Konark Sun temple (Orissa)

Konark is one of the well known tourist attractions of Orissa. Konark, Konark houses a colossal temple dedicated to the Sun God. Even in its ruined state it is a magnificent temple reflecting the genius of the architects that envisioned and built it. Bhubaneshwar, Konark and Puri constitute the Golden triangle of Orissa, visited in large numbers by pilgrims and tourists.

The Sun god worshiped in Ark Kshetra is also called Konark. In 'Brahma Purana' the Sun God in Ark-kshetra has been described as Konaditya. So it is evident that the place where the Kona aditya (or Kona-arka, the Sun god) was worshiped was also popularly called Konark.
It is described in Purusottam Mahatmya that Lord Vishnu after killing the demon Gayasur, to commemorate the glory of his victory, placed his Sankha (cronch) in Puri, Chakra (disc) in Bhubaneswar, Gada (mace) in Jajapur and Padma (lotus) in Konark and they were later known as Sankha Kshetra, Chakra Kshetra, Gada Kshetra and Padma Kshetra respectively.

This corner on the east sea coast houses the ruins of a temple, exquisitely built to resemble a gigantic chariot with impeccably carved wheels , columns and panels. It stands as a mute reminder of the times when Orissan architecture has reached its pinnacle.

The Black Pagoda
The main Temple was called by European sailer's "The Black Pagoda" as it formed an important landmark for them in their coastal voyage. Contrasting to this , the white washed Temple of Lord Jagannath at Puri was known as the white pagoda.

Temple:
The Sun Temple of Konark marks the highest point of achievement of Kalinga architecture depicting the grace , the joy and the rhythm of life all it's wondrous variety. There is an endless wealth of decoration from minute patterns in bas-relief done with a jeweller's precision to boldly modeled free standing sculptures of exceptionally large size. Under the crackling wheels of past events , the Sun Temple has lost its main sanctuary but the remaining structure and the ruins around testify till today the boundless creative energy of Orissan artistes and their impressive contribution to the treasury of Indian Art and building technique. Standing majestically on the sandy coast of the Bay of Bengal, the porch, in its solitary grandeur is an eloquent testimony of a gracious and mysterious past. Dedicated to Sun God, this temple was constructed by Raja Narasinghs Deva-I of the Ganga Dynasty was dazzling supreme in the political firmament of India


FAME OF THE SUN TEMPLE
That the fame of the this temple as a wonderful monument has spread far beyond the limits of Orissa in the sixteen century is amply borne out not only by the great Vaishnava Saint Chaitanya's (AD-1486-1533) visit to the place but also by the following pithy description which appeared in the A'in-i-Akbari of Abu'l-Fazl, the famous chronicler of the court of Akbar (AD-1556-1605)

..........."Near Jagannath is a temple dedicated to the Sun. Its cost was defrayed by twelve years revenue of the province. Even those whose judgment is critical and who are difficult to please stand astonished at its sight." ......


Architecture:
The Sun Templ e built in the thirteenth century was conveived as a gigantic chariot of Sun God, with twelve pairs of exquisitely ornamented wheels pulled by seven pairs of horses. Majestic in conception, this Temple is indeed one of the most sublime monuments of India, famous as much for its imposing dimensions and faultless proportions as for the harmonious integration of of architectural grandeur with plastic allegiance. It is admittedly the best in Orissa. Its fine traceries and scroll work , the beautiful and natural cut of animal and human figures, all give it a superiority over other temples. The chief quality is its design and architectural details. The Sun temple belongs to the Kalinga School of Indian Temples with characteristic curvilinear towers mounted by Cupolas. In shape, the Temple did not make any major departure from other sikhara temples of Orissa. The main sanctum which (229 ft. high) was constructed alongwith the audience hall (128 ft. high) having elaborate external projections. The main sanctum which enshrined the presiding deity has fallen off. The Audience Hall survives in its entirely but of the other two viz the Dancing Hall(nata Mandir) and the Dining Hall (Bhoga-Mandap), only small portions have survived the vagaries of time. The Temple compound measures 857 ft. by 540 ft.

The alignment of the Sun Temple is on the east-west direction. The Temple is located in natural surroundings, abounding with casuarina plantations and other types of trees, which grow on sandy soil. The environment is by and large unspoiled. Gentle undulating topography around the Sun Temple lends some variation to the landscape


Legend:
1. It was dedicated to the Sun-God(Arka) popularly called Biranchi-Narayan, and the tract in which it is situated was known as Arka-Kshetra as well as padma-kshetra. Among the five great religious zones or Kshetra which were located in Orissa, Konark was considered to be one, the other four being Puri, Bhubaneswar, Mahavinayak, and Jajpur. There are a number of smaller shrines situated in the neighbourhood of the sun temple.In them are found Rameswar,Chitreswara,Tribeniswara,and Utpaleswar, all Siva-lingas and Ramachandi Rudrani,Khileswari,Charchika and Chitreswari,various forms of goddes Durga.Legends embodied in the Kapila samhita, the Madala Panji, and the Prachi-mahatmya, take the sanctity of Konark back to mythical times.The legends of these late texts are an obvious adaptation of a much earlier tradition as recorded in the Bhavisya Purana and the Samba Purana.

2. According to mythology,Samba,son of Lord Krishna was smitten with leprosy due to the course of Lord Krishna.Samba for twelve years underwent severe penance at Mitravana near the confluence of Chandrabhaga river with the sea at Konark and ultimately succeeded in pleasing the God Surya, the healer of all skin diseases and was cured of his illness.In gratitude, he decided to erect a temple in the honour of Surya. The day following his cure,while Samba was bathing in the Chandrabhaga he discovered an image of the God,which had been fashioned out of Surya's body by Viswakarma.Samba installed this image in a temple built by him in Mitravana,where he propitiated the God.Since then throughout the ages this place has been regarded as sacred".

3.A shallow pool of water is known as the Chandrabhaga, where even now crowds of pilgrims take a purificatory bath before sun rise on the seventh day of the bright half of the month of Magha (January-February).A fair also takes place on this occasion.Once in the year the deserted holy place of Surya thus throbs with religious emotion.This is likely a survival of an ancient practice following the construction of the temple.Magha-Saptami is mentioned in the Madala Panji as one of the festival of this holy centre.It is also referred to the Brahma Purnima in connection with the description of Konark.

4.As the legend says that, King Narasimha Deva-I of the Ganga Dynasty had ordered this temple to be built as a royal proclamation of the political supremacy of his dynasty.A workforce of 12 hundred artisans and architects invested their creative talent,energy and artistic commitment for an exhausting period of 12 years. The king had already spent an amount equivalent to the state's revenue receipts of 12 years..However the completion of the construction was nowhere near sight. Then the king issued a final command that the work be completed by a stipulated date.The team of architects headed by Bisu Maharana was at its wit's end.It was then that Dharmapada the 12 year old son of the chief architect Bisu Maharana arrived there as a visiting onlooker.He became aware of the anxiety looming large among the architects. Although he did not have any practical experience of temple construction, he was thorough in his study of the theories of temple architecture.He offered to solve the confounding problem of fixing the last copping stone at the top of the temple.He surprised everyone by doing that himself.But soon after this achievement the dead body of this adolescent prodigy was found on the sea beach at the foot of the temple.Legend says that Dharmapada laid down his life to save his community.


What to See:
The Konark Sun Temple takes the form of a huge chariot for the sun god Surya, with 12 pairs of stone-carved wheels and a team of seven galloping horses (only one of which survives intact).

The temple also symbolizes the passage of time, which is under the sun god's control. The seven horses, which pull the sun temple eastwards towards the dawn, represent the days of the week. The 12 pairs of wheels represent the 12 months of the year and the eight spokes in each wheel symbolize the eight ideal stages of a woman's day.

The main entrance to the complex is on the eastern (sea-facing) side, in front of the Hall of Offerings (bhogamandapa). This was a later addition to the complex and was likely used for ritual dance performances, as its walls are carved with sculptures of musicians and dancers as well as erotic scenes.

