains and food. The other rishis, jealous of his fortune, arranged for a cow to enter his granary, and caused it to die as Gowtama attempted to ward it off with a bunch of Darbha grass. Gowtama therefore worshipped Shiva, to bring the Ganga down to his hermitage to purify the premises. The Ganga came down as Godavari, and Shiva took up an abode here in the form of Tryambaka. Interestingly, locals refer to the river here as Ganga and not as Godavari. (Shown above is an image of the Ganga at Haridwar). All the heavenly Gods promised to come down to Nasik, once in twelve years, when Jupiter resides in the zodiac sign of Leo.

The legend relating to the Lingodbhava manifestation of Shiva also prevails here. Legend has it that Bhrama and Vishnu searched in vain to discover the origin of Shiva who manifested himself as a cosmic column of fire. Bhrama lied that he had seen the top of the column of fire, and was hence cursed that he would not be worshipped on earth. In turn Bhrama cursed Shiva that he would be pushed underground. Accordingly, Shiva came down under the Bhramagiri hill in the form of Tryambakeshwar. Circumambulation the Bhramagiri hill is considered sacred.

Tryambakeshwar has been referred to in the Padma Purana. The Bhramagiri hill in Tryambakeshwar is referred to in the literature of Marathi saints. This shrine enjoyed of the patronage of the Peshwa rulers. This temple built of black stone in the Nagara style of architecture is enclosed in a spacious courtyard. The sanctum internally a square and externally a stellar structure houses a small Shivalingam – Tryambaka. The sanctum is crowned with a graceful tower, crowned with a giant golden kalasha.

In front of the garbagriha and the antarala is a mandap with doors on all four sides. Three of these doorways are covered with porches, and the openings of these porches are ornamented with pillars and arches. The roof of the mandapam is formed by curvilinear slabs rising in steps.  The entire structure is ornamented with sculptural work featuring running scrolls, floral designs, and figures of gods, yakshas, humans and animals. The Shivalingam is seen in a depression on the floor of the sanctum; water constantly oozes out from the top of the Shivalingam. Usually, the Shivalingam is covered with a silver mask, and on festive occasions with a golden mask with five faces, each with a golden crown. The silver mask is equivalent to the processional images seen in South Indian temples.

Legend has it that the Ganga (Godavari) appeared and reappeared several times in response to the pleas of Gowtama Rishi, and there are several thirthas associated with these legends. The Gangadwara thirtha is believed to be the site where Ganga emerged. Varaha thirth is where Vishnu in the form of Varaaha took a bath in the Ganga (Godavari). The Kushavarta thirtha is a tank with flights of steps on all sides, with pillared aisles with highly ornate arches. This is considered to be the holiest of all the thirthas here, and is believed to be the spot where Gowtama Rishi finally secured Ganga on earth by spreading the Kusha or the Darba grass around her. The structure around this thirtha was constructed by Raoji Abaji Parnekar (of the Holkars of Indore) in late 18th century. Other thirthas here are the Gangasagar the Gautamalaya, Bilva thirtha, Indra thirtha, Vishwanath thirtha, Mukund thirtha, Prayag thirtha,Rama Kund, Lakshmana Kund etc. The confluence of the rivers Ahalya and Godavari is also held in reverence.

Kolhambika is a temple dedicated to Parvati, where she is believed to have slain the demon Kolhasura who had swallowed the Ganga river. Also here is the Ganga Devi temple enshrining a white marble image of Ganga. This temple was built in 1879. Other shrines here include those to Kedarnath, Rameshwar, Gowtameshwar, Kashi Vishwanath, Jareshwar, Kanchaneshwar, Tribhuvaneshwar, Rama, Parasurama, Krishna, Balaji, Lakshmi Narayan and Hanuman.

Three worship services are carried out each day. During the nightly worship service sheja-aarti is carried out and the silver mask is placed in a bed in the hall of mirrors. Each Monday, the silver mask of Tryambaka is placed in a palanquin and taken in procession to Kushavarta theertha and given an abhisheka there. This procession with the special golden mask,  happens also on Shiv ratris, full moon day in the month of Kartika and during other festive occasions. Simhasta Parvani which occurs once in every 12 years, when Jupiter enters the zodiac sign of Leo, is a time of great festivity when it is believed that all sacred waters gather in the Kushavarta thirtha. The Ganga avatarana festival is celebrated in the month of Magha.

