27 December, 2014

Trimbakeshwar Shiva Temple

Mythological significance

Trimbakeshwar is considered as one of the most sacred towns in India. There are many reasons for this belief. Trimbakeshwar is believed to be the birth place of Lord Ganesha. It is also believed that Trimbakeshwar was the abode of revered sage Gautama. The sage in order to be relieved of the sin of ‘gohatya’ worshipped Lord Shiva at Brahmagiri Mountain for River Ganges to flow down to earth. The wish was granted and Goddess Ganges took the form of River Godavari and originated from Kushavarta (Teertharaj) of Brahmagiri mountain at Trimbakeshwar. Hindus believe that those who visit Trimbakeshwar attain salvation or Moksha and it is the most ideal place for Shraaddha ceremony (a Hindu ritual for the salvation of the soul). As per the legends, Lord Rama made his yatra to Trimbakeshwar to perform shraaddha. Also, as per the legend, a drop of amrita (immortal nectar) from Amritakumbha spilt at Trimbak.

Trimbakeshwar temple built in Nagara style enshrines one of the 12 Jyotirlingas dedicated to Shiva. The extraordinary feature of the Jyotirlinga located here is the Linga is three faced embodying Tridev - Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva. All other Jyotirlingas have Shiva as the main deity. The Linga is crowned with a jewel studded crown believed to be from Pandavas. The crown is adorned with diamonds, emeralds, and many other types of precious stones.

Legend has it that Guatam Rishi performed a rigorous ritual of prayer and penance or tapasya to Shiva on Brahmagiri Hill which rises above the present-day temple. Pleased with this devotion, Shiva is said to have blessed him and brought down to earth from heaven the sacred rivers of Ganga, Gautami and Godavari.

The work of constructing the present temple of Trimbakeshwar was begun by Shrimant Balaji Bajirao alias Nanasahib Peshawe in 1755 in the first half of the Margashirsha month (around December) and was completed in 1786. It took 31 years to construct the temple and the cost of 16 lakhs then.

It has been built as per the Nagara style and has been beautifully adorned with idols and sculptures, comprising the figures of humans, animals as well as yakshas. Encircling the Trimbakeshwar Temple is a colossal wall, made out of stone. In the path that leads to the temple is a large statue of a bull and one enters the sanctum sanctorum, the marble idol of Nandi Bull, the vehicle of Lord Shiva, comes into view.

Kumbha Mela
According to Shiv Maha Purana, it is because of the earnest request of Godavari River, Gautam Rishi and other gods that Lord Shiva agreed to reside here and assumed the famous name Trimbakeshwar.

All the heavenly Gods promised to come down to Nasik, once in twelve years, when Jupiter resides in the zodiac sign of Leo. On this day a grand fair is organized at this place. Devotees take holy bath in Gautami Ganga and then seek the blessings of Trimbakeshwar.

26 December, 2014

Bhoganandishwara and Arunachaleshwara temples - nandigrama

Nestled at the base of the more frequently visited Nandi hills are the twin temples dedicated to Bhoganandishwara and Arunachleshwara.

1000 years old Bhoganandeeshwara temple dedicated to Shiva and Parvati is a marvel of sorts, a testament to the intricate Dravidian architecture. The temple contains essential elements of a typical Dravidian temple which include the sanctum or ‘vimana’,the ‘mantapa’ or hall, the towers or ‘gopuras’ and a 'kalyani' or temple tank. Intricate sculptures and beautiful carvings cover most parts of the temple.

Copper plates found at Chikkaballapur state that the temple was built by Ratnavali consort of Bana King Vidhyadhara and records a grant to it in 810 AD. The temple then underwent many additions and modifications, spread over the rule of around five dynasties. The Chola kings in the 11th century added the roof; the Hoysalas added the marriage hall to the temple structure and the outer wall and buildings were added by the Vijayanagar kings in the 13th century.

For centuries it was impregnable until the British stormed it in October 1791 and defeated Tipu Sultan.

Bhoganandeeshwara temple complex houses three temples, Arunachaleshwara, Uma Maheshwara and Bhoganandeeshwara.

Traditionally Arunachaleshwara is said to represent the childhood of Shiva, Bhoganandeeshwara the Youth, and Yoga Nandeeshwara on the Hill top, the final renunciation stage.

The Bhoganandeeshwara temple depicts the youthful phase of Lord Shiva. As youth is the time to rejoice and enjoy life, many festivals are celebrated in this temple throughout the year. Uma Maheswara temple depicts the wedding scenes of Shiva and Parvathi. The Yoganandeeshwara temple located atop Nandi hills, by contrast has no festivals at all as it signifies Shiva in his renunciation stage. There are significant carvings in and around these temples.

Each consists of a garbhagriha, a sukanasi and a navaranga. They have two pierced windows opposite to each other in both the sukanasi and the navaranga. The four pillars of navaranga in Bhoganandishwara shrine has intricately carved figures on all sides. The ceiling has ashtadikpalakas with Shiva and Parvati on the central panel. The base has a frieze of elephants, yaalis and lions intercepting with each other. Both the shrines have fine stone shikharas that are almost similar in design.

