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Madurai Rameshwaram Kanyakumari Tour

Rameswaram Ramanathaswamy Temple

Rameswaram Ramanathaswamy Temple

Rameswaram Ramanathaswamy Temple in Tamil Nadu is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The temple is part of the 12 Jyotirlinga Temples and 4 Char Dham Temples in India. The temple is located in the Rameshwaram District of Tamil Nadu and is the southernmost Jyotirlinga in India.

Rameswaram Ramanathaswamy Temple
Rameswaram Ramanathaswamy Temple History

  • The history of the temple dates back to the Ramayana Period. It is believed that Lord Rama made the Linga and installed it here.
  • The rulers of Pandya Dynasty expanded the temple in 12th century AD.
  • Legend of the Jyotirlinga: Lord Rama and his wife Sita were returning from Lanka After killing Ravana, the demon king. Ravana was a half demon and half Brahmin. Since killing a Brahmin is a sin, Lord Rama wished to worship Lord Shiva and ask his pardon. He had sent Lord Hanuman to Mount Kailash to bring Lord Shiva’s idol.
  • Meanwhile, Lord Rama and Sita were living in the island and when they tried to drink the water, a powerful and divine voice spoke to them. The voice chided Lord Rama that he was drinking the water without worshiping. Instead of waiting for Hanuman’s return, Lord Rama instructed Sita to make a Linga with the sand and water from the seashore. He worshipped Lord Shiva in this form and pleaded for mercy. Lord Shiva manifested himself as the Jyotirlinga, blessed Lord Rama and also accepted to stay here and bless mankind forever.
  • Since Lord Rama worshipped the Linga, the Jyotirlinga was named as Ramanathaswamy, and the place was called as Rameshwaram.

Significance of the Temple

  • The Sanctum Sanctorum of the temple has two Lingas – the Ramalingam – made out of sand by Sita, and Vishwalingam – brought by Hanuman
  • Since Hanuman had brought the Linga all the way from Kailash, Lord Rama instructed that one should worship Vishwalingam first
  • The entire island of Rameshwaram and nearby areas are associated with Lord Rama. Several incidents from the Ramayana are believed to have happened here and therefore, this place is revered by both Saivites and Vaishnavites.
  • Since Lord Rama had killed the Brahmin Ravana, he was affected by Brahmahatya Dosha. He therefore worshipped Lord Shiva and performed certain rituals as per Agama custom to absolve of his Dosha.
  • Rameshwaram has many as 50 Teerths or holy wells, and 22 of them are inside the temple. The water from these wells is believed to possess medicinal properties
  • It is believed that the water from each Teerth tastes different and offers various remedies
  • The first of the holy wells – the Agniteertham lies immersed in the sea, 100 metres from the main temple. This is where Lord Rama is believed to have performed the rituals for the Brahmahatya Dosha. Therefore, devotees first take a dip in this well before entering the temple
  • The Linga is made of Spatika. The temple arranges for an early morning special darshan called the Mani Darshan, where the devotees can see and worship the Spatika Linga
  • It is auspicious to bathe the Linga with the water from the Ganges. Devotees who go to Kashi, make it a point to bring the Ganges water and offer it to the Linga here. It is believed that this offering completes their spiritual journey
  • The Rameswaram Ramanathaswamy Temple has the world’s largest temple corridor. They measure around 1220 metres and comprises of nearly 1200 magnificent granite pillars in total

Rameswaram Ramanathaswamy Temple Timings

Morning:     5:00 am – 1:00 pm
Evening:      3:00 pm – 9:00 pm

Poojas and Rituals

Brahmahatya Dosha Pooja – To alleviate Brahmahatya Dosha present in one’s horoscope. Performed in the Agni Teerth or in the nearby Mutts

Pitru Tarpanam / Thila Homam – Tribute to ancestors to seek their blessings, and to help their souls rest in peace. Performed in the nearby Mutts with assistance of purohits

Palliyarai Deepa Arathana: 5:00 am

Spadigalinga Deepa Arathana: 5:10 am

Thiruvananthal Deepa Arathana: 5:45 am

Vila Pooja: 7:00 am

Kalasanthi Pooja: 10:00 am

Uchikala Pooja: 12:00 noon

Sayaratcha Pooja: 6:00 pm

Arthajama Pooja: 8:30 pm

Palliyarai Pooja: 8:45 pm

Festivals

  • Maha Shivarathri festival is the key festival here like any other Saivite temple. In Rameswaram Ramanathaswamy Temple, devotees can participate in the Rishaba Vaahana Darsha, Maha Shivarathri Abishekam and the Silver Chariot procession. This is a 10-day festival that is celebrated in February – March.
  • Vasanthotsavam is a 10-day festival celebrated in the month of May – June
  • Ramalinga Prathishtai is a 3-day festival celebrating the installation of the Ramalingam. The festival is celebrated during May- June
  • Thirukalyanam is the celestial wedding ceremony of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvathi. The festivities are spread over a fortnight and is celebrated in the month of July – August
  • Navarathri or Dussera is a 10-day festival celebrated in the month of September – October
  • Kandha Sashti is celebrated in honour of Lord Kartikeya or Skanda. This is celebrated after Deepavali during the month of October – November
  • Aarudhira Dharshan is an important day in the Saivite calendar when Lord Shiva indulges in a cosmic dance. Lord Shiva’s avatar, Lord Nataraja performs this ecstatic dance on a day that coincides with the longest night of the year. This festival is celebrated during the end of December or in early January.

