Blog Archive

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Meet Me in Tamil Nadu- Let's Travel to Kerala

Meenakshi Amman Temple, Madurai- Tamil Nadu

 An aalayam as old as the first century CE 

Built by Kulashekar Pandyan of the Pandyan dynasty 

Taking orders from Prabhu Shiva himself 

Who appeared in the King’s dreams 

 

A central majestic structure in the middle of the ancient city

The scholars in the 6th century met for discussions in the pious land 

How we wish we saw its original grandeur 

Destroyed by the Muslim Sultanate in the 16th century 

Rebuilt it was by the Vijayanagara empire 

After defeating the invaders

Further expanded the aalayam was in the 17th century

By Vishwanatha Nayakar of the Nayaka dynasty 

And by Thirumalai Nayak, who followed the previous king’s footsteps 

Yet, destruction struck again

This time, in the form of the British rulers 

The locals were determined to protect their heritage in 1959

Instead of praising the glory of the invaders 

And choose to restore the temple by collecting donations 

 

The story of Meenakshi is a fascinating one

A triple-breasted girl born out of the fire 

As a result of a yagna performed 

By King Malayadwaja Pandya and his queen Kanchanamalai

Confused they were at the gift bestowed upon them

When Prabhu Shiva assured them that things would be fine

Source: Vijay Hotels

Meenakshi’s third breast disappeared when she met her husband 

And the wedding took place in Madhurai

With Bhagwan Vishnu taking the place of Meenakshi’s brother 

And why wouldn’t he? 

When she was none other than Maa Parvati 

Marrying her beloved Prabhu Shiva 

The wedding ceremony is celebrated every year-

Chaithirai Triruzha known as Tirukalyanam 

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Maha Vishnu Temple, Thirunelli- Kerala

Chera king Kulaseheran, a bhakt of Bhagwan Vishnu

Built the temple during his reign AD 767 and AD 834

Propagating the Vaishnava order 

Proving his bhakti through the famous Sankrit work Mukundamaala 

Thirunelli, they say, comes from Nelli, a gooseberry

The fruit of the tree under which Bhagwan Brahma 

Found the murti of Prabhu Vishnu

 

A king from Coorg tried to renovate the temple 

Only for it to be opposed by the Vellattiri King

The remains of which we see even to this date 

Water for the temple came from the Papanasini stream 

Until a drought caused the region to go dry 

The wife of Chirackal Raja of the Vaarikkara Nayanar Tharvad 

Came to know of the locals’ plight 

When she visited the temple for pooja 

Source: RVA Temples

She went back home to send materials 

To build a water supply to the temple 

From a water source, Varaham, somewhere in the dense forest

Open granite supported by pillars with murals carved on them

The structure even today brings fresh mountain stream to the Prabhu’s abode 

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Source: 

https://www.culturalindia.net/indian-temples/meenakshi-temple.html

http://thirunellitemple.com/history.php

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Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Landing in Odisha

Lingaraja Temple, Bhubaneswar- Odisha

One of the largest mandirs in the city 

As old as the 7th century, flaunting the Odissi architecture 

The Lingaraja mandir is devoted to Prabhu Shiva 

The 8-inch lingam is said to be a Swayambhu

Rising from the earth as naturally as the air we breathe 

The mandir has yet another fame as a land of Hari-Hara

Bringing together the bhakts of 

Prabhu Shiva and Bhagwan Vishnu 

While gaining a mention in the Brahma Purana

Source: RVA Temples

An interesting piece of history adds charm to this land 

With a claim that Prabhu Shiva expressed 

His favoritism for Bhubaneshwar than the much revered Banaras

Maa Parvati was intrigued and decided to investigate 

She descended as a cattle girl in the city 

To explore its beauty 

Two demons blocked her path

Proposing their desire to marry her 

When her refusal failed to dent their eagerness

Maa Parvati vanished and went back home

And they say Prabhu Shiva created the Bindu Sagar Lake 

To give the place its importance in the space of the time 

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Lankeswari Temple, Mahanandi- Odisha

 A small temple is located in the river Mahanadi 

It drowns during the floods and stands high again 

Year after year, as bhakts come 

And pray to Devi Lankeshwari in Sonepur 

Sonepur has another name- Paschime Lanka 

Denoting that the king Raavana from the Tretayuga 

Had controlled Sonepur as Dwitiya* Lanka 

And brought the murti of Maa Lankeshwari 

From Lanka to protect this land as his own 
Source: OdiKala

Now it’s the local fisherman community, 

The Kaivarta’s who pray to Maa Lankeshwari 

To keep them safe as they sail the rough waters in the seas 

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Note: 

Dwitiya is second 

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Source: 

https://www.mahashivratri.org/shiva-temples/lingaraj-temple.html

https://www.thrillophilia.com/attractions/lingaraj-temple-bhubaneswar 

https://subarnapur.nic.in/tourist-place/lankeswari-temple/

http://www.indiamapped.com/temples-in-india/odisha-lankeswari-temple-sonepur/

https://www.ishtadevata.com/temple/lankeswari-temple-sonepur-subarnapur/

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Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Kolhapur to Khajuraho via Ellora

