SRI ALARMELMANGA NAYIKA SAMETHA SRI SRINIVASA PARABRAHMANE NAMAH SRI SRIDEVI NAYIKA SAMETHA SRI SRIMOORTHI PARABRAHMANE NAMAH SRIMATHEY RAMANUJAYA NAMAH SRI MUDALIAANDAN SWAMY DIVYA THIRUVADIGALE SARANAM With the blessings of Almighty, Adiyen desired to visit Saaligrama divya … Continue reading
SRI MUDALIANDAN SWAMY VAIBHAVAM
A word about Sri Mudaliandan Swamy to whose Thirumaligai adiyongal belong to.
Sri Rama incarnated HIMSELF as Dasarathi, nephew of Swamy Ramanujar at Purusha mangalam(presently known as Nazrath Pettai in Chennai). Lakshmana’s servitude was incomprehensible and to repay this gratitude, SriRama took avataram as DAsarathi and served Swamy Ramanujar in Kaliyugam.
- Swamy Ramanujar appointed 74 simhadipatis (disciples) to propagate Srivaishnavam and Dasarathi was their leader. Hence Dasarathi came to be known as “Mudali “”Andan”. Sri Mudaliandan Swamy was entrusted with the job of managing Srirangam temple affairs.
- Mudaliandan is known as the “paaduka” and “Tridandi” of Swamy Ramanujar. When Swamy Ramanujar embraced Sanyasasramam, he did not leave Mudaliandan and Kooratazhwan whom he considered as his Tridandam and Pavitram respectively.
- When Thirugoshtiyur nambi instructed Swamy Ramanujar to come alone to learn about Trimantra rahasyam, Swamy Ramanujar took Mudaliandan along with him. When questioned, Swamy replied that a Sanyasi should always carry Tridandam with him .Such was the intimacy between Swamy Ramanujar and Mudaliandan.
- Kooratazhwan says that he has only “Atma sambandham”with Swamy Ramanujar whereas Mudaliandan has both “deha sambandham” and “atma sambandham”.
Swamy Ramanujar established Vishistidadvaitam with Srirangam as his base and was becoming very popular. The chola king named Krimikanta cholan who was a staunch Saivite was inflicting harm on Srivaishnavas and did not even spare Ramanujar from prosecution. When his soldiers arrived , Kooratazhwan disguised as Ramanujar along with Peria Nambigal attended the king’s summons thus saving Swamy Ramanujar from the king’s cruelties.
It was Namperumal’s thiruvullam to make Ramanujar leave Srirangam and purify other places by placing his holy feet in Melnadu and retrieve Thirunarayanan who was worshipped by SriRamar and Sri Krishnar. . Peria Perumal thus created a difficult situation by which Swamy Ramanujar had to leave Srirangam after taking Peria Perumal’s consent and proceeded towards north accompanied by Sri Mudaliandan Swamy.
After many days of travel and undergoing various hardships following the course of Kaveri, Swamy finally arrived in Karnataka where the local tribals served them. This place is near Srirangapatinam. The local people who were averse to Swamy Ramanujar conspired a plan to do away with him. Swamy Ramanujar learning their evil intentions ordered Mudaliandan Swamy to place his feet in the drinking water pond in that area which he obeyed. By drinking this Sripada theertham, the minds of the evildoers changed and they fell at Swamy Ramanujar seeking forgiveness. Such was the greatness of our Mudaliandan Swmay. Ramanujar named this place as “Saligramam” which is near Melkote. Even today this pond is maintained by the archakar who ensures that no intruder pollutes the pond by locking the gate. There is a small temple opposite to this pond in which Swamy Ramanujar’s Thiruvadi chuvadugal are worshipped. There is also a vigraham of Swamy Ramanujar in Sesharoopam near the garbagriham.
At that time, Jainism was prominent in Mel nadu which was ruled by King Bittideva who was a staunch follower of Jainism. The king’s daughter was possessed by an evil spirit and no one could cure her. Vaduga Nambi, a disciple of Swamy Ramanujar suggested to the queen that his spiritual master was capable of restoring the princess to normalcy. The Jain king invited Ramanujar to his palace to cure the princess but Swamy was initially reluctant to enter a palace. Vaduga nambi persuaded Swamy Ramanujar to resent to the king’s plea which could help in establishing faith in Srivaishanvism. . Swamy Ramanujar consented and sanctified the place , he drove away the evil spirit by placing a dhastamam (stick) on her head uttering some mantra and splashed some water and immediately the princess became normal.(This stick is at Yoga Narasimhar sannidhi in Thondanur . The archakar places the dhastamam on the visitors head and sprinkles water on the face..) King Bittideva, true to his word, became Swamy Ramanujar’s disciple and embraced Srivaishnavism and was named “Vishnu vardhana” and thus the entire kingdom became RAmanujar’s followers. It is told that about 1000 Jain pandits who could not bear this challenged Ramanujar for an argument . To defeat them, Ramanujar advised a curtain to be drawn in between and taking his original form of Adisesha with 1000 hoods, he answered and defeated all the 1000 Jains at a time. This incident happened at Narasimhar sannidhi in Bhakta nagari (presently known as Thondanur). Sri Mudaliandan Swamy rendered “Dhaati Panchakam”in praise of Ramanujar at this place.
Thanian: Yath Chakrey Bhakta Nagare Dhaati Panchaka Uthamam
Ramanujaya Sath chaathram vandhey Dasarathim gurum
This place is on the way to Melkote(about 16 kms) from Srirangapatinam
Swamy Ramanujar instructed Mudaliandan Swamy to establish Pancha Narayana kshetrams(5 temples dedicated to Narayana)with the help of King Vishnuvardhana who provided everything required. All these five temples were consecrated at almost the same time. These pancha Narayana kshetrams are :-
(Pl. note: Some consider Melkote to be one of the Pancha Narayana kshetrams whereas some archakars with whom we interacted opined that as this temple was renovated by Ramanujar and not Mudaliandan and hence is not Pancha Naryana kshetram. Gundulpet which is about 2 hours drive from Talakad is considered as Pancha Narayana kshetram.)
The places purified by Sri Mudaliandan Swamy’s thiruvadigal during his stay in Mel nadu are :-Srirangapatinam(entry into Mel nadu), Nagamangala(Vijaya sthambam erected here), Saligramam(Sripada theertham-water pond sanctified by Mudaliandan Swamy), Dodda mallur , Melkote and Pancha Narayana temples.
Having assigned Mudaliandan with the job of constructing temples, Swamy Ramanujar focused on the spread of Vaishnavism. During his stay, Perumal appeared in his dream and informed him
1) about the availability of Thiruman kaapu on the banks of Kalyani Pushkarini,
2) the place where HE lay hidden by sand dunes . Swamy Ramanujar with the help of the king retrieved the Moolavar idol of Thirunarayanan and constructed a temple for him and arranged for all utsavams to be performed.
3) When Swamy Ramanujar wanted to have an utsavar , Perumal appeared in his dream and informed that HE was with Delhi Sultan. At a ripe age of 90+, Swamy Ramanujar undertook this journey and brought back the Utsavar Chella pillai-the utsava murthi literally walked towards Ramunujar and sat on his lap along with the Delhi princess (Thuluka naachiyar)
Swamy Ramanujar stayed for 12 years in Melkote and laid down the system of worship and assigned jobs to specific persons which is being followed even today.
OUR PANCHANARAYANA KSHETRAM YATIRAI DETAILS :-
First, adiyen would like to thank Chi.Sriram Swami who had shared his recent experiences of visiting Pancha Narayana kshetram and provided all the required information including cab driver’s phone no. . We reached Mysore on 31st May at 10.30 A.M. from Madurai after visiting few avatara sthalams and thiruvarasus of poorvacharyars in and around Chennai, Srirangam and Madurai.
The pancha Narayana kshetrams in Karnataka along with important places visited by Swami Mudaliandan can be covered in 4-5 days.
Necessary arrangements for our trip like engaging a car for two days, accommodation and food arrangements at Melkote, prashad arrangement at ISKCON ,Mysore were already made. The cab driver Chastamu who can be contacted on 09964387174 is aware of all these places. The charges for Indica are Rs.6/- per day subject to min. 300 kms and Rs.200/- per day as his allowance. Total package Rs.4000/-.
From Mysore station, we drove to Talakad which is about 62 kms from Mysore(as per our car reading) and takes about 2 hours. The driver went to the archakar’s house and requested for the temple to be opened for which he consented. We then went to River Cauvery for cleansing ourselves in the crystal clear holy waters which is about 2 kms from the temple and then returned to the temple. On the way, we saw sign boards leading to Pancha Linga temples. Talakad is famous as one of the Pancha Narayana kshetrams and also as Pancha Linga kshetrams.
The aged archakar, Sri.Lakshmipathy who can be contacted on 08227-273415 opened the doors of the make shift temple. WE were amazed looking at the divya mangala Thirumeni of Perumal Keerthi Narayanan. The moolavar in Nindra Thirukolam clad in green dress is about 10 feet height with ubhaya nachiyars on either side whose height is about 3 feet. The vigraham is carved in Hoysala style which is a wonder.
Performed archanai and offered fruits to the Lord. The archakar informed that as the original temple built by Mudaliandan Swamy collapsed, the deities were kept in this place. This place is declared as a heritage site by Archaeological Department. The ruins of the temple have been collected and numbered accordingly for which ASI needs appreciation. Hopefully, the temple would be renovated soon.
In this place, the moolavar vigraham of Sri KeerthiNarayana Perumal with ubhaya nachiyars is in the centre, the moolavar vigraham of Sri Sundaravalli Thayar is kept on the left side and on the right side, we can see vigrahams of Swamy Ramanujar, Mudaliandan and Desikar. Brahmotsavam is performed for 7 days during Chithirai culminating on Utharam (Perumal’s star). Thiru aadi pooram which is Thayar’s thirunakshitiram and acharyar’s thirunakshitrams are performed here.
The utsava vigrahams which are replica of the Moolavar are housed in a nearby temple. Perumal seen with chathur bhujam(4 hastams) holding Padmam and Gadam on the upper right and left Thirukaigal (hastams) respectively. The lower 2 hastams hold sankhu and Chakram on the left and right side respectively.
Sri Lakshmipathi archakar informed that Melkote is not a Pancha Narayana kshetram and Gundulpet which is about 2 hours drive from this place is considered as Pancha Narayana kshetram. He advised us drive to Gundulpet via Narsipur, Nanjangud. As it was already half past 1, we skipped visting gundulpet as it was not advised by our acharyar and we had to rush back to ISKCON ,Mysore where Sri.Jagjeevandasa, in-charge of ISKCON Mysore (09972096996) had arranged prashad for us. .
Reached ISKCON at 3.30 P.M. and honoured prasadam. Had darshan of Sri Krishna-Balaram and other deities at 4 P.M. after making few purchases, we left the temple thanking the Lord for everything.
Proceeded to Thondanur and reached Nambi Narayanan temple at 5.15 P.M. This Pancha Narayana kshetram located amidst greenery was closed and the archakar who stays nearby refused to open the temple doors. We were dejected as it would not be possible to stay for a day and have darshan of Perumal. The watchman took pity on us and opened the temple door and took us inside which was pitch dark. We had to satisfy ourselves by standing in front of the locked garbagriham of Nambi Narayana Perumal. However, the watchman pointed a sculpture and said that it was the replica of the Lord inside. Paid obeisance to Swamy Ramanujar and thanking the watchman came out of the temple.
When we were about to get into the car, we met a Srivaishnava who is the archakar in the nearby Yoga Narasimhar sannidhi who was driving towards Narasimhar temple and instructed us to follow him. A small board displaying Swamy Ramanujar’s temple and Yoga Narasimhar temple welcomed us. The temple is situated on a small hillock near Nambi Naryanan temple is a revered place. The archakar showed us the divya mangala thirumeni of Sri Yoga Narasimhar and placed the dhastamam used by Swami Ramanujar for driving off evil spirits on our heads. Then he splashed some holy water on us and gave us theertha prasadam and was narrating Swamy Ramanujar’s pastimes. We were then taken to another sannidhi in the temple precincts towards right of Narasimhar sannidhi where Swamy Ramanujar is seen is Sesharoopam. It was here Swamy Ramanujar defeated 1000 Jain pandits by assuming his original form of Adisesha with 1000 hoods. Photography is strictly prohibited here. The archakar showed us the Thirumeni of Udayavar which is made of swadhai (made from herbs- similar to Thirukurungudi, Thiruthankaal Perumals) pointing to the eyes which were similar to that of a snake, abdomen and the hoods. Another interesting feature is here Swamy Ramanujar seated in Padmasana shows Jnana mudhra and does not have Tridandam. This thirumeni of Sri Ramanujar is unique which must be seen by everyone. The archakar informed that Swamy Ramanujar is in Sookshma roopam here.??
Devotees whose wishes are fulfilled by praying here , offer white veshti to Lord Narasimhar and kaashayam vastram (orange robe) to Swamy Ramanujar.
The archakar who preferred to remain anonymous informed that Perumal can be seen in 3 forms:-Nambi Narayanan,Yoga Narasimhar, Parthasarathy, Venugopalan out of which we were not fortunate to have Nambi Narayanan’s darshan. We visited Venugopalaswamy Temple. The moolavar is Sri Parthasarathy in sitting posture with chathur bhujam holding sankhu, chakram in his upper arms, right lower hastam in abhaya hastam and left hastam placed on HIS lap. Sri, Bhudevi nachiyars are also in veetruirundha thirukolam. Utsavar Krishnar is in dancing style. The uniqueness about this idol is Perumal’s right foot is in front and left foot behind. The archakar informed that this temple was about 5500 years old built by Yudhisita. The vigrahams of Chakaratazhwar, Nammazhwar and Ramanujar are placed outside the garbagriham. Thanking the archakar profusely, we left the temple at about 7 P.M. and drove to Melkote.
After about an hour’s drive, we reached Melkote- the place close to Swamy Ramanujar’s heart. Archakar Sri Narsiraj Bhattar, whom we contacted earlier on 094487 54696 had arranged for our stay in Belur chathiram(the charges are Rs.300/- per day plus Rs.100/- for extra bed) which is on the way to the temple. We dumped our baggages in the room and rushed to the temple which was about to close. As Bhogam was being offered to Lord Thirunarayanan, the curtains were drawn and we were asked to wait for some time for participating in Sahasranama archana, the last seva of the day.Meantime, we went to obtain the grace of Kalyani Thayar and Swamy Ramanujar. The archakars in Thayar sannidhi who are related to Narsiraj Bhattar stated that Melkote is not Pancha Narayana kshetram and endorsed Talakad archakar’s views. They informed that from Talakad one can reach Melkote via Maddur and Srirangapatinam and need not pass thru Mysore.
Just as we reached Perumal sannidhi, the curtains were drawn out and mangala aarthi was being shown to Perumal. Had a wonderful darshanam of Moolavar amidst chanting of Prabhastamham. We then followed the archakar to utsavar sannidhi which is on the left side in the same precincts and had a wonderful darshan of Sampathkumaran /Chellapillai with ubhaya nachiyars. We were informed that only in this temple, there is a separate sannidhi for utsavar. We participated in Sahasranama archanaiand relished Perumal’s soundhariyam.. We were recapitulating how this Perumal showered grace on our Udayavar who is our saviour. After archanai and shodasa upachaarams, Perumal was laid to rest.. A priest came and gave about 6 dosas as prasadam in our hastams. The priest in Thayar sannidhi with whom we intereacted introduced himself as Sri Narsiraj Bhattar’s brother and took us to their Thirumaligai for honouring prasadam. The Lord was gracing us with huge quantities of prasadam that we didn’t have apetitite for another meal. At the same time, we could not refuse the archakar’s hospitality. Learning about our next day’s program to visit Nagamangala, Saligramam and Belur, they advised us to to Belur first as it was very far off and then go to Saligrama via Valiya Narsipur, K.R.Nagar and proceed to Srirangapatinam via K.R.Pettai, Bogadhi, Nagamangala. They called up Sri Krishnaraj Bhattar, their brother who is the chief priest in Belur and informed about our visit. The bhattar was glad to host us on the following day as it was Amavasya. . After taking their blessings and thanking them profusely for their guidance , we retired for the night.
We were fortunate to see our Thirumaligai which is adjacent to the bhattar’s house .
On 1st June, we suggested the route given by the bhattars to the driver but he refused to follow it and said that his route was the best. We were left with no choice but listening to the driver. Checked out of the choultry at about 7A.M. and drove to Kalyani Pushkarini which is nearby. Sprinkled some water and after purchasing Thiruman kaapu etc., we started off on our journey to Nagamangala and reached at about 9.15 A.M. The temple doors were closed. By this time , we got accustomed to this closures. We tried to enquire from some passerby regarding the temple but unfortunately we just came across a single person with whom we could not communicate properly. We waited for about 15 minutes and decided to leave. Meantime, we peeped into the Hanuman shrine nearby which was deserted. Adiyongal tried to contact Sri Narayana Bhattar, the temple priest on his mobile no. 094487 50603 but there was no response. Circumbulated the Vijaya sthambam erected in front of the temple by Swamy Ramanujar and left the place. After about an hour’s drive, to our utter dismay, we realized that the diary in which we were jotting out details and which contained imp. information was missing. WE were guessing that we would have left it at the temple entrance where we had kept our belongings and again contacted bhattar. Luckily he responded informing that as he was in Bangalore and asked his son to take care of the temple in his absence. Knowing our plight, he helped us by giving their landline number and asked us to contact his family who would go to the temple and check whether the diary was available or not. By Perumal’s grace, we got the reply in affirmative and informed the bhattar about the same. The bhattar opined that this leela was enacted by Perumal to ensure that we visit him again and take HIS blessings as the Perumal is Sowmya Kesavan (Kesavan who is Klesha naasaaya) and suggested us to go back to Nagamangala. The driver said that it would be impossible to travel so far as we had to board the night train to Bangalore. Hence we decided to visit this place from Bangalore.
We reached Belur at about 11.30 A.M. The magnificent Belur Chenna Kesava temple also known as Vijaya Narayanan temple is one of the Pancha Narayana kshetrams and attracts many tourists and is a heritage site. WE proceeded to Chenna Kesava Perumal sannidhi and met Sri.Krishnaraj Bhattar and gave his brother’s reference. We were asked to come closer to Perumal’s sannidhi and had a good darshanam. The Lord ,true to HIS name, is very beautiful and enchanting. The Lord is seen sporting a nose ring and anklets as HE had taken the form of Mohini. Since the Lord gives darshan as Mohini, the Thayar is Padithaanda pathini-she doesn’t compete with Perumal by coming outside due to HER surpassing beauty. We were wonderstruck at the beautiful sculptures. The big hall outside the garbagriham was crowded with tourists who were assisted by the local guides in explaining about the sculptures. Marvellous indeed. We then visited a nearby shrine which houses replica of Chenna Kesava Perumal. This sannidhi was not crowded . the archakar informed that this replica of Perumal was engraved and shown to Mudaliandan Swamy and King Vishnuvardhana who gave their consent to go ahead with the original vigraham. This sannidhi and the expenses related to it were borne by Queen Shantala Devi, wife of King Vishnuvardhana. Pointing to a cenre place in front of the garbagriham, the priest said that the queen would dance in front of this Perumal. He took us to other shrines in the temple. When we expressed our desire to have darsanam of Swamy Ramanujar, he informed that it would not be possible as the temple authorities open the sannidhis only twice daily for offering food. The rest of the day, the shrines remain closed. We were saddened to know this and decided to atleast stand in front of the sannidhis and pray for our upliftment. When two archakars came with the keys to open the sannidhi, our joy knew no bounds. It was like a thirsty man getting water to drink. We thanked Swamy Ramanujar for casting his glance on us. They offered the fruits and gave karpoora aarthi. We first had darshan of Swamy Ramanujar and then of Sri Mudaliandan whose sannidhi is on the left. Even the aged archakar who accompanied us was shocked. Thanked the Lord profusely and after taking few photos left the place.
The temple was now closed. Sri Krishnaraj Bhattar invited us to his Thirumaligai and we were treated with sumptuous lunch and started off on our return journey to Mysore via Saligramam.
Reached Saligram at about 5 P.M. On reaching Saligramam, while we were enquiring route to temple, the local residents informed that the temple would be closed and directed us to archakar’s house. The archakar along with his little son accompanied us to the temple which is about 2 kms from his residence. The small temple situated in serene surroundings has Swamy Ramanujar’s Thiruvadigal. Pooja and all upacharaams are done to the Thiruvadigal. The archakar removed the copper covering and we could have NIja Paada darsanam of Swamy Ramanujar. Below RAmanujar’s Thiruvadigal, the figures of Mudaliandan Swamy, Embar and Vaduga Nambi are engraved. Near the entrance on the left side, we were captivated by a beautiful figure of Swamy Ramanujar as Sesharoopam (similar to the one in Thondanur). After circumbulating the temple, the priest took us to “Sripada Theertham”- a small pond sanctified by Sri Mudaliandan’s Thiruvadigal. The archakar ensures that this place is not polluted by locking the gate. The archakar collected some water and sprinkled the holy water on us . We felt blessed to be purified by the most sacred water. We were constantly remembering asmath acharyan glorifying the importance of Sripada Theertham. Only in our Thirumaligai, Sripada theertham is given to everyone.. The photos and videos can be viewed here:-
It took about an hour for us to reach Srirangapatinam . As there was heavy rush in the evening, we paid our obeisances from outside and boarded Bangalore express from Srirangapatinam.
On 2nd June, adiyongal along with my sister and brother-in-law visited Dodda mallur, the place visited by Sri Mudaliandan Swamy. Had darsanam of the Lord Navaneetha Krishnan in “Vennai kaapu” and visited shrines of our acharyars. Proceeded to Nagamangala which took about 3 hours . Luckily the temple was open and we had darsanam of Sri Sowmya Kesava Perumal along with our ubhaya nachiyars and utsava murthis ,Narasimhar and Venugopalan. The priest pointed a sculpture on the ceiling explaining that a nagam has coiled itself in such a way that the head (considered to be Rahu) and tail(considered to be Keshu) meet. Hence this kshetram is famous as Raghu-Kethu kshetram and all malefic effects caused by these two planets get cured by visiting this place. The priest hastamed over our diary saying that the watchman had kept it safely. The Vijaya sthambam was inaugurated by Swami Ramanujar and later this temple was built.
We reached Hubli on 5th from Bangalore and took a connecting train to Gadag which is about 60 kms from Hubli. Reached the temple at 10A.M.
Gadag known as Kruthapuram is one of the pancha Narayana kshetram. The presiding Perumal is Sri Veera Narayananabout 5 feet clad in yellow pithambaram holding chakram on the upper hastam and sankhu on the lower side. The lower right hastam is in abhaya mudra and the Lord holds blossomed Padmam in lower left hastam (like Guruvayurappan). A gadam is placed on the right side. Ubhaya nachiyars-Sridevi and Bhudevi about 1.5 ft are on either sides. The utsava murthi is Krishnar . As the moolavar is Saligrama thirumeni, every day thirumanjanam is performed to Perumal.
The dasa avataaras of Perumal are beautifully engraved on the arch covering Perumal. He said that Perumal here is “Darshana Murthi”-we had Thiruvadi darsanam referring to Lord Srinivasar in Tirumala as Kanchana Murthi, Lord Panduranga as Bhajana murthi and Lord Jagannath in Puri as “Bhoga murthi”. As Kruthu muni did penance here, this place is known after him as Kruthapuram” . While circumbulating the sannidhi, we visited Narasimhar sannidhi which is behind Sri Veera Narayanan’s sannidhi. Opposite to Narasimhar sannidhi, we can find a small brindavan (tulasi pot) with Raghavendra Swamy. We were told that saint Raghavendra Swamy visited this place and after he attained Samadhi, as per his instructions, little mud from his Brindavan at Mantralayam was brought and kept in this place. During Sravan month (Aavani), 3days pooja is performed here. Navaratiri utsavam for 10 days and Gokulasthami are celebrated grandly. They celebrat Sri Krishna Janmashtami when Rohini is ascendant and decorate the Lord with floral garlands..
Sri Krishnachari gudi who is incharge of temple affairs can be contacted on 099019 15561 and the priest Sri Rameshachargudi on 099457 18229. The temple timings are 5A.M.-12 and 5P.M. -8.30 P.M.
Thus by acharyar’s anugraham , adiyongal could visit all the sacred places. With a prayer to enhance our bhakti and enlighten us more about our Poorvacharyars and Ramanuja darsanam , adiyen humbly offers this write up at the feet of asmath acharyar and seeks forgiveness from the bhagavatas for this agnani’s mistakes and correct adiyen.
Adiyen Ramanuja dasan
Sriman Narayana Charanau Saranam Prapathye
Srimathe Narayanaya namah
Sri Kumudavalli sametha Thirumangai Azhwar Saranam Prapathye
Srimathe Ramanujayah namah
Sri Dasarathaya namah
Sri Vara Vara Muniye namah
Offering obeisances to asmath Acharyar, Sri Mudaliandan Swamy, Adiyen wishes to share our experience at Thirunangoor this year. Due to acharyar’s kataksham, adiyen could participate in Manjal kuliyal after a gap of 11 years and also have acharyar’s darshan.
We reached Sirkazhi at 11.30 P.M. and took an auto to Annan kovil for refreshing at Sri.Balaji’s swamin thirumaligai, we got ready to go to Thirunagari temple, the place from where the procession starts, and reached Thirunagari temple which is about 12 kms from Annan kovil.
In the village of Thirunangoor near Sirkazhi, every year Thai Amavasya and the succeeding 2days are celebrated in a grand manner. On Thai Amavasya, Thirumangai Azhwar is given Manjal Kuliyal(holy bath with turmeric water) which is being celebrated for more than 12 centuries, on the next day, 11 Garuda Seva is celebrated which is more than a 100 year old festival. The third day marks the return of Azhwar to Tiruvali-Thirunagari temple. Srivaishnavas make it a point to participate in these festivities.
Many bhagavathas had gathered in front of the temple and several autos were parked near the temple. Usually, devotees engage a vehicle to go to these temples which are located in and around Thirunangoor within a radius of about 40 kms.and participate in the festivities. Blessed are the devotees who go behind the Azhwar by foot on that day. To cover all these 13 temples, the auto drivers charged app Rs .900/-
As this is celebrated every year, Adiyen wishes to narrate the happenings of the day in brief in present continuous …..(for many thousands of years to come, this has to be celebrated and cherished by bhagavatha bandhus)
On Thai Amavasya (no moon ) midnight, at sharp 0130 hours , Azhwar along with Kumudavalli Thayar accompanied by the deity worshipped by Thirumangai Azhwar himself named “Sindhanaiku Iniyan”(one who is sweet for contemplating) and a small vigraham of the diety and Sri Ramanujar’s vigraham seated in a well decorated palanquin leave the Thiruvaali Thirunagari premises. To mark the arrival of Azhwar, crackers are burst and trumpets blown. The temple elephant leads the procession followed by a horse and azhwar’s palanquin follows.
The procession leaves thirunagari temple and heads towards Thirukuraiyalur, the birth place of Azhwar situated about 12 kms at 1 .AM . It takes more than one hour for the procession to reach Thirukuraliyur.. The procession winds its way through narrow, rough, dislevelled, stony roads in the dark. There are no street lights. As Azhwar used to start in the midnight for his hunting expedition, this system is followed. The palanquin bearers about 20 persons literally run through these roads carrying the Azhwar unmindful of the stony path. With the routes cleaned with water and kolams drawn , the residents both young and old alike eagerly wait to receive Azhwar . The procession stops at few places and mangala aarthi is given to Azhwar. Finally the procession reaches Thirukuraiyalur temple , the birth place of Azhwar. The presiding diety, Lord Narasimhar eagerly awaits Azhwar’s arrival.
Upon arrival, amidst mangala vaadyam, the Azhwar is received with full temple honours. The temple priest approaches Azhwar with Perumal’s parivattam , garlands etc and welcome him. Azhwar accepts the same and in return the priest is given a gift of garland and parivattam adorned by Azhwar. Azhwar’s procession enters the temple. In this way, Azhwar is received at all the temples and this procedure is followed at all places In one temple, Hare Krishna maha mantram is sung whereas in another temple, musical fest is performed.
Azhwar faces Perumal. As this is the first temple, the prabhandham starts with the recitation of Thirupallandu, Kanninunsiruthambhu, followed by Azhwar’s Thaniyan and the 1st decad of Peria Thirumozhi- “Vaadinen Vaadi”.. is recited in chorus by nearly 200 srivaishnavas. Then food offering is made to Perumal and then to Azhwar. Karpoora aarthi is given to Azhwar and Saatrumarai is recited followed by Azhwar’s Vaazhi Thirunaamam. Prashad is distributed to the assembled devotees(usually sweet and pongal). Devotees have darshan of Thirumangai Azhwar’s moola vigraham in the temple prakaaram . ( In this temple, Azhwar is alone whereas at Mangai maadam, Azhwar is with Kumudavalli Thayar.)
Leaving Thirukuraiyalur, the procession marches its way to Thirumangai maadam, the birth place of Kumudavalli Thayar. It takes about 30 minutes for the procession to reach this place. At Thirumangai maadam, the reception is more grand as it is Azhwar’s in-laws’ place. Here the presiding diety is Sri.Veera Narasimhar. Inside the temple towards right, a small vigraham of Azhwar with his kumudhavalli nachiyar welcomes. Azhwar is received with full temple honours . Mangalasaasanam to Lord Narasimhar is done by reciting the decad of pasuram on Ahobila Narasimhar from Peria Thirumozhi by the assembled bhagavatas . Later food offering is done to Perumal and then to Azhwar and saaturmarai and vaazhi thirunaamam are recited. Rice upma and Pongal offered to the Lordships is distributed to all the assembled devotees .
The above two temples are the birth places of Azhwar and Nachiyar. From Thirumangai madam, Azhwar starts visiting the 11 divya desams in and around Thirunangoor. On the first day morning, Azhwar visits 3 divyadesams-Thirukaavalampadi, Thirumanikoodam,Thirupaarthanpalli, 5 temples in the evening-namely, Thirumanimada Kovil, Thiruvan Purushothaman Kovil, Thiru Vaikunta Vinnagaram Kovil, Thiru Sempon Sei Kovil, Thiru Thetri Ambalan Kovil, Thiru Arimeya Vinnagaram Kovil. and 3 temples ,namely, Thiruvellakulam (Annan Koil), Thiru Devanar Thogai, and Thiruvali and reaches Thirunagari.on his way back to Thirunagari.
At each divyadesam, Azhwar is received with full temple honours- mangala vaadyam is played, the corresponding temple priest bears a plate containing Perumal’s parivattam and garland on his head, the Perumal’s umbrella and other insignia etc .is brought forward. Azhwar adorns Lord’s parivattam and garland and Srisatari is offered to Azhwar. Azhwar felicitates the representative similarly and enters the temple. Mangalaasaasanam on that Perumal comprising of 10 stanzas rendered by Azhwar is recited . This is followed by Neivedyam and saatrumarai.
Azhwar leaves Thiurpaarthanpalli at about 10 A.M. and reaches Manjal kuliyal mandapam in an hour’s time. Azhwar ‘s procession is taken thru canal to reach the place (this route is not accessible by vehicles hence they take a different route). In the meantime, at Manjal Kuliyal mandapam which is on the banks of Manikarnikarai(a tirubtary of Cauvery), a group of samartha Vaishnavas glorify Azhwar and sing important pasurams from Peria thirumozhi- Vaadinen Vaadi…., Thaaye Thandhai endrum….” and other pasurams set to mind rapturing melodious tunes accompanied by musical instruments like harmonium, kartaal. The entire area is electrified with bhakti. Few devotees dance in ecstasy. The entire area surrounding Manjal kuliyal mandapam wears a festive look- we can see vendors selling books, CDs, photos,toys, tender coconut etc while few residents engage in offering buttermilk to the assembled devotees. All the 11 villages gather together and organize a large scale feast to serve the bhagavatas.
The residents of Thirunangoor feel very pleased to serve the bhagavatas. WE can see many residents stopping us on the way and request us to have hot milk offered by them and thank us when we fulfill their wish. They follow Azhwar in serving bhagavatas and opine that Azhwar would be pleased with them only when they serve the bhagavatas. We can see the residents irrespective of age doing this service. In the afternoons, they offer buttermilk. Few residents have the practice of offering food to 1000 srivaishnavas once in a year even today . they are unmindful of the rising prices and are keen only on serving the bhagavatas and thus obtain Azhwar’s mercy……This can be seen only at Thirunangoor.
On reaching Manikarnikarai, the palanquin bearers literally jump into the cool muddy waters along with Azhwar . While they stand in knee deep waters, pasurmas rendered by Azhwar on his acharyar, Thirunaraiyur Nambi are recited along with pasuram on SriRanganathar. The muddy water is splashed on Azhwar’s thirumeni. Azhwar is honoured with the gifts sent by Sri Ranganathar and thirunaraiyur Nambi. A priest from Srirangam temple brings forth Perumal’s parivattam and garland (uduthi kalaindha peethaga aadai and soodi kudutha maalai) with a golden umbrella and offers the same to Azhwar. With the sole desire to construct the surrounding walls of Srirangam temple, Azhwar resorted to wayside robbery and plundering wealth. To honour Azhwar for the various kainkaryams done by him like constructing walls, starting Thiruadhyanautsavam etc.,, Ranganathar sends parivattam and garland. Likewise, Lord Thirunaraiyur Nambi of Nachiyar kovil, Kumbakonam who is considered as Azhwar’s guru (as HE gave him the mantropadesam) feels pleased with HIS student and sends parivattam etc. After this, Azhwar is taken to Manjal kuliyal mandapam for giving holy bath,Thirumanjanam.
Azhwar alongwith Kumudavalli Nachiyar is placed in the centre, to the left, Lord Sindhanikku Iniyan along with Ubhaya Naachiyars and silver utsava murthi is placed .to the right of Azhwar, a small vigraham of Sri Ramanujar is placed. Thirumanjanam with water, milk, curd, tender coconut, turmeric water etc .is first performed to Lord Sindhanikku Iniyan, then to azhwar and lastly to Sri Ramanujar. After this, the silver utsava murthi of Sindhanaiku Iniyan is taken to Manikarni karai and given a holy dip. This marks the end of Manjal Kuliyal. A curtain is drawn and after few minutes, the devotees can have darshan of Azhwar along with Nachiyar adorned with floral garlands. Thirumanjana theertha prasadam is offered to the assembled devotees and once again the curtain is drawn for decorating the deities which takes about an hour or so.
Meantime, most of the assembled devotees are served prashad in the nearby school premises while few devotees get the opportunity to have prasadam in thirumaligai. In almost every house, Thadhiaaradhanai is done (serving bhagavatas).
At about 6 P.M., Azhwar reaches Thirumanimada kovil popularly known as Narayana Perumal kovil. It is here that 11 Garuda sevai is performed. The garuda vahanams of all Perumals are kept here in designated mandapams. Azhwar is greeted as usual and pasurams comprising of Thirupallandu, Kanninunsiruthambhu, respective pasuram from Peria Thirumozhi are recited followed by neivedyam, saatrumarai and vaazhi thirunaamam.
Azhwar then visits Thiruvanpurushothaman kovil where professional musicians entertain Azhwar by exhibiting their talent in playing nadaswaram and mrudangam . After mangalasaasanam, Azhwar visits Manavaala maamunigal sannidhi in the temple precincts. Azhwar was one of the favourites for Manavala mamunigal mamunigal organizes the 11 garuda seva on the following day.
From there, Azhwar reaches the remaining temples and returns to Manimada kovil after midnight.
On the succeeding day,all the divya desa Perumals arrive in palanquins from their respective places and reach Thirumanimada kovil.. In the evening, Thirumanjanam is performed to all the deities who are later well decorated. The deities occupy their respective Garuda vaahanams . At about 1030 P.M., the much awaited Garuda sevai begins. Manavaala mamunigal in his parangi naarkali comes out first and receives Azhwar seated on Hamsa vahanam. One by one all the Perumals arrive in Garuda vaahanams. Mangalasaasanam sung by Azhwar is recited and after due honours, the Perumal goes round the 4 mada streets..
On the third day, after all the divyadesa Perumals leave to their respective divyadesams, Azhwar also leaves Manimada kovil.. On the way he visits Annan Kovil where he is received grandly as he is considered as their “Maapillai”(son-in-law”). Finally Azhwar reaches Thirunagari where Vayalaali Manavalan-the presiding diety of Thiruvali-Thirunagari temple waits near the entrance on Garuda Vaahanam to welcome Azhwar . Perumal and Azhwar then enter into the temple together. This marks the end of the three day festivities at Thirunangoor which is celebrated for more than 140 years.
Due to laukik commitments, Adiyen could participate only in Manjal Kuliyal. Adiyen begs the bhagavatas to bless me to once again participate in all the three day festivities. Azhwar graced Adiyen by allowing me to visit Singaperumalkovil and have darshan of Sri Ranganathar, Pataladri Narasimhar and our Acharyar.
Adiyen concludes this travelogue and profusely thank the bhagavatas for patient reading and advise this insignificant, ignorant soul who is groping in darkness attempting to find a way to enlightenment.
SRIMAN NARAYANAYA CHARANAU SARANAM PRAPATHYE
SRIMATHEY NARAYANAYAH NAMAH
SRI ARAVINDAVALLI NAYIKA SAMETHA SRI BADRINARAYANAYA NAMAH
SRI PUNDARIKAVALLI NAYIKA SAMETHA SRI PURUSHOTHAMAYA NAMAH
SRI PARIMALAVALLI NAYIKA SAMETHA SRI PARAMPURUSHAYA NAMAH
SRIMATHE RAMANUJAYA NAMAH
Due to the grace of the Divya Dampadhigal and Acharyar, Adiyen
was blessed to visit Thiru Badrinath and other divya desams enroute
during October,2003 along with my family. After returning from
Badrinath, Adiyen also visited Tirumala-Tirupati and participated in
Vimsathi darshanam a scheme which allows a family of 6 members to
have Suprabatham, Nijapada and SahasraDeepalankara seva for any 2
consecutive days in a year . It was only due to the abundant grace of
Thiruvengadamudaiyan adiyen was able to vist all the Divya desams
without any difficulty.
Before proceeding further, Adiyen would like to thank all the internet
bhagavathas especially Sri Rangasri group members and M.S.Ramesh
for providing abundant information about these divya desams. I have
uploaded a Map of the hills again downloaded from UP Tourism site for
ready reference . As Adiyen had not planned the trip in advance, it was
not possible to join “package tour”
organised by number of travel
agencies and could not do as it was Off season. Adiyen wishes to
share my experience with all of you and request the bhagavathas to
correct the shortcomings. Adiyen was blessed to take my father aged
about 70 years a heart patient , to this divya desam and it would not
be an exaggeration to say that only because of my acharyar’s and
elders’ blessings , the trip was very comfortable.
Adiyen boarded Secunderabad Rajdhani Express bound to New Delhi
on 1st October,2003 and spent the whole day in train . Chi
Ranganathan my younger brother ,Chi Narayanan and Chi Srinivasan
my nephews had come to see us off. On 2nd , we reached Delhi at
5.15 in the morning . From Hazrat Nizamuddin station, we went to
Delhi station and boarded Dehradun-Shatabdi Express at 6.45 A.M.
Reached Haridwar at 11.30 A.M. The train stops here for about 3
minutes only. We checked in a nearby Hotel Darshan (Rs.175/-per
day) which is on the banks of Holy Ganges . We stayed here on 2nd
night and 3rd morning and visited Brahma Kund, Hari ki Pauri, Chandi
Devi Temple, Saptarishi Ashram, Gayatri Devi temple and went to
Rishikesh by 7 seater auto (fare Rs.20/-per head). There are few
Madrasi hotels like Mysore Hotel where you get South Indian food.
A BRIEF INTRODUCTION TO HARIDWAR :
HARIDWAR is a busy small town with a floating population of
piligrims. The days are hot and the nights are not that cold. This place
is surrounded by SHIVALIK mountains. “HARIDWAR”
is Hari ka Dwar
or Har Ke Dwar “
the Gateway to Heavens”. This is the starting point
to visit the four sacred “dhams”
(sacred places) namely, Gangotri,
Yamunotri, Badrinath and Kedarnath. This town is situated at the foot
of the Himalayas. Haridwar is the temple town of India. The moment
one reaches Haridwar , THE THOUGHT ABOUT MATERIAL WORLD GETS
DISSOLVED AND WE START LIKING THE PEOPLE AND PLACE .And
after a holy bath in the Ganges, the spirit in us gets charged with
bhakti-ras , all the sins get wiped off. We try to understand Lords
creation and start accepting that in the fast moving world one can find
solace when we visit these Holy places . There are innumerable
ashrams and temples in Haridwar. We can find innumerable saints ,
foreigners and Yogis on the street. If one finds time, one can visit few
temples like Manasi Devi temple, Chandi Devi temple, Hari Ki Pauri,
Brahma Kundam, Bharat Mata temple, Vaishnavo Devi temple,
Saptarishi Ashram, Gayatri Devi temple etc. Other temples of interest
are Maya Devi temple dedicated to Goddess Durga, Shravan nath
temple, Bholagiri temple, Gorakasha nath temple, Kangra Mandir, Gita
Bhavan, Bhairon Akhara, Bilkeshwara Mahadeva, Pawandham temple,
Gurudwara Shri Guru Singh Sabha, Parmath Ashram etc .Few of
which were visted by us .
It is at this place that the holy Ganges enters the plains to atone the
sins of millions of sinners. Once in 12 years, “Kumbh Mela”
place at this place and once in 6 years “Ardh Kumbh Mela (half Kumbh
Mela). The other places where Kumbh Mela takes place are at
Allhaabad, Nasik and Ujjain. The astrological date of Kumbh at
Haridwar falls when Venus (Sukran) and Jupiter(Guru) coincide with
Aquarius (Kumbh) and the Sun and Moon are on the Aries and
Sagittarius respectively. It is believed that few drops of nectar are
believed to have fallen here and hence a dip in Ganges during Kumbh
Mela is considered to be sacred as it bestows longevity and spiritual
upliftment. The preparations for the next Kumbh Mela scheduled to
take place in 2004 has already started. There are innumerable
temples and many sacred places in Haridwar.
Out of this , the most important ones are
1. Hari-Ki-Pauri –
This is near Brahma Kundam. This is the place
where Lord Vishnu’s Thiruvadi are found and is the starting point of
Ganges. The story of Ganges coming down to earth may be briefly
recapitulated. Due to the severe penance of Bhagirathan, Ganges
was brought down to earth and as the earth could not withstand the
pressure, ParamaSivan caught hold of her in his matted lock and
allowed it to split into several tributaries, namely, Alakananda,
Bhagirathi, Nandakini, Garuda Ganga, Bhyur Ganga, Mandakini etc.
All these tributaries traverse through the Himalayas in different
routes , merge with Alakananda at different places which are known
and finally join at Haridwar. Here she is known as
Ganges and hence Haridwar is the starting point of Ganges. All of
us had holy dip in Ganges . There are many small temples
situated here and Ganga Aarathi is performed daily in the evening
2. BRAHMA KUNDAM: This is the place where Brahma welcomed
Ganges to earth and had his first holy dip in Ganges. It is believed
that a dip in this Brahmakund brings salvation from all sins and a
freedom from the bondages of the world. Therefore, pious people
from all over the world come here to have bath in this sacred place.
There are many temples dedicated to Lord Vishnu, Ganga Maatha,
Durga Devi, Sri Ramar, Sri Krishnar etc. on the banks of the river.
It is believed that any “dhaanam”
(sacrifice) done here fetches
multifold benefits, especially, pooja and dhaanam done to cows
(Gomatha). Also, it is believed that if one performs “pithru
kaaryam” at this place it is very beneficial.
All of us had holy bath at Brahma Kundam near Hari Ki Pauri on 3rd
October,2003. We performed “GOPOOJA”
(pooja to cow), offered
some hay laddus specially made for these cows (You get 25 laddus for
Rs.10/-) and left the place.
MANASA DEVI TEMPLE: This Goddess, daughter of Shiva and
form of Shakti fulfills the desires of the true and sacred souls. This
temple which is one km away from Haridwar is situated on top of
Shivalik Hills on the western side. Usually, piligrims pray to this
Goddess for completing their yaatrai successfully. Trekking this hill
would take about half an hour. There is also a rope way to this
temple from Ratan Cinema Hall. The charge for the same is Rs.30/
CHANDI DEVI TEMPLE: This temple is situated on the eastern
summit of Shiwalik Hills on top of Neelkant Parvath. This temple is 6
km off the city on the other side of Ganges. It may take about an hour
or so to climb this hill. There is a ropeway to this temple also and it is
essential to carry water as there is no drinking water on top of the hill.
