Tag Archives: Temples

Murudeshwara – Lord Shiva’s Magnificence at it’s best…

So it had been my desire to visit this place for quite a while now. The last time I was near Murudeshwara was when I had stopped by over a long weekend, a ride taken to visit Gokarna. Too bad, I didn’t realize back then that it was hardly 70 kms from Gokarna. So I had made it a point to ensure that this visit happened this year. And thankfully, it did happen. I had planned a trip in Karnataka, specifically off the locations that had interesting stories with regards to it’s grand mythological and historical references. A seed had been planted in my head, after reading Dr. Devdutt Patnaik’s books on mythology. I was all the more fascinated and had read two books of his on Lord Shiva. A belief doesn’t become stronger unless you have corroborated stories or beautiful understanding about any subject. That’s when I realized that this trip was going to be even better.

Night Train to Murudeshwara

A night’s journey in the Matsyagandha Express was smooth as I traveled sleeping like a log and woke up to realize Murdeshwar had already arrived at 4.30 in the morning. I had anticipated that I’d reach there early in the morning, but had not thought about what I’d do after reaching there so early. Having said that, as always, I tried my luck in the Railway quarters, only to realized there was one room available and there were a middle aged couple along with me who had to visit someone in the town and I decided to go into the waiting room and sleep some more before I headed to the temple.

Fresh early morning cold with beautiful breeze certainly enchanted my mind and made me realize that my week long tour of Karnataka had already begun. After taking a short nap for an hour, I decided to stroll near the station and see what’s around. Silent as a grave, yet serene, the railway station was quite a beauty. I decided to click some snaps of the sunrise which certainly gave solace to the mind.

Sunrise at Murdeshwar Railway Station

Sunrise at Murdeshwar Railway Station

After freshening up, the best thing I could do is get a cup of tea and head towards the temple. But since I didn’t want to carry my backpack, I decided to keep it in the cloak room and come back in the afternoon and collect it. The problem was, my backpack, didn’t have a lock and they wouldn’t accept it. But thankfully, the railway employee suggested that I can keep the bag safe with the canteen guys and collect it later. I picked up my DSLR and my mobile phone with me, after which I didn’t have any valuables and I felt free to keep the bag with him. Nonetheless, the best part about travelling across South India, is that more often than none, you will encounter really amazing people who would help you out at each step of the way.

So there I began towards the temple, it was hardly 3 kms from the railway station and I decided to walk it up enjoying the early morning breath of fresh air…

Amazingly, Murdeshwar is quite unknown and secluded and hadn’t it been for the second largest statue of Lord Shiva constructed by  the R.N Shetty trust, it’d not be as fascinating as it is or attract so much crowd. Yes there is historical significance of this place connected with the Atma Linga story of Ravana and Lord Shiva. Which is probably why it’s more significant and hence someone took the initiative of building something here. Also, just across the Murdeshwar beach are the Nettrani Islands where you can Scuba Dive, which I’d had to save for later as this was a shoestring budget trip 😉

A fascinating game played in the village

A fascinating game played in the village

While I approached the village and I could see the Lord Shiva statue’s head in the distant horizon, I saw a crowd that had gathered nearby. Just near a small tank near another temple, there was a group of onlookers to this interesting game of fetching the bananas. To begin with, there was a pulley on which a bunch of bananas were attached. On the edge of the tank on top of the wall, a group of young boys, decked with flower crowns waited their turn to jump in the air and try to bring down that bunch. While they tried their best to do so, the person who controlled the pulley tried his best to not let them have it. Enjoying this activity with a playful spirit others were cheering for these boys. While I’m sure there must be some significance, symbolic, religious or historic, when I asked around, very few knew what it was. All I got to know was it was a sacred activity performed by boys of the landlord’s family. My best guess is that these boys were entering into adulthood and this is a significant symbol of them trying to fight for the price catch (Metaphorical: A wife, materialistic life, food for themselves, responsibilities) well that was my best guess.

Murdeshwar Beach's Serenity

Murdeshwar Beach’s Serenity

As I walked past the village, and reached closer to the Temple, I could see the Murdeshwar beach in the vicinity and it was truly beautiful. Something that gave joy to my sight and peace of mind to my soul. The next thing was to of course, visit the temple itself and then behind it the Lord Shiva’s Statue…

The Royal Entrance to the Temple -  Rajgopuram

The Royal Entrance to the Temple – Rajgopuram

There is a lift that will take you to the top most floor. All you have to do is pay 10 rupees and wait a bit with other people. But once you go on top, you’ll realize that the wait is worth it… From the top, you can see the Lord Shiva’s Statue, which will give you the top view and that is also very enchanting, with the sea in the backdrop.