Route:

The temple is about ninety kilometers from the pilgrim city of Nasik in the state of Maharashtra.

Temple Timings:

6 am to 12 pm and 4 pm to 9pm

Temple Telephone Number:

02594-233132, 02594-033818

Temple Address:

Sri Tryamgakeshwarar Temple

Tryambak

Nashik District

Maharashtra

Bhimashankar – Sri Bhimashankar temple

 Name of the Temple

Sri Bhimashankar temple

Period of origin

Before 1500 years

Name of deity

Moolavar: Bhimashankar, Moteshwar Mahadev

Ambal: Kamalatchi

Sthala Theertham: Mokshakund thirtham, Kusharanya thirtham, Jyanakund

Sthala Virksham: Lotus

Sthalapuranam:

Many years ago, Shakini and Dakini used to live in these forests. The settlements were far and few in between. But on the festival of Shivaratri, there is a huge gathering of crowds, which brightens up the entire area. The devotees reach here in time and take a Darshan of Lord BhimaShankar. A lot of improvements made here. There is a Government guest-house also. It is said that the lions from these forests come to the shrine every night to get a Darshan of the Lord. Here are some of the stories attached to the JyotirLinga here

In the ancient times demons by the name Tripurasura become drunk with power. They harassed every resident of Swarg (Heavens), Narak (Hell) and Patal (Nether world). The divines were very scared. Then Lord Mahadev Himself came to destroy Tripurasur. Lord Shankar assumed colossal proportions. Tripurasur feared when they saw this Rudravatar. The fight went on. In the end, Lord Shiva killed the wicked demon and set the there worlds, Tribhuvan, free. Lord Shankar in the form of a huge hunk (Virat) was very tired. In order to get some rest, He settled here on the high area of the Sahyadri mountains sweat started pouring down from His huge body in thousands of streams. It all joined together and collected in a pond or Kund. The river that started from there is known as Bhima, which can be seen even today. Devotees then prayed to Bhimakaya Rudra thus: “In order to save the good people, reside here forever”. Bholenath listened to the devotees and stayed there as a JyotirLinga forever.

There was once a demon called Bhima, whose parents were Kumbhakarna and Karkati. Demon Bhima was harassing and torturing one and all. He was hell bent in the path of destruction of Dharma. Once he asked his mother about the details of his father. His mother told him that his father Kumbhakaran is the younger brother of Ravana, the king of Lanka, who was slain by Sri Ramchandra. “I am yet to see Lanka; I met your father on some mountains near by, and after you were born, I continued to stay here itself. After my husband was killed, only my parental place became a refuge of sorts for me. My parents are Pushkasi and Karkat. When they went to eat up Agastya the saint, he burned them to ashes with the power of his meditation and Tapas”.

When he heard the story, he was at once eager to take revenge against all the divines along with Hari. He began a severe penance or Tapas, and a pleased Brahma granted him the bon of becoming a very strong man. With this new strength, he captured all the divines including Vishnu and Indra. They were in his control. After this he won a victory over the great Shiva devotee Kamarupeshwar. Kamarupeshwar did not stop his worship of Shiva even when in prison. He performed the Puja with the same devotion, observing all the procedures his wife also joined him in this. On the other hand, Brahma and Vishnu along with all the other divines started praying Shankara and of asking for deliverance from the wicked Demon King. Shiva assured the divines and sent them home after pacifying them.

Bheema learnt from someone that Kamarupeshwar was making preparations to kill him. On hearing about this, he went straight to the prison and started inquiring into the process and aim of his worship. When he learnt the truth from the king, the wicked Demon called Lord Shiva names and insulted Him and ordered the king to worship Bheema himself instead. When Kamarupeshwar resisted, Bhemma attached the Linga with his sword. Before he could strike, Shiva appeared there. A severe fight ensued in which bows, arrows, swords, axe, the disc and trident etc. were used. In the end, at the request of Narada , Lord Shankar blew a fire and burned the wicked Demon Bheema to ashes. Thus the Devas were released from their sorrows. After this, the divines who were present there, and the saints together pleaded with Lord Shankara to remain there. In view of the welfare of the world, Shiva decided to stay there in the incarnation of Bheema Shankar JyotirLinga.