Kandariya Mahadeva Temple, Khajuraho- Madhya Pradesh

Built the Kandariya Mahadeva Mandir 

After Muhammad Mahmud Ghaznavi 

Attacked the Kalinjar fort again and again 

Only to fail and concede defeat 

Dedicated to Prabhu Shiva 

The mandir from 1025-1050 AD 

Is the largest, tallest, and intricately carved structure in Khajuraho 

That complies with the rules of Vaastu 

And appears as a shiv ling to the aerial view 

Getting another name Chaturbhuj aalayam 

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Kailasha Temple, Ellora (cave 16)- Maharashtra

 Krishna I, the king of the Rashrakuta dynasty 

Someone between the 8th and the 10th century 

Ordered the biggest monolithic temple in Ellora 

The caves of Ellora spans centuries of marvels 

As each king continued the tradition

In the flourishing commercial center of the Deccan region 

Source: Britannica
Imagine carving the tough basalt of the Sahyadri hills

With nay advanced technology except for skills 

Beyond modern-day comprehension 

The mandir stands stall in the Dravidian architecture 

Source: VedicFeed

Among more than 100 structures

The Kailasha mandir in cave 16 

Was built from the top, as the sculptors chipped their way down

Architech from Kokasa, the mastermind,  

Suggested this idea when the queen in her ill-health

Vowed to fast until she saw the mandir’s shikara 

Let’s built the shikara first, the architect suggested

So that the queen would break her fast and continue to live 

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Kopeshwar Temple, Khidrapur, Kolhapur district- Maharashtra

Have you visited the masterpiece of Chalukyan architecture?

Located in Kolhapur, Kopeshwar mandir saw glory and destruction

Surviving enough to share its story with the coming generations


Some say it was built by the Badami Chalukyas in the 7th century 

Others say it was the Kalyani Chalukyas from the 9th century 

A few others declare it was the Shilahar kings from the 12th century

 

The inscriptions on the walls in old Kannada and Devanagari 

Thankfully hold the clue to the origin 

Mentioning the Yadava Kings of Deogiri from 1204

As the ones, who renovated the structure 

To give fresh artistic additions 

What do we even say about the Swarg Mandap 

A circular stone disc held high by 48 pillars

All carved to the minutest details, displaying art like no other 

The Grabhagriha or the sanctum is no different 

As every mesmerizes with the sculpting of the highest perfection

Kopeshwar mandir shares history with Maa Sati’s death 

As Prabhu Vishnu enters the scene to pacify the Eshwar 

To control his anger and save the world from destruction 

The mandir has two shiv lingams, one for each of them 

Marking the event forever in the pages of history  

Alas! The mandir lost a part of its charm 

When Aurangzeb, during his 1702 CE visit 

Destroyed the murtis and scattered the broken parts around 

The majestic 92 elephants, each uniquely carved on the outer walls

Are a testimony to the destruction caused by the Mughals 

With their broken trunks and leftover bodies 

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Source: 

https://greatancientindia.com/kandariya-mahadeva-temple-khajuraho/ 

https://www.livehistoryindia.com/amazing-india/2020/04/25/ellora-kailasa-temple 

https://www.inditales.com/kopeshwar-temple-khidrapur-maharashtra/

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Monday, April 12, 2021

Jageshwar Dham and Jwalamukhi ki Jai Ho

 Jageshwar Temple, Almora- Uttarkhand 

 On the banks Jatganga river,

Surrounded by the encompassing deodars

Are 124 stone mandirs scattered in the town 

With lush green mountains in the background 

Source: Temple Purohit

Built by the Katyuri kings 

Sometime between the 7th and 11th century 

Prabhu Shiva, Jageshwar, Lakulisha, Kedareshwar

Maa Lakshmi, Maa Durga, Maa Chandrika,

Mrityunjay, Pushti Devi, and many more deities 

Call each aalayam their home

Jageshwar aalayam, the 8th Jyotirlinga 

Has a swayambhu linga, swami Nagesh Darukabane 


The Pandavas, they say, performed their last rites 

At Jageshwara, while on their Mahaprasthan

More than 25 inscriptions in Sanskrit and Brahmi

Adorn the walls and pillars of the aalayam

Belonging to different periods- Katyuris, Mallas, and Chands

Proof of their contribution to protecting and develop their dharma

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Jawalamukhi Devi Temple, Kangra- Himachal Pradesh

One of the 51 Shakti peethas, the mandir is dedicated 

To Jwalamukhi- Devi of Light, known as the Flaming Goddess

Here is the place where Maa Sati’s tongue fell

After she sacrificed her life by jumping into the havan fire 

Source: ixigo

The mighty Pandavas worshiped the flame here

Glowing bright fire, a manifestation of Maa Jwalamukhi


Another theory says the flames come from the demon Jalandhara

The one who was crushed to death by Prabhu Shiva 

And each flame named after the Devis

Radiates life as the bell gifted by the Nepal king echoes in the hall 

The fire burns and burns and burns 

Without a break or a pause;