The charge for the ropeway is Rs.60/-. One has to travel for about 15
minutes by vehicle to reach the foot of this hill and then start trekking.
The ropeway facility organised by Uttaranchal state is called as
UDDANKOTLA” . They operate ropeway service to both Manasi Devi
and Chandi Devi temples. The fare for this package tour is Rs.120/-.
If the height of a child is above 3 feet, then full fare is charged. In this
package tour, a drinking water bottle, a cap, pooja materials etc , a
brochure giving the details about the temples are given. The visitors
are taken by a van to the starting point of this Udaan Kotla service
and from there the ropeway starts. It takes about 15 minutes to reach
Chandi Devi temple by ropeway. Then , one has to climb few steep
steps which may take about 10 minutes to reach Chandi Devi temple.
We were welcomed by many monkeys as in Ayodhya and Brindavan.
We could see devotees tying some piece of cloth as “praarthanai”
having darshan of the Goddess, we went to Anjani Devi temple,
mother of Hanuman. There are other temples dedicated to Durga,
Maa Kali etc. Came back to the ropeway junction and returned to the
original starting point. There is another ropeway in another direction
to go to Manasi Devi temple. As we didn’t have time, we didn’t visit
this temple.We visited these temples on 2nd (took package tour for
Rs.120/-) and attended evening Ganga Aarthi at Hari Ki Pauri which is
a feast to the eyes.
On 3rd morning, after having holy dip at Brahma Kundam ,we hired an
auto for Rs.150/-to visit Saptarishi Ashram, Gayatri temple, Bharat
Matha temple, Vaishnavo Devi temple.
GAYATRI DEVI TEMPLE:-First, we visited Gayatri Devi temple which
is enroute to Rishikesh. After 20 minutes drive, we reached this
temple. There are 3 entrances to this temple. Near the entrance,
there are life-size idols of 7 rishis. There is a temple dedicated to
Gayatri Matha. In a separate hall, continuous chanting of Gayatri
Mantram goes on right from 5 in the morning to 7 in the evening. We
could see many devotees including ladies doing japam without any
disturbance. The temple committee provides free anna dhanam (food)
to the visiting devotees daily.
SAPTARISHI ASHRAM: (10 minutes drive from Gayatri Devi mandir).
This place was known as “Kamandulu”
. This place is also connected
to the story of Ganges coming down to earth. When Ganges was
following King Bhagirath in his chariot, it passed by an ashram where
the sapta rishis were engrossed in deep penance and stopped its flow.
When questioned by Bhagirath, Ganges replied that she was caught in
the kamandalam (water pot) of the sapta rishis and was unable to
move further. Bhaigrath prayed to the sapta rishis who then allowed
her to flow in 7 streams. This place is very calm and serene. There
are temples dedicated to Goddess Saraswati, Lord Srinivasar, Radha-
Krishna, Sita-Ram along with Lakshmanan and Hanumar, Siva in
the centre which are artistically built.This ashram was inaugurated by
Late Rajendra Prasad during his Presidency. This was built and is
being maintained by Sanatana Dharma Sabha of Punjab.
From Sapta rishi ashram, we went to Bharat Matha temple which is 4
kms away from the city.
VAISHNAVO DEVI TEMPLE: This temple is near Bharath Matha
temple. This is a replica of the famous Vaishnavo Devi Temple at
Jammu. The caves , sannidhis have been artistically built. In the
entrance, you can find huge idols of Vinayaka and Hanumar. Apart
from there, there are beautiful idols of other Gods and Goddesses – a
model of Kailash mountains, Kedarnath, Ganges flowing from matted
locks of Shiva are worth mentioning. There is also a replica of
Amarnath temple in the same premises. You can find replica of
lingams found in Srisailam, Kedarnath, Rameswaram etc. This temple
is worth seeing.After visiting the above temples, we came back to
Haridwar at 1 P.M and packed up to Rishikesh.
RISHIKESH:-We went to Rishikesh by seven-seater auto/tempo
(Rs.20/-per head) from Haridwar. Rishikesh houses innumerable
ashrams . It has a floating population of many piligrims going to
Badrinath and Kedarnath and many foreign tourists who are interested
in mountaineering. The details about the important places to be visited
are mentioned later .
We reached Rishikesh at 3.15 P.M. From Rishikesh, we had to take
another tempo to go to JET .Jeeyar Mutt which is near to Lakshman
Jhoola. We were told by our co-passengers that it was not possible to
go to Badrinath due to transport strike . The Uttaranchal
Government has passed a rule that vehicles which were more than 10
years old would not be allowed to travel in Ghat section. Hence, the
vehicle owners were on strike. We were totally dejected on hearing
this and prayed to Perumal. As we had planned to stay at Jeeyar Mutt,
we asked the driver to stop in front of Jeeyar Mutt. But the driver
stopped on the main road itself and said that we have to walk for 5
minutes in a lane to reach the Jeeyar Mutt. The day was really hot
and we were hesitating to go by walk along with our luggage and
children. On enquiry, we were told that Andhra Bhavan owned by TTD
was on the main road itself. Hence, we decided to go to Andhra
Bhavan directly. The moment we saw the divya mangala vigraham of
Lord Srinivasar, all our hopes were revived and we were fully confident
about our journey because we have ultimately reached
Thiruvengadamudaiyan’s Thiruvadigal. Luckily, accomodation was
available and the room rent per day is Rs.30/-. As we opted for VIP
room, we had to pay Rs.75/- as room rent. The advantage is you get a
furnished room with geyser facility . There is a temple of Lord
Srinivasar just beside the guest house and here all the sevas,
aaradhanais are done exactly as in Tirumala. After refreshing
ourselves, we went to temple to attend the evening pooja at 5 P.M.
Divya Prabhandam was being recited. TTD also maintains a Saivaite
temple which is beside Andhra Bhavan.
Every morning at 5 , the Lord is awakened with the recitation of
Suprabhatham. This seva is followed by Thomala Seva at 6 A.M.
During this seva, the utsava vigraham “Bhoga Srinivasar”
Thirumanjanam (holy bath), flowers are adorned to the Moolavirat
while reciting Thiruppavai; Sahasranaama Archana is performed to
Lord and this seva is followed by Saatrumarai at 7 A.M. As in
Tirumala, the Saivaite priest recites Suprabhatham and Archanai. This
priest is also incharge of the Shiva temple which is maintained by TTD.
Another priest aged about 60 who is exclusively employed for reciting
Naalayira Divya Prabhandham recites Thiruppavai. After
Suprabhatham, the Lord enjoys Annamacharya kirthanas played with
the help of Naadaswaram(. The tickets for all the above sevas is Rs.5/per
head per seva. The second Saatrumarai is at 11 A.M. and after
this, the temple is closed. The rate for bhogam (offering) starts from
Rs.250/-) We were told that even the proportion of ingredients for
cooking prasadams are followed exactly as in Tirumala.The temple
re-opens at 4 P.M. Daily divya prabhandham is recited in the
evenings. Ekantha Seva is the best seva and the last seva in the
evening . Like in Tirumala, during this sevai, all the flower garments
are removed and lullaby annamaya kirtanas are played by the troup. I
request the bhagavathas visiting Badrinath to spend atleast a day in
this temple and attend all the sevas . The phone number is
In the evening, we went to Sriman Narayana Ramanuja Chinna Jeeyar
Mutt which is very near to Andhra Ashram. The advantage in staying in
Chinna Jeeyar Mutt is you are provided with both boarding and
Lodging, whereas in Andhra Bhavan, we don’t have this facility. We
went there to enquire about the stay facilities at Badrinath in Jeeyar
Mutt. We were told that as winter was about to begin, the volunteers
in Jeeyar Mutt were preparing to shift from Badrinath to Joshirmutt
and hence no accomodation would be given . Usually soon after
Vijayadasami, the mutt would be closed for winter. As only 3 days
were left for Vijayadasami, accomodation would not be given. It may
be mentioned here that in Haridwar and Rishikesh, there are
innumerable tourist offices which offer you to take to Badrinath,
Kedarnath, Gangotri, Yamunotri and other hill stations. So, if anyone
is planning to go on own to Badrinath, we can very well go to
Rishikesh and book either bus ticket or arrange a cab to go to
Badrinath. The bus fare is Rs.225/-per head and car hire charges for
3 days and 2 nights costs about Rs.3,000/-.We went to one of the
tourist offices situated right opposite to Andhra Bhavan and booked
bus tickets to go to Badrinath. It takes about 12 hours to go to Jyothi
Mutt locally known as Joshirmutt and after night stay at Jyothi Mutt ,
the bus would proceed to Badrinath the next day. The decision was
taken as Elders advised it was wise to travel in a Bus as in case of any
landslide etc the bus will return with the passengers from the opposite
direction and the passengers proceeding will board the bus which will
go back upwards saving time and ensuring continuity. As we were
interested in covering all the prayags,(namely , Dev Prayag, Karna
Prayag, Rudra Prayag, Nand Prayag and Vishnu Prayag), we enquired
whether the bus would stop at the places already mentioned above for
which the reply was in affirmative. We were told that the bus would
leave at 8 A.M. We once again went to Srinivasar kovil, and prayed
LORD for his grace. (attended Ekantha Seva at 9 P.M., paid for next
day’s dhadhiaaradhanai in the morning and after praying to Perumal
for safe journey , we did a bit of last minute shopping and retired for
A BRIEF INTRODUCTION ABOUT THE HIMALAYAS:
The Himalayan mountains are divided into various mountain ranges,
Garhwal Himalayas, Central Himalayas, Annapurna ranges and so on.
They stretch from Jammu upto Nepal. The Himalayas are the abode of
Gods and innumerable saints contemplate on the Lord at this place.
There are 4 Vaishnava divya desams in the Himalayas itself. “
Kandam ennum Kadinagar”
popularly known as Dev Prayag,
Thirupiridhi popularly known as Joshirmutt and Badrinath are
located in the Garhwal Himalayas.
is located in the Annapurna ranges. Other important
places are Vaishnavo Devi Temple, Kedarnath, Mount Kailash,
Amarnath temple to name a few.
There are many hill stations like Dehradun, Nainital, Mussourie etc.
A brief description of the route is mentioned below:
The routes to the 4 dhams are different. The routes to Kedarnath,
Gangotri, Yamunotri closes by September whereas the route to
Badrinath is accessible upto October.
Gangotri is the place where Ganges descended from Heavens. The
rock on which Bhagirathan did penance is known as Bhagiratha Shila.
Gaumukh from where the Ganges flows is of importance. There is a
temple dedicated to Ganges. There is a motorable road to approach
this place from Rishikesh. There are 2 routes to go to Kedarnath –via
Uttar Khashi and via Rudra Prayag . A dip at Gaumukh absolves one
of all the sins.
Yamunotri is the starting point of Yamuna. There are many hot water
springs here. Can be approached from Gangotri but one has to walk
for atleast 13 kms as there is no motorable road.
Kedarnath : The route to Kedarnath diverges at Rudra Prayag. One
has to trek for 14 kms from Gauri Kund. This is at an higher altitude
than Badrinath. The routes to the above 3 places closes by September.
Badrinath: There is motorable road upto the temple. From mid April
to October, the temple is open for public. The route is given in detail:
The route to Badrinath from Rishikesh is as follows:
Rishikesh-Dev Prayag (45miles )-Srinagar (19 miles from Dev
Prayag)-Rudra Prayag (19 miles from Srinagar)-Karna Prayag (20
miles from Gauchar)-Nand Prayag (13 miles from Karna Prayag)Chamoli-
Pipal Kote-Garuda Ganga-Helang-Joshirmutt-Govind Ghat-
Hanuman Chatti –Deva Darshani-Badrinath
Legends connected with the characters in Ramayanam and
Mahabharatam find place in the Himalayas as Lord Rama, Lakshmana,
Hanumar, Pandavas resorted to Himalayas for their penance.
All the above places are enroute to Badrinath. A brief description of the
above places is given below:
1. DEV PRAYAG: Situated at a height of 1700 feet, this is one of the
Vaishnavite divya desams known as “Kandum Ennum Kadinagar”.
Here, Alakananda (after joining with other tributaries) joins with
Bhagirathi to become Ganges. It takes about 2-3 hours to reach
this place from Rishikesh. Lord Rama is the presiding deity here
(there is no temple for Perumal described by Azhwars )-Banyan
tree in front of the temple is of importance-Anna dhanam fetches
manifold benefits-A detailed description of our visit to this divya
desam is mentioned later)
2. SRI NAGAR: Previously this was the capital of the Garhwali kings-
A small town at a height of 1800 feet -There is a temple for
Kamaleshwar Mahadev who was worshipped by Lord Rama with
1008 flowers. Shiva who wanted to test Sri Rama’s bhakti, removed
one flower. When Lord Rama found that one flower was missing,
unhesitatingly he removed his eyes (as He was Kamalakannan) and
offered the same to the Lord. Shiva was pleased with this and
appeared before Rama and blessed him. Hence, this Lord is known
as Kamaleshwar Mahadev. To visit this temple, one must take
diversion from the bus route. It is better to go by car as there is no
other transport facility.
3. RUDRA PRAYAG: This is 19 miles away from Srinagar at an
altitude of 2000 feet. The confluence of the rivers Mandakini
emergine from Kedarnath and Alakananda takes place. There is a
small temple dedicated to Rudra, one of the forms of Shiva. The
routes to Kedarnath and Badrinath are the same upto this place and
here the routes diverge. Narada Rishi did penance at this place and
was blessed with the knowledge of sangeetham at this place.
4. KARNA PRAYAG: This is 20 miles from Gauchar and appl 40 miles
from Rudra Prayag. This is a small town with boarding and lodging
facilities. There is a Tourist guest house and some wayside hotels
too. As Karna did penance here, this place has been named so. The
confluence of Alakananda and Pindar river from Pindar glacier
takes place. As there is no proper route, it is difficult to go and
sprinkle water from this Prayag. One has to go by foot and the
path is slippery.
5. NAND PRAYAG: 13 miles from Karna Prayag with some wayside
hotels. River Alakananda mingles with Nandakini at this place.
As there is no proper route, it is difficult to go and sprinkle water
from this Prayag. One has to go by foot and the path is slippery.
Mount Trisul can be seen from here.
6. CHAMOLI: This is the district headquarters and hence has all the
facilities like hotels, lodges, phones etc. Here, Birahi Ganga
meets with Alakananda . One can only watch the confluence.
7. PIPAL KOTE:-As piligrims going to Badrinath usually stay at either
Pipal Kote or Joshirmutt , it has many facilities. Garuda Ganga is
near this place. As Garuda did penance here to atone for the sins
committed by killing snakes, this place has come to be known thus.
There are 2 small temples dedicated to Lord Vishnu along with
Mahalakshmi and a separate temple for Garudazhwar. A narrow
steep path way leads to the river which flows very silently . It is
believed that the pebbles collected from this river wards off snakes
and other evil spirits. Usually, these pebbles are carried by
pregnant woman for a safe delivery. Nagadosham gets wiped off if
one consumes the sacred waters of the river.
8. HELANG: A small town with minimum facilities. Vruddha Badri
(one of the Pancha Badris) and Kalpeshwar (one of the Pancha
Kedars) are near this place.
9. JOSHIRMUTT: Situated at a height of 6000 feet, this is a busy
place. This is treated as “
divya desam by some
whereas others are of the opinion that Thirupiridhi is situated in the
midst of Himalayas on the banks of Manasa sarovaram beyond
Badrinath. It has many stay facilities. There is a temple dedicated
to Lord Narasimhar worshipped by Adi Sankaracharyar who was
bestowed jnanam (knowledge) to write a commentary on the
Vedanta Sutras. A detailed description of this divya desam is given
later. Vishnu Prayag (one of the Pancha Prayags), the confluence
of Dahuli Ganga with Alakananda is below Joshirmutt off the
10. GOVIND GHAT: At this place, there is a gate to go to Badrinath .
It is named after Sikh guru Sri Guru Govind, the 10th guru in their guru
parampara ,as he visited this place. As already mentioned the way to
Badrinath is one way. The gates open at specific timings (4 times )
starting from 8 A.M. and closes by 4 P.M. Bhyunder Ganga joins
with Hem ganga. The world famous “VALLEY OF FLOWERS”
miles away from this place. Here, flowers of the rarest varieties are
grown here There is no motorable road and has to be approached by
foot . Due to insufficient time, we didn’t visit this place. Also, the lake
of ice known as “HEM KUND”
is near Govind Ghat at an altitude of
15000 feet. It is surrounded by seven snowy peaks known as “SAPTA
. If one is prepared to spare a day or two, one can visit
these places. (We couldn’t visit this place)
PANDUKESHWAR : This is one of the Pancha Badris known as
As Pandavas were born here, it has been named so.
This is the winter abode of Lord Badrinarayanan. (But we were told
by the priest at Joshirmutt that Joshirmutt is the winter abode of
the Lord) (Adiyen requests for clarification.
HANUMAN CHATTI: A small temple on the roadside itself
dedicated to Hanumar. Hanumar humbled Bheema who was
filled with pride to shed his ego and Hanumar blessed Bheema that
he would accompany them in the forthcoming Mahabharata war by
sitting on Arjuna’s flag.
DEVADARSHINI: Situated at a height of 10,000 feet, one can
have a view of Badrinath.The wonderful snow capped Neelkant
Parvath can be viewed right from Joshirmutt.
Badrinath, more popularly known as “
VISHAL BADRI”, is one of the
four most important dhaams(piligrim centres-mukti tharum
kshetrams), a Vada naadu divya desam which every Srivaishnavite
desires to visit atleast once . It is the final destination for any seeker
aiming for salvation. The temple is surrounded by Nara and Narayana
mountains on either sides and river Alakananda (the most beautiful)
flows chanting the pious rhyms Har-Har after touching Perumal’s
Thiruvadi. The temple which is at an altitude of app. 3583 metres
from sea level is on Narayana parvatham. Guest houses and lodges
are situated in Nara parvatham. The Himalayan range consisting of
Gangotri, Yamunotri, Badrinath and Kedarnath was known as
Kedarkhand in Puranic age. The whole area is charged with spiritual
aura and it is advised to continously chant Perumal’s holy names in
this place. Full details about this kshetram has been given later.
Lord Narayana manifested Himself at this place to teach the world
about penance. When He was asked by Narada as to on whom
Perumal was meditating, Perumal replied that He was contemplating
on Himself. Only at this divya desam, Perumal is seen as Acharya
swaroopam. It was here Perumal expounded the Thirumantram to
Naran. Also, Thayar is not seen along with Perumal. She has spread
Herself as Badri vruksham to protect Perumal from nature. Hence,
Perumal is known as BADRI NARAYANAN.
Perumal is residing Here since ages. In Satya yugam, Perumal was
visible to everyone and devas and rishis offered prayers. In Treta
yugam, He was visible through penance. In Dwapara yugam, it was
becoming difficult even for sages to have His darshan. Perumal
answered their request that in Kali yugam, He would not be visible to
the mortal eyes and added that His vigraham was under Narad Shila in
Alakananda and ordered to perform pooja to the idol. If one sees that
idol, one gets the same reward of seeing Perumal in visible form.
Accordingly, the vigraham was taken out and a temple was
constructed by Viswakarma. Over a period of time, Buddhists
captured this temple, threw away the idol in Narad Kund and installed
their own idol. This idol was later recovered by Adi Sankaracharyar,
the details of which has been given later .
There are pancha Badris, namely, Adi Badri(19 kms from Karna Prayag
off the normal route), Yoga Badri(also known as Pandukeshwar at a
distance of 8 miles from Joshirmutt), Vridha Baddri (on Joshirmutt-
Animath route –off the main route),Bhavishya Badri ( entirely different
route from Joshirmutt via Saldhar( 19 kms from Joshirmutt) and from
there to go by walk (6 kms), also can be accessed from Badrinath) and
Vishal Badri which is the main temple.
The temple has been named as “VISHAL BADRI”
because the Lord
answered the prayers of a king named “VISHAL”
The Lord blessed the
king that he would be remembered by everyone as his name would be
attached to the Lord’s name. Hereafter , Badrinath means “VISHAl
There are many places of interest in and around Badrinath-Vyas Gufa,
Ganesh Gufa, Vasundhara Falls, River Saraswathi, Swarg Dhwar.
Bhavishya Badri (future Badri) is near Badrinath in the thick Tapovan
forests. When the present Badriaksramam becomes inaccessible , the
Lord would be worshipped at Bhavishya Badri. We are told that it
takes a full day to go there and come back as one has to walk the 16
kms (to and fro) path with the help of a guide.
Not only Srivaishnavites, even people belonging to other castes visit
this place to offer “PINDA DHAANAM”
to the departed souls. It is
considered to be more sacred than Kashi and Gaya. Usually, after
offering pinda dhaanam at Kashi and Gaya people visit this place.
At this juncture, I am briefly giving a checklist of luggage to be carried
Clothing:-Thick woolen sweaters, woolen caps,gloves (if required),
socks, shawls, an overcoat, 2 sets of clothes (depends on number of
days of stay at Badri), cotton Some supari, mint chocolates, sour
chocolates etc in case you suffer from giddiness while travelling (The
route is full of ‘U’
turns), minimum medicines like Crocin, cough syrup,
tablets for cold and regular medicines if you are a patient.
Food:-In case you are not that particular to have food prepared by
only Srivaishnavar, you get all types of food , including South Indian
food and coffee though it is a bit costly enroute . To digest rice in
that weather is a bit difficult . Hence, one can have chapattis during
Though the temple is opened from mid-April to mid-November, the
best time to visit the temple would be between May –June and Sep-
Oct. It rains during July and August and hence one has to face land
slides. It is snow-capped from Nov to April; May , June, Oct, Nov are
Though we were advised to get incolculated against cholera (3 doses)
before setting in for piligrimage, we didn’t get vaccinated and by His
grace, we didn’t fall sick.
The local people speak Hindi, Garhwali and few speak English.
DETAILS OF OUR TRIP:
On 4/10/3, had holy dip in Triveni Ghat (the confluence of Ganges,
Yamuna, Saraswathi-Triveni Sangamam) which is at Rishikesh and half
a kilometer from Andhra bhavan we attended Suprabhata Seva at 5
A.M. and Thomala Seva at 6 A.M at ANDHRA BHAVAN TTD Temple at
Rishikesh. It was Saraswathi Pooja, one day before Vijayadasami.
After attending morning Saatrumarai seva at 7 A.M., we took leave
and boarded bus (UA 07 C-9234) at 9 A.M along with another 15
piligrims. Badrinath is 324 kms away from Haridwar and 298 kms from
Rishikesh. It is situated at an altitude of 3110 metres or 10350 feet
approximately. The road to Badri is so narrow that only one vehicle
can travel at a time. We could see big mountain ranges on either
sides and Alakananda flowing continously. Greenery was at the best
and the weather was splendid. Alakananda which starts beyond
Badrinath at Alakapuri, the kingdom of Lord Kubera is the companion
all through the way.
After travelling continuously for nearly 3 hours, the bus reached Dev
Prayag. This place is 70 kms away from Rishikesh situated at an
altitude of 472 metres. “PRAYAG”
means confluence of 2 rivers. Here,
Alakananda joins with Bhagirathi . This is the divya desam known as
KANDAM ENNUM KADINAGAR as well as THIRUKADIGAI”
There is a temple dedicated to Lord Sri Ramar known as Raghunathji.
The bus stopped for morning refreshments. We were deceived by the
bus agent as were not taken to the Divya desa temple. We continued
our journey to Jyothi Mutt via Srinagar (579 metres), Rudra Prayag
(610 m) where we had lunch, Karna Prayag, Nand Prayag,
Chamoli(1069 m), Pipalkote. On one side bluish water of Alakananda
flows continously. It looks as if the Lord has sent this river to
accompany us. Like the joy of a person who visits his motherland after
many years, we experienced similar feeling. This river mingles with
Mandakini at Rudra Prayag, with Pindar river at Karna Prayag, with
Nandakini at Nanda Prayag,with Birahi Ganga at Chamoli, with Garuda
Ganga near Pipal kote. The confluence of the rivers (different colours)
is a feast to the eyes.We were struck with wonder as to how the driver
could drive in such a narrow lane. There are no proper roads and a
peep through the window is sure to raise chills in a person. The “U”
turns would make everyone recite Lord’s names. Thirumangai
Azhwar’s pasurams on Lord Badrinarayanan advising us to visit the
divya desam before we become old were on our lips. We were totally
bewildered to see the beautiful nature. The scenic beauty is beyond
the scope of my description. Only Thirumangai Azhwar and great
poets can describe the beauty of the Himalayas. It is wonderful to see
Lord’s creation. While in Himalayas, one gets spiritually elavated and
one can really experience God. The spirit soul in us really dances with
joy. We can feel a sense of happiness, which is indescribable. We get a
feeling that one experiences when one sees his/her relatives after a
very long gap. This hilly area is developing and we could find rich
vegetation of apple trees, pine trees, akroot, potatoes , tea, medicinal
herbs etc. Added to this, road widening is in progress and we were told
that by next year, the ghat road would be broadened and walls would
be built. Though Uttaranchal is a newly formed small state, the
developmental activities are going in a fast pace. We reached Jyothi
Mutt at 8.30 P.M. For the first time, we experienced biting cold. As
expected, the bus driver said that we wouldn’t be visiting the divya
desam temple. We prayed to the Lord to bless with His darshan on
our return journey.As soon as we got down from the bus, we were
thronged by the local people who were ready to let out their room.
The room rent starts from Rs.150/-. All of them have both boarding
and lodging facilities. We checked in one of the nameless hotels.
On 05/10/03 , we left Joshimutt at 6.15 A.M. and reached Badrinath
at 8.30A.M. It was only due to our poorva janma sukrutam and
blessings that we were in the holiest of all the places, the
abode of the Supreme Lord, the Ashtakshara kshetram (Lord
Narayanan initiated the Thirumanthram to Naran at this place) .This is
one of the four “mukti tharum kshetrams”, the others being
Rameswaram in the South, Dwaraka in the west, Puri in the east. This
is the place where every Srivaishnavite longs to visit. Any punyam
including chanting of holy names will fetch manifold benefit. We were
advised by Sri.Somayajulu of TTD,Hyderabad to chant Vishnu
Sahasranamam as reciting Sahasranamam once at Badrinath is
equivalent to recitation of the same for 1000 times in other place.
This is the place where innumerable sages have done penance and
their presence and vibration could be felt.
The place where the bus stops is known as “Deva Darshan”
as one can
view the Nara,Narayana mountains from here. The sight of ice capped
Neelkant Parvath was a feast to the eyes. We were at an altitude of
10,350 feet from the sea level. It was a sunny day with cold winds
blowing. We were overexcited to see the place serene with only
devotees around. The nights are extremely cold . My kids and
especially my father was too delighted to look around the beautiful
Nara Narayan Mountains and the Alakananda river. As soon as we got
down from the bus, a Nepali coolie with dandie (a basket tied to his
back) was prepared to carry our luggages for Rs.20/-. A young
brahmin youth was prepared to guide us. He offered to take us to all
the temples in and around Badri and make arrangements for poojas
etc. We sincerely thank him for his guidance and the help he extended
to us during our stay without expecting anything in return. The guide
took us first to Andhra Ashram (the mutt maintained by Sri Sri
Narayana Ramanuja Chinna Jeeyar of JET fame). As expected, we
were told that it was not possible for us to stay there as they were
preparing to leave Badrinath within a couple of days. But the
volunteers offered us to have lunch. A good hospitality. Almost all the
residents let out rooms for rent and in one such house, we checked in
Baba Kamali Ashram for Rs.200/-as room rent. This is on the way to
the temple. The owners were very very hospitable. They helped us by
giving milk, chapatis, hot water etc. for which they didn’t expect
anything in return. Though the help they extended cannot be weighed
in monetary terms, yet for our satisfaction we paid them before
The anxiety to visit the temple was expected and we quickly marched
towards the temple. We left the room with a set of clothes to have
bath in Tapta Kund. It is customary to have bath in Tupta Kund and
then visit Badrinath temple.
TAPTA KUND is a hot water spring , the temperature of the water
could be easily 55 to 60 degrees . Through out the day it was cold,
(the night temperature was –2 degrees) the water was steaming hot.
It is believed that a dip in this water instigates bhakthi and accept
Lords creation. There are separate places for men and women to have
bath. Nearly 4 bathing places have been built by the temple authorities
to facilitate the crowd to have bath. There is a continuous flow of
steaming hot water. The scientific aspect that the water is sulphur rich
etc needs to be kept aside and accept the fact that we are at Lord
Bhadris abode and Lord has arranged for a bath as we have travelled a
long distance in the cold.
The myth behind it is as follows : Agni was cursed by Bhrigu rishi
that he would consume everything and continuously generate heat.
Agni prayed to Perumal that no one was allowing him to come near as
he was generating heat. At that time, Perumal blessed him saying
that He has decided to manifest Himself at Badrinath and Agni could
reside with him in the form of water. He also conferred a boon saying
that devotees could have darshan of Perumal only after bathing in this
hot water spring. This is one of the reasons for the water being so hot.
We were told about this by one of the pujaris while doing Dampathi
In front of the temple, we could see the bluish Alakananda flowing .
We were told that this river touches the Thiruvadigal of Perumal at this
place. The water is ice cold and is not used for rituals etc.
After having bath in Tapta Kund, all of us went to temple around 11.30
A.M. First, we had darshan of Kedareswar as it was He who vacated
this place for Lord Narayanan to reside as per Puranas As in all the
Saivaite temples, Siva is in lingam form which is very small. We
were told an interesting story by the guide quoting from some
Purana. which is as follows: This was the residence of Shiva and
Parvathi . As Perumal had decided to manifest Himself at this place,
He wanted Shiva to vacate this place and hence He disguised
Himself as a small boy and came to Shiva’s residence. Goddess
Parvathi out of her motherly affection, took the child on her lap and
asked what He wanted. The boy said that He wanted to relax in their
house for some time. Shiva who knew with his divya drushti as to
who the boy was prevented Parvathi from doing so. But as it was ’s
wish to stay here, Parvathi didn’t agree with Shiva and let the child
go inside and relax inside. The moment the child went inside, the
doors got locked automatically . The efforts of Shiva in trying to
open the doors became invain. At that time, Lord proclaimed from
inside that to save the people from the grips of Kali , He has decided
to stay Here and impart upadesam to the mortals to help them get rid
of the cruel Kali. He also instructed Shiva to move to a nearby place
and continue his penance. He also added that a piligrimage to
Badrinath would be deemed to be completed only after one has
darshan of Kedareswar. In case it is not possible for the devotees to
go to Kedarnath, they could worship this lingam and then obtain Lord
Narayanan’s blessings. Hence, we first went to this sannidhi and
offered our prayers.
Lord Narayanan sat in Padamsana posture as a Tapaswi and was in
deep meditation. As Lord is seen as Tapasvi, Aravindavalli Thayar is
not seen in the garbagriham. However, there is a sannidhi in the
temple premises. The devas headed by Narada rishi used to offer
prayers daily. Naradar is the chief priest and hence only in this divya
desam we can find his vigraham.
There are some similarities between Badrinath and Thirukurungudi
Perumals . Thirukurungudi is the Pandya Naadu divya desam situated
near Tirunelveli. In this place, Perumal is seen as 5 Nambis. The
Perumal who incarnated Himself as Nammazwar, gave moksham to
Thirumangai Azhwar, Nampaduvan etc. got Thirumantra upadesam
from our great Acharyar, Sri Ramanujar. And hence this place has
come to be known as DAKSHINA BADRI.
In Badri, Lord Narayanan initiated Naran( a mortal) into
Thirumanthram whereas in Thirukurungudi, Naran (Sri Ramanujar)
gave Thirumantra upadesam to Perumal.
At Badrinath, one has to visit Kedareswar first before taking the
blessings of Lord Badrinarayanan. Only then the yaatrai is deemed to
be complete. At Thirukurungudi , there is a sannidhi for Shiva at
the entrance and one has to first take his blessings before going to
ADI SANKARACHARYAR’S SANNIDHI : After having darshan of
Shiva, we went to Adi Sankaracharyar’s sannidhi. It is due to the
efforts of Shri Adi Sankaracharyar who was an amsam of Shiva, the
temple of Badrinath is existing today. He has contributed to a great
In order to revive Vaishnavism , Lord chose Sri Adi Sankaracharyar,
who was an amsam of Shiva, to fulfill His mission. When Sri Adi
Sankaracharyar was residing in Joshirmutt (the place has come to be
known thus because it was here Sankaracharyar was enlightened and
was instructed to write Bhasyam-a commentary based on Sri Veda
Vyasar’s 18 puranas) he had a dream in which Perumal gave him His
whereabouts and instructed him to construct a temple. Accordingly,
Sri Adi Sankaracharyar went to Badrinath and followed Perumal’s
instructions. When he had a dip in Narad Kund, he emerged with a
vigraham. He heard an asareeri say that Lord has decided to manifest
in the same form and people could offer their prayers to this vigraham.
With the help of the native king, Sri Sankaracharyar got a temple built,
appointed priests for daily Thiruvaradhanam and laid out rules and
regulations to be followed in worship. As this place is in the cold
region, he instructed that on Deepavali day (Aippasi maasam), the
temple would be closed and would be re-opened in mid April-May
(Chithirai maasam). He also ordered that the priest who performs
Thiruvaaradhanai should be a strict bachelor. He chose one of his
disciples who was a Kerala Namboodri to continue worship. Hence
even to this day, only Kerala Namboodri bachelor does
Thiruvaaradhanai. He is known as REWAL. He presides over all the
temple activities . We happened to see him during our poojas . He
wears a woolen coat, turban etc . His face shines with Thejas. Other
priests help him in passing on the offerings, reciting Bhagavath
Geetha, Vishnu Sahasranaamam etc. but they are not allowed to go
very near to the Lord.
We then entered the temple premises which is divided into three. The
outer most prakaram is known as Singh Dwar where there is an idol of
Garuda. After crossing the Singh Dwar, we enter Sabha Mandap.
Piligrims do pradakshinam around the Sabha Mandap. We were told
that this was renovated some few years ago. The third section is the
Garba griham which houses Perumal and other dieties.
SRI ARAVINDAVALLI NAYIKA SAMETHA SRI BADRI NARAYANA
MOOLAVAR : SRI BADRI NARAYANAN IN PADMASANAM
THAYAR : ARAVINDAVALLI THAYAR )SEPARATE TEMPLE
VIMANAM : TAPTA KANCHANA VIMANAM
THEERTHAM : TAPTA KUND, NARADA KUND
PRATHYEKSHAM : GARUDA, KUBERA, NARAN, NARAYANAN,
UDDHAVAR AND NARADAR
MANGALASAASANAM: THIRUMANGAI AZWAR (968-987)
PERIAZHWAR 1 PASURAM
STHALA VRUKSHAM : BADRI TREE (ILANDHI MARAM INVISIBLE TO
THE MORTAL EYES)
Being Vijayadasami there was a huge rush in the temple. It took
about 10 minutes for us to have darshanam. Here, the Lord is seen in
Padmasanam (veetruirundha Thirukkolam)-sitting posture in the
middle. To Perumal’s right, Vinayaka, Garuda, Kubera are seen. To
Perumal’s left, Uddhavar, Naradar, Naran and Narayanan are seen.
Kubera who is on the right side in front covered with golden kavacham
attracts everyone as it is he who bestows prosperity. It is the practice
of the devotees to carry some new coins with them, place it in front of
Kubera, take them back and keep in their pooja room or cash box for
their prosperity. The moment one has darshan of the Lord, one
forgets the hardships, if any, he faced during the journey and the
biting cold. The heart is filled with inexplicable joy and one can indeed
feel the atma within us dancing with joy and contentment. One can
have darsanam of Perumal peacefully as many times as one wants to.
A brief note about the presiding deities :
BADRI NARAYANAN: This vigraham engraved on a white
Saligramam is in the middle of the sannidhi. It is swayambhu (not
sculpted by any mortal)-seen in Padmasanam (meditative posture)-
Perumal has chathurbhujam (4 hands) holding the divine conch,
sudarshana chakram in the two upper hands and the two in
meditation. He is adorned with diamond Thiruman kaapu and
Navaratna necklace apart from other jewellery. The divya mangala
swaroopam of Perumal can be seen only during Nirmalaya darshan at
8 P.M. when all the floral decorations and ornaments are removed. He
is an embodiment of peace. A silver replica of the Moolavar is kept in
a separate sannidhi and when the temple is closed for 6 months during
winter, this utsavar is taken to Joshirmutt for performing
nityaaaradhanai by mortals. During day time, we cannot make out
anything as all the vigrahams are fully bedecked with flowers. Plates
containing sweets, dry fruits of varying rates are sold outside the
temple. After offering the same to the Lord, half of it is seen taken by
the temple authorities for distribution and the remaining part is given
to us as prashad.
Lord Narayanan left His celestial abode Sri Vaikuntam and has chosen
the Himalayas as His permanent abode to release all the souls from
affliction,sorrow, ego etc . When Lord Narayanan started doing
penance in Himalayas, Goddess Mahalakshmi who is an embodiment of
compassion wanted to protect Perumal from the harsh weather
conditions and so she spread Herself as a Badri Tree (Ilandhai Maram).
As Perumal is seated under this Badri tree, He is known as “Badri”
Narayanan. In Kali yugam, this Badri tree will not be visible to the
mortal eyes. (This reminds me of Ananda nilaya vimanam in Tirumala
which is also not visible to the mortal eyes. The gold plated vimanam
what we see today is man-made)
PERIATHIRUVADI : When Garuda was encountered by Perumal while
he was taking Amrutham to save his mother from his aunt’s clutches,
he was defeated by Perumal. When Perumal conferred boons, he
prayed to Perumal that he should always be (1) Perumal’s vaahanam
and (2) he should be on the kodi (flag) on Perumal’s chariot. Hence,
Peria Thiruvadi is seen in the Garbagriham itself. The other place
where he is seen in the Garbagriham is at Srivilliputtur(Samaasaanam)
as Andal had promised Garuda that if he brought Perumal to her for
marriage within the stipulated time, she would offer him
Samaaasanam (place on par with Perumal). In all other places, he is
in his usual place ,outside the garbagriham, to carry out Perumal’s
KUBERA :-As Kubera , the Lord of wealth, does aaradhanai to
Perumal , he is seen here. Also, Kubera’s residence Alakapuri is near
Badrinath. It is from Alakapuri that Alakananda river originates.
NARAN AND NARAYANAN : There are 2 stories connected with this :
1) They were the grandchildren of Brahma and children of Dharma
devathai and his wife, Moorthi. At a very young age, they left their
parents, came to Himalayas and started meditating. To withstand
their parental pressure, they transformed into 2 mountains.
Perumal who was pleased with their devotion asked them to choose
a boon for which they prayed that Perumal should always reside
with them. Perumal conceded their request and said that He would
reside there as a Tapasvi and meditate. He also initiated the
Thirumantram to them. Lord Narayanan also bestowed a boon upon
Naran saying that though Naran was younger to Him, he would be
addressed first. Hence , they are known as Nara-Narayanan.
To the dejected parents of Naran and Narayanan, Lord assured that
every year Puratasi Dwadasi (Balabhadra Dwadashi), Perumal would
come to their temple and spend a day with them. Mela is conducted
here . This festival is known as “Maata Moorthi Ka Mela”
. It is
believed that when the Nara and Narayana mountains collide with each
other probably due to landslide, Badrinath would become inaccessible.
One who visits Badrinath must definitely go to Maata Moorthi temple
which is situated about 4 kms away from the main temple on the way
to Mana village. There is a rock near the temple known as “Dharma
2) Perumal manifested Himself as both Naran and Narayanan and
killed an asura named Sahasrakavacha. In tune with the vedic
tradition of “Guru-sishya parampara, Perumal incarnated Himself as
Narayanan, the preceptor and Naran,the perceiver to propate the
most powerful and the ultimate “Ashtakshari Manthram”
the quintessence of the Vedas. In Bhagavad Geeta, Lord Krishna
says to Arjuna, that both of them took several births together and
informs this incident to Arjuna while imparting Geethopodesam in
The Naran and Narayana mountains have an over powering presence
at Badrinath. Nara Parvath is on the eastern bank of the river
Alakananda whereas Narayana Parvath is on the western bank. Nara
Parvat also known as Kubera Bandar bestows prosperity and
Narayana Parvat bestows spiritual upliftment. Behind Narayana
Parvath is the Neelkant Parvat at an altitude of 21,600 feet fully snow
capped. When sunlight falls on it, it glitters like silver.
The temple is on the banks of Alakananda river between Nara and
Narayanan mountains on Urvashi Peetam. Urvashi Peetam is a
small hillock on which Perumal is seated. There is an interesting
incident connected with this. Indra was unaware that Perumal was
meditating here. As usual, he was worried about his kingdom and sent
damsels headed by Ramba, Menaka to distract the penance of the
Lord. At that time, Lord Narayanan who was in deep meditation
opened His eyes, created a beautiful lady from His thigh . As she
emerged from Perumal’s thigh, she came to be known as URVASHI.
Looking at her beauty, they were mesmerised and ashamed of
themselves. Perumal ordered the damsels to present Urvashi to Indra.
The damsels were so captivated with Perumal’s roopam that they
requested Him to marry them. The Lord refused saying that in this
avataar , He is in tapasvi form but promised to fulfill their desire in
Krishna avataram. These damsels were born as Gopikas during
Krishna avataram and how they attained Supreme bliss by enacting
Rasa leela is too well known to bear repetition.
NARADAR: This deva rishi who always meditates on the Lord is the
chief priest. When the temple is closed for 6 months in winter, the
devas headed by Naradar perform worship to Perumal.
UDDHAVAR : This great devotee of Lord Krishna to whom Krishna
preached Gita finds a place in the garbagriham.
It was decided that human beings could perfrom pooja to Perumal for
6 months during summer, rainy seasons starting from May upto
Deepavali (Oct-Nov) and devas for another 6 months during winter
from Deepavali upto Apr-May. The dates of opening and closing the
temple are decided by Rewal and the temple authorities.
An evidence to prove that bhagavath aaradhanam is done to Perumal
by devas is seen even today.
1) The ghee lamp which is lit while closing the temple continues to
glow brightly. Hence on the opening day, there is usually heavy
rush to watch the Akandajyothi burning.
2) Fresh smelling flowers are seen in the garbagriham proving that
devas have worshipped the Lord during these 6 months.
After having a wonderful darshan of Perumal and theertha prasadam,
we went to Thayar sannidhi. The sannidhi is very small. We offered
some bangles, kumkum,a piece of cloth and some sweets a north
Indian tradition . . These were kept near the garbagriham and given
back to us. It is considered to be very auspicious to wear the bangles
which have been kept near Thayar. We had theertha prasadam and
proceeded to Hanumar sannidhi. Here, Siria Thirivadi is seen carrying
Sanjeevani Parvatham. From there, we went to utsavar sannidhi and
there we recited Vishnu Sahasranaamam.
While doing pradakshinam, we came across the sannidhi of
Ghantakarnan, a staunch Siva devotee and an enemy of Vishnu. We
were told that he used to hang bells around his neck to avoid hearing
the name of Vishnu. But when he did propitated Shiva to give him
moksham, Shiva advised him to pray to Perumal as He alone can give
moksham. Shiva advised him to go to Dwaraka and meet Sri Krishna.
But on reaching Dwaraka, he learnt that Krishna has gone to
Badrikasramam and hence he went there and offered prayers. Pleased
with his single minded devotion, Krishna granted the boon that
Ghantakarna could reside there as “Kshetra paalakar.”
As it was an auspicious day, there was some gathering and special
discourse headed by Rewal. We were told that on Vijayadasami, they
decide the date for closure of the temple for the calender year. Very
near to utsavar’s sannidhi, there are five life-size idols of Sri Adi
Sankaracharayar and his four disciples.
There is a separate shrine for Srivaishnavite acharyars. In the
sannidhi, there are vigrahams of Manavala Maamuni (seen in the
center) and Arjunan (left of Manavala Maamuni). To the right of
Manavala Maamuni, Sri Ramanujar is seen.We were later told that His
Holiness Shri Tridandi Jeeyer Swami had brought Udaivar and
Manavalamamunis vigraham with austerities and installed at this holy
We booked tickets for Sahasranaamavali seva (Rs.301/-for 2
persons) and Geet Govind Paat also known as Nirmalaya darshanam
(Rs.501/- for 2 persons)
At 1 P.M., all of us went to Andhra Ashram (Chinna Jeeyar Mutt) to
have prasadam . Though there are several mutts established at
various divya desams by Sri Sri Chinna Jeeyar Swami, it has gained
wide reputation at this kshetram. At Badrinath being Ashtakshari
kshetram, nitya anna dhanam (free food) is offered to all the
devotees. Annam (food) is para brahma swaroopam and anna dhanam
done at Badrinath is a rare virtue and privilege. This anna dhanam is
being done by this mutt since late 1950s . We were told by the
volunteers that Jeeyar Swami has ordered to perform Anna dhaanam
till the last day of closure. The services done by the volunteers
cannot be mentioned in words. Hot water is served for drinking and
even for washing hands.
