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Multi Language Web-Mag on Hinduism for the Kids

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Kidsworld Club

Hello Children,

Hope you are enjoying all.

Here you can read about the highly popular pilgrimage centres and holy places around the world.

Most Hindus consider that they should have done good deeds in their past life to be able to visit and pray in these holy places.

If you are planning to travel our 'Holiday and Pilgrimage' section will do all the necessary arrangements.

Chithamparam Sri Nadarajar Temple

Chidambaram Thillai Natarajah Temple

This article is currently being reviewed and a new fully updated article with much more information will appear soon

 

Chidambaram Thillai Natarajah moorthy temple is one of the very famous Hindu temples in India. This temple is situated in Kadalur district of Tamilnadu state in India at around 189 kilo metres distance from Chennai, the capital city of Tamilnadu. 

The Chidambaram temple is repectfully called by other names such as Kovil, Thillai, Siththirakoodam, Puliyoor, Perumbaatruppuliyoor, Pothuch Sitrambalam, Pon ambalam, Pundareekapuram, Thaniyoor, Viyaakirapuram and Pooloka Kailash.

 

The five major natural forces, wind, water, earth, fire and the sky are essential for the living beings in the earth. In the ancient time people worshipped these natuar forces as 'Pancha Pootha' (Five Giants') 

These same forces that is essential for the life also have the capacity as the forces of destrction. 

Wind can form as a destructive strom of cyclone and water turn as flood or a tsunami to destroy while earth too can destroy life via volcano or earthquake. Similarly fire too can destroy life and also the sky can be a destructing force by way of preventing sunlight, snowing, raining, lighting and thundering. 

Because of this reasons the Hindus worship these forces as a form of the Lord of destruction, Lord Shiva. 

In South India, we are able to worship Lord Shiva representing the five basic classical elements called Panchaboothas in Tamil in five different temples. Chidambaram temple represents Arether - sky which is called Akasha or Aakayam in Tamil. ( Please read the list of 'Five Panchabootha sthalas' given in this essay). 

According to our ancient Hindu puranas and religious literatures, Lord Shiva performs his very beautiful and divine dance ( Thiru thandava in Tamil) at Chidambaram. 

The hall where lord Shiva performs his divine dance is called 'Pon Ambalam'. The roof of this beautiful hall is covered with 21,600 golden tiles.

 

In the Chidambaram temple premises, next to the main temple of Thillai Natarajah moorthy, we can see temples denoted to Devi Sivakami, Lord Skanda ( Muruga), Devi Mahishasuramardhani and a temple called Navalinga temple along with some other small temples.

 

A beautiful temple pond called 'Sivaganga thirtha' is situated near the main temple. The devotees can bathe in this pond happily. In ancient Hindu literature, it is said that the holy water of this pond is as auspicious as the holy water of the river Ganga.

 

Inside the sanctum sanctorum which is called the Garbhagriha, we can worship the main deity, Lord Shiva in his divinely beautiful dancing pose. Next to the statue of the main deity, we can see and worship 'the Secret of Chidambara' ( Chidambara ragasiyam).

The formless form we witness inside that dark room makes us understand the very important aspect of Hinduism that the Almighty Lord who has no form is filled in abundance all over the great universe. 

The details of abishekams performed to Chidambaram Thillai Natarajah Moorthy temple:

  • On the Thiruvonam star day in Siththirai ( April - May) month, holy abishekam is performed to the Natarajah Moorthy at the Kanagasabai.
  • On the Uththiram star day in Aani ( June - July ) month, holy abishekam is performed in the evening to Lord Shiva at the hall with one thousand pillars called Raja sabai.
  • On the Poorvapaksha sathurththasi day in Aavani ( August - September ) month, abishekam is performed in the evening to Lord Shiva at the Kanagasabai.
  • On the Thiruvaathirai star day in Maargazhi ( December - January ) month, abishekam is performed before sunrise to Lord Shiva at the hall with one thousand pillars called Raja sabai.
  • On the Poorvapaksha sathurththasi day in Maasi ( February - March ) month, abishekam is performed in the evening to Lord Shiva at the Kanagasabai.

Famous Hindu temples

In South India, there are five very famous temples denoted to Lord Shiva which represent five basic classical elements such as the Earth, Water, Fire, Wind and Aether( sky).

Here are the list of these five temples: Pancha boothas Temples (Five basic classical elements)


1. Earth ( Bhoomi or Nilam in Tamil):  Kanchipuram Ekambareswarar temple
2. Water ( Neer):  Thiruvanaikaval Jambukeswarar temple
3. Fire ( Agni or Neruppu):  Tiruvannamalai Annamalaiyar temple
4. Wind ( Vaayu or kaatru):  Sri Kalahasti Kaalahasteeswarar temple
5. Aether ( sky) (Akash or akaayam):  Chidambaram Thillai Natarajah temple 

 

 Map for the temple


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Kaanchi Kaamaadchi Amman Temple

Kaanchi Kaamaadchi Amman Temple


The great mother who reigns the universe by her beautiful sight of the merciful eyes is blessing all the devotees who pay a visit to her and worship. 

In sanskrit 'Kaama' indicates cherish, Kindness or merciful and also 'adcha' indicates eyes and so the term Kaamadchi represents that the mother Kaamadchi has eyesight complete of love and kindness. 

There are three great temples where mother Parvathi devi is the main deity and also blesses her devotees. They are Kaanchipuram, Madurai and Kasi. First two are in in South India and the last one is in North India. 

In Kaanchi the mother is known as Kaamaadchi and in Madurai she is known as Meenaadchi while in Kaasi she is known as Visalaadchi.

The Kaamaadchi Amman Temple in Kanchipuram


The Kaanchipuram where the great mother shows up as Kaamaadchi has numerous special characteristics. 

The sanskrit poet of great fame, 'Kalithasar', points out regarding Kaanchi as 'holy kaanchi' as well as 'one of the seven exceptional holy centres that provide salvation'. The other six are, according to him, Madura, Maya, Kasi, Avanthika, Puri and also Duvaraka. 

The holy temple in Kaanchipuran is also known by numerous terms too: Kanchipuram, Piralayacittu, Sivapuram, Vintupuram, Trinity Place, Piramapuram, Kamapitam, Tapomayam, Sakalacitti, Kannikappu, Tunpirapuram, Tantakapuram, Kancinapuram, Kashi as well as Sathiyaviratha-Rathiram are to name a few. 

In ancient times this temple were encompassed by 'Cenpakaa' trees and for that reason it was also called 'Cenpakaaranyam' as well. 

The holy city of Kaanchipuram is renowned for having 108 temples of Lord Shiva and 18 temples for Lord Vishnu.

 

'Shri Lalitha Thiripura Sunthari'

There are 51 'Sakthi Peedas' (Centres of Sakthi) in the holy land of Baratha (India) and the 'Kaama-Koodi Peeda' in Kanchipuram gets a significant place among them.


The main shrine of the Kaanchipuram temple is the only place where mother Kaamaadchi is appearing as 'Shri Lalitha Thiripura Sunthari'. 

It is believed that the Mother Kaamaadchi's both eyes are represented each by Saraswati Devi and Sri Lakshmi Devi.


How exactly the mother Kaamaadchi pertained to a temple in the town of Kanchipuram that has all the great significance explained earlier was a fantastic historical event. 

Demon Panthakasuran

Once long before there lived a demon called Panthakasuran. He performed severe penance (tapas) towards Lord Brahma and gained countless boons from him. Before long he grew arrogant due to the power of those boons and took all three worlds and also started annoying the Devas and Sages. 

When his atrocities grew day by day, Devas and Sages endured a lot and then went to Lord Shiva and complained of their sufferings. 

Lord Shiva realised that the boons granted by the Lord Brahma made Panthakasuran very powerful and therefore sent them all to Parwati Devi stating that the detrimental strength of mother Sakthy can only destroy the demon Panthakasuran. 

On the other hand, for another reason, Parwathi Devi was in Kanchipuram, sitting in a cenpakaa tree and in the form as a bird, parrot, she was doing penance for Lord Shiva.


Devas as well as Sages went up there, worshipped her and informed her of their sufferings. 

Listening to their plight, the mother had promised to to deal with their anguish by destroying the demon. At the same time the demon Pantakasuran was in deep sleep in a dark cave in Kailaya. 

The mother decided that, it was the correct time to destroy him and took a gigantic form as 'Pairava Rupini'. Her eighteen arms were carrying eighteen numerous weapons and also she grew in anger. With a foot in the neck and the other in the chest of the demon Pantakasuran, she cut off his head. Lifting and carrying it in one hand and appeared back in Kanchipuram.

The Gorgeous Little Girl

The sight of the rageful mother had scarred off the Devas and Sages and many trembled in fear and also some fell unconscious. To get rid of their fear the mother then took the form of a gorgeous little girl with a silky outfit and with a serene smile in her face showed up before them.


On seeing her in this form, the Devas and also Sages were very much delighted and also worshipped and praised her. 

The mother had then guided them to dig a ditch in the ground on the same area and bury the demon and also to erect a ‘pillar of victory of evils’ on top of it. 

When they continued to follow the guidance, yet another deadly monster Mallakan appeared from the ground itself and striven with them. They pursued the assistance of Maha Vishnu to destroy him and also to save them. 