How to Reach: Road, Rail, and Air

By road: Reaching Rameshwaram by road is not a challenge. This major pilgrim site is connected to all cities and towns in Tamil Nadu. Several state-run and private buses are available.

By rail: Rameshwaram has its own railway station and is connected to all major cities and town. The Railway station is just 1 km away from the Rameswaram Ramanathaswamy Tempe.

The famous Annai Indira Gandhi Bridge, also known as Pamban Bridge is a 2 km stretch over the sea and connects the mainland Mandapam to Rameshwaram island. Special trains operate on the parallel-running Pamban collapsible railway bridge and offer spectacular views.

By air: The nearest airport is in Madurai, which is 174 km from Rameshwaram. The airport is well connected to major Indian cities.

Where to Stay

There are several accommodation options available at Rameswaram. The temple also offers accommodation options. One can also find comfortable rooms and dormitories in TTDC Guest House at a nominal tariff.

Where to Eat 

Food options are plenty at Rameshwaram. Several restaurants cater to both South Indian and North Indian palate. There are several Marwadi Bhojanalayas near the Rameswaram Ramanathaswamy Temple. These places offer food at reasonable prices. Devotees also partake the free food provided at the Temple.

Nearby Temples

  • Satchi Hanuman Temple: The Satchi Hanuman Temple is a spot of great significance in the Ramayana. It is the place where Hanuman conveyed to Lord Rama, that Sita is in Lanka. Hanuman gave Sita’s jewel as an evidence or ‘Satchi’ and hence, the spot was known as Satchi Hanuman Temple. The temple is 3 km from Rameshwaram Ramanathaswamy Temple
  • Panchamukha Hanuman Temple: The Panchamukha Hanuman Temple has a majestic idol of Lord Hanuman with five faces covered in vermillion. The temple attracts devotees who come to see the floating rocks that were used by Lord Hanuman’s army to build the Ramsethu bridge between Indian and Sri Lanka. The Panchamukha Hanuman Temple is 2 km from the Rameshwaram Ramanathaswamy Temple
  • Gandamadana Parvatham: The Gandamadana Parvatham is a small hill and holy site. It is the highest point in Rameshwaram. Devotees visit the place to worship an imprint of Lord Rama’s feet on a sacred chakra. The Gandamadana Parvatham is 3 km from the Rameshwaram Ramanathaswamy Temple
  • Badrakaliamman Temple: Badrakaliamman Temple is dedicated to Goddess Durga. The temple is just 2 km away from the Rameshwaram Ramanathaswamy Temple
  • Jada Theertham:Lord Rama returned from Lanka after killing Ravana and proceeded to install and worship Ramalinga. Before worshipping, Lord Rama
  • Nambu Nayagiamman Temple:– The Nambu Nayagiamman Temple is a 14th-century temple built by the people of Ramnad as a mark of their faith and respect for Lord Rama. The temple is 8 km from the Rameshwaram Ramanathswamy Temple
  • Kothandaramaswamy Temple: This temple is associated with Vibishana, the brother of Ravana and Lord Rama. It is believed that Vibishana sought Lord Rama’s refuge in this place. This is also the place where Lord Rama coronated Vibishana after his victory in Lanka. The Kothandaramaswamy Temple is 12 km away from Rameshwaram Ramanathaswamy Temple
  • Villoondi Theertham: – The Villoondi Theertham is nearly 100 metres into the sea but is a freshwater well with sweet tasting water. It is believed that during his quest for Sita, Lord Rama reached this place. His thirst for water prompted him to flex his bow and arrow into the sea. The arrow created a well with fresh water to quench Lord Rama’s thirst. The Villoondi Theertham is 4 km from the Rameshwaram Ramanathaswamy Temple.
Nava Dwaraka Tour Dwarkadhish Temple

Dwarkadhish Temple

Dwarkadhish Temple

The Dwarkadhish Temple is situated in the city of Dwarka in Gujarat. The holy city of Dwarka is located on the western tip of Saurashtra right on the banks of river Gomati. It is historically considered as the capital of Lord Krishna. The Dwarka Dwarkadhish Temple is one of the Char Dham pilgrimages that a Hindu must visit in India. It is a sacred Vaishnavite pilgrimage town. The 2500 years old Temple is also known as The Jagat Mandir. Lord Krishna is worshiped in the temple as the “Dwarkadhish” or “King of Dwarka”.

Dwarka is composed of two words – “Dwar” meaning the Gate and “Ka” meaning Brahma or Moksh. The City is the adopted home of Lord Krishna when he left Vrindavan in Mathura. The city of Dwarka was known as “Swarn Nagari” or the “City of Gold”. The common belief is that after Lord Krishna died, the Yadavas who ruled entire Saurashtra fought between themselves and perished. The city eventually submerged under the sea except the Temples.

As per scriptures, the ancient city of Dwarka was a well-planned city.  The Dwarka Dwarkadhish Temple is a five-storied temple built on 72 limestone pillars. The Temple is divided into three parts – the Prakashgarh (Nijmandir), Sabahgrah and the Shikhar. The total height of the Shikhar is 157 feet.  There are two Shikhars present in the Temple – the Nij Shikhar and the Ladwa Shikhar. The Nij shikhar is five storied and houses the main deity, Lord Krishna. There are no arches in the structure.  There are two main gates to the Dwarkadhish Temple – The Moksha Dwaar (Pilgrims enter the Temple through this gate) and the Swarg Dwaar  (Gate to Heaven).