Lord Shiva's Statue as seen from the Temple Gopuram

Lord Shiva’s Statue as seen from the Temple Gopuram

Inside, the temple is very serene and there’s ample space for you to just sit and meditate. It’s a blissful experience. But, one of the fascinating things you’ll notice is the Temple’s smaller gopuram has enchanting encryption and engraving which is also gold plated. It contains the entire story of Ravana being tricked by Ganesha with the help of Lord Vishnu in order to protect Lord Shiva’s Atma Linga. (The source of power to immortality.)

After that, to get an up-close and personal view of Lord Shiva himself, I headed to the base of the statue, which has the cave, in which a description of the entire story of how Murudeshwara became a significant place in the context of Ravana, Lord Shiva and the Atma Lingam. They also play an audio clip inside the cave, which tells you the story in Kannada and English if I remember correctly.

Lord Shiva's Statue at the base of the temple

Lord Shiva’s Statue at the base of the temple

The Story of Murudeshwara

Ravana's Mother worshipping Shiva's Linga

Ravana’s Mother worshipping Shiva’s Linga

Ravana’s mom just like Ravana, was a stout devotee of Shiva. Also, she knew about the Atma-Linga of Lord Shiva and the powers it could give his son.  The Hindu gods attained immortality and invincibility by worshipping a divine Lingam called the Atma-Linga. She convinced his son Ravana, to pray to Lord Shiva and attain the Atma Linga.

Ravana Promising his Mother

Ravana Promising his Mother

Ravana promised his mother that he’ll seek out Lord Shiva, pray to him and conduct penance but at whatever cost, he’ll get the Atma-Linga

Ravana Praying to Lord Shiva

Ravana Praying to Lord Shiva

Narada goes to Vishnu

Narada goes to Vishnu

By this time Narada had asked Lord Vishnu to change Ravana’s mind. By this time Narada had asked Lord Vishnu to change Ravana’s mind. As a result of this plot, Ravana asks for Goddess Parvati, and Lord Shiva offers her to him.

Ravana asks for Parvati

Ravana asks for Parvati

On his way back to Lanka Narada tells Ravana that Lord had not given him the real Parvathi and that the real Parvathi was in Pathala who was a King’s daughter in the world below the earth.

Narada talking to Ravana

Narada talking to Ravana

So Ravana frees his companion,goes to Pathala and marries a king’s daughter ,assuming her to be the real Parvathi.

Ravana marrying the King's Daughter

Ravana marrying the King’s Daughter

Ravana's mom asks for the Linga

Ravana’s mom asks for the Linga

He then returns to Lanka, where his mother asks him for the Linga. Ravana then comes to know of the tricks played on him by Lord Vishnu.

Ravana Prays for Forgiveness

Ravana Prays for Forgiveness

He therefore prays to Lord Shiva again, begging for his forgiveness. This time, it’s even more difficult to get Lord Shiva’s attention. He then decides to offer sacrifice by cutting his heads.

Ravana cutting his heads as sacrifice

Ravana cutting his heads as sacrifice

Lord Shiva is moved by this dedication and restores his heads. Also when he appears,  Ravana requests the AtmaLinga as his boon. Lord Shiva agrees to give him the boon with the condition that it should never be placed on the ground. If the AtmaLinga was ever placed on the ground, all the powers would return to Lord Shiva again.

Narada approaches Lord Ganesha

‘ Narada approaches Lord Ganesha

Having obtained his boon, Ravana started back on his journey to Lanka. Sage Narada, who came to know of this incident, realised that with the AtmaLinga, Ravana may obtain immortality and create havoc on earth. He approached the Lord Ganesh and requested him to prevent the AtmaLinga from reaching Lanka.

Lord Ganesh knew that Ravana was a very devoted person who used to perform prayer ritual in the evening every day without fail. He decided to make use of this fact and came up with a plan to confiscate the AtmaLinga from Ravana.
As Ravana was nearing Gokarna, Lord Vishnu blotted out the sun to give the appearance of dusk. Ravana now had to perform his evening rituals but was worried because with the AtmaLinga in his hands, he would not be able to do his rituals. At this time, Lord Ganesh in the disguise of a Brahmin boy accosted him. Ravana requested him to hold the AtmaLinga until he performed his rituals, and asked him not to place it on the ground. Ganesh struck a deal with him saying that he would call Ravana thrice, and if Ravana did not return within that time, he would place the AtmaLinga on the ground.