Between the two shrines is a small intervening shrine dedicated to Umamaheshwara. In front of this is a Kalyanamantapa built of black stone very interestingly carved with creepers and birds. The prakara has two Devi shrines, Kalyana mantapa, Tulabharamantapa and a square stepped shringi thirtha pond.

Arunachaleshwara Temple

The Arunachaleshwara temple, built by the Gangas, has a unique form of Lord Ganesha called Simha Ganapathi or Ugra Ganapathi or Herambha Ganapati. There is a granite idol of Nandi idol in front of the temple.

Uma Maheshwara Temple

Built by the Hoysalas, this temple has the presiding deities Uma and Maheshwara in the Sanctum. The Kalyana Mantapa is surrounded by four pillars each of which have a divine couple depicted on them – Shiva and Parvati, Brahma and Saraswathi, Vishnu and Lakshmi and Agni Deva and Swaha Devi.

The pillars and walls are covered with intricate carvings typical of the Hoysalas. The structures are covered in figures of parrots, animals, creepers and divine figures.



The main Bhoganandeeshwara temple has a majestic Shiva Linga in the sanctum sanctorum. There is a sculpture in the temple that the locals believe is that of Raja Raja Chola. But it could be an idol of a devotee.

The historical records state that during tenth century, Raja Raja Chola invaded this temple and helped himself to the sculptures in the temple. However, he felt guilty and took the sculptures back, after which he built a statue of himself in the temple complex,” said a historian.

The pillars are covered in beautiful carvings. The Nandi idol in front of the Sanctum of this temple is even more attractive than the one in front of Arunachaleshwara temple.

Vijayanagara rulers added the Kalyana Mantapa and Tulabhara Mantapa.

Shringi Theertha

Shringi Theertha or the temple pond is surrounded on all four sides by a walkway and a running mantapa. It has steps leading down to it on all four sides. As per a popular legend, the divine bull Nandi plunged his horn into the ground to draw out water from the divine Ganga and created the pond. The pond is said to be the source of South Pinakini (South Pennar) River.

24 December, 2014

Kalaram Mandir - Nashik

Lord Rama, Sita and Lakshman stayed at 'Panchavati' on the northern banks of river Godavari for sometime during their 14 years of exile. Kalaram Temple stands at the place that has become sacred with the footsteps and the presence of Lord Ram.

The temple was built in 1788 by late Sardar Rangarao Odhekar. According to a local legend, it is said that Sardar Rangarao Odhekar dreamt that a black statue of Lord Rama was lying in river Godavari. Odhekar found the idol in the river and the place where statue the was found was named ‘Ramkund’. The temple derives its name from the statue of Lord Rama that is black in colour. The literal translation of Kalaram means black Rama. The sanctum sanctorum also houses the statues of goddess Sita and Lakshman.


Sardar Rangrao Odhekar, under the consultation with Late Sawaee Madhavrao Peshwa Started the construction of present temple in the year 1780. The main temple was completed by the year 1792 and thereafter the sabhamandapa, the stilt round the temple and the fencing by the year 1799. The temple built of beautiful black stone has about 96 pillars. It is said that the expert masons brought best quality stones from Ramshej Hills near Nashik, tested each block in boiling milk before using it in construction work.The ‘Kalash’ inside the temple is made of pure gold. It took 12 years, 20000 workers and 23 lakhs INR to build this incredibly artistic temple.

Kalaram Satyagraha
The 1920s and the 1930s saw a series of agitations led by Dr. Ambedkar to get public wells, tanks and Hindu temples opened to “untouchables.” Kalaram Temple is the very site in the old city where Ambedkar led and later abandoned a temple-entry movement in the early 1930s.

Dr. Ambedkar said:
"I didn’t launch the temple entry movement because I wanted the Depressed Classes to become worshipers of idols which they were prevented from worshiping or because I believed temple entry would make them equal members in and an integral part of the Society."

Organized by Ambedkar and the local Mahar leaders, the Kalaram Satyagraha involved thousands of untouchables in intermittent efforts to enter the temple and to participate in the annual temple procession. The agitation for entry into the Kalaram temple went on for four years, from 1930 to 1934. Opposition came not only from the orthodox Hindus but also from some local congressmen. The outcome of the Kalaram Satyagraha, however, was not only further disillusionment with the Satyagraha, with the satyagraha method and the attitude of the congress, but also a rejection of Hinduism and a strengthening of the separatist political stance then developing among Untouchables.

Ambedkar discontinued the agitation in 1934 following opposition by priests, notwithstanding the support extended by Gandhiji. But he fought a legal battle, along with a peaceful agitation, for the next four years, and in 1939 ultimately secured entry to the temple for “untouchables.”

Wandering in the temple courtyard and on the narrow streets around its precincts, with their small houses, latticed wooden balconies, gnarled pipal trees, and clay-tiled sloping roofs, it is hard to imagine a time when access to this temple was so fraught an issue as to become the watershed after which Ambedkar could never allow himself or his community to be reconciled with the Hindu mainstream.