Dwarkadhish Temple History

  • According to the Archeological Survey of India, the main shrine of the building is 2000 to 2200 years old. The common faith is that the Dwarka Dwarkadhish Temple was built by Vajranabha, the great grandson of Lord Krishna in 400 BC. Vajranabha constructed an umbrella type monument in the memory of Lord Krishna in the East of Harimandir which still exists.
  • The first renovation was done around 100 BC as mentioned in the Brahmi script on the first floor of the Dwarka Dwarkadhish Temple.
  • Shri Adi Shankaracharya visited the temple in 800 BC and renovated it. He established the shrine of Adyashakti on the fourth floor of the Dwarka Dwarkadhish Temple.
  • The Temple was attacked and destroyed by Muhammad Shah in 1241 AD. It is believed that five Brahmins fought with them and were killed. The shrines dedicated to them have been built near the Dwarka Dwarkadhish Temple.
  • The Dwarka Dwarkadhish Temple was enlarged and reconstructed in the 15th – 16th century by several local merchants and rulers.
  • In 1965, the Pakistan Navy tried to attack the temple but failed to do so.
  • The origins of the city of Dwarka are a legend itself. Lord Krishna’s uncle Kansa was the tyrannical ruler of Mathura who was under the influence of his father-in-law Jarasandha. He terrorized and tortured the people of Mathura. Kansa was eventually killed by Krishna. On hearing Kansa’s death, Jarasandha was furious and invaded Mathura several times but was unsuccessful in annexing it. However, the Yadava clan suffered huge losses and Lord Krishna decided to move them elsewhere.
  • There are two versions of how Krishna came upon forming Dwarka as a city. One version states that Lord Krishna flew on the Garuda and reached the Saurashtra peninsula to form city there. As per the other version, Lord Krishna invoked Vishwakarma (Lord of Construction) and asked him to build a new city. Vishwakarma implied that the city can only be built if the Samudra Devta (God of Sea) gives some land. Lord Krishna worshiped the Sea God who eventually gave him 12 Yojanas of land. Vishwakarma built the city of Dwarka for Lord Krishna.
  • According to a legend, during the cremation of Lord Krishna at Dwarka, Balram and Subhadra overcome with grief took the half-burnt body of Krishna and ran into the ocean. At the same time, King Indradyumna in Puri on the eastern coast had a dream which propelled him to visit the ocean in search of the remains of Lord Krishna. He built the gigantic temple dedicated to Lord Krishna (The Jagannath temple) and consecrated the three wooden idols of Krishna, Balaram, and Subhadra. It is believed that he placed the ashes of Lord Krishna in the hollow chamber inside the wooden deity.
  • Another interesting legend associated with the city is that of the Gopi Lake. It is believed that after leaving Mathura, Lord Krishna never went back. The Gopis of Mathura traveled and came to Dwarka to meet Krishna. After several Ras Leelas with Lord Krishna, they offered their lives to the land and hence the name of the lake “Gopi Talav”.

Significance of the Temple

  • The Dwarka Dwarkadhish Temple is one of the Char Dham Temples one must visit during their lifetime. It was visited by the famous 8th-century philosopher Shri Adi Shankaracharya. It is also considered to be one of the Sapta Puris (ancient cities) in India, the other being Ayodhya, Mathura, Kanchipuram, Ujjain, Banaras, and Haridwar.
  • The City of Dwarka is mentioned repeatedly in epics like the Mahabharata, Puranas like the Skandapuran, Vishnupuran, and Harivamsha and in the holy Shrimad Bhagavad Gita.
  • The Dwarkadhish is the 108th Divya Desam of Lord Vishnu in India mentioned in the Divya Prabandha sacred texts.
  • It is believed that the Dwarka Dwarkadhish Temple was built over the original place of Hari – Graha, the home of Lord Krishna.
  • The city of Dwarka is said to exist from time immemorial. During the times of Lord Krishna, the city was called, “The City of Gold” or “Swarna Nagari”. Several scriptures in Mahabharata mention the castle of Lord Krishna to be built in Gold where the Pandavas played and spent their childhood. Archeologists have unearthed copper coins, boulders, pillars and pottery samples from the underwater excavations in Dwarka. They have formulated that a well-established city existed at the place in the 2nd Millennium BC. Several explorations between 1983 and 1990 have concluded that the ancient town was built in six sectors and extended for about a mile from the shore. Offshore investigations have found evidence of stone slabs, ports and other construction materials dating back to 15th Century BC which supports the fact of an Ancient city’s existence around the times of Lord Krishna. The Layout of the Dwarka City mentioned in ancient manuscripts matches that of the city unearthed by The Marine Archaeology Unit of India.
  • The Dhwajaji – The Mast Flag atop the main Temple is unique and sacred. It is known to be Aadhi Bhoutik in nature. The Dhwaja or the Flag is made of 52 yards of cloth. 52 small flags are woven individually in each yard of cloth used for the main Flag. Each Yard symbolizes the entrances to the ancient city of Dwarka. According to scriptures, the administration of Dwarka was run by 56 administrators, 4 of them being Lord Krishna, Balram, Pradyuma, and Anirudhji. These 4 are still worshiped in temples that are untouched by the Sea. However, for the rest of the 52 people, the flag acts as a remembrance. The colors of the Dhwajaji are changed every day.
  • In the Temple premises of the Dwarka Dwarkadhish Temple, a small temple called Kusheshwar Mahadev Temple is present. The Pilgrimage is considered as incomplete without visiting this temple. Legend says that there was a demon named Kush who lived in a place called Kushasthali. People prayed to Lord Krishna to save them. Lord Krishna fought and crushed the demon until he was buried completely into the ground. Krishna then set up a temple of his family God, Lord Mahadev over the place. The Shiva Linga is located 20 feet below the ground.
  • The Dwarka Mutt is one of the four mutts established by Sri Adi Shankaracharya, the others being Sringeri, Jagannath Puri, and Jyotirmath. The Mutt is called Shanti Peeth.
  • It is considered sacred to take a dip at the Gomati Ghat situated just behind the Dwarka Dwarkadhish Temple. It is believed that your sins can be washed away after genuine worship at this place.