Self-emanating Mahadev, in the shape of a chariot, the mountains have become the abode of BheemaShankara. It is also known as Rathachala. One Bhatirao Lakadhara (wood-cutter) used to live here. Once he was cutting some wood. Just as he struck the tree with his axe, blood started to flow from the earth. Bhatirao got scared and ran away. Soon, a crowd had gathered there. Someone brought a milk cow and made it stand there. The milk that came from the cow’s udders stopped the bleeding of the earth. Surprising everyone, a glowing JyotirLinga of Shankara, emanated from the earth. People built a temple there and installed the JyotirLinga in the temple. This temple eventually came to be known as Bhima Shankara temple.

There is a shrine to Kamalaja near the Bhimashankara temple.Kamalaja is an incarnation of Parvati, who aided Shiva in his battle against Tripuraasura. Kamalajaa was worshipped with offerings of lotus flowers by Bhrama. Shaakini and Daakini the Shivaganas who helped Shiva in the battle against the demon are also honored and worshipped here. The Mokshakund thirtha is located behind the Bhimashankara temple, and it is associated with the rishi Kaushika. There are also the Sarvathirtha, the Kusharanya thirtha where the Bhima river begins to flow eastward, and the Jyanakund.

Route:

Bhimashankar is located in the Village of Bhorgiri 50 km north west of khed near pune. Road Distance or driving distance from Pune to Bhimashankar Temple is 103 kms

Temple Timings:

4.30 am to 9.30 pm

Temple Telephone Number:

+91 410509 9421057723, 9970045972

Temple Address:

Sri Bhimashankar temple

Bhimashankar

Pune Dst

Mumbai

Maharashtra

Hingoli – Sri Aundha Nagnath Temple

Name of the Temple

Sri Aundha Nagnathar Temple

Period of origin

Before 1500 years

Name of deity

Moolavar: Aundha Naganathar

Ambal: Parvathi

Sthala Theertham: Runamochan teertham

Sthala Virksham: Darukavanam

Sthalapuranam:

Pandavas came here during their Vanvas (life in forests) build a hermitage for themselves. Their cows used to go to the same river bank to drink water. After drinking wate, milk used to automatically flow into the river as if the cows were offering to the river. One day Bhima saw this miraculous event. He promptly told Dharmaraja about the same. Then Dharmaraja said, “Surely, some great God must be living in this river”. Then the Pandavas started removing the water from te river. The middle part of the river was so hot that the water there was boiling.

Bheema lifted his mace attacked the river thrice. The water gave way instantly. At the very moment , instead, blood started oozing like a spring. Lord Shankara’s Linga could be seen as the JyotirLinga. On the west coast in an area of 16 Yojanas Daruka and Daruk need to live. The hermits were tired of being harassed by Daruk, and others. So they went and sought refuge with Orvamuni, who in turn cursed the Demons that they would be destroyed. The Devas launched an attack on the Demons. Now, the Demons began to worry. Daruka, who received some special boons from Parvati, lifted the entire forest, took it away on the path of the sky and put it in the middle of the sea. Only then, did the Demons relax and continue to live there. They used to go by boats and capture the hermits and imprison them the island. Once, there was a Shiva devotee by the name Supriya who was among the prisoners. He never ate food or drank water without worshipping Shiva. He continued to do Puja even while in prison.

When the guards informed their chief about his, he ordered that Supriya be put to death. Then Supriya prayed to Lord Shankara for his life. The Lord appeared before him immediately and destroyed the entire group of demons including their families. The Lord laid open the entire island for all the four classes of people for living. On the other land, Parvati here granted a boon to Daruka. As a result, at the end of that era, only Demons would be created and she would rule Daruka. Lord Shiva accepted this. Then Shiva and Parvati stayed there. Shiva once again assumed the form of JyotirLinga, with the name Nageshwar and Parvati was known as Nageshwari. The architectural beauty of the Nagesh Temple is simply exquisite. This temple built with stones during the Pandava period is strong. The four walls of the temple are very strong and the corridors are large. The court hall is supported by eight pillars. It is oval shaped. Both this and the Nagesha Lingamurthy is located in the small internal Garbhagriha.

