September 22, 2011

Chenglepet Kodandaramar Temple

Chenglepet is an important city located near Chennai city, the gateway to South India. Kodandaramar temple is an important temple and tourist spot in Chenglepet city. The temple is located at the center of the city hardly around 1 km from the Railway station and bus stand.

The main shrine of the temple has the rare sculpture or Lord Ram seated in the pattabhishek posture (royal ceremony) along with Sita also in the seated posture with her left leg raised and the right leg folded. The brothers of Ram, Lakshman, Bharat and Shatrugna along with the small idol of Hanuman also surround the idols of the divine couple in the sanctum santorum. The bronze idols (utsav aka procession idols) of Ram, Sita, Lakshman and Hanuman are also found in the main shrine.

Near the main shrine, there is a shrine which enshrines the idols of Vishnu devotees and saints such as few Alwars, Mudali Andan and Ramanuj. There is another shrine for Varadar.

This small old temple doesn't have a tower. However, it has flag staff and bali peeth similar to any other typical South Indian temple. There is a small shrine for Hanuman facing the main shrine.

The temple has one prakara (corridor) which houses the shrines for Perundevi and the famous and rare idol of Hanuman with Shaneeswar under his feet. This Hanuman idol is called as Veera Anjaneya and it is more popular than the presiding deity of the temple in this city.

One pillar in this temple has a bas relief image of Lord Ganesha.

Happy travelling.

Fast Facts:
Site Name: Kothandaramar Temple
Site Type: Hindu temple
Location:  1 km from railway station, Chenglepet city, near Chennai, Tamil Nadu state, India
Highlights: The most famous temple in Chenglepet city; Rama and family in pattabhishek posture; Shaneeswara on the foot of Hanuman
Nearest Railway Station: Chenglepet
Nearest Airport: Chennai
How to reach: Train from Chennai and nearby towns; Easily reachable by road
Hotel: Mostly budget hotels; star hotels are available in Chennai 
Restaurants: It's difficult to find good restaurants

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September 16, 2011

Akhnoor - The historical town of Jammu and Kashmir

Akhnoor is a historical town which has mythological connections too. It is located at a distance of around 20 kms from Jammu city in Jammu and Kashmir state of India. This picturesque town of Akhnoor is located on the banks of the river Chenab. Akhnoor has a lot of tourist attractions.

Akhnoor is very small town. The river Chenab floats all along the town. Due to the floating of Himalayan glacier in summer, the river is full of water all over the year including the summer season. The first tourist attraction of Akhnoor is a Gurudwara. The white marble Gurudwara on the banks of the river Chenab looks very attractive.

The second attraction of the town is the temple dedicated to Lord Parasuram, the incarnation of Vishnu. Unlike the other popular incarnations of Lord Vishnu such as Krishna and Ram, it is very rare to find a temple for Parasuram. Apart from Parasuram shrine, the temple has two other shrines - one for Vaishno Devi and another for Shiva-Parvati-Ganesh.

This town is believed to be the Virat town of Mahabharat epic. This was the town where Pandavas had to hide themselves from Kauravs for one year. There is a cave temple on the banks of the river. The cave temple is named as Pandav Gufa. The entrance of the cave has the figures of Hanuman and Bhairav. The cave has the idol of Shiv Linga, which is believed to have been installed by the Pandavas. The cave also has the bas relief images of all five Pandavas, their wife Draupati and Krishna with Arjun. The footprint of Lord Krishna is also found inside the temple. The idols of Dharmaraja and Chitragupta are found near the Krishna foot print. The small cave temple also has the other shrines for Kali, Radha-Krishna and Shiva-Parvati-Ganesh.

Near the Pandav Gufa temple, the Akhnoor fort is located. It was built in the 18th century CE by the king Raja Teg Singh. The excavations inside the fort revealed the Harappan and pre-Harappan civilizations which are 5000 years old.