Why even the Mughal king Akbar 

Tried in vain to douse the flames 

Only to surrender and accept defeat 

Source: Myoksha

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Source: 

https://www.financialexpress.com/lifestyle/travel-tourism/jageshwar-dham-in-uttarakhand-an-ancient-land-of-temples-and-gods/1661663/

https://almora.nic.in/tourist-place/jageshwar-dham-temples-almora/

https://www.india.com/travel/kangra/places-to-visit/temples-jwalamukhi-temple/

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Saturday, April 10, 2021

Irukkankudi Mariamman Temple

Irukkankudi Mariamman Temple- Tamil Nadu

Irrukkankudi, the land where rivers Vaipparu and Arjuna meet

Is home to a temple more than 500 years old 

Maa Mariamman sits with her right leg folded,

A posture that’s the opposite of how she adorns the throne 

In the rest of her aalayas. 

Source: RVA Temples

Under the beautiful vimana of the aalyam

Lay the artha mandao and maha mandap

Nandeeswara and Kodimaram align outside

Vinayaka rests under the Arasa Maram 

Vazha Vandha Amma* and Rakachi Amman* sit on the west

Pechi Amman* and Muppdari Amman* have their shrines on the northwest

Kathavarayan* and Vairavamurthi* are at the east 

Karuppusami* has the southeast corner to himself

The bhakts worship the devas and devis in order 

None walking out of turn to change the tradition

Source: Maalai Malar

The story of Mariamman comes from 300 years ago 

When a poojari saw a woman 

Trying to lift a basket full of cow dung 

The poojari and others tried their best to help 

But the efforts went in vain until the woman called out

In a voice that wasn’t her own

Source: ePuja

In the ground below the basket 

Lay the murti of Mariamman 

Waiting to be dugout and cleaned 

To be built a proper abode in the village 

As she would sit guard and keep them safe. 

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Note: 

Vazha Vandha Amma, Rakachi Amman, Pechi Amman, Muppdari Amman, Kathavarayan, Vairavamurthi, and Karuppusami are local deities. 

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Source: 

https://www.templeshistory.in/2020/07/irukkankudi-mariamman-temple-timings.html 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mariamman_Temple,_Irukkankudi 

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Friday, April 9, 2021

Hanamakonda Meets Halebidu

Thousand Pillar Temple, Hanamakonda, Warangal- Andhra Pradesh

What can one say about the Kakatiyas

Without mentioning art, music, and architecture

The Veyi Stambala Gudi is yet another example

Of the marvelous architecture of the glorious times

 Source: Sanskriti Magazine- Pinterest

Built by the great King Rudra Deva in 1163 AD

The Chalukya-style aalayam boasts 

Of a star-shaped design supported by thousand pillars

All with rich and intricate carvings, 

Competing with each other to flaunt their beauty


The huge monolithic black basalt Nandi stands guard 

As Prabhu Vishnu, Bhagwan Shiva, and Surya Deva 

Reside in the inner sanctum, surrounded by mesmerizing pillars 

Note: 

Veyi Stambala Gudi- Thousand Pillar Temple

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Hoysaleswara Temple, Halebidu- Karnataka 

In the Old Town, Halebidu, sometime in the 12th century 

Rose a mandir deriving its name 

From the king Vishnuvardhana Hoysalaswara 

A world heritage site now

It was called Dwarasamudra, 

The capital of the Hoysala kingdom

A testimony to its glory 

Until the Delhi army of the invaders 

Looted and plundered the aalyam in the 14th century

Leaving it in ruins 

Source: Lost Temples

The mandir, built with funds from the public,

Has exquisite carvings in the form of thousand figures 

All depicting the epics, Ramayana and Mahabaratha 

Source: RVA Temples

The dancing Ganesha at the entrance 

And the 240 images in the aalayam 

Have intricate carvings like no other 

Creating a record for the world to see

How can we not mention the Garuda Sthamba 

A rare pillar built in those times 

To pay homage to the bodyguards

Who sacrificed their lives 

Upon the death of their masters 

The name Kuruva Lakshma is alive even today

With his story depicted on the pillar 

For the future generations to learn 

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Source: 

https://www.telanganatourism.gov.in/partials/destinations/divine-destinations/warangal-urban/thousand-pillars-temple.html 

https://warangaltourism.in/thousand-1000-pillar-temple-warangal-hanamkonda 

https://www.truehab.com/holiday/thousand-pillar-temple-in-warangal-the-iconic-rudreswara-temple-of-the-kakatiyas 

https://www.karnataka.com/halebidu/hoysaleswara-temple/ 

https://www.livehistoryindia.com/photo-essays/2017/05/26/hoysaleswara-temple-halebidu 

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