The Lord came out to fight with the demon but whenever a drop of blood spilled out of the demon and struck the ground it would rear as yet another demon and also fought. Before long there was a large number of demons fighting the Lord. As a result the Lord Maha Vishnu called out for the assistance of Lord Shiva. 

Lord Shiva came there in a warrior form as Rudra Moorthy. He generated two genies and also told them to consume the blood falling out of the Demon Mallakan so that it won't strike the ground. 

Thus, the emergence of more demons were prevented and at last Lord Maha Vishnu destroyed the demon Mallakan with his 'Cakkarayutat'. 

Thereafter, as per the guidance of the mother Kaamaadchi, the Devas and Sages erected twenty four pillars, near the burial place of Panthakasuran and also set up Gayatri Mandapam (hall) and within it constructed a beautiful peeda (stage or altar) where they installed Mother's idol and worshipped it. 

They then came out and shut off the doors and also prayed from outside. 

The next early morning, at sunrise, they opened the doors with great reverence. And just what a surprise, the fantastic vision that they observed there made them to be overjoyed.

 

Goddess Kaamaadchi Amman

Yes, instead of the idol they installed, they saw that the Mother Goddess Kaamaadchi in her wonderful holy form in the center of the the Gayatri Mandapam (hall). That day was a Friday, aligned with Krishna Padcha, Pirathimai and also of a day of poora star and in the calendar month of 'Pankuni' (February - March) in the Sri-Muka year of the Kirutha yuga in 'Svayampu Manuvantirat'. 


Mother Kaamadchi was showing up in the form RaajaRaajeshwari with seamless grace. In the centre of the Gayatri hall the mother was sitting in Padmasana (yoga) position facing the south east direction, with four arms and in them she was holding paasam, goad, blossom arrows and the sugarcane. 

All those who were there became highly devotional by the mother's elegance and also of her gracefulness requested her to be there always and bless the world and all the living beings on it. 

As per their prayer and also of the request the mother Kaamadchi is sitting in the middle of the twenty four pillars supported hall structure of 'Gayatri Peeda' and also blessing all who pursue her out there. 

At present the Kaamadchi Amman Temple is located in the hub of the town of Kanchipuram. The temple stand majestically with a massive Raaja Gopura (Tower) that has five tier structures and making the devotees to get into beatific state of mind on seeing it.

Mother's Three Forms

Mother Kaamadchi gracing us in three different forms, namely Ssthulam (visible), Sudsumam (invisible) as well as Kaaranam (with a cause). This is really significance as in most of the temples mother appears in one or two forms only and in this particular temple she is in all three forms. 

Let's now explore more of these forms. 

Kaamakoodi Kaamadchi - (Ssthula Form ) - As the Idol in the Sanctum. 

Anchana Kaamadchi - (Sudsuma Form) - Aruba Lakshmi (invisible Lakshmi) 

The Chakara known as Kaamakoodi Peeda - A form with a cause 

Mother Kaamaadchi is also known as Mahadevi, ThiripuraShundari, RajaRajeswari, Kaameswari, Lalitha, Sri Chakara Nayaki.

24 shirines within the Kanchipuram Temple

There are twenty four shrines within this temple in which we can worship and they are: 

    1. Gayatri Mandapam
    2. Kaamaak-koodi Kaamaadchi (in the Sanctum)
    3. Kamakoodi Peeda Sri Chakra (in the Sanctum)
    4. Kaamaadchi Tapas
    5. Pilakasam
    6. Anchana Kaamaadchi in the form of Aruba (invisible) Lakshmi
    7. Varahi
    8. Santhana Stampam
    9. Artha Nareesvarar
    10. Rupa Lakshmi with Kallar Perumal (Lord Vishnu and Lakshmi)
    11. Annapurani
    12. Dharma Sastha
    13. Adi Shankara
    14. Sage Durvasar
    15. Utsava Kaamaadchi
    16. MaharajaDuntira
    17. (Ashta puja) Maha Saraswati
    18. Dharma stampam
    19. Kaasi-Kaala Bhairava
    20. Durga
    21. Kaasi Visvanaathar
    22. Panch Ganga
    23. Pootha Nikraka Perumal
    24. Sage Agastya and Sage Hayakirivarum

Let’s now see the details of the few:

Gayatri Mandapa

Gayatri Mandapa is found in the centre of the first region of the temple. The structure of it is supported by the twenty four stone pillars. The Kaamaadchi Amman is sitting magnificently in the middle of this Gayatri Mandapa.

Kaamaak-koodi Kaamaadchi

This refer to the mother who is sitting in the centre of the Gayatri Mandapa. The mother is in a yoga position called Padmasana and facing the south east direction. In her arms she is holding 'paasam', 'goad', 'flower arrows', and 'sugarcane'. Here the main deity of the sanctum, Ambika (another name of the mother) is blessing her devotees in Ssthula (visible) form and so she is known as Kaamaak-koodi Kaamaadchi.

Goddess Kaamaadchi Ammbal (mother or matha or amman) is with the main deity of all the Shiva's Temples in Kanchipuram and there would not be separate shrines for Ammbal. She shows up as the 'Utsava Moorthy' in all those Shiva's Temples.

Anchana Kaamaadchi in the type of Aruba Lakshmi

In the left edge of the deity of the Sanctum, Kaamaak-koodi Kaamaadchi, the Ancana Kaamaadchi in the type of Aruba (invisible) Lakshmi is showing up facing north in meditating position. The Lakshmi Devi here has no form (invisible form). Having said that she is obtaining a beautiful form by the Kum-Kum powder placed by the devotees after pujas and due to the magnificent power of the KumKum she is getting a beautiful visible shape.

We will learn later of a purana story that describe why the beautiful mother Lakshmi Devi has taken this invisible form.

'Sri Chakra' also known as 'Kaamakoodi Peeda'


'Sri Chakara' is yet another form of the mother that was with a cause (Kaarana). It is located opposite the sanctum. Because of the fact that the mother is also in the form as Sri Chakara, this temple is also known as 'Sri Chakara Peeda sthala' too. The Kaamakoodi Sri Chakra Peeda appears to be a circle shaped tank. The inside walls of this Peeda has the images of the Ashta Lakshmis inscripted. In the middle of the tank the 'Sri Chakara' that has rare powers can be seen.

The history of the temple points out that the 8th century Gnanaguru 'Aaathi Sankara' had indeed performed pujas and worshipped this 'Sri Chakara' and obtained the grace of the mother.


 

Santhana Sthampam

 

To the left side of Kaamadchi Amman as well as opposite to Varahi Devi, the Santhana Stampam can be seen. The devotees who are childless, worship Santhana Sthampam for the divine blessing for a baby. 

Artha Nareesvarar

 

In the Gayatri Mandapa, in the right side of the mother, the shirine of the Artha Nareesvarar can easily be viewed facing the south direction. 

Kasi Visvanathar

 

In the east side of the third area of the Kaamaadchi Amman Temple, the Kasi Visvanathar shirine can be observed facing the east direction. 

Durga (Mahishasuramarthini)

 

Inside of the lower gopura of the third area at the Kaamaadchi Amman Temple, Durga is gracing her devotees in her standing position. 

Annapoorani

 

In the first area of the temple and on the way to the Gayatri Mandapa, the shrine of Annapoorani could be observed facing the eastern direction. 

Shall we now look into the purana tale of how the mother Lakshmi has indeed taken the invisible form as Anchana Kaamaadchi or Aruba Lakshmi. 

Once very long before the Devas as well as Asuras were churning the milky ocean for the nectar. They used a very long snake Vasuki for the churning and when both were pulling the snake in opposite directions the snake Vasuki cried in pain as well as release the poisonous gas. To prevent the others from getting affected, the Lord Vishnu, the protector, took it all on himself and also as a result his holy body had turned black. 

When the churning went on Lakshmi Devi showed up and Maha Vishnu had received her. On seeing Maha Vishnu, the very gorgeous gold colour Lakshmi Devi bursted into laughter about his colour and ridiculed him on that. The arrogance of the Lakshmi irritated the Lord and he cursed her to become invisible so that no one could see her. 

On understanding her blunder the Lakshmi Devi sobbed, requested forgiveness and also of the remedy for the curse. For which the Lord advised her to go to Kaama Kooddam (Kaanchi Puram) and to do penance. 

Accordingly the Lakshmi Devi who visited Kaama Kooddam with unendurable sorrow was welcomed and also comforted by the mother Kaamaadchi. Offering her the term 'Ancana Kaamaadchi', she seated her on her left edge. 

Mother Kaamaadchi also blessed her and pointed out that 'when the KumKum powder, that was granted as prasad to the devotees who worship me, place on your holy feet you will get your real beautiful form by its power and in return you bless those devotees with all the worldly wealth'. 

Through that day onwards, with the blessing of mother Kaamaadchi and also of the strength of the KumKum, the Lakshmi Devi regained her lost form. 

The Piramotchavam festival in the month of Maasi (January - February) is remarkably unique occasion of this temple. The 'Uthaya Visuvaroopa Seva' on the last day of the festival has very importance and also has high significance. 

There could be inadequate words to illustrate the beautiness of the mother Kaamaadchi who get rid of the sufferings of the devotees who pursue her out there and grant them all the greatest things.

Let us pray the holy feet of that mother Kaamaadchi everyday and also receive her blessings and grace to have a sorrowless, sweetful life.