The sanctuary tower was once the centerpiece of the Konark Sun Temple, but today it is no more than a jumble of sandstone slabs off the western wing. The imposing structure with the pyramidal roof that now takes center stage is actually the porch (jagamohana).

The roof of the porch has three tiers covered in statues, mostly musicians and dancers sereneding the sun god during his daily passage through the heavens. Sculptures on the bottom platform include a Shiva Nataraja, performing the cosmic dance. The interior is now blocked up.

Just beyond the porch is a double staircase that leads to a shrine containing a statue of Surya, the sun god. The beautiful image is carved of high-quality green chlorite stone and is one of the masterpieces of Konarak. Surya wears tall riding boots and is accompanied by a small figure of Aruna, the charioteer, at his feet. From here you can climb down into the remains of the inner sanctum, where the deity was originally enshrined.

The surfaces of the temple are carved with exquisite stone sculptures with a wide variety of subjects, including many erotic scenes based on the Kama Sutra. Erotic sculptures are found especially in niches halfway up the porch, along the sides of the platform and around the doorways of the main building.

Similar sculptures can be found on the temples of Khajuraho in Madhya Pradesh. The erotic art most likely symbolizes the ecstatic bliss enjoyed by the soul when it unites with the divine, but there are a number of theories on the matter.

Other sculptures decorating the temple's exterior include deities, animals, floral patterns, voluptuous women, mythical beasts and aquatic monsters. The 24 giant wheels are beautifully carved and each of the eight spokes bears a medallion containing figurative carvings.

Friezes above and below the wheels depict military processions and hunting scenes, with thousands of rampaging elephants. Look for the giraffe in the top frieze along the south side of the platform - this proves that Konarak traded with Africa in the 13th century.

How to reach:
By air:
Biju Pattnaik Airport located in Bhubaneswar, about 64 km away, is the nearest airport to Konark. Bhubaneswar is well connected with Kolkata, Hyderabad, New Delhi, Chennai, Nagpur and other cities.

By rail:
The coastal city of Puri is the nearest railway station. It can also be reached from Bhubaneswar and Cuttack railway stations.

By road:
Konark is two hour drive from Bhubaneswar and one hour drive from Puri.

Accommodation:
* Panthanivas Tourist Bungalow
* Yatri Niwas
* Konark Lodge
* Royal Lodge
* Travellers Lodge
* Sunrise Lodge
* Banita lodge

Photo gallery:

శ్రీ గురువాయురప్పన్ (Thrissur, Kerala)

Guruvayur Temple or Guruvayoor Temple is one of the most famous Lord Krishna temples in India, situated in the town of Guruvayur, in Thrissur District of Kerala. Guruvayur Sri Krishna Temple enshrines Lord Krishna, the eighth avatar of Lord Vishnu, as the presiding deity. Shri Krishna is known here by different names such as Unnikannan (Baby Krishna), Unnikrishnan, Kannan, Balakrishna, and Guruvayoorappan. The idol was once worshiped by the Lord Mahavishnu himself in Vaikunta and hence Guruvayur Sri Krishna Temple is known as Bhooloka Vaikunta - The Heaven on Earth. Sri Guruvayoorappan Temple is also renowned as the Dakshina Dwaraka (Dwaraka of South).

Guruvayur Temple is said to be built by Guru (preceptor of Gods) and Vayu (God of winds), and hence the place came to be known as Guruvayurpura and later reduced as Guruvayur. Guruvayur has become the most famous pilgrimage center in Kerala mainly due to the five devotees, namely - Poonthanam, Melpattur, Vilvamangalam, Kururamma and the Prince Manadevan (Zamorin). This important and famous pilgrimage for Hindus is about 29 km north-west of Thrissur.

Architecture


The Guruvayur Temple is a masterpiece of the typical Kerala architecture style, bearing a Koothambalam and an Aanappanthal. The whole temple is in the form of a rectangle and features exquisite mural paintings in the walls which depict episodes from the Puranas. The Sreekovil is square in shape with pyramidal roofing and abodes the idol of the Lord. Its door and roof are covered in gold. Two statues of dwarapalakas are seen on either side of the door. The Nallambalam or the Chuttambalam is a wall structure that surrounds the Sree Kovil. A small temple well called Manikkinar is located on the left side and the temple kitchen known as Madappalli is seen on the right side of the Sreekovil. To the left of the Sreekovil is the shrine of Ganapathi. Next is the Namaskara Mandapam which is seen in front of the Sreekovil. This rectangular shaped hall has pyramidal roofing.

Kodimaram or Dhwajastambham (Flagpole of the temple) is seen outside the Nallambalam, in front of the entrance. Balipeetams are also seen here. The outer wall of Nallambalam is fixed with a group of oil lamps called Vilakkumatam. The shrines of Sastha (Lord Ayyappa) and Devi (Bhagawati) are seen on the southern side and the upadevathas are seen on the northern side.

A tiled roof called Aanappandal or Nadappura covers the area between the east gopuram and the west side of the Nalambalam. Decorated with pictures and paintings, the Aanappandal affords shelter for elephants and for the pilgrims who wait for worship. Koothambalam, located at the south-east corner of the temple, is where Koothu is conducted. Pattayappura (the granary) on the south-western side and the Agrasala (the dining hall) on the northern side are of special interest. On the north side of Guruvayur temple is the sacred pond called Rudratirtham.

The Deity


The unique feature of the idol of Sree Guruvayoorappan is that it is built out of a rare stone called Patala Anjana. The Lord is seen in the standing posture with four hands (Chaturbahu) carrying the Sankhu (conch), the Sudarshana chakram (a serrated disk), the lotus and the mace. Legends say that the idol is more than 5000 years old. The idol was once worshipped by Mahavishnu and then handed it over to Brahma.

Other Special Features of Guruvayur Temple

It is here that the Melpathur Narayana Bhattathiri composed his Sanskrit devotional poem called Narayaneeyam. The temple is well-known for its healing powers and is the site for Annaprasanam, the first rice-giving ceremony of a child. Every year, the 28th of Malayalam month Vrischikam is celebrated as Narayaneeyam Day.

Offerings

Devotees conduct Tulabharam where a devotee is weighed against his choice of material. Some of the common items used for Thulabharam include banana, sugar, jaggery, coconut, or gold. Besides Tulabharam, elephants are also offered to the Lord. The feeding of these elephants is called Anayoottu. Other offerings include Prasadaootu, Alroopams, Picking up Kunnikkuru and Sayanapradakshina.

Festivals

Ekadasi which falls on the eleventh day of every lunar fortnight is of special significance in Guruvayur Shri Krishna Temple.

Guruvayur Utsavam or Guruvayoor Annual Festival is held for ten days. It begins on the day of Punartham Nakshatra (Pushya star - the 8th asterism) in the month of Kumbham (February - March) and ends after the Aarattu on the 10th day.

Other important festivals celebrated here are Mandalam, Poonthanam Day festival, 11 days Chembai Sangeetha Mela (Chembai Music Festival), Narayaneeyam Day, Vaishka (April - May), Ashtami Rohini (July - August) and Kuchela’s Day (held on the first Wednesday of Dhanu (December - January).

Timings of Guruvayur Temple

Guruvayur Temple opens daily at 03:00 AM with Nirmalya Darshan and will be closed at 12:30 PM. The temple reopens at 4:30 PM and closed at 09:15 PM.

Please note that the Temple timings may change on certain special occasions and also if there is any Udayasthamana pooja.

Elephant Sanctuary

The elephant sanctuary at Punnathur Kotta which is 3 km from Guruvayur is worth visiting. This is the largest elephant sanctuary and the elephants were offered by the devotees of the Lord. Gajapooja and Anayoottu (elephant feeding) are conducted here.

How to reach:

Railway Station

Guruvayur Railway Station is on the east of the temple which is connected to the Chennai - Mangalore main line at Thrissur. Thrissur Railway Station is the nearest major railway station about 29 km from Guruvayoor.

By Road

Guruvayoor is well connected with other parts of the country by road transport. Both KSRTC and private bus services offers interstate bus services to almost all major cities in south India including Palani, Madurai, Mookambika, Ooty, Coimbatore, Dindigul, Salem, Mysore, Chennai, Mangalore, and Udupi. National Highway 17 (NH 17) passes through Kunnamkulam about 8 km away from Guruvayur.