We were told that Pedda Jeeyar Swami when he was in Poorvasram
(before taking sanyasam) came to this holy place in 1940, performed
penance for 3 months and attained manthra siddhi. After taking
sanyasam in 1954, he once again came to this divya desam and
performed Koti Havana Maha Krathu yagam when Ashtakshara
manthram was chanted for 10 crore times. He also installed
vigrahams of Lord Srinivasar and Udayavar for nitya Thiruvaaradhanai
and made arrangements for anna dhanam to devotees which is being
continued even today.
There are also stay facilities here. There are 2 buildings, one
constructed by Pedda Jeeyar Swami and the other by Chinna Jeeyar
Swami which has 36 rooms and was built at a cost of Rs.70 lakhs.
Around 3 P.m. , we arranged a van to visit Mana village for Rs.200/-.
Mana village is the last Indian village on the Indo-China border which
is again at an altitude. This is approximately 4 kms away from
Badrinath. This place has some historical significance because Vyas
Gufa, Ganesh Gufa are found here. Also, this is the starting point of
River Saraswati . Previously, trade between India and China used to
be in full swing. But now there is no trading at this place. We saw
some vegetation of cabbage, apples, akroot etc. We also saw sign
boards showing that Vasundhara falls was just few kilometres away.
As my father didn’t accompany us and was taking rest in the car itself,
we didn’t visit this place. On the way to Mana village, we saw Maatha
Moorthi temple which is very very small.
We first went to Ganesh Gufa. “Gufa”
in Hindi means “cave”. There is
a small shrine of Vinayakar/Ganesh. It was here that Vinayakar
wrote Mahabharatham by using his tusk which was dictated by Veda
Vyasar. We did pradakshinam around the cave, took few photographs
and left the place. Bought a soft drink bottle from the nearby last
Indian Tea shop with the intention of filling the bottle with Saraswathi
After 10 minutes of trekking, we reached Vyas Gufa. There is a life-
size image of Veda Vyasar. Veda Vyasar was an amsam of Lord
Vishnu and it was he who compiled the Vedas and 18 puranas at this
place. A pujari offered us some theetha prasadam. We were
prohibited from using Camcorder . He narrated the following incident
to a group of devotees who had assembled there.
Veda Vyasar wanted a person who could write Mahabharatham to
which Vinayakar agreed. Ganesh laid down the condition that
the sage should uninterruptedly recite the Mahabharatham and Veda
Vyasar laid down the condition that he wouldn’t repeat anything and
Ganesh was supposed to repeat and write. This cave is situated near
the starting point of River Saraswathi. This river was flowing with a
roaring sound which was disturbing the sage. Hence, he cursed
Saraswathi that she has to disappear from that place. River Saraswathi
repented for her folly and begged the sage to revoke the curse. Veda
Vyasar said that she would become invisible in the nearnby
surrounding areas and flow as underground river by mingling with
other rivers. At this place, River Saraswathi mingles with Alakananda
and this place is known as “KESHAV PRAYAG “
.From there, after 5
minutes of trekking, we reached the place from which River
Saraswathi originates. The sight of this river originating from the
mountains is spectacular. The gushing water sound is deafening .The
water flows down ferociously and tremendously with full force. There
is a small shrine for Goddess Saraswathi. We could neither sprinkle
any water nor collect water which is usually sold there as the vendor
was not available.
From there, on our way back, we saw “SWARG DHWAR “
which is the way to go to Heavens. We were told by our guide that
when Pancha Pandavas along with Draupadi were going to Heaven,
they had to cross River Saraswathi who was then flowing ferociously
and uninterruptedly. (before she was cursed by Veda Vyasar) As she
didn’t give way for them, (it seems she envied Draupadi) Bhima who
was known for his strength made a bridge by throwing a hillock from a
nearby place on the river and thus helped the Pandavas in crossing the
river. Hence, this place is known as “Bheem Koop”
On the way, we saw local people selling sweaters, caps etc., many
soldiers patrolling.We came back to Badrinath at 5 P.M. and after
giving refreshments to Father who was already tired as he couldn’t
withstand the cold, we left for shopping.
It is worth mentioning here that in Himalayas, you get original
Rudrakshams (as the tree grows only in cold areas), Spatikams etc.
We bought some Navratna maalais, Eka Rudraksham(not found in rest
of India), Srichakram made of spatikam , Vishnu Paadam , photos etc
for all our friends who had made a plea to bring them from the holy
As my father was engrossed in reciting Divya Prabhandham(during his
stay here, my father completed prabhandham paarayanam and was
continously doing japam of Ashtaksharam), and as the temperature
was 2 degrees ,I left with my wife and children to attend
Sahasranaamavali Sevai. When we went to the temple, Vishnu
Sahasranaamam was being recited . We also joined them and were
continously reciting Sahasranamam. There were few more people
standing along with us in the queue to attend this seva. We were the
ones to come first and hence had the opportunity to sit right in front of
the Kulasekhara padi and watch the seva.
SAHASRANAMAVALI Charge Rs.301/- for 2 persons)
The Rewal who was sitting inside the garbagriham was offering
flowers to the Lord while four priests sitting outside the garbagriham
very near to us were reciting the 1000 names of the Lord. It took
some time for us to understand their pronunciation. For nearly 20
minutes, we were in front of the Lord experiencing spiritual ecstasy.
After this, all of us were asked to leave the place as bhogam for the
night was being offered to Perumal. Since we booked for Geet Govind
Paat also, we were waiting outside. For this seva, the tickets are
numbered and as per the numbers the devotees are allowed to enter
inside. Anyway , our guide who is also one of the priests played a vital
role in making us sit in front.
The offering of bhogam was a peaceful affair . After this, we were
allowed to get inside.
GEET GOVIND PAAT/NIRMALYA DARSHAN: This is the most
important seva in this temple. During this seva which takes place
around 8 in the night, Geet Govindham sung by Jayadevar is recited
and some slokas from Bhagavath Geeta are recited by the four priests
who were sitting outside the garbagriham. Amidst the chanting of the
slokas, the Rewal started removing the flower garlands which adorned
the Lord the whole day. Diamond Thiruman kaapu, navaratna
haaram presented by one of the Nepalese kings, and other ornaments
were removed. These were shown to us before putting them in the
box. Chandan was applied to the Lord’s forehead . At this time, the
Lord is seen in His pristine glory which is a feast to the eyes. Only due
to poorvajanma punyam , one can have this darshan. This vigraham
engraved on a white Saligramam is in the middle of the sannidhi. He
is swayambhu (not sculpted by any mortal)-seen in Padmasanam
(meditative posture)-Perumal has chathurbhujam (4 hands) holding
the divine conch, sudarshana chakram in the two upper hands and the
two in meditation. We also saw the idols of Naran,Narayanan, Garuda,
Udhavar, Naradar . Perumal along with others was covered with a
thick woolen blanket. We were indeed blessed to watch this
vaibhavam for 20 minutes without any disatraction. The chandan
which is applied on the Lord’s forehead is distributed as prasadam the
next morning. (Please remember one has to ask for it)
After thanking Perumal , all of us left the temple. It was pitch dark
and the temperature must have fallen further ,all the shops etc were
closed. Apart from the shops which sell pooja items, there is a
medical shop near the temple . There are very few roadside hotels
selling chapatis but these were already closed.
On 06/10/03, being Ekadasi, all of us directly went to Tapta Kund. My
father stayed back to perform pithru kaaryam . The charge for the
same is Rs.350/-. Only at Badrinath, pinda dhaanam to the departed
souls is done by using Perumal’s prasadam. Hence, after neivedyam is
done to Perumal, this kaaryam takes place around 9 A.M. The guide
who had accompanied us made all the arrangements for this
programme. He was made to do for all the departed souls whom he
knew. This lasted for an hour or so. My father was fully contended
and was full of appreciation.
Meantime, myself and my wife did Dampathi pooja near Tapta Kund,
the rate for which is Rs.250/-. First, Vinayakar is invoked followed by
invocations to Himalayas and Tapta Kund. During this pooja, we were
given the reason for the hot waters in the Tapta Kund which has
already been mentioned. This was followed by pooja to Mahalakshmi,
Nara-Narayanan and Badri Narayanan. A dhoti and a small piece of
saree as an offering to the Divya Dampadhigal was given to the
brahmin who did the pooja. This lasted for about half an hour or so.
After finished the pooja, we went to the temple and had a wonderful
darshan. There was no rush and we were allowed to stand in front of
the Perumal. As we were advised by my brother in law to visit
Thirunaamam as many times as possible, we sat in front of utsavar
sannidhi,recited Vishnu Sahasranamam (we could complete only 5
rounds), and recited pasurams sung by Thirumangai Azwar.
Thirumangai Azhwar has composed 20 pasurams on this Lord. IN the
first set of 10 pasurams starting with “Mutru Moothu Kol Thuniya….”,
he advises us to visit Badrikasramam before we become old adding
that young girls would tease by commenting whether it is necessary
for the old man to visit this kshetram at this ripe age when he is
unable to withstand the biting cold. Usually, Azhwar’s pasurams
reflects on people like me who wander aimlessly, running behind
materialistic pleasures, and who finally repent for having forgotten the
Lotus feet of the Lord. These pasurams fill our hearts with repentance.
In the next set of 10 pasurams, Azhwar glorifies the Lord at
Badrikasramam who resides on the banks of Ganges (each pasuram
ends with “Gangaiyin karai mel Badrikasramathullane”)and is
worshipped by all the devas and mortals.
My father who completed his rituals at Brahmakapalam which is at the
northern side of the temple ( few minutes walk from the temple
)joined us and once again went to the temple. As were supposed to
leave this holy place in the afternoon, we prayed to Perumal to bless
by giving us another chance to visit this temple.
Luckily, we could get sandal paste which was applied on Perumal’s
Thirumeni on the previous night and some Thirumanjana Theertham .
We signed off at Andhra bhavan and thanked all the volunteers for
their service and left back. The same coolie who had earlier carried
our luggage was once again ready with his dandie. Went to the bus
stop where we learnt that the next bus would be at 4 P.M. only. As it
was getting dark and we wanted to visit Thiurpiridhi divya desam
we decided to hire a taxi for Rs.800/-to go to Joshirmutt. Left
Badrinath at 2 P.M. after thanking whole heartedly the guide for all the
help he had extended to us.
After visiting Hanuman Chatti, we reached Joshirmutt around 4.30
P.M. Joshirmutt is a small town with a continuous flow of piligrims. As
mentioned already, there are many lodges in Upper Bazar and few
hotels and lodges in lower bazar. When we were proceeding to
Badrinath, we took room in one of the hotels in Upper Bazar (this is
like the main road) but now we decided to go directly to Lower Bazar
where Lord Narasimhar’s temple is located. It takes about 10 minutes
drive to reach this place. Luckily, we checked in Yatri Nivas, a Tourist
Guest House in Lower Bazar which is situated right in front of the
temple. (Room rent Rs.200/- ).
We left for the temple at 5 P.M. We learnt from some book that we
have to walk for 3 quarters a mile to reach the place and hence
hurriedly left the temple. We started getting down the steps which
aren’t that steep. There are only 40 steps to go to the temple. After
passing by various sannidhis, we reached the main sannidhi of Lord
DIVYA DESAM : TIRUPIRIDHI (Joshirmutt is considered by some as
Tirupiridhi divya desam)
MOOLAVAR : PARAMAPURUSHA
THAYAR : PARIMALAVALLI
THEERTHAM : GANGES
MANGALAASAASANAM : THIRUMANGAI AZHWAR –10 pasurams
The Perumal and the kovil as described in our Prabhandham are not in
existence. Lord Narasimhar is treated as the main deity.
VAIBHAVAM: Adi Sankaracharyar who stayed here for more than 4
months was enlightened by this Perumal and was instructed to write a
commentary based on Vedanta Sutrams. It is believed that Sage Veda
Vyasar Himself taught Sri Sankaracharyar the vedanta Sutras. Also, in
his dream, Lord Badri Narayanan appeared and advised the saint to
retrieve Him from Tapta Kund and build a temple for him. This
incident has already been mentioned earlier. As the saint was
enlightened , this place came to be known as JYOTHIR MUTT which
later got corrupted as Joshirmutt and Joshimutt. Sankaracharyar
established 4 mutts, in the extreme north at Joshirmutt to prevent
infiltration by non-Hindus.
GARBAGRIHAM: The garbagriham houses various deities apart from
Lord Narasimhar. Though the garbagriham is closed, the deities can be
viewed through the iron gates. Lord Narasimhar who is a Swayambhu
is seen in the centre. To the Lord’s right, there are vigrahams of Lord
Badri Narayanan, Udhavar, Kubera, Chandidevi (local goddess). To
the Lor’s left, Garuda, Lakshmanar, Ramar, Sita are seen. The idol of
Lakshmanar is made of white marble whereas Lord Rama’s idol is in
dark blue/black colour (On enquiry, we were told that these vigrahams
were installed at a later date and as Ramar has dark complexion, the
vigraham has been carved so.)
MOOLAVAR: Lord Narasimhar is seen in yogasanam posture . He is a
swayambhu black saalagrama murthi. We approached the priest to
open the sannidhi and do karpoora aarthi for which the priest said that
the sannidhi would be open only in the mornings and all the poojas
would be done in the morning only. However, he asked us to attend
abhishekam (Thirumanjana seva ) at 7 A.M. on the next day to have a
glimpse of the Lord.
When we asked him to tell us more about the Perumal, he told us
about Adi Sankaracharyar’s enlightenment and an interesting feature
about Perumal’s Thirumeni. He said that the Lord’s left wrist is
thinning and when it falls down, the way to Badrinath would be closed.
All of us recited Sri Vishnu Sahasranaamam and the 10 pasurams
sung by Thirumangai Azhwar on “Thirupiridhi” divya desam. In the set
of 10 pasurams each ending with “THIRUPIRIDHI ADAI NENJHE”,
Azhwar describes the location of the divya desam and advises to go to
the divya desam when one is still young. Azhwar’s pasurams
describing the location forms the basis for argument as to where the
divya desam is located. According to the pasurams, this divya desam
is located amidst the Himalayas in thick forests near Manasa
Adiyen is not even sure whether any temple is in existence near
Manasa Sarovaram. Due to the difficulty in travelling to such a far
place and based on some Srivaishnavites’
advise that Jothirmutt can
be considered as the Thirupiridhi divya desam, Adiyen satisfied myself
as having visited this divya desam located at Jothirmutt.
After having darshanam of Perumal to heart’s contentment and doing
some pradakshinas, Adiyen with family left the temple after spending
an hour or so. We had a wonderful view of the temple from our room
which we captured in our camcorder.
On 07/10/03, we went to the temple. Ekantha Thirumanjanam was
just over. But the kind priest removed the yellow vastram of Perumal
and showed us the left hand. He also gave us some milk which was
used for Lord’s Thirumanjanam, some sandal paste and theertha
prasadam. Went to Vasudevar’s sannidhi. Here Lord is seen in Nindra
Thirukkolam with chathurbhujam. He is seen with Subhadra and
Balaramar. Thanking Lord for his grace we left the place and hired a
jeep for Rs.2,700/-at 8.30 A.M. to go to Rishikesh.
On the way, we visited Vridha Badri, a small temple which was closed
and reached Helang at 9.20 A.M. From there, we proceeded to Garuda
Ganga as we were very particular to collect the sacred waters and
pebbles. Worshipped Lord Lakshmi Narayanan and Garuda at this
place and from there via Nanda Prayag we reached Karna Prayag at
1.30 P.M. We couldn’t sprinkle waters at both these places because
there of improper route Via Rudra Prayag, Srinagar, we reached Dev
Prayag at 5.30 P.M. We didn’t visit Kamaleshwar Mahadev mandir at
Srinagar as the route was completely different and we were told that
the temple would be closed at that time. From Srinagar, we rang up
to TTD, Rishikesh for confirming our room booking.
DEV PRAYAG :
This divya desam is known as “THIRUKADIGAI”and “KANDUM ENNUM
LOCATION: 1700 feet above sea level on Rishikesh-Badri route
MOOLAVAR:NEELAMEGA PERUMAL/ PURUSHOTHAMAN/ VENU
MADHAVAN BUT POPULAR AS RAGHUNATHJI -CHATHURBHUJAM
THAYAR : PUNDARIKAVALLI THAYAR/VIMALA
VIMANAM : MANGALA
THEERTHAM: MANGALA THEERTHAM, GANGA
PRATHYEKSHAM : BHARADWAJA, BRAHMA
The deities as described in the Prabhandham are not found.
We parked the jeep on the roadside and had to walk down for nearly
15 minutes. The steps were steep . We crossed over a bridge (a
concrete swing similar to Lakshman Jhoola) and had to climb 106
steps to reach the temple.
To atone for the Brahma hathi dosham committed by killing
Ravana, Lord Rama came to this place for doing penance. He
selected this place because this was the starting point of Ganges
and hence is sacred. The place where Lord Rama did penance is in
the temple premises and is known as “RAM GADDI”(the place
where Ram sat). We were told by the priests that on important
occasions like Vijayadasami, Basant Panchami, Sriramanavami
etc., the utsavar is brought outside and is placed on this Ram
gaddi for the public to have darshan. As the place is thus
associated with Rama, the deity is also addressed as Raghunathji.
We have read that during Pralayam (when the mass devastation
takes place at Lord’s will), the Lord rests on banyan leaf
(“AALAMAA MARATHINMEL ORU BALAGANAAYE…
Thiruppanazwar. The banyan tree on which the Lord rests is at
Dev Prayag. It is believed that the Trinities-Brahma, Vishnu and
Shiva reside in this tree and hence it is considered to be very
sacred. (There are 2 banyan trees in front of the temple. When
we enquired about the particular banyan tree, the residents were
unable to guide us as they themselves were not aware about this.)
We offered our obeisance to both the trees.
3) Anna dhanam is of great significance.
The temple is located in a serene surrounding. This temple was
renovated by Adi Sankaracharyar. As a brahmin named Deva
Sarma did penance here and attained Lord’s blessings, this place
has come to be known as Dev Prayag.
This temple is surrounded by hills on three sides. The hill in front
is known as Dasaratanchal, right side is known as Narasimacahl,
the temple itself is located on Giridhachal.
OUR EXPERIENCE: After trekking 106 steps ,we reached the temple.
When we went inside there was no illumination due to power failure .
We requested a priest who was sitting in the garbagriham and reciting
Sahasranaamam to show us Karpoora Aarthi to which he said that only
after evening Thiruvaaradhanai scheduled to take place at 6.30 P.M.,
he would give Aarthi. He said that every evening , the Lord’s
Thiruvadi are washed with Ganga water (there is another priest who is
entrusted with this job), archanai is performed to the Lord and only
then Aarthi is given to the Lord. However, he advised us to lit a small
deepam and have darshan of the Lord. The moment the deepam was
lit, the current was restored and we had darshan to our heart’s
The Moolavar is in Nindra Thirukkolam with chathurbhujam . He is the
Perumal described by Periazwar in his pasurams but locally He is
known as “Raghunathji”. He is seen holding Panchayudhams and his
height is more than 6 and a half feet. A bow and arrow which doesn’t
form part of the Moolavar is kept near the Lord. To His right, Thayar
who is addressed as Goddess Sita is seen. There is no vigraham for
Lakshmanan. As per the priest, this is the tallest vigraham of Sri Rama
in India (the vigraham in Ramaswamy’s temple at Kumbakonam is
also gigantic . This vigraham is in veetruirundha Thirukkolam (sitting
posture)) The garbagriham also houses vigrahams of Badri
Narayanan. Perumal’s Thirumukham reminded us of Dwaraka
Krishnar. Everyday Thirumanjanam with sacred Ganges and milk is
performed to the Lord at 6 in the morning. The priest told that this
seva is worth seeing . Unfortunately, we didn’t have the bhaagyam as
we had hired a van to go upto Rishikesh. The priest comforted us
saying that we could have this darshan during our next trip.
The priest informed us that the Lord is adorned with new clothes
everyday. He also gave us the details of the colour of vastrams which
adorn the Lord.
DAYS OF THE WEEK COLOUR OF VASTRAM
The utsava murthi is Sri Rama accompanied by Sita, Lakshmana,
Hanumar. There is also a utsava vigraham of Badri Narayanan. The
utsava murthis are kept in Ram Gaddi during important festive days.
Just outside the garbagriham on the right side there are idols of
Vinayaka and Bhuvaneswari. On the left side, there is an idol of
Hanuman holding Sanjeevani Parvatham. Opposite to Hanumar, there
is a small idol of Vamana. He is seen placing His feet on Bali’s head.
On the outer side of the Prakaaram, there are idols of Lord Narasimhar
and Annapurna. We were told that devotees who are not able to have
darshanam of Raghunathji satisfy themselves by having darshan of
Narasimhar who can be viewed through the iron gates. There are
shrines for Hanumar, Adi Sankaracharyar (near Ram gaddi),
Sivalingam (as Rama was Shiva’s devotee)
After doing pradakshinam and after offering rice and jaggery for next
day’s bhogam, we left the place with a prayer to the Lord that He
should give us another chance to visit Badrikasramam and other divya
The temple timings are as follows:
Summer – 6 A.M.-12 noon; 5 P.M. to 9 P.M.
Winter -7 A.M.–12 noon; 4 P.M. to 8 P.M.
Resumed our journey at 6.15 P.M. and reached Rishikesh at 8.15 P.M.
Checked in the same room (Room No. 11) where we had stayed earlier
at Andhra Ashram. Attended Ekantha Seva, thanked Perumal for the
comfortable journey which we had without any hurdle anywhere and
retired for the day.
On 08/10/03, we attended Suprabhatam, Thomala, Archana and
Saatrumarai sevas and spent the morning in the temple itself.
Situated at a distance of 24 kms from Haridwar, this is a busy town
with floating population of piligrims and tourists as this is the starting
point to go to Chaar dhams (4 holy places-namely, Badrinath,
Kedarnath, Gangotri, Yamunotri) and other nearby hill stations. It is
world famous as the abode of saints and rishis. As Raibhya rishi did
penance here, this place has come to be known as “RISHIKESH”. This
forms part of Dehradun district. Muni Ki Reeti where many ashrams
are found forms part of Rishikesh. This comes under their Garhwal
Administration. Few areas come under Pauri Garhwal Administration.
There are many places of interest in Rishikesh-Triveni ghat , Gita
Bhavan, Kanva rishi Ashram, Neelkant Parvath, Kunja Puri, Vashista
guha, Swarg Ashram, Pushkar temple,Bharat Temple, Lakshman
Jhoola and temple of Lakshman attached to it, Ram Jhoola, Baba
Kambilivaala Ashram, Bhairav temple, Kali temple etc and many
ashrams like Hare Krishna Ashram, Swami Chinmayananda Ashram,
Sivananda Ashram etc.
We visited the following places on the way:
VAAHINI GANGA MAIYA TEMPLE: This is a temple
dedicated to Ganga river. At Haridwar and Rishikesh, it is Ganga
who is worshipped by everyone. Makaram (crocodile) is the
vaahanam of Ganges and hence she is known by this name. Other
temples for Lord Radha-Krishna, Sita-Rama, Shiv-Parvathi etc. is
2. RADHA KRISHNA TEMPLE: Here, apart from the main idol,there are
idols of Sri Ramakrisha Paramahansa, Vivekananda, Ganesh,
Durga, Vishnu-Lakshmi, Brahma-Saraswathi,Ram,Sita,Hanumar,
Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Kabirdas, Shiv-Parvathi, Buddha, Guru
Nanak, Garib Acharya, Adi Sankaracharya, Sant Gneya Acharya,
Ramadas. Outside the temple on either sides there are idols of
Shiv-Ganga, Vishnu-Lakshmi,Meera-Krishna , Hanumar etc. This
temple is situated on the way to Lakshman Jhoola.
3. LAKSHMAN TEMPLE: To atone for the Brahma hathi dosham
killing Indrajit during war, Lakshmana , brother of Rama , did
penance at this place. Hence, there is a temple dedicated to him
and the swing is named after him.
AKILESHWAR MAHADEV TEMPLE: Temple dedicated to
Shiva built by Sage Sacha . Hence, named so. The height of the
gigantic lingam is 11 ft 11 inch tall and its breadth is 6 feet. Around
the lingam, there are idols of Sita Ram, Radha Krishna, Karthikeyan
(Murugan), Durga, Shiv Parvathi, Vinayaka. Outside there are idols
of Lakshmi Narayana and Shiva Parvathi. Donated some money
and left the temple. The sculptures at all these places are
beautifully carved which needs to be appreciated.
5. RUDRAKSH MUSEUM: This is a state owned museum.
types of rudraksham, spatikam, nava ratna gems etc are sold.
Above all, they give us good guidance , guarantee and explain as to
how to identify original ones.
LAKSHMAN JHOOLA: This is at a distance of 3 kms from Rishikesh.
Previously, this way was used by piligrims going by foot to cross the
bridge. This hanging bridge made of jute ropes was built by British in
1889 to help the piligrims cross over Ganges. It was rebuilt later with
iron ropes and concrete. The artisitic construction of this bridge by
engineers needs appreciation. Though there are other bridges like the
ones in Ram Jhoola, and at Prayags, the engineering skill needs to be
appreciated. We can find vendors selling Machali “Pori”
for a rupee
which is thrown in the river for fishes to swallow. Now, pedastrians, 2
wheelers, horses etc use their bridge. Near this there are temples for
Lord Rama and a recently built 13 storey temple which houses various
Gods and Goddesses. It also has a big shopping complex. This is the
main way for people going up the hill and to go to Geeta Ashram and
Geeta Ashram run by Geeta Press,Gorakhpur the publishers of
spiritual magazines like Kalyana Kalpataaru, is worth seeing. There are
lovely inscriptions from Ramayanam and Mahabharatham. Also, it has
a reliable shop attached to it which sells woollen sweaters, blankets,
shawls etc. Of course, you can’t bargain. But nearby there are other
shops which sell the same material for a bit competitive price.
After crossing Lakshman Jhoola, we hired an auto for Rs.4/-per
person to go to Ram Jhoola. On the way, we visited Swarg Ashram
built by a saint named Baba Kaali Kambiliwaala . Since this place was
serene and rishis did penance here, it has been named as Swarg
Ashram. Photography is strictly prohibited. Outside this temple there
are 2 sculptures which is worth mentioning. One is that of Lord Rama
giving His paduka to Bharath and the other one is of Ganga seated on
Ram Jhoola is also known as Sivananda Jhoola .It has been named
after Saint Sivananda who was responsible in its construction. This is
bigger than Lakshman Jhoola. There are many shops here. After doing
a bit of shopping , we took 7-seater auto to go back to Andhra
Ashram. It took only 2 hours for us to visit all these places.
We couldn’t visit Neelkant Parvath as it was far away. A small hillock
which houses Shiva’s temple. It has been named so as Shiva after
drinking Halahala poison came to this place. Usually, the car driver
charges about Rs.300/- to go to this place. As the temple would be
closed in the afternoon, we didn’t visit this place.
Another place of interest is Kunja Puri where the sunset is worth
seeing. As this is in the other end, we didn’t visit this place.
In the evening, we went to Rishikesh station to book our tickets to
Haridwar. We had booked the tickets to Delhi from Haridwar whereas
our father booked it from Rishikesh itself.
On 09/10/03, we spent the day peacefully in the temple. Adiyen’s
daughters were blessed to sing His glories (Annamacharya kirtanas)
on the dias in front of the Lord). In the evening we left Haridwar. The
train in which we had booked the tickets to go to Haridwar was
supposed to leave Rishikesh at 6.30 P.M. But the train didn’t arrive
and at 8 P.M. we were advised to board another passenger train to
Rishikesh. At 11 P.M., we boarded Train NO. 4042 Mussourie Express
(luckily our RAC tickets got confirmed in the last minute) and reached
Delhi at 7 A.M. on 10/10/03. (The train was delayed by an hour or so)
On 10/10/03, after reaching Delhi at 7 in the morning, we hired an
auto to go to Hazrat Nizamuddin (usually trains towards South India
leave from this station) . As we were supposed to leave for
Secunderabad from Delhi by Bangalore-Rajdhani Express scheduled to
leave at 8.50 P.M. , we decided to go to the station directly.
Since we had the whole day left, we decided to visit Kurukshetra. It
takes about 3 hours from Delhi to go to Kurukshetra. The auto driver
took us to one of the tourist office . We hired a car (TATA INDICA) for
Rs.2,000/- to go to Kurukshetra and come back to Delhi.
We didn’t know that Kurukshetra is very near from Haridwar . We
were told that it takes about 1 and a half hours from Haridwar.
Kurukshetra is the place where the great Mahabharata war took place.
If one dies at Kurukshetra, he is sure to attain salvation. The area
extends for 18 yojanas over 96 kms. This place was prominent even
before the war. Lord Krishna along with His parents , Nanda Maharaja
and Yasodha Devi visited this place to have holy dip in Suryakund after
an eclipse. In this place Kuru, the founder of Kuru dynasty , the
forefather of Pandavas and Kauravas did penance here. When he was
blessed with a boon, he said that whoever leaves his mortals here
must get rid of the cycle of births and deaths and should directly attain
moksham . Lord conceded this request and hence Lord Krishna
selected this place .Also, Kaal (Time) resides here. Kurukshetra is now
a major centre of learning with many colleges and world famous
Kurukshetra University. The whole yuddha bhoomi is now flooded with
First, we went to Surya Kund. The significance of this place is
mentioned on a board. The first sunrays fell at this place. A dip in
Surya kund after an eclipse , especially, solar eclipse is considered to
be very sacred . Lord Krishna visited this place before Mahabharata
war. He brought His parents to this holy place to have sacred dip in
the waters. At that time, He met the gopis. This incident is
mentioned in Srimad Bhagavatham. Atleast once in a lifetime, one has
to have a dip in this holy waters. This has been proclaimed by the
Lord Himself. All of us sprinkled some waters and filled a bottle with
the sacred waters. We then went to a nearby Shiva temple which was
worshipped by Arjuna. Everyday, before going to the war, Arjuna
used to worship Shiva in this temple. Every evening, after war,
Kauravas and Pandavas used to meet here . The priest said that the
other important places of interest are as follows:
PLACE LOCATION IMPORTANCE
JYOTISHWAR 6 kms from Surya Kund Lord Krishna imparted
BAN GANGA Near Jyotishwar Arjuna quenched Bhishma’s
thirst –arrow pierced the
ground and Ganges
Local deity-didn’t visit
NAAB KAMAL VAMANA DWADASI IS IMP.
MUSEUM WORTH SEEING
Near Surya Kund Brahma’s penance
GEETA BHAVAN GEETA DEPICTED
The local guides charge around Rs.200/-to visit these places but the
rates are negotiable. As we were interested in covering only important
places, we didn’t take any help and went on our own.
After sprinkling waters from Surya Kund , we visited Suryanarayana
Swamy and Radha Krishna temples situated on the banks of the Kund.
Opposite to this, there is a temple for Sita-Ram. From there, we
directly went to Brahma Sarovar.
This sarovaram is there since many yugas and Brahma did yaagam on
the banks of this lake and acquired special powers to create the world.
He started His creation here. Now, this lake is filled with the waters of
Chandrabhaga river. In Treta yugam, sri Rama visited this places,
Sravan who was very dedicated to his parents performed Pithru
Kaaryam here. Hence, people perform Pithru Kaaryam at this place.
The steps near the sarovar are slippery and one has to get down
carefully. We wanted to visit Geeta Bhawan which was closed. On the
way, we visited a Science Panorama and Museum which is worth
seeing. The ticket for the same is Rs.20/-per head. The ground floor
is full of science exhibition-details about inventions, physics,
chemistry, evolution of man right from old stone age , latest
inventions etc. are there. This is very informative to science students.
In the first floor, one can view sound and light show of the
Mahabharata war. The life size images of the warriors, stalwarts from
both the sides (Kauravas and Pandavas), horses, elephants,soldiers
etc., the vultures eating their prey (the dead warriors) is fantastically
sculpted . The sound effect and the life size images of the warriors
makes one think that he is in the battle field. Abhimanyu being killed
by Kauravas, Arjuna killing Jayadrathan, Krishna attacking Bheeshma
with His chakrayudham, Bheeshma lying on a bed of arrows,
Ghatothkachan destructing the Kauravas even while dying to name a
few are very very interesting. Notes containing important incidents
along with references from Mahabharatham are kept and against it the
incident on the big screen is visible.
One who visits Kurukshetra must definitely visit this place.
We were told that in Geeta Bhawan, images of incidents from Krishna
leelas are kept. Unfortunately, as it was closed, we didn’t visit this
place.From there, we went to Jyotishwar. 10 minutes drive took us to
the temple. We were running short of time and had to hurry.
JYOTISHWAR: This is the place where the Lord gave Geetopadesam
to Arjuna and through him to the whole world. When Arjuna was not
convinced, Lord showed His Viswaroopam to Arjuna and advised
Arjuna to carry out action without expecting result. Hence, this is
considered to be the MOST SACRED PLACE . The banyan tree under
which Lord Krishna gave upadesam to Arjuna is still existing. We were
told by the priest that since that day, the tree has neither grown nor
withered. It is remaining as it is. He said that they don’t even allow
the leaves to fall down and hence the entire tree is covered with net.
He also added that only the most fortunate people get a chance to see
this tree. Thanking Perumal for bestowing His grace on us , we did
pradakshinam around the tree. Luckily, we picked 2 leaves and took
some holy earth which is equally sacred. It was on this part of the
earth the Lord gave Viswaroopa darsanam and as it has come into
contact with Perumal’s Thiruvadi, it is the most sacred soil. Picked up
some soil to keep in our Kovilazhwar. The Geetopadesam is
beautifully depicted and the image of Geetacharyar and Arjuna sitting
in the chariot made of marble is carved fantastically. Took some
photos and video. Near this place, there is a pond which is known as
These are the sacred waters of Ganges which emerged
from the ground when Arjuna quenched Bheeshma’s thirst.
We considered ourselves lucky and blessed as our dream to visit this
punya kshetram was fulfilled. With heart full of contentment and
reverence, we left the place.
Adiyen who is entangled in this material world is definitely not as pious
as Arjuna but feels that I am priveleged to have Perumal’s grace which
made us visit these places.
With a prayer to Perumal to bestow the gnanam to understand His
Geetopodesam and to implement the same in my life, we left the
place with sweet memories with us.
As it was already 5 P.M., we didn’t have time to visit Birla Mandir and
rushed back to Delhi. Reached Delhi at 8 P.m. and boarded
Bangalore-Rajdhani Express at 8.50 P.M.
Reached Secunderabad on 11/11/03 at 7.40 P.M. and after spending
3 days with our elders , we took their blessings and left for Tirumala to
thank our Thiruvengadamudaiyan for His abundant grace. As we had
paid for Vimsathi Darshanam scheme, we had good darshan of
Perumal. We spent 4 days in His holy abode and returned to our place
IT WAS ONLY DUE TO THE ABUNDANT GRACE OF PERUMAL, WE
COULD VISIT THE HOLY PLACES WITHOUT ANY HINDRANCE.
WE FELL AT THE LOTUS FEET OF THE DIVYA DAMPADHIGAL FOR
GRACING US AND GIVE US OPPORTUNITIES TO VISIT SAALAGRAMAM
AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.
SARVAM SRI NARAYANAYETHE SAMARPAYAAMI
Nava Garuda sevai at Azhvar thirunagari
OUR ANUBHAVAM OF NAVA GARUDA SEVAI
WHICH WAS HELD ON 30/05/2001 AT ALWAR THIRUNAGARI:
We left from Nagercoil by train and reached Tirunelveli at 9 A.M. We just took a set of clothes with us and kept the luggage in the cloak room and left by bus for Alwar Tirunagari. As it was festive season, there were plenty of buses plying towards Thiruchendur . It may be mentioned that all the buses bound to Thiruchendur goes via Azhwar Thirunagari. “Vaikasi Visagam” is the most auspicious day to both Saivaites and Srivaishnavites On this day the greatest of all Azhwars appeared on this earth. The buses were fully packed and it took 50 mintues for us to reach Thirunagari. We reached Thirunagari around 11 A.M. This otherwise calm village was overcrowded with devotees on this day. Almost all the chathirams, Ramanujar koodams and houses were fully packed with devotees who had come to witness the nava garuda sevai. Mohan mama’s house was packed with close relatives and the Elders shared a good hospitality. We kept our small luggage and left immediately as we were advised by the residents to go and wait near the entrance of the temple.
There is a big mandapam in front of the temple known as ‘PANDAL MANDAPAM”.We were told that it was built by Sri Pandala Ramaswamy Nayaakar who was responsible for starting this nava garuda Sevai utsavam in the year 1807. Hence, the mandapam is named after him as Pandal Mandapam. There were many shops on either sides of the mandapam. A huge mela (exhibition) was going on and the entire village was in a festive mood. We were fortunate to have Nammazhwar’s darsanam in the urtharadi madam. We were told that even during his life time, the Azhwar never left the place and hence that practice is followed even today. Hence all the Perumals of the Nava Tirupatis come to Thirunagari to have a look at their most beloved devotee.
Thirumanjanam for Azhwar started amongst recitation of vedic hymns. We cherished the sevai and it is still fresh in our minds. Took some lovely photos of Thirumanjanam.We were alerted by the bhagavathas that the Nava Tirupathigal Perumal have already started from their Thirukolams and after crossing the beautiful Tambaraparani River are arriving at Pandal Mandapam.We rejoiced to see Perumals coming from different directions with a troup of Nadaswaram goshti and the recitation of pasurams by Elders. Perumal started arriving to Pandal
Mandapam. Each Perumal was brought in a well decorated palanquin with full honours. Here
Azhwar receives the Perumal and does Pradakshinam to Perumal thrice. Azhwar is then blessed with satari, peedambaram and prasadam which were offered to the Perumal. After this, managala aarthi was given to Perumal and Azhwar and Perumal enters the main temple. This procedure was followed for all the Perumals. This function takes place for about 2 to 3 hours.
All the Perumals assemble is a big hall/ mandapam inside the temple. We were told that this mandapam was exclusively built for this purpose. Preparations like decorating Garuda vaahanam for the evening function was going on..The bhagavathas of all the surrounding Villages contribute their might in making the function grand.We could see the Archakas kith and kin joyfully devoted in the alankaram of the palaquin and the Garuda vahanam.The devotees are very cooperative . They share a wonderful hospitality enquiring about the details of stay, food etc. Most of the Thirumalagais are eager to serve the devotees with Prasadam.
Nava Garuda sevai at Azhvar thirunagari
We were told that around 5 P.M., Thirumanjanam would start for all the Perumals. Hence, we relaxed for some time near the Mandapam listening to the devotees experiences. There were several groups well assembled in respective vans etc .The group Elder was addressing the crowd on Topics of Alwar Vaibhavams. We could see around 5 groups doing this kainkaryam and each one was unique. We were immersed in the spiritual rain. At 5 P.M., we gathered in the mandapam. Meantime, we saw some vaadiyars carrying silver kudams filled with water. We were told by the local residents that they bring water for Thirumanjanam from Tambarabarani river . The theertham for Neeratam was brought with full honours (an umbrella, music etc)Every Divya desam Perumal have their temple staff continuously attending to the function requirements.
It is interesting to note that Thirumanjanam for all the Perumals are performed at the same time. There are separate set of vaadhiyars for each Perumal. While Thirumanjanam was being performed for all the Perumals inside the mandapam, Azhwar’s Thirumanjanam was also performed . It was a grand sight and it was only due to our poorva janma sukrutam and our elders’ blessings, we could have Thirumanjana sevai of so many Perumals at a time. It takes about 2 to 3 hours for the alankaranam to get completed. Around 8 P.M., the garuda sevai starts. In the Nava Garuda Sevai, 9 Perumals are seated on Garuda vaahanam. Azhwar is seated on a Hamsa vaahanam and his dearest devotee, Madurakavi Azhwar is seated on Pirangi Naarkaali (a chair)
Azhwar waits just outside the Maha dwaaram of the temple. The temple doors are closed and Alwar along with his favourite devotee Madurakavi Alwar wait for the Garudaseva Utsavam to happen.The Mahadwaram doors are opened amidst the music of Nadaswarams and Azhwar is the first to have darsanam of Perumal. Perumal is given Mangala karpoora aarthi and managalasaasanam done to the particular Perumal by the Azhwar . The recitation of the Mangalaasanams of Elders drives one to spiritual escastsy. Arayar Sevai is performed. For this
bhattars come all the way from SriRangam. The sevai is a ttreat to watch. One has to closely watch Alwars Thirumukam when the Mahadwaram doors are opened. The joy in Alwars thirumukam makes one think he is a part of the Thirukurugoor.
The order in which the Perumals appear in Garuda vaahanam along with the paasuram number sung by Azhwar is given below:
PERUMAL PASURAM NOS.
1) 1) Adinatha Perumal of Thirukurugoor 3106,3116
2) Sri Vaikuntanatha Perumal of Srivaikuntam 3571,3575
3) Sri Vijayasanar Perumal of Natham (varagunamangai) 3571
4) Sri Kaichinavendan of Thirupulingudi 3473,3568-78
5) Sri Mayakoothan of Perungulam(Thiuukulandhai) 3561
6) Sri Devapiran of Irattai Tirupati }
7) Sri Aravinda Lochanan of Irattai Tirupati } 3271-3281
8) Sri Bhoomipalar of Then Thirupperai 3359-3369
9) Sri Vaithamanidhi of Thirukolur along with Madurakavi Azhwar 3293-3303,3473
Nava Garuda sevai at Azhvar thirunagari
After this, neivedyam is offered to Perumal, Azhwar and Madurakavi Azhwar and Perumal leaves the place . All the Perumals assemble at East Mada street and from here all the nava tirupathi Perumal are taken in procession in the 4 mada streets of Thirunagari with the Nadaswaram troups for each perumal , Veda goshti etc. The village residents burst crackers and lit the roads with dazzling light. We could see the local residents receiving Perumal by sweeping the roads and decorating the roads with kollams etc.The zeal in their offering fruits and karpooram at the time of Perumal’s oorvalam is a treat to watch. Almost the entire village are well versed with the Order of Perumals arrival. This procedure of waiting near the entrance, showing karpoora aarthi and rendering mangalasaasanam on that particular Perumal is followed for all the 9 Perumals. The excitement of the local residents when they see their Perumal cannot be expressed in words. The whole atmosphere was charged with devotional fervour and we were lucky to capture few photos. By the time the ninth Perumal Sri Vaithamanidhi of Thirukolur leaves the place, Adinatha Perumal of Thirukurugoor who left first comes back to the temple. After all the nine Perumals assemble, Azhwar pays his respects to all the Perumals and all the Perumals get inside the mandapam. Madurakavi Azhwar who has organized this function, pays his respects to Nammazwar and Nammazwar is pleased with his devotee. The function gets over around 4 A.M. the next day.One cannot imagine how the time passed so quickly
Next day morning, all the Perumals leave to their respective places and Nammazwar sees them
We left to Mohan Swamys place and as the house was packed we relaxed at the entrance where almost all the bhagavthas had already retired. The village atmosphere was very calm and serene. It was very easy for my wife to calm down my kids who were very tired.
By 5.30 AM we got up and quickly left to Tamparaparani river to have a holy dip which was 1 km away. The banks of the river was crowded with the piligrims and Adiyen could see that the
surroundings fully packed with SriVaishnavaites. The scenic beauty was simply marvellous. We
had a wonderful time near the river and my kids were overjoyed to look at the innocent village
belles grazing cows and buffaloes. We left to Temple around 6.30 AM We could notice Nammazwar ‘s hamsa vaahanam was placed in such a manner that he could see Perumal till he leaves the street. We had darshan of all the Perumals in the Mandapam and the send off procession was about to start with the blowing of trumpets etc.The Perumals leave the Mandapam around 7.00 –7.30 AM . Only after the sight of Perumal completely disappears, Nammazhwar is taken inside. Alwars tirumukam has a sad look with the departure of the perumals to their respective divyadesams.
We sincerely prayed Alwar for gracing us in attending this wonderful Garudasevai. Hail
Tirukurugoor I silently walk behind Alwars Palaquin asking for forgiveness and his grace in
attending many more Satsangs. Now, I wish to make an attempt in comparing Nava Garuda
Sevai held at Alwar Tirunagari (Pandya Naadu) with Eleven Garuda Sevai held at Thirunangoor
(Chola Nadu) every year.