 

'Sri kamatciyamman Viruttam'

Here are some devotional scripts that can be used for worshipping the Mother Kaamadchi. This is the transliteration of the Tamil language version of 'Sri kamatciyamman Viruttam'


'Sri kamatciyamman Viruttam' 

Om Shakti 

1. Sundari, Sounthiri, Niranthiri, Turanthiri
Sothiyaai ninra Umaiye

Sukkira VarathThilunaik kandu tharisipoer
thunpathinai neekKiduvai

CinthaiThanul unn Pathanth thanaiye tholuparkal
thuyarththinai maatTuduvai

YegamMellam munMaikai pukalaVenna laamoo
siriyanaal mudinthidathu.

SonthaVun MaiynthaNaai enthanai radsikkach
Siriya Kadan unnathamma

SivaSiva Maheswari Paramanida Yeeswari
Seeronmani ManonmaniyumNee

Anthari, Turanthari, Niranthari Parampari
yanaatha radsakiyum neeye

Alakaana Kanchiyil Pukaloodu Vaalnthidum
Ammai Kaamaadchi Yumaye.

2. Patthu Viral Mohthiram eithanai pirakasamMathu
Paadakam Thandaik Kolusum

Pachchai Vaidooriyam Michaiyaai ilaiThidda
Paathch Silampin Oliyum

Muthu Mookuthiyum Rathinap PathakKamum
Mookana Maalai Allakum

Muluthum Vaidooriyam puspa raagathThinal
MudinThidda Thaali Allakum

Suthamaai IrukKinra Kaathinit Kamallunch
SengKaiyit ponn kangKanamum

yegamellam villaiPetta Mukamellam mozhiYutta
SiruKathu KopinNalakum

AththiVarathan Thankai Sakthi SivaRoopathai
Adiyanaal Sollath Thiramoo

Alakaana Kanchiyil Pukaloodu Vaalnthidum
Ammai Kaamaadchi Yumaye. 

3. Mayavan Thankai Nee MarakathaValli Nee
ManiManthira KaariNeeye

Maaya SoroopiNee MakeswariyuMaana Nee
Malaiyaraiyan Makallana Nee

Thaaye MeedadchiNee SatKuna ValliNee
ThayaNithi VisaalaadchiNee

Tharaniyil PeyarPetta Periya NayakiyumNee
Saravananai EenravalumNee

PeikaludanaadiNee Aththinida Paakamathil
PeruPera Valarthavalum Nee

Piranava SoroopiNee Pirasana ValliNee
PiriyaVunna MulaiyumNee

AayiMakamayiNee AananthaValliNee
AkilaandaValliNee

Alakaana Kanchiyil Pukaloodu Vaalnthidum
Ammai Kaamaadchi Yumaye. 


4. PaarathanilUllalavum PaakiyathoodEnnai
PaangkKudan Radchikavum

Pakthiyai UnnPaatham Nitham Tharicitha
Paalaruk Karul Puriyavum

SeerPetta Thekaththil SiruPinikal Varaamal
Senkiliyan Anukaamalum

Seiyinida Paakiyangch SelvanKalaith Thanthu
Jeyam Pettu Vaalthu Varavum

PearPetta kalanaiP Thodara Voddamal
PiriyamaiK KathidamMaa

Piriyamaa YunMeethinil SiriyaNaan SonnaKaviP
Pilaikalaip Pooruthu Radchi

Aarathanil MaaNal Kuviththaraiya Poosai SeithaVenn
Ammai Eekampariye

Alakaana Kanchiyil Pukaloodu Vaalnthidum
Ammai Kaamaadchi Yumaye.

 

The Direction to the Temple


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Madurai Meenakshi Amman Temple

Madurai Meenakshi Amman Temple

madurai-meenakshi

The great mother who reigns the universe by her beautiful sight of the merciful eyes is blessing all the devotees who pay a visit to her and worship. 

There are three great temples where mother Parvathi devi is the main deity and also blesses her devotees. They are Kaanchipuram, Madurai and Kasi. First two are in in South India and the last one is in North India. 

In Madurai she is known as Meenakshi and in Kaanchi the mother is known as Kaamaadshi  while in Kaasi she is known as Visalaadshi.

The name "Mīnachchi" means fish-eyed and is derived from the words "mīna" meaning fish and "aksi" meaning eyes. 

Madurai Meenakshi Amman Temple

madurai

Meenakshi Amman Temple (also called: Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple, Tiru-aalavaai and Meenakshi Amman Kovil) is a historic Hindu temple located on the southern bank of the Vaigai River in the temple city of Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India.

vaikai river

River Vaikai

It is dedicated to Parvati, known as Meenakshi, and her consort, Shiva, here named Sundareswarar. The temple forms the heart and lifeline of the 2,500 year old city of Madurai and is a significant symbol for the Tamil people, mentioned since antiquity in Tamil literature though the present structure was built between 1623 and 1655 AD.

A rare old picture

It houses 14 gopurams (gateway towers), ranging from 45–50m in height. The tallest is the southern tower, 51.9 metres (170 ft) high, and two golden sculptured vimanas, the shrines over the garbhagrihas (sanctums) of the main deities.

drawing by by w. purser 1858

a drawing by W Purser in 1858

Meenakshi is an avatar of the Hindu goddess Parvati - the consort of Shiva, one of the few Hindu female deities to have a major temple devoted to her. The name "Mīnachchi" means fish-eyed and is derived from the words "mīna" meaning fish and "aksi" meaning eyes. The lady goddess Meenakshi is the principal deity of the temple, not Sundareswarar, unlike most Shiva temples in South India where Shiva is the principal deity.

Legend

According to Hindu legend, in order to answer the prayers of the second Pandya king Malayadwaja Pandya and his wife Kanchanamalai, Parvati appeared out of the holy fire of the Putra Kameshti Yagna (sacrifice for childhood) performed by the king. According to another legend, the goddess herself gave notice to Kanchanamalai in one of her previous births that Kanchanamalai would have the privilege of mothering the goddess. The girl who came out of the holy fire had three breasts. A voice from the heavens told the king not to worry about the abnormality and added that the third breast would vanish as soon as the girl met her future husband.

thadathakai

A statue of 'Tadaatagai'

The happy king named the girl "Tadaatagai" and as the heir to the throne, Tadaatagai was trained carefully in all the 64 sastras, the fields of science.

As the time came for Tadaatagai's coronation, she had to wage war in three worlds encompassing eight directions. After conquering Brahma's Abode, Sathyaloka, Vishnu's Abode, Vaikunta, and Devas' abode Amaravati, she advanced to Shiva's Abode Kailasha. She very easily defeated the bhoota ganas and Nandi, the celestial bull of Shiva, and headed to attack and conquer Shiva.

The moment she looked at Shiva, she was unable to fight and bowed her head down due to shyness, and the third breast vanished immediately. Tadaatagai realized that Shiva was her destined husband. She also realized that she was the incarnation of Parvati. Both Shiva and Tadaatagai returned to Madurai and the king arranged the coronation ceremony of his daughter, followed by her marriage with Shiva.

original statue of the weding

The statue of the wedding

The marriage was to be the biggest event on earth, with the whole earth gathering near Madurai. Vishnu, the brother of Meenakshi, prepared to travel from his holy abode at Vaikuntam to preside over the marriage.

meenachi kaliyanam

After the marriage, the pair ruled over Madurai for a long time and then assumed divine forms as Sundareswarar and Meenakshi, the presiding deities of the temple.

meenakshi-marriage

Following the tradition, every evening, before closing the temple, a ritual procession lead by drummers and a brass ensemble carries the image of Sundareswarar to Meenakshi's bedroom to consummate the union, to be taken back the next morning in dawn.

The marriage is celebrated annually as Chithirai Thiruvizha in Madurai. During the period of Nayakar rule in Madurai, the ruler Thirumalai Nayakar linked the festival Azhakar Thiruvizha and the Meenakshi wedding ceremony.

azhakar visunu in the golden horse

Azhakar mounted in the Golden Horse

Thus King Thirumalai Nayak (1623-1659) ensured that the great functions of both the Saivites and Vaishnavites (sub sects of Hinduism) are united to hold as a common Hindu festival.

alzhar thiruvilaa

Azhakar Thiruvizha
(Vishnu setting off for the wedding ceremony)

History

The Meenakshi temple is believed to have been founded by Indra (king of Deva celestial deities) while he was on a pilgrimage to atone for his misdeeds. He felt his burden lifting as he neared the swayambu lingam (self formed lingam, a representation of Shiva used for worship in temples) of Madurai. He ascribed this miracle to the lingam and constructed the temple to enshrine it. Indra worshipped Shiva, who caused golden lotuses to appear in the nearby pool.

Tamil literature speaks of the temple over the last two millennia. Thirugnanasambandar, the famous Hindu saint of Saiva philosophy, mentioned this temple as early as the 7th century, and described the deity as Aalavai Iraivan.

The temple is believed to have been ransacked by the infamous Muslim invader Malik Kafur in 1310 and all the ancient elements were destroyed. The initiative to rebuild the structure was taken by first Nayak king of Madurai, Viswanatha Nayak (1559–1600) under the supervision of Ariyanatha Mudaliar, the first prime minister of the Nayak Dynasty.

The original design by Vishwanatha Nayak in 1560 was substantially expanded to the current structure during the reign of Thirumalai Nayak (1623–55).