Airport

Kochi International Airport (Nedumbassery Airpot) is the nearest airport, which is about 80 km from Guruvayur. Calicut International Airport (Karipur Airport) is another nearest airport around 100 km from Guruvayur Sri Krishna Temple.

Temple contacts:
Guruvayur Devaswom
Guruvayur, PIN 680 101, Thrissur, Kerala, India
Phone: 255 6335, 255 6799, 255 6347, 255 6365, 255 6538, 255 6670 or 255 6672
Fax Number +91 487 255 4844

చిల్కూర్ బాలాజీ దేవాలయం, హైదరాబాద్ (Visa God)


The Balaji Temple is located at Chilkur in the Hyderabad district. It is 33 Kms away from Mehedipatnam. Approximately 75,000 to 1,00,000 devotees visit in a week. Generally temple gets heavy rush on Fridays and Sundays.

The temple at Chilkur is managed by the hereditary trustee Sri M.V. Soundara Rajan and Sri C.S. Gopala Krishna. The entire family of the archaka, including the women are dedicated themselves to serve the God.

History:

Twenty Five kilometers from Hyderabad off the Vikarabad road and on the banks of Osmansagar is the picturesque village of Chikur with its hoary temple dedicated to Sri Balaji Venkateshwara. From the style, structure and appearance, it can be inferred that the temple was built half a millennium ago. Set in sylvan surroundings, the temple attracts thousands of pilgrims every year and is an ideal place for sequestered retreat and meditation. It enjoyed in the past, great days of pomp and glory.

The temple is one of the oldest in Telengana, having been built during the time of Akkanna and Madanna, the uncles of Bhakta Ramdas. According to tradition, a devotee who used to visit Tirupati every year could not do so on one occasion owing to serious ill-health. Lord Venkateshwara appeared in his dream and said, "I am right here in the jungle nearby. You don't have to worry." The devotee at once moved to the place indicated by the Lord in the dream and saw a mole- hill there, which he dug up. Accidentally, the axe struck Lord Balaji's idol covered by the mole-hill below the chin and on the chest, and surprisingly blood started flowing profusely from the "wounds", flooding the ground and turning it scarlet. The devotee could not believe his eyes when he saw this. Suddenly he could not believe his ears also when he heard a voice from the air which said,"Flood the mole-hill with cow's milk. "When the devotee did so, a Swayambhu idol of Lord Balaji accompanied by Sridevi and Bhoodevi(a rare combination) was found, and this idol was installed with the due rites and a temple built for it.

Sri Balaji venkateshwara, the Pratyaksha Daiva in kaliyuga, is thus available at Chilkur to shower blessings on His devotees who for any reason are unable to go to Tirupati. Many devout worshipers flock to the temple, to receive the blessings of the Lord and his consorts throughout the year particularly during the Poolangi, Annakota and Brahmothsavams

With the earnest desire to revive the former glory and importance of the temple, the idol of Ammavaru was installed in 1963 the year following the Chinese aggression, and when the aggression was unilaterally vacated, Ammavaru was given the name of Rajya Lakshmi, signifying this welcome event. The unique feature of this idol is that lotus flowers are held in three hands and the fourth hand is in such a position towards the lotus feet which signifies the doctrine of Saranagathi.

The temple has been visited by great Acharyas from time to time. A visit to the temple is a must for the Jeer of Sri Ahobila Mutt every time he visits the twin cities, and in the temple is installed the idol of the first Jeer. The Tilakayaths of Sri Vallabhacharya Sampradaya have been regularly visiting the shrine. Jagadguru Sri Sankaracharya of Sringeri Mutt and his disciple graced the efforts of the trustees in improving the temple.

VAK can be expanded to mean "Vimana Archana Kalpa", which refers to a traditional treatise of Vikanasa Agama Sastra, written by Marichi. Incidentally, the word VAK in Sanskrit, means VOICE.

Thus we chose this unique word to represent the resounding Voice of Temples. VAK magazine began as a Bilingual (English & Telugu) and is now a Trilingual(Telugu,Hindi & English ); thrice blessed all the devotees, Thadastu.

Blessed are the devotees who made possible of VAK growing from 1000 copies to 25,000 copies. VAK humbly rededicates itself to the cause of saving the religion, the culture, and the unity of our nation.


Remedies:

Vishnu Sahasranama was first composed & recited by Bhishma, when he was on his deathbed. Lord Krishna went to see Bhishma because he was breathing his last. When Bhishma had darshan of Lord Krishna, he started reciting Vishnu Sahasranama immediately. Vishnu Sahasranama means, rosary of thousand names of Lord Vishnu.

He started reciting Vishnu Sahasranama in the order he saw lord's form continuously and successively.

Vishnu Sahasranama is found in Mahabharata, the great epic of India.

If confers all the mundane transcendental benefits to the person who chants it. There are so many Sahasranamas of Vishnu, but among them this happens to be the most cardinal and important one because right from Sankaracharyalu there are so many Sages and Saints who have recited and commented in their own way. Even today, it is recited with the fervor and gaiety in all the temples of Lord Vishnu.

The Chanting of following names of Lord Vishnu, immensely helps us in overcoming the obstacles in our daily life.

1. "Om Vashatkaaraaya Namaha" : For Success in Business.

2. "Om Aksharaaya Namaha" : For Success in Studies.

3. "Om Bhuthabhavanaya Namaha" : For Good Health.

4. "Om Paramaathmane Namaha" : For Self Confidence.


How to reach:

APSRTC is operating bus services from almost all the depots of the city to the chilkur balaji temple. From mehdipatnam it is offering bus services with a frequency of every half an hour. If one wants to travel by car one has to come to mehdipatnam and from there one has to take the route to Bijapur highway. One has to take a right turn at the Y junction at Himayath Sagar village. After crossing Himayathnagar village one has to take right turn from the immediate Y junction. This leads to Chilkoor Balaji, the visa god.

శ్రీ వీర వెంకట సత్యనారాయణ స్వామి, అన్నవరం (East Godavari Dist., AP)



Annavaram is a sacred centre on a hill top known as Ratnagiri. The presiding deity at Annavaram is Veeravenkata Satyanarayana Swamy. It is believed when Vrata is performed in the name of Satyanarayana Swamy by devotees, their wishes will be fulfilled. It is estimated on an average about one lakh Vratas are performed here every year by couples generally. Marriages, thread cermonies (upanayanam) are performed in large number. Chief festival days are Bhishma Ekadasi (Jan/Feb) and Kalyanotsavam, Vysakha Ekadasi (Apr/May) are important. It is situated on the banks of river Pampa about 3 km. from Annavaram.

Deity:


Satyanarayana. The presiding deity is installed along with Shiva representing the oneness of Shiva and Vishnu.

This temple is dedicated to Veera Venkata Satyanarayana Swami and is built atop the Ratnagiri. The temple resembles a chariot. The distance from the foot of the hill there is a path laid out in stone steps. The temple is of recent origin. There is no Sthalamahatmyam (epigraphic record) in the temple. The temple has its own choultries. The river Pampa is considered sacred and runs close to the temple. Devotees bath and then go to the temple since the temple has no tank of its own. There is also a pathasala-school for students. The Satyanaravana Vratham is dedicated to Vishnu Sahasranamam, which has to be performed on the Bhishma Ekadashi day, and Annavaram. The temple is dedicated to Lord Satyanarayanaswami where this Vratham is performed.

Legend:

There is an interesting legend about the discovery of the idol. The Lord revealed himself in a dream, where he told his vigraha was abandoned on a hill without worship and the local people must consecrate again. The local people discovered the idol at the foot of a tree, worship was offered and the idol was installed at the present spot. (The idol was discovered a little to the northeast of the main temple).

