Gujarat is counted among the well-developed states in India. Being on the western side of the sub-continent, it is also called as the Milk City of India. Apart from its handicrafts and a busy commercial center, this state is also home to the internationally famous Jalaram Bapa Mandir.
This renowned temple is located at Virpur in Gujarat which is a small village with a distance of 52 km from Rajkot. This place has become famous owing to the birth of Sri Jalaram Bapa, a much-revered saint. There have been many events that had happened in this saint’s life at Virpur and people from all around the world come to visit this holy shrine.
Apart from visiting this place, tourists also want to see the ‘Jholi’ and ‘Danda’ that were believed to have been given by God to Virbhai Maa and the original Hanumanji’s idol. The native’s believe that Bapa is always with them and if one wants to feel him with a pure heart, then the presence of Bapa will be definitely felt by a follower.
Jalaram Bapa Mandir History
- ‘Jalaram Pradhan Thakar’ or Jalaram Bapa was born in Virpur, near Rajkot in Gujarat on 14th November 1799 to his father Pradhan Thakkar and mother Rajbai Thakkar. His mother was very fond of saints and sadhus and no saint could go from Virpur without receiving the hospitality of Rajbai.
- Saint Raghuvirdasji had told Bapa’s mother, Rajbai Thakkar that her son would become a famous person preaching the importance of duty, devotion and good actions. Being a very religious lady herself, Bapa learned to respect, patience, self-sacrifice, duty and grace from his mother.
- When Bapa was young, a visit from a saint was recognized as from his previous life and little Jalaram was spiritually inspired and started to chant ‘Sita Ram’ rhymes and devoted his life to the God.
- Jalaram married Virbhai, daughter of Thakkar Pragji Somaija at the age of sixteen. Although he was reluctant, his wife extended her support in his work for the poor. At the age of eighteen, he set out for a holy pilgrimage with his wife and had accepted Bhojalaram. Bapa’s guru had started ‘Sadavrat’ which is a place where every poor will be provided with free food. Both of them worked hard on the field to grow grains and one day when they were run out of stock for grains, Virbhai was happy to sell her wedding jewelry in order to provide food for the pilgrims.
- Haraji was a tailor who was suffering from acute stomach pain and eventually came to Bapa for a cure. The great saint prayed and cured his disease. The tailor was surprised and fell at Bapa’s feet addressing him as ‘Bapa’. It is then that people started calling him as Jalaram Bapa. Devotees irrespective of their religion became his disciples.
- Lord Rama disguised himself as an old man and appeared before Jalaram Bapa. He complained of his age and wanted someone to look after him. Bapa sent for his wife who gladly accompanied the old man on his journey. The two travelers came to a river and the old man gave a stick and a bag to Virbhai to hold. Soon, Lord Rama disappeared and Jalaram could hear a voice back home saying him that he can fetch his wife as it was Lord Rama who wanted to test his goodness. This stick and the bag are still on display in the Jalarambapa Ashram in Virpur.
- Devotee’s belief that the food given by Bapa to the pilgrims reaches the doors of heaven. In fact till today, there are thousands of visitors who are provided free food in this temple and it never runs out of stock.
Significance of Jalaram Bapa Mandir
- In 1978, the Jalaram Bapa Temple on the Dharmaj-Tarapur highway was built.
- The auspicious Sri Jalaram Bapa shrine comprises of the actual house complex where this great saint lived during his lifetime.
- There are many belongings of Jalaram Bapa, most important being the deities of Rama, Sita, Lakshmana and Hanuman that were worshiped by him.
- The main attraction of this place of worship is the portrait of Jalaram Bapa. Pilgrims can see a black and white picture of Bapa that has been taken one year before his death.
- The idol of Jalaram Bapa is displayed as a smiling man holding a dandaand wearing often a white turban and a white dhoti-kurta.
- One of the most distinguishing factors of this temple refers to the fact that it does not accept any offerings from February 9, 2000. This is the world’s first temple to not accept any money.
- Jalaram Bapa had adopted his daughter i.e. Jamnaben’s grandson, Harirambahi to be his direct descendant. Giridhar Bapa and now his son Jaisukhram Bapa are now in charge of this popular shrine of Gujarat.
- The ‘Samadhi’ of Sri Jalaram Bapa lies at the feet of Lord Sri Ram Chandra. This had entranced just on the Left side of the Big Gate of the ‘Dela’.
- The “Jholi-Danda” is duly preserved in a transparent cupboard and Sri Hanumanji’s idol is also kept near the ‘Samadhi’ as well.
- The Temple has two trusts that function on a daily basis. The ‘Jalaram Satsang Seva Mandal’ is responsible for looking out for all aspects relating to the temple like maintenance of the Mandir, Atithi Griha, and Gaushala. The ‘Shree Jalaram Janseva Trust’ on the other hand handles services relating to education, healthcare, rehabilitation and water plant.
- Shree Dr. Rasikbhai V. Patel is the President for both the trusts.
- This temple has three giant copper pots which were given by the Goddess Ganga duly filled with the holy waters of Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati rivers. The water from these pots never dries up and there has been no instance of a person getting sick from drinking this water.
- Additionally, the King of the Dhrangdhra provided a pair of large wheels to Sri Jalaram Bapa for grinding the wheat in the temple.
Jalaram Bapa Mandir Timings
- Jalaram Bapa Mandir is open from 7 am to 12pm and then again from 4 pm to 8:30 pm.
Jalaram Bapa Mandir Food Timings
- This famous pilgrimage destination is popular for charity and feeding the poor and needy people. Food is offered to people after 12 P.M. and around 8 P.M.