Nava Garuda sevai at Azhvar thirunagari
Details 9 GARUDA SEVAI 11 GARUDA SEVAI
Place Alwar Tirunagari near Tirunelveli Thirunangoor near Sirkazhi
Month 5th day preceding Vaigasi Visagam Next day after Thai Amavasai
Duration One day 2 days-Thai Amavasai when
Azhwar goes to each divya
desam and next day when all
the Perumals assemble
Venue Adinathar Kovil at Thirukurugoor Thirumani mada kovil at
Perumals From 9 Divya desams From 11 Divya desams
Hosted by Nammazhwar
Thirumangai Azhwar also in
1st sevai held in 3 centuries old 2 centuries old
Supervised by Madurakavai Azhwar in Pirangi Naarkaali
(a chair) Manavala Maamunigal in Pirangi Naarkaali (a chair)
Neeratam for God Simultaneously for all Perumals In Ekaantham
The Nava Dwarkas are ;-
1) Mukti Dwarka (Gomti Dwarka)
-main temple located in Dwarka in Gujarat
2) Rukmini Dwarka (4 kms from Dwarka)
3) Bhet Dwarka ( in an island 8 kms from Dwarka)
4) Moola Dwaraka (Rajkot-Dwarka route)
5) Sudama Dwarka (Porbandhar)
6) Nathdwara (near Udaipur in Rajasthan)
7) Kankroli Dwarka (near Nathdwara)
8) Prabhasa Theertha (Veravel near Somnath)
9) Dakore Dwarka (near Ahmedabad)
We had planned and booked our circular journey tickets(which is cheaper compared to individual tickets) for visiting these places. Though the reservation was done two months in advance , few tickets were not confirmed till the date of journey as AC coaches were full.
This was our second visit to Dwaraka and third visit to Vrindavan. Way back in 2000 during our pilgrimage to Dwaraka, we visited only 4 Dwarakas -Gomti Dwaraka(the main temple), Bhet Dwaraka, Rukmini Dwaraka (all these are around Dwaraka) and Dakore Dwaraka near Ahmedabad. At that time, we prayed to Sri Dwarakadeesh to grace us by making us visit the remaining Dwarakas .
Mathura and Vrindavan are in Uttar Pradesh. And the 9 Dwarkas mentioned above are scattered over the states of Gujarat including Saurashtra and Rajasthan. Though there are package tours conducted from Chennai for Rs 9500/- spread over 10 days, Adiyen could not join because their schedule did not coincide with our vacation. Hence as usual, I wished to adventure on my own gathering information from various sources.
In this writeup, Adiyen has started with a brief introduction of the place visited, its importance, location, how to reach, accommodation facilities, the sthalavaralaaru (history of the places) , important info like parikrama(pradakshina) details and finally our tour experience.
MATHURA, GOKULAM , VRINDAVAN
Popularly known as Vraj Bhumi and Goloka Vaikuntam, this is the most sacred dham spread over 84 kos i.e.168 miles-42 miles on each direction with Mathura as the center. Vraja mandal comprises of Mathura, Goverdhan,Gokulam,Vrindavan and its surrounding 12 forests. The Supreme Lord manifested Himself along with HIS attendants and enacted various pastimes 5000 years ago in Dwapara yugam . Sri Krishnavataaram is the POORNA AVATARAM of Vishnu. Every inch in this place is sacred because of its association with Sri Krishna’s Thiruvadi (as He walked over all these places). Anyone who visits this sacred place is bestowed with Krishna Bhakti and attains moksham . This is one of the seven mukthi tharum kshetrams , the rest being Ayodhya, Mayapur, Kasi,Kanchi, Puri, Dwarka. Every inch of this place is considered very sacred due to its association with Sri Krishna. Lord eternally resides in this place.
There are 108 Vaishnava divya desams (sacred shrines glorified by the12 Azhwar saints of South India out of which Braj bhoomi comprises of 2 divya desams They are Mathura(Vada Mathura in Tamil meaning Mathura of North) comprising of Mathura, Vrindavan and Goverdhan giri and Thiru aayarpaadi(Gokulam). The devotional outpourings are known as pasurams in Tamil.
Mathura has been glorified by 5 Azhwars with 50 pasurams dedicated to this place., the details of which are given here:-
Periazhwar(16 pasurams), Andal(19 pasurams)-, Thondaradipodi Azhwar (1 pasuram), Thirumangai Azhwar(4 pasurams) and Nammazhwar(10 pasurams)
Likewise Thiruaayarpaadi (Gokulam) has been glorified in 22 pasurams by 3 Azhwars –
Andal,(5 pasurams) Periazhwar (10 pasurams) and Thirumangai Azhwar(7 pasurams).
As per Varaha Puranam, the benefit of visiting 600 million thirthas is attained by visiting the theerthams in Mathura. It also states that circumbulating Mathura bestows the benefit of circumbulating 100 times all the holy places in the world. It also says that even seeing a person who has returned from Mathura will cleanse us of all sins. As per Padma Puranam, residing in Mathura for atleast one day will bestow Hari bhakti. Anyone who leaves his mortal coils in Mathura will attain moksham.
Mathura also known as Madhuvanam was the dwelling place of Madhu, the demon who was killed by the Lord because of which HE is known as MADHUSUDANAN”.
It is mentioned in Srimad Bhagavatham that in Krita Yugam, Dhruva did penanace at this place Madhuvanam situated on the banks of River Yamuna for six months and had Lord’s darshan. In Treta Yugam, Sri Rama’s brother Shatrugna killed Lavanasuran and ruled this place for 12 years as per Rama’s instructions. In Dwapara yugam, Krishna sanctified this place by appearing here as the eighth son of Devaki and Vasudeva.
Akbar named this town as Fakirabad and promised the residents that there would be no slaughtering of animals and meat eating would not be allowed in Vraj bhoomi.
LOCATION:- Mathura is 100 kms south of Delhi in Agra-Delhi route and almost all Delhi bound trains s in this junction for few minutes. It takes about 3-4 hours to reach Mathura from Delhi but since it is an important junction, one can alight at Mathura itself for visiting Krishna’s birthplace.
HOW TO REACH:- The temples in Mathura can be visited by hiring autos/ tangas/ car. There are buses to Vrindavan , Gokulam ,Goverdhan (Manasi Ganga) from Mathura station itself. One can hire any vehicle of one’s preference and visit the temples inMathura, Vrindavan, Gokulam . Mathura and Gokulam are located on either sides of River Yamuna. Vrindavan is beyond Gokulam. Vrindavan is 12 kms from Mathura and Goverdhan is around 10 kms from Mathura (pl. note that the routes are different). Goverdhan is 24 kms from Vrindavan.
STAY FACILITIES:- Many lodges are available at Mathura starting from Rs.300/-onwards. Food can be had at any of the Vegetarian hotels.
IMPORTANT PLACES :- There are about 5000 temples in Vraj Bhumi out of which few important places are mentioned below. It takes about a fortnight to visit all the places in Vraj Bhumi .
TRANSPORT FACILITIES:- There are state run and private buses to Vrindavan and Goverdhan. Share autos are also available. One can also engage auto or car for visiting important places in Mathura, Goverdhan and Brindavan. For sight seeing in Mathura, autos charge approx. Rs.300/- . For directly going to Brindavan without sping anywhere, they charge around Rs. 150/- and cars charge about Rs.200/-.Share autos charge Rs.10/- to Vrindavan and Rs.20/- to Goverdhan. Buses and autos are available round the clock.
IMPORTANT PLACES IN MATHURA
Sri Krishna Janmasthan
Adi Varaha temple
Samyavan Theerth(Naga Theerth)
SRI KRISHNAJANMASTHAN – birth place of Sri Krishna – 1 km from Mathura railway station- well guarded by security –filming equipments and mobiles not allowed inside . Apart from the sannidhi, there is a small room in which Devaki and Vasudeva were kept under house arrest. It was here that Sri Krishna Paramatma was born . After Ram janma bhoomi conflict , security has been tightened here as there is a mosque beside the temple.
Even today, on Gokulastami, in this temple, thirumanjanam(abhishekam) is performed to Sri Krishna headed by the representatives of Vaishnava sampradayams. The thirumanjanam for the utsavar starts around 9 P.M. and goes on upto midnight and special poojas are performed for the Lord . Thirumanjam with huge quantities of milk, curd, butter, ghee etc are done to the Lord . During that time, curtain is drawn in front of the garbagriham obstructing clear view of the moolavar. At the stroke of 12, the curtain is drawn, and maha aarthi with shodasa upacharam is offered to the along with chappan bhog(56 items of various food items) . In all other temples in Braj bhoomi, Thirumanjanam is offered to the utsava murthis of Radha and Krishna except in Sri Krishna Janmasthan where abhishekam is done only to Sri Krishna.
STHALAPURANAM:- Krishna appeared as the eighth son of Devaki and Vasudeva on the 8th day (ashtami) of dark fortnight in the month of Sravana . HIS parents were under house arrest by Kamsa. This was Vishnu’s POORNA AVATAAR” exhibiting all HIS immeasurable divine qualities for the purpose of reducing Mother Earth’s burden from evil people and protecting the pious people. It was here that the Lord first exhibited HIS Vishnu form holding sankhu, chakram , padmam, gadam in HIS four hands, wearing peethambaram, adorning kausthubam sporting Srivatsam on HIS thirumaarbhu to Devaki and Vasudeva and reminded them of their two previous births and added that this would be their last birth and attain moksham.
Kothra Kund / pavitra Kund:- This is beside SriKrishna janmabhoomi. Here Krishna’s parents used to wash their clothes . This was part of the prison in those days.
Madhuvanam :- Lavanasuran’s gufa which is very dark is located here. Bit difficult to approach the gufa.
Kesavji temple- the temple of Adikesava Perumal whom Krishna’s ancestors worshipped
Dwarkadeesh temple- this 150 year old huge temple was constructed by the devote Marwadi who constructed Rangaji mandir in Vrindavan. In this temple , Krishna is seen with Rukmini and Satyabhama. In the month of Sravana, utsavam is performed. Krishna Janmashtami is celebrated grandly. The temple follows Vallabhacharyar Vaishnava Sampradayam.
Visram Ghat:- where Lord rested after killing Kamsa. While going to Sandipa muni’s ashram for pursuing studies, Krishna left HIS kreetam(crown) at this place. This is the most important of the 24 theerthas in Mathura. Having bath on Sukla paksha Dvidityiyai (2nd day after Amavasya) in the month of Karthigai is very auspicious as it is the appearance day of River Yamuna. The pithrus get redeemed and reach Vaikuntam. Usually , people start Braj bhoomi parikrama from this place. This ghat is on the way to Vrindavan.
Dhruva Tila:- The place where Dhruva performed austerities. Kamsa was cremated at this place. As there is no proper path to reach this place, it is suggested to offer respects from Vishram Ghat
Ranga Bhoomi(Yuddha bhoomi) :- Krishna fought with 2 wrestlers, Mushtikan and Chanuran at this place.
Kamsa Tila:- Kamsa was killed by Krishna at this place
Adi Varaha temple:- The diety was installed by Kapila Muni in Krita Yugam who later handed it over to Indra . Indra gifted this idol to Ishvaku kings at Ayodhya. When Shatrugna was ruling Mathura, he brought this idol from Ayodhya to Mathura for worship.
Talavanam:- Denukasuran was killed by Balarama at this place. Earlier this place was full of jackfruit trees but now there is only one tree. All other trees fell on the asura whereas this tree on which Krishna was leaning was not uprooted.
Kumudavanam:- This place is full of kumuda flowers and lotus with which Krishna used to dress up the gopis.
Samyavan Theerth(Naga Theerth):- This is on the banks of Yamuna and is the place from where carrying Krishna in a basket, Vasudeva crossed Yamuna to reach Gokulam
IMP.PLACES IN GOKULAM:- Gokulam is also known as Mahavanam. Gokulam means ‘Gohu kulam” meaning herd of cows. Immediately after HIS birth in Mathura, the was shifted to Gokulam and stayed in this place upto the age of 5. All the leelas of Krishna as a toddler and kid took place here. Presently , we can see Purana Gokul and Naya Gokul and it is advisable to visit both the places. Some of the important places in and around Gokulam are:-
NANDA BHAVAN:- This is the residence of Krishna’s foster parents-Nanda Maharaja and Yasodha devi. Krishna spent HIS early childhood until they moved to Vrindavan. It is here that Perumal performed various leelas by showing the entire Universe to Yasodha when HE was ordered to open the mouth. , it was here that the Supreme who is unattainable even to the rishis performing severe austerity to have HIS darshan, was tied to a mortar by HIS mother, Yasodha. There is a sannidhi for Radha Krishnar along with HIS parents and brother. The places where Krishna killed Putana, Trinavrat, Sakutasuran and other demons, the places where Lord crawled and played can be seen. In Gokulam, every house is a temple. We can find the locals inviting the pilgrims to their temple referring to some act or the other of Sri Krishna. The houses are on either sides of the narrow lane and one has to walk to see the places where the demonness, Putana was killed.
BHADRAVANAM:- The 2 asuras,Vatasuran who disguised as a calf and Kabithasuran who had taken the form of Vilam pazham tree ( wood apple tree) were killed here.
VENU KOOPAM:- With HIS divine will, Krishna summoned all the sacred waters to purify HIMSELF from killing a cow (Vatasuran had disguised as a cow). (Same reference given for Manasi Ganga too)
BRAHMANDA GHAT:- Where the showed the entire Universe to Mother Yasodha who was chastising HIM for having eaten mud.
UKAL BANDHAN:- Here the was tied to a mortar by Yasodha . Thus, HE came to be known as “Damodaran”
RAMAN RETI :- where Krishna played with his friends. We can find Raman Reti at Vrindavan and Gokulam too.
IMP. PLACES IN AND AROUND VRINDAVAN
Radha Damodar temple
Radha Gopinath temple
Radha Govindaji temple
ABOUT VRINDAVAN:- Out of the 12 forests in Braja Mandala, Vrindavan is the largest and is considered as the most sacred place in the world. Vrindavana is described by our acharyas as the most transcendental realm that has inconceivable natural beauty.Vrindavan in the earth planet is considered on par with Sri Vaikuntam as Krishna eternally resides in this place. Anyone who does devotional service in Vrindavan will never get entangled in the cycle of births and deaths as he would attain Vaikuntam/ moksham. This place has been praised by many scriptures and Puranas. Great sages including Sri Vaishnava acharyars have expressed their desire to be born as atleast grass in Vrindavan and enjoy Krishna anubhavam. As every inch of this place has been blessed with Krishna’s paadhadhooli (dust from the Lotus feet of Sri Krishna), even today it is considered the most sacred place . Even the trees and shrubs in this place are considered sacred. That is why we find many devotees visiting Vrindavan to have sparsham (touch) of the holy land. Many devotees do parikrama circumbulation /pradakshinam) around Vrindavan especially on Ekadasis and during the month of Karthigai. (Oct-Nov)
“Vrinda” means tulasi. As the place is full of tulasi plants, it is known as Vrindavan. It is also known as Brindavan- brinda meaning herd/ crowd. As the name suggests, we can find herds of cows, crowds of devotees in this place. Brinda also means “Niranji mull” in Tamil (a type of grass). When Krishna decided to manifest in Vrindavan, HE Changed the entire forest area into grass area to enable the cows to graze. Vrindavan is as worshippable as the Lord. This is the ideal place to execute Bhakti as the whole place naturally vibrates with Krishna bhakti and all the people are inclined to love Krishna. Krishna is equally inclined to love them.
As per Gaudiya Sampradaya, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu , who was an incarnation of Radha and Krishna ,visited Vrindavan and stayed for 2 months and did parikrama of all the 12 forests and Goverdhana giri. Over passage of time, all the important places connected to Sri Krishna leela disappeared. The decided to unveil all the places of HIS pastimes through Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. When SriKrishna and Radha took the form of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, their assistant gopis also appeared in this world to assist Mahaprabhu in HIS mission.
Mahaprabhu discovered Radha Kunda. He later deputed his foremost disciples, Rupa Goswami and Sanatana Goswami to reside in Vrindavan and to revive all the holy places connected to Sri Krishna’s pastimes . These disciples did all the ground work possible and Lord HIMSELF intervened and revealed various places. Today more than 75% of the temples we find in Vrindavan were constructed by Gaudiya Sampradaya out of which 7 temples are very important .
Some of the important temples in Vrindavan are mentioned below:-
ISKCON, Vrindavan:- ISKCON(International Society for Krishna Consciousness) popularly known as “HARE KRISHNAS” has its headquarters at Vrindavan. There is a guesthouse adjacent to the temple where excellent stay facilities are available for devotees. Life Members of ISKCON are given preference and the accommodation has to be booked in advance either thru their website or thru phone. This place is always flooded with visitors from India and abroad. As Vrindavan is considered to be the most sacred dham , every ISKCON devotee has a strong desire to spend atleast few days in this place and indulge fully in Krishna Bhakti. Hence, accommodation should be booked in advance. For life members, the maintenance charges for non-Ac room is Rs.150/- and Rs.450/- for AC accommodation and for non-members charges are bit high subject to availability of rooms. Devotees can have Prashad-breakfast at 9A.M and lunch at 3 P.M. for a very nominal amount of Rs.20/-. For life members, they don’t charge anything.
Staying at ISKCON guest house is preferable due to the proximity to their temple and 24 hours non-s kirtan of Hare Krishna Mahamantra thus getting fully charged with devotional fervour. A yaatrai (Trip) to Vrindavan is incomplete without a visit to ISKCON. Pure unalloyed bhakti by the devotees including foreigners expecting nothing but ’s grace can be felt here. Non-s kirtans goes on round the clock which vibrates our entire body .
They follow Gaudiya Sampradaya (the Vaishnaya sampradaya established by Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu 500 years ago. The founder acharyar of Gaudiya Sampradaya, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was the reincarnation of Sri Krishna and Srimati Radharani who manifested in India at Mayapur near Kolkatta 500 years back and demonstrated that Prema Bhakti like the Gopikas was the easiest way to attain . He gave the Hare Krishna Mahamantra without any discretion towards caste, creed.
This mission in disciple succession was later taken over by Srila Prabhupada, the founder acharyar of the famous ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness) of Gaudiya Sampradaya started the movement in his late 60s and within a span of 11 years by 1978, inspired few thousands of devotees both in India and abroad through his innumerable books by translating Srimad Bhagavatam, Bhagavad Gita and various other Vedic literatures and established many temples. He united the people from varied backgrounds and gave them the real goal of life and means to attain that goal.Today, there are more than 1000 temples under ISKCON and his teachings are scrupulously followed by his devotees.
This is one of the biggest and lavish temples in Vrindavan well guarded by security. Cameras ,mobiles and camcorders can be deposited in the counter near the entrance. Soon after entering the temple premises, we come across Srila Prabhupada’s Samadhi mandir. The worship in the temple starts with the aarthi reciting Guru Ashtaka (prayers to Guru) to his golden idol in the Samadhi mandir. Opposite to this, we can find HIS memories and shop selling prashad, books and other pooja articles etc.
On the way to the garbagriham, we pass by an open place on either sides of this, we find beautiful paintings depicting Krishna’s pastimes . The shrines of the Lordship are housed in a rectangular hall. There are 4 sannidhis in the temple-
Srila Prabhupada sannidhi on the left –seen meditating on the Lord .
Sannidhi of Gaurang and Nitai (Sri Chaintanya Mahaprabhu and Nityananda) along with the idols of Srila Prabhupad and his guru, Sri Bhakti Saraswathi Takur. Nityananda is the reincarnation of Balarama, and Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is the reincarnation of Radha and Krishna. They reincarnated to spread that prema bhakti is superior to other modes of bhakti at the time when Muslims were dominating us and Hinduism was losing its identity due to the misinterpretations by various athesits
Sri Krishna-Balarama sannidhi in the centre- Sri Krishna in HIS beautiful shyamala varnam (blackish form) holding flute and Balarama in white with his arms around Sri Krishna.
Sri Radha- Krishna seen with the 2 foremost sakhis (Attendants)-Lalitha and Visakha flanking them. As per Gaudiya Sampradayam, Radha and Krishna are always attended by 8 important sakhis who perform various kainkaryams to the ships. (This can be seen at ISKCON Mayapur and ISKCON Tirupati).
On the way to the guest house , on the right side, we can find Srila Prabhupad’s residence. Before construction of this temple, Srila Prabhupada used to stay in Radha Damodar temple premises at Imlitala in Vrindavan. At the time of construction of this temple , a separate house for Srila Prabhupad was constructed wherein he spent his last days writing many books and inspiring many devotees and attained moksham at this place. The articles used by Srila Prabhupad- utensils, pen, cot, dress, slippers, spectacles etc are well preserved here. This is open to visitors during particular time in the morning and evening. It also has a library.
Like in other ISKCON temples worldwide, the temple program starts at 3.40 A.M. with aarthi to Srila Prabhupad in HIS Samadhi mandir, followed by aarthi to the Lordships. This is followed by Tulasi aarthi, doing pradakshinam to Tulasi devi, doing japa meditation etc. followed by Srimad Bhagavatham classes. All other aarthis like Shringar aarthi, rajbhog aarthi, uthapana aarthi, sayana aarthi are done to the Lordships daily. Non-s kirtan goes on everyday and night.
Kalinga Ghat and Kadamba vruksh (Tree) – where Lord performed Kalinga narthanam and subdued the venomous snake- located near Kadamba vruksh. The incident is known to everyone .
While Saubari muni was meditating at this place, Garuda was eating away the fish from this lake. This infuriated the rishi who cursed that Garuda would die if he entered this place again. Garuda is a natural enemy to the snakes. A deal was entered between them wherein the snakes promised to voluntarily offer food to him daily and thus prevent Garuda from killing the snakes unnecessarily. The ever envious snake Kalinga offended Garuda by eating away Garuda’s portion of food. When Garuda started chasing him, Kalinga along with his family came to this place and hid himself from Garuda as he knew about his curse. Due to its presence, the water and the air surrounding this place became poisonous. Even birds would faint and die due to the poisonous fumes generated by Kalinga when they flew over this place. The trees on the banks were completely dry. There was no sign of life here.
Once Krishna and his friends happened to reach this place while gazing the cows and to quench their thirst, Krishna’s friends drank water from this lake and fell dead. By HIS mere glance , Krishna revived their lives and decided to kill the snake. As HE had to dive into water, Krishna climbed upon a nearby Kadamba tree and by His touch, the tree bounced back to life. (This tree is still alive till date.). Krishna dived into the waters and got entangled in the snake’s coils for many hours and did not come up. The startled gopis rushed to Yasoda to inform about this. All the gopis . cows, parents were weeping profusely as their Krishna was missing and were about to jump into the river but were sped by Balarama as he knew Krishna’s might. Meantime, the child Sri Krishna fought with the snake underneath the water for a long time. The snake coiled round Krishna but Krishna freed HIMSELF from the coils and subdued the snake by kicking and smashing the hoods of the snake( which was like dancing) until it started vomiting blood. Krishnaemerged out of the water and was seen stamping on the hoods of Kalinga. The wives of the snake prayed to Krishna to save their husband and the snake also repented for his misdeeds. Krishna conceded to the request and ordered Kalinga to leave the place immediately and assured that henceforth he need not fear Garuda as He has placed HIS holy feet on the snake. The snakes offered various gems and pearls to Krishna as thanksgiving. There is a small temple with Krishna seen dancing on the snake on the banks of the river.
Nidhi Vanam:- This is where Sri Krishna performed Rasakreedai with gopikas. Of all the places in Vrindavan, the area where the rasa lila of Radha and Krishna was performed is most glorious. As Krishna promised th gopis during Vastra abharanam episode to be with them on every Pournami, Krishna satisfied the gopis’ desire. This pure act has been glorified by great saints like Suka brahma and other rishis. Raasakreedai is a purely sathvic spiritual dance in which Paramatma- Krishna would expand into innumerable forms and dance with the Jeevatmas- gopis. Each gopi would be dancing with Krishna. In the Srimad Bhagavatam, it is mentioned that when Krishna used to play flute, all the gopis used to leave their work as it is and join Krishna . In the moonlit garden, Krishna used to dance with each gopi. Each gopi used to think that she was most fortunate and was more dearer to Krishna because Krishna was dancing with her. The moment the thought occurred, Krishna used to disappear. The dejected gopis used to lament and cry profusely searching for Krishna . They used to recollect the Lord’s various pastimes and pray for HIS association. This is the famous “GOPIKA GEETHAM” and reciting this will enhance Krishna bhakti. Sri Krishna would once again appear in front of them and the raasakreedai would continue. Krishna did this to enhance the bhakti of the gopis while demonstrating that he doesn’t entertain any evil quality like ego etc. Krishna used to lay HIS head on the laps of the gopis and the gopis used to lie down on Krishna’s lap and relax.
Entry to this garden after sunset is strictly forbidden as there is a strong belief that even now, Krishna does raasaleela here and any mortal who stays here at that time would loose eyesight as our mortal eyes cannot withstand the divinity. The garden comprises of many varieties of Tulasi shrubs having 2 leaves together and these varieties cannot be usually seen anywhere. These are known as Radha- Krishna leaves. Plucking of these leaves is strictly prohibited. Care is taken to ensure that the leaves are not touched by anyone/doesn’t fall on the ground. The whole place is considered very sacred. There are also trees from which bansi (flute) is made. There are few samadhis in this place out of which the Samadhi of Haridas Thakur is worth mentioning. He was an amsam of Lalitha, the foremost assistant/sakhi(friend) of Radharani,. He identified this place. He used to converse with Perumal and used to meditate upon the Lord always. He discovered the Radha Krishna idol known as Banke bihari which is now housed in a small temple in the garden itself. Banke Bihari is the form in which Radha Krishna are together .
SEVA KUNJ:- This place is closed after sunset. Everyone including monkeys leave the place at sunset because it is believed that Krishna plays with the gopis in the evening. The local people say that they can hear the sound of anklets and music in the evenings. Like Nidhivan, there are many Tulasi shrubs in this place and is considered as sacred as Nidhivan. During Rasakreedai, when Radharani used to get tired , Krishna used to take care of her in this place. There is a small temple dedicated to Radha Damodar in this garden. The pujari informed that every night , they leave sandal paste, flowers and sweets as offerings to the Lord and when they open the temple the following day, the offerings would be disturbed and scattered all round. This proves the presence of the Lord in this place. Normally the pujari asks for some donation for the night pooja.
IMLI- TALA:- Imli Tala means “tamarind tree”. Krishna along with gopis used to relax under this tree which was earlier on the banks of River Yamuna. Now as the river has dried up , it is farther. As the water level has reduced now, it is now opposite toYamuna River. In gopis’ absence, Krishna used to sit alone under this tree and recollect the pleasant moments HE had with the gopis. Presently, at Imli tala , we find Radha Damodar temple, Srila Prabhupad’s residence, samadhis of Jiva Goswami and Rupa Goswami.
Radha Damodar Temple: -This is the place while doing Rasa lila , Krishna was bound by the ropes of affection by Radharani and known as Damodaran. At this place there is a beautiful temple dedicated to Radha and Damodaran. The goverdhana shila worshipped by Sanatana Goswami, one of the foremost disciples of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is kept in this sannidhi and circumbulating this sannidhi is equivalent to doing pradakshinam around Goverdhana giri itself.
In order to revive Bhakti cult through Madhurya Rasa (Prema Bhakti- love for God) , Sri Krishna and Radha Rani manifested as Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu at Mayapur in West Bengal 500 years ago. To assist Mahaprabhu , Balarama manifested as Nityananda, the foremost attendants of Radha rani –Lalitha, Visakha and other gopis along with their subordinates known as “Manjaris” appeared as the six Goswamis of Vrindavan-namely, Rupa Goswami, Sanatana Goswami, Jiva Goswami Raghunatha Goswami,Gopala bhatta Swami(he was from Srirangam), Raghunatha Bhatta Goswami. The two brothers Rupa and Sanatana Goswamis were assigned the task of writing books on the preachings of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and their nephew Jive Goswami was entrusted with the job of finding out the lost sites of Lord Krishna . These disciples spent most of the time in Vrindavan to discover and identify the sites of Krishna leela. Later it was here that Srila Prabhupad stayed for 6 years after taking sanyasam and started translating Srimad Bhagavatam and various books like “Nectar of Devotion”. He was inspired by Rupa Goswami to spread the teachings of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu along with his teachings to the western countries. Two rooms were used by Prabhupad – one for cooking and the other for writing and staying . Everyday he used to offer prashad to the deities in this temple and after honouring the prashad, he used to write books.
Diety details:- The temple houses the idols of Radha, Damodaran and the Goverdhana shila worshipped by Sanatana Goswami.
APPEARANCE OF RADHA DAMODAR DIETIES:-In 1542, Jiva Goswami received the idol of Damodaran from Rupa Goswami and installed it on sukla dasami in the month of Magha (Feb-March). He purchased land for construction of the temple and was regularly offering prayers to the Lord. Subsequently, the idols of Radharani and Lalitha (the foremost attendant of Radharani) were found in the sea by a fisherman at Bengal while he was catching fish in his net. He handed over the same to the Nawab of Bengal who was instructed in his dream to hand over the idols to Jiva Goswami in Vrindavan. The king personally went to Vrindavan and handed over the deities to Jiva Goswami with full honours. Jiva Goswami could not distinguish the 2 idols. That night Radharani appeared in his dream and revealed HER identity. Accordingly, the following morning Jiva Goswami installed the deities in their proper places and worshipped them.
PRESENCE OF GOVERDHANA SHILA:- Sanatana Goswami used to do Goverdhanagiri parikrama daily even in his old age. Seeing his pitiable condition, Krishna appeared as a cowherd boy and gave a small stone with HIS holy feet imbibed on it informing him that doing parikrama to this shila was equivalent to doing parikrama to Goverdhana giri. This shila was later kept in this temple.
SRI RADHA RAMAN TEMPLE : This temple is near Nidhi Van. Gopala Bhatta, son of a Srirangam priest became a disciple of Mahaprabhu and was serving at Vrindavan. During his saalagrama yaatrai, while he was offering oblations in Gandaki river, 12 shaalagramas jumped into his hand. Thinking that he was not fit to have these, with humility , he placed back the shilas in the water but again the saalaagramas jumped into his hand . Thinking it to be the divine will, he brought them to Vrindavan and regularly worshipped them. Looking at deities in other temples, the devotee was dejected that he could not dress up his Saalagrama shilas in that way. The next day, to his astonishment, he found that one of the big saalagramams broke open and from it emerged a small, beautiful vigraham of Krishna with flute. He named the diety as RadhaRaman. There is no separate vigraham for Radha. A crown is placed in her place. Every year during May, abhishekam is performed using more than 100 litres of milk.
When we visited this temple, jhoola seva was going on after evening aarthi and the assembled devotees were singing aarthi songs . Beside Perumal’s sannidhi there is a small room dedicated to the blessed devotee because of whom we are able to have darshan of this Perumal.
SRI RANGAJI TEMPLE: A very big temple in South Indian style constructed 160 years ago. The presiding diety is Sri Ranganathar in Nindra Thirukkolam (Standing posture).Like in Srivilliputtur, here Perumal is seen with Godha Devi(Sri Andal) and Garudan in sama asaanam (standing on the same peetam). The temple also houses shrines of Lord Venkateswara , Sri Ramanujar, Sri Thirukachhinambigal. In the temple precints, there are 108 houses constructed for the temple kainkarya kaarars who migrated to this place from Tamilnadu. This is one of the richest temples in Vrindavan. Food arrangements and staying facilities are provided by the temple management for bhagavatha groups visiting this place on prior intimation . This temple is 2 kms from Kalinga Ghat. All utsavams including Adhyanautsavam as per agama shastras are performed here.
YAMUNA RIVER – River Yamuna, considered as one of the seven sacred rivers flows through Mathura, Vrindavan and Gokulam. On the way to Gokulam, we can find the river in full view. Yamuna is glorified by Andal as “Thooya Peruneer Yamunai ” As the Lord bathed in Yamuna, she is considered as “Thooya Peruneer” and more sacred than Ganges. Ganges is the water collected from Perumal’s Thiruvadi but Yamunai had to opportunity to bathe the Lord . Yamuna relieves us from all sins whereas her brother Yama punishes for our sins.
Sri Velukudi Swamin in his discourse referring to Sri Pillai Lokacharyar’s vaakyanams ( explanations ) describes Yamunai as more sacred than Godavari. He elaborated this saying that Yamuna involved herself in Krishna kainkaryam by giving way to Vasudevar while crossing the river without fearing Kamsa whose palace was near her banks whereas Godavari lost the opportunity of not doing Rama kainkaryam out of fear for Ravana though he was very far away in Lanka. Godavari lost her purity because when Rama called out trees, rivers, mountains to know about Sitadevi’s whereabouts, Godavari remained silent. But Godavari is still considered to be one of the seven sacred rivers because of her name “GODHAvari” reflecting Andal’s name. Swamin says that a holy bath in Yamunai will instill bhakti and courage . Even if one is not able to have bath, one should atleast sprinkle the holy waters. Presently, construction work is going on in Vrindavan and Gokulam.
SRI RADHA GOVINDAJI TEMPLE:- The deities were discovered by Rupa Goswami with the help of Krishna who had come in the disguise of a cowherd boy and showed the place. Raghunatha Bhatta financed for the construction of the temple while Akbar contributed red sandstone for temple construction. Earlier a seven storey structure housing the deities of Radha and Govinda . Ghee lamps lit in this temple on all the storeys used to be visible in Agra.Later Aurangzeb invaded this place to plunder the abundant wealth of gold ornaments . To prevent sacrilege, the deities were transported to Jaipur. The evil, angry, fanatic king Aurangzeb demolished three floors of the temple structure and massacred the sculptures. Later a replica of the original deities was sanctified and till date worship is being offered to the new idols. We visited this temple during our first visit. Nearby there is a choultry which charges very minimum amount for accommodation.
NANDGAON :- This is 40 miles from Gokulam . Fom the age of 5 upto the age of 10 years, Krishna resided in this place. At this place, Krishna enacted His childhoold pastimes like stealing butter and playing with gopis. Shiva transformed into a hill in which Krishna’s house was built and thus offered service to the Lord. One can engage an auto to visit Nandgaon, Barsana, Goverdhana and all other important places from Vrindavan.
The important places to be visited are:-
Nand Bhavan:- The palace where Krishna stayed with HIS foster parents-Yasoda and Nandagopalan located on a small hillock. A flight of steps leads us to the palace. Here one can see the mortar used by Yasoda for churning milk. Krishna Kundam:- Nand Maharaj used to bathe Krishna and Balarama in this place. When Udhava visited Vrindavan to convey Krishna’s message to the gopis, he had bath in this kund.
Akroor Ghat:- This can be accessed either from Mathura or Vrindavan. This is the spot where Akroor sped while taking Krishna and Balarama to Mathura from Nandgaon. There is a small temple dedicated to the three of them. Krishna gave darshan to Akrurar while the latter was offering evening oblations .
Sage Narada revealed Krishna’s birth details and identity to Kamsan which enhanced his fear . He decided to kill Krishna and balarama immediately and plotted a plan to kill the brothers. He arranged for a dhanur yaagam and sent a Brahmin named Akrooran, to invite Krishna and Balarama to Mathura . He had made all sorts of arrangement like deploying the mad elephant, Kuvalayapeetam, at the entrance to kill Krishna, wrestlers Denuka and Chanura to fight with Krishna . Akrooran, who was longing to see Krishna seized this opportunity and left for Vrindavan. He was duly honoured by the yadavas including Krishna and Balaraman and requested Krishna’s parents to send the boys to Mathura as Kamsa had invited them for Dhanuryaagam. After convincing the grief stricken gopis, Krishna and Balarama left for Mathura in Akroorar’s chariot. While driving the chariot, he was constantly contemplating on the Supreme and was driving very slowly. In the evening, Akroorar sped the chariot under a tree requesting Krishna and Balarama to remain seated while he would finish his evening oblations. When Akroorar was having a dip in Yamuna, to his astonishment, underneath the water he saw Krishna and Balarama seated in the chariot. Bewildered, he immediately raised and was astonished to see them in the chariot. He once again took a holy dip and at that time saw Sri Krishna as Vishnu in Srivaikuntam (Vaikuntanathan) , and Mahalakshmi Thayar pressing HIS tender lotus feet. When he got up , he once again saw Krishna seated in the chariot along with Balaraman. Akroorar was immensely satisfied with Perumal’s kataksham on him. Prostrating at the Lord’s feet, he continued to drive the chariot and reached Mathura. Thus, at this place Krishna showed HIS swaroopam to HIS bhakta. Hence, a bath at this ghat would enhance Krishna bhakti .
Surya Kund:- Sun God forgot himself seeing the leelas of Krishna and was blessed with Krishna darshanam in Tribhangi form(with 3 curves)
Nand Baitak:- The Yadavas headed by Nanda Maharaj used to assemble here and discuss all matters relating to their village and welfare
Yasodha Kundam:- Mother Yasoda used to bathe Krishna here. Nearby there is a small temple of Narasimhar
Charan Pahadi:- To call the cows, Krishna used to stand on a rock and play flute. Hearing the music, the rock melted and thus Krishna’s thiruvadi was imbibed on it.
BARSANA(VARSANA) :- Barsana is 10 kilometres from Nandgaon and 42 kms from Mathura. This is the birth place of Radha Rani . The palace of Vrishabanu is built on a small hillock. .Srimad Bhagavatam, Naalayira Divya prabhandam and Vishnu Puranam do not glorify Radharani but most of the north Indian scriptures and bhajans take her name. Radha Rani is Bhakti-personified. . When Radharani was born to King Vrishabanu, the baby did not open the eyes for many days and everyone was perplexed. It so happened that Mother Yasoda carrying child Krishna visited Vrishabanu;’s residence to see Vrishabanu’s wife, the girl child who was lying on her mother’s lap immediately opened her eyes on seeing Krishna. She was the foremost devotee of the Lord and even today, we can find the local people including rickshaw pullers calling out “Radhey Radhey”. The uttering of the name “Radha” instills devotion and that’s why in Vrindavan, we find devotees taking Radha’s name than Krishna’s. The appearance day of Radharani falls on the 15th day after Sri Krishna Janmashtami. Though azhwars have not mentioned Radha’s name in their pasurams, north Indian literatures glorify Radha as the foremost devotee and almost all Krishna bhajans include Radharani.
Out of the many hills and hillocks in Braj bhoomi, three are considered to be very sacred. The light coloured hill at Barsana on which Radharani’s palace is constructed is considered to be Brahma personified, the darkish hill at Goverdhana is Vishnu and the reddish hill at Nandgaon on which Nanda maharaja’s palace is built is Shiva personified.
Some of the important places in and around Barsana are:-
MOR KUTIR:- We can find many peacocks here. Krishna and Radharani used to imitate like the peacocks while playing
SANKIRI KOL:- This is exactly in the middle of BArsana and Nandgaon. It was Krishna’s practice to s the gopis at this place and collect tax. On one such occasion, when Radharani was sped, she got angry and broke the pot containing curd. It is believed that those pieces are still here. It is difficult to approach this place because of bushes and thorns. (Similar incident is related to Dhan Gati near Goverdhana)
SANKETH:- meeting point of Krishna with the gopis
BAKASURAN VADHAM IN KATHIRAVANAM:- Krishna killed the asura who had come in the form of a crane.
Goverdhanagiri , more popularly addressed as “GIRIRAJ GOVERDHAN” is situated in the middle of the town Goverdhan which is 24 kms from Vrindavan and approximately 26 kms west of Mathura. The routes to Vrindavan and Goverdhan from Mathura are different . Autos charge app. Rs 300/- to go to Goverdhan from Vrindavan. Many buses and share autos ply to Goverdhanagiri fromMathura and Vrindavan round the clock. Radha Kund, Shyam Kund and Manasi Ganga are in the precints of the hill. This is considered as the most sacred place like Vrindavan .
APPEARANCE OF GOVERDHAN HILL :- In Satya yugam, the first yugam , Pulastya Muni approached Vindhya Hills, the king of mountains to give his son Goverdhana to him. The rishi desired to take the mountain to Kashi and do meditation sitting on it. When the mountain was reluctant, the sage was annoyed and was about to curse it. At that time, his son Goverdhana intervened and expressed his willingness to accompany the rishi on the condition that the rishi should not put him down until he reaches the destination and in case the rishi, for any reason, places him down, he would not move from that place. The sage agreed to this condition and with his spiritual powers carried the hill from Vindhyas. When it was dusk, the rishi placed the hill to offer evening oblations. After finishing his rituals, when the rishi tried to lift the hill, he could not do so. Goverdhana reminded him of the condition and said that it would continue to be in the same place. The annoyed rishi cursed the hill that it would shrink by the size of a mustard seed every day. As per the scriptures, 5000 years ago, Goverdhana hill was about 29 km high, 115 kms long and 72 kms wide. Now the hill is only 80 feet high at its highest point and at some places it is in the ground level. The circumference is 25 km.
IMPORTANCE OF GOVERDHANA GIRI:-
Goverdhana giri is the most blessed devotee as it had Sri Krishna sambandham everyday during Krishnaavataaram which evenHimalayas did not have. Krishna Himself chose Goverdhana giri for HIS various pastimes. Of all the devotees , Goverdhana Hill is the best because it supplies Krishna and Balarama with all types of necessities. In Srimad Bhagavatham, the Lord mentions that HE and Goverdhanagiri are identical. As per the scriptures, Krishna used to go to Goverdhanagiri from Vrindavan for gazing cows and would visit the nearby forests with HIS friends. (I wonder how Krishna walked 50 kms to and fro everyday from Vrindavan to Goverdhan without footwear . This makes me recollect Periazhwar’s pasurams in Yasodha bhaavam “Naalai thottu kandrin pin pogale enge iru….” ., azhwar’s feelings when he expresses mother’s anguish to see her child returning from forest without slippers and umbrella.) .
It was customary for the gopas headed by Nanda Maharaja to perform yaagam to please Indra, the king of devas and give their offerings as they felt that Indra was responsible for rains. Krishna ,who was 7 years old convinced elders that Indra was only doing duties assigned to him and there was no necessity to worship demigods. The Lord added that Goverdhanagiri was providing with their daily requirements including enough grass to the cows which in turn yielded good milk resulting in their prosperity. The Supreme suggested that instead of Indra, Brahmins, cows and Goverdhanagiri have to be worshipped to which the elders agreed. On the day of pooja, all the gopas and gopikas performed GOW-pooja (pooja for cows), offered dakshinai to Brahmins, circumbulated the hill and offered huge quantities of various food items to the hill. On Krishna’s order, everyone closed their eyes while food was being offered. Krishna assumed a great transcendental form like that of the mountain,declaring that HE was Goverdhana Hill and accepted all their offerings while little Krishna stood with his relatives and offered prayers to the mountain which was HIMSELF . HE announced that Goverdhana Hill is non-different from HIM. Later when the gopas were asked to open their eyes, they were surprised to see the palates empty and were convinced by Krishna that the mountain had accepted their offerings. The gopas returned happily.
The identity of Sri Krishna with Goverdhana Hill is still honoured and devotees take goverdhana shila (-small stones from Goverdhana Hill and place it in the altar and worship. (In order to preserve the hill, devotees are now restrained from taking the stones) . As Krishna Himself did parikrama to the hill and as He mentioned that both are identical, devotees in huge numbers perform parikrama ( pradikshana ) to this sacred hill with sincerity and devotion even today . On Ekadashis and during the month of Sravana and Karthika, devotees throng to do pradakshinam.
Indra was furious and could not tolerate this humility. There was heavy downpour of rain followed by thunder and storm. The gopas approached Krishna for help. The Lord who is Bhakta vatsalan- lifted the Goverdhana Hill with HIS little finger on HIS left hand like an umbrella and all the gopas with their cattle took shelter of the . The inhabitants of Vrindavana along with their animals remained there for one week without being disturbed by hunger, thirst or any other discomfort. Seeing the extraordinary powers of the , Indra was baffled in his determination and was humbled. He approached the Lord with Surabhi cow, begged for forgiveness for his ignorance and performed milk abhishekam to the Lord . He praised the Lord as “GOVINDA”- the protector of cows and did Govindabhishekam. As Goverdhanagiri had the fortune to be held by the Lord , the hill is known as “Giriraj”- the king of all mountains.
To commemorate the above incident, Krishna’s great grandson Vajranabha constructed a temple for the Lord. Even today, on the following day after Deepavali, Annakoota festival is celebrated at Goverdhanagiri and at Nathdwara. The residents of Vrindavan, Goverdhan and the devotees of the Lord do parikrama around Goverdhana hill and offer huge quantities of 56 varieties food preparations (chappan bhog) . All the devotees are sumptuously fed with the mahaprasad offered to the Lord and Giriaj.