There is a yantra here based on the Tripad Vibhuti Narayana Upanishad, and is a part of the Devarshi Sakha of Atharvaveda. The shrine is constructed in two stories, the lower one contains the yantra, and the upper one contains the vigrahas of the Lord. The garba griha has four entrances. The center is like a panavattam under the Shivalinga, three peethas are constructed here and on top is the chiseled Beejakshara Samputi of the Yantra. At the apex there is a monolith pillar and on top is the idol of the Lord with the goddess to the right and Shivalinga to the left. The idols are exquisite and covered in gold.


On the ground floor of the sanctum are the idols of Aditya, Ambika, Gananatha and Maheswara at the four corners with the Lord in the centre forming the Vishnu Panchayatanas. The main temple is constructed like a chariot with the four wheels. In front of the main temple is the Kalyana mantapa decorated in modern style. There are other shrines dedicated to Ramalaya, Vana Durga and Kanaka Durga. Goddess Vana Durga is said to be seen here every night going around the temple, guarding the Lord. The temple is built according to shilpa shastra and reminds one of the Prakriti-universe. The chariot acts as a symbol of the saatloks (seven worlds) underneath, and the seven above, with the sanctum at the heart ruling the universe. The wheels depicts the Sun and the Moon. Thrikala archana is performed every day to the Yantra as well as the idols. Salagramas and Sri Chakram in crystal are worshipped along with the idols.

Festivals:

There are many festivals held in this temple including Kalyanam, Devi Navaratri in September, the Swayamvara Vardhanti of Sravana Sudd a Ekadashi Day, Srirama Kalyana, the Kanakadurga Yatra, the Prabha Utsavam, the Teppa Utsavam and the Jalatoranam.

History

According to the puranas, the presiding deity of the place blesses the devotees with Anina Varam (Wanted Boon) the place is called Annavaram.

The hillock by the side of the village is considered to be very sacred. Meruvu the Lord of the hills and his consort Menaka did great penance and begot two sons by the grace of Lord Vishnu. One was named Bhadra and the other Ratnakara. Bhadra pleased Lord Vishnu with his devotion and penance and with his grace became Bhadrachalam on which Lord Sri Rama had permanently settled. Ratnakara desired to emulate his brother and succeeded in pleasing Lord Vishnu by his penance to settle on him as Veera Venkata Satyanarayana Swamy, Ratnakara remaining as Ratnagiri hill.

The temple of Sri Veera Venkata Satya-narayana Swamy is the main temple on the Ratnagiri hill. There is also a temple of Sri Rama and the shrines of Vanadurga and Kanaka Durga nearby. The temple of grama-devatha (village deity) is in the village at the foot of the hill.

It is said that Raja I.V. Rama-narayanam, the then zamindar of Gorsa and Kirlampudi estates, having been ordained by the Lord in his dream, traced the idol on the hill, worshipped it and installed it at the present spot on sravana suddha vidhiya of the telugu year Khara, 1891.

The Vishwakarma Brahmin stapathis architectural cognizance is at its best in sculpting this temple. The hillock it self is about 300ft above sea level, green fields all-round the hills and the pampa river encircling Ratnagiri. About 460 well laid stone steps leads to the top of it.

The main temple constructed in the form of a chariot with the four wheels at each of the four corners. In front of the main temple is the kalyana mantapa, constructed and decorated with modern pieces of architecture. As we go down the way, we come across Ramalaya and then the shrines of Vana Durga and Kanaka Durga.

The Akriti of any temple is, according to the Agni Purana, merely a manifestation of the Prakriti. According to this the chariot of the temple is intended as a symbol of the Seven Lokas and the seven Lokhas above with, the garbhalaya of the Lord, at the heart's center ruling over the entire Universe.

The temple at Annavaram has been constructed to depict this idea concretely. The front side of the temple depicts the chariot. The Meru on the floor with the pillar at the center, and the idols at the top are intended to bring forth the idea that the Lord not only remains at the heart's center but also permeates the entire universe. The wheels depicting the Sun and the Moon serve to remind us that this Juggernaut moves on the wheels of time, and goes on for ever and ever, Thus the Annavaram temple satisfies both the ritualistic values and the spiritual aspirations of the devotees.'

Darshan:

Sri Satyanarayana swamivari Devasthanam is maintaining two different types of Darshan methods for the convenience of the pilgrims to witness the deity.

Sarva Darshanam Seegradarshanam
Sarvadarshanam means 'Darshan for all'. Sarva darshanam is free and allowed between 6:00AM to 12:30PM and 1:00PM to 9:00PM.

Seegradarshanam means 'Darshan with less waiting time'. Pilgrims who want to avail seegradarhan, have to purchase a ticket costing Rs. 25/- per head. One packet (100Gms) of bhogam prasadam will be provided for Seegradarshanam ticket. Timings for the seegradarshan is same as sarvadarshanam but allowed through a different queue.

Sri Swamivari / Ammavari Sevas
Swamivari Nitya Kalyanam 9:30 AM
Swamivari Vratham 6:00 AM to 6:00 PM
Swamivari Special Vratham 6:00 AM to 6:00 PM
Vratham at Dwajasthambham 6:00 AM to 6:00 PM
Swamivari Visishta Vratham 6:00 AM to 6:00 PM
Kshethra Pattabhishekam on Punarvasu day One Day only
Sri Swamivari Pavalimpu seva 2:00 PM
Sri Swamivari Laksha Patri Pooja 8:00 AM
Sri Ammavari Laksha Kunkumarchana 8:00 AM
Abhishekam on Makha day One Day only


How to Reach:

Sri Veera Venkata Satyanarayana Swamyvari Devasthanam, Annavaram is well connected by both Rail and Roadways. It is Situated at a distance of 3KM from A.V.M Railway Station, the Vijayawada –Visakhapatnam Line of the Southern Railway. Chennai to Calcutta, NH-5 Road is going via Annavaram. Regular Bus service is available from all near by towns.

By Road

* Devasthanam Buses
2 buses run from Rajahmundry to up hill both sides by 1pm to 2pm
* APSRTC Buses
A.P.S.R.T.C Buses every Half An Hour Via Annavaram to
Rajahmundry to Visakhapatnam vise versa.
Every 15 mins buses available Tuni to Kakinada via Annavaram and surroundings Villages vise versa.

By Train

* Most of the trains passing between Kolkata - Vijayawada line will stop at Annavaram Station
Detailed train timings at Annavaram Station.

By AIR

* The nearest Airport is situated at Visakhapatnam. Annavaram is at a 3hrs distance from Visakhapatnam. APSRTC runs buses via Annavaram every half an hour

Temple Authorities:


Executive Officer
Sri Veera Venkata Satyanarayana Swamy Devasthanam
Annavaram
Sankhavaram Mandal.
East Godavari District
Pin : 533 406

Sri Subramaniar Swamy Temple (Batu Caves, Malaysia)




Batu Caves, one of the most famous tourist spots in Malaysia, is located in Gombak district, 13 km north of Kuala Lumpur, in Malaysia. A limestone hill, Batu Caves has a sequence of caves and cave temples. The name is derived from the Sungai Batu or Batu River, which flows near the hill. Discovered in 1892, the Batu Caves consists of three main caves and few smaller caves. The biggest cave is called as Cathedral Cave or Temple Cave and has a 100 m high ceiling. Visitors have to climb about 272 steps to reach it.

Batu Caves Sri Subramaniar Swamy Temple


Batumalai Sri Subramaniar Swamy Devasthanam, also known as Batu Caves Temple in Malaysia, is a noteworthy religious site for Hindus across the world. Dedicated to Lord Muruga (Lord Subramanya), the temple is around 113 years old and is enshrined in one of the caves here. The temple cave stands about 400 feet above ground level, in a hill known as Bukit Batu, a Rocky Hill. The statue of Lord Muruga, found at the entrance of the steps, stands at 130 feet tall which is considered as the tallest statue of Lord Muruga in the world. This massive statue is a master piece of Indian sculptors.