Dwarkadhish Temple Timings

  • Dwarkadhish Temple opens at 6:30am and closes at 9:30pm. The Darshan is closed from 1pm to 5pm in the afternoon.
  • The Mangal Aarti starts at 6:30 AM followed by Mangal Darshan from 7 AM to 8 AM.
  • The Shringar Aarti takes place at 10:30 AM.
  • The Sandhya Aarti takes place at 7:30 PM to 7:45 PM.

Dress Code

It is highly recommended to wear formal and decent dresses to visit the Temple. Shorts and miniskirts are to be avoided.

Festivals

  • Janmashtami – The birth of Lord Krishna is celebrated in a very grand and spiritual way. Thousands of pilgrims from across the world visit the Temple to get his blessings on this auspicious day. The day is marked by a series of Poojas and rituals that start right from Mangal Aarti in the morning to the Parna Rom that happens the next day. The idol is ceremoniously decorated and Abhishekams are performed throughout the day with Tulsi and Chandan.
  • Annakut Utsav – This festival is celebrated on the first day of the Kartik month. A variety of milk preparations and sweets are placed before the God and worshiped.
  • Tulsi Vivah – This day signifies the marriage of Lord Vishnu with Tulsi Devi. The festival is celebrated from the 11th day of the Kartik month for 4 days.
  • Holi – The festival of colors is believed to be the favorite festival of Lord Krishna. Therefore, this day is celebrated with great pomp and joy.
  • Akshaya Tritiya – The third day of the Vaisakh month is celebrated as the Akshaya Tritiya. The day marks the beginning of summer season. The Idol of Lord Krishna is dressed with flowers and Chandan instead of the usual dress. The festivities end on the 11th day of the month called Bhima Ekadashi.
  • Rath Yatra – On the 2nd of the Ashadh month (June – July), the representation of Lord Krishna is kept in a chariot and is taken around the city. Several legends are associated with the Rath Yatra. It is believed that the day marked the departure of Krishna and Balram to Mathura on c chariot sent by Kamsa. It is also celebrated as the day Krishna decides to become the Sarathi (Driver) of Arjuna’s chariot in Mahabharatha.

Some of the other important festivals celebrated at The Dwarkadhish Temple are Dussehra, Deepavali, Ram Navami, Basant Panchami and Makar Sankranthi.

Poojas and Rituals

The daily rituals that are performed at the Temple are listed below:

  • Mangal Aarti – It starts at 7:00 AM. The cleaning (brushing and face wash) of the Lord happens during this time.
  • Abhishek Snan – The Lord is given a holy bath daily before the darshan. The Abhishekam is usually performed behind closed doors, but the ritual is open to public viewing only on Janmashtami and Jalayatra day.
  • Shringar Aarti – The God is adorned with a Golden color cloth and archanai is done with Basil and Chandan. During the Aarti, the Golden Chhadi is kept near the door of the shrine. The Flute is handed over to the Dwarkadhish.
  • Uthapan – At 5 PM, the God is awakened by offering Chandan and Tulsi. The chanting of Vishnu Sahasranamam takes place accompanied by the offering of a petal of Tulsi for each name of Vishnu.
  • Several Bhogs like Mangal Bhog, Makhan Bhog. Snan Bhog, Shringar Bhog, Raj Bhog, Banta Bhog, Sandhya Bhog, Shayan Bhog and Ratri Banta Bhog are also offered throughout the day.
  • Several Sevas can be offered by the devotees to the God such as Mangal Bhog, Palna, Shayan Bhog, Paan Seva, Milk Seva, Vegetable Seva, Flower Seva, Fruit Seva and Misri Seva at nominal rates.

How to reach: Road, Rail, and Air

  • By Air – The nearest airport is Jamnagar, 137 km away.
  • By Rail – Regular trains are available from major cities like Jamnagar, Rajkot, Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Surat, Mumbai, Goa, Bangalore, and Kochi.
  • By Road – Direct State Buses are available from Jamnagar, Gandhinagar, Porbandar, Rajkot, and Ahmedabad.

Where to stay

There are many Government run Guest Houses in the city. Some of them are Circuit House, Gayathri Athithi Grah and Birla Dharmshala.

Several Dharmshalas are operated by the Temple Trust like Kokila Niraj Dham, Patelwadi Dharamshala, and Jay Ranchhod Dharmashala.