SHAPE OF GOVERDHAN HILL :
Goverdhana hill is formed in the shape of a peacock. Radha Kund and Shyam Kund are the eyes. Dan Ghati is its long neck. Mukharavinda is the mouth and punchari is its back and tail feathers. As the hill is very sacred , pilgrims are prohibited from climbing the hill. There is a fencing all around the Goverdhana hill .
GOVERDHANA PARIKRAMA :-
(Performing Pradikshana to the Holy Hill )
Varaha Purana states that anyone who performs Goverdhana parikrama will not take birth in this world again. The normal starting and ending place for Goverdhana parikrama is Manasi Ganga. For a normal person, it would take 4-6 hours to circumbulate the hill. On important days like Ekadashi , many devotees do parikrama around the hill while some exalted devotees do parikrama daily. Parikrama has to be done after having bath and one has to be pure in all aspects, wearing clean clothes and without slippers. It is advisable to start doing parikrama in the early morning by 3 A.M. or in the evenings. Parikrama should never be left incomplete. Few temples may remain closed but mere visit to these temples itself will bestow Krishna bhakti. Some advanced devotees do “DHANDVARTH PARIKRAMA” starting from Manasi Ganga to Goverdhana hill and ending at Manasi Ganga. They prostrate fully with their right hand extended, mark the place where the hand touched with a stone, get up , again prostrate from where they left. This would take nearly days to complete. There are some devotees who do 108 namsaskaarams at every place. They would take more than a month to complete this type of pradakshinam. When they are tired, they remain in the same place, have whatever food is offered to them at that place and relax. I sincerely wish to place the dust from the feet of such devotees on my head with reverence. Persons who are not accustomed to walking 21 kms also do not find it difficult to walk and get inspired looking at the bhakti fervour and zeal amongst fellow devotees. The followers of Vallabhacharya of Pushti Marg, followers of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and other Gaudiya Vaishnavas do parikrama regularly. Most of the temples in Braj bhoomi follow either Gaudiya Sampradayam or Pushti Vaisnava Sampradayam.
As Krishna advised the gopas to do parikrama to the hill, even today, many devotees do parikrama around the hill. There are 2 paths- inner and outer parikrama path. Inner path (a narrow muddy path ) is approximately 21 kms and outer path(road path) is about 25 kms. Parikrama usually starts by having a dip in Manasi Ganga, offering prayers to Harideva (goverdhana shila) on the way and ends at Manasi Ganga. There is no time restriction for doing parikrama and most of the devotees do it in the evening and continue the whole night. Devotees first have their bath or sprinkle water from Manasi Ganga and walk about half a kilometer to the hill. There is a police chowk beside which is a Lakshmi Narayana temple considered as one of the 108 divya desams. From here the parikrama ( Pradikshana) path starts . As any good deed done here gives manifold benefit, one can exchange rupee for small coins and give to the wayside deprived/aged/ handicapped underpriveleged. The parikrama ends at Manasi ganga and Devotees usually have bath in Radha Kund and Shyam Kund after finishing parikrama.
During his visit to Vrindavan, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu bathed in Manasi Ganga, offered prayers to Harideva and circumbulated Goverdhana giri. He restrained from climbing the hill saying that it was equivalent to Krishna and climbing the hill was an offence. Hence, we find fencing all around the Goverdhana hill. He fell into ecstasy by the mere sight of the hill. The six Goswamis of Vrindavan who were the direct disciples of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and many other devotees like Vallabhacharya, Madhavendra puri etc. used to do parikrama daily. Sanatana Goswami, one of foremost disciples of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu used to do outer parikrama daily even in his advanced age. Lord pitied him and appeared as a small cowherd boy and gave a stone (shila) with HIS thiruvadi and cow’s hoof imbibed on it advising him to do parikrama to the small stone as it was the same as Giriraj. This shila is presently in Radha Damodara temple at Imlitala in Vrindavan which also houses the Samadhi of Sanatana Goswami.
A small stone on which (Perumal’s) HOLY FEET ( Thiruvadi) are imbibed is placed in the temple in front of Goverdhana giri and doing parikrama (pradikshinam /circumbulation) to this shila is considered as equivalent to pradakshinam done to Goverdhana Giri. On the gopuram , little Krishna lifting the Goverdhana giri thus giving shelter to the gopas and cattle is beautifully sculpted. Presently, Goverdhanagiri is 80 feet high and 8 kms wide . It is spread over 25 kms and it takes about 4 -5 hours to do pradakshinam.
Some of the important holy places around Giriraj Goverdhan Hill which we come across are Manasi Ganga, Brahma Kunda, Haridev temple, Manasi Devi temple, Chakra theertha, Sanatana Goswami’s bhajan kuitr, Chakleswar Mahadev temple(no mosquitoes present here), Kusum Sarovar, Asoka Tala, Uddhava temple, Dhan gati, Narada vanam, Mukharavinda, Shyam Kutir , Govinda Kunda, Aniyora, Nipa Kunda, Radha Govinda temple, Indra Tila, Gopala temple, Surabhi Van, Julan Shila, Doka Dauji, Apsara Kunda, Navala Kunda Narasimha Temple, Rasa Stali, Sutalavana forest, Punchari Ka Lautha Baba temple, Kadambha Van, Indra Kunda, Airavata Kunda, Rudra Kunda, Jeti Pura, Vilasa Vana , Vilachu Kunda, Sakhi Vana, Sakhi Sthali, Uddhava Kunda, Siva Khari, Malayahari KUnda, ISKCON, Goverdhan etc.To visit all these places would take 3days. If one does parikrama in the night, he may not be able to visit few temples as it would be closed.
To visit all the above places, one must be accompanied by a local devotee guide who can take us to all the temples as few temples/ places are off the parikrama marg. Or one can find out the details from the pujaris of nearby temples or shopkeepers. Most of the temples remain closed in the nights except the important temples which are on the parikrama marg. Even if one is not able to visit all the above temples/ places, one MUST ATLEAST VISIT THE FOLLOWING PLACES:-
1) DIP IN MANASI GANGA
2) VISIT HARIDEVA TEMPLE
3) VISIT LAKSHMI NARAYANA TEMPLE which is at the beginning of the parikrama marg (path) and all other temples which are on the pathway itself
4) VISIT MUKHARAVINDA TEMPLE where devotees offer milk and sweets to the diety. These are sold outside the temple. THIS temple remains open even in the nights.
5) VISIT SHRINATHJI TEMPLE/GOVERDHANA SHILA TEMPLE which is opposite to Goverdhana giri on the main road and offer milk abHIShekam to the goverdhana shilas. THIS temple remains open even in the nights.
6) FINISH THE PARIKRAMA FROM WHERE WE STARTED
For the convenience of devotees who come by vehicles, there is a Tar road and a wide foot path for pilgrims to walk on in the outer ring. The inner parikrama path is a soft sand road which is soothing to the feet because of the soft sand compared to the road path. Doing parikrama in the inner path would save about 3-4 kilometres of walking. All along the parikrama path, there are many shops selling mineral water, refreshments and fresh fruit juice. Devotees can relax here . (Like the wayside shops we see while trekking Tirumala Hills). Small water tanks have been constructed to provide water to the pilgrims. As there are no street lights, only the lights from the shop illuminate the path. It is advisable to carry a small torch (these are also sold on the wayside) .
It is suggested to note down the important temples to be visited while going to this place. “Braja Mandala Parikrama” , a book published by ISKCON gives complete details about all the important places in and around Vrindavan, Mathura.
A brief description about the above mentioned important places is given below:-
MANASI GANGA:- this is opposite to Goverdhanagiri. Mana means “mind” and Gangä is the Ganges River. To purify HIMSELF from killing Vatasura who was in the form of calf, Krishna by HIS Meditation brought Ganges to this place. When Nanda Maharaja along with the gopis wanted to go to Ganges for having bath, Krishna restrained them from traveling so far suggesting them to have bath in Manasi Ganga. There are interesting stories connected to the boat pastimes of Radharani and Krishna. This kunda is considered a million times more potent than Ganges River, because by bathing in the Ganges River one gets liberation but by bathing in Manasi Ganga one gets “Krishna prema,” the only desire of the Vaishnavas. It is a good-sized lake located in the town ofGovardhana. Even though it is a large kunda, there are buildings blocking it and hence not visible from road. Manasi Ganga used to be a very large lake, but as Govardhana Hill is getting smaller, Manasi Ganga is also getting smaller in the same proportion. Pilgrims usually start Goverdhana parikrama from this place and end it here. A dip in this lake will absolve us of all sins.
HARIDEVA TEMPLE:- Established by Vajranabha, Krishna’s great grandson 4900 years ago, this is one of the four presiding deities of Vrindavana. Pilgrims usually have bath in Manasi Ganga and visit Harideva temple before starting Goverdhana parikrama. Goverdhana parikrama without darshan of Harideva is considered incomplete.
BRAHMA KUNDA:- THIS is next to Manasi Devi temple close to Harideva temple. The water collected from Abhishekam performed to Lord Krishna by Brahma is Brahma Kunda.
MANASI DEVI TEMPLE:- Manasi Devi is the presiding diety of Manasi Ganga and is one of the four important Devi temples in Braja mandala. The other 3 temples are Yogamaya temple in Vrindavan, Patalesvari devi in Mathura and Vrinda Devi in Kamyavana.
LAKSHMI NARAYAN TEMPLE:- This temple is located on the right side of the police chowk at the beginning of parikrama marg. This is considered as one of the 108 divya desam temples sung by azhwars. Periazhwar has dedicated 11 pasurams on Goverdhana giri Pasuram 3(5) in Periazhwar Thirumozhi ending with ‘Goverdhanum enrum kotrai kudai” ( umbrella) while doing mangalasaasana to Vadamathura divya desam. The original dieties are not in existence now the present dieties considered to be the utsava murthis of goverdhana hill are worshipped since 200 years.
RADHA KUND AND SHYAM KUND :- Lakes created by Sri Krishna and Radha during their pastimes. By killing the terrific demon, Aristasura who was in the form of bull, the gopis informed Krishna that HE was afflicted with dosha of killing bull. To get rid of this sin, they suggested Krishna to have bath in all the holy rivers. Krishna however said that it was not required and with HIS sankalpam stuck the earth with HIS heel . Water from all the holy rivers sprang up and Krishna had bath. This is Shyam Kund. Krishna informed the gopis that by siding the asura in the form of bull, they also accumulated sin. To get rid of this sin, the gopis headed by Radharani started digging the earth with their bangles beside Shyam Kund. To fill the water in the tank, they started digging route from Manasi Ganga. Conceding the sacred rivers’ request, Radharani allowed them to fill this tank. Radha Kund appeared at midnight on Bahulastami, of the waning moon in the month of Kartikai (Oct-Nov). Thousands of devotees have bath in this kund on this day. As per Varaha Purana, by bathing in Radha Kunda, the sin of killing a cow, man or a Brahmana is immediately removed and one attains the punya of performing a rajasuya and asvamedha yajna. There are 8 gardens each around Radha Kunda and Shyam Kunda representing the eight friends of Radharani and Krishna respectively.
KUSUMA SAROVAR AND ASOKA TALA :- At this place, the gopis used to pluck various flowers and offer it to Krishna. On the banks of kusuma sarovar is asoka tala where Krishna braided radharani’s hair.
UDDHAVA TEMPLE:- This is near Kusuma Sarovar constructed by Krishna’s great grandson, Vajranabha. Krishna sent message to the gopis at Vrindavan through Uddhava pacifying their deep feeling of separation. Seeing the exalted position of the gopis, who had forsaken everything to take shelter of the lotus feet of Krishna, Uddhava wished to be born as either bush or creeper or grass in Vrindavan so that he would be blessed when the gopis trample over him. Uddhava remains here in the form of grass.
NARADA VANAM:- .This is near Kusuma Sarovar. There is a temple for Narada near Narada Kund Narada rishi desired to witness the conjugal pastimes of Radha Krishna and reached this place. He was however obstructed entry by Vrinda Devi as he was in the male form. With the blessings of Narada Muni, the rishi took a female body after bathing in Kusuma Sarovar and witnessed the pastimes of Radha and Krishna . Krishna blessed him and ordered him to write a commentary on bhakti which is known as “Narada Bhakti Sutra”
DAN GHATI- This temple is on the road where Lakshmi Narayan temple is located. “Dan” means the place where taxes are collected. Krishna and HIS friends used to s the gopis who pass by this place for selling their diary products and collect taxes for development of Goverdhan. The gopis were forced to part with butter, milk, curd as tax. There is Dani Raya temple constructed by Vajranabha as a remembrance of this pastime on of Goverdhana Hill. Presently there is no worship in this temple. There is another place near Barsana with the same name where Krishna bestowed a Brahmin with gold equal to Radha’s weight for performing his daughter’s marriage. The balance used by Krishna for weighing is kept in that place.
ISKCON Goverdhana :- This is located on the left side of the parikrama path. The name “Bhaktivedanta Ashrama” is written on a white stone . There are some minimum basic facilities available here . We can have prashad at this place . Two Goverdhana shilas (one black and one white) are kept in the altar and are worshipped as Krishna and Balarama respectively. A good place to relax ,chant and have prashad.
DAN NIVARTAN KUNDA :-This is on the right side of the parikrama path being the place where the gopis punished Krishna for collecting tax.
SYAMAVAN AND SYAMA KUTIR (Ratna Simhasan):- The demon Sankhasura , who was an associate of Kubera, carried away Radharani who was sitting on a Ratna Simhasan . When Krishna chased him, he left Radharani along with Ratna simhasan at Lagamohan Tirtha. Krishna chased and killed Sankhasura and presented the jewel resembling a conch shell to Balarama. Syama Kutir is the place where Krishna whose complexion is blackish covered HIS whole body with kasthuri and black blanket and frightened the gopis who could not recognize HIM.
GVAL POKHARA /GOPALA KUNDA- Krishna used to have lunch with this cowherd friends at this place. “Gval” means cowherd. On the right side of the parikrama path, there is a mud road after crossing Sant Nivas Ashram, this is located.
YUGAL KUNDA:- This is on the left side of the parikrama path. Nanda Maharaja stayed in this place.
EAR OF GOVERDHANA :- Half a kilometer past the toll gate, there is a temple on the right side which is considered as the ear of Goverdhana.
ANIYORA:- THIS village is 3 kilometres from Goverdhan town on the parikrama path. In this village which is around the Goverdhana giri, food was offered to the hill as per Krishna’s insistence. Since Krishna assuming the form of a huge hill consumed the entire offerings and asked for “more” , this place came to be known as Aniyora. Even today Annakuta festival takes place at this place.
SANKARSANA KUNDA AND BALARAMA TEMPLE:- As per Varaha Puranam, the sin of killing a cow will be absolved by having bath in this kund. There is a temple dedicated to Balarama near this kunda. It is about half a kilometer from Govinda Kunda.
GOPALA PRAKATA STALI(Sringar Stali),SHRINATHJI TEMPLE:-
When Madhavendra Puri visited Vrindavan , he came to Goverdhan for circumbulating the hill. After finishing HIS parikrama, he had bath in Govinda Kunda and was relaxing under a tree when Krishna appeared as a small cowherd boy with a pot of milk and offered it to Madhavendra Puri saying that no one should starve in HIS place and HE takes care of the devotees who visit this place. The cowherd boy requested the devotee to have the pot o milk saying that HE would come in the evening to take back the pot. By looking at the boy , Puri’s hunger was satisfied but as the boy insisted he drank the pot of milk, cleaned the pot and waited for the boy to return to take the pot. Awaiting the boy’s return, Madhavendra Puri dozed off to sleep and in HIS dream, the boy appeared . In the dream, the boy informed the devotee that HE was Gopala, the lifter of Goverdhana Hill , residing in a nearby bush and suffering from cold, rain and scorching heat. The advised the devotee to construct a temple on of the hill and give HIM holy bath with plenty of cold water and milk As per the Lord’s instructions, Madhavendra Puri discovered the idol and installed it in a temple . After Madhavendra Puri left Vrindavan, the worship was handed over to 2 Bengali Brahmins and during Mughal attack, the idol was thrown away in a nearby bush by a priest and the whereabouts about the idol remained unknown for several years. Later, Lord appeared in Sri Vallabhacharyar’s dream, gave instructions about HIS whereabouts and the idol was once again revived. Due to fear of attack by Pathans, this idol was taken to Nathdwar by Rana Raja Singh of Mewar in 17th century. Thus, we now find this idol at Nathdwar in Rajasthan.
INDRA TILA, GOVINDA KUNDA and GOPALA TEMPLE:- There is a tank about 400 m from Aniyora.. Indra who was defeated by Krishna repented for his deeds accepted the Lord’s Supremacy and performed “GOVINDABHISHEKAM” withGanges and milk of Surabhi, the celestial cow. Indra Tila is the place where Indra did abhishekam to the . The water from abhishekam got collected in Govinda Kunda. The Gopala temple is supervised by Goswamis from Jaipur.
RADHA GOVINDA TEMPLE: the idol is about 3.5 feet tall and is playing a flute. THIS temple is near Govinda Kunda and was constructed by Vajranabha.
NIPA KUNDA:- THIS is also near Govinda Kunda and was the place where Krishna used to have food with HIS friends by using the leaves of the kadamba trees as cups (Nipa= cup)
SURABHI VAN:- Previously the entire area was like forest and the place where Indra bathed Krishna with Surabhi is known as Surabhi Van. Govinda Kunda is in the centre of this forest.
JULAN(GOVERDHANA) SHILA:- A large Goverdhana shila on which the figures of Radha and Krishna sitting on a swing(jhoola) is sculpted. To check from nearby resident for location of this shila.
DOKA DAUJI (BALARAMA STALI):- This temple is at a 5 minute walk from Govinda Kunda dedicated to Balarama who is seen in a crouching position as he wanted to see Krishna from the hill. This temple is located on of Goverdhan Hill.
APSARA KUNDA AND NAVALA KUNDA (PUNCHARI KUNDA) :Apsara Kunda is said to have been created by seven main Apsaras when they came to bathe Krishna. A bath in this kunda will bestow the benefit of performing hundreds of rajasuya and aswamdedha sacrifices. On its banks is Apsara Bihari temple, Dauji temple(Balarama temple), Siva temple and Navala Kunda.. Navala means “evergreen”. As mentioned earlier, goverdhana hill resembles a peacock and this is the tail of Goverdhana. Punchari means tail. This is located beside Apsara Kunda on the opposite end of Goverdhana hill from Radha Kunda.
MUKHARAVINDA TEMPLE:- This temple is next to parikrama marg. All the devotees doing parikram MUST this temple . There are 2 Goverdhana shilas in this temple. One is marked with the outline of Krishna’s crown(mukut-shila) and the other shila is embedded in the ground is considered as the mouth of Goverdhana(Mukharavinda shila). Devotees offer milk and sweets to these shilas. Parikrama of goverdhan without visiting this place is incomplete. Even pilgrims who go by vehicle for doing parikrama get down at this place and offer prayers. This temple remains open even in the nights.
CHAKRA THEERTHA :- Krishna with HIS little finger was holding the Goverdhana Hill and protecting HIS folks from rain. As the surrounding ground was getting filled up with rain water, Krishna summoned Sudarshana Chakra to quench the rain waters with its heat and thus protected the gopas from getting drowned . Adiseshan also did HIS part by drinking the remaining water. After Krishna replaced Goverdhana Hill, Sudarshana chakra remained on the northern bank of Manasi Ganga which is now known as Chakra Theerth. At this place, Radha and Krishna are believed to have their first swing pastime.
CHAKLESWARA MAHADEVA TEMPLE and SANATANA GOSWAMI’S BHAJAN KUTIR:- This temple is located on the parikrama marg itself. Here there is a shrine for Shiva linga known as Chakleswar which is one of the five presiding Siva lingas worshipped in Braja Mandala. When Sanatana Goswami who was residing in a nearby kutir planned to shift due to menace of mosquitoes, we are told that there Shiva assured that there would be no mosquitoes here and requested Sanatana Goswami to stay here. This temple remains open in the night.
KRISHNA-BALARAMA AND NANDA MAHARAJA TEMPLE:- This temple is near Chakra theertha and is the place where Krishna stayed with HIS parents after completing Goverdhana puja.
MALYAHARI KUNDA :- This is near Radha Kunda. It is said that Gopis after plucking flowers from Kusum sarovara would come to this place and make garlands for Krishna. Once Krishna saw the gopis stringing pearls in a twine. The gopis refused to give pearls to Krishna when HE wanted to make similar strings for HIS cows. Krishna returned home and dug a hole in the courtyard and put few pearls in it. After some days, it grew into a big tree with many pearls with which the made pearl chains for HIS cows. The gopis imitated Krishna and put all their pearls in the hole dug by them. To their dismay, nothing grew. They were afraid to face the wrath at home and prayed to Krishna for help. Krishna satisfied their wish. In return, Radharani presented Krishna with betel nuts, scented garlands and some food which she personally cooked.
GOVERDHAN TEMPLE:- This temple is situated opposite to Goverdhana giri. Pilgrims usually visit this temple and offer milk to the small Goverdhana shila as a mark of completion of parikrama. A small stone on which Perumal’s Thiruvadi are imbibed is placed in the temple and doing parikrama (pradikshinam/circumbulation) to this shila is considered as equivalent to pradakshinam done to Goverdhana Giri. On the gopuram , little Krishna lifting the Goverdhana giriri and giving shelter to the gopas and cattle is beautifully sculpted. Presently, Goverdhanagiri is 80 feet high and 8 kms wide . It is spread over 25 kms and it takes about 4 -5 hours to do pradakshinam.
KAMYAVANAM:- Also known as Kamavanam meaning “love” for God, this is located at a distance of 50 miles from Vrindavan on Rajasthan border. This is considered as the end of Braj Bhoomi. Here, Kamam which means desire is for Krishna kaamam. That is Krishna bhakti.
Krishna along with HIS friends used to travel from Nandgaon to Vrindavan and from there HE used to come to this place for gazing cows. The holy marks of the Lord’s feet are imbibed on various rocks in this place. Here the Lord exhibited HIS qualities of Soulabhyam and Souseelyam . Some of the important places are Vimala Kundam, Yaksha Prashnam, Vrinda Devi temple, Gaya Kundam, LUka Luka kundam, Charan Pahadi, Pisalini shila, Vyomasuran gufa, Bhojana Thali, Ksheerasagaram. Ram ghat and Cheerghat are located on Mathura-Delhi route near Kamyavanam. A brief description of these places is given below:- some of the places may be difficult to locate . Hence it is advisable to take local guide for visiting these places. Else, we can go with ISKCON devotees when they do Braj Mandal Parikrama during the auspicious month of Karthigai (Nov-Dec) which they call as month of Damodaran or trip organized by Sri.Velukudi Swami.
Vimala Kundam:- Vimala means “without dosham”. As per Varaha Puranam, all sins are destroyed . Taking bath in this kundam is equal to taking bath seven times in Pushkar. It was here that Durvasa rishi along with his 60,000 disciples came to have bath when he was sent to Pandavas by Duryodhana for testing. Krishna had a morsel of food from the akshayapaathiram and was satisfied from hunger. As the Lord of the Universe was stomach-full, Durvasa rishi did not feel hungry and left the place without returning to Pandavas. Thus Krishna saved the Pandavas from Durvasar’s wrath.
Chaurasi Khamba: This is Nanda Maharaja’s palace with 84 beautifully sculpted pillars
Radha Govidna, Radha-Gopinatha, Radha Madanmohan temples:- Due to fear of attack by Muslims, these original deities which were in Vrindavan were transported to Jaipur. On the way, the deities were kept here for 3 days. Replica idols are being worshipped now.
Vrinda Devi:- She is the presiding diety of Vrindavan. She is red in colour with big black eyes and 10 arms which are always covered by dress. When this idol was being transported to Jaipur along with other idols, she refused to move from this place and continues to stay here.
Gaya Kundam:- This kundam was created by Krishna when HIS parents wanted to go on a pilgrimage to Gaya for offering oblations to the departed ancestors. Krishna refrained them from going and summoned Palguni river , Gayasuran to this place and HE placed HIS Thiruvadi as Vishnu paadam. This place was certified to be more pious than Gaya by Brahma .
Setubandhu Rameswaram:- A stone bridge with the help of monkeys was constructed by Krishna to enable the gopis to cross the lake. This was a demonstration of bridge constructed across the sea during Ramavataram.
Dharma Kunda/Yaksha Prashnam:- Yudhishtira revived all his brothers who lay dead by answering to the 124 questions posed by Yama, the of Dharma.
Kameshwara Mahadeva Temple:- King Vajranabha who prayed to Shiva for progeny was blessed with 3 children- Radharani, her elder brother and younger sister
Charan Kunda:- Krishna washed HIS feet here
Lukaluki kundam:- Krishna used to play water sports here. Krishna used to play hide and seek with the gopis, dive into the river and pull the gopis legs from inside.
Charan Pahadi:- Near lukaluki kundam, a flight of 200 steps leads us to a beautiful temple in which Krishna is seen with one leg folded with a calf around playing flute. There is an interesting incident connected with this. The gopas were feeling elated and proud that Krishna was playing with them. Krishna suddenly disappeared and the gopas were perplexed due to Krishna’s absence. They were worried to face Krishna’s parents and were desperately searching . Krishna played HIS flute and drew the gopas attention to the hillock on which HE was sitting.
Vyomasura gufa:- With the intention of killing Krishna, Vyomasura disguised as a cowherd boy and started hiding Krishna’s friends in a nearby cave and closing the entrance of the cave with boulders. Krishna fought with the asura, killed him and retrieved HIS friends.
Pisalini shila:- A rock near Vyomasura’s cave from where Krishna and HIS friends used to slide down and play.
Bhojana Thali:- The marks of the vessels fixed to the ground from which Krishna had food is still there.
Ksheerasagaram:- Here, the milk which was overflowing from Krishna’s mouth got collected in a kunda . There is a white streak from where He is said to have spilled down to the kunda.
Ram Ghat: This is near Kamyavanam on Mathura –Delhi route. Here Balarama who wanted to quench his thirst by drinking water from Yamuna scraped the river’s course with his plough and changed the course of the river towards his place from the natural course. This can be seen even now. This episode is mentioned in 65th chapter in 10th Canto of Srimad Bhagavatam.
Cheerghat:- As per Sri Velukudi Swami, this is the place where Vastrabha haranam of the gopis took place. Some opine it took place in Vrindavan whereas most of them claim this place to be the place where the incident took place. 5 lakh gopis residing in Vrindavan desired to marry Krishna and undertook a vow praying to Kaathyayini in this place. Krishna appeared and took away their clothes by tying few of them to the tree, tying few clothes around HIS waist and head. Krishna did not concede to the gopis pleas and only when the gopis raised both the hands in total surrender (Saranagathi), Krishna returned the clothes.
KADAMBA VRUKSHAM AND KAATHYAYINI TEMPLE-
This is near the near Kamyavanam. All the gopis wished to have child Sri Krishna as their husband and hence performed Kaathiyayani pooja during Dec-January by offering prayers to the goddess after having bath early in the morning at this place. One early morning, Krishna who is the antaryami (present in everyone) , appeared before them all alone while having bath and stole away their clothes. HE climbed the kadamba tree on the banks of River Yamuna and tied the clothes to the branches of the tree and HE HIMSELF wore few clothes. The gopis were shocked to find their clothes missing and were taken aback by Krishna’s presence. They were feeling shy and requested Krishna to give back the clothes. The Lord did not return back the clothes despite their various requests. The gopis surrendered to Krishna by raising both the hands and started praying to HIM . Krishna then returned back the clothes saying that they were very dear to HIM and promised to be with them on the night of every full moon . Thus, Krishna showed that HE could be easily attained through saranagathi. The temple of Kaarthyayini whom the gopis worshipped is nearby.
In the present age, Kali yugam, Sri Andal , one of the 12 Azhwars(Vaishnava saints) residing in Srivilliputtur developed intense love for Krishna by hearing to the various pastimes of Krishna from her foster-father,Periazhwar. To attain the , she decided to do similar pooja . With gopi bhaavam (like the gopis), at Srivilliputtur in Tamilnadu, she performed pooja in the early morning for one month during Dhanur Maasam (Dec-January which is proclaimed by Perumal as the BEST ), with her friends. Her devotional outpourings are Thiruppavai comprising of 30 pasurams( Stanzas) which is rectied daily in all the SriVaishnava houses and “Naachiyar Thirumozhi” comprising of 143 pasurams. In Naachiyar Thirumozhi , she concludes with “Brindavanathai Kandomey”-( found Brindavan) and finally became ONE with the Sri Ranganathar at Srirangam. Thiruppavai is the quintessence of all Vedas and is recited everyday in Srivaishnava houses. In the first 29 pasurams, she sang in Gopika bhaavam and only in the last pasuram, she concluded the pasuram as Periazhwar’s daughter.
This episode demonstrates that the jeevatma who is ever eager to be with Paramatma, can attain the latter only if it does sarangathi like the gopis. The gets pleased with the devotee who lifts HIS hand in desperation seeking the Lord’s feet alone for solace.
OUR EXPERIENCE AT VRINDAVAN:- On 20/05/09, we reached Mathura at 0630 hours by A.P.Express and took a Maruthi Omni (Rs.200/-) to ISKCON, Vrindavan. Being life member of ISKCON, we had already booked our accommodation in ISKCON guest house for 2 days . After 40 minutes drive, we reached ISKCON and had to wait for some time as maintenance was going on. Checked into one of the AC rooms at 0900 hours.
It was Ekadashi. After finishing Nitynusandanam (morning rituals like recitation of Suprabhatam, and important pasurams from Naalayira Divyaprabhandam,recitation of Sundara Kandam and doing manasika thiruvaaradhanai to our deities at our house, we went to Krishna-Balarama temple in ISKCON.
We were immersed in the darshan of the beautiful vigrahams of Shyamasundaran with Balaram. We just could not take our eyes off from the divya mangala thirumeni of Perumal. Shringar Aarthi at 09 A.M. was already over and the temple was kept open for visitors. Non-s kirtan of Hare Krishna Mahamantra was going on and we were mesmerized in the chanting and waited in the temple itself for the noon aarthi known as” RAJBHOG AARTHI”. During this time, maha neivedyam is offered to Perumal and the aarthi with shodasa upacharams(16 types of upacharam) goes on amidst chanting of Mahamantra accompanied by musical instruments. At 1300 hours the temple doors were closed but chanting was continuously going on. Meanwhile, we checked up with the Information centre at ISKCON to visit nearby places around Vrindavan- The receptionist suggested that we could take an auto for Rs. 200/- the next morning at 6A.M. to visit Barsana, Nandgaon, Goverdhanagiri, Radha Kund ,Shyam kund , Manasi Ganga and return to the guest house by noon. In the evening, he suggested that enroute to Mathura (as we had to take the night train to Udaipur), we could take a cab for Rs. 350/- to go to Gokulam and proceed to Mathura and visit important places like Akroor ghat, Vishram ghat, Kesavji temple and Krishna janmasthan. We agreed to this and thanked the devotee for the help and requested the devotee to make the necessary arrangements.
However, adiyen was having second thoughts about leaving the children and visiting all these places and decided to do Goverdhana giri parikrama the next morning. Though we planned to cover all the places in Vrindavan , Gokulam and Mathura , we could not do so due to our children’s ill health. We had to satisfy ourselves by maanasika smaranam of these places which we visited earlier and had to be content by visiting only the nearby places. In this trip we wanted to emphasize more on satsang and hence decided to participate in all the aarthis and chant divya naamams of the Lord and chant Maha mantra as much as possible.
We relaxed for 2 hours and went to have prashad at 3p.m.. Being Ekadashi, only saagudhana (jevvarasi) preparations, groundnuts, fruits and buttermilk were served for lunch. After partaking prashad, we hired a rickshaw to visit the nearby places in Vrindavan for Rs.100/-. Visited River Yamuna, Imli Tala, Radha Damodar temple, RadhaRaman temple, Nidhi Van , Banke Bihari temple, Seva Kunj, Kalinga Ghat.
Drove back to ISKCON to participate in the evening aarthi. Spent the rest of the evening in ISKCON temple by participating in evening and night aarthis upto 10 P.M. Adiyen happened to meet a tamil speaking ISKCON devotee from Srilanka with whom I disclosed my urge of doing Parikrama (pradakshinam)around the sacred Goverdhana giri. He said that it would take 6 hours to cover the 25 kms area around the hill. As we had to leave Vrindavan by evening, he suggested that we could do Vrindavan parikrama which is 10-12 kms and is as sacred as Goverdhanagiri parikrama. We thanked him for the suggestion and felt it was Lord’s desire to do so. He was glad to know that we have already been initiated by our guru, Sri Mudaliandan Swami belonging to Sri Sampradaya headed by Sri Ramanujar , the foremost of all Vaishnava Acharyars and apart from following our customs, we regularly listen to kirtans by exalted devotees of ISKCON like Sri Lokanatha swami Maharaj, Sri Aindra Prabhu, Sri Vinod Pandey, Sri Agnidev Swami and were inspired . He shared some information that Gaudiya Sampradya is also based on Ramanujar’s teachings with more emphasis on Nama Kirtan.Ultimately every Jeevatamas goal is to leave this samsaric world having Lord’s holy names in his heart .So chanting Ashtaksharam ,Dwayam , Mahamantra must be every jeevatmas goal . The Mahamantra is chanted all over and without any inhibitions you swoon to Lord’s HOLY names .
OUR EXPERIENCE ON VRINDAVAN PARIKRAMA:- The next morning (21st May), we participated in the early morning aarthi at 4 A.M. in ISKCON. Chanting Mahamantra and listening to bhajans in our IPOD and singing the bhajans sung by Sri.Manjapra Mohan, “ Krishna Govinda Gopijana Vallabha”, “ “Govinda Madhava Gopala Kesava….” and bhajans by Sri Erode Rajamani Rama “Krishna Govinda …” , Adiyen accompanied by my wife started off for Vrindavan parikrama from ISKCON at 5 A.M. Few devotees had already started doing parikrama chanting on their beads. Like most of the devotees, we started our parikrama (pradakshina) from ISKCON temple. 2 streets from ISKCON, on the right side is the Parikrama Marg. A small sign board displays “Parikrama Marg:.
We passed through Krishna-Balarama tree which is on a small lane. Everywhere the sign board is displayed. The entire area is calm and serene with cows gazing, peacocks on the trees , cuckoos , monkeys clinging to electric wires and jumping from tree to tree. How fortunate the ancestors of these animals must have been!!!! The cows supplied enough milk to Krishna, peacocks with their cooing must have intimated Krishna about the asuras’ arrival with their sounds, monkeys as a token of gratitude for their Rama kainkaryam were fed sumptuously with butter by Krishna .
Even for the slightest sound, the peacocks sitting on tree s were cooing as if intimating its fellow peacocks about any intruder’s arrival. Walked along the banks of River Yamuna and visited various temples on the way including Kalinga ghat . As the sun was just rising on the horizon, we decided to offer oblations to Sun God. Took a boatride to the middle of the river Yamuna chanting Lord’s names , had a dip in the holy river and performed Sandhya vandanam. The boat man charged Rs.50/- per head for a 20 minute ride. On the way we came across Kalinga ghat and few other places which we visited last evening. It took nearly 3 hours for finishing our parikrama covering a distance of 12 kms because we walked slowly. We traveled through the roads and the
Market places of Vraja. Walking in Vraja is more ecstatic than traveling by any other means as it brings us very close to this transcendental place. On the way, we purchased few japa malas, japa mala bags , gopi chandan etc. As we wanted to break our fast being Dwadashi, we had some delicious lassi ped with thick cream served in mud pots on the way. (Aidyen recollected Velukudi Swami’s discourse saying about Krishna drinking all the curd kept in mud pot and throwing it down with a sound thus ensuring that it is completely broken). Reached ISKCON at 0845 hours and joined the packed crowd of devotees listening to Srimad Bhagavatam. After partaking prashad , we relaxed for some time. In the noon, we attended Raj Bhog Aarthi and participated in kirtan .
As we were tired after finishing parikrama and as we could not take our children, we decided to check out late in the evening and directly head to Mathura station . In the evening, due to Krishna’s grace, we were blessed to see Sri Aindra Swami, the famous ISKCON devotee who mesmerizes everyone with his excellent kirtans every evening. He is noted for doing kirtan 24 hours non s. We always desired to have his darshan while listening to his kirtans regularly at our home . Our joy knew no bounds when we happened to see him directly and he reciprocated by advising us to keep chanting Lord’s names as much as possible. He referred to the incident when Yasoda was trying to tie Krishna with a rope to the grinding mortar and fell short of 2 inches. Though she attached other ropes , it was still short of 2 inches. Sri Aindra Prabhu referred to these 2 inches as “FAITH” and “DEVOTION”. He advised us to have faith and devotion to the Lord and chant as much as possible on beads. We took his autograph on a sloka book given to our children by Sri.Sowmya Narayanan Swami during their summer camp at Ahobila Mutt. (Sri Sowmya Narayanan Swamigal gives discourse on our rich heritage and he had come to Secunderabad to give discourse during Sri Lakshmi Narasimha swami Jayanthi Utsavams held every year at Keyes High School in Secunderabad. My children were fortunate to be in his company at Ahobila Mutt for 10 days and during that time, he affectionately taught our sampradayam and Desikar slokams. We are greatly indebted to Swami .) Due to security threat, carrying mobiles, camera and videocam are strictly prohibited. We had to satisfy ourselves with the video recordings which we had taken during 2006. Before leaving prayed to Krishna to enable us to do Goverdhana parikrama at the earliest. ( And that happened in just 3 months )
Hired a car to Mathura station for Rs.270/- and reached station at 8.00 P.M. Mewar Express to Udaipur from Delhi was delayed by 1 hour and we had to wait for nearly 3 hours in the station itself. Boarded the train at 11.30 P.M.
OUR EXPERIENCE ON GOVERDHAN PARIKRAMA:- :-
(Adiyen wishes to share our parikrama experience to this hill recently on 1st August, 2009.)
Before leaving Vrindavan, Adiyen prayed to Perumal to give me an opportunity at the earliest to do pradikshinam /parikrama to Goverdhanagiri. The Lord graced me immediately. I was nominated by Department of Atomic Energy , Govt of India for a Management Executive training course at MDI, Gurgaon situated near Delhi for 21 days from 19th July to 8th August.-. During this time, Adiyen was able to visit Vrindavan twice during every weekend. The urge to do parikrama was intense in me and my wife joined me for the same. On 1st August, I received her at Mathura , proceeded to Vrindavan. Advance reservation of accommodation at ISKCON was not possible because it was festive day and as there were many devotees, we were informed that room may be allotted based on availability. But with Krishna’s grace, luckily we were allotted a room. We left the room immediately as we were keen to start parikrama immediately. Had darshan of Krishna-Balarama and Radha- Krishna with a prayer to give us shakti and bhakti to do the parikrama.
While purchasing few books from ISKCON bookstall, Adiyen disclosed my intention of doing Goverdhanagiri parikrama to the sadhu who was selling the books and requested for his advise. . He informed us the greatness of Goverdhanagiri, directions for reaching the hill, the rules to be followed for doing parikrama. He also added that as the hill is very sacred, footwear and leather articles are strictly prohibited and suggested us to start parikrama in the evening after attending Jhoolan yaatra ( Swing Festival ) at 5 P.M. . He said it would take minimum 4 to 6 hours to finish the parikrama. He advised that it may not be possible to do the parikrama in the daytime due to the scorching heat as it has to be done on bare feet and suggested us to do in the evening or next day morning. He informed that many devotees keep doing parikrama the whole night. He advised us to take an auto to Goverdhan, get down at Manasi Ganga and either have a dip or sprinkle some water from Manasi Ganga before starting the parikrama.
As it was 10 A.M. , we were asked to have breakfast and then visit the temples nearby and in the evening after jhoolan seva, we could go to Goverdhan Hill. By Krishna’s grace, we spotted the book “the complete guide to Braja Mandala Parikrama” which gives all the details about Braj Dham. After having prashad, we went to Kesi Ghat, collected Yamuna water ,visited Sri Rangaji Mandir and returned to ISKCON Temple .
Druing the month of Sravanam, 4 days before Pournami, Jhoolan yaatra(oonjahl seva)-swing festival is celebrated in all over Braj Bhoomi. Only once in a year, in all Temples in Vrindavan , Utsava Moorthies of Sri Radha and Sri Krishna are placed in jhoolan (oonjal seva) and the devotees are allowed to pull the swing. At this time, usually married girls visit their parents place and enjoy playing in swing (as the weather is very pleasant after rains) and on the fourth day , being Pournami, they tie raksha bandhan to their brothers (rakhi) and go back to their husband’s place. In all the temples in Vrindavan, jhoolan yatra is performed for only one day except in ISKCON where it continues for 4 days upto Pournami. We had the opportunity to hold the string and make the Lordships swing. After taking Krishna’s blessings, left the temple around 6 P.M.
PARIKRAMA:- After having some lime juice , took a share auto to Goverdhanagiri (Rs30/ -per head) . At the highway, we were asked to change into another auto and after one hour’s drive , reached Manasi Ganga via Radha kund at 7.45 P.M. A 8 minute walk along the busy narrow street on the right side from the main road led us to Manasi Ganga. There are many shops on the wayside selling milk and sweets. As it was dark, sprinkled sacred water from Manasi Ganga and offered namaskaram to Manasi Devi. Recollected the appearance of the lake and Lord’s compassion for devotees like us . We could hear bhajans from the nearby manasi devi temple. As we were keen in completing the parikrama, we did not visit the fully packed temple and offered our prayers from there itself. On the way, we purchased some milk and offered to the small Goverdhana shila placed under a tree and lit a lamp praying for successful completion of parikrama. It was dark but there were many enthusiastic advanced devotees chanting loudly “Radhe Radhe” which enhanced our determination in doing the parikrama. Some devotees were doing dhandvart parikrama (prostrating on the ground fully with their entire body with right hand stretched forth , getting up and continuing from where they kept their hand. We were astonished to hear that they do this for the entire parikrama. I humbly prostrate in front of those exalted devotees and pray for their association. Imagine the faith and sincerity in performing pradakshina all the night . Offered obesiances to their devotion and prayed to give us steadfast devotion .We came back to the main road and as per the directions, proceeded towards the hill. The main road was overcrowded with devotees and vehicles. Crossing the road itself took more than 15 minutes. We were under the impression that being festive season, there were lots of people doing shopping but little did we realize that they were going to do parikrama. On either sides of the road, most of the shops provide facility to keep luggages and slippers of the pilgrims in safe custody. Purchased water bottle from a nearby shop as we thought that none would be available on the way.
We reached police chowk and were near the starting point of the parikrama path. A sign board in green displays “PARIKRAMA MARG” . The Lakshmi Narayana temple was closed. We were bewildered to see the sea of devotees at the entrance. Like other devotees, we prostrated at the entrance. The chants of Shri Krishna Govinda harey Murari Hey Nath Naarayana vasudeva … !! Radhey Radhey Shaam sey Miladey were vibrating ,,all over . As any dhaan done here gives manifold benefit, devotees usually exchange rupees with 1 rupee coins which the vendors sell for a commission of 10%. On enquiry, they said enroute there would be under privileged ones(like in Tirumala hill) . Exchanged some money .The crowd reminded us of the crowd in Tirumala during New Year and Brahmotsavam. Being Sravana month, Saturday coupled with Ekadashi, there was heavy crowd. Also, it happened to be the day on which the Lord appeared to Sri Vallabhacharya. It looked as if the entire BrijBhoomi was here. We started our parikrama at 9 P.M. . For the convenience of devotees who come by vehicles, there is a thar road and a wide foot path for pilgrims to walk on. Few devotees who were unable to walk were taken in rickshaws and tempos . The whole area vibrated with bhakti. The moon was also shining brightly making it easy to find the path. We joined with the devotees uttering “RADHEY RADHEY SHYAM MILADEY….”, some were singing and dancing . Some devotees had hired actors who were dorning the roles of mythological persons like Rama, Hanuman, and were entertaining the crowd by delivering dialogues from Ramayan and singing. Few others were dressed like Krishna and were enacting Krishna’s childhood pastimes. The whole path was overcrowded with devotees like how we see the rush in Tirumala queue. Everyone was immersed in Krishna and Radha and were walking briskly .