Batu Caves Temple Festivals

Batu Caves Muruga Temple Thaipusam Festival

Thaipusam (Thai Pusam) is an extravagant occasion at Batu Caves Muruga Temple, Malaysia. Attracting a large number of worshippers and tourists from all over the world, Thaipoosam is celebrated on a grand scale. Thaipusam is an annual festival, which falls on the full- moon day in the Tamil month of Thai (between January 14th and February 15th). According to the Indian Calendar, this is the day when the moon moves through the zodiac period of Cancer. The three-day Thaipusam festival also commemorates the day on which Lord Siva danced with his consort, Goddess Parvati, and the day on which Lord Murugan received the divine spear, Vel, from his mother.


The idol of Lord Murugan is bathed and decorated on the eve. On the following day, that is on Thaipusam, a silver chariot drawn by a bullock proceeds to the Temple Cave. The silver chariot soars 21 feet above ground level and stops at various points to collect the offerings of devotees.

Devotees carry kavadis as a mark of fulfillment of their vows. The procession starts in the morning of Thaipusam from the Sri Mahamariamman Temple, Kuala Lumpur, up to the Batu Caves. Decorated with flowers and peacock feathers, the Kavadi is a wooden arched semi-circular supports, containing a carrier, impressed with brass or clay pots of milk. Its metal hooks and skewers are used to pierce the skin, cheeks and tongue. Women carry silver jugs filled with milk on their heads. The devotees take a holy bath in the adjacent Sungei Batu (Rocky River), and reach the Temple Cave.

Other Caves

There are three caves at the base of the hill, known as the Valluvar Kottam, Art Gallery Caves and the Ramayana Cave. The walls of Vallurvar Kottam cave are covered with exhibits, murals and inscriptions of the poet, Thriruvalluvar.

The Ramayana Cave portrays the story of Lord Rama. A 50 foot tall idol of Lord Hanuman is found on the way to the Ramayana Cave.

The Dark Cave is seen below the Temple Cave. Cave formations and various species of fauna are flourished in this cave. Trips can be arranged only through Malaysian Nature Society.

Batu Caves Timings

Temple Cave is opened from 8.00 pm – 9.00 pm. Best time to visit is from 8.00 am – 12.30 am and from 4.00 pm – 6.00 pm.

How to reach Batu Caves, Malaysia

Reaching Batu Caves by Road

Batu Caves is situated in Gombak district, 13 km north of Kuala Lumpur, in Malaysia. Batu Caves can be reached through Jalan Kuching and Middle Ring Highway. Batu Caves tourists can take a taxi or public bus from Golden Triangle. It will take around 45 minutes journey to reach Batu Caves Murugan Temple.

Tourists can also use local buses from the Pudu Raya Bus Terminal in Kuala Lumpur to Batu Caves.

Reaching Batu Caves by Flight / Airport

Kuala Lumpur International Airport is the nearest airport to reach Batu Caves. Almost all major airlines operate flights to and from here including Hong Kong, Bangkok, and Indonesia.

శ్రీ మత వైష్ణో దేవి (Katra, Jammu)

A pilgrimage to the Holy Shrine of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Ji is considered to be one of the holiest pilgrimages of our times. Popular the world over as Moonh Maangi Muradein Poori Karne Wali Mata, which means, the Mother who fulfills whatever Her children wish for, Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Ji resides in a Holy Cave located in the folds of the three peaked mountain named Trikuta (pronounced as Trikoot). The Holy Cave attracts lakhs of devotees every year. In fact, the number of Yatris visiting the Holy Shrine annually now exceeds 5 million. This is due to the unflinching faith of the devotees who throng the Shrine from all parts of India and abroad.

The Holy Cave of the Mother is situated at an altitude of 5200 ft. The Yatris have to undertake a trek of nearly 12 km from the base camp at Katra. At the culmination of their pilgrimage, the yatries are blessed with the Darshans of the Mother Goddess inside the Sanctum Sanctorum- the Holy Cave. These Darshans are in the shape of three natural rock formations called the Pindies. There are no statues or idols inside the Cave.

Darshans are open round the clock throughout the year.

Since the year 1986, when the Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board (commonly called Shrine Board) was formed (under “The Jammu & Kashmir Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Act, 1986’), the management of the Shrine and regulation of the Yatra has been vested in the Board. The Board has undertaken a number of developmental activities aimed at making the Yatra a comfortable and satisfying experience for the Yatris. So far, over 125 crores of rupees have been invested by the Board for providing various infrastructural and other facilities. The Board continues to reinvest the offerings and donations received in carying out improvements in various kinds of Yatri facilities.

History:
Like with most old Shrines, it is not possible to ascertain when exactly the pilgrimage to the Holy Shrine started. A geological study of the Holy Cave has indicated its age to be nearly a million years. Vedic literature gives no reference to the worship of any female deity, although the mountain Trikuta does find its mention in Rigveda, the oldest of the four Vedas The practice of worshipping Shakti, largely started in the Puranic period.



The first mention of the Mother Goddess is in the epic Mahabharat. When the armies of Pandavs and Kaurvas were arrayed in the battlefield of Kurukshetra, Arjun, the chief warrior of Pandavs upon advice of Sri Krishna; meditated upon the Mother Goddess and sought Her blessings for victory. This is when Arjun addresses the Mother Goddess as ‘Jambookatak Chityaishu Nityam Sannihitalaye’, which means ‘you who always dwell in the temple on the slope of the mountain in Jamboo’ (probably referring to the present day Jammu).

It is also generally believed that the Pandavs were the first to build the temples at Kol Kandoli and Bhawan in reverence and gratitude for the Mother Goddess. On a mountain, just adjacent to the Trikuta Mountain and overlooking the Holy Cave are five stone structures, which are believed to be the rock symbols of the five Pandavs.

Perhaps the oldest reference of the visit of a historical figure to the Holy Cave is that of Guru Gobind Singh who is said to have gone there via Purmandal. The old foot track to the Holy Cave passed through this well-known pilgrimage centre.

Some traditions believe this Shrine to be the holiest of all Shaktipeeths (a place where the Mother Goddess, the Eternal Energy has Her abode) since the skull of Mata Sati fell here. Others believe that her right arm had fallen here. But some scriptures do not agree with it. They do agree that at a place called Gandarbal in Kashmir, the right arm of Sati had fallen. Nevertheless, in the Holy Cave of Shri Mata Vaishno Deviji, one does find stone remains of a human hand, popularly known as Varad Hast (the hand that grants boons and blessings).

Legend:
As per the legend, during the period when the Goddess was busy in annihiliting the Asuras, Her three main manifestations viz. Mata Maha Kali, Mata Maha Lakshmi and Mata Maha Saraswati got together one day and pooled their collective Tejas or spiritual strength. A stunningly bright light emanated from the place where the Tejas of the three manifestations coalesced and a beautiful young girl emerged out of this Tejas. The young girl asked them, "Why have I been created?'' The Devis explained to her that they had created her so that she would live on earth and spend her time in upholding righteousness.

The Devis added, "Now, go and take birth in the house of Ratankar and his wife who reside in the southern part of India, and who are great devotees of ours. Live on earth. Uphold righteousness and evolve yourself spiritually so that you reach higher levels of consciousness. Once you have attained the appropriate level of consciousness you will merge into Vishnu and become one with him.'' So saying they blessed the girl. Sometimes later a very beautiful girl child was born to Ratankar and his wife. The couple named the child Vaishnavi. The girl right from her childhood displayed a hunger for knowledge which was like a vortex and which no amount of teaching and learning could sufficiently satiate. Subsequently, Vaishnavi started looking into her inner self for knowledge, and soon learned the art of meditation and realized that meditation and penance only could bring her close to her greater objective. Vaishnavi thus relinquished all household comforts and went deep into the forest for Tapasaya (meditation). Meanwhile, Lord Rama, during his fourteen years of exile happened to visit Vaishnavi who recognized him immediately as no ordinary being but the incarnation of Lord Vishnu, and immediately asked him to merge her into himself so that she could become one with the supreme creator.

