October 12, 2015

Bangaru Kamakshi Temple - Thanjavur

Site Name: Bangaru Kamakshi Amman Temple
Site Type: Hindu temple 
Location:  Mela Masi Veethi (West Main Street), Tanjore city, Tamil Nadu state, India
Highlights: The idol of deity is completely made of gold
Nearest Railway Station: Tanjore
Nearest Airport: Trichy
How to reach: Well connected by road and rail
Hotel: A lot of options across the entire Tanjore city
Restaurants: A lot of options across the entire Tanjore city

Those who know about Thanjavur (Tanjore) city in South India know mainly about the great Brahadeeswarar Temple built by Raja Raja Chola around 1000 years back. However, there are many rare and interesting sites found across the entire city. Let us explore about an interesting temple named Bangaru Kamakshi temple in this article.

The West Main Street, which is called a Mela Masi Veethi in Tamil language, is a well known locality for the citizens of Thanjavur. If someone wants to explore Thanjavur beyond the Big temple, he/she can start with this street. Bangaru Kamakshi temple is located in this street.

The word "Bangaru' in Telugu language means "gold". As the idol of the Goddess Kamakshi in this temple is made of gold, the temple is named as 'Bangaru Kamakshi' temple.


This temple is administered by the Shankaracharya Math of Kanchipuram. To know the association of this temple in Thanjavur with the Math of faraway city, we need to know the history. 

In the 18th century CE, there were series of military conflicts between many independent rulers of India and also there were struggle for dominance between the British and the French. The historians named these conflicts as the Carnatic Wars. The holy city of Kanchipuram was also affected due to these conflicts. 

The continuous political instability lead the head of Kanchi math, Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswati Swamigal V, to shift the base of his math from Kanchi to some other place. He was invited by Pratap Singh, the King of Thanjavur. Swamiji shifted his base to Thanjavur. By then, the authorities of Kanchi Kamakshi Amman temple moved the golden idol of Goddess Kamakshi, which was enshrined in Kanchi temple to Udayarpalayam, a village near Thanjavur. As the Kanchi math got shifted to Thanjavur, they took the idol to Thanjavur and permanently installed the same. It is the site where the current temple of Bangaur Kamakshi is located. However, later the Swamiji shifted his math from Thanjavur to Kumbakonar. Neverthless, Bangaru Kamakshi remained in Thanjavur. Thus, the utsava (mobile idol) idol of Kanchipuram became an immovable idol of Thanjavur.

Shyama Sastri was one of the three most important composers of Carnatic music. Shyama Sastri, Tyagaraja and Muthuswami Deekshitar were called as Trinity of Carnatic music. He was born in the family which served as the priests in Bangaru Kamakshi Temple. Even, he was serving as the priest in this temple. 

Temple Layout:

This temple is simple in design and is facing towards the north direction. It has small tower. At the entrance of the temple, there is a big stone idol of Ganesha called as 'Varada Maha Ganapati'.

The sanctum sanctorum enshrines the golden idol of Kamakshi called as 'Bangaru Kamakshi'. She is found in the standing posture and holds parrot in her right arm. Her face alone looks black in color. 

It is said that the idol was wrapped with a cloth and the face was smeared by Punugu and was brought in a palanquin from Kanchipuram to Udayarpalayam. Punagu is a substance extracted from the secretion of a kind of cat called as Punagu Poonai a.k.a. civet cat. The objective was to fool the enemies and thieves. Later, it became a ritual and even today the face of idol is smeared with Punagu. Hence, the face of golden idol is black in color. 

Near the main shrine, there is another shrine facing the east direction. It is dedicated to Kamakoti Amman. 

The temple has just one prakara (circumabulatory passage).

Happy travelling.

October 10, 2015

Kedar Gauri Temple - Bhubaneswar

Site Name: Kedar-Gauri Temple 
Site Type: Hindu ancient temples
Location:   Bhubaneswar city, Odisha state, India
Highlights: An important temple complex in Bhubaneswar which houses two ancient temples of Shiva and Parvati
Nearest Railway Station: Bhubaneswar
Nearest Airport: Bhubaneswar
How to reach: Well connected by road, rail and air
Hotel: There are many options across the city
Restaurants: Varieties of options

Bhubaneswar, which is the capital city of Odisha (formerly Orissa) state of India, is called as 'the City of Temples'. It once had around 3000 temples and even today hundreds of temples are located in every nook and corner of this heritage rich city. The city is called as Ekamara Kshetra as it has so many Shiva temples. Let us explore one of the popular temples of Bhubaneswar in this article. The complex is called as Kedar Gauri Temple and it has two ancient temples and few other smaller shrines.


Kedar-Gauri temple complex is a very popular religious site in Bhubaneswar. You can easily come to this place from any other part of the city, as everyone in Bhubaneswar would know about this most famous landmark. It is located in Kedar-Gauri road, hardly at 300 meters away from the yet another famous temple, Muktesvara.


Although people call this site as Kedar Gauri Temple as if there is just one temple, it is actually a complex which consists two separate main temples, one is dedicated to Lord Shiva and another is to the Goddess Parvati (in Odisha they pronounce her name as Parbati). There are legends on how the twin temples were constructed by the same king. However, architecturally both the temples were built in two different periods by two different dynasties.