Ravana giving the Atma Linga to the Bramhin Boy

Ravana giving the Atma Linga to the Bramhin Boy

Ganesha places the Atma Linga on the ground

Ganesha places the Atma Linga on the ground

As predicted, before Ravana could return after completing his rituals, Ganesh had already placed the AtmaLinga on the ground. Ravana got angry and in an enraged state, he hit Ganesha.

Enraged he hit the Bramhin boy (Ganesha)

Enraged he hit the Bramhin boy (Ganesha)

Vishnu then removed his illusion and it was daylight again.  Ravana, realising that he had been tricked, tried to uproot and destroy it.

Ravana uprooting the Atma Linga

Ravana uprooting the Atma Linga

Pieces of the Linga

Pieces of the Linga

Due to the force exerted by Ravana, some pieces were scattered. One such piece from the head of the linga is said to have fallen in present day Surathkal. The famous Sadashiva temple is said to be built around that piece of linga. Then he decided to destroy the covering of the AtmaLinga, and threw the case covering it to a place called Sajjeshwara, 23 miles away. Then he threw the lid of the case to a placed called Guneshwara (now Gunavanthe) and Dhareshwara, 10–12 miles away. Finally, he threw the cloth covering the AtmaLinga to a placed called Mrideshwara in Kanduka-Giri (Kanduka Hill). Mrideshwara has been renamed to Murudeshwara.

Quite enchanting and after having spent more than an entire day in this enchanting place, I returned to collect my backpack and take a bus to Bangalore… From there, my next stop was Sravanabelegola! Another ancient and yet very enchanting place full of beauty and history.

Valley of Flowers – Yet another SriniOnTour…

Valley of Flowers - Backpacking Begins...
Valley of Flowers – Backpacking Begins…

So, I’m all set with my backpack  and with a lot of hopes from this trip. This journey has long been on my bucket list and I’ve been working quite hard to make it happen. Finally, this is part of my first ventures as a part time travel writer, and beginning my career into a whole new dimension. Yes, there are a lot of ifs and buts still, as far as my whole plan goes, but that’s the best part about it…

As far as this trip is concerned… I’m sure there isn’t any doubt, that this is going to be another #SriniOnTour that will rock. This time around, I may not be able to blog on the go, due to connectivity and rains, I’ve decided to  avoid carrying my laptop… besides my backpack is already about 10 kgs… which we would carry all the way up to the West Himalayas. So I’ve decided, I’d upload a lot of photos on twitter and facebook and showcase my journey as a live photo-blog.

http://facebook.com/srinistuff

http://twitpic.com/photos/srinistuff

Also joining me on this trip are a some of my close friends with whom i regularly go on trips/treks.. Swapnil, his wife, Mangesh and his friend…

From the twitterverse, my new found friends @irohan and @_vishalg would be part of this trip.

This journey is also inspired by my conversation time and again with Chris Collins – (http://nicolaskumar.com/) Author of (Valley of Flowers)  – Chris, thanks for all your advice and help… As soon as I’m back from this trip, the first thing on the agenda is to get the book and read it… That way, I’d be able to relate to everything in it much better. 🙂

So here’s the plan (Some details might be helpful for others who plan to travel here)

Leave for Haridwar via Dehradun Express tonight…

Reach on the 31st July, just in time for the Maha Aarti.. Which is a beautiful and a spectacular sight and something that we should not miss… Hari-Ki-Pauri as it’s popularly known…

Haridwar

Haridwar

1st August

A few more locations in Haridwar, mainly…

Maya Devi Mandir , located on upper road. This temple is one of the 51 “shakti peeths” and its the presiding deity of Haridwar. It is from this temple Haridwar derives its other name Mayapur.

Maya Devi Temple

Bharat Mata Mandir, 5 km north of the center. Dedicated to Mother India, this is half temple, half nation building exercise, with seven floors stacked with deities, saints, and secular heroes of all Indian faiths. Some signage in English.

Bharat Mata Mandir

Bharat Mata Mandir

Bilkeshwar Mahadev Mandir , Shiva temple located on a hill.

Depending on how much time we have on our hands, we’d plan to see these places.