Vasantha Mandapam

He took considerable interest in erecting many complexes inside the temple. His major contributions are the Vasantha Mandapam for celebrating vasanthorsavam (spring festival) and Kilikoondu Mandapam (corridor of parrots). The corridors of the temple tank and Meenatchi Nayakar Mandapam were built by Rani Mangammal.

Rous Peter (1786–1828), the Collector of Madurai in 1812, got nickname 'Peter Pandian’ as he respected and treated people of all faiths equally. He donated a set of golden stirrups studded with diamonds and red stones to the temple.


Jewels donated by Peter Pandian

Goddess Meenatchi is believed to have saved Rous Peter from a fatal incident. He also wished that after his death, his body be buried in a position that would enable his eyes to face the temple.


The Temple Architecture

an old photograph

A very rare old picture

The temple is the geographic and ritual center of the ancient city of Madurai and one of the largest temple complexes in Tamil Nadu. The temple complex is divided into a number of concentric quadrangular enclosures contained by high masonry walls. It is one of the few temples in Tamil Nadu to have four entrances facing four directions. Vishwantha Nayaka allegedly redesigned the city of Madurai in accordance with the principles laid down by Shilpa Shastras (Sanskrit: śilpa śāstra, also anglicized as silpa sastra meaning rules of architecture) relevant to urban planning. 

maduraimap

The temple prakarams (outer precincts of a temple) and streets accommodate an elobrate festival calendar in which dramatic processions circumabulate the shrines at varying distances from the centre. The vehicles used in processions are progressively more massive the further they travel from the centre. The complex is in around 45 acres (180,000 m2) 

Gopurams (Temple Tower) 

south tower

The temple is surrounded by gopurams (gateway tower), - There are ten gopuram the tallest of which, the famous southern tower, rises to over 170 ft (52 m) and was built in 1559.

The oldest gopuram is the eastern one, built by Maravarman Sundara Pandyan during 1216-1238. 

east tower - a rare picture

East Tower - a rare picture

Each gopuram is a multi-storeyed structure, covered with thousands of stone figures of animals, gods and demons painted in bright hues. The outer gopuram presents steeply pyramidal tower encrusted with plaster figures, while the inner gopuram serves as the entrance to the inner enclosure of Sundareswarar shrine.


Shrines

The central shrine of Meenakshi Amman temple and her consort Sundareswarar are surrounded by three enclosures and each of these are protected by four minor towers at the four points of the compass, the outer tower growing larger and reaching higher to the corresponding inner one. 

The Meenakshi shrine has the emerald-hued black stone image of Meenakshi.The Sundareswarar shrine lies at the centre of the complex, suggesting that the ritual dominance of the goddess developed later. Both the Meenakshi and Sundareswarar shrines have gold plated Vimanam (tower over sanctum).

sanctrum

The golden top can be seen from a great distance in the west through the apertures of two successive towers. The area covered by the shrine of Sundareswarar is exactly one fourth of the area of the temple and that of Meenakshi is one fourth that of Sundareswarar. 


Mukkurni Vinayagar 

The tall sculpture of Ganesh carved of single stone located outside the Sundareswarar shrine in the path from Meenashi shrine is called the Mukuruny Vinayakar. A large measure of rice measuring 3 kurini (a measure) is shaped into a big ball of sacrifice and hence the Ganesh is called Mukkurni Vinayagar (three kurinis). This deity is believed to be found during a 17th-century excavation process to dig the Mariamman temple tank.


Mariamman Teppakulam

Temple tank and surrounding portico


lotus tank at night

Lotus Tank - a night view

The sacred temple tank Porthamarai Kulam ("Pond with the golden lotus"), is 165 ft (50 m) by 120 ft (37 m) in size. According to legend, Shiva promised a stork that no fish or other marine life would grow here and thus no marine animals are found in the lake.

golden lotus 

In the Tamil legends, the lake is supposed to judge the worth of a new piece of literature. Authors place their works here and the poorly written works are supposed to sink and the scholastic ones are supposed to float, Tirukkural by Tiruvalluvar was one such work. 

17th century paintings

17th century paintings

Only a fraction of 17th and 18th century paintings of Nayak period survives and one such portion is found in the small portico on the western side of the tank. It depicts the marriage of Sundareswarar and Meenkashi attended by Vijayaranga Chokkanatha and Rani Mangammal. The painting is executed on a vivid red background, with delicate black linework and large areas of white, green and ochre. The celestial couple is seated inside an architectural frame with a flowering tree in the background. 

Halls

The corridor surrounding the sanctum the Meenakshi is called kilikoondu Mandapam ("bird cage corridor"). The space was once used to keep green parrots that were trained to utter the name of Meenakshi. There are two large cages full of squawking green parrots.

The Kambatadi Mandapam ("Hall of temple tree") with its seated Nandi (sacred bull) has various manifestations of Shiva carved and also contains the famous "Marriage of Meenakshi" sculpture. Sculptures of Shiva and Kali trying to out-dance one another are pelted with balls of ghee by devotees.

kodithampam

Golden Flagstaff - Kodithampam

A golden flagstaff with 32 sections symbolizes the human backbone and is surrounded by various gods, including Durga and Siddar.

The Puthu Mandapam ("new hall") constructed by Tirumala Nayak contains large number of sculptures. It is situated opposite to the east gopuram.


A rare drawring in 1880s of the Pudhu Mandapam

The Ashta Shakthi Mandapam ("Hall of eight goddess") is the first hall in the entrance of Meenakshi shrine tower near to East Tower. Ashta indicates eight and Shakthi refers to goddess - the hall has statues of eight goddesses. The gopurams (towers) can be viewed from this hall. The passage was named for eight forms of goddess Sakthi carved on its pillars. Other sculptures and paintings depict the Tiruvilayadal (holy games of Shiva). The sculptures of heroes of Mahabharata, the Pancha pandavas can be seen in the Pancha Pandava Mandapam (Hall of Pandavas).

The Viravasantharaya Mandapam is a large hall with huge corridors. To the south of this hall is the kalyana mandapam, to the south of the pillared hall, is where the marriage of Shiva and Parvati is celebrated every year during the Chithirai Festival in mid-April.

The golden images of Meenakshi and Sundareswarar are carried into the 16th century oonjal mandapam (swing corridor) and placed on the swing every Friday at 5:30 p.m. The shrine has a 3-storied gopuram guarded by two stern dwarapalakas (guardians) and supported by golden, rectangular columns that bear lotus markings. Along the perimeter of the chamber, granite panels of the divine couple are present.The hall is situated in the western bank of the temple tank.

The Mudali Pillai Mandapam or Iruttu Mandapam (Dark hall) is a wide and long hall built by Muthu Pillai during 1613. On the pillars of the halls, there are fine sculptures depicting the story of Shiva taking the form of Bikshadanar to teach the sages a lesson.

The Mangayarkarasi mandapam is a newly built hall situated opposite to the marriage halls and bears the name of saindy queen, Mangayarkarasi who contributed to Saivism and Tamil language. To the south of Mangayarkarasi mandapam lies the Servaikarar Mandapam, a hall built by Marudu brothers in 1795.

The Nagara mandapam (Hall of beating drums) lies opposite to Sundareswarar shrine was built by Achaya Rayar, the minister of Rani Mangammal in 1635. The Kolu Mandapam is a hall for displaying dolls during the Navarathri festival celebrated during September–October. This hall is situated in the second corridor of the Meenakshi shrine at the western side.

Hall of Thousand Pillars


1000 pillars hall

Hall of 100 pillars

The Meenakshi Nayakkar Mandapam ("Hall of 100 pillars") has two rows of pillars carved with images of yali (mythological beast with body of lion and head of an elephant), commonly used as the symbol of Nayak power.

hall of 1000 pillars

It is situated to the north of Sundareswarar flag staff hall. The Thousand Pillar Hall contains 985 (instead of 1000) carved pillars. The hall was built by Ariyanatha Mudaliar in 1569 and blends engineering skill and artistic vision. Ariyanatha Mudaliar was prime minister and general of Viswanatha Nayak, the first Nayaka of Madurai (1559–1600).

He was also the founder of Poligar System, the quasi-feudal organization of the country dividing it into multiple palayams or small provinces in which each palayam was ruled by a palayakkarar or a petty chief.

 

Ariyanatha Mudaliar

At the entrance of the hall is the statue of Ariyanatha Mudaliar seated on a horse-back, flanking one side of the entrance to the temple. The statue is periodically garlanded by worshippers. Each pillar in the hall is a carved monument of the Dravidian sculpture. The more prominent among the carved figures are those of Rati (wife of Kama), Karthikeya, Ganesha, Shiva as a wandering mendicant and endless number of yalis (mythical figures of lions).

yali 

Yali - Half Elephant Half Tiger Mythical creature Madurai Meenakshi Temple

There is a Temple Art Museum in the hall where icons, photographs, drawings, and other exhibits of the 1200 years old history of the temple are displayed. Just outside this hall, towards the west, are the Musical Pillars. Each pillar, when struck, produces a different musical note.

Religious significance of the temple

A distinct feature of Meenakshi in terms of iconography is the presence of parrot in her right hand. The parrot is generally associated with the Vaishnava azhwar saint Andal.