However Lord Rama, knowing that it was not the appropriate time, dissuaded her by saying that he would visit her again after the end of his exile, and at that time if she succeeded in recognizing him, he would fulfill her wish. True to his words, Rama visited her again after being victorious in the battle, but this time he did so in the disguise of an old man. Unfortunately, Vaishnavi was unable to recognize him this time and was distraught. Upon this, Lord Rama consoled her that the appropriate time for her being one with the creator had not come, and that time would come eventually in 'Kaliyug' when He (Rama) would be in his incarnation of 'Kalki'. Rama also directed her to meditate, and set up an Ashram at the base of Trikuta hills, to elevate her level of spirituality so as to bless mankind and rid the poor and destitute of their sufferings.Only then would 'Vishnu' merge her into himself. Vaishnavi, immediately set off for the northern part and after immense hardships, reached the foot of the Trikuta Hills. After reaching there she set up her ashram there and began to meditate.

As predicted by Lord Rama, her glory spread far and wide, and people began to flock to her Ashram to seek her blessings. As time passed, a Tantrik named Gorakh Nath who had a vision of the episode between Lord Rama and Vaishnavi in the retrospective time frame, became curious to find out whether Vaishnavi has been able to attain a high level of spirituality or not. He, therefore, sent his most able disciple 'Bhairon Nath' to find out the truth. Bhairon Nath on locating the ashram started observing Vaishnavi secretly, and realised that though a 'Sadhvi' she always carried bow and arrows with her, and was always surrounded by langoors (apes) and a ferocious looking lion. Bhairon Nath was enamored by Vaishnavi's extraordinary beauty, and losing all good sense he began to pester Vaishnavi to marry him. Meanwhile a staunch devotee of Vaiashnavi, Mata Sridhar organised a Bhandara (Community meal) in which the whole village and Guru Gorakh Nath along with all his followers including Bhairon were invited. During the course of Bhandara Bhairon Nath attempted to grab Vaishnavi but she tried her best to daunt him. On failing to do so, Vaishnavi decided to flee away into the mountains to continue her Tapasaya undisturbed. Bhairon Nath however chased her to her destination.

The goddess after halting at (present day) Banganga, Charan Paduka, and Adhkwari, finally reached the holy cave Shrine. When Bhairon Nath continued to follow her despite the goddess trying to avoid a confrontation, the goddess was compelled to kill him. Bhairon Nath met his ultimate fate when the goddess, just outside the mouth of the cave, beheaded him. The severed head of Bhairon fell with a force at a distant hilltop. Bhairon Nath upon death realised the futility of his mission and prayed to the deity to forgive him. The almighty Mata ( Mother Goddess) had mercy on Bhairon and gave him a boon that every devotee of the goddess would have to have the Darshans of Bhairon after having the Darshans of the Goddess and only then would the yatra of a devotee be complete. Meanwhile, Vaishnavi decided to shed off her human form and assuming the face of a rock she immersed her self into meditation forever. Thus Vaishnavi, in the form of a five and a half feet tall rock with three heads or the Pindies on the top is the ultimate destination of a devotee. These Pindies constitute the Sanctum Sanctorum of the holy cave known as the shrine of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Ji, which is revered by one and all.

Darshans...


The Trikuta Mountain where the Shrine is located and the Holy Cave are the gateway to the dimension of Super Consciousness. And just like the Trikuta Mountain, which is one at the base but has three peaks (hence the name Trikoot), the revelation of the Mother Goddess in the Holy Cave is in a natural rock form which is one at the base but has three heads at the top. These three heads in a natural rock form are known as the Holy Pindies and are worshipped as the revelation of the Mother Goddess. The entire rock body is immersed in water, and a marble platform has now been constructed all around. The main Darshans remain to be of the three heads called the Holy Pindies. The uniqueness of the Holy Pindies is that although they emanate from one single rock form, each one is distinctly different from the other two in colour and texture.

MAHA KALI
Towards the right of the devotee is the Holy Pindi of Mata Maha Kali (the Supreme Energy of Dissolution) in the colour associated with Her i.e. black. The Supreme Energy of dissolution is Mata Maha Kali. She represents the Tam Guna- the quality associated with the darker and unknown realms of life. Tam stands for darkness. Psychology and science state that only a very small per cent of the Universe is conscious. The remaining is still subconscious or unconscious. These unknown realms contain all the mysteries of life. Creation is a phenomenon, which exists within a specific time. However the Energy that transcends the barriers of time is the Eternal Time or Maha Kali. Since man’s knowledge about life is very limited and he remains in the dark about most of it, it is represented by the colour black which is associated with Mata Maha Kali. She is the basic source of all that is mystical and unknown to man. In her attribute of Maha Kali, the Mother Goddess constantly guides her devotees to conquer the forces of darkness.

MAHA LAKSHMI
In the centre is the Holy Pindi of Mata Maha Lakshmi (the Supreme Energy of Maintenance) with a yellowish-red tinge, the colour associated with Mata Maha Lakshmi. Mata Maha Lakshmi is the Supreme Energy of Maintenance. She represents Rajas Guna- the quality of inspiration and effort, and is considered to be the basic source of wealth, prosperity, material gains, quality of life etc. Wealth and prosperity are better represented by the colour of gold, which is yellow, and hence associated with Mata Maha Lakshmi.

MAHA SARASWATI
The Pindi to the extreme left of the viewer is worshipped as the Holy Pindi of Mata Maha Saraswati (the Supreme Energy of Creation). It has a whitish tinge when looked at attentively. White has also been considered the colour associated with Mata Maha Saraswati. Being the Supreme force of Creation, Mata Maha Saraswati is considered to be the basic source of all Creation, Knowledge, Wisdom, Righteousness, Art, Spiritualism, Piousness etc. Since white is a colour that denotes piousness and purity, hence it is associated with Mata Maha Saraswati. She represents the Satva Guna- the quality of purity.

Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Ji is considered to be an incarnation of the three Supreme Energies.

All Human beings contain attributes of the three above mentioned Guns (qualities) and their behavior is determined by the Guna which is predominant in their nature. But, in order to lead a meaningful life, a proper balance among these three is necessary. The Holy Cave is charged with such energy that it helps in creating this vital but rare balance in a person. This is what makes the Holy Shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi Ji unique in the entire world.

It is reiterated that Darshans inside the Holy Cave are in the form of natural rock formations called Pindies. There are no statues, pictures or idols inside. All along the track and at the Bhawan, there are many photographs explaining the nature of Darshans inside the Holy Cave. Yatries should observe these carefully since these are meant to guide them towards the final Darshans in the Holy Cave. The image of main Darshans in the Holy Cave is also reproduced at many points on this website e.g. the image on the top right of this page

While the main Darshans in the Holy Cave are those of the three Pindies, there are other Darshans too in the Cave.

Route Of Yatra:

The 13 Kms hilly track between Katra and Bhawan contains number of ancient temples and view-points for rest and enjoy natural beauty. The first stop is at Banganga, 1 Km away from Katra where one can have holy bath in the Banganga and have a Langer/Parshad (free food) run by famous T-series Industries.



The second stop Charanpadhuka is about 2.5 Kms away from Banganga. It is believed that Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Ji took rest while moving towards the Trikuta Hills. The place contains the foot prints of Goddess, and thus the place is named Charanpadhuka Temple..

The third stop Adkuwari is about 3 Kms from Charanpadhuka. Here one can stay for night as half of the journey is over. At Adkuwari the devotees can have Darshan of Adkuwari Temple and Gerbhjoon (an ancient Cave of about 20 feet). It is believed that Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Ji hide herself from Bairon Nath in this cave for 9 months.

After a steep height of about 4 Kms from Adkuwari the fourth and last stop is Sanjichat. The Sanjichat is the highest place in the track. One can enjoy the aerial view of Katra, Udhampur, Reasi and Jammu.

From Sanjichat about 2.5 Kms downhill track led to Bhawan the holy Shrine of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi. About 0.5 Kms from Bhawan on the Bahawan-Sanjichat track an about 2 Kms link track lead to the Bairon Nath temple. The track is further linked with Sanjichat though dense forest containing different species of wild life such as Langoor, Monkeys and other wild birds.