Several private hotels are available to stay in the bustling city of Dwarka.

Where to eat

Several hotels and restaurants are available near the Temple premises as well as in the city. The Cuisine offered is mainly vegetarian.

Nearby Places

  • Shri Nageshwar Temple – The Nageshwar Temple also known as The Nagnath Temple is located 12 km away from the Dwarkadhish Temple. It is an important Saivite pilgrimage site as it is one of the 12 Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva. The temple is unique as the Shiva Lingam faces south and the Nandi faces east.
  • The Rukshamanee Mandir – It is located 2 km away from The Dwarkadhish Temple. The Temple is dedicated to Devi Rukmini, wife of Lord Krishna. The idol of Devi Rukmini can be seen having a “Chaturbhuj” or four hands, each holding a Shanka, Chakra, Gada, and the Padma. This symbolizes that Devi Rukmini was a reincarnation of Goddess Mahalakshmi.
  • Beyt Dwarka – The Island is located 30 km from Dwarka. It houses a 500-year-old temple built by Sri Vallabhacharya. The temple is dedicated to Lord Krishna. The white pristine beaches at the Island are very popular for water sports and picnics.
  • Gomati Sangam Ghat – This Sangam Ghat can be reached by descending 56 steps built behind the Swarga Dwar of the Dwarkadhish Temple. This place signifies the confluence of River Gomati with the ocean. One can visit several smaller shrines dedicated to Lord Krishna and his friend Sudama.
  • The Gita Mandir – The Temple was built by the Birla family in 1970. This temple is dedicated to the teachings of The Bhagavad Gita. The hymns from the Bhagavad Gita are carved onto the walls of the Temple.
Puri Jagannath Temple

Puri Jagannath Temple

Puri Jagannath Temple

The Puri Jagannath Temple is one of the most famous and revered temples in Hindu culture. It is located at Puri in Odisha. It is part of the sacred Char Dham Yatra that a Hindu must make during his or her lifetime.  It is one of the most sacred Vaishnavite Pilgrimage sites. The temple is dedicated to Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra.

The Puri Jagannath Temple is built on a raised platform in the center of the city. There are four gates of the temple facing the four directions. The gates are suitably named as The North gate (Elephant Gate), South gate (Horse Gate), West gate (Tiger Gate) and the East gate (Lion gate). The public is allowed to enter from the Lion or the East gate. At the entrance, a 10 feet high Aruna Stambha greets everyone.  A flight of 22 steps takes us to the main sanctum of Lord Jagannath.

The Puri Jagannath Temple can be divided into four areas – The Vimana (Sanctum), The Jagamohan (the Porch), Natamandir (Audience hall) and the Bhogamandap. The Vimana was once known as the tallest structure in ancient India. On the walls, several murals depict the life of Lord Krishna.

The first thing that comes to our mind when we talk about the Puri Jagannath Temple is the world famous Jagannath Rath Yatra. The festival has propelled the temple into worldwide fame.

Puri Jagannath Temple History

  • As per the copper plates discovered belonging to the Ganga Dynasty, the ruler of Kalinga Anantavarman Chodaganga Dev initiated the construction of the Puri Jagannath Temple.
  • In 1174E, the King Ananga Bhima Dev built the temple in its present form.
  • Worshipping at the Jagannath temple was discontinued in 1558 when Odisha was attacked by the Afghan General Kalapahad.
  • Deities were re-installed and rituals began again after the establishment of the Khurda kingdom under Ramachandra Deb.
  • According to historical evidence, the temple was looted 18 times.
  • It is believed that Lord Jagannath was originally worshipped as Nila Madhava by the tribals residing in a dense forest. A king named Indradyumna of the Malwa plateau had a dream that Lord Vishnu could be viewed in his true form in Utkala (ancient name of Odisha). He appointed a person named Vidyapati to search for this form. Vidyapati came upon the tribal community and found out about the worshiping of the Nila Madhava. Vidyapati married the daughter of the chief of the tribal and was shown the way to the place housing the Nila Madhava. Vidyapati informed the king about the place of worship but when the King went there by himself, the Nila Madhava had disappeared. The King was deeply dejected. Lord Vishnu, taking pity, issued a divine message to him that he should go to the shores of Puri and create the image of Lord Jagannath from a log of wood that will be floating on the waves. Lord Vishnu appeared as a carpenter and asked to leave him undisturbed for 21 days in a room so that he could prepare the image. However, on the insistence of the Queen, the room was opened early and only the unfinished images of the three gods and the Sudarsana Chakra were present.
  • According to historians, the temple was initially dedicated to only Lord Jagannath and Balabhadra. The third idol of Subhadra was placed later when Adi Shankaracharya visited Puri.