Here, there is no Nandi idol in front of Mahadeva. There is separate Nandikeshwara temple back of the main temple. On all the four sides of the main temple, smaller temples for the twelve JyotirLingas are constructed. Apart from these, VedavyasaLinga, bhandareshwar, Nilakanteshwar, Ganapati, Dattatreya, Muralimanohar, Dasavatar temple and idols etc., are there. In all, there are 108 Shiva temples and 68 shrines are located here. The structure of the Naganath temple is very beautiful. Inside it, there is another shrine called Runamochan teerth. Both these shrines are called “Mother-in-law- Daughter-in-law” shrines. Every 12 years, at the time of Kapila Shashti, kashi Ganga offering as “Padarpan” is performed. During this the water in the teerth kund looks crystal clear. Again at a specific time it becomes ‘Shivala Yukt”. Close to the Naganath temple, there are several statues of various divines. Besides these there are many more idols of animals, soldiers relating some stories. These stones idols are very beautiful to look at. At a huge corner, there is an idol of Paravti, who is sulking with Shiva trying to pacify her. This statue is amazing to look at with its stunning features. It is unmatched in its expression of emotions.

Route:

Aundha Nagnath is located about 60 Km from Nanded and 50 Km from Parbhani. MSRTC has regular bus services to Aundha Nagnath from both, Nanded as well as Parbhani. Cars are also easily available for hire at both places. There are also shared vehicles available from Parbhani.

Temple Timings:

Morning 4 am to 12 pm and from 4 pm hrs to 8 pm.

Temple Telephone Number:

02456 – 260047, 02456 – 260034

Temple Address:

Sri Aundha Nagnathar Temple

Aundha Nagnath

Hingoli

Maharashtra

 Rameswaram – Sri Ramanathaswamy temple

Name of the Temple

Sri Ramanathaswamy temple

Period of origin

Before 2000 years

Name of deity

Moolavar: Ramanathaswamy

Ambal: Malaivalarkaadali, Parvatavartini

Sthala Theertham: Dhanushkoti

Devaram: Appar, Trignanasambanthar

Sthalapuranam:

Legend has it that Rama worshipped Shiva in the form of a Shiva Lingam made of earth by Sita, while returning to Ayodhya.  Legend has it that Hanuman was entrusted with the task of bringing an image of Viswanathar from Benares. Anticipating delay in Hanuman’s return from Benares, Rama is said to have offered worship at a pre-chosen auspicious moment to a Shivalingam fashioned out of earth by Sita. This lingam is referred to as Ramalingam and the town is known as Rameswaram.

After Sita’s abduction, Ram wandered in the jungles looking for her. While doing so, he met Sugriva and made friends with him. Later with the help of special messenger Sri Hanuman, he found out where Sita was taken. Then Rama prepared an army to invade Ravana’s empire and reached the southern seashore. He did not have any means of crossing the sea. Lakshman and Sugriva saw Rama, who is a Shiva devotee in great anguish and could do nothing. But Ravana received some special boons from Lord Shiva. Rama was aware of this and therefore, his fears could not be set at rest. In the mean time, Rama was full thirsty. Just as he was about to drink water, he remembered that he was yet to perform Shiva pooja. He immediately made a Prathiv Linga and worshipped it with sixteen methods, i.e., Shodasopachar Vidhis.

Ramji prayed to Lord Shiva ardently and soulfully, and sang songs of Lord Shiva’s praise in a loud voice. He danced and made the sounds of “Aagad bam bam”. This pleased Lord Shiva immediately and instantly appeared before Rama and told him that could ask for any boons and that he would grant them. Ram showed a lot of care, affection and love to Lord Shiva and prayed and paid obeisance. Rama said “If You want to grant me my wishes, please stay on this earth for the sake of all make it holy” Shiva granted the same by saying “Evamastu” meaning “so be it”. He thus stayed there and came to be known as Rameshwara, in the form of a Shiva Linga and became popular.

With the blessings of Lord Shiva, Rama killed all the demons including Ravana and became victorious. Any one who takes a Darshan of the JyotirLinga at Rameshwar and sprinkles the holy water of Ganga, attains salvation, Kaivalya Moksha or Nirvana.