"Pancha Sabhai" refers to the five royal courts of Nataraja (dancing form of Shiva) where he performed cosmic dance. The Tamil word velli means silver and ambalam means stage or altar. This massive Nataraja sculpture is enclosed in a huge silver altar and hence called "Velli Ambalam" (silver abode).

nadaraja - right leg raised

(Silver) Nadaraja - Right leg raised up

This is a special figure of Natarja which usually differs from Chola bronzes; in the Chola images, Nataraja is shown dancing with his left leg raised, but this sculpture has the right leg raised. According to the Tiruvilayaadal Puranam (Shiva's sacred games), this is on the request of Rajasekara Pandya, who was a sincere devotee of Shiva. He requested the deity to change his position, as he felt that keeping the same foot raised would put enormous strain and got a graceful acquiescence from the divine master.

Poojas and Worship

There are close to 50 priests in the temple who perform the puja (rituals) during festivals and on a daily basis. Like other Shiva temples of Tamil Nadu, the priests belong to Shivaite to the Adishaivas, a Brahmin sub-caste. The priests live in a closed area north of the temple. The temple has a six time pooja calendar everyday, each comprising four rituals namely abhisheka (sacred bath), alangaram (decoration), neivethanam (food offerings) and deepa aradanai (waving of lamps) for both Meenakshi and Sundareswarar.

The puja (worship) ceremonies are held amidst music with nadhaswaram (pipe instrument) and tavil (percussion instrument), religious instructions in the Vedas by priests and prostration by worshippers in front of the temple mast. The common practise is to worship Meenakshi before Sundareswarar. Margazhi (December–January) ritual is prominent one for winning a perfect, god-like husband - it is Meenakshi's ennai kappu festival.

The most important festival associated with the temple is the "Meenakshi Thirukalyanam" (the divine marriage of Meenakshi) that is celebrated in April every year. The wedding of the divine couple is regarded as a classic instance of south Indian female-dominated marriage, an arrangement referred as "Madurai marriage". The male dominated marriage is called "Chidambaram marriage", referring to Shiva's uncontested dominance, ritual and mythic, at the famous Shiva temple of Chidhambaram.

The marriage brings together rural and urban people, deities and mortals, Saivas (those who worship Shiva) and Vaishnavas (those who worship Vishnu) in order to celebrate Meenakshi as the royal monarch. During the one month period, there are a number of events including the "Ther Thiruvizhah" (chariot festival) and "Theppa Thiruvizhah" (float festival).

ther thruvizha

Ther Thiruvizhah

 Major Hindu festivals like Navrathri and Shivrathri are celebrated in the temple. Like most Shakti temples in Tamil Nadu, the Fridays during the Tamil months of Aadi (July–August) and Thai (January–February) are celebrated in the temple by thousands of devotees. "Avani Moola Utsavam" is a 10-day festival mainly devoted to Sundareswarar describes his various Thiruvilayadal meaning Shiva's sacred games.

Literary mention of this temple

devara-moovar

Sambandar, Appar and Sundarar

Down the centuries, the temple has been a centre of education of Tamil culture, literature, art, music and dance. All three assemblies of Tamil language, the Tamil Sangam (about the 3rd century BCE to the 3rd century CE), were held at Madurai. Tamil poets of different epochs participated in these assemblies and their composition is called Sangam literature.

pond

Lotus Tank

During the third Tamil sangam, the comparative merit of the poets was decided by letting the works float in the lotus tank of the temple. It was believed that a divine force would cause the work of superior merit to float on the surface while the inferior literary work would sink.

Tevaram, the 7th-8th century Tamil canonoical work on Shiva, are works by the three prominent Nayanars (Saivites) namely Appar, Sundarar and Thirugnanasambandar.

The temple has been glorified by the hymns of Tevaram by all the three poets. Different hymns of Sambandar on the temple mention the queen of Pandya Nadu, his desire to defeat Jains in debate, the miracles performed by him curing the king's fever, the Jains' provocation of Sambandar by burning his house and challenging him to debate, and Sambandar's eventual victory over them. A poem from the Third Tirumurai by Sambandar is as under –

மானினேர்விழி மாதராய்வழு திக்குமாபெருந் தேவிகேள்

பானல்வாயொரு பாலனீங்கிவ னென்றுநீபரி வெய்திடேல்

ஆனைமாமலை யாதியாய இடங்களிற்பல அல்லல்சேர்

ஈனர்கட்கெளி யேனலேன்திரு வாலவாயர னிற்கவே.

 

maaninaervizhi maatharaayvazhu thikkumaaperu:n thaevikae'l

paanalvaayoru paalaneengkiva nen'ru:neepari veythidael

aanaimaamalai yaathiyaaya idangka'li'rpala allalsaer

eenarkadke'li yaenalaenthiru vaalavaayara ni'rkavae.

Meaning: 

"Lady who has eyes that are comparable to the startled eyes of the deer! the great chief queen of the Vaḻuti!: Listen to what I say. Do not feel distressed that I am such a young boy from whose mouth milk is flowing. When the god in Tiruvālavāy stands by my side as help, I can not be easily defeated by the low people who inflict many sufferings on others and who live in hills beginning with great Āṉaimalai."

Literary mention of Meenakshi

There are few poets in Tamil history who sang about goddess Parvati. The notable among them is Kumaraguruparar, a 17th-century Tamil poet, who composed Meenakshi Pillaitamil on Meenakshi of this temple. King Tirumalai Nayak's patronage of Kumaraguruparar has an important place in the history of pillaitamil (a genre of Tamil literature). Kumaraguruparar visited a lot of temples and when he visited this temple, he composed Meenakshi pillaitamil on Meenakshi.

Legend has it that goddess appeared in the dreams of Nayak directing him to arrange the recital of Kumaraguruparar before a learned assembly. The king made elobrate arrangements for the event. Meenakshi impersonated herself in the form of a small girl and enjoyed the recital. As Kumaraguruparar was explaining the 61st verse, the goddess appreciated by garlanding the poet with a string of pearls and disappeared.

meenakshiamman

Lord Somasundarar of this temple conducted many divine plays known as 'Thiruvilaiyadal Puranam' and one which can be read here in this site.

Lord Shiva & the Poor Old Ladyhttp://www.hindukidsworld.org/index.php/en/sweet-divine-stories

12 Jothilinga Temples of Lord Shiva

12 Jothilinga Temples of Lord Shiva

We have read earlier that Linga is one of the forms of worshiping of Lord Shiva. Jothi means 'radiant' and so Jothilinga means the linga that is radiant. There are 12 Jothilinga temples In India. Jyotirlinga temples are the most prominent of all temples dedicated for Lord Shiva. Jyotirlinga temples spread all over India and considered holiest for Shiva devotees.

Lord Shiva first manifested himself as a Jyotirlinga on the night of the, Aridra Nakshatra (aliging position of star, Aridra) thus the special reverence for the Jothilinga.

There is nothing to distinguish the appearance, but it is believed that a person can see these lingas as columns of fire piercing through the earth after he reaches a higher level of spiritual attainment.

1. Somnath Temple, Gujarat

1 somnath gujarath

The Somnath temple is located in the Saurashtra, on the western coast of Gujarat.

 somanath from the beach edit

Somnath temple,also known as the Shrine Eternal is considered to be the most significant 

One of the ancient epics, 'Skanda Purana', related to Lord Shiva, mentioned about this temple as one of the Jothlinga temple and the diety here as Lord Shiva who blesses his devotess as Somanath.

 somnath temple

In the Skanda Purana, in the section, 'prapasa', it was mentioned that the Somanath temple's Jothilinga that is raident enough like the sun is burried below the ground. Further in the great epic 'Mahabharat', it was also mentined that one of the Devas, Moon (star) had worshipped Lord Shiva in this temple.

 somnath mandir sanctum sanctorum

Bhagavata Purana, described that towards the end of his avatar, Lord Krishna stayed in the urban Pirapasa which was in the vicinity of this temple. One day while resting under a tree, an arrow of a hunter aimed for a bird in the tree, missed it target and hit the Lord who was sitting below and thus the Lord completed his mission on earth and returned to Sri Vaikunda.

Located on the edge of the Arabian Sea, this glorious temple had attracted islamic invaders for its invaluable treasures. This themple was demolished 7 times by the invaders.

somnath temple ruins 1869

Photo taken by Briish Man, DH Sykes in 1869, showing the state of the temple after the 7th destruction

However every time, eight times to be specific, it was rebuilt to its glory.

Vallabhai Patel, deputy prime minister of independent India in 1947 had taken the initiatives to re-built the temple. Somnath temple was built from scratch and on Monday 1st, January, 1995 (01-01-1995) was opened for public to worship by the President of India, Shankar Dayal Sharma.

Somnath temple has been finally built, 8th time, in the form of a large pyramaid and according to the ancient architecture of Chalukya dynasty.

2. Mallikarjuna Swami Temple, Andhra Pradesh

2 malliharsjana andra

Sri Mallikarjuna Swamy is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva situated at Srisailam in South Indian state of Andhra Pradesh.

The Chandragupta was the king of the Malligapuri and his daughter is Chandrelega. She was a fervent devotee of Lord Shiva and so worshipped (arjuna) the god with Mallikai (Jasmin) flowers which was available in abundant in that area. As a result the god was referred as Mallikaarjuna Swami.

81 1280

 

Srisailam Sri Mallikarjuna Swamy Temple is one of the 12 Jyotirlinga temples dedicated to Lord Siva as well as one of the 18 Maha Sakti Peetha.