Significance of the temple

  • Unlike idols located in other parts of the country, which are usually made of stone or metal, the idol of Lord Jagannath is made of Wood.
  • The temple’s kitchen is the biggest kitchen in the World. It can cook for lakhs of people at a time. The tradition says that the cooking of the food is supervised by Goddess Mahalakshmi herself. If she is displeased, a shadow of a dog appears near the kitchen. The food is then buried and a new batch is prepared. The food is purely vegetarian without using onions and garlic. It is made in earthen pots with wood as fuel. It is believed that by consuming the Mahaprasad at the Temple Kitchen, one can redeem himself in front of Lord Jagannath. The Mahaprasad consists of Rice, Dal, Vegetable Curry and a sweet dish. Dry Mahaprasad is also available for pilgrims who want to carry it to home with them.
  • A ritual unique to the Puri Jagannath temple is the Nabakalebara process. The idols of the deities have to be replaced after 12 yrs since they are made of wood which decays as time passes by. The elaborate procedure in which the deities are all replaced is collectively called as Nabakalebara. In short, the selected Neem tree is fell, cut to size and an exact replica of the original idols are made out of it. The old idols are buried under a place called Koili Vaikuntha.
  • Lord Jagannath is worshiped as “Daru Brahma”, Daru meaning Wood and Brahma meaning the soul. It is believed that inside the wooden idol of Lord Jagannath, an unknown substance is present known as Brahma. There are several theories on what the substance could be, but according to the poems dating back 500 years ago, it is a piece of bone from Lord Krishna’s body when he left Earth.
  • In ancient times, this temple was iconic in the way that it gave equal importance to Vaisnavism (devotees of Vishnu), Saktism (devotees of Bhadra / Kali) and Saivism (devotees of Shiva). Lord Jagannath represents Lord Vishnu, Balabhadra is Lord Shiva and Subhadra represents Durga.
  • On the top floor of the Shikhar of the Jagannath shrine, a Neel Chakra is placed. The disc is an eight-spiked chakra. This is the only physical object considered sacred in the worshiping of Lord Jagannath. It symbolises protection by Lord Jagannath.

Puri Jagannath Temple Timings

  • The Puri Jagannath Temple opens at 5am and closes at 12 midnight. The afternoon break is from 1pm to 4pm.
  • Mangala Aarti takes place between 5:00 AM to 6:00 AM.
  • Non-Hindus or Hindus but not Indians are not allowed inside the temple premises.
  • Smoking and drinking are prohibited inside the temple complex.

Dress Code

It is advised to wear a conservative form of dress in accordance with the local culture of the place.

Poojas and Rituals

  • Mailama is performed after the Mangal Aarti in the morning. In this ritual, the clothes worn by the God are taken off along with the jewels to prepare them for their ritualistic bath.
  • Abakash or the Purificatory rituals like bathing of the idol takes place between 6:00 AM to 6:30 AM.
  • Sahanamela – Pilgrims are allowed to enter the inner sanctum to have a darshan. This takes place between 7:00 AM to 8:00 AM.
  • Surya Puja and Dwarapal Puja are performed at 8:00 AM.
  • Gopala Ballava Pooja – Breakfast is offered to the deities. Sweet popcorn (Khai), Coconut sweets, Ripe banana, Curd, and chipped coconuts are offered as Bhog. Puja is performed in a brief manner with pancha upachar only.
  • Sakala Dhupa – Three pundits sit in front of the three deities and worships each one of them. Bhog is offered. The cost of the Poojas is borne by the Puri Jagannath Temple Administration.
  • Sandhya Dhupa – Aarti is performed between 7:00 PM to 8:00 PM.
  • Pahuda at 12 midnight. The deities are taken to Ratnasimhasana where they retire to bed.

Festivals celebrated at the Jagannath Temple

  • Chandan Yatra – On Akshaya Tritiya, in the month of Vaisakha, the representative images of the God are taken to a famous tank called Narendra Pokhari with much pomp and fare. The day commemorated the beginning of the construction of the Chariots used for the Rath Yatra.
  • Snana Yatra – This is the first time in a year when the deities are taken out of the sanctum and are placed on the Snana Vedi. Jagannath and Balabhadra are dressed like Lord Ganesha with an elephant head on top. The idols are bathed with 108 buckets of water. The deities are eventually removed from the sanctum and are worshiped secretly till the second day of the Asadha (June-July) month.
  • Rath Yatra – The Rath Yatra is also known as The Gundicha Yatra. Gundicha was the queen of King Indradyumna. She initiated the first ever Rath Yatra conducted. The Rath Yatra has been taking place since time immemorial. The earliest references to the Yatra have been made in the Brahma Purana and the Skanda Purana. The Rath Yatra takes place in June-July every year. The three deities are taken to the Gundicha temple located 3 km away on three individual huge and magnificent Rathas. After 9 days, the deities are brought back to the temple in the same way. The return journey is called Bahuda Yatra. The three chariots are named as  Nandighosa for Jagannath,  Taladhvaja for Balabhadra and Devadalana for Subhadra. The order in which the chariots are pulled from the Puri Jagannath Temple gate towards the Gundicha temple is Balabhadra, Subhadra and then Jagannatha.
  • Makara Sankranthi – This festival occurs in the Hindu month of Pausa. The day signifies the rich harvest of the agricultural produce. Prayers are given and varieties of food are kept in front of the deities for them to bless it.

Some of the other important celebrations are Jhulana yatra, Ram Navami, Radha Ashtami, Krishna Lila, Ganesh Chaturthi, Dasara and Deepavali.

How to reach

  • By Air – The nearest airport is Bhubaneshwar which is 53 km away. Regular flights are available from all major cities in India.
  • By Train – Puri is well connected by rail. Direct trains are operated from major cities like Kolkata, Delhi and Mumbai.
  • By Road – The State buses are available in plenty from stations like Bhubaneshvwar, Vizag, Konark and Chilka.

Where to stay

The Puri Jagannath Temple Administration maintains two guest houses by the names of Shri Gundicha Bhakta Nivas and The Nilachal Bhakta and Yatri Nivas. Rooms can be booked online by visiting the site.