Adiyen was listening and singing to Hare Krishna kirtans in my IPOD while my wife starting chanting Hare Krishna Mahamantra on beads. All along the way, there are many shops selling refreshments with places to relax . (it was similar to the shops we find while trekking Tirumala Hills) and there were roadside vendors preparing fresh sweet lemon juice. There are water tanks on the wayside . Volunteers were offering water to the devotees. After about a mile, few devotees took to the sand route on their right. We were told that it was inner parikrama marg and by taking this route we would save 3-4 kms. This route is comparatively better than the thar road because of the soft sand . Everyone was immersed in uttering the Lord’s holy names and were walking without any gossip. Wewere fortunate to see such devotees amidst us. This boosted our bhakti and energy . We rejuvenated ourselves with the fresh sweet lemon juice once a while and relaxed for some time on the way. In the parikrama marg, we came across less fortunate persons afflicted with disease/age/deformity asking for money .. All that we could do was to sympathize looking at them and pray God for their well being and give some money. There are no street lights. The lights from the shops illuminate the way. The moon was shining and illuminating the path. The inner parikrama is comparatively dark as there is no lighting and no shop nearby. Hence it is advisable to carry a torch with us. The torch which we were carrying came handy and was useful to not only us but also to the fellow devotees. While doing parikrama, we came across many temples. It was only due to the grace of Krishna , we could complete the parikrama quickly . We were walking quickly and were not feeling tired at all. We ourselves were surprised with our zeal to do parikrama. Because for doing Vrindavan parikrama covering 10-12 kms , we took 3 hours whereas we covered 21 kms within 4 hours. Adiyen has to admit that I didn’t know much about the temples and simply followed the crowd. Looking at thousands of devotees doing parikrama boosted our spirits and we completed the parikrama within 4 hours. By 1A.M. we had finished the parikrama . After having some light food in a wayside Vegetarian hotel (in Vrindavan and Goverdhan, we have only vegetarian restaurants and they don’t use onions and garlic). As there is no direct bus to Vrindavan and at that time as no auto was available to Vrindavan, we went to Mathura by bus and from there proceeded to Vrindavan by taking an auto. Reached ISKCON guest house at 3 A..M. Thanking Krishna and Radharani profusely, we retired for the night.
LOCATION: Located on Mavli-Udaipur route- 30 kms from Mavli
and 65 kms from Udaipur.
PRESIDING DIETY : SHRI SHRINATHJI
Every day there are 6 sevas to the . The darshan timings at Nathdwara are :-
6.00A.M.-6.15 A.M.(kakada aarthi)
9.00 A.M. TO 9.15 A.M.(Shringar aarthi)
11.30 A.M. TO 11.45 A.M.(raj bhog aarthi)
04.15- 04.30 P.M. (Uthappana aarthi)
06.00- 06.15 P.M. (sandhya aarthi)
08.00-08.15 P.M. ( sayana aarthi)
TRAVEL BASE : NATHDWARA / UDAIPUR
OTHER INTERESTING PLACES TO SEE:-
Kankroli Dwaraka (12 kms from Nathdwara)- one of the 9 Dwarakas
Rajsamund Lake : near Kankroli- famous for its dam and architecture
Chathur Bhuj temple: Temple for Vishnu with 4 hands
Ekaling temple: A huge lingam made from a single rock
WHERE TO STAY:- The above places can be visited within a day. We can straight away drive to Nathdwara, checkin in any hotel or ashram for refreshing and finish visiting the above places and go back to Udaipur for boarding train/ flight. Udaipur is well connected to major cities and hence it is advisable to go back to Udaipur.
WHERE TO EAT:- Prashad can be had from Nathdwara and Kankroli temples for a nominal amount of Rs.25/ per thali. Hotel Sankalp Restaurant provides good South Indian food.
ANY OTHER INFO:- Cameras, camcorder, mobiles strictly NOT ALLOWED
STHALAPURANAM:- Nathdwara is considered to be one of the 9 dwarakas and the presiding diety here is SHRI SHRINATHJI . Here the is seen in blackish form with HIS left hand raised upwards with little finger pointing upwards, HIS right hand closed in a fist rests on HIS hip. HIS eyes glance downward affectionately at HIS devotees. Shrinathji is very special and beautiful diety. There is a diamond on the chin of the Lord. This idol is swayambhu (self manifested and not carved by anyone). As the Lord is the combined form of Radharani and Gopala, HE is known as “SHRI SHRINATHJI”.( “SHRI” indicates Thayar ). The Lord is also known as “Banke Bhihari”. This vigraham was earlier in Vrindavan near Goverdhana giri and is related to one of Sri Krishna’s pastimes in Vrindavan lifting Goverdhana hill.
LIFTING OF GOVERDHANA HILL:- To briefly recapitulate, Nanda Maharaja after consulting the other elderly gopas, decided to do pooja and give offerings to Indra, the king of devas , as they thought that Indra was responsible for timely rains and good yield of their crops. When the discussion was thus going on, child Sri Krishna , who was only 7 years old , intervened saying that Indra was not responsible for the cattle prosperity and it was Goverdhana giri which was responsible for the same as it provides the necessary grass to cattle, and crops to the gopas. Krishna suggested that they should therefore give their offerings to Goverdhana giri and all the gopas including Nanda Maharaj accepted to this proposal. An auspicious day was selected and all the gopas assembled in front of Goverdhana giri with heaps of offerings. Krishna advised them to close their eyes and everyone obeyed. Then Krishna assumed a huge form and with wide opened mouth, He consumed the entire offering. When it was finished, Krishna resumed HIS original child form and joined the gopis. The gopis were pleased to see that their offerings were accepted and happily returned home. Indra was naturally upset that no offering was made and decided to punish the gopis by sending torrential rains accompanied by thunder storms. Not knowing what to do, all the vraj vasis( gopis) approached Sri Krishna for help with their cattle and children. The child Krishna assured them and to their astonishment, lifted the Goverdhana giri with HIS left hand little finger and all the residents of Vrindavan along with their cattle took shelter under the hill . (recollected Nammazhwar’s pasuram”KUNDRAM ENDHI KULIR MAZHAI KAATHAVAN”) Krishna thus stood in this form for 7 days. Indra thus humbled realized HIS folly and surrendered at Krishna’s feet for forgiveness. Repenting for not realizing who Krishna was, he prayed to Krishna for forgiveness which is known as Govinda Stuthi. Krishna came to be known as “GOVINDA”- the protector of cows. Indra did Govinda abhishekam to Krishna with Kamadhenu , the divine cow and left the place.
SHRINATHJI (GOPALA ) DIETY DETAILS:- To mark this incident, Vajranabha constructed a temple at the foot of the hill. Due to passage of time, this idol disappeared and the whereabouts remained unknown for many years. After many years, appeared as Gopala in Madhavendra Puri’s dream, informed him about HIS whereabouts and a temple was constructed (pl. refer to the notes on Goverdhan Hill for more info). When Aurangzeb invaded Mathura and Vrindavan, the idol disappeared into the hill and could not be traced out. Even today, in Mathura, Vrindavan, we can find many old temples in ruins and the sculptures disfigured by Aurangzeb.
After many years, appeared to Sri Vallabhacharyar in his dream and informed HIS whereabouts. When Sri Vallabacharyar reached Goverdhanagiri, the idol emerged out by itself and was glorified by Vallabhacharyar. Perumal advised Vallabhacharyar, who was a very great devotee to carry Him to Mewar in Rajasthan. Vallabacharyar arranged a cart for Perumal and left for Mewar. Rana Raja Singh of Mewar helped Vallabhacharyar . After 2 months, the cart reached the present Nathdwara enroute to Mewar in the 17thcentury. But on the way to Mewar, the cart sped suddenly at this place and did not move an inch. Vallabacharyar heard a divine voice say that Perumal wished to stay in this place itself as it was the place where HIS dear devotee, Meera bhai stayed. ( The story of Meera bhai is well known to all of us. To briefly recapitulate, Mira bhai was fondly attached to Krishna’s idol given by her father. As a child, she always used to play with the , dress Him up and sing songs in praise of the and considered Krishna to be her spouse. She exhibited bhakti like the gopis of Vrindavan. The king of Mewar impressed with her bhakti married her despite having many queens. Though she was the queen of Mewar, she was totally disinterested in material comforts and always used to be in service of the Lord. In fact with every passing day, her bhakti enhanced and was totally immersed in Krishna Bhakti. She was unmindful of all the hardships and tortures implicated on her by the annoyed king and her co-sisters. They tried to kill her in many ways by even giving her poisoned milk. Mira offered the milk to her Lord and drank it. Krishna’s Thirumeni turned blue as HE consumed the poison but nothing happened to her. The king realized HIS folly and begged for forgiveness . Mira felt that it was not fit for her to remain there and left the palace and stayed in this place. ) The Vallabhacharyar with the help of Mewar king constructed a beautiful temple for the Lord
SRI VALLABHACHARYAR:- Vallabhacharyar, the founder of Pushti sect was born to poor parents in Rajasthan. He was like a burnt log of wood with deformed body at the time of HIS birth. The parents decided to abandon the child .On their way, they happened to pass by a yagnam where fire sacrifice was going on. Suddenly a jyothi appeared from the yagnam and entered into the child’s body . The child was immediately transformed into a beautiful child. Right from his childhood , he developed great bhakti for the Lord. He had a dream in which appeared and ordered him to go to Goverdhana giri and bring back the hidden idol.. Vallabhacharyar obeyed and to everyone’s bewilderment, when he reached Goverdhana giri, an idol sprang out suddenly.
(This reminds me of an incident connected to Melkote Perumal. Melkote is a small village near Mysore on the banks of Kalyani Pushkarini . When Sri Ramanujar arrived here, there was no temple. Perumal appeared in his dream and informed the whereabouts about the moolavar and utsavar. With the help of the local king, the pathway to the hill which was filled with bushes and throns were cleared and a temple was constructed in which the moolavar Thirunarayanan was placed in the sanctum sanctorum according to vedic rituals. As there was no utsavar, Udayavar prayed to Perumal for disclosing HIS whereabouts. Acharyar learnt from the local residents that the utsavar was with Delhi Sultan . The utsava murthi named Sampathkumaran, appeared in Sri Ramanujar’s dream. Sri Ramanujar went to Delhi and requested the king to return the idol.As there were many such idols which the king brought by looting various temples, he asked our acharyar to locate the idol. Ramanujar was taken to a storeroom where many idols were kept. But as none matched with his divine vision of the Lord, acharyar was disheartened. Then he heard that there was an idol with the princess with whom she played with. With the king’s permission, Ramanujar went to the palace to see the vigraham and LO , the vigraham jumped up from the place and suddenly moved towards Sri Ramanujar and sat on his lap. Hence the Lord is known a “CHELLA PILLAI”. As the princess was obsessed with the idol, she secretely followed our acharyar and finally Lord accepted her at HIS thiruvadi. At melkote, the utsava vigraham of Sri Ramanujar has Chella Pillai on his shoulders with the princess near the Lord’s thiruvadi )
As mentioned earlier, Perumal instructed him to take Him away to Mewar and the later developments have already been mentioned above. Vallabhacharyar used to please the Lord with his kirtans which was later followed by his disciples. In a corner of the temple, the photographs of Sri Vallabhacharyar along with his descendants are displayed. Even today, bhog is offered to Perumal on behalf of Sri Vallabhacharyar. 6 sevas are performed daily.
NATHDWARA TEMPLE DETAILS:- Nathdwara is a small town in Mavli-Udiapur route. Situated in the heart of the town, SHRINATHJI temple is the main attraction with hundreds of visitors thronging to the temple daily. This is the second richest temple in India, first being Tirumala temple. Opposite to the temple is the information centre who guide the pilgrims for prashad, timings etc. Near the entrance of the temple, we can find many vendors selling varieties of vegetables and fruits. .
*** There is a unique practice followed in this temple. Devotees can offer milk, varieties of fruits,vegetables , milk in the kitchen which would be used for Perumal’s bhog (neivedyam-food offering). Milk is to be given at a different place and vegetables , fruits in another place.
It is customary for the local devotees to pray to the Lord for fulfilling their wish and when it gets fulfilled, people offer to change the flag. The temple has 5 persons who are authorized to change the flag which is a hereditary right for them. While the flag is being changed, the assembled devotees continuously sing in praise of the Lord .
There is a big photograph of Perumal “SHRI SHRINATHJI” hung on a wall and pointed out to the nose ring worn by Perumal and a diamond stone studded on Perumal’s chin. It was for taking this diamond that Aurangzeb invaded Mathura but his attempts became futile because Lord disappeared from that place. In the garbagriham, Perumal gives darshan as Krishna-Radharani together and hence is known as “SHRI SHRINATHJI. The cart which carried the Lord is preserved in a separate room. Even today, this event is celebrated every year. A new cart is made and is rested on the cart. In the adjacent room, there are 2 mortars- one made of gold and the other made of silver. Once in eight days, chandan(sandal paste ) for the is ground using these mortars.
OUR EXPERIENCE IN SHRINATHJI TEMPLE AT NATHDWARA:-
Boarded Mewar Express at Mathura to reach Udaipur on 22/05/09. While discussing with my co-passenger, Shri.Sharma and his friends who were Rajasthanis, Adiyen disclosed my intention of visiting Nath Dwara and Kankroli Dwaraka. They suggested me to get down at MAVLI station itself as Nathdwara is only 30 kms from MAVLI and 65 kms from Udaipur. They informed us the temple timings ( in Gujarat and Rajasthan, most of the temples would be open for darshan only for short intervals, say 10 to 15 minutes at the time of aarthi and the curtains would be drawn. In case we miss to have darshan at that time, we have to wait till the next darshan.) and suggested that we could take a cab to Nathdwara, check in one of the hotels for refreshing, visit the temple, proceed to Kankroli Dwaraka, visit the temple, go to the famous Rajasmund lake , visit Charbhuj temple, Ekaling temple and return to Udaipur by evening for sight seeing as our train to Ajmer was at 11 P.M. adding that we could buy prashad for lunch for a nominal amount in the temple itself They also got down at Mavli, arranged a car after negotiating on our behalf for Rs.1,000/- to visit the above places. We profusely thanked God for the timely help and thanked them for their intervention , took photograph with them as remembrance, and got into the car.
A 40 minutes drive took us to Nathdwara. Took a room in Lakshmi Lodge, one of the hotels opposite car parking(a big open ground) on the way to temple. For one hour, we paid nominal amount of Rs.100/- for the same. It was 10 A.M. by the time we finished our chores . A five minute walk along the narrow streets led to the temple. This reminded us of Pandirpur Divya Kshetram . As the next darshan was at 11.30 A.M. , we decided to wait in the temple premises.
Usually we find vendors selling coconuts,tulasi and flowers in front of the temple. But here vendors sell varieties of fruits,vegetables , milk in the kitchen which would be used for Perumal’s bhog (neivedyam-food offering). Purchased 11 varieties of fruits and 11 varieties of vegetables and 2 pots of milk and handed over the same in the kitchen godown. (I wished I could have brought some rice , cereals, sugar , jaggery, dry fruits for the offering.) Milk has to be given at a different place and vegetables , fruits in another place. Cows move about freely outside the temple. It was a typical Gokulam scene –serene atmosphere with vendors doing their business as god’s seva without any competition and cows moving around freely inside and outside the temple.
A panda (authorized pujari) offered to sell some prashad (rice,dal, rotis with varieties of vegetables, sweet preparations) for Rs.25/- per plate. Paid money for 2 palates and were advised by him to wait in front of the garbagriham after darshan. Like in Puri, the pandas have hereditary right for their share in temple prashad daily and they in turn sell it to the devotees . Another similarity is like in Jagannath Puri, here many varieties of food are offered to the Lord . Many devotees were waiting to have darshan. There is a separate queue for ladies and gents.
As we were waiting near the entrance, an elderly person came forward and offered to guide us . He gave us information about the temple which we could not get any where .
He took us to the first floor of the temple where kirtan was going on while the temple flag was being changed. He informed that it was customary for the local devotees to pray to the Lord for fulfilling their wish and when it was fulfilled, people offer to change the flag. The temple has 5 persons who are authorized to change the flag. This is hereditary right for them. While the flag is being changed, the assembled devotees continuously sing in praise of the Lord .
He then took us to a room where a big photograph of Perumal “SHRI SHRINATHJI” was hung and pointed out to the nose ring worn by Perumal and a diamond stone studded on Perumal’s chin. It was for taking this diamond that Aurangzeb invaded Mathurabut HIS attempts became futile because disappeared from that place. He said that in the garbagriham, Perumal gives darshan as Krishna-Radha rani together and hence is known as “SHRI SHRINATHJI”. While circumbulating the temple, he took us to a small room containing a cart. He informed that it was in this cart that Perumal reached this place. The cart is well preserved . Even today, this event is celebrated every year. A new cart is made and is rested on the cart. In the adjacent room, there are 2 mortars- one made of gold and the other made of silver. We were told that once in eight days, chandan(sandal paste ) for the is ground using these mortars. We offered our obeisances and reached the entrance of the main sannidhi. In front of the sannidhi, the guide showed us a place where sets of 5 coconuts were tied to a string and hung. He said that there is a strong belief that if devotees desiring their wish to be fulfilled pray to the here and tie the coconuts, their wish would be fulfilled.
Adiyen joined the gents queue and my wife and children joined the ladies queue. It was 11.15 A.M. and many devotees were already in front of the closed door. It is a common practice in North India to have darshan of the Lord when the doors are opened and aarthi is given . Hence the rooms in front of the sannidhi are constructed in such a way so as to accommodate few hundreds of devotees at a time. All the devotees can have darshan of the during aarthi and the devotees themselves can offer prasadam- sweets/ dry fruits to the . The darshan would be given only for 15 minutes after aarthi.
As there was 15 minutes left, we started reciting Sri Vishnu Sahasranamam . When we completed , the doors sprang open and devotees rushed inside to have glimpse of the . Unusual thning noticed was the devotees enter horizontally paying darshan and don’t show their back .You have galleries and all move in horizontal lines . The is dressed like a small cowherd boy of 7 years . The aarthi had just begun and shodasa upacharams (16 types of upacharam) were offered to the Lord while chanting slokas and singing songs. The was dressed in “Parrot green coloured “cloth round HIS waist like a typical cowherd boy and was adorned with varieties of flowers. Adiyen recollected Periazwar’s pasurams describing the Lord’s return to HIS home after gazing the cows. Amidst loudly uttering “KANNAIYA LAL KI JAI” and singing of aarthi songs, we could experience the unalloyed vatsalya bhaavam of the devotees present. Like the gopis of Vrindavan , the devotees were not aware of their surroundings and their whole concentration was on the alone. The enchanting divya mangala swaroopam of the cannot be described in words. The is very very attractive with HIS left hand raised up with HIS little finger lifted up and HIS right hand closed in a fist and placed on HIS waist. A small stick is placed in front of Him which is used while gazing cows. We were being squeezed out in the rush but were unmindful of the pushing . Everyone was eager to take darshan standing in the front. Fortunately, we had darshan to our heart’s content. We just couldn’t take our eyes off from the Thirumeni. Every part is so attractive that we felt that one darshan is not enough. As they say, it is NOT THE DARSHAN WHAT WE SEEK, IT IS THE DARSHAN WHAT HE GIVES”. After darshan, we had to come out through another door in front of which there is a small sannidhi where charanamruth (theertham/ holy water) is distributed. Beside this, there is a counter from which the devotees can purchase sweets, laddus etc by paying money. This counter also would be open only for limited time.
As instructed by the panda who offered us prashad, we were sitting in front of the main door recollecting Perumal’s divya mangala swaroopam. After some time, my wife went in search of the Panda, and brought the prashad which was carried by panda’s attendant.. As having prashad in the temple premises is strictly prohibited, the attendant showed us a dharmashaala where we could have the prashad. After giving him Rs.10/, we went inside the dharmashaala and partook the prashad- 2 palates of little rice, 2 types of curries , dhal, payasam,sweets, rotis all kept in mud pots. Though there are many varieties of food offering to the Lord , the pandas are not given all the items. Hence, it is suggested to take prashad from 2 or 3 different pandas so that varieties of prashad can be tasted. We recollected our Puri Yathirai were the maha Prasad was taken in the temple vicinity.
After having prashad, we proceeded to another Dwaraka called Kankroli Dwarka which is about 12 kms from Nathdwara.
KANKROLI DWARAKA:- One of the 9 Dwarakas.
LOCATION:- Kankroli ,the leading exporter of marbles, is 12 kms away from Nathdwara in Rajasthan.The nearest city isUdaipur.
PRESIDING DIETY:- DWARAKADEESH(standing posture with 4 hands holding Sankhu(conch), chakram(disc), gadam(mace) and padmam(lotus)
OTHER INTERESTING PLACES TO SEE:-
RAJ SAGAR LAKE BESIDE TH TEMPLE, RAJSAMUND LAKE
TRAVEL BASE :- NATHDWARA/UDAIPUR – can be accessed from Nathdwara,not required to stay overnight
WHERE TO EAT:- Temple prashad either at Nathdwara or Kankroli/ Or any good hotel in Nathdwara
Light refreshments (tea/coffee/cool drinks/water/biscuits) available
near the temple
ANY OTHER INFO:- Cameras, camcorder, mobiles strictly NOT ALLOWED inside the temple
STHALAPURANAM:- Kankroli Dwaraka is considered as one of the nava Dwarakas. Located on the banks of Rajsamund lake, Kankroli is known as “haveli of King of Dwarka”. The haveli (big mansion) and the ghats near the lake are built in Rajashtani style. It attracts pilgrims from all over India and is one of the important temples for Pushti Margi Vallabhacharya Vaishnavas.
A pujari informed that Brahma performed penance and Lord appeared to him at the time of creation of universe at this place in this form. A devotee informed that Krishna visited this place and hence this is considered as one of the Dwarakas. Sri Krishna Janmashtami, Annakoot festivals are celebrated grandly.
OUR EXPERIENCE AT KANKROLI DWARKA:-
DATE OF VISIT: 22/05/09
At the entrance , there is a big arch in Rajasthani style . Few shops selling refreshments, photos are on the way to the temple . On the right side, there is cloak room managed by temple authorities where the devotees are supposed to leave their mobiles, camera, videocam etc. for free of cost. Photography and carrying mobiles inside the temple is strictly prohibited. The temple was closed and the next darshan was only at 4.15 P.M. Hence, we went to the Raj Sagar lake which is beside the temple . Seating arrangements are provided for pilgrims in a nearby waiting hall . Many devotees had already assembled in this hall for having darshan.
AT 04.15 P.M., the temple doors were opened for visitors. A flight of steps led us to the main shrine. Participated in the the afternoon aarthi known as “Uthappana seva” .Perumal’s thirunaamam is Dwarakadeesh. Though the vigraham is small, it is very attractive. Perumal is seen with chathurbhuj(4 hands) holding the divya ayudhangal. (weapons). Two pujaris were offering 16 types of upacharams to the Lord . We had darshan to our heart’s content. Offered the dry fruits which we had brought with us as neivedyam to the Lord. On the left side of the main sannidhi, there is a separate sannidhi where child Krishna is placed on a cradle and the pujaris were performing jhoola seva. In a small vessel filled with water, varieties of scented flowers were kept. Varieties of flowers and fruits were placed in front of the Lord. Purchased some Prasad from a nearby counter and left the place.
As carrying camera was not allowed, we had to satisfy ourselves by taking the photograph of the arch at the entrance .
As per our schedule, we were supposed to proceed to Chathur bhuj temple, Ekaling temple and go to Udaipur. As we did not take any photos at Nathdwara in the morning, we decided to return to Nathdwara instead of visiting the scheduled places . Photography is not allowed inside the temple. So, we had to take the gopuram view from outside. Purchased few Rajasthani dolls for Rs100/- and “2 chains with 6 koormams (tortoise) on each chain as it is considered to be Lakshmi Swaroopam for rs.100/-.
Left for Udaipur at 6.30 P.M. and reached station at 9.00 P.M. Waited patiently for Udaipur-Gwalior express . The schedule departure of the train was at 2220 hours but the train started at 0000 hours. Though it was the starting point, as no clearance was given, the train was delayed which is very common in the northern region .
PLACE :- PUSHKAR
LOCATION :- 12 KMS from AJMER in Rajasthan located on a hill.
HOW TO REACH:- Trains from Jaipur, Delhi, Udaipur etc are available. (We traveled from Udaipur to Ajmer but were informed that it is nearer from Delhi compared to Udaipur. Hence, if anyone is following our route, it is suggested to go to Ajmerfirst and then go to Udaipur)
TRAVEL BASE:- AJMER
WHERE TO STAY :- Many hotels available-not required to stay overnight as the trip can be completed within a maximum time of 4 hours
WHERE TO EAT:- To check for pure veg hotel for having food.
IMP.TEMPLES:- Pushkar lake, Brahma Temple, Saraswathi temple, Varahaswamy temple
HOW TO REACH:- From Ajmer railway station vans, cars, autos are available .
Charges for Van Rs. 300/- approximately
Frequent buses available from bus stand for a very nominal fare
ANY OTHER INFO:- Cameras, camcorder, mobiles strictly NOT ALLOWED inside the temple. Famous for “Gulkhand”
Pushkar is considered as one of the sacred ponds which bestows mukti. It is known as “Teerth Guru” , the foremost of all Theerthams. Every aspiring devotee visits this place to have a holy dip in this theertham. The place is named after this theertham. Jagathpitha (father of all worlds), Brahma was in search of a residence in Bhooloka for performing yaaga. At that time, a petal from the lotus flower which he held fell down at this place and water sprouted out which is the Pushkar lake.
Brahma selected this place to perform sacrifice/yagnam. As the consort is supposed to be present for any pooja, Brahma asked his son, Narada Maharishi to bring his mother, Saraswathi. Saraswathi for some reason was delayed in reaching this place. As the auspicious moment was tripping off, Brahma put some grass in a cow’s mouth (“Ghai” means cow) , uttered some mantras and from the cow’s mouth emerged a lady As she appeared from the mouth of the cow, Brahma named her Gayathri and accepted her as his consort and started the yagnam. She is known as “Vedmatha Gayathri”- , the mother of Vedas. This infuriated Saraswathi who cursed Brahma that he would not be worshipped on earth and left the place in a huff . She reached a nearby hillock and started her penance. This is the reason for a separate temple for Saraswathi.
DETAILS:- The most famous temple is that of Brahma and this is the only temple dedicated to Brahma. Other important temples in Pushkar are Varahaswamy temple, Saraswathi temple. The famous tank here is PUSHKAR (as it was formed from the water that dripped from the Lotus flower held by Brahma) and the town is known by this name. There are 52 ghats and a dip in these ghats would absolve us of all sins and bestow moksham. But presently, the water is impure and not fit for bathing. After much persuasion, the government has undertaken renovation work including purification of the holy water and it may take another couple of years for completion. The money collected by the pandas (priests) by performing poojas and rituals is handed over to “Shree Teeth Guru Pushkar Purohit Sangh Trust” which issues a receipt for the same. The pandas get salary from the Trust.
A 2 minute walk from the Pushkar lake leads us to the world famous Brahma temple. At the entrance on either sides, there are separate sannidhis for Kubera and Indra ,the Dwarapalakas for Brahma. Kubera is on the right side and Indra on the left side. There is a belief to place some coin in front of Kubera and take it back as he is the god of wealth!!!
The four faced Brahma is seen seated on a lotus having 8 hands holding japa maala, Vedas etc. There is no separate sannidhi for his consort, Saraswathi. After completing pradakshinam, devotees are asked to go behind the temple and have a look at Saraswathi’s temple which is situated on a different hillock nearby. Those who are unable to visit that shrine can pay their respects from here itself.
OUR EXPERIENCE AT PUSHKAR:-
DATE OF VISIT :- 23/05/2009
Reached Ajmer at 05.30 A.M. on 23/05/09. As we intended to have holy bath in Pushkar, we decided to visit this place. After refreshing ourselves in the waiting room, we dropped our luggages in the cloak room.
Ajmer in Rajasthan is famous for Pushkar, Muslim dharga (mosque) , Gulkhand and halwa. Got into one of the Maruthi Omnis to take us to Pushkar, Saraswathi for Rs.300. The driver showed us the place where the world famous camel fare would be held every year during jan-feb.
Pushkar is situated on a small hillock and it took nearly 45 minutes for us to go thru the ghat roads. Though the distance to be covered is only 12 kms, because of ghat section, the drivers are supposed not to exceed the prescribed speed.
Adiyen sprinkled some holy water on myself and family and collected in a bottle to give to my relatives .
As usual, we were surrounded by pandas , each offering to guide us. We were advised to be very cautious with the pandas as they take the pilgrims for a ride. After much persuasion, we had to give in to one panda but made it very clear that we were interested in doing only minimal pooja and aware of all the Brahmin rituals. The panda brought a plate consisting of pooja articles, made us do some sankalpam and repeat whatever he said. Bees were buzzing around us for the honey in flowers. This place is famous for Rose petals preparations like Gulkhand. After finishing the rituals, we left the pooja items in the sacred water and as advised by the panda gave dakshinai and donation for temple in a nearby counter and collect official receipt. We were astonished to see this and enquired with the panda about this system which is not prevelant anywhere in North India. The panda replied that they get regular salary from “Shree Teeth Guru Pushkar Purohit Sangh Trust” which oversees the development of this place.
We then went to Brahma temple which is about 3 minutes walk from the Pushkar pond. As cameras are not allowed, we had to leave the same with our children. Before entering, we were whisked thoroughly by the security and then allowed to climb the steps. The temple is not very big. At the entrance, we find Kubera and Indra’s sannidhi . In the garbagriham, four faced Brahma made of white marble is seen in meditation After we returned, our children went inside for darshan. The car driver informed us that Gulkhand prepared from Rose petals and other flowers , honey which is used as a sweetener in paan/ lassi etc. is famous . Also, Rajashtani “katputli” / bommalattam (dolls which would be made to swing by holding thread ) is cheaper at this place . Purchased 2 bottles of gulkhand for our family and my close friend and bought Rajashthani bride and bridegroom dolls for keeping it in golu during Dassera.
As it was very hot, we decided to skip Saraswathi temple and drove back to Ajmer station by 10.00A.M. The rest of the day was at leisure to chant Lord’ s names thanking for HIS mercy . Presently, there is nothing much to see in Pushkar except the lake and the temple which could be covered within a maximum time of 2 hours.
Our next journey was to Ahmedabad. Though there are 4-5 trains from Ajmer to Ahmedabad including a train at noon, we preferred the night train as we thought it would take the whole day to have holy bath in all the theerthas in Pushkar and visit the various temples. As mentioned earlier, due to the pollution and the scorching heat, we could not do so and returned to station. (It is preferable to take the noon train to Ahmedabad so that we can reach the destination by 10.00P.M. itself. ). Though there are 5 trains, getting accommodation in the train is difficult as Ahmedabad is a trade center and all the trains usually run full. In our case, though we had booked the tickets 2 months in advance, as AC accommodation at that time was not available, we had to compromise traveling in Sleeper Class which was also not confirmed upto 4P.M. on the day of journey. But again due to God’s grace, all our tickets got confirmed by the time we boarded the train. Ala Hazrat express scheduled to arrive at Ajmer at 2030 hours was delayed by 90 minutes. Our patience was really put to test and we can never forget this day for the wastage of time. Luckily there was a Cybercafe in the station itself near the waiting hall and we could spend few hours usefully in corresponding with devotees and well wishers wanting to know about our trip.
DATE OF VISIT : 24th May,2009
TEMPLE VISITED: DAKORE DWARKA -one of the Nava Dwarkas
PRESIDING DIETY : DWARKADEESH famously known as “RANCHOR RAYA”
LOCATION : Dakore village located in Ahmedabad-Baroda route near
Mehmadabad. Can also be accessed from Nadiad
NEAREST CITY : Ahmedabad (2-3 hours)-84 kms
Baroda ( 1-2 hours from Ahmedabad )
Nadiad (33 kms)- 30 minutes drive
HOW TO REACH : 1) Plenty of trains from Ahmedabad to Nadiad – Intercity express, local trains every 2 hours. .Fare Rs.8/- per head.
To get down at Nadiad and take share- auto for RS.6/-
2) Bus services every half an hour from Ahmedabad bus station to Dakore. The temple is 5 minutes drive from Dakore
bus s. Fare app Rs.51/- per head
3) Cars are also available for rent- charges would be app Rs.2,000/-
WHERE TO STAY : At Ahmedabad or in Baroda in any of the hotels
ISKCON has its guest houses at both the places
WHERE TO EAT:- Hotel Sukh Sagar opp. to Ahmedabad railway station
IRCTC run hotels in station/ any other hotel
WHAT TO SEE : The main temple, River Gomti, small temples near the river bank
Including statue of River Gomti
ANY OTHER INFO:- Cameras, camcorder, mobiles strictly NOT ALLOWED inside the temple
Don’t miss to taste “Doklas with curd”
During the month of Karthigai, devotees reach this place by foot from far off places and ensure to be present on Pournami. Some
devotees do this every month.
STHALAPURANAM : A pious devotee from Dakore used to visit Dwaraka every year on his bullock cart carrying pots of tulasi plants with him to offer the same to the Lord . He used to take 6 months to reach Dwaraka . He followed this practice even in his advanced age. Like Thirukacchinambigal, this devotee could converse with the Lord. During one such visit, he prayed to Dwarakadeesh that in future he may not be able to visit Dwarka as he was very old. The Lord replied that henceforth he preferred to stay with this pure devotee rather than being in Dwarka where people had turned materialistic and there was no pure bhakti.. The Lord ordered him to be ready with the cart in the night. The devotee accordingly obeyed and waited with the cart for the Lord. As promised, Lord left the temple, got into the cart and HE HIMSELF drove the cart. The Lord who acted as “PARTHASARATHY- Charioteer to Arjuna in the Mahabharata war once again took the reins and drove the chariot).
The Supreme Lord who by His mere glance, controls the entire Cosmic manifestation, made the devotee relax and Himself drove the cart for the sake of His devotee. Overnight they reached Dakore. ( A place near Ahmedabad ) The Brahmin used to take 6 months to drive the cart but the Lord reached the place within 6 hours. From the following morning the Brahmin along with his wife started worship in their hut itself . Meantime, when the temple doors were opened, the priests were shocked to see the idol missing. They guessed that the old Brahmin who was in the temple for a very long time the previous night must be responsible for this . All the residents of Dwarka set out for Dakore. When they saw the Lord in the brahmin’s house, they started abusing the Brahmin and tried to forcibly take the idol. They did not listen to the Brahmin’s pleas .However hard they tried to grab the idol, the idol did not even move an inch. At that time they heard an asareeri say that Lord would be with whoever gives offering equal to the Lord’s weight . Immediately, a balance was brought and the idol was placed on one side of the balance. The residents of Dwarka offered all their possessions which was kept on the other side of the balance. The balance remained as it is. They rushed back to Dwarka and brought back all they had but this also was of no match to the Lord’s weight. Having accepted defeat, they asked the Brahmin to try his turn. The brahmin’s wife a very great devotee, prayed to Lord and placed her nose ring along with little Tulasi on the other side of the balance and immediately both the balances became EQUAL. Thus demonstrated that He is bound by His devotees pure affection and love. To the dejected residents of Dwaraka, Lord informed that very soon a sculptor would approach them who would sculpt a similar vigraham which could be placed in the altar and would continue to bless the devotees by bestowing His powers on the idol. Hence, the original vigraham of the is present in DAKORE DWARAKA now.
At Dwarka, as advised by the Lord , a sculptor approached the priests and offered to make an idol with the condition that no one should disturb him while he was performing his work. The residents agreed and the sculptor locked himself in a room. This went on for 18 days but when no sound was heard, the curious devotees broke open the door and to their astonishment, the sculptor had vanished and the Lord’s vigraham was near completion but for the eyes. As they went back on their words, they were crying pitifully realizing that the sculptor was none other than the Himself. An aakashvaani declared that henceforth, they could consider this vigraham as the Lord Himself and offer pooja to the and whatever happened was as per HIS divine WILL. To this day, this vigraham is being worshipped at Dwaraka which is situated on the western coast near Arabian Sea.
(Similar incident happened at Jagannath Puri which is located on the eastern coast near Bay of Bengal- the other extreme end ofIndia. Before the appearance of Jagannath, the presiding diety was Nila Madhava and hence Puri is also known as “Nilachala”. The king had a dream instructing him to construct a temple for the Lord. The king sent his ministers to find out the whereabouts of the vigraham whose darshan he had in his dream. One minister was finally able to locate it with a fisherman. The fisherman used to go alone to a place far from his hut and return only in the evening. The minister learnt from the fisherman’s daughter that her father goes to offer prayers to Nilamadhava in a secret place and no outsider was allowed to accompany him. So, the minister married the lady and requesed the fisherman to show him the Lord. The fisherman bound the minister’s eyes with a thick cloth and took him to the place of worship. Meanwhile, the smart minister enroute sowed mustard seeds to enable him to identify the route. He went back and informed the king about the whereabouts of the Lord. When the king arrived with his ministers at this place, the vigraham vanished from the place and an akaashvaani was heard instructing the king to carve 3 idols of Krishna , Balarama and Subhadra out of 2 logs of wood which would float on the sea mentioning the date and time of arrival of the logs of wood. The akashvaani further informed that a carpenter would approach them for carving the idols of Jagannath, Balarama and Subhadra. As per the predicament, the logs appeared and a carpenter offered his services with the condition that he would work in isolation and no one should disturb him till he finishes the work. Accordingly , the carpenter was locked in a room for more than 15 days. When they did not hear any sound , the perplexed queen , out of anxiety for the carpenter’s welfare, opened the door . The carpenter disappeared leaving the idols incomplete. The royal couple cried piteously repenting for their mistake and asked for forgiveness. An akashvaani informed them that it was GOD’S WILL and the idols were fit for worship. That’s why we find the idols with incomplete limbs. )
OUR EXPERIENCE AT DAKORE DWARKA:-
On 24/05/09, we reached Ahmedabad at 08.30 hours. We were planning to take a room in one of the hotels near station but the TT suggested that we could as well go to the AC waiting room. This was the best waiting room which we saw in the recent past with a big well furnished, airconditioned hall with all modern amenities. Ahmedabad station has got all the facilities like refreshment stalls and hotel run by IRCTC, separate waiting rooms for AC and sleeper class, cloak room facility, ATM, Cybercafe . (Outsourcing finally works .).
After refreshing ourselves, we planned to go to Dakore Dwaraka by engaging a car as we had earlier done in the year 2000. While we were thus discussing, the AC waiting hall attendant intervened and suggested that there are Intercity Superfast trains and local trains to Nadiad every 2 hours and Dakore Dwaraka is only 30 minutes drive from Nadiad. It takes about 90 minutes From Ahmedabad to Nadiad in Intercity express and if we take local train it takes 2 hours. He said that from Nadiad, we could either take a bus to Dakore (frequency of bus -every 10 minutes) or take one of the seven-seater autos (share autos) as we may not get cab for such a short distance. We thanked the attendant by giving him the tip he had asked for. Though he suggested us to take the 10.00 A.M. Intercity express, we didn’t want to rush as we had plenty of time left with us and before vacating the waiting room , we had to put the luggage in the cloak room . Purchased ticket to Nadiad for the local train scheduled to leave at noon. Fare Rs.12/- per head. (We remember paying Rs.2,000/ for cab during our first visit)
Went to Hotel Sukh Sagar which is opposite to station which provides all varieties of Vegetarian delicious food. Boarded a local tarin carrying only a small bag containing offerings to the Lord , camera and our camcorder. Reached Nadiad at 1400 hours. With Mercury touching 45 deg., we had to rejuvenate ourselves often. As the share-auto stand is at half a kilometer distance, we took an auto to the stand and got into one of the autos. He charged Rs.8/- per person. Though the drive was only for 30 minutes, we felt as if it took more time because of the noise from the engine. The share autos ss near the Dakore bus s . The temple is about 5 mintues drive from the bus stand. We requested the auto driver to drop us near the temple for which we paid him additional Rs.20/-. By 1445 hours, we were near the entrance of the temple. There were devotees already waiting to have Uthapana darshan at04.15 P.M. Oflate, security has been tightened in all the temples and we were strictly prohibited from carrying camera. Meantime, took photographs of the temple from outside and Gomti river which flows near the temple. Purchased kartal for our daily bhajans from a nearby instrumental shop and requested the shop keeper to keep our belongings.
The temple doors sprang open at 04.15 P.M. and devotees rushed into the temple . There is a rectangular hall in front of the main shrine from where atleast 100-150 devotees can have darshan at a time. There is a separate queue for ladies from the side. The roof of the temple is a domb like structure with beautiful paintings of Krishna’s pastimes . Painting work was going on. Devotees were singing praises in the name of “RANCHOR RAYA”. Here, Dwarakadeesh Perumal is more commonly known as Ranchor Raya (one who fled from battle).
The Lord was dressed in light clothing and was fully adorned with flowers. Devotees were literally pushing to have darshan. On either sides, pots were hung in which hundi offerings were put and was occasionally emptied. We enjoyed the aarthi seva for 10 minutes . Prayed for His mercy on us . After aarthi darshan, near the exit, there is a small room in which the Thulabhaaram (the balance) on which Lord’s weight was measured . A photograph depicting the incident of the brahmin’s wife putting her nose ring is kept. After narrating the incident to the children, we left the place for doing pradakshina. Meanwhile, a panda made our children do some sankalpam uttering few Sanskrit verses and took dakshinai.
Left the temple around 5 P.M. and took an auto to bus s. As the next train to Ahmedabad was at 1830 hours, we decided to go by bus . Superfast Bus fare is Rs.51/- and takes about 90 minutes to reach Ahmedabad. Reached Ahmedabad at 7 P.M. As Ahmedabad is famous for textiles, we wanted to do some shopping but were told that the main bazaar was about half an hour’s drive from station. As we did not want to take any risk, we returned to the waiting room. Had dinner in the restaurant run by IRCTC in the station itself and boarded Somnath express at 2200 hours.
PRABHASA THEERTHA AT VERAVAL
TEMPLE VISITED:- PRABHASA THEERTHA AT VERAVAL- one of the 9 Dwarkas
LOCATION : Veraval- last railway station on the western side of Indian Coast.
Somnath is 7 kms away from Veraval.
HOW TO REACH : There are 2 trains from Ahmedabad daily
Night bus available from Ahmedabad- 8 hours journey from Ahmedabad
Local auto can be arranged for visiting the temples in Somnath.
Buses from Veraval to Porbandhar and Dwarka also available .
If one takes a car from Veraval in the morning, all the temples can be visited on the same day and proceed to Dwaraka visiting
Sudama Dwaraka and Moola Dwaraka on the way.
Please contact Mr.Ramji,a great devotee who was more than a Guide to us and charges reasonably. He has his own travels
and has a variety of vehicles His address is:-
Shri.Ramchand Bhagnani(Ramji Kaka)
C/o Sitaram Travels,
Dabhor Road, Bihari Nagar, Block NO. 7,
( Mobile: 99240 22813/ 02876-222591
His sons’ mobile nos: 98251 76457/94261 69501/ 98248 75753)
WHERE TO STAY : Many choultries and hotels are available near Somnath temple.
Sarada Peet has its mutt near Triveni Sangamam.
WHERE TO EAT:- Any good hotel for delicious Gujarati meal.
Don’t forget to drink Tender coconuts
IMP. PLACES TO VISIT IN SOMNATH:-
1) TRIVENI SANGAMAM :-There is a confluence of 3 rivers-Harini, Gomti and .
2) SRINGERI SARADA MUTT :-Located near Triveni Sangamam, where room facilities are available. For refreshing, one can take a room for an hour or so by paying Rs.150/-
3)There is a temple nearby housing shrines for Ganapathi, Narsimhadev, Radha- Krishna.
4) GITA MANDIR:- Here, all the slokas from Bhagavad Gita are inscribed on the walls.
5) SRI LAKSHMI NARAYAN MANDIR :- temple for Vishnu and Lakshmi
6) SRI KRISHNA PAADAM:- The place where the last rites for Krishna was performed by Arjuna. Also, there is a small room where Krishna embraced Chaitanya Mahaprabhu when the latter visited this place.
7) BALARAM GUFA:- The disappearance place of Balarama
8) SIVA TEMPLE :- The Siva lingams worshipped by Bheema and Nakula.
(3 TO 6 are located in the same premises)
9) GANAPATHI AND SUBRAMANYA SWAMY TEMPLE :- located near the sea shore . Near this temple, there is a temple for Shiva. At this place, we can find new Shiva lingams emerging from the sea. 12 lingams are supposed to emerge out of which 4 are already visible.