Travel tips while entering a temple or a place of worship, one should follow the guidelines given below :

• You should leave your shoes outside the temple.
• Smoking is strictly prohibited on the temple grounds.
• Leather items should not be taken into a temple.
• It is traditional to circle the temple, stupa or deities. This should always be done clockwise.
• You should bow down to the deities with your left side to the deities, not your right side.
•While walking in a crowded room you should not walk over people to get some where. • Register themselves at the booking counter Katra and get the yatra slip
•Get permission for the video camera, if interested.
•Check the identity card of the Pithoo, Pony and Palki before hiring them.
•For ease of Journey Travel as light as possible, since all the facilities are available on the track.
•Avoid the use of Polythene bag to protect the environment.
•Throw the waste in the waste-boxes available.

Significance:
The holy Shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi Ji is unique as it contains the holiest of holy Pindis manifesting Mata in her three forms which are Maha Kali, Maha Lakshmi and Maha Saraswati. Each of these forms represent particular attributes.

Accomodation
At Jammu Vaishno Devi Bhavan
For the convenience of the pilgrims, Shrine Board offers accommodation at Jammu at its Yatri Niwas, Vaishnavi Dham located near the Railway Station. Dormitory accommodation is available. Double bedded A.C. rooms and A.C.suite accommodation is also available.

At Katra
On reaching Katra, the Yatris can get accommodation at Niharika/Vishram Ghar complex of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board. Following types of accommodation are available. Double Bedded (Non-carpeted) Double Bedded (carpeted) Four Bedded (Non-carpeted) Four Bedded (carpeted). Dormitory 8 bedded and 10 Bedded are also available.

At Bhavan
Rented Rooms/Dormitories and free dormitory accommodation is available at Bhawan and various locations en route. Booking for these rooms is done from the Central Office, Katra.Rooms can also be booked by sending Demand Draft in favour of the Chief Executive Officer, Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board, Katra (J & K ).

Private Hotels
Several hotels in private sector are also offering excellent facilities for boarding and lodging. Information regarding these hotels can be acquired from Travel agents in Jammu city and JKTDC assistance at TRC counters Jammu, Katra and Railway Station Jammu.

For online booking visit: https://www.maavaishnodevi.org/room_bok_new.asp

How To Visit

Location - Situated at an altitude of 5200 ft above sea level in the state of Jammu & Kashmir. The Vaishno Devi shrine is nestled in the Trikuta Mountain. It about 650 km from Delhi, the capital of India.MAP

Nearest Airport: Nearest Jammu Airport 67 Km from Vaishno Devi. There is a helicopter service that departs from the airport at Sanjhi Chat in Jammu in the morning. The ride costs about Rs. 2,000 one way (baggage 2 kg, 15 minute)

Capacity: 6 persons per flight. (The service stands discontinued for the time being)

Nearest Railway Station: Jammu Railway Station 63 Km from Katra.
Near Bus Stand: There are regular buses leaving for the 52 km trip from the central bus stand in Jammu to where the road ends at Katra (2 hr).

Roadways : Jammu is the terminus of a large number of Inter State Bus Services.

Jammu to Katra :
Buses leave for Katra every 10 minutes from the main bus stand at Jammu between 5.30 am to 8.30 pm. During rush periods, additional buses are also pressed into service between Jammu and Katra.
Private Taxis are also available for hire between Jammu and Katra. These can be hired from Jammu Airport, Jammu Railway Station and the Tourist Reception Centre at Jammu.

Walking : From Katra it is a steep 13 km walk. You can rent a horse or be carried up from Katra. You can go up to the cave and back in the same day. It takes about 4 hours to climb up and 3 hours to come down. Pilgrims must get a Yatra-Slip from the tourist reception center near the bus stand in Katra to get pass Ban Ganga. It is a hard climb to Vaishno Devi. You can take auto rikshaw to Darbar from Garbha-Gufa.

Language - Hindi, considerable % of people speak English.

Climate - High altitude temperature - Cold

Best time to visit - Through out the year except during winter. The pilgrims prefers traveling between October and February.

Srivilliputhur Andal Temple



Aandal temple in Sriviliputtur is yet another famous and ancient temple and is also one among the 108 divyadesams of Vishnu. The imposing tower of this temple is very attractive and the main tower of the temple is on the official emblem of Government of Tamil Nadu.

The Aadi(Tamil month)Pooram festival is famous here and is for 12 days. The festival is on now and thousands of devotees converge here for the same . Pooram is the birth star of Aandal and the chariot festival on the 9th day attracts lot of devotees to this temple. Aandal is believed to be an incarnation of Goddess Bhoodevi.

There are two temples here . One for Lord Vishnu, known here as Vatapatrasayi and he is in a reclining position here. Vata patra means the leaf of banyan tree and this is found at the head of the deity here. This is the sacred place where the great devotee of Vishnu, Aandal used to worship the Lord . The sanctum has beautiful paintings of Gods and Goddesses.

Aandal temple is next to the Vatapatrasayi temple. In between the temples is Nandavanam, a small shrine where Aandal was found and adopted by Perialwar ( devotee of Vishnu). Aandal temple has beautiful mandapams with exquisite carvings and here She gives darshan to her devotees along with Rengamannar (Vishnu) and Garuda. .There is a well inside the temple where Aandal used to see her reflection everyday after wearing the garland meant for the Lord. She succeeded in winning the affection of the Lord . As per Lord's wish her father took her to Sri Rangam , Sri Ranganatha Swamy temple where she merged with the Lord.

Andal is the only woman Alwar (saint) of Vaishnavism and She has composed two beautiful literary gems in Tamil, Tirupavai and Nachiyar Tirumozhi which is sung even today by devotees during the Tamil month of Maarghazhi.

Her father Perialvar also has a separate sannidhi in Vatapatra Sayi temple and there are also separate shrines for Chakrathazhvar and Nammalwar.

Srivilliputhur is famous for palgova, a milk sweet and people make it a point to buy this when they visit this place.

If one makes a prayer to the divine Mother- Thayar- it is believed the prayer is heard and granted. Thousands of people make special prayers to Andal for education, success in business, marriage and child. The devotees usually offer tulsi garlands, butter, clothes and lamps. Nowadays people share feeding expenses of the temple to poor.

Many families whole heartedly pray for the marriage for their daughters and get good grooms after these prayers. If the eleven poems starting from ‘Varanam Aayiram’ are sung by the girls, who are in waiting for marriage for want of grooms, will get married very soon. The poems were written by Andal. It is called “Nachiyar Tirumozhi’.

During festivals abhishekams gather importance. The Abisheka thailam, which contains the essence 61 herbs, is believed to have medicinal qualities. People apply this oil on their body for various diseases as medicine.

Andal is believed to have used the well as mirror to watch her reflection. That is the reason why the well is named as ‘mirror well’- ‘Kannadi Kinaru’. Kannadi theeertham is famous.

Once Andal had a desire to offer 100 pots of butter and Akara vadisal to Kallazhagar, The Lord of Azhzgar Koil in madurai. She could not do it in her lifetime. But Sri Ramanujar did it on her behalf. When Ramanujar visited the temple later, Andal voice was heard calling him “My dear elder Brother”- ‘Anna’.Ramaunajar has become ‘Koil annan’ from that day.

"The garlands with the parrots made of leaves and flowers" are prepared daily by florists with fresh flowers and leaves and offered to Thayar.

Speciality of Andal garland and Tirupathi Balaji:

Tirupathi Brahmotsavam is important festival all over South India and attracts millions of devotees.

It is quite interesting to know that a Garland worn by Andal is sent all along to Tirupathi in Andhra Pradesh one day before the Brahmotsavam starts. The mala is used for garlanding Lord Balaji.

In the same manner every year, Tirupathi Balaji’s garland is sent to Srivilliputtur for marriage festival of Andal Thayar.Not only Balaji of Tirupathi, Kallazhagar of Madurai is also presented with a garland worn by Andal on Chithirai Festival day.


History:

Several centuries ago, the land area around Srivilliputhur was under the rule of Queen Malli. This Queen had two sons called Villi and Kandan. One day, while they were hunting in a forest, a tiger killed Kandan. Unaware of this fact, Villi searched for his brother, got tired and feel asleep. In his dream, God narrated to him what happened to his brother. Realising the fact, on divine orders Villi founded a beautiful city by setting right the forest. For this reason only, the city is named after him as Villiputhur. Further, because of the divine birth of Sri Andal in this city, it got the honorific of Srivilliputhur.