The place where the JyotirLinga is located, a large and expansive temple has been built. It is famous in the world as a typical architectural example. In the Ramnad district of Tamilnadu, this temple is situated on a big island of sand. It is worth seeing and is a wonderful experience. The main entrance of the temple tower has many storeys and stands tall. Its structure carvings, statutes and the peaks make people dumb founded. The grandeur of the Lord is really felt here. The human weakness for being narrow-minded is automatically removed and they feel their horizons broadened.

On the tall stone pillars of temple, beautiful carvings can be seen. Elephants with their trunks raised are seen. The four sides of the temple are enclosed by strong stone walls. They are 650 ft. and 12ft. wide and tall respectively. This wonderful temple built on the sand island, is a work of great art and very impressive.

Near to a gold plated pillar, a river is carved on a monolithic stone of 13 feet high and a foot wide. This indeed is a typical example of beautiful sculpting.

Near the main temple of Rameshwar, there is a separate temple for Parvati known as Parvatavardhini temple. Besides this, there are temples of Santana Ganapati, Veerabhadra Hanuman, navagrahas, etc., At a distance of about nearly 2 kilometers from the main temple, there is Gandhamaadhan mountain. In spite of being a sandy area, it is very green with a variety of flora. This is the Nandanavan of Rameshwar.

Every day, right from 4am till 10pm devotees keep coming to the temple and prayers go on. After the Harati at night, the Lord is made to sleep in a Golden swing i.e., the Bhoga statutes of Shankara and Parvati put to bed.

During Mahashivaratri and on the 15th day in the month of Ashadha (Rainy season) a Badatra mela/fete takes place, with great festivity. Devotees flock here on these days and at all times right from Nepal and entire India. People in a variety of dresses, attired differently come here.

This island shrine consists of 24 odd holy water sources,the waters at all these places is sweet and has a taste of its own. Every teertham has a typical story attached to it. Devotees take Darshan and feel purged by doing so.

  1. Mahalakshmi Theertham:  Dharmarajan bathed here and became rich
  2. Savithri Theertham: Sage Kasibar got rid of his curse.
  3. Gayathri Theertham: One get all his lost wealth.
  4. Saraswathi Theertham: One will get education well
  5. Sethu Madhava Theertham:  One will get lakshmi’s blessings and purification of heart.
  6. Gandhamadana Theertham :  One will get riches and their sins will be absolved after getting rid of their penury.
  7. kavatcha Theertham: One will not go to hell.
  8. Gavaya Theertham: Shelter under karpaga Virutchaga Tree.
  9. Nala Theertham: One will get Soorya Thejas and reach Heaven.
  10. Neela Theertham: One will get the benefit of Samastha(entire) yaga and receive Agni Yoga.
  11. Sanku Theertham : Vathsanaba, the Sage, got rid of his sin of ingratitude.
  12. Sakkara Theertham:  The Sun got His hand turned golden.
  13. Brahmahathi Vimochana Theertham: Brahamahathi was absolved of his sins.
  14. Sooriya Theertham: One will get the cured from his family problems.
  15. Chandra Theertham: One will get the knowledge of the past present and the future and reach the worlds they want.
  16. Ganga Theertham: one will get cleansed from his sin.
  17. Gaya Theertham:  Gananasuruthi Rajah attained wishdom.
  18. Siva Theertham: Completion of Bhaira Brahmahathi.
  19. Sadyamirtha Theertham: Emperor Bururoonu got rid of his curse.
  20. Sarva Theertham: Sutharishna got rid of his blindness(from birth), illness and old age and then he prospered.
  21. Kodi Theertham :  Sri Krishna got rid of his Sin of killing his Uncle, kamsan.

Route:

The island-temple town is located off of the Sethu coast of Tamilnadu (south eastern). Chennai is quite a distance by road (666km); Madurai is the nearest big town (167 km). The Pamban Bridge connects Rameswaram to the mainland.

Temple Timings:

5 A.M to 9 P.M(except between 1 P.M and 3 P.M)

Temple Telephone Number:

04573 – 221223

Temple Address:

Sri Ramanathaswamy Temple

Ramanathapuram, District,

Rameswaram – 623 526.