2nd August

Rishikesh

We take an early morning train to Rishikesh. Hemkunt Express – Leaves Haridwar at 6.50 AM and reaches Rishikesh by 8.00 AM. That’s the only train available in the morning. Else we might have to take Vikrams/Rickshaws costs (Rs.60-70) max per rick.

I checked out info for white-water rafting and most places say the season is September-November and March-April-May ideal for rafting. But we can get to know once we are there….My friend Swapnil has also got a few contacts, who say they might be able to arrange for the rafting.

White Water Rafting

White Water Rafting

 

Let’s see how it goes. Besides River Rafting we can visit these places on the 2nd at Rishikesh…

 

Lakshman Jhula, Trayambakeshwar Temple, Lakshman Jhula. is 13 stories high, with different deities throughout.  edit

Lakshman Jhula

Lakshman Jhula

Triveni Ghat, This is a bathing ghat. Daily in the morning and evening there are thousands who take bath here and enjoy the Maha Aarti being performed. It very soothing to sit on the banks of the river and enjoy the cool breeze from the river.

3rd August onwards we report to YHAI Basecamp and follow their itinerary…

4th  August – We take a bus from Rishikesh – Joshimath

Enroute Joshimath

Enroute Joshimath

5th August –  Orientation walk / Visit to Auli and Tapovan

6th August – Joshimath to Govindghat by Bus…

Joshimath to Govindghat by Bus

Joshimath to Govindghat by Bus

6th August – Govindghat – Ghangaria Ghat (A trek of 13kms) This one’s going to be the real test as the place that we would trek would have rain, and there are some really slants that we have to overcome carrying at least 10kgs of backpack is certainly going to be a challenge. While we have trekked over 20-30 kms in a day, this 13km trek would be with full supply backpack and the altitude would be quite challenging, add to that the cold and rain… Should be fun at the same time.

Govindghat to Ghangaria Ghat

Govindghat to Ghangaria Ghat

7th August – Ghangaria Ghat to Valley of Flowers… Now this is the most beautiful place that we hope would really make the 13km trek the previous day, worth it’s while… It’s about 8kms to and fro. This should be easier as our backpack would be at the camp and the trek is much lighter. But the beauty of the park and the flowers in the valley… would really be amazing.. The photos will tell you for sure 🙂 Stay tuned… In the meantime you can also read my poem about the Valley of Flowers here

Valley of Flowers

Valley of Flowers

8th August – Ghangaria Ghat to Hemkund Saheb – This is another amazing place, a worshipping shrine for Sikhs, this place is divine and much more beautiful in terms of the scenic locations and I hope to get a glimpse of some glacier / Ice as well…

Hemkund Saheb

Hemkund Saheb

9th August – We trek back to Govindghat.. The 13km trek.. This should be easier as it’s downhill…

10th August – Govindghat to Badrinath is around 25 kms and this would be a bus journey. Some rest to our ailing legs 😛

Badrinath Temple

Badrinath Temple

11th August – Badrinath – Vasudhara falls around 16km trek to and fro. This is a beauty… In the cold and the rain, it’s quite a pretty sight I’ve heard.

Vasudhara Falls

Vasudhara Falls

12th August –  Badrinath to Rishikesh and check out after breakfast…

Post that, since it’s a long weekend and we have a couple of days on our hand we may just chill in Rishikesh and then head back to Delhi on 13th or 14th August, from where we catch a train and reach Mumbai by 15th August and celebrate Independence Day at home 🙂

All this ordeal would be quite an experience and certainly a journey worth sharing… For now, I’d be updating pictures at

http://facebook.com/srinistuff

http://twitpic.com/photos/srinistuff

 

So stay tuned and hope you enjoy the updates.

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God works in Mysterious ways… Kancheepuram tales

So, after the Marina beach was done with, I had decided to go to Kancheepuram! Then I saw a couple of tweets one from @BwahahaO_o and @Shradzberry that I must visit Mahabalipuram and it’s something that I should not miss.  So I had my lunch and I was almost set to head to Mahabalipuram. I asked around and they said, you can go to Mahabalipuram via Broadway or Koyembedu. These are the two hubs where you get buses to most places. I must say up until now, the transportation in Tamil Nadu has really impressed me. Incidentally, Tamil Nadu has the 3rd best commutes in the world. Wow!! So, anyways, I was all set to head to Mahabalipuram and probably do Kancheepuram later, maybe the next day.