Private 3-star and 5-star hotels are available in plenty for the pilgrims throughout the city of Puri.

Where to eat

The Mahaprasad offered by the temple is a meal in itself and a must have. Apart from that, a large number of Vegetarian restaurants are available outside the temple complex. The cuisine ranges from local to Punjabi and Chinese.

Nearby Temples

  • Sakshi Gopal Temple – The temple is dedicated to Lord Krishna and Radha. Amla Navami is the main festival celebrated here. The temple is located 17 km away from the Puri Highway.
  • Vimala Temple – It is located inside the temple complex. Goddess Vimala is considered to be the consort of Jagannath and a guardian of the temple complex. Devotees pay respect to Vimala before worshipping Jagannath in the main temple. Food offered to Jagannath does not get sanctified as Mahaprasad until it is also offered to Vimala.
  • Gundicha Temple –It is located 3 km away from the Jagannath Temple. It is the destination of the chariots during the Rath Yatra. The three deities are kept here for 7 days during the Rath Yatra.

Badrinath Temple

Badrinath Temple

Badrinath is a small temple town located in Garhwal, Uttarakhand. The majestic River Alaknanda flows beside the temple. It is one of the most sacred vaishnavite pilgrimage sites in Hindu culture. Badrinath Temple is one of the temples which form the Char Dham Pilgrimage in India. It is also a part of the 108 Divyadesams dedicated to Lord Vishnu.

The Badrinath Temple is surrounded by two peaks named Nar and Narayan (twin forms of lord vishnu as the fifth avatar) against the backdrop of the Neelkanth Mountain. The temple can be visited only between April and November. The Temple remains closed and unapproachable due to extreme weather conditions prevailing in the Himalayas during the winter season.

The Badrinath Temple is composed of three structures: The Garbhagraha, The Darshan Mandap, and The Sabha Mandap. The height of the temple is approximately 50 mts with a gold roof. The walls of the temple are built of stone with broad arched windows placed among them. The walls and the pillars of the mandapam are covered with sculptures and scriptures from the glorious past. The figure of Garuda can be seen just in front of the main deity Lord Vishnu. The temple pandit or the Rawal Ji must be from the clan of Nambudiri Brahmins from Kerala.

Badrinath Temple Image

Badrinath Temple History

  • The origin or the date of construction of the Badrinath Temple is unknown. It is, however, believed to be at least a thousand years old.
  • According to a Skandapuranam, in the 9th century, Sri Adi Shankara found a large black statue of Lord Vishnu lying on the banks of the Narad Kund. He established the statue in a cave near the Tapt Kund which later came to be worshiped as the Badrinath Temple.
  • According to legend, this place was initially chosen by Lord Shiva for his Tapasya, but Lord Vishnu wanted the place to himself. He took the form of a little boy and cried lying down on the rock. He could not be consoled by both Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. Eventually on Parvati’s insistence, Lord Shiva left to Kedarnath to do his Tapasya. The place where this incident happened is still worshiped near Badrinath.
  • Another legend says that when Lord Vishnu started his penance, Goddess Laxmi stood beside him and sheltered him from the heat and cold by turning herself into a Badri Tree. Hence, Vishnu was given the name of Badrinath (Lord of Badri).
  • According to the ancient scriptures, Badrinath is home to several occurrences and legends from the great Mahabharata. The Pandavas were supposed to have passed Badrinath by crossing over a peak called “Swargarohini” on the way to their last pilgrimage.
  • A popular legend associated with Badrinath is that of River Ganga. When Ganga was asked to descend on Earth to relieve human suffering, the Earth was unable to tolerate the intensity of her flow. To distribute the flow, Ganga passed through the locks of Lord Shiva and turned into twelve channels of water. River Alaknanda became one of the channels.

Significance of Badrinath Temple

  • Badrinath Temple is one of the most revered vishnu temples in hindu culture. The Temple is one of the temples of Char Dham Yatra and is also a part of 108 Divya Desams dedicated to Lord Vishnu. It is believed that the statue of the Deity Lord Vishnu is Swayambhu in nature meaning that it is self-born.
  • The idol of Lord Vishnu is said to be self-manifested. It is supposed to be one of the eight swayam vyakta kshetras of Lord Vishnu.
  • The Badrinath Temple is a part of the Panch Badri Temples, the others being the Yog Dhyan Badri, Bhavishya Badri, Adi Badri and the Vriddha Badri.
  • The legendary River Saraswati originates from a glacier near Badrinath. The river joins The Alaknanda and then vanishes. The Saraswati along with Ganga and Yamuna meet at Allahabad to form the Holy Sangam.
  • It is mentioned in the Vamana Purana that the sages Nara and Narayana (the dual form of Lord Vishnu’s fifth avatar) did penance here. The great sages of folklores like Kapila Muni, Gautam and Kashyap also did penance here.
  • According to Hindu mythology, the head of Brahma fell from Shiva’s trident at the Brahma Kapal ghat located 300 mts from the Badrinath temple. Homages are offered to departed souls on this ghat.
  • It is believed that Narada attained salvation atop the Narad Shila located at Badrinath.
  • It is believed that the Vyas Cave situated near Badrinath is the place where Ved Vyas dictated the entire Mahabharata to Lord Ganesha.
  • The Bheem Pul near Badrinath Temple was constructed by Bheem to make a path between two mountains so that Draupadi could cross it easily.
  • The water of the hot spring Tapt Kund has medicinal values and therefore, a dip is a must to cure all ailments.