10) BALIKA THEERTH – the place from where the hunter let loose the arrow
11) BALIKA MANDIR :- This is “Mukti Dwarka” from where Sri Krishna ascended to Srivaikuntam
12) SOMNATH MANDIR:- One of the 12 Jyotir lingams of Shiva. There are 2 temples( old and new)- old temple is also known as Ahalya Mandir
En route to Dwarka from Veraval, one can visit Madhavpur (where Krishna humbled Rukma(Rukmini’s brother), Porbandar, the birth place of Mahatma Gandhi. This place was earlier known as Sudamapuri (Sudama Dwarka), Moola Dwaraka (where Perumal first arrived),and Ambal temple .
STHALAPURANAM FOR SHAIVITES:- Shiva, the foremost Vaishnava devotee of the Lord, resides in this place as a jyotirlingam. This is one of the 12 jyotirlingas which every Shaivite aspires to visit atleast once.
SOMNATH TEMPLE DETAILS:- There are 2 temples for Someshwarnath. –old temple known as Ahalya temple and the new temple. The original emerald lingam was taken away by Mohd.Ghazini in 17th century thru the sea route and is now in Mecca. Thus , even the most staunch Muslim offers prayers to Shiva unknowingly when he visits Mecca. (The local people say that the original lingam was disfigured by Muslim invaders and thrown into sea as 12 pieces which has started appearing as Shiva lingas along the coast. They say that out of 12 pieces, 5 have emerged now and when the reminaing lingas appear, the world would come to an end. ( We could see the 5 shiva lingams in the sea at various places)
Later, Shiva appeared to Ahalya, a local devotee and instructed to construct a temple for him. Later,a local king constructed a huge temple and fortified it and thus protected it from sea and invasions. The statue of the king riding on a horse can be seen on the way to the temple.
Later, Sardar Vallabhai Patel, the “Iron Man of India” took initiative and was responsible for the construction of a new huge temple. In both the temples, the linga form of Shiva is worshipped. Archeological revelations and pictures of the old temple ruins are displayed in the temple premises. This temple is located near the sea shore on a vast area.
STHALAPURANAM ABOUT VAISHNAVA TEMPLES IN SOMNATH:- Veraval also known as Somnath and Prabhas Theertham is located on the western coast in Gujarat. This is the last rail head in this route. This place is important both for Vaishnavites and Shaivites. For Vaishnavites, it is important because it was from this place that Sri Krishna disappeared and ascended to Srivaikuntam as per the request of the devas. It is one of the Nava Dwarakas. To the Shaivites, it is a sacred as Somnath is one of the 12 Jyotirlingas .
VAISHNAVA STHALAPURANAM:_ Sri Krishna after satisfying Himself that He had annihilated most of the demons in human form after Mahabharata war, decided to ascend to His eternal abode, Sri Vaikuntam. Due to His presence, the Yadus (people belonging to His clan) became proud and arrogant. Sri Krishna who wanted to reduce the burden of Mother Earth decided to put an end to the Yadavas too and masterminded a plan . As it was Lord’s will, he made Gandhari and the sapta rishis utter the curse of annihilation of Yadavas.
It so happened that Krishna’s son was dressed up like a pregnant woman and along with his friends approached some rishis to find out the gender of the child which would be born to the pregnant woman. The infuriated rishis cursed that the disguised lady would give an iron pestel which would destroy the entire Yadava race which came true. The shocked Yadus ran to Balarama for a solution. Balarama ordered them to powder it into pieces and throw them away in the sea at Dwarka . The yadus acted accordingly and returned to their palace. A big iron piece which could not be powdered was thrown away into the sea which was swallowed by a fish. When this fish was caught and cut open by hunter, Jara, he found a big iron piece which he fixed to his arrow with which he hit Krishna later. Over a period of time, the powder got deposited near the shore of the sea at Prabhasa Theertha and sharp blade type grass grew there. When the Yadus who were fully intoxicated came to this place arguing with each other, they totally lost their mental balance and started hitting each other with the grass and got themselves killed. Balarama , noticing that it was Lord ’s will decided to leave this earthly residence, assumed his original form as Adisesha and walked into the sea and disappeared. The place where he disappeared can be seen even today. Over a period of time, this place has turned into mass of land due to reduction in the water level. Sri Krishna was resting under a banyan tree with right leg placed on left lap. A hunter named Jara (who was Vaali in his previous birth when Krishna incarnated as SriRama) , mistook Perumal’s thiruvadi to be a deer and shot an arrow from a distance of 1 kilometre. The hunter who came in search of his prey was shocked to see the Lord and begged for forgiveness. The Lord convinced that it was as per His plan and narrated his past birth as Vaali when Perumal hit him from behind and thus fulfilled Vali’s desire for revenge. He bestowed moksham to the hunter. This shows Lord’s compassion to persons who try to kill him. In this avatar, he first killed Putana who had come to kill him and gave her moksham and at the end of the incarnation, he blessed Jara by giving him moksham.
At the moment when Krishna was preparing to ascend to Srivaikuntam, all the devas headed by Brahma and Shiva arrived and while they were glorifying the by reciting Purusha Suktam, Krishna left the place in the form of jyoti. (When the jyoti reached Suryamandalam, it transformed into a vigraham and descended on Tirumala Hills . The moment Krishna disappeared, Kali yugam started and to save His devotees from Kali,Lord decided to manifest in Tirumala and save the devotees till the end of Kaliyugam. He proclaimed that the devas as well as humans can have HIS darshan at Tirumala and allotted early morning time for the devas. Even to this day, before closing the temple after Ekanta Seva , the priests at Tirumala temple fill the pancha paathirams with water for Brahma’s aaradhanai which is given as theertham after Suprabhatam. –Similar practice is followed in Badrinath at the time of closure of temple for 6 months during winter. When the Badrinath temple is reopened during April, the lamp which was lit 6 months back still burns and the place would be filled with sweet fragrance of scent.)
The place where the last rites for the mortal remains of the Lord was performed by Arjuna is known as Krishna Padam on the banks of River Hiranya. There are many temples associated with Sri Krishna’s pastimes at this place, the details of which are mentioned below. All these places can be visited within a span of 3-4 hours.
Gita Mandir- in this temple, there is an idol of Sri Krishna in standing posture and all the slokas from Bhagavad Gita are inscribed on the walls of the temple.
Lakshmi Narayan Mandir:- shrine for Narayanan with His consort,Mahalakshmi Thayar in standing posture
Balaram Gufa (cave):- At the end of Dwapara yugam, Balarama who was an amsam of Adisesha decided to end his incarnation and walked into the sea taking the form of a serpent and disappeared. Due to passage of time, the sea waters reduced and the place where Balrama disappeared is now like a cave.On the wall of the gufa(Cave) 5 headed serpent is sculpted. Kaka who we called our driver affectionately , informed us about the disappearance of Balarama and added that on Naga Panchami every year, thousands of snakes from nowhere appear in this place and the local devotees offer milk. Next day, even a single serpent cannot be spotted.
SIVA LINGAMS:- A 5 minute walk from Balram gufa leads to a small shrine of a small shiva lingam wroshipped by Nakula- one of the Pandavas for one year during their exile. Nearby there is another shrine housing a bigger Shiva lingam worshipped by Bhima . In front of the shrine, there is a tree under which Bhima used to relax after worshipping. WE were informed that at a distance of 12 kms from here , there is a place where Bhima got wedded to Hidambi, whose son was Ghatothgacha. The entire area was once a thick forest.
SRI KRISHNA PAADAM:- This is on the banks of River Hiranya. It was here that Arjuna performed the last rituals to Sri Krishna and as per the Lord’s instructions, escorted the elderly yadavas, children and women to Dwarka. Here, there is a Thiruvadi of Perumal with all the auspicious marks on it.
BALIKA THEERTH:- We proceeded to Balika Theerth. It was from this place that Jara, the hunter aimed arrow at Perumal. Presently, there is a small shrine of Radha- Krishna.
BALIKA MANDIR (MUKTI DWARKA):- This is the MUKTI DWARKA mandir as it was from here that Perumal ascended to Sri Vaikuntam after completing HIS incarnation. When Jara, the hunter shot arrow mistaking the Lord’s lotus feet to be deer, the arrow hit the Lord . Jara who came in search of his prey was shocked to see Perumal and repented for his mistake. The convinced him that it was HIS divine plan and informed him about his past birth when he was Vali who was shot by Rama. The Lord added that in this birth, Vaali was born as Jara and Rama as Krishna and fulfilled Vali’s desire.
Amidst recitation of Purusha Suktam by Brahma, Shiva and other devas and rishis and offering rain of flowers, Krishna stepped into an aerial car to ascend to Vaikuntam.Next second, the Lord along with HIS chariot disappeared and took jyoti form. The scriptures mention that when the Lord reached Surya Mandalam, the jyothi turned into an idol and landed at Tirumala to protect the devotees from the evils of kali proclaiming that the would reside at Tirumala (Thiruvengadam) till the end of Kali Yuga . He blessed the devas also to have HIS darshan at Tirumala. “SRIVAIKUNTA VIRAKTHAAYA SWAMI PUSHKARINI THADE….”- has abandoned Srivaikuntam and has chosen to reside on the banks of Swami Pushkarini at Tirumala.
This place is at a distance of 1 km from the place where Jara shot the arrow. Here , Sri Krishna who is very attractive is seen in half reclining,half -sitting posture with His right leg placed on His left leg under a tree. The Lord is clad in 7 yards dhoti (veshti which is bought from Tamilnadu) . In front of the Lord , Jara is seen on his knees seeking forgiveness. On Perumal’s right Thiruvadi ,which we can clearly see facing us,Tulasi leaves are placed. Nearby there is the sacred tree under which Krishna relaxed at the time of completion of HIS incarnation. Daily worship is done to this tree. The temple authorities have placed a net to ensure that the leaves do not fall on the ground. In front of the tree, there is a naagam (Balarama ). In front of the temple, there is a big banyan tree cemented all around. Kaka informed that before departing, Krishna spent time with the gopis who arrived here to have darshan. There is a small temple for Shiva who accompanied by devas offered prayers to the at the time of completion of Lord’s incarnation.
DATE OF VISIT:- 25/05/2009
Reached Veraval from Ahmedabad by Somnath Express at 07.00 A.M on 25th May. Veraval is a small station and is the last one in this route. There were few autos available for local trip. Pilgrims who reach this place directly proceed to Somnath as plenty of rooms are available there. When we were thinking what to do, a young man approached us and asked whether we were interested in engaging a car. We told our plan to visit all the important places and to proceed to Dwarka the same day. After negotiations, the man agreed for Rs.2,500/- towards car hire charges for covering all the important places in Somnath, take us to Porbandhar, Mool Dwarka and drop us at Dwarka. We had some apprehension to travel with him because he was not very appealing to us.
Luckily, the Lord residing as Antharyami had made HIS own plans. The guy had to go somewhere else and he rang up to someone for taking us. Lord sent a devotee named Ramji who was in his fifties as our driver. The guy who acted as mediator informed that the charges what he negotiated was for non-AC car . Being very hot, we were specific for AC and the mediator left it to the driver’s discretion for the extra charges. We agreed to pay Rs.500/- towards AC charges which we felt was very reasonable. The rest of the journey was very peaceful. The driver whom we affectionately addressed as “KAKA” (meaning uncle) was a great devotee and was very cooperative . He shared all his spiritual experiences . We felt comfortable in his company and he took personal interest in taking us to all the important places . A well experienced guide he was, he informed all the details about the places which we visited and made everyone present there chant “BOLO DWARAKADEESH KI JAI HO”/ “RANCHOR RAYA KI JAI HO”. We thanked God profusely for sending such a devotee to us. (We had similar experience in Nepal during our Saalagrama yaathirai – we traveled with a driver who was a devotee of Hanuman for 10 days). Kaka shared his experience of driving great saints like Asharamji Bhaba and other great personalities with whose association he refined himself.
First, we went to Sringeri Sarada Mutt and checked into one of the rooms for refreshing and finishing morning duties. Paid Rs.150/- for the same. Nearby there is a temple
in which there are separate shrines for Ganapathi,Hanuman,Narasimhadev,Radha- Krishna., Triveni Sangamam which is very near to the mutt . This is the confluence of 3 rivers- Gomti, Hiranya and Saraswathi before merging with the sea. Offered milk, puffed rice etc. in the holy waters .
We proceeded to Somnath temple which is app. 4 kms from this place. On the way, he showed us many heavy logs of wood used for construction of boats. Somnath is famous for boat construction . We saw big ships under construction. He said that earlier there was sea route to Mumbai and Okha port from this place and it used to take 3 hours by sea to reach Mumbai.
Pilgrims wearing half pants are not allowed and at the entrance for such devotees, the security provides a dhoti (similar practice is followed in Guruvayoor where men in pants are strictly prohibited from entering the temple) . Monday being very auspicious for Shiva, the temple was crowded with devotees. However, we could have good darshan of the . A very big Shiva lingam is placed in the centre of the garbagriham and continuous abhishekam was going on. Kaka asked us to do pradakshina. He told us that circumbulation has to be done is a semi-circle manner. A small obstruction is placed in the path and one has to return back in the same route. We then visited the new temple wherein a similar size lingam is kept for worship. Followed the same procedure. Photography is strictly prohibited. Ambuja Cements has undertaken the project of beautifying the way leading to the new temple.
On the way had tender coconuts and proceeded to Prabhasa Theertha Kshetra. It is a big area housing Gita Mandir, Balarama Gufa, Shiva lingams, Sri Krishna Paadam, River Hiranya, Sri Lakshmi Narayan mandir. Luckily, we were allowed to carry our camcorder and take photographs of this sacred location at all places except Somnath temple.
We visited Balika Theerth- a small temple enshrining Radha Krishna idols from where Jara shot the arrow and then went to Balika Mandir.
This is the place where Krishna was reclining when the arrow was shot. The sitting in a reclining posture with HIS right leg placed on left , with Jara in knees seeking forgiveness is very attractive. The attractive smile on the ’s thirumugam is beyond expression. We just could not take our eyes off from the Thiruvadi –left thirvadi pointing straight and right thiruvadi on an elevated position as it is kept on left knee. There is a small naagam (balarama) near the holy tree . Kaka informed us that the tree which is hundreds of years old is still alive and is considered very sacred ,special pooja is done to the tree. (This practice is followed at Kurukshetra too. The tree under which did Geeadesham to Arjuna (Bhagavad Gita ) is still existing and a net is placed to ensure that the leaves do not fall on the ground. We were lucky to get a dry leaf from one of the nets in Kurukshetra ) While doing pradakshinam , we tried to collect leaves as in Kurukshetra but in vain as they have constructed a roof . The pujari informed that they get the cloth from Tamilnadu for adorning the Lord. We offered to buy few veshtis and offer it to the Lord. Initially, the pujari did not allow us to take photographs. But after requesting and agreeing to pay him some donation, he gave his consent. We just could not take our eyes off from Lord’s Thirumeni. Remembered all our devotees relatives and prayed on their behalf.
Having visited all the important places in Veravel, our next destination was Porbandhar. On the way we traversed thru Choupad, a small village which is the birthplace of the famous industrialist, Dhirubhai Ambani of Reliance fame. Kaka showed us the old building and informed that a palatial building has been constructed in the same village . He also shared with us Ambani’s contribution for development of this village.
After having lunch in one of the Gujarati hotels on the Highway, we passed thru Madhavpur, a small village on the shores of Arabian Sea. Some say that Krishna married Rukmini at this place whereas others believe that Rukma, the brother of Rukmini who fought with Krishna was defeated and humbled at this place. . Went to the sea shore and relaxed for some time. An hour’s drive took us to Porbandhar. On the way, Kaka sped at a roadside temple dedicated to local goddess. He informed that whoever passes by this route should take the blessings of the diety and in case they don’t have time, they should atleast halt for a minute in front of temple. Kaka went inside the temple, offered a coconut and returned whilst we stayed in the car itself.
TEMPLE VISITED: SUDAMA DWARKA (one of the 9 Dwarakas)-
the hut in which Sudama lived turned into a palatial
building overnight due to the grace of Sri Krishna.
PRESIDING DIETY : Rukmini- Krishna sannidhi. Sudama with his wife, Susheela are also seen
LOCATION : PORBANDHAR in Gujarat- the birth place of Mahatma Gandhi.
This is on the way from Veraval to Dwarka
HOW TO REACH :- Bus /car from Dwarka or Veraval
WHERE TO STAY:- There are hotels in Porbandhar but with keeping Dwarka as
base, we can visit this place.
STHALAPURANAM:- The story of Sudama , also known as Kuchelan is well known even to children .Elders narrate this bedtime story to children and inculcate the habit of offering to God right from childhood.
Kuchelan (Sudama) and Sri Krishna were childhood friends and studied under the same guru, Sandipani. Once when Krishna and Sudama went into the forest for collecting wood, it started raining and they had to take shelter under a tree. At that time , both of them were hungry. Sudama , without offering to Krishna munched puffed rice (Avul in tamil) without sharing with Krishna and when Krishna asked him he denied. When Krishna punched his stomach, he spit the avul. This was a childish prank played at that time. After completion of their studies, both of them parted their ways. Since Sudama did not offer to , in due course, he became poor and having married, was overburdened with 27 children. There was no food to eat. Being a Brahmin he did not even know any other profession and did not make any effort to earn his livelihood. Being a matured devotee, he was only seeking salvation and was not interested in material pursuits. He was constantly thinking of the and was nurturing the desire to see Krishna . His wife, Susheela suggested that he should meet his friend, Krishna who was now the king of Dwarka for financial help as she could no longer see their children starving. Sudama was delighted at the proposal because he could meet his friend after many years but was not interested in asking for material benefits. As stated in scriptures that something has to be offered while meeting a king/elderly/sick person, he wanted to take something with him to be offered to the . Susheela borrowed some puffed rice from the neighbours, tied it in a worn out cloth and gave it to Sudama. It took 2 months for Sudama to reach Dwarka from Porbandhar and 4 months to locate Sri Krishna’s palace. Sudama informed the dwarapalakas that he was Krishna’s friend and wanted to meet him. The dwarapalakas did not believe him and asked him to move out of the place. At that time, Sri Krishna came running and affectionately hugged Sudama and took him to His palace.
Sri Krishna along with His eight principal consorts served Sudama with the best of everything. The of the Universe along with Thayar Rukmini did paada puja(pooja to his feet) to Sudama while the other consorts were helping in offering shodasa upacharams to the great bhakta. After sumptuously feeding Sudama with varieties of food, Krishna asked what he brought for HIM.. Sudama was feeling very shy to offer the avul and was trying to hide the bundle but Sri Krishna snatched it from him and put a fistful of it in His mouth with great relish. When the Lord was trying to take it for the second time, Rukmini Devi refrained Him saying that one fistful was more than sufficient. Sudama did not understand this and returned home. All the way, he was constantly thinking about his friend and contemplating on HIM . When he reached his village, he could not locate his thatched hut and in that place, he found a palatial building. While he was worrying about the whereabouts of his family, a lady bedecked with jewellery and dressed like a queen appeared before him and fell prostrate at his feet. Sudama could not recognize his wife. Susheela narrated how overnight the hut turned into a palace and about the wealth bestowed on them due to Sri Krishna’s grace. He could not recognize his own children who were looking like royal princes. Sudama understood that Krishna showered HIS mercy by eating a handful of puffed rice and bestowed all the riches on him. This incident only enhanced Sudama’s bhakti and with detachment and pure devotion , he attained the Lotus feet of the Lord .
OUR EXPERIENCE:- DATE OF VISIT: 25/05/09
“SUDAMAPURI” written on an arc in the entrance welcomed us . With trees and plants abundantly planted, it was more like a garden. On the way to the temple, Kaka who accompanied us , showed us a small stone layout with narrow paths and many twisting lanes saying that the way to Dwarka was similar to this . He said that when Sudama set out for Dwarka to meet Sri Krishna, he wandered thru the streets and took 4 months to meet Sri Krishna. He was searching for the entrance and asked DWAAR KAHAN .. which now got corrupted as DWARAKA .An old devotee who was sitting there was doing some kirtan and suggested to pass through the layout. It is customary for visitors to go thru the layout and if they successfully come out , they would achieve their goal of meeting the and their bhakti would be enhanced. Only one foot can be placed in the narrow pathway . Holding the prashad (Dry fruits) above our head and amidst chanting of Hare Krishna Maha mantra (kaka was encouraging us ), all four of us successfully completed the task and came out. The devotee was pleased when we gave some dakshinai to him. He blessed and advised us never ever ignore your Parents and Elders . We then went inside the temple. In the sannidhi, there are small vigrahams of Krishna, Rukmini, Sudama and Susheela. There were photographs of Krishna washing Sudama’s feet, Sudama in search of Sri Krishna, Sudama being flanked by Krishna’s consorts.
After taking few photographs, left the temple and visited Kirti Bhavan, Gandhiji’s residence which is about 5 minutes drive from the temple. Kirti Bhavan is a national monument as it is the birth place of Mahatma Gandhi. There is a big statue of Gandhiji in the entrance . Inside the 3 storeyed house, cameras are not allowed but photographs can be taken from outside. There are 22 rooms The building is an old one .Being a national monument, government has taken all measures to preserve it . Anyone who violates would be punishable. Government undertakes maintenance work by regularly painting the doors and windows and keeping the huz in good condition.
In the ground floor, there is a portrait of Mahatma Gandhi’s parents. The interesting feature is that of his father’s eyes. Look from any angle and you will feel that Gandhiji’s father is directly staring at you. Gandhiji was the last son to his parents. A very very narrow flight of steps led us to the upper portions of the house. Kasturba Gandhi(wife of Mahatma Gandhi’s wife)’s house which is behind Kirti Bhavan can be seen from the balcony . We were shown a hollow hole in the first floor which was used to keep money from where Gandhiji stole few paisas and was beaten by his father. Had the opportunity to see Gandhiji’s study room in second floor. This incident made him resolve that he would never steal in his life. In the second floor, there is a small room which was used as a study room by Gandhiji .
In the ground floor, outside the old house, there is an extension of the building which was constructed by Gandhiji’s descendants later containing Gandhiji’s memoirs- the books, the utensils, his handwritten letters, his photographs, newspaper clippings , his clothes etc are kept safely here.
From here we continued our journey to Mool Dwaraka and reached the temple at 1900 hours (7.00 p.m.) .
TEMPLE VISITED: MOOL DWARKA (one of the 9 Dwarakas)-
PRESIDING DIETY : Rukmini- Krishna sannidhi. Also separate sannidhis for Gayatri,Savitri, Shiva,Parvathi, Ganapathi, Murugan, Narsimhadev, Hanuman etc
LOCATION : Porbandhar-Dwarka route beyond Rajkot
HOW TO REACH :- Bus /car from Dwarka or Veraval
STHALAPURANAM:- It is well known that Jarasandha, the father-in-law of the wicked Kamsa wanted to avenge his son-in-law’s death in the hands of Sri Krishna . To pacify his 2 widowed daughters, he marched with his army on Mathura many times where Krishna was residing with his parents.
Every time Jarasandha attacked Mathura, Krishna and Balarama used to defeat his army but let him go without killing as Krishna wanted to reduce the earth’s burden by killing wicked people and Jarasandha was destined to be killed later by Bhima .On one such occasion, Krishna escaped from the battlefield with Balarama and started running away. Jarasandha chased them but could not catch hold of them as they climbed on a mountain and disappeared from his sight. Jarasandha presumed that they had died and returned to his kingdom. In order to protect His citizens from the frequent enemy attacks, Krishna arrived at this place and summoned Viswakarma, the deva-loka architect to construct a palace in the sea. The sea –God offered land to Krishna for construction of city. Thus Dwaraka was constructed overnight and all the yadavas were transported safely to this place. With His divine powers, ensured that the sea never crossed its limits and Dwarka was well protected thus ensuring that His people were safe whenever He went for battle. As this was the place where put His foot first, this is known as “MOOLA DWARAKA”. When arrived here, Shiva, Brahma and other devas offered prayers to the here. There is a deep well near the temple where Krishna had His holy bath. Even during severe drought, this well doesn’t get dried up.
OUR EXPERIENCE AT MOOLA DWARKA
DATE OF VISIT: 25/05/09
We reached the temple at 7.00 P.M.-20 minutes before evening aarthi. Recited Vishnu Sahasranamam and took some photographs. The temple is maintained hereditarily by priests who reside with their families near the temple. It was very calm and serene and best time for meditation. The main diety is Dwarakadeesh and there are small sannidhis for Radha- Krishna, Sita-Rama , Lakshmi-Narayan and demi-gods like Saraswathi,Gayatri, Ganapathi, Subramanya Swami, Dakshinamurthy, Shiva-Parvathi. We participated in the aarthi, offered the prasadam which we took with us . Also bought Prasad for Rs.10/- which was sold by the pujari’s son. Kaka took us to a nearby well saying that Krishna had His holy bath here. A board is displayed describing this incident. A steep flight of steps leads us to the well. As it was dark, we did not get down the steps. There was another sannidhi for Shiva’s family. Cows keep moving about freely.
After praying to the Lord, we left the place. As per our plan, we decided to stay one day in Veraval and reach Dwaraka only on 26thnight. But as finished visiting all the places in and around Veravel and were near Dwarka, we decided to reach Dwaraka on 25th night itself. We tried to contact ISKCON , Dwarka about our preponement but could not do so as there was no response when we called them over phone. We later learnt that their phone was out of order.
Kaka said that it would take 90 mintues for us to reach Dwarka. So, sitting in the car , we started our evening bhajans and kaka also joined us. On the way, he took us to a temple dedicated to Bhavani (Harsiddhi maatha) and narrated the incidents connected with King Krishnadevaraya. As the king’s name is famous for “Vikram-Bhetal stories”(how he used to carry ghost on his back, ghost narrating a story, asking him to reply and used to leave him once he gave the correct answer…… -the stories which we used to read in our childhood days) , out of inquisitiveness, decided to visit this temple. Near the entrance, there are sannidhis for Hanuman and Ganapathi. Few steps led us to the main shrine. Beside the main sannidhi, on the left, there is a jhoola with the diety’ s photo. Kaka said that King Krishnadevaraya meditated at this place on Ambal for 12 years and when Goddess appeared before him and conferred a boon, he asked her to accompany him to Ujjain . Goddess consented to his request and left the place. A replica of the goddess was kept here. Kaka told us that every evening when aarthi is given to the goddess at Ujjain, this jhoola would automatically move to and fro and after this movement ss, aarthi is given to this goddess. Such is the power of this diety. He showed us the place where Krishnadevaraya did penance.
After making some purchases in nearby shop, continued our journey to Dwarka. The roads were dark with no street lights but somehow managed to reach Dwaraka at 10.30 P.M. Locating ISKCON was easy. Luckily, the prabhus were awake and a room was allotted in the first floor. Though the accommodation is free for life members, they said that they would be charging Rs.100/- per day towards building construction. Kaka offered to show the remaining Dwarakas and also other important places in Dwaraka the next day for a nominal amount of R.800/- and we accepted the offer. As the hotels were closed, we had some delicious lassi and retired for the night.
DWARKADEESH KI JAI
TEMPLES VISITED: Gomti Dwaraka (Main temple)- one of the nine Dwarkas
Rukmini Dwaraka-one of the nine Dwarkas
Bhet Dwaraka-one of the nine Dwarkas
Nageshwar – one of 12 jyotir lingams
LOCATION : DWARKA
HOW TO REACH:- 1) all Okha Port bound trains from Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Puri and other important places s at Dwarka
2) regular bus services from Ahmedabad, Rajkot, Porbandhar, Veraval and other cities in Gujarat
3) car services are also available from Veraval
WHERE TO STAY:- Hotels, choultries, mutts are available
ISKCON has its guest house near the temple
WHERE TO EAT:- Being a famous Vaishnavite pilgrim centre, there are only
Vegetarian hotels offering Gujarati meals
PRESIDING DIETY : DWARAKADEESH (Sri Krishnan)
In order to protect His people from the frequent enemy attacks, Krishna summoned Viswakarma and ordered him to construct Dwarka in the Arabian Sea. The Sea God was instructed to give land in the middle of the sea which was always protected by Krishna’s divine power. This is known as Gomti Dwaraka as it is on the banks of River Gomti. Due to divine will, the city was constructed overnight and all the Yadavas were transported from Mathura to Dwarka and lived happily. The palaces were made of gold. It was the wealthiest city as the Goddess of Fortune Herself resided here.
As mentioned earlier, the place where first placed His foot is Moola Dwaraka.
Krishna with His 16,108 consorts lived here like a typical Gruhasta and in many occasions showed how a Gruhasta should behave. Perumal ruled over the Universe from this place. Krishna married Rukmini, Satyabhama, Nappinai, Jambavathi, and so on and these 8 wives are known as Astha Mahishis. By killing Narakasura, Krishna rescued 16,000 captivated girls at whose request HE married them. He took 16000 forms and married all the girls at the same time.
When Draupadi surrendered to Krishna for protection, she addressed Krishna as “Dwarakanilai achyuta”- one who resides in Dwaraka.
When Sage Narada was curious to know how Krishna managed with so many consorts, he was astonished to see the Lord with each of His consort performing various activities at the same time. Everyday, all the forms of Krishna used to leave the respective palaces but while entering the court, all the forms used to get merged with Him.
It was in Dwarka that the exhibited his fondness to Sudama .
It was here that Lord exhibited that the gopis attachment to the was much superior than even His consorts’ devotion.
Thus there are innumerable incidents connected with Sri Krishna’s life here.
ABOUT THE TEMPLE(JAGAT MANDIR):-
Dwarka was to be submerged into the sea within 7 days of Krishna’s departure . Before leaving for Prayag, Krishnaordered the sea to leave 12 yojnas of land from drowning.
The original temple was constructed by Krishna’s great grandson, Vajranabha (son of Aniruddha) with the help of Viswakarma as per Vaastu Shastra . The structure of the temple is like that of Sri Chakram.
The height of the temple known as “Jagat Mandir” is 150 feet. There are 2 entrances to the temple-Swarg Dwar and Mukti Dwar.
The flag on the spire of the temple declares that Dwarkadeesh is the ruler.The flag measures 40 feet -52 gaj (a unit of measurement) . The number 52 signifes the 27 stars, 12 rashis, 9 Navagrahas and the 4 main directions-north, south, east, west. The flag is stitched in a specific design.
As part of their offering , Devotees usually undertake to change the flag when their wish is fulfilled. The flag is changed thrice daily. Morning between 8 A.M. and 11 A.M., second time between 11A.M. AND 12.30 P.M. and in the evening between 5 P.M. and 6.30 P.M. Booking for this has to be done atleast 3 months in advance. The flag would be taken round the temple streets ceremoniously before offering in the temple.
Only authorized persons can go to the of the temple and change the flag. This is hereditary. Being on the sea shore, heavy winds keep blowing but these persons do not wear any safety belt. Dwarkadeesh saves them.
From the cloth used as a flag, the priests and other service providers of the temple stitch shirts.
ABOUT THE DIETY:- Dwarkadeesh is seen holding Sankhu, Chakram, Gadam and Padmam with an enchanting smile. The temple priest informed that Lord wears wresting belt , has a black snake round HIS waist, Bhakti and Mukti are at HIS feet, wears Kaustabham and Vanamaala. The Lord holds a stick and a flute . The Lord is dressed in various forms-like a child, like a ruler etc.During summer, in the nights, the is dressed with jasmine flowers (like Pulangi seva in Tirumala. Usually in South Indian temples, the Lord is adorned with various types of flower maalas(strung with the thread) and placed round Lord’s shoulder. But here, the dress itself is stitched with flowers artistically. It is difficult to make out that it is a floral dress. It resembles like dress made of pearls.
Chappan bhog (56 items of varieties of food) are offered as Raj Bhog to the Lord . Every day 6 aarthis are performed to the Lord . On Sri Krishna Janmashtami, the Lord is given special aarthi at the stroke of 12 in midnight. Thousands of devotees throng to the temple to have HIS darshan. Inside the garbagriham, we find the utsava murthis of Rukmini and Krishna, Radha and Krishna.
The colours of clothes adorned by the Lord are pre-determined as per the days. On Sunday, the Lord wears Red colour, Monday-Pink, Tuesday-Yellow,Wednesday-Green, Thursday-orange, Frinday-white and Saturday-Blue. All the temple kainkaryakaarars(service providers) including the priests wear the same colour dress.
Exactly opposite to the shrine of Dwarkadeesh is Devaki’s shrine. Near the entrance on the right side, we find a small shrine for Balaraman. Balaraman is in the form of Adiseshan. There are separate shrines for the Ashta mahishis (8 wives) of Krishna, Radha- Krishna, Satyanarayana Swamy, Madhavji
25 years ago, it was in front of Madhavji temple, Prana prathistha for the idols of Radha-Dwarkadeesh and Srila Prabhupada took place for 5 days. The idols were earlier taken around Dwarka temple before this ritual. The idols were later shifted to ISKCON Dwarka.
On the seventh day after the departure of the Lord to His heavenly abode, Dwarka was submerged into the sea. In the Srimad Bhagavatam it is stated that Sri Krishna propounded Udhava Gita and ordered Uddhava to take the elderly, children and women from Dwarka to Hastinapur as the city would be submerged into the sea. The idol form of Narayana which was worshipped by Krishna Himself was carried by Guru and Vayu and placed at present Guruvayur in Kerala.
Archeological Department of India have found out that few thousands of precious metals lie submerged in the sea. Even today the remains of the palaces can be found in the adjoining Gomti river known as “Gomti Chakram”. This is considered as Lakshmi swaroopam and is treated at par with our Saalagrama shilas.We can also find vendors selling different types of stones (nava rathinams) here.
The temple was first constructed by Krishna’s grandson and later by other kings.
DATE OF VISIT :26/05/2009
Being a life member of ISKCON, we had already booked our room at ISKCON guest house in Dwarka for 3 days from 26th to 28th May. Fortunately, the prabhus were kind enough to allot room on 25th itself. Woke up hearing the sound of cymbals and bells as mangala aarthi at 4 .A.M. started in ISKCON mandir. Joined in their prayers and when the curtains were drawn for the diety’s abhishekam, myself accompanied by my wife went to Dwarakadeesh mandir which is about 7 minutes walk from ISKCON. :- Devotees were lined up in a queue to have darshan of the Lord. Perumal was beautifully dressed up like a typical cowherd boy holding Sankhu, Chakram, Gadam,Lotus. A small stick used for grazing cows and a flute are also placed. The idol is beautifully carved as it was done by GOD HIMSELF. Opposite to Perumal’s sannidhi, is the sannidhi of Devaki, mother of Krishna. The sannidhis for the 8 chief consorts of the Lord , sannidhi for Radha- Krishna, Satyanarayana Swamy , Balaram sannidhi are in the outer precincts of the garbagriham. Pilgrims were singing some Gujarati songs .The devotees were exhibiting their unalloyed bhakti in many ways – by singing, by raising slogans”Ranchor Raya Ki jai” etc. as for our turn, we were reciting few divya prabhandha pasurams which we knew by heart and singing the bhajans “GOVINDA MADHAVA GOPALA KESAVA,…, GOVINDA HARI HARI GOPALA HARI HARI RADHA RAMANA HARI HARI….., we had seva to our heart’s content. Resolved to visit the temple in the evening along with children and participate in night aarthi too. After doing a pradakshinam, we left the temple and reached ISKCON.
On the way back to our guest house, we passed by Gomti river which was already crowded with devotees for having bath and passed by Prema bhikshu Prahbu’s bhajan kutir where 24 hours non-s kirtan of SRI RAM JAI RAM JAI JAI RAM is being sung for the past 40 years. We recollected having seen this ashram at Verval near Gita Mandir.
Shringar Aarthi at ISKCON was going on for Radha- Krishna and participated in the same. When we checked up for prashad, they said that it may not be possible because these 2 young priests have to do temple duties along with their regular sadhana. They don’t even have a servant and how these 2 young devotees – a Keralite, Sri Kamalakannan dasa and a Tamilian from tirunelveli maintain the temple attending to all sorts of work is really appreciable . Meanwhile, our children got ready and kaka was also waiting for us in his car .
We drove to Rukmini Dwarka which is about 7-10 kms from the main temple.
TEMPLE VISITED: RUKMINI DWARKA-one of the nine Dwarkas
LOCATION : 7 KMS from Dwarka- Share autos, cabs are available
PRESIDING DIETY : KRISHNA-RUKMINI, sannidhi for Sage Durvasa
STHALAPURANAM: This happens to be the place where Krishna wedded Rukmini . Rukmini, the chief of 16,108 consorts of Krishna was very devoted to the Lord. Born as a Vidarbha princess , she used to listen to various pastimes of Krishna and developed an intense love for Krishna and decided to marry HIM or else end her life.Though her parents were interested in getting her married to Krishna, her brother, Rukmi was against it and wanted her to marry Sisupalan, Krishna’s cousin and made all arrangements for the same. She communicated Her desire thru a Brahmin to be conveyed to the Lord and requested to be kidnapped from her palace and also mentioned that she would be visiting ambal’s temple before marriage ceremony and it would be easy for Krishna to kidnap her from that place. Krishna also expressed HIS desire to the Brahmin and left for Vidarbha immediately and reached the next morning. When the Brahmin informed Rukmini about Lord’s arrival, she thanked the Brahmin and prostrated at his feet as SHE , the Lokamatha thought that prostration was the only befitting gift to the Brahmin. When Rukmini was returning from Ambal temple, Krishna appeared like a lightning and effortlessly kidnapped Rukmini Devi like a lion which snatches its food amonst wolves. When the assembled kings including Jarasandhan and Sisupalan fought with Krishna, Krishna and Balarama defeated the entire army. Rukmi was humbled by Krishna but was saved due to Balaraman’s intervention. The celestial wedding of Krishnaand Rukmini took place grandly at Dwarka. She was very dedicated and derived immense pleasure in performing all types of services to the Lord like massaging His Holy feet and personally offering various kainkaryams to the Lord . She demonstrated how a devotee irrespective of his/her position should serve the Lord. Gradually, She nurtured a feeling that She was more dearer to the Lord than other consorts.
Whenever a devotee entertains the thought that he is dearer to the Lord and becomes possessive, Perumal immediately enacts some drama and make them realize their folly. (In Vrindavan during Rasakreedai, when the Gopis including Radha Rani, thought that they were dearer to Krishna as He was dancing with them, the immediately disappeared. The gopikas were crying piteously and their outpour for the union with the is the famous “Gopika Geetham”. They were so captivated with the form of Krishna that even when Krishna appeared as Narayana with 4 arms, they were not content. They only wanted their form of Krishna. Krishna appeared and pacified them that they were very dear to them and He disappeared only to increase their Bhakti ) does this out of pure compassion towards the devotee.
In this case, Lord wanted to correct Rukmini and hence created an opportunity to enact His Leela. Krishna accompanied by Rukmini went to sage Durvasar’s hermitage and invited him for lunch. A chariot was brought forth for the sage to be seated. However the sage said that he could not sit in a chariot driven by horses and if it was driven by them ,he was prepared to visit them. The Lord of the Universe unhesitatingly agreed for the same. The Lord along with Rukmini Thayar drove the chariot. Due to the scorching heat and tiresomeness, Rukmini felt thirsty and expressed the desire to quench Her thirst. Krishna pressed HIS toe on the ground and water sprouted out. As she was desperately thirsty, Rukmini forgot the decorum to take the rishi’s permission for quenching HER thirst and drank the water. This infuriated the rishi who cursed Her to live separately from HER Lord Krishna as the pride that She was more dearer to Krishna made her behave in this way. He also cursed that the entire area would be bereft of drinking water. Rukmini realized HER mistake and fell prostrate at the sage’s feet and asked for forgiveness. The rishi said that She has to live separately for 12 years and then join the Lord. (Mother Sita had to live in Rama’s separation for 12 months and Rukmini Devi had to live alone for 12 years). Thus Rukmini’s pride was subdued . However, Krishna assured her that He would visit her daily. As She stayed here for 12 years, this place came to be known as “Rukmini Dwaraka”. (Some say that Rukmini got married toKrishna at this place.) One gets only half the punyam if he visits only Gomti (Main) Dwaraka. Dwaraka yaatrai is deemed to be complete only after visiting Rukmini Dwaraka . Even today , there is no drinkable water around this area and the residents have to get water from far off places by paying Rs.300/ -per barrel. Hence, in this place “jhala dhaanam” (water dhanam) done gives 1000 times benefit.
OUR EXPERIENCE:- It was a pleasant morning. Located in a serene place , with the sea breeze blowing softly, it was the perfect time to meditate in the presence of Thayar as She acts as a mediator between us and Perumal and represents on our behalf. When we reached the temple, curtains were drawn as bhog(neivedyam) was being offered to the Lordship . The assembled devotees were asked to sit in front of the garbagriham and a panda narrated the above incident. Pointing to a big picture on the right side, the panda started narrating the above incident that it gives 1000 times benefit. Thinking of everyone related to us, donated Rs.100/ for each one of them on their behalf. In return, the panda gave us some sweet packet as prashad and a small yellow cloth to be kept in the altar. Gave some money as charity to the disciplined under privlieged (about 50 of them) who share equally amongst themselves whatever is given to them. A great unity among them
TEMPLE VISITED: BHET DWARKA-one of the nine Dwarkas
LOCATION : 15-20 KMS from Dwarka situated near Okha Port- the last tip of the west coast
PRESIDING DIETY : DWARKADEESH with separate sannidhis for His consorts and mother Devaki. There are separate sannidhis for Perumal,HIS mother Devaki, His 8 chief consorts, Purushotham, Lakshmi Narayan, Dhauji(Balaraman),Radha_ Krishna, Satyanarayana Swamy ,Madhava Perumal, Garuda. .
STHALAPURANAM: “Bhet” in Gujarati means island. As this is situated in an island, it is named so. This was the pleasure spot for the Lord with HIS consorts. Legend says that Krishna used to spend time with HIS consorts in this place. There is a temple situated on of a hillock. This is considered as one of the 9 Dwarakas. As per the locas devotees, this place was part of Krishna’s palace and when the original Dwarka was submerged into the sea, this place remained intact. Thus they claim this to be the original Dwarka.
OUR EXPERIENCE:- From Rukmini Dwaraka, we proceeded to Bhet Dwarka which is situated on an island. Reached Okha port and after parking our vehicle in a nearby place, we proceeded to take a boat. We rememberd our previous visit regarding non-availability of drinking water . After having some fresh buttermilk and purchasing water bottles, we bought tickets for boat ride. Cost Rs.5/- per head one way. We can purchase tickets for return journey here itself. Also purchased some pori (Bhel- puffed rice) as food for fish. The boat in which we travelled was over crowded as it was 11 .A.M. and probably the last trip to the temple for morning darshan. It took nearly 15 minutes for us to reach the other shore. Alighted from the boat and took the narrow path towards the temple. Chanting Mahamantra, we had good darshan of Dwarkadeesh. Similar vigraham like in Dwarka but of a smaller size. Opposite to Perumal’s sannidhi is Mother Devaki’s sannidhi. In Perumal temples, opposite to the garbagriham, we usually find Peria Thiruvadi(Garudan)’s sannidhi but in Dwaraka, we find Devaki’s sannidhi.
After offering neivedyam and circumbulating the temple , we left the temple at 12 noon to take the return boat to the mainland. Offering dakshina in Dwarka is very important. Donated some money for”Go Samrakshana” protection of cows. From this point, we can clearly see Pakistan border across the sea and the Pakistani navy posted there. Kaka was referring to the recent 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks adding that from the Pakistan border, the terrorists took a boat to Porbandhar which is also a sea coast and then shifted to an Indian ship. He also pointed out to some wrecks stating that it was due to the earthquake which occurred in 2001(Khuj earthquake). We recollected having seen the structures before the quake in 2000. Luckily, we got place to sit in the boat in our return journey. From Bhet Dwarka, we went to Gopi Talab, a very sacred place to Krishna’s devotees.
Other PLACES VISITED: GOPI TALAB , a holy tank and an adjacent temple
LOCATION : Bhet Dwarrka- Dwaraka route via Nageshwar
PRESIDING DIETY : Gopi Talab- the sacred well from where Gopi Chandan is collected (used by ISKCON, Gaudiya and madhava Sampradhaya Vaishnavas), and a small temple dedicated to Radha- Krishna temple
STHALAPURANAM: There are 2 incidents which may be recollected in connection with Gopis.