 

So anyways, I get this call from @BwahahaO_o earlier @WhatdBeep earlier @Oyebehendetakke aka Shreyans Deora aka Skid and God alone knows how many more names he has :P. He says, he’ll try to arrange for a car and we both can go to Kancheepuram or Mahabalipuram… or both… So he speaks to his dad, his dad tried to hook us up with someone in the temple so that we don’t have to stand in a huge queue etc etc.. So after going back and forth about what we should do… and spending almost an hour of conversation with @BwahahaO_o and his dad over the phone, we finally decide to do Kancheepuram and leave Mahabalipuram for the next day…

Clicked by @BwahahaO_o

Ok, now, from 1:00 PM, it’s 2:oo PM, @BwahahaO_o says he’ll meet me at Chennai central in half an hour… I wait for him, looking around and wondering what to do, besides tweeting of course… I keep observing people on a warm Sunday. Chennai central is buzzing at this time. Auto drivers haggling people to come sit in their auto, and people nodding their head choosing to walk the other way.

 

So I’m waiting… It’s 2:30 PM, I call him up and he says, he’d be there in 5-10 minutes… time flies by and it’s 3:30 PM and still no sign of @BwahahaO_o I tweet out to him @BwahahaO_o:  Dude..WTH are you?? I wud have reached Mahabalipuram by now #SriniOnTour

 

After a long wait, I decide to head to Mahabalipuram myself… at least I could reacht there before sunset and get great pics… I take a bus to broadway which by the way costs just Rs. 2.  I don’t know anywhere else a ticket would cost that much.  So I’m on the bus, off to Broadway and then to Mahabalipuram… guess what @BwahahaO_o calls me up.

“Where are you dude?”

“Headed to broadway… You didn’t come, so I thought of going to Mahabalipuram”

“Oh, So what do we do?, I’ve been to Mahabalipuram many times.. don’t want to go there…”

So then we figure it out and decide to meet at Koyembedu… and after an hour of going back and forth… we finally meet. It’s almost 4:00 PM and the journey to Kancheepuram is about 1.5 hours… As we head off, @BwahahaO_o apologizes to me and says, Sorry man, it got so late… looks like we won’t get good pics of the sunset. I just tell him “Everything happens for a reason buddy…Wait and Watch”

 

Kancheepuram Arrived

 

So as soon as we arrive at Kancheepuram, the first thing I wanna do is to (EAT) I’m really hungry and that is the only thing that seemed most logical at that point, of course, visiting the temples was on the agenda… So anyways, for the first time I get to have Idiappayam Kuruma, very delicious vegetables and appayam made out of rice paste. Really delicious!

 

“Everything happens for a reason..” Well now we know why… It was a huge celebration and Sankalp in the temple… There were prayers, mantras and japas going on (recitals) We realize that the lord of the temple is being worshipped and he will be taken on a procession in a chariot… A golden chariot which is glaring in front of us, beautifully lit at night… I look around, ask if it’s okay to take photos of the chariot!!! I get a go ahead from a swamiji (priest)  nearby.

 

So, I’m all set to take some really nice pictures and… suddenly, the trumpets, the dhols and the tablas start blowing… There is a huge c crowd all of a sudden.. that starts flocking the chariot. Everyone starts taking pictures as the Kamakshi goddess has arrived… They get her statue outside and mount her on the chariot.. The procession has begun… I’m awed by the aura of the chariot and he beautiful colors they have on the goddess…

 

As I’m taking a few snaps with my Canon 1000D DSLR camera, I see the head preist waving to me… I first think that  he’s forbidding me to take pictures… then I see him smiling… and he’s calling me out. I got a little confused, maybe he wants to know something and then suddenly, it strikes me.. amongst everyone else who’s shooting with their mobile cameras, digicams, I’m the only one with a professional camera around. So he calls me up and asks me to take a few pictures of his guest besides the chariot and shoot a few pictures of the procession itself. He requests me to email it to him.. Yes email, I see the email ID as he hands me the card. (I say to myself, wonder if he’s on facebook… it would be easier for him to take those pictures then :P) Anyways, I tell him I will and I’m about to head to the queue to take darshan…when he asks me.

 

“Have you taken the Darshan?” (Have you visited the temple?)

“No, not yet sir, just going”

“How many of you are there?”

“Two”

“Come, I’ll arrange for someone to take you inside…”

“Everything happens for a reason…”

 

What do you think about the whole incident??

 

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