It is believed that the Adi Shankara has produced his renowned 'Shivanada Lahari' while staying here.

 77 1280

'Nandi Dever' observed penance in this temple and was given the capability of carrying the Lord. The legends (Puranas) about this temple says that it was Nandi Dever, who formed as a mountain to carry the Lord and this temple.

80 1280

Lord Shiva is known at Srisailam as Mallikarjunar and his consort as Pirammarampal. Srisailam Mallikarjunar temple's glory was sung by Nayanmars.

 

3. Mahakaleshwar, Madhya Pradesh

3 mahakaleswar madiyapiradesh

Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga is one of the most famous hindu temples dedicated to Lord Shiva and of all the twelve Jyotirlingams, the linga at this temple is believed to be Swayambhu. (Formed naturally as a Linga).

mahakaleshawar tower 

Also, out of twelve Jyotirlinga temples, only Mahakaleshwar temple is facing the southern direction. The temple has three layers.

It is located in the ancient city of Ujjain in the state of Madhya Pradesh, India. The temple is situated on the side of the Rudra Sagar lake.

 mahakaleshwar-temple-2

The presiding deity, Lord Shiva in the lingam form is believed to be Swayambhu, deriving currents of power (Shakti) from within itself as against the other images and lingams that are ritually established and invested with mantra-shakti.

ujjain-mahakaleshwar-jyotirlinga 

The idol of Mahakaleshwar is known to be dakshinamurti, which means that it is facing the south. This is a unique feature to be found only in Mahakaleshwar among the 12 Jyotirlingas.

The idol of Omkareshwar is consecrated in the sanctum above the Mahakaleshwar shrine. The images of Ganesh, Parvati and Karttikeya are installed in the west, north and east of the sanctum sanctorum. To the south is the image of Nandi, the vehicle of Lord Shiva.

The idol of Nagchandreshwar on the third storey is open for darshan only on the day of Nag Panchami.

mahakaleshawar

The temple has five levels, one of which is underground. The presiding deity of temple, Lord Shiva who is known here as Mahakaleshwar, appears here majestically in all his splendour.

To have the darshan of the Lord, the devotees have to walk several steps down into the earth's abyss. The great Kumbha-Mela festival is celebrated here.

The temple itself is located in a spacious courtyard surrounded by massive walls near a lake. There are a number of linga can be seen along the bank of the lake. 

The hermitage of sage Santipa who was the guru (teacher) of Lord Kannapiraan (Sri Krishna) is also situated here.

4. Kedarnath, Uttarakhand

kedarnath temple 

Kedarnath temple is one of India's most sacred temples of Lord Shiva. It is in the Rudraprayag district in the state of Uttarakant. Kedarnath near the Mandakini river, located at the foot of Mount Himalayas.

kedarnath-temple

Out of all all 12 Jyotirlinga temples, only this temple is considered to be located very close to mount Kailash which believed to be the abobe of Lord Shiva on earth.

kedarnath-temple-winter 

It is due to the extreme weather conditions in the region, that this temple open between April and the Diwali festival day. The unstable temple is not directly accessible by road and has to be reached by a 14 kilometres (8.7 mi) uphill trek from Gaurikund. Pony service is available to reach the structure. 

kedarnathroute

The Pilgrims

During winter the idols were brought to a place call Ukimat to be worshipped. Lord Siva is known here as Ketaranathar. His consort is known as Ketarakauri.

The glory of this temple was sung by Tirunavukkarasar who was one of the Nayanmars. The Pandavas worshipped here to Lord Shiva to wash off the sins and were supposed to have pleased the Lord by doing penance in Kedarnath, and were considered to have built the temple. 

 

kedarnath temple 2

 

The temple was renovated after the advent of Adi Sankara in the 8AD. It is one of the four Shiva temples, located in the northern Himalayas.

The temple is situated at a distance of 223 km from Rishikesh and along the bank of in the river Mandakini which is a branch of holy river Ganga.

kedarnath temple at dawn

 

The temple is 3,583 m above sea level (11,755 feet) and so snow normally falls during winter.

The temple is an attractive stone temple. A statue of the Nandi can be seen opposite the main shrine.

kedarnath temple nandi

The first hall inside Kedarnath Temple contains statues of the five Pandava brothers, Lord Krishna, Nandi, the vehicle of Shiva and Virabhadra, one of the guards of Shiva. Statue of Draupadi and other deities are also installed in the main hall.

A medium-size conical rough stone formation is worshiped in the Garbagruha and considered as Sadashiva form of Lord Shiva.

An unusual feature of the temple is the head of a man carved in the triangular stone fascia which is of a suggestive significance.

kedarnath temple

Such a head is seen carved in another temple nearby constructed on the site where the marriage of Shiva and Parvati was held.

Adi Shankara was believed to have revived this temple, along with Badrinath and other temples of Uttarakhand; he is believed to have attained Mahasamadhi at Kedaranath. Behind the temple is the samādhi mandir of Adi Sankara.

4 kedaranath uthdakant

The head priest (Raval) of the Kedarnath temple belongs to the Veerashaiva community from the south Indian state of Karnataka. During Pooja of Lord Shiva at Kedaranath the mantras will be pronounced in the Kannada language. This has been a custom from hundreds of years.

5. Omkareshwar, Madhya Pradesh

omkareshwar-temple-3

Omkareshwar is a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is one of the 12 revered Jyotirlinga shrines of Shiva. It is on an island called Shivapuri in the Narmada river; the shape of the island is said to be like the Hindu ॐ symbol.

Also there is another temple, Amareshwar temple which is also for Lord Shiva and it is on the other side of the island.

omkareshwar 2

Omkareshwar is formed by the sacred river Narmada. This island and the river are shaped like “OM” and that is how it derives its name. It is a natural phenomenon. Narmada is one of the most sacred of rivers in India and is now home to one of the world's biggest dam projects.

omkareshwar1

The temple consists of a three-layer, Omkareshwar is in the the lower layer, Makakalisvarar is in the middle and in the top layer is Sitheeswarar. Amalisvari is the name of the consort of the Lord.

omkareshwar2 1

The water of river Narmada flows around the temple as it in an island. It also flow beneath the temple, and its scantrum of Omkareshvar. It is considered as divinely act that this water natuarlly comes up above to be able to do abishek to the Lord.

There are many 'Holy Theerthas' (ponds) around this temple, the sacred of all is Omkareshvar Theertha (holy pond)

omkareshwar-narmadha river

Kubera who went to ask for alms from Lord Krishna, had a dip in a pond and worshipped the Omkareshvar before he set off. The pond is known as 'Kubera Pandara Theertha'  is in the vicinity of this temple. Thus the devotees beleive that the Lord blesses the deveotees who come all the way to worship him with immense wealth and moksha.

6. Bhimashankar, Maharashtra

6 bimashankar maharastra

Bhimashankar Temple is a Jyotirlinga shrine located 50 km northwest of Khed, near Pune, in India. It is located 127 km from Shivaji Nagar (Pune) in the Ghat region of the Sahyadri hills.

Bhimashankar is also the source of the river Bhima, which flows southeast and merges with the Krishna river near Raichur.

Bhimashankar is an ancient shrine, one of the 12 Jyotirlingas of Shiva. Far away from the tumult of the urban life, peeping through the white fleecy clouds, Bhimashankar can be termed a pilgrim paradise. The dense forests surrounding the high ranges are an abode for rare species of flora and fauna. Situated at the extreme end of the Sahyadri Ranges, this place gives a wonderful view of the world around the rivers, and hill stations.

The consort of Lord Shiva is known here as Kamalaadchi-Patcista Devi

bhimashankar-jyotirling

This temple history is linked to Lord Shiva in his battle against Tripuraasura. The legends says that the river Bhima, originally formed from the sweat dropouts of the Lord who was resting after the battle.

bhimashankar temple1

The Bhimashankara temple is a composite of old and the new structures in the Nagara style of architecture. It shows the excellency of the skills achieved by ancient Vishwakarma sculptors.

tower

It seems as if Lord Shiva is keeping a silent vigil over the majestic ranges of the Sahyadris. The serenity interrupted only by the silent murmuring of the cool breeze and the occasional chirping of birds, Bhimashankar is a trekker's delight and a traveler's sojourn.

bhimashankar-temple 1

Bhimashankar is the source of the Bhima River, which flows southeast and merges with the Krishna River. With endless stretches of virgin forests, lofty peaks that seem to reach out to the heavens, and the whispering waters of the Bhima River, Bhimashankar is definitely one of God's choicest creations.

The temple is one of the most sacred place of Hindus. Linga is at the ground level and the devotees would sit around it and carryout abhisek.

bhimashankar-temple

Both males and females have access to the Linga to worship. However the males will be allowed with no cloths above waist level.

7. Kashi Vishwanath Temple, Varanasi

temple

Kashi Vishvanath Temple is one of the most famous Hindu temples and is dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is located in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India, the holiest existing place of Hindus.

The temple stands on the western bank of the holy river Ganga, and is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas, the holiest of Shiva temples. The main deity is known by the name Vishvanatha or Vishveshvara meaning Ruler of The Universe. 

varanasi-ganges

The Varanasi city, which is known to be 3500 years old, is also called Kashi, and hence the temple is popularly called Kashi Vishvanath Temple.

The Temple has been referred to in Hindu Scriptures for a very long time and as a central part of worship in the Shaiva philosophy. This temple is considered very holiest than the other temples of Lord Shiva.