This refers to one of the pastimes of the Lord when He wanted to prove that the gopika bhakti was superior to that of His consorts. The consorts of Lord Krishna developed superiority complex that they were very dear to the Lord and the best bhaktas of the Lord . In order to check their ago, Lord enacted a drama. He pretended as HE was suffering from severe headache. The best of physicians were called and best treatment was given to the but the headache would not subside. AT that time, Sage Narada arrived in Dwarka to have Perumal’s darshan. The perplexed mahishis (wives) of the told the rishi about ’s illness. Narada who understood Perumal’s play suggested that if some dust from devotee’s feet is rubbed on Perumal’s forehead , the headache would subside. The shocked wives backed out because they felt that it was not proper to place their dust on Perumal’s forehead. The news spread about everywhere. When the gopis of Vrindavan heard this, they immediately rushed to see the Lord and filled up carts full of their paadha dhooli (dust from their feet) to be applied on ’s forehead. They did not even think that they would be committing a serious offence by this petty act. They were only concerned about their Krishna’s well being and so were prepared to even go to hell for the sin they were committing. The moment the paadah dhooli of the gopikas were applied on HIS head, the Lord was relieved from the pain.. Thus the Lord showed that the gopis unalloyed prema bhakti was the best among all. After spending few days with Krishna , the gopis had to leave for Vrindavan.
Unable to bear the pangs of separation from Krishna , on the way, they jumped into a well at this place to end up their lives. They were turned into chandan by Krishna’s grace. Krishna pleased with their devotion declared that the place has become very sacred and Himself would smear the chandan from that place. Hence, this place is considered to be very sacred and whoever visits this place would be bestowed with unalloyed bhakti towards the Lord . Even after thousands of years, we are able to get chandan from this inexhaustible well.
Second incident:- While ascending to Vaikuntam, Krishna ordered Arjuna to take care of all the women folk and children and leave them at Hastinapur. On the way, unable to bear the pangs of separation from Sri Krishna, the gopis jumped into this well and ended their lives.
The fact that the gopis out of separation jumped into this well and thinking of the attained the Highest Bliss –moksham in this place is common in both the incidents. Gopi chandan collected from this place is considered to be very sacred. Even today, most of the devotees of Sri Krishna including Gaudiya Vaishnavas, ISKCON devotees, Pusti Vaishnavas etc . apply this on their forehead.
OUR EXPERIENCE: Reached Gopi Talab and offering prayers in the temple, visited the talab(tank). Some people were collecting the chandan from the inexhaustible talaab. Purchased gopi chandan rolls for personal use and for giving to other devotees. Had water melon and left the place at about 2.30 P.M. Photography and video are not restricted here. Purchased water melons and fed the cows with the same.
TEMPLE VISITED :- NAGESHWAR
LOCATION :- near Dwarka
OUR EXPERIENCE:- Nageshwar, is one of the twelve jyotirlingas and is considered very sacred for devotees of shiva. During our first visit to Dwarka, we did not visit this temple as renovation work was going done. Late Gulshan Kumar, music director, owner of T series had renovated the entire temple by spending few lakhs on the renovation. At the entrance, there is a big statue of Shiva measuring more than 30 feet. There is a big bhajan hall in front of the garbagriham which displays a big photograph of the late musician. Here , abhishkeam for Shiva takes place round the clock. Vendors were selling milk in kalasams and other pooja items in the hall. Devotees can go near the lingam and give their offerings for abhishekam. We joined the queue for darshan. Children were tired and stayed back in the car itself. The temple was flooded with devotees.
Having visited all the important places in Dwarka, we returned to ISKCON guest house after having Gujarati lunch in a nearby hotel. The priest was waiting for us to have prashad. Though they expressed their inability to give us prashad , the priest somehow cooked for us and was waiting without having lunch. We were embarrassed by this kind gesture and apologized for the delay. As we had lunch, we took little prashad and said that we would have the remaining in the night. After settling the dues to the car driver, we bid goodbye to kaka. We relished every moment with him and he too reciprocated with the same feeling. Falling at this elderly person’s feet was that all we could do and was the only way of expressing our gratitude to him. Yes, he was GOD-SENT for us. Relaxed for sometime in the room. We assembled for the evening aarthi. For 2 hours, we were doing kirtans accompanied by the sounds of dol, cymbals and harmonium. Children sang few devotional songs (annamayya , Ramdas keerthanas ). Then listened to Bhagavad Gita and recited important slokas from Bhakti Yoga. After the night aarthi, had prashad, went to a Cybercafe which is about 10 minutes walk from the temple for canceling our Sleeper Class tickets as 2 of our AC berths were confirmed. We were confident that the remaining tickets would also get confirmed. As only 48 hours was left , we decided to cancel the tickets without further delay.
From there, visited “Prema bhikshu Prahbu’s bhajan kutir situated opposite to ISKCON where 24 hours non s Rama naama kirtan is performed . This saint is from Bihar and for the past 40 years, non s sankeertan accompanied by musical instruments is going on at Dwarka, Veraval and few other places in Gujarat. After spending about an hour, retired for the night. Thanked Perumal for His abundant grace in making our journey ot Nava Dwarkas the most memorable . We were recollecting a picture of Panduranga carrying His devotees while holding Saint Namdev’s hand. HIS soulabhyam is indescribable.
27/05/2009, 28/05/09:- Having visited all the places, we decided to spend the next 2 days in the holy dham. On 27/05/09, after having holy bath in River Gomati, visited Dwarakadeesh temple along with children through Swarg Dwar. On the way, we came across some devotees who were carrying the flag to be hoisted in the temple singing bhajans and going round the streets around the temple. We decided to make some offering as thanks-giving in ISKCON temple and purchased varieties of fruits, honey, dry fruits (for panchamrutham), and items required for making pongal, bendi vetha kuzhambu and chakkarai pongal . We explained to the pujari about preparation of these dishes . We volunteerd to do some service in the temple like cleaning etc. While thus engaged in temple service, we got news about my daughter’s SSC results and were overwhelmed with Perumal’s grace by making her one of the school pers. Thanked God profusely for His abundant grace . The whole day was full of excitement with relatives calling and congratulating . In the evening we decided to spend some time near seashore and visit Samudraraja temple and other temples nearby. During our first visit to Dwarka, the temple was surrounded by water on all sides but now the place had become dry. This is the place where River Gomti joins the sea . From the sea , we proceeded to Dwarkadeesh temple passing by Gomti river. Many vendors were selling eatables for fish and cows which were moving about freely near the ghats. After feeding the cows and fish, we planned to vist the temple through Mukti Dwar. A flight of steps leads us to the temple building. But as we had cameras, we were not allowed to go inside and had to satisfy ourselves by paying our obeisances from here itself. Did some last minute shopping,-buying gifts to my siblings and friends . Had dinner in a hotel run by a family in their house itself. (Forgot one of the gift packs containing dozen of Krishna’s murthis which we wanted to give as gift along with other prasadams and holy waters from various rivers and sea. )
On 28th morning, we decided to have samudra snaanam. We recollected Sowmyanarayanan mama’s words that the sea at Dwarka is known as “Arasethu “ and bath can be had at any time here which is an exception. Usually, samudra snanam has to be done only on specific days but samudra snanam at Sethukarai- Thirupullani(Rameswaram) and Dwarka can be had at any time. So, we had bath in the sea and also at the confluence of the Gomti river with the sea . Took an auto to ISKCON and from there proceeded to Dwarkadeesh temple. While returning , we once again went to the bhajan kutir and took few snaps. Finsihed last minute packing etc. Could not locate the Krishna’s idols which we purchased the previous day. After noon aarthi at ISKCON, we decided to have lunch in the same place where we had the previous night. Luckily, the packet was there as it is . On the way back, bought dresses for my brother’s children and IPOD charger. After thanking the ISKCON priests for their wonderful hospitality , we took an auto to Dwarka station to board Okha-Puri Express to reach Ahmedabad. Boarded the train at 1430 hours and reached Ahmedabad at 2300 hours. As retiring room was not available, decided to spend the night in the AC room itself. As mentioned earlier, this is the best AC waiting room with all facilities and hope that all stations have such waiting rooms. The remaining tickets also got confirmed.
ON 29/05/09, after morning rituals, went to Hotel Sukhsagar for having breakfast and packed lunch and dinner for our journey. Thanking Dwarkadeesh profusely, boarded Ahmedabad-Secunderabad Summer Special at 1000 hours . The train was 4 hours late due to some wayside robbery in one of the coaches. Reached Secunderabad on 30/05/09 at 1400 hours.
During our entire trip, we could feel Lord ’s abundant grace flowing on us and with a prayer to the to enhance our bhakti , I end this writeup. I humbly request the devotee-readers to kindly forgive me for my flaws in presentation and enlighten me with more information.
KAZHIYUR VARADA DASAN
All glories to Sri Ramanuja
All glories to Srila Prabhupada
On this auspicious eve of “JAGANNATH RATH YAATRA” held all over the world on 13th of July,2010 , Adiyen wishes to share some info which was gathered during my visit to the holy dham, Jagannath Puri during May 2007. Adiyen visited Mayapur dham-the birthplace of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Puri, Srikoormam and Simhachalam in this trip.
Adiyen stayed for 2 days in Puri at ISKCON, Puri located in Swarg Dwaar .An ISKCON brahmachari who accompanied us briefed about the important places in Puri. This was our second visit to this place, the earlier one was during 2000.
DESCRIPTION ABOUT THE HOLY PLACE:-
The greatness about Puri is mentioned by Lord Narayana in Narada Purana as:
“PRATIMAAM TATRA TAAM DRISTVAA
SVAYAM DEVENA NIRMITAAM
ANAAYAASENA VAI YAANTI
BHAVANAM ME TATO NARAAH
The Supreme Lord Narayana tells Mahalakshmi” In the great abode known as Purushottama kshetra, which is rarely achieved among all the three worlds, the Kesava diety is situated and by having darshan , men easily attain MY abode”
Such is the greatness of this place. Jagannath Puri is one of the four holy dhaams (Sacred places) located on the eastern part of India on the shores of Bay of Bengal. The other three dhams are Badrinath located in the North, Rameswaram in the South, Dwaraka in the West. Sankaracharyar, Ramanujar, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu are the prominent acharyars who visited this place. Sankaracharya established a mutt at this place and composed the famous “JAGNATHASHTAKA” in which he prays the Lord to help him cross over the ocean of samsara.
Chaitanya Mahaprabhu stayed at this place for more than 12 years after taking up sanyas. There are many pastimes of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu at this place who attained salvation by merging with the Lord here. Haridas, a very great devotee and a disciple of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu stayed at this place under a tree and used to utter Maha mantra 3 lakhs times daily without which he wouldn’t partake any food. As he was a muslim by birth, he was not allowed to enter into the temple to have darshan of the Lord and hence stayed under the tree. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu used to visit him daily. He was such a great devotee that by simply looking at him , down trodden souls who led sinful ways were transformed into great devotees.
“Puri” means fullness. This temple town is in the form of a conch. It is also known as Jangannath dhaam-the abode of Jaganath, Purushotama kshetra, Nilachala or Nilagiri-the blue mountain, Sri kshetram-the abode of Sri(Lakshmi). The holy dham vibrates with Mahamantra and other names of the Lord. It is also known as “Yamanika tirtha”-the place where Yama,the God of Death cannot enter.
After finishing our morning prayers, we engaged an auto to cover the important places in Puri and reached Jaganath temple around 11 A.M. The temple is situated on Nilachala mountain. Out of the 4 entrances to the temple, we entered through the eastern gate known as “Simha dwaaram”. At the entrance, we can find small replica of Jaganath and Ganesha. The devotee informed that non-hindus are not allowed inside the temple and can have darshan of this deity here. Only once in a year, during Rath Yatra which is held in the month of Aashada, the Lord HIMSELF steps out of the temple to give darshan to all the fallen souls. We circumbulated around the Aruna sthambam. Usually we find Dwaja sthambham in front of all the Vaishnava temples. But at Puri, we find Aruna sthambham. A huge stone pillar is erected on top of which is Aruna,the charioteer of Sun God . It symbolizes that those who worship the Lord will be enlightened . The figure of Aruna is kept in a height which equals the height of the Lord in the garbagriham.
After passing through the huge temple complex, we ascended 22 steps to reach the garbagriham split into sets of 5 steps. One has to climb 5 steps, walk few distance, again take another flight of 5 steps and so on. These steps denote that one has to leave aside the 5 worldly fetters-lust, anger, greed, jealousy and pride. The first five steps represent the five outer sense organs-eyes, ears, nose, tongue and skin. The next 5 steps represent the 5 pranas or life airs-prana, apaana, vyaana, udaana, samaana. The next fie steps represent the inner sense or tanmaatras-rupa(sight), rasa (taste), gandha (smell), sabda (sound), sparsa(touch). The next five steps are tha panch maha bhutas- earth, water, air, fire and ether. The last two steps represent buddhi or intelligence and ahankara or false ego-the false conception of identifying the soul with the body. One by one all the must be purified before passing into the Inner sanctum of the temple and having darshan of Jaganath.
We waited in a queue to have darshan of the Lord. The curtains were drawn as it was time for maha bhog (neivedyam). We saw many cooks carrying huge vessels of prashad (every day 56 items of bhog(food offerings) are given to the Lord eight times. Elders point out that the Lord gets up at Tirumala , has lunch at Puri, and sleeps at Srirangam. The moment one thinks of Puri, he is immediately reminded of the Mahaprashad.
We were recollecting the history of this temple and the diety which we heard from a panda during our first visit. The same along with few more interesting incidents were narrated by the ISKCON devotee while waiting in the queue.
DETAILS ABOUT THE LORD’S MANIFESTATION:-
Lord Nilamadhava, appeared to King Indradyumna, who was a great devotee , in his dream and ordered him to build a temple. Startled by the dream, the king rose quickly and summoned his council of ministers . He described the Lord’s features to them and ordered them to go in different directions and find out the whereabouts of the Lord who had appeared in his dream. A minister named Vidyapati in the course of his search went deep inside a forest in search of the Lord and somehow learnt that the Lord was in the custody of a sabara(a local tribe) named Visvasu. To gain access, he stayed in their house for few days and got married to Lalita, the Sabara’s daughter. He observed that the Sabara used to leave home in the afternoon and return the next morning adorned with scented flowers etc. Lalita revealed the secret that her father goes to worship Lord Nila Madhava in the woods. After persistent request, Sabara finally agreed to show the Lord to Vidyapati . he bound Vidyapati’s eyes with cloth and took him inside the forest. Vidyapati managed to carry some mustard seeds which he dropped all through the way. Vidyapati was dumbstuck and mesmerized looking at the beautiful self manifested vigraham of the Lord.
When Visvasu left Vidyapati to collect fruits and roots for the Lord, he felt the tranquility of the place and observed that even a bird who lost its life in that place attained moksham. He returned back to Sabara’s huz. Later under some pretext, he escaped from that place , returned to the kingdom and informed the king about the Lord’s whereabouts who was overjoyed . Heading an army, the king along with Vidyapati reached the place. They could easily identify the route as fresh grass had grown where Vidyapati had sown the seeds. On reaching the place, the king found that the Lord had disappeared from that place and immediately arrested Visvasu. An akashvaani addressed the king that Visvasu was innocent and he could not worship the Lord as Nila Madhava but assured that Lord would reveal HIMSELF as ‘Daaru Brahmam”-the Absolute Truth in wooden form, and advised the king to construct a temple on Nilachala mountain. The king accordingly undertook the task of constructing a huge temple , cleared pathway and laid roads, kept golden kalasams on the spire of the temple . Considering that Brahma alone was eligble to do the consecration ceremony, he went to Brahmaloka and waited for his audience. Meantime, many years passed by unnoticed as one human year is one day in Brahmalokam.
Due to passage of time, the temple got submerged into sand and was later discovered by Galamadhava. When King Indradyumna returned with Brahma, Galamadhava disputed with the king claiming he had constructed the temple. An old crow which was living for many ages confirmed that Indrayumna constructed the temple and Galamadhava redeemed the temple from the sand dunes. Brahma ordered Galamadhava to stay outside the temple city on the west side of Indradyumna lake. When Indradyumna requested Brahma to do the consecration, Brahma said that the place was governed by Lord’s own potency and he was not eligible to sanctify the place. He simply placed a flag on the spire of the temple blessing that mere darshan of the flag would bestow moksham.
The king was disheartened that his prayers were not being answered as the Lord had not manifested HIMSELF. The Lord appeared in his dream advised him to go to a place known as Bankimulan where he would see a wooden log(Daaru) bearing the marks of Vishnu- conch(Sankhu), disc(chakram), club(gadam) and lotus(padmam) floating in the sea and ordered him to placee a golden chariot in front of the log. The king could carve out a vigraham from the log . The king along with his retinue reached the place and his joy knew no bounds when he found the log floating in the sea. A miracle was in store. The king’s servants could not even move the log from its place. The dejected king once again prayed to the Lord who appeared in his dream and advised him to bring his primary devotee-Visvasu,the sabara who worshipped HIM as Nilamadhava.
As instructed, the king brought Visvasu. Visvasu and Vidyapati stood on either sides of the Daaru, a golden chariot was placed in front of the Dhaaru and amidst sankeertan , the king prayed to the Lord. The log was easily shifted to the chariot and was carried to the sacrificial place with due honours. Brahma did a yagnam invoking Narsimha Swamy’s blessings. The present altar of the Lord is on this sacrificial site. The Narasimhar sannidhi is on the western side in the temple premises. After taking Brahma’s permission, the king called for many sculptors to carve out Nilamadhava vigraham from the wooden log but as soon as the sculptors tried to start their work, their chisel would break into pieces. The king was once again dismayed at this. The king was dismayed at this and prayed for Lord’s intervention. At that time, an old sculptor arrived at the place and offered to undertake the job with the condition that he should be left alone for 21 days with the log and no one should disturb him. The king agreed to this . The divine sculptor instructed 3 other sculptors about the construction of the chariots for the Lord and locked himself in a room with the wooden log. After fourteen days passed, the king could no longer hear the sound of tools. Worried about the old sculptor’s welfare as he had not taken any food for 14 days and as the sound of chipping stopped, at the behest of the queen, the king opened the door and to his shock found that the old sculptor had disappeared .
Instead of one vigraham, there were now 3 half-finsihed murthis with arms outstretched , eyes wide open with no eyelids , made from that wooden log. The fingers and toes were unfinished. The king realized that the old sculptor was Lord HIMSELF and regretted for breaking his promise. To atone for his sin , he decided to end his life by lying on kusa grass and fast unto death. The Lord once again appeared in the king’s dream and said that HE is eternally present in Nilachalam as Daru brahmam, it was HIS wish to remain in that form saying that HE is Brahmam, the Absolute Truth and didn’t require material arms and feet like others to accept offerings. As stated in Vedas, the Lord can move about without the help of HIS limbs, HE can eat without HIS hands, HE can see without eyes, HE can hear without ears. The Lord proclaimed that to a sincere devotee, HE would give darshan as lord Krishna holding flute and added that for the king’s satisfaction, he can decorate the Lord with golden and silver limbs. (This made me recollect how Lord appeared as a sculptor and chalked out the image of Dwarakadeesh at Dwarka and disappeared when the doors were opened. The idol of Dwarkadeesh is also incomplete with eyes closed). The king prayed to the Lord to allow the descendants of the old sculptor to carve the deities and the chariots henceforth. The Lord further declared that the descendants of Visvasu, the sabara who used to worship HIM as Nila Madhava should henceforth serve the Lord. They may be called “My dayitas”. The descendants of Vidyapati born out of his brahmana wife would be the temple priests and the descendants of Vidyapati born out of his sabara wife, Lalita should cook for the Lord and be known as sooyaaras. The Lord granted the king’s request to give darshan throughout the day except for 3 hours and accept the various varieties of prashad to the Lord and remain without descendants so that no one would claim rights over the temple.
When the devotee shared the above information, we recollected our previous visit where we paid money to the panda(priest) who made us to do some sankalpam, narrated the above incident , took us very near to the Lord and made us touch the Lord’s feet. We were given many varieties of sweets and theertham.
The whole temple was vibrating with the sounds of bells which were rung while offering neivedyam to the Lord. When the Lord takes prasadam, even the priests do not stay inside the garbagriham. They wait for sometime outside the garbagriham for allowing the Lord to have bhogam. Later aarthi is given to the Lord. (The Lord is also offered pan(beetel leaves) every night) Usually, there is heavy rush at this time because devotees get a chance to partake the Lord’s mahaprasadam. Chanting Mahamantram, we went inside the temple. Devotees were thronging to have darshan and some pandas were literally pushing the devotees to clear the crowd. However adiyen and family had the opportunity to clearly have darshan of the Lordships from close quarters.
INSIDE THE TEMPLE:-
As is customary in all the Vaishnavite temples, we offered our obeisances to Garuda before having darshan of the Lord. Garuda is in the form of a wooden log. In the big hall in front of the garbagriham, there is a pillar which devotees circumbulate . We were informed that when Chaitanya Mahaprabhu visited this place to have darshan of the Lord, he fell into ecstasy looking at the mohana roopam of the Lord. He was in a trance for many hours totally absorbed in the Lord. (Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is an incarnation of Krishna and Radha. He appeared to promote prema bhakti as the easiest means of attaining the Lord in Kali Yugam. He taught that chanting the Lord’s names as in Mahamantra is the easiest way to reach the lotus feet of the Lord . His principles were based on Ramanujacharyar’s teachings.) In another instance, when an old lady was struggling to have darshan of the Lord, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu carried her on his shoulders so that she could have Lord’s darshan clearly. This incident in carved in the pillar . We also circumbulated the pillar and touched with reverence the huge photo of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu near the pillar. After thus obtaining devotees’ blessings, we waited patiently for sometime for the crowd to clear. Singing the Mahamantra, we went towards the garbagriham to have closer view of the Lordships. Here the Lord gives darshan with HIS brother and sister.
Subhadra, Lord Krishna’s sister , painted in yellow marking auspiciousness is in the middle . On HER right is Baladeva in white and to HER left is Jagannath, the Lord of the Universe who is Neelavannan(darkish) in colour . Baladeva and Jaganath are on the either sides of Subhadra. Near Jaganath’s vigraham, is Rukmini Devi’s vigraham. Lord Jaganath is the tallest among the 3 murthis- HIS height is 5’7 “ , Balarama’s height is 5’5” and Subhadra’s height is less than 5’. Sudarshana chakram is in the form of a long log measuring 5’10”. The arms of Baladeva (Balaraman) and Jaganath are about 12 feet stretching outwards as if to hug.
The outstretched arms of the Lord were like inviting to embrace us. The Lord’s eyes are wide open(without eye lids) so that HE can constantly pour HIS abundant grace on us. A darshan of Jaganath relieves one from the cycle of births and deaths. However, to have a closer and longer darshan of the Lordships, it is better to approach through brahmin pandas who have access to the garbagriham . Please note that there is strict division of labour in the temple and not all of the servants can gain entry into the garbagriham. The moment we enter the temple, pandas would approach and introduce themselves about their job in the temple. Else one can have darshan standing in front of the garbagriham.
Since the vigrahams are made of wood, daily Thirumanjanam is not performed to the Lordships. Holy bath is given only once in a year which is celebrated as Snana Yatra on Jeshta Pournami day before Rath Yathra. On other days, a mirror is placed in front of the deities and abhishekam is performed to the Lords’ reflection .
We visited the other shrines in the temple . It is customary in Puri temple for the pandas to get a share in the Mahaprashad as their hereditary right which would be sold for some monetary benefit. Every person serving in the temple has a fixed share in the prashad. As mahaprashad consisiting of 56 items (chappan bhog comprising of different varieties of curries,sweets,pancakes etc )is offered in huge quantities, the pandas get huge share of the prashad. We can find atleast 20 pandas selling the prashad openly . Jaganath prashad is considered very sacred and even the leftovers can be had by others. Even a morsel of the prashad taken by devotees bestows mental and spiritual satisfaction apart from appeasing hunger. Devotees wait patiently to have the prashad. It is believed that if a dying person has a morsel of the prashad, he is sure of going to Vaikuntam. (This practice of prashad distribution can be seen at Nathdwara also). We purchased Prasad for Rs.50/- from 2 pandas and sit in the big open space which is exclusively used for partaking prashad . Its taste is unique and cannot be described in words. The taste is matchless. The prashad instills Krishna bhakti on the person who eats it. This prashad satisfies one’s hunger and also the spiritual quest. The moment one partakes the prashad, he feels that his life is complete as he derives a mental satisfaction which is indescribable. This was adiyen’s experience and am sure that others who have tasted it would agree with me.
After relishing the Mahaprasadam, we proceeded to visit the remaining smaller shrines in the temple precints like Narasimhar shrine, Adisankaracharyar’s shrine with his disciples and finally reached Koila Vaikuntam. We did not go to this place during our first visit. This is one of the most interesting places in Puri .
Koila Vaikuntam:- This place reminded us of Rasa kreedai place in Vrindavan. Situated on the northern side near the Elephant gate, this highly sanctified place is quiet and well maintained. Every inch in this place is sacred and devotees are supposed to use the pathway alone. All the remaining places are to be kept untouched. “Koila” means burial ground and Vaikuntam is “the Lord’s eternal abode where everyone desires to go.
I was taken aback that this was “the burial ground of the Lord” . I was wondering why does the Lord who is eternal , omnipresent , one who is free from births and deaths, one who is the cause of everything” be buried and queried the devotee who was guiding us. Adiyen is sharing the devotee’s reply .
The images of the Lord were carved out from a wooden log which was found floating in the sea by a divine carpenter and placed in the temple. The images of the Lord were left incomplete due to the king’s intervention before the stipulated time. Lord HIMSELF proclaimed to King Indradyumna that it was HIS divine will to stay in that form at Nilachalam as “DARU BRAHMAM”-ABSOLUTE FORM-one who is beyond Forms and HE is ever present in this place. This log is procured from Neem tree which is known for its longevity for about 30 years. As per Divine will, every 12 years, the wooden images have to be changed and new ones replaced with the same features. The discarded old images of the Lord are brought secretely by the Dayitapatis ,-designated persons to this place and buried here. This is known as Nava kalevara yatra . If anyone other than the designated persons happen to witness this ceremony, they will immediately die. During that event, the entire town of Puri will not have power supply and the whole town will be immersed in darkness . The devotee ended his narration saying that people in Puri consider Jagannath as their own family member. He pointed out to a place which was sprinkled with turmeric and kumkum saying that previously, the old deities were buried here. We prostrated at that place and took some mud from that place to be kept in our altar. The devotee did not disclose any other information about this. I was contemplating on this as I wanted to know more about this. God answered my prayers immediately. While in Mayapur, I spotted a book “The Lilas of Lord Jagannatha” at ISKCON, Mayapur. Immediately purchased the same and my devotion to the Lord increased manifold by reading the various leelas of the Lord. I also found an article about this Nava Kalevara Yatra which I would like to share with the readers. May Lord Jagannatha forgive all my offenses. My intention is only to share with other devotees the little info which I have gathered and not to disclose the temple rituals.
NAVA KALEVARA YATRA:-
This is carried out once in twelve years provided it is a leap year with 28 or 29 days in July.
The details about the temple rituals and deities are mentioned in ancient Sanskrit manuscripts written on palm leaves and kept in temple to which only three head priests have accessibility. They are Niladri Mahodaya-deals with the origin of the temple, Rudra Yamala-rituals connected to Balarama, Tantra Yamala-rituals connected to Subhadra and tantra practices to be followed in the temple, Brahma Yamala-rituals connected to worship of Lord Jagannatha.
The descendants of Visvasu,Vidyapati and Dayitapati will serve the Lord during this time for about two months and for one month during Rath Yatra.
The preists undertake the search party after midday pooja is offered to the Lord . The search party comprises of one member from Pati Mahapatra family, 20 Dayitapatis, 1 Lenka, 9 Maharanas, 16 Brahmana, 3 Deulkaranas, 30 police officers and 3 Inspectors of police.
12 foot garland known as Dhanva mala is offered to each of the three deities. The head priest gives the garland to the oldest member of the Pati Mahapatra family who will lead the procession of foot carrying the mala on his arms or on his head. When the tree is found, the garland is kept on top of a coconut offering in front of the fire sacrifice.
Descendants of Bhairacha Mahapatra family, Dayitapatis and Pati Mahapatra will beind a piece of Jaganatha’s garments on their heads as turban indicating that Lord Jagannath HIMSELF is going with them.
The Mekap family will bless the members of the search party with Lord’s sandals on their foreheads
The Lenkas and Maharanas who are the descendants of the original carpenter are also adorned with Jagannath’s garments on their turbans.
The procession begins from the altar, go to the king’s palace to take permission, reach Kakatpur and other place and stay at Vimala temple having prashad from Vimala temple or arrange to get from Puri. The search party stays here while the oldest Dayitapati sleeps inside the temple till he gets a dream about the location of the tree. The tree for each of the four deities including Sudarshana Chakram will be in different places.
The exact location of the neem tree from which the deities are to be carved are mentioned in the manuscripts which will be affirmed by the divine will in the head priest’s dream.
The neem tree must be grown in a graveyard near a Shiva temple and a pond and must not have been nested. The tree should have three or four barks. The marks of Vishnu-conch, chakra, gada, padmam must be found on the trunk of the tree.
When the tree is found with all the auspicious marks, a yagnam is performed and a coconut and the garland worn by the Lord are offered in the sacrifice.
On the next day, the Pati Mahapatra will touch the tree to be used for Lord Jagannatha with a golden axe, followed by Dayitapati who will touch it with silver axe. Lastly, the head carpenter of the Maharana family will touch it with an iron axe. During the tree cutting,mantras from all Vedas are recited and 108 names of the Lord are recited particularly Patala Narasimhar names because HE saves devotees from all problems.
The whole trunk of the tree is brought to the temple in a wooden cart dragged by the Dayitapatis with the help of other members of the group.
These logs are kept in Koila Vaikunta in the temple premises on the northern side near Elephant gate. This place has strong doors and thick walls.
Three oldest carpenters will be the main sculptors and 50 others will assist them. The carpenters lock the door from inside and noone including the chief priest is allowed to see or enter the premises during these 21 days. The carpenters are not allowed to eat or drink in the holy place, they go to the temple courtyard to eat and sleep in the night. They do not leave the temple during these 21 days. While the carpenters are on the job, akand bhajan(nonstop singing ) goes on in front of the door and the priests keep continuously chanting the Vedic mantras. The whole place reverberates with the myriad names of the Lord.
Once the idols are ready, they are carried into the Inner sanctum and placed in fron t of the old deities facing them. No food offering is made to the Lord. No one is allowed inside including the head priest. Only the three oldest members of the Dayitapati family will be present inside the temple on the holy day of Great Transformation Rite. As they worshipped Jagannatha as Nila Madhava first, they alone have the privilege to conduct the ceremony.
The ceremony takes place three days before Rath Yatra.
The three Dayitapatis must remain unshaven from the first day of the search party procession as this day is considered to be the disappearance ceremony. While mourning their father’s demise, the sons do not shave for 10 days out of respect for the deceased. Likewise till the old deities are buried and new ones are sancitified, the Dayitapatis observe this practice of mourning. After the new deities are installed, they whitewash their house as they consider Lord Jagannath to be the head of their household.
They must be blindfolded and bind a piece of Lord Janganath’s cloth around their hands before the transfer can begin. The three Dayitapatis fast and meditate for the whole day inside the temple. Only after midnight does the transfer of” Life Force” from the old diety to the new diety takes place in total silence. They can neither see or touch but only feel a strange feeling when Brahmam gets transferred from the old idol to the new one. They say it is difficult to describe the transformation.
The old deities are carried on the shoulders of the Dayitapatis and buried in the Koila Vaikunta before dawn. As the old deities were the abode of Brahman for 12 years, they are not burnt but buried in three separate graves for the three deities but all the previous Jagannathas are laid to rest in the same grave, one on top of the other.The actual spot of the graves are unmarked. During this time no one is allowed to enter this area and no one is allowed to see. If anyone sees this process, then he would immediately die. The government of Orissa has ordered complete power cut on this day throughout Puri.
On the morning of the second day, the whole town of Puri will seem lifeless as if in mourning . The old deities have left them and they are yet to have darshan of the new ones.
The new deities are immediately seated on the altar known as Ratna Simhasana. On this second day, the daily routing of the temple begins finally after a lapse of 58 days. Flowers and bhoga are offered to the deites and puja is done. Devotees can come inside and have darshan.
On the third day, the new deities emerge from the temple for the biggest Ratha Yatra which attracts 6 times the normal crowd. Nava Kalevara Yatra is the holiest of all the festivals in Puri.
Before leaving the temple premises, we once again prayed for Punar Darshanam. The devotee who accompanied us pointed out to a place in front of the temple as the place from where the world famous Rath Yatra would start. On the way to Gundicha temple, he informed us about the various celebrations and their significance which are mentioned below:-
Rath Yatra, Chandhan Yaatra , Snana Jhatra and Nava-kalevara Yatra are the most important festivals in PUri.
1) NILADRI MAHODAYA:- Celbrated in the month of January on full moon day, it commemorates the first installation of the deities . On this day, the deities are decorated in gold.
2) CHANDAN YATRA:- Starting on Akshaya Tirdihiya which falls in peak summer, the utsava murthis of the Lordships(Krishna playing flute) are taken in the evenings for a boat ride in nearby Narendra kund everyday. The utsava murthis of five nearby Siva temples representing Pandavas are also kept with these murthis. The utsava murthis along with the Pandavas are given ceremonial bath in a small temple constructed in the midst of Narendra sarovar and brought back to the temple. This culminates with the Snana Jatra in the temple.
3) SNANA JATRA:- As the idols are made of wood, thirumanjanam is performed to Jagannath, Subhadra and Baladeva only once in a year on Jeshta Pournami (early June) approximately 17 days before Ratha Yatra. On that auspicious day, the deities are brought out from the sanctum sanctorum , give darshan to all the assembled devotees. They are then placed in a mandapam within the temple premises. 108 kalasams of water brought from Sona Kua(golden well) are poured on each deity amidst chanting of Vedas. People throng to have darshan of the Lord at this time because the Lord would be confined in garbagriha for two weeks as HE would catch cold and convalescence . During these 2 weeks , there is no darshan for the public. Even the head priests cannot enter into the sanctum sanctorum. Only three special patta chitras, traditional Orissan paintings of natural colours on cloth stiffened with starch, known as Anasara Pattis, are strung on a bamboo screen hiding the deities from public view, can be seen by the public.
Only the descendants of Vidyapati and Lalita known as “Daityas” are allowed entry . During these 15 days, the Lord is offered only fruits, roots,leaves and berries as a treatment for THEIR sickness. These daityas alone have the privilege of serving the Lord during HIS sickness , during Rath Yatra and during Nava kalevara yatra.
4) BAHUDA:- The Return Chairot Festival held after 9 days from Rath Yatra
5) HARI SAYANA EKADASI:- Sleeping Ceremony of the deities in July. This occurs after Rath Yatra. The deities take rest in the afternoon as the days are longer than the nights.
6) DAKSHINAYANA:- The dieites are turned slightly to the right like a person turning in bed while resting.
7) PARSVA PARIVARTANA:- deities change their “beds” or altars on which they sleep.
8) HARY UTTHANA EKADASI:- deities stop sleeping in the day time as nights are longer than the day. This is in winter.
RATH YATRA :- INTRODUCTION:-
Atmaanam rathinam viddhi shareeram rathamevatu
Buddhim tu saarathim viddhi manah pragrahameva cha
. The body is the Chariot and the soul is the deity installed in the chariot. The wisdom acts as the charioteer to control the mind and thoughts.
Rath Yatra is celebrated in Puri in the month of Aashadam(June-July) on the second day of the waxing moon (After Amavasya) in Sukla paksham with great pomp. Lakhs of devotees assemble at Puri to participate in this and get a chance to pull the chariot unmindful of the stampedes. A glimpse of Lord Jagannatha on the chariot is considered to be very auspicious and saints, poets and scriptures have repeatedly glorified the sanctity of this special festival. The sanctity of the festival is such that even a touch of the chariot or even the ropes with which these are pulled is considered enough to confer the results of several pious deeds or penance for ages.
HISTORY:- There are 3 to 4 incidents which can be related to Rath Yatra.
1) Once during Solar eclipse, Krishna along with HIS consorts,brother, sister and parents accompanied by Pandavas went to Kurukshetra to have snaanam in Surya Kund during eclipse. The gopis and yadavas from Vrindavan also went to Kurukshetra to meet their Krishna who left them many years back. This meeting of Krishna with gopis was most memorable. The consorts of Krishna wanted to know more about the Lord’s pastimes and the gopis’ unflinched devotion to their lord and requested Rohini to narrate the acts performed by child Krishna (Krishna leelas) in Vrindavan. After much persuasion, rohini decided to enclose the information and ordered Subhadra to stand as guard at the entrance. The consorts of Krishna were completely absorbed in Krishna consciousness and Subhadra was no exception to this. She stretched both her hands out blocking the entrance and didn’t notice the arrival of Krishna and Balarama. Krishna and Balarama were also lost in thought listening to their childhood activities. At that time Sage Narada who appeared there was overwhelmed to see the sight of seeing Krishna with HIS brother and sister and prayed to the Lord to continue to give darshan and redeem men . Lord granted HIS wish and thus manifested as Jagannatha along with Subhadra and Baladeva at Puri.
2) There is another story connected with this yatra. On the second day of the waxing moon during summer and before onset of monsoon, Krishna along with Balarama and Subhadra goes to a garden on a holiday leaving behind their consorts in the temple itself. They visit the garden palace known as Gundicha mandir and enjoy themselves completely away from their family and temple servants. Rukmini Devi comes in search of the Lord three days later in a covered palanquin to Gundicha mandir and requests the Lord to return. The servants of the Lord obstruct HER passage which angers HER. In a fit of rage, Rukmini breaks a piece of Jagannath’s cart . Later SHE gets pacified and after taking meal leaves the place. This is celebrated as “Hera Panchami”.
The Lord returns to the main temple with HIS siblings on the tenth day. When the Lord goes to meet HIS consort, Rukmini, SHE displays anger and shuts the door on the face. She pays back with the same coin. A quarrel between Rukmini’s servants and Jagannath’s servants takes place and only after the Lord apologises for HIS mistakes, Rukmini gets convinced and joins the Lord. This is similar to the “Mattai adi” utsavams in South Indian temples like Srirangam, Kanchipuram etc. (In Srirangam during Panguni utsavam, Lord Ranganathar leaves Srirangam without informing Thayar to spend a night with Kamalavalli Nachiyar at Uraiyur and returns the next day. So Thayar closes the door and only after Ramanujar’s intervention, SHE accepts Perumal. Later Perumal and Thayar give darshanam together. In Kanchipuram, during Vaigasi Brahmotsavam, Perumal leaves HIS abode to meet Malayala nachiyar and returns back the following day. The doors are shut and only after persuasions , Thayar forgives Perumal for HIS act. Perumal at that time gives darshanam along with five naachiyars for a whole day in Thayar’s sannidi)
3) After killing Kamsa in Mathura, Krishna along with Balarama and Subhadra sat in a chariot and went round the streets of Mathura. This incident is considered as the reason for celebrating this festival.
4) The residents of Vraja saw Krishna and Balarama seated in a chariot while Akrura was driving them to Mathura.
5) The residents of Vrindavana celebrated this when they saw Krishna along with HIS brother and sister together at Kurukshetra.
THE MAKING OF THE CHARIOTS:-
The wooden logs cut from Phassi, Dhausa tree are initially set to float in Mahanadi river and are brought to Puri by road. Every year new chariots are made for Rath Yatra using these logs of wood. The construction of the 3 chariots starts on the auspicious day of Akshaya Trithyai-(the 3rd day in the bright fornight)in the month of Visakha- about two and half months before the Rath Yatra. Only the descendants of the original carpenter are privileged to construct the chariots . After performing yaga, the construction of the chariot commences amidst chanting of mantras. During this time,some important events like Chandan Yatra, Snana Yatra and the Lord falling sick take place in the temple.
The details about the chariots is given below:-
Details Jagannath Baladeva Subhadra
Name of the chariot Nandighosa-Nandi means ananda or bliss, ghosa means “tumultuous sound”. Taladhvaja –Tala means rhythm and dhvaja means ensignia or distinguishing symbol Devadalana or Darpadalana- Dalana means “crushing or destroying”
Significance Sound of the wheels of this chariot even heard once gives eternal bliss. The sound is simila to Siva’s cosmic dance . Baladeva helps us in attaining the Lord She rids us of our pride. The sound eliminates our evil qualities thus making us qualify to reach the Lord.
No.of horses Four dark coloured horses repres-enting Sankha (purity), Sveta (honesty), Hrdaikya (equal mindedness), Balataka (ever readiness) Four white coloured horses namely Tivra (strength), Ghora (constancy), Dirgha (timelessness), Srama (Work) 4 red coloured horses-Rochika(Attraction), Mochika(Salvation), Jita(victory), Aparajita(which is beyond the mind)
Height 45 feet 447 feet 43 feet
No. of wheels 16 14 12
Colour of the Canopy (Decorative cloth ) on the chariot Red and Yellow Red and Blue Red and Black
Name of the charioteer Matali Daruka Arjuna
Name of the flag on the chariot “Triloka Mohini”- to attract people from all places “Unmani”-uplift “Naadaambika”-to arouse God Realization in all who see it
No.of wooden pieces used in making the chariot 832 763 593
. The entire expense of this Ratha Yatra is borne by Orissa Government. Lord Jaganath along with Subhadra and Baladeva leave the main temple and go to Gundicha temple which is about 2 kms north of the temple. The Lordships leave in 3 separate chariots specially made for this purpose and give darshan to all the devotees including the persons who are not allowed inside the temple. They stay at Gundicha temple for 9 days and return on the 10 th day. Gundicha temple is also known as Janaka Puri , Yajnavedi(as this was the place where Brahma performed first fire sacrifice), Adapa Mandapam(mandapa where the deities are isolated). The Lord moves about as per HIS free will . the travel time cannot be ascertained. There were instances where the Ratham would not move for days . As the three chariots move about simultaneously, the road through which the chariot passes is very wide and is known as Grand Road like in Kanchipuram.
To enact that everyone is same in front of the eyes of the Lord, before the procession starts, in olden times, the king of the state used to clean the way using a golden broom. (This practice was started by King Prataparudra who was a great follower of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. He expressed his humbleness by sweeping the road before the procession started, he used to press Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s legs to gain his audience. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was reluctant to see the king whom he thought was engrossed in worldy pursuits. By doing such acts, the king won Mahaprabhu’s grace. ) This custom is still prevalent even today. In Puri, Orissa Chief Minister does it, in Gujarat, the present Chief Minister Narendra Modi swept the way and this year in Hyderabad, the Governor swept the way when the procession started from Jagannath temple at Banjara Hills.
The procession starts at the stipulated time with devotees pulling the chariot. Everyone feels blessed to pull the chariot amidst shouting “JAI JAGANNATH” “JAI BALADEVA”, “JAI SUBHADRA”. The entire place gets electrified with the chanting of the Lord’s names.
A narration about Rath Yatra without mentioning Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s leela is incomplete. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu after embracing Sanyasrama spent most of his time at Puri in the Lord’s presence . he used to sing and dance in ecstasy for hours together in front of Jagannathar. One during Rath Yatra, Mahaprabhu was leading His sankeertana. His disciples were in groups at different locations and chanting the Mahamantra. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu appeared in all the nine groups singing and dancing in ecstasy at the same time. This was observed by His foremost devotees. He thus revealed that he was an incarnation of the Lord in Kali Yuga. Puri is still vibrant with Gaudiya Sampradayam established by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.
The procession winds slowly through the Grand street and reaches Gundicha temple. This is considered to be Lord’s aunt’s place. Some refer Gundicha as King Indradyumna’s wife. In the Gundicha temple, the deities are placed in the respective altars and offered puja for 9 days. Devotees throng to this temple to have Lord’s darshan as it is considered to be beneficial for one’s upliftment. On the 10th day when the deities return to the main temple, they are adorned sith golden crowns,necklaces,belts, golden hands, feet and weapons. This is known as “Suna vesa”.
As per Skanda Purana:-
Gundicha mandapam namam jatrahamajanam
pura Ashwamedha sahasrasya mahabedi tadadvabat.
Meaning :- Those who are fortunate to see the deities of the Srimandira in the Gundicha Temple, the final destination of the procession of the chariots, derive the benefits of a thousand horse sacrifices, an immensely pious deed.
THE LEELAS OF LORD JAGANNATHA:-
With the little knowledge adiyen gathered , out of enthusiasm, adiyen has penned down the information known to me with the bhagavatas. I accept that Lord’s activities and greatness cannot be restricted to a small article like this but adiyen accepts my inability and ignorance in trying to describe the Lord of Universe. Kindly pardon me for the mistakes which I would have unintentionally committed.
I conclude this writeup with the mangala slokam:
NEELACHALA NIVASAYA NITYAYA PARAMATMANE
SUBHADRA PRAANA NATHAYA JAGAN NATHAYA MANGALAM.
SRIYA KAANTHAYA KALYANA NIDHAYE NIDHAYETHINAM
SRI VENKATA NIVASAYA SRINIVASAYA MANGALAM