- This temple has seen no visitor returning home without food. Devotees are provided with Prasad twice in a day without any cost.
- Every person in this ‘Darbar of God’ irrespective of him being rich or poor is treated as equal. They are also offered the same Prasad when they sit in the same row.
- The Prasad comprises of ‘Ganthiya’, ‘Bundi’ and ‘Sabji’ in the morning and ‘Khichadi-Kadi’ and ‘Deshi Ghee’ in the evening.
- The food is served in a traditional dish of leaves.
Festivals celebrated at the Jalaram Bapa Mandir
- Jalaram Jayanti is the most important festival that is observed in this temple. On the 7th day Shukla Paksha of the Hindu month of Kartika, this celebration is enjoyed by the pilgrims. Thousands of devotees from various parts of the world gather on this occasion at Virpur and pay their respect to the saint. This festival is celebrated here on the 7th day after Diwali. A huge fair is organized to mark this occasion and followers from across various parts of the country offer pooja at the various temples of Jalaram Bapa that are built across India.
- Makar Sankranti is another huge festival that is celebrated in this temple on 14th January every year.
- Pilgrims also gather to pray in this temple on a yearly basis to mark the death anniversary of Sri Jalaram Bapa who died on 23rd February 1881.
- Some other festivals that are observed here with much pomp and enthusiasm consist of Ram Navami, Hanuman Jayanti, Janmashtami, Diwali and Maha Shivaratri.
Poojas and Rituals at Jalaram Bapa Mandir
- Aarti and Bhajan are regularly held in this temple airing both morning and evening.
- While the Mangla Aarti begins at 7:30 A.M, the Shangar Aarti is performed at 9 A.M and the
Sandhya Aarti is completed at 7:30 P.M.
- On every Sunday from 4 P.M. to 5:30 P.M, the reading of Sundar Kand (from Ramayana) takes place.
- A pilgrim can contribute Rs 251 and host the arrangement of Sri Satyanarayan Bhagwan’s Katha on every Purnima or full moon day from 8 P.M.
- One can hear bhajans that are held after Aarti every month.
- There are many eminent saints and kathakars who talk about spiritual lectures and preaching’s during festivals that are commemorated by people in this temple.
How to Reach Jalaram Bapa Mandir: Road, Rail, and Air
- By Air– Rajkot is the nearest airport which connects Virpur with all the leading cities in India. There are many direct flights available and pilgrims can take an auto-rickshaw from the airport to reach the famous shrine.
- By Train– The Rajkot Junction is well connected with different towns of Gujarat and cities in India. It is almost 6 km away from the Teen Batti triple gateway and is a junction on the Western Railway Ahmedabad-Hapa broad gauge line. There are many express trains that are available from this station.
- By Road– A tourist can reach Rajkot by traveling through road as well. It has good transportation system with all the neighboring states. There are many State buses that fly from Rajkot to different parts of Gujarat. The ST bus stand is 2 km, west of Bedi Gate on the other side of Ranmal Lake. One can hire an auto rickshaw to take a glimpse of the city’s culture. In addition, one can travel through private buses too.
Hotels in Gujarat: Where to stay
Gujarat is a vibrant place and it offers an array of opportunities when it comes to choosing one’s accommodation. Whatever be your budget, this place has the right room to suit the needs of all travelers. If you want to save up on your expenses, you can opt for single rooms and dormitories. But for people looking to stay with family can choose from double to triple and four bedded rooms. Moreover, some prominent hotels have their own exclusive restaurants as well.
A tourist can book a room well in advance to avoid any disappointments. One can also avail the free pick up and drop facilities that are provided to the guests without incurring any extra charges. In addition, the hotels also have air conditioned rooms and all the modern amenities like Wi-Fi etc to suit the requirement of a contemporary voyager.
Where to eat
Gujarat offers a lot of options to explore when it comes to fulfilling your appetite. The traditional food is vegetarian in nature and is rich in nutrition. Mostly, the Gujarati Thali comprises of rice, roti, dal, sabzi and sweets. There are many famous restaurants in the city which offer fine dining options at a competitive price range. The local eating joints also offer fantastic delicacies at lesser costs.
Some of the must-have dishes that a traveler needs to taste refer to Khaman, Dhokla, Puranpoli, Shrikhand, Farsi Falafel, Khakra, Muthia and Meethi Kadhi. However, alcohol is banned here and is not served at restaurants.
Apart from the famous Jalaram Bapa Mandir, there are some religious places in Virpur that tourists can pay a visit to. These consist of:
- Virpara Nath Mandir– Every tourist who visits Jalaram Bapa definitely pays a visit to this shrine too. Sadhus sing hymes during the evening in this temple premises.
- Samadhi of Jalaram Bapa– It is a sacred place of worship as devotees come to pay their respect to Jalaram Bapa here. After Bapa passed away, he was laid to rest here.
- Samadhi of Jetha Bapa- This is an another famous shrine that stands close to the Jalaram Bapa Mandir. Theere are many pilgrims who visit the samadhi and seek blessings from Jetha Bapa.
- Virbhai Maa Mandir at Triveni Sangam– It is a temple that is dedicated to Virbhai and celebrates the commitment and sacrifice provided by Virbhai.
- Khodiyar Mandir at Mavatar Vridhdharshram- Being located in Mavatar Vridhdharshram, this mandir is highly popular and considered sacred among the natives.
- Gala vada Hanuman– It is dedicated to Lord Hanuman and worships his strength and commitment to Lord Ram.