April 2, 2015

Siva Ganga Park - Tanjore

Site Name: Siva Ganga Park
Site Type: Park
Location:  Tanjore, Tamil Nadu state, India
Highlights: A popular tourist destination in Tanjore
Nearest Railway Station: Tanjore
Nearest Airport: Trichy 
How to reach: Well connected by road and rail
Hotel: A lot of options are available in Tanjore
Restaurants: All options - vegetarian and non vegetarian;

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 Siva Ganga Park.

Siva Ganga Park is a recreational park which is located next to the famous Brahadeeswarar Temple in Tanjore. It was inaugurated in 1871-72 CE. It is one of the oldest parks that still exists in Thanjavur. The Siva Ganga Tank that is located inside the park was constructed none other than the great King Raja Raja Chola. 

The Park has many attractions like motor boating in the tank, toy train, children park, etc. It is an important place for Tanjore citizens for evening gathering.

Happy travelling. 

Ambaji

Site Name: Ambaji
Site Type: Hindu temple
Location:  Ambaji, near Abu Road, Gujarat state, India
Highlights: One of 51 Shakti Peeth temples; a very popular temple of Goddess
Nearest Railway Station: Abu Road
Nearest Airport: Ahmedabad
How to reach: Well connected by road  
Hotel: Decent accommodation options are available in Ambaji
Restaurants: Good vegetarian restaurants are found in Ambaji

Ambaji is a very popular temple town located near Abu Road in Gujarat state of India. Millions of devotees visit this site every year. It is one of the 51 Shakti Peetha temples. 

Highlights:
  • One of the 51 Shakti Peetha temples
  • Goddess - Ambaji
  • Instead of image or idol, only Visa Yantra is worshiped as the main deity
  • The heart of Shakti fell on this site 

Legend:

As per the Hindu mythology, as Daksha insulted his son in law Lord Shiva, Shiva's wife and Daksha's daughter Sati sacrificed her life. Shiva became very angry and started dancing Rudra Tandava carrying the corpse of Sati. To protect the universe, Lord Vishnu cut down the body of Sati into many pieces. The body parts fell in different sites on the earth; all of those sites became Shakti Peethas. In Ambaji, it is believed that the heart of Sati fell in this site.

Temple Layout:

Although the temple is supposed to be very old, it is very evident that renovation work has been carried out recently. The current structure of the temple is made of marble and is very big. The sanctum santorum enshrines the "Shree Visa Yantra". There is no image or idol of Goddess Ambaji. Although the temple is big, there are no other idols or sub-shrine found in this temple apart from the main deity.

Around five kms from this temple, there is another small Ambaji temple located atop Gabbar hill. It is believed by few people that it was the original temple of Ambaji. Here, the deity is present in the form of idol. The temple is very small. One has to climb around 1000 steps to reach this hilltop temple.

Happy travelling.


March 27, 2015

Modhera Sun Temple

Site Name: Sun Temple
Site Type: Temple, architectural marvel
Location:  Modhera, 100 kms from Ahmedabad, Gujarat state, India
Highlights: An architectural marvel built by Solanki Kings
Nearest Railway Station: Ahmedabad
Nearest Airport: Ahmedabad
How to reach: Well connected by road, rail and air
Hotel: A lot of options across the entire city
Restaurants: Varieties of options across the entire city

Modhera is a small village located on the banks of the river Pushpavati at a distance of around 100 kms from Ahmedabad city. The highlight of this village is Sun Temple, which was built in 1026 CE by King Bhimdev of Solanki dynasty. It is an architectural marvel similar to the Sun Temple of Konark.

Legend:

As per the legend, the place was called as Dharmaranya in the olden days. After killing Ravana, Lord Ram came to this site as per the advice from the sage Vasistha. He stayed in a village called Modherak and performed yagna here. The village is called as Sitapur nowadays which is around 15 kms from Modhera.

The Sun Temple was built by Bhimdev I of Solanki dynasty in 1026 CE. It should be noted that the Solankis considered themselves as the Suryanvanshis (the descendants of Surya, the Sun God). 

Allauddin Khilji attacked and partially destroyed this temple. Currently, the temple is partially in ruins and prayers are not offered. 

Temple Layout:

The Sun Temple of Modhera has a unique architectural style. It comprises three separate sections called Surya Kund, Sabha Mandapa and Guda Mandapa. All of them are axially aligned. 

Suryakunda which is also called as Ramakunda is a very large rectangular stepped tank. This tank serves as a fine example of geometry. There are 108 small shrines carved in between the steps inside the tank. The sculptures in these sub-shrines are very attractive.

There are two huge ornamental arches which form as gateway to the Sabha Mandapa. The mandapa is open from all the sides. It has 52 intricately carved pillars depicting the episodes from Hindu Puranas and epics. 

The section between the Sabha Mandapa and the sanctum sanctorum is a beautiful hall with pillars and arches. The walls have 12 niches depicting the different aspects of the Sun God in each month. 

In the sanctum sanctorum, the idol of Sun God is missing. The idol of Surya was standing on a chariot carried by seven horses and driven by Arun. It was designed in such a way that the rising and setting Sun rays on two particular days every year fall on this idol. The entire idol along with the chariot and charioteer were made up of gold. It was taken away by Mohammed Ghazni. 

The exterior of the temple wall has different postures of Surya, eight Dikpals, Vishwakarma, Agni, Varuna, Ganesha, Saraswati and also few erotic sculptures.

Happy travelling.