 

Standing on the western bank of India's holiest river, the Ganges, Varanasi is one of the oldest surviving cities of the world and the cultural capital of India. Inside the Kashi Vishvanath Temple is the Jyotirlinga of Shiva, Vishveshvara or Vishvanath.

 

The Vishveshvara Jyotirlinga has a very special and unique significance in the spiritual history of India. Tradition has it that the merits earned by the darshan of other jyotirlinga scattered in various parts of India accrue to a devotee by a single visit to Kashi Vishwanath Temple.

 

Deeply and intimately implanted in the Hindu mind, the Kashi Vishwanath Temple has been a living embodiment of India's timeless cultural traditions and highest spiritual values. The Kashi Vishwanath Temple attracts visitors not only from India but abroad as well.

Out of the twelve Jyotirlingas the most famous is Kashi. The main deity is made of emerald and known as Vishwanathar.The consort of Vishwanathar is Visaladchi. This temple is one of the 51 Sakthi Peedas and also called Manikarnika Peeda.

kashi-3

The city of Kashi was mentioned in almost all ancient (purana) legends and epics. The city is located between two rivers, Varana and Hasi and so it got the name Varanasi. 

As it nearly 23,000 temples, the city of Varanasi also known as 'City of Temples' too. The holy river Ganga is flowwing through the middle of the city. The city and the river were and are the centre point of India's culture and legends.

Worshipping or even dying here is believed to be ensuring a sure passage to the heaven (Moksha), as it is considered to wash away all sins. Hence people bring the dead to be cremated near the temples and specially at Manikarnika  guts (steps). The ashes are then dissolved in river Ganga. 

lingam

 

Linga is in a small ditch below the ground level. The devotees stoop or kneel down to touch and worship the Lord.

The head of the Lingam is seen covered by gilted copper plate. A square shape silver plate box is covering the Linga. A vessel is hung above the Lingam and it is filled with the water from River Ganga. The water is dripping from the vessel and does the abishek continuously to the Lord

There is a Nandi known as Aadi Nandi in the back of the temple facing a wall. Close to the Nandi a water well known as 'Gyanvapi theertha' can be seen. 

manikarnikakund

Both Visalaakshi Amman (mata) temple and Annapurani Amman temple are a little distance away from the Viswanathar temple.

visaladchi

Visalaakshi Amman

The structure of Visalaakshi temple is seem silmilar to that of south Indian temples. The Navagrahas can be worshiped at the Visalaakshi temple.

The legend says that the star Mercury (puthan) which is determining our education level had worshiped in this temple and was blessed well. Hence there is a beleive among students that worshiping here will beefit them too.

The darshan of Lord Viswanathar whose mercy and kindness knows no bound, gives tremendous happiness to all the devotees, this temple is also known as 'Aanada Pavanam'.

The great saints and holy men like Adi Shankaracharya, Swami Vivekananda, Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, Guru Nanak, Swami Dayananda Saraswati are all visted here, had a bath in the Ganges and then had darshan of the Linga.

The temple attracts a large pilgrims from around the world and the Maha Shivaraathiri festivel here is very famous.

8. Trimbakeshwar Shiva Temple, Maharashtra

trimbakeshwar

Trimbakeshwar or Tryambakeshwar is an ancient Hindu temple in the town of Trimbak, in the Trimbakeshwar tehsil in the Nashik District of Maharashtra, India, 28 km from the city of Nashik. It is dedicated to the god Shiva and is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas.

treymbkeshwar

Kusavarta, the holy theertha (sacred pond) in the temple premises is the source of the Godavari River, the longest river in peninsular India.

The Avudayar (bottom) part of the Linga is below the ground where the water secrete (ooze) out which is a wonder.

The extraordinary feature of the top part of Jyotirlinga located here is its three faces embodying Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu and Lord Rudra. While all other Jyotirlingas have Shiva as the main deity.

3156

The entire black stone temple is known for its appealing architecture and sculpture and is at the foothills of a mountain called Brahmagiri. Three sources of the river Godavari originate from the Brahmagiri mountain.

trim

The place is known for its scenic beauty in rainy/monsoon season and is surrounded by lush green hills untouched by pollution. Because it's a peaceful environment suits the spiritual life, many Sithars and Sages had their hermits in this location.

Anjaneri mountain, the birthplace of Lord Hanuman, is 7 km from Trimbakeshwar.

trimbakeshwar mugut

The holy water pond is called Kushavarta Theertha. The consort of the Lord here is known as Yadeswari.

Every 12 years, when star Guru aligned with the star Simma (Leo), the Kumbha-Mela festival is celebrated here.

Kumbha-Mela is known worldwide for its largest gathering of devotees for a religious festivel in the whole world.

9. Baidyanath Temple, Jharkhand

baidnathdham

Baidyanath Jyotirlinga temple, also known as Baba dham and Baidyanath dham is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas, the most sacred abodes of Shiva. It is located in Deoghar in the Santhal Parganas division of the state of Jharkhand, India.

It has been ascertained that every year more than one million pilgrims to the temple.

In the month of June, carrying the holy water of river Ganga, some devotees come to the temple on foot from Sultangange, a place 100 kilometers away. It is said that some people are able to cross the distance in 24 hours.

vaithiya

There are 22 temples in the same campus of different Gods and Goddesses among which Lord Shiva is empowered as being supreme. The temple of Shiva, Baidyanath faces the east, and is 72 feet tall, and it is lotus shaped.

linga

Ravana, the king of Lanka meditated for long to ask for some boons from Lord Shiva at this temple. The 10 headed Ravana, raised a yaga fire and he started plucking his head one by one and offered in the fire.  Having lost nine heads, Lord, appeared before him, and nursed him to cure his injuries, and so he got all his heads back.

ravana-ganesa

The Lord also gave him many boons and also a Linga to take to Lanka.

The Devas feard that if the Linga was taken to Lanka, the Ravana would become more powerful and unbeateble and so on their request Lord Ganesh tricked him go back to Lanka without the Linga.

The story of which s elsewhere in this website.

temple at night

This nursing and curing earned the Lord, the name, Vaidyanath ( Vaithiyar - Doctor)

Since the Lord Shiva, came down as a doctor to help Ravana, he became known here as Vaidyanath ( Vaithiyar - Doctor) or Baidyanath in Sanscript.

Many devotees with maladies come here to seek the blessing of the Lord to alleviate there sorrow.

The consort of the Lord here is Thaiyal Nayakai.

There was a great confusion among many about the identifies location of vaidyanth jyotirlinga.

There are three temples, Baiydanath temple at Deoghar, Jharkhand, Vaijnath temple at Parli, Maharashtra and Baijnath temple at Baijnath, Himachal Pradesh are claiming their shrines as 'real' jyotirlinga of Vaidyanath.

However, the reserch on jyothirlinga sthothram of Adi Sankaracharya (8AD) has concluded that this is the real jyothirlinga temple.

10. Nageshvara Temple, Uttarakhand

 nageshwar front

Nageshvara Jyotirlinga is one of the 12 Jyotirlinga shrines mentioned in the Shiva Purana. Nageshvara is believed to be the first Jyotirlinga on earth.

Lord Shiva is known here as Naganathar and his consort is Nageswari.

nageshwar

The legend Shiva Purana described about the Nageshvara Jyotirlinga and tells of a demon named Daaruka, who attacked a devotee of Shiva named Supriya and imprisoned him along with many others in his city of Darukavana, a city inhabited by snakes (Nagas) and demons.

nageshwar-jyotirling

Supriya, insisted all the prisoners to chant the holy mantra of Shiva and immediately thereafter the Lord Shiva appeared and the demon was vanquished, later residing there in the form of a Jyotirlinga guarded by Nagas. He became known as Naganathar.

naganath3

With high walls on all four sides, the tempe is in a spacious location. There are entracences in the North and in East. However the North entrance is in use. A magnificient cone shaped tower with beautiful sculptural works can be seen in this temple.

Four sides, with , spacious house located in the north-eastern part, though the gates, at the northern mouth of the bottle is used. Sculptural works best with a long, cone-shaped tower found in the temple.

One of the largest statue of Shiva in yogic posture can be seen outside the temple which is very popular tourist attraction.

 nageshwar-jyotirlinga-temple-dwarka

 

11. Rameshwar Temple, Tamilnadu

 overview1

Ramanathaswamy Temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to god Shiva located on Rameswaram island in the state of Tamil Nadu, India. It is also one of the twelve Jyothirlinga temples, where Shiva is worshipped in the form of a Jyotirlingam

ramanathaswamy temple corridor

The island got the name Rameshwaram due to the existence of this 'Sri Ramanatha Swami temple'. 

ramanathar-temple

Because Rama worshiped, the Lord, Easwar here, the place came to be known as Ramaeaswaram (Rama + Easwaram).

rameshwaram linga

This tempme was sung by Saiva Nayanmars. Appar and Sambanthar both sung the glory of this temple and the diety.

According to the Ramayana, Rama, the seventh incarnation of god Vishnu, is believed to have prayed to Shiva here to absolve sin of killing a brahmana, committed during his war against the demon king Ravana in Sri Lanka.

 

The main diety here is known as Ramanatha Swami and his consort is Parwatha-varthini.

corridor

 

There are two Lingas in the Sanctum. Rama wanted to have the largest lingam to worship Shiva. He directed Hanuman, the monkey lieutenant in his army, to bring a linga from Himalayas.