As per the popular legend, there were two lovers who lived in a village near Bhubaneswar in the olden days. The male was named Kedar and the female was named Gauri. As the villager opposed their union, they fled away from their village. On their way, Gauri felt thirsty. Kedar went inside the forest searching for food and water. He was killed by a tiger in the forest. Somehow, Gauri came to know this and she committed suicide by jumping into a pond. The King of Utkal, Lalatendu Keshari, came to know about this story. He built a temple near that pond and named it as Kedar-Gauri temple. Even today, the lovers who want to get married, come to this temple to get the blessing of the deities. 

As per another legend, Lord Shiva wanted to leave Kasi (Varanasi) as that holy city became very noisy. He ordered the saint Narad to find equally holy site for him. He told Shiva about Ekamara Kshetra, the present day Bhubaneswar. Shiva came down to the site and settled down here. However, he did not bring his wife. Later, after her continuous persistence, he brought her also to this site. Thus both Kedar (Shiva) and Gauri (Parvati) settled down in this site.

Kedar Temple:

Kedar temple is one of the two temples in the Kedar Gauri temple complex. The architectural features of this temple resembles with Siddhesvara temple located in Muktesvara temple complex. It was built by the Ganga Kings in the 12th century CE.

The south facing temple enshrines Shiva Linga named as Kedareshwar in the sanctum sanctorum. It has rekha type vimana and pidha type Jagamohana. The temple is pancha ratha on plan and panchanga bada on elevation.

The entrance of the temple has the relief images of Ganesha and Lakshmi. The top portion of the entrance have Navagraha panel.

The interior and exterior are plain. There are Parsva devta (niche) idols found around the exterior wall such as Ganesha, Kartikeya and Parvati. The Karitikeya idol is found along with a female attendant (probably his  consort?) and peacock.

Gauri Temple:

Gauri temple is the second temple in the complex. It is dedicated to Gauri (Parvati), the consort of Shiva. Although the legends try to associate both the temples, both were built in different periods by different kings. This temple belongs to Somavamsi period (10th century CE) older than Kedar temple. 

The temple enshrines the idol of Goddess Gauri. Unlike the other temple (Kedar) in this complex, the exterior walls of this temple is intricately carved with the sculptures of Nayikas, deities, etc. and designs such as motifs, scroll works, etc. 

The east facing temple has Khakhara deula type vimana and pidha type Jagamohana.

Other Shrines:

The complex also houses three small shrines for Shiva Linga, and three more shrines for red colored 8 feet idol of Hanuman, Durga and red colored idol of Ganesha.

There is a mandapa with all the four sides open which is generally used for Vedic rituals. This hall has few modern day beautiful wall paintings of Shiva, Parvati, Ardhanareeswara, Hari Hara etc.


According to Kapila Samhita, the Hind religious text, a single sip of water from the Khira Kunda tank located in the temple complex would absolve the one from the repeated cycles of birth and death. 

There is another tank in the complex called as Marichi Kunda, which is believed to have power to turn sterile women to conceive. 


Every year during the auspicious day of Shital Shasti, the procession from Linga Raja temple reaches Kedar Gauri temple. The symbolic marriage ritual between the idol of Linga Raja and the idol of Gauri takes place on that day. 

Happy travelling.

October 4, 2015

Ashapuri Mata Temple - Piplav, Gujarat

Site Name: Ashapuri Mata Temple
Site Type: Hindu Temple dedicated to Goddess
Location:  Piplav, 90 kms from Ahmedabad, Gujarat state, India
Highlights: One of the most important temples of Mataji (Goddess) in Gujarat state of India
Nearest Railway Station: Anand, at a distance of 25 kms
Nearest Airport: Ahmedabad, at a distance of 90 kms
How to reach: Well connected by road from Ahmedabad and Anand
Hotel: A lot of options in Anand and Ahmedabad
Restaurants: Varieties of options in Anand and Ahmedabad

Piplav is a village located at a distance of about 25 kms from Anand in Gujarat state of India. It is an important pilgrimage center of Gujarat state. Ashapuri Mata temple located in Piplav is one of the most popular Mataji temples in Gujarat.


When the Pandavas of Mahabharat were on their exile to the forest, they had visited this site where the Piplav village is currently located. As Kunti, the mother of five Pandavas, got a dream in which the Goddess appeared, she advised her sons to install the idol of Goddess here. Accordingly, the Pandavas installed the idol of Goddess Asha in this site. They had completed their 12 years of exile by then. As per their agreement with their enemies Kauravas, they had to disguise and hide themselves for another one year called as Agyat Vas. They lived in the nearby Virat Nagar for one year. After they passed the one year successfully by eliminating all the obstacles, they came back to the same site and installed another idol named Puri Mata. Thus, the Pandavas installed two idols Asha and Puri in this village.

Hundreds of years passed by. The place became a forest. People forgot about the deities and there was no temple. One day, the shephards found a cow milking on its own in a particular place. When they dug the place, they discovered two idols. The King Pilaji Rao was reported about this. He built the temple for these two deities and thereafter the temple was called as 'Asha Puri Mata' temple.

Temple Layout:

There is no specific architectural significance associated with the structure of the temple. The temple structure looks like any other typical medieval period or modern day temples of Gujarat. 

The small temple enshrines two deities named as Asha and Puri, one shorter and another taller in height. Both the deities are red colored stone idols. Two silver plated lion statues are found as their mounts in the main shrine. Two men dressed as the Kings are also found on either side of the Goddesses.

Some idols such as Ganesh, Hanuman, Shiva Linga and Kodiyaar Mata are also found in this temple. A large lake is also located near the temple.

Happy travelling.