Durga temple, which was built in the recent times, is also an important site in Akhnoor. The main shrine in the temple is dedicated to Goddess Durga. There is a big idol of the river Ganga seated on a Makara. The temple has other idols and shrines such as Navagraha, Ganesh, Dharmaraja and Chitragupta, Kali, Ganesh, Ram-Lakshman-Sita-Hanuman, Radha-Krishna, Shiva and Shiv Linga, etc.

Kameshwar temple located slightly away from the river on the main road is believed to be an ancient temple dated back to the Pandavas. However, the structure of the temple is not very old. The main shrine of the temple has three Shiv Lingas in irregular shapes along with the idols of three Ganeshji. The prakara (corridor surrounding the shrine) has the shrines of Hanuman, Ram-Lakshman-Sita-Hanuman, Nataraj, Kali along with Shiva under her feet, Indra, Shiv-Parvati-Ganesh and Panchmukh Hanuman. The entrance of the temple has two big Shiv Lingas and two idols of Nandi. Near the entrance, the idols of Chitragupta, Shaneeswara and Dharmaraja are also found.

Near Akhnoor, on the way back to Jammu, there is a small site called Ambaran. It has the remains of a Buddhist monastery that existed between 1st century CE and 7th century CE.

Akhnoor has mythological as well as historical importance. Moreover, it is also a beautiful tourist attraction located very near to Jammu city. If you get a chance to visit Jammu, ensure that you go to Akhnoor too.

Happy travelling.

Fast Facts:
Site Name: Akhnoor
Site Type: Temple, Fort, Gurudwara, Cave shrine, River
Location:  20 kms from Jammu city, Jammu and Kashmir state, India
Highlights: 7th century reamins of Buddhist monastery and the cave shrines of Pandavas
Nearest Railway Station: Jammu - well connected from the cities/towns all over India
Nearest Airport: Jammu
How to reach: Reachable by taxi from Jammu
Hotel: A lot of hotels are available in Jammu; 
Restaurants: Good restaurants are available in Jammu

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September 14, 2011

Bahu Fort Kali Temple - Jammu and Kashmir

Kali, the ferocious Hindu Goddess is the presiding deity for Bengalis. The Kolkata city  in Bengal state of India is famous for its Kali temple. However, Jammu, which is located in the northern part of India, also has a famous temple for Kali. Jammu, the city of temples, has a lot of huge temples. However, the presiding deity for the citizens of Jammu city is Kali, is not located in any such magnificent temple but inside the Bahu fort of Jammu city.

As per the mythology, the Bahu fort, perhaps the oldest fort of Jammu city, was built by Raja Mahalochan around 3000 years ago. It is located at a distance of around 5 kms from the city center on the banks of river Tawi. Historically, it was rebuilt by the Dogra king Maharaja Gulab Singh in 1822 CE. The Mahakali temple, located inside the fort, is the main temple for Dogra rulers as well as the people of Jammu city. This Kali temple is the second most popular Goddess temple in Jammu and Kashmir state after the popular Vaishno Devi shrine.

Although the temple, which is also called as Bawe Wala Mata temple, is very popular in this region, it is very small. The main shrine has the idol of Mahakali. She is found in the usual form of ferocious style with her tongue hanging out.

Within the main shrine, the idol of Vaishno Devi is also located. The temple has few other shrines and idols also such as Ganesh, Narasimha, Radha Krishna, Ram-Lakshman-Sita-Hanuman, Panchmukh Hanuman, Shiv Linga and Vaishno Devi. There is a separate shrine where the three main Goddesses Kali, Lakshmi and Saraswati are found together.

The animal sacrifice is still carried out in this temple. You can find the signs and symbols for the same. The temple is crowded every Tuesday and Sunday by the local pilgrims.

Happy travelling.
Fast Facts:
Site Name: Bahu Fort Kali Temple
Site Type: Temple, Fort
Location:  Jammu city, Jammu and Kashmir state, India
Highlights: The most important temple in Jammu city
Nearest Railway Station: Jammu - well connected from the cities/towns all over India
Nearest Airport: Jammu
How to reach: Train, road or air
Hotel: A lot of hotels are available in Jammu; 
Restaurants: Good restaurants are available in Jammu

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