Badrinath Temple Timings

  • The Badrinath Temple opens at 4:30am and closes at 9:00pm. The afternoon break is from 1:00pm to 4:00pm.
  • The Abhishekam is performed from 7:30 AM to 12:00 PM and at 3:00 PM.
  • The Geet Govind and the Aarti are performed between 6 PM and 9 PM.
  • After the last Aarti of the day, the deity is covered with sandalwood paste which is offered as Prasad to the devotees during the Nirmalya darshan.

Dress Code

Even though, the temple is open only during the summer months, it is highly advised to wear woolen clothes with socks and scarfs. Carry umbrellas as the region is prone to seasonal rains.

Poojas and Rituals

  • Shrimad Bhagwat Saptah Path – It is a special pooja performed at the temple on request. This pooja continues for seven days. This ritual is dedicated to Lord Krishna. There are 18000 mantras in the Shrimad Bhagwat Katha. A Yagna is performed on the last day of the Pooja. It is believed that by doing this Pooja, one gets rid of fear and misfortune in life.
  • Vishnu Sahasranamam – It is a prayer consisting of the 1000 names of Lord Vishnu, each signifying the different attributes of Lord Vishnu.
  • Ved Path – A recitation of verses from the four Vedas – Rig, Sam, Yajur, and Atharva.
  • Geeta Path – The complete recital of the Shrimad Bhagawat Geeta is done in front of the deity.
  • Akhand Jyoti – This temple is closed for pilgrims on VijayaDasami. On the last day, a special ghee mixture brought from the Mana village is bought here and lit. This lamp remains lit for six months.

Festivals

  • Badri-Kedar festival – The festival is usually organized in the month of June. Artists from all over Uttaranchal come together to showcase their musical talent dedicated to Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva. The festival is celebrated for 8 days.
  • Mata Murti ka Mela – A large fair is held at the Badrinath temple every September to commemorate the day the river Ganga landed on the Earth. The day is dedicated to Mata Murti, mother of Nar and Narayan (fifth avatar of Vishnu). It is believed that she divided the River Ganga into twelve channels.
  • Janmashtami – This festival is celebrated on the day Lord Krishna (eighth avatar of Vishnu) was born. It is celebrated in the months of either August or September. Several processions and Poojas are organized for Lord Krishna on this day.

How to reach: Road, Rail, and Air

  • By Air – The nearest airport is the Jolly Grant airport in Dehradun. It is 314 km away from Badrinath. Regular flights are operated out of New Delhi to Jolly Grant Airport. Taxis and Buses are available from the Airport to Badrinath.
  • By Rail – The nearest railway station is Rishikesh which is 295 km away. Trains to Rishikesh are available from all major cities like Delhi and Mumbai.
  • By Road – Badrinath is well connected to other parts of the Uttarakhand state. One has to take a bus from New Delhi to Haridwar or Rishikesh, from where the state transport buses are available to Badrinath. Buses and Taxis are available from major places in Uttarakhand like Dehradun, Haridwar, Rishikesh, Pauri, Rudraprayag, Karnaprayag, Chamoli and Ukhimath.

Where to stay

Few government-run guest houses are available for pilgrims to stay. Some of them are GMVN Yatri Nivas Badrinath, GMVN Tourist Bungalow Devlok at Badrinath and GMVN Badrinath Rest House.

Private accommodation is also available with price ranges suitable for all. Some of the recommended hotels are Hotel Narayan Palace, New Snow Crest Hotel and The Sarovar Portico, Badrinath.

Where to eat

There are a lot of small hotels and dhabas in the town of Uttaranchal providing the local cuisine of Uttaranchal as well as the traditional North Indian Cuisine. The type of food is pure vegetarian. Some of the popular restaurants are the Brahma Kamal restaurant and the Saket restaurant.

Nearby Temples

  • Mata Murti Temple – It is situated 3 km away from the Badrinath Temple. The Temple is dedicated to the mother of Lord Narayan. According to a legend, it was Mata Murti’s wish that Lord Vishnu should come out of her womb when he takes the next avatar. Lord Vishnu agreed and took birth as twins Nar and Narayan to kill a devil. A fair is held every August at the Temple to celebrate the legend.
  • Neelkanth – This majestic peak overshadows the Badrinath Temple. The cliff of the peak is where the sun rays first fall on in Badrinath. The peak is named after Lord Shiva and it is a common faith that if you observe the peak for some time, you can see the outline of Lord Shiva sitting on the top facing the sky.
  • Satopanth – This is a lake 25 km away from Badrinath which is considered a sacred site. The lake is triangular in shape signifying the deities Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. It is believed that all three come down to earth to take a bath in this holy lake on every Ekadasi of the Hindu Calendar. However, permission is required to visit the lake.
  • Urvashi Temple – This temple is dedicated to the Apsara Urvashi. The story behind the temple is intriguing. It is believed that Lord Indra sent several Apsaras to distract Nar and Narayana during their meditation. In response, Narayan tore his left thigh and created several Apsaras, Urvashi being the most beautiful among them all. Urvashi led all the Apsaras and shattered Lord Indra’s pride near a pond 2 km away. There is a temple built at the pond dedicated to her.