Since it took longer to bring the linga, Sita, the wife of Rama, built a small linga out of the sand available in the sea shore, which is believed to be the linga in the sanctum and referred as Ramalinga.

The one Hamuman brought was Visvalinga. The Rama directed that the Visvalinga must be worshiped first and that direction is still in force. 

Those who go on pilgrimage to Kasi and Rameswaram, should first start with a dip (and bath) in Agni theertha of Rameswaram.

They would take fist full of sand and some water in a vessel from this theertha to take up to Kasi where another dip in Ganga while resolving the sand in it and use the Agni theertha water to carry out abishek to Kashi Vishwanath.

They then fill the same vessel with Ganga water and bring back to Rameswaram to carry out the abishek to Ramanathar to complete the full ritual. 

12. Grishneshwar, Maharashtra

grishneshwar temple jyotirlinga shrine at aurangabad maharashtra

Ghrishneshwar/ Grushneshwar Jyotirlinga is one of the 12 Jyotirlinga shrines mentioned in the Shiva Purana.

Grishneshwar is believed as the Last or 12th Jyotirlinga on the earth. This pilgrimage site is located at a village called Verul which lies at a distance of 11 km from Daulatabad (Devagiri) and 30 km from Aurangabad. It lies at a close proximity (1 KM) to the Ellora caves.

grishneshwara2

The temple is one of the 5 Jyotirlinga temples in the Maharashtra and stands as an illustration of the pre-historic temple traditions as well as of the pre-historic architectural style and structure. 

grishneshwar jyotirling

In the 16th century the Malroji Raja Bosle, grant father Sathrapathi Sivaji, has renovated this temple.

 

The temple, with exquisitely sculpted walls, was built in the 18th centuary under the patronage of Queen Ahilyabai Holkar, one of the rulers of the erstwhile state of Indore. She was the one who also re-built Kashi Viswanathar temple and Gaya Vishnu Patha temple.

grishneshwar temple in aurangabad district

The temple, built of red rocks, is composed of a five tier tower (Gopura).

grishneshwar temple

The world famous Buddhist caves of Ellora is less than a kilometer away.


Temples for Lord Brahama

The Lord Brahma's temple

We have seen earlier that there isn't many temple for Lord Brahma and also the possible reason for why he does not have many followers.

However there are two temples worth mentioning and if you are going on holiday to those areas, a visit would be well worth along with the blessing of the Lord Brahma.

The Brahma temple in Pushkar, Rajastan, India

The Brahma temple in Pushkar in the state of Rajastan is the only temple in India that is dedicated for Lord Brahma.

There are also a number of beliefs attached to it. A lotus flower from the palms of Lord Brahma fell accidentally and came towards the earth.

As the flower fell into the Pushkar valley, it created a lake that boasts divine beauty. This lake later became popularly known as the Pushkar Lake. The serene beauty of the place acts as a perfect place to host the beautiful Brahma temple.

Though the current structure dates to the 14th century, the original temple is believed to be 2000 years old. The temple is described to have been built by sage Vishwamitra after Brahma's yagna (great pooja).

The 8th century Hindu philosopher Adi Shankara renovated this temple, while the current medieval structure dates to Maharaja Jawat Raj of Ratlam, who made additions and repairs, though the original temple design is retained.

Pushkar is often described in the scriptures as the only Brahma temple in the world, but also as the "King of the sacred places of the Hindus". Although now the Pushkar temple does not remain the only Brahma temple, it is still one of very few existing temples dedicated to Brahma in India and the most prominent one dedicated to Brahma.

Pushkar Lake and the Brahma temple have been identified as one of the ten most religious places in the world and one of the five sacred pilgrimage places for the Hindus, in India. The spiritual importance attracts a lot of Hindu devotees from different parts of the world.

The Prambanan (Tri Murty )temple in Indonasia

Prambanan is the ninth century Hindu temple compound in Central Java, Indonesia, dedicated to Trimurties, the expression of God as the Creator (Brahma), the Sustainers (Vishnu) and the Destroyer (Shiva).

A Dutchman named Calons visited Java in 1733 and reported on the existence of the ruins of the temple compound, overgrown with shrubs. The restoration work started in 1978 and completed in 1991.

The temple compound located approximately 18 km east of Yogyakarta city on the boundary between Yogyakarta and Central Java province. The temple is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, currently is the largest Hindu temple in Indonesia, and is one of the largest Hindu temples in south-east Asia.

It is characterised by its tall and pointed architecture, typical of Hindu temple architecture, and by the towering 47m high central building inside a large complex of individual temples. Either sides of the central temple there are two smaller but similar sized temples can be seen.

The temple in the middle of the complex is dedicated for Lord Siva Mahadeva and contains five chambers, four small chambers in every cardinal direction and one bigger main chamber in central part of the temple.

The chamber in the centre (moolasthana), of the largest temple in Prambanan, and linked to the east chamber, has a three meter high statue of Shiva Mahadeva. The statue bears Lakcana (attributes or symbol) of Shiva such as skull and crescent at the crown, and third eye on the forehead, also four hands that holds Shiva's symbols: a prayer beads, feather duster, and trisula (trident).

The statue of Shiva stands on lotus pad on Yoni pedestal that bears the carving of Naga serpents on north side of pedestal.

The other three smaller chambers contain statues of Hindu Gods related to Shiva; his consort Durga, Lord Ganesha, his son and the rishi Agastya. Statue of Agastya occupy the south chamber, the west chamber houses the statue of Ganesha, while the north chamber contains the statue of Durga Mahisasuramardini depicting Durga as the slayer of Bull demon.

The two other main shrines are that of Vishnu on the north side of Shiva shrine, and the one of Brahma is on the south.

Both other temples facing east and each contain only one large chamber, dedicated to respected gods; Brahma temple contains the statue of Brahma and Vishnu temple houses the statue of Vishnu. Brahma and Vishnu temple measures 20 metres wide and 33 metres tall.


The fact that a huge temples like these for Trimurties in one compound that cannot be seen in India but is located in Indonesia tells us how widespread Hinduism was.

Also note that the largest Hindu temple of the world the Ankor Wat is located in Kampodia.

In early part of 2012 another Hindu temple with Shiva and Ganesha statues have been unearthed in another jungle area of Indonesia. 

Pancha Bhoota Temples (Sthalam)

Pancha Bootha Sthalam 

The living being such as humans like us or any other living organisam in this whole world depends on five natural forces or powers. These five prime elements of the nature are land, water, air, sky, fire.

Pancha means Five, Bhoota means powers or elements of nature. So these five prime elements are referred as Pancha Bhootas.

If one of these element is no longer exixts, no one can stay alive. When they are in the right balance (equilibrium) everythings are normal and peaceful.

On the other hand, whenever these powers turn as a destructive force/s then huge destruction will result and so live will be lost in huge numbers too within short time span.

We have seen the destruction by huge uncontrollable wild fire and the destruction caused by tsunami and flood.

fire

Wild Fire

tsunami

Tsunami 

We also seen the carnages by the cyclones, tornados and also by earthquake, volcanos etc. and from the sky we can see what could happen when there is a heavy snow fall, rain, lighting or thunder etc.

cyclone

Cyclone destruction

flood

Flood Destruction

etna - active volcano

Etna, active Volcano

snow

Snow destruction

Lord Shiva and Pancha Bhootas

Hindus worship the Lord Shiva as the God of destroyer and so when these Pancha Bhootas turn as a destructive force, they are considered as the Lord's destructive forces. The Lord controls them and so there are peaceful and normal constantly.

So the nature's five elements are considered as the powers of Lord Shiva and the Hindus worship Lord Shiva as the Lord of Pancha Bhootas. Hence there are five Lord Shiva's Pancha Bhootas temples in Southern Indian states of Tamil Nadu and Andra Pradesh. Four in Tamil nadu and one in Andra Pradesh.

In Sri Kalahasti temple in Andra the Lord is worship as air ('Vaayu') and in Tiruvannamalai temple in Tamil Nadu, Shiva is said to have manifested himself in the form of massive column of fire ('Akni) while in Chidambaram, Thilai Nadaraja Temple, empty space to represent sky ('akasha') is worshiped as Shiva to signify God is beyond human comprehension. It is unusual where there is no physical stone lingam present, unlike other temples of Shiva.

In Thiruvanaikaval, near Trichy the Lord is worship as the water ('Jambu') and in Kanchipuram's Ekambareswarar Temple the Lord is worship as the earth ('Prithvi')

In these five Pancha Bhootas temples, the Lord is worship in the form of Linga(m) . In Sri Kalahasti temple, the linga(m) is known as Vayu Linga(m) and in Chidambaram, Thilai Nadaraja Temple it is Aagaya Linga(m) or (Akasha Linga(m)). While in Thiruvannamalai temple, it is Agni Linga(m) (Jyothi Linga(m)) and Ekambareswarar Temple it is Prithvi Linga(m) and in Jambukeshwarar Temple of Thiruvanaikaval the Linga(m) is submerged in water and is referred as Appu Linga(m) or Jampu Linga(m).

The merciful Lord is blessing the devotees who come to worship him.  

srikalahasti tiruvannamalai chidambaram tvkoil ekam
Sri Kalahasti Thiruvannamalai Chidambaram Thiruvanaikaval Ekambareswarar