During the reign of Thirumalai Naikar (1623 – 1659) and Rani Mangammal (1889 – 1706), this city became very popular. Thirumalai Naikar had done a lot of renovation consecration to the temples of this city. From 1751 to 1756 A.D., Srivilliputhur came under the rule of Nerkattucheval Jamindar Pulithevar. Then it fell into the hands of Mohammed Yousoof Khan. Until 1850, Sri Andal temple was under the care of the king of Trivancore. The Britishers ruled the country till India attained freedom.

Formerly, Srivilliputhur was a part of Madurai district. Later on, it was annexed with Tirunelveli District in 1838 and in 1910 with Ramnad district respectively. When Ramnad District was divided into three districts, Srivilliputhur, significantly called the city of temples, came under Virudhunagar district. In this renowned city, there are many heritage temples.

The reputed temples of Sri Andal and Sri Vadapathra Sayanar are located in the heart of the city. The big tower of this temple stands as the official emblem of Tamil Nadu Government.

Towards west to this city lies the Western Mountainous range. And it contains dense forests and provides sanctuary to wild animals.

Srivilliputhur falls en route to the National Highways (N.H.208) extending from Thirumangalam to Kollam. The cities Rajapalayam and Sivakasi are 11 kilometres and 20 kilometres distance away from Srivilliputhur.

The important nearby cities:

Madurai – 75 Km, Chennai – 515 Km, Virudhunagar - 45 km.

How to reach: Srivilliputhur is about 75 Kms from Madurai on NH 208.
Madurai is well connected with air, rail and road. Many buses ply from all parts of Tamil Nadu to the town of Srivilliputhur.

Accommodation: Budget hotels are available in Srivilliputtur and Rajapalayam town which is just 14kms. from here but I would suggest staying in Madurai is a better option as all types of accommodation, luxury , deluxe and budget hotels are available there.

Temples nearby :
Temple of Ninra Narayana Perumal at Tiruthangal (on Virudhunagar- Sivakasi route)which is just 20 Kms. away.
Kasi Viswanathar Koil -Sivakasi, 25 kms.
Kuttraleeshwarar temple- 75 Kms. on NH 208


Srivilliputtur Andal Temple Contact Details:

Arulmigu Nachiar Temple
Srivilliputtur- 626125
Tamil Nadu
India
Tel: 04563-260254

Adi kailash in Uttarakhand

అది కైలాష్:

Adi Kailash is an ancient holy place in the Uttarakhand Himalayan Ranges, similar to Mount Kailash in Tibet. This abode of Lord Shiva in this remote area is worth to have a darshan. According to the Hindu mythology, creator of the world Lord Shiva resides on Mount Kailash.

There are seven Kailash Yatras to the places associated with Lord Shiva as per the Hindu scriptures. The main is Kailash Mansarovar in Tibet. The Kailash Mansarovar Yatra is known as one of the toughest religious pilgrimage centers in the world.

Other five Kailash Yatras in India include three in Himachal Pradesh. They are Manimahesh Kailash of Chamba district, Kinnaur Kailash of Kinnaur district and Shrikhand Kailash on the border of Shimla Manali districts.
Two other Kailash Yatras in Indian region are Aadi Kailash or Chhota Kailash in Pithoragarh district and Shri Kailash, near Gangotri in Uttaranchal State.
Not many know that the seventh Kailash Yatra is in Sri Lanka known as Southern Kailash in Katragama. The Kailash of South is the home of Kartikeya, the elder son of Lord Shiva.
Government of India organises piligrimage tours to Greater Kailash in association with the China government.
Adi Kailash lies on the route to Greater Kailash near the Sino-Indo border. Majority of the trek is along the Kali river, which is natural India-Nepal border. Om Parvat marks the tri-junction point, point where borders of Tibet, Nepal and India meet.

Adi Kailash and Om Parvat trek is one of the best known trek in Kumaon region of Uttaranchal. Himalayas have spiritual value attached to them; this is the trek which has some spiritual as well as adventure flavour.

Somebody has said so beautifully about it:
"To understand its form, one must move around it; to experience its moods, one must see it at sunrise and sunset, at noon and at mid-night, in sun and in rain in all other season, He who can see the mountain like this, comes near to the life of the mountain a life that is as intense and varied as that of a human being."

Mt. Adi-Kailash - popularly known as Chhota-Kailash, is in indian territory, close to the Indian tibetan border. It is an area of great natural beauty, peace and sovereignty. Men and women, tired by the incessant roar of urban life, will find here a healing quietude conducive to liking inward and discouraging with one's innerself.

During Adi-Kailash Yatra, you will come across the mighty splendour of the snow peaks of Annapurna, the gushing Kali river, thick Forest, Narayan Ashram full of wild flowers and rare variation of fruits and number of water falls.At the very foot of Mt. Kailash is Gauri Kund, whose water reflect the mountain itself.
The local folk, called Bhotias, have much to say about there land. The villege Kutti, is named after Kunti, the mother of Pandavas. The great saga vyas lived here for a long time and wrote many books. The bhotias have preserved their heritage assiduously and are always ready to show glimpses of it through their dance and music.

Om Parvat
Its miracle of nature, the shape of valley & peaks forms natural OM. One can see white (snow) OM on black background. No hypothesis, no assumption, no approximation & no imagination is required to visualize Aum. Its so clear that in Aug -Sept month even dot (bindi) on the crescent is also clearly visible.

Entire trek is along Indo-Nepal border. Dharchula to Tawathat is one hour jeep journey (19 km). At Tawaghat there is sangam of two rivers namely Dhauli Ganga & Kali Gandki. Although Kali Gandki which is called so because of its black color is not worshiped to the extent of Ganga or Yamuna but big black stones (shila) of the river are believed to be very holy & used for carving idol of god & goddess. There is a proof that Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj acquired shilas from Kali Gandki for idol of Pratapgad's Bhavani Devi.

Trek starts from place called Tawaghat. Tawaghat can be reached from Delhi via Kathgodam-Pitthoragh-and Dharchula by road. The trek route is as follows
Tawaght - Pangu - Sosa - Narayan Aashram - Sirkha - Samry- Simkhola - Gala - Malapa - Budhi - Chiya Lekh - Gunji.



The route from Guni is Kala pani - Nabidhang (Om Parvat). One can come back on same route and from Gunji one reaches Adi Kailash through Kutti and Jollingkong. There exists a circuit route from Jollingkong to Tawaghat through high altitude Sinla pass. This route follows Jollingkong - Shinla pass - Darma valley - Bidang - Baun -Bauling -Twaghat.

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Shrikhand mahadev (Himachal Pradesh)

శ్రీఖండ్ మహాదేవ (హిమాచల్ ప్రదేశ్):

Shrikhand Mahadev is a pilgrimage place for Hindus. Shrikhand Mahadev is considered to be the abode of Lord Shiva. Its peak is 5155 mt. high. So it is a place of great attraction for the religious people as well as for climbers. It is part of the Great Himalaya National Park (Kullu-Shimla, Himachal Pradesh, India) where the forests and the high altitude meadows are protected and can display their full beauty.

Srikhand Mahadev peak, located at an altitude of 5,155 m resembles the Shivling. It is said that Lord Shiva meditated here and the Pandavas used to visit this peak. Devotees of Lord Shiva visit at the top of the mountain where there is a small shrine of Lord Shiva. Devotees trek to the peak during the main pilgrimage season of July and August.
Shrikhand Mahadev is actually a pilgrimage place for Hindus. Shrikhand Mahadev is considered to be the abode of Lord Shiva. So it is a place of great attraction for the religious people as well as for climbers – Shrikhand Mahadev Peak Tour. A few glaciers also have to be crossed before reaching the majestic peak of Shrikhand, where pilgrims perform puja.

The view from 5527meters is simply splendid — one literally feels on the top of the world. The surrounding snow-covered peaks and mountains add to the grandeur. One cannot stay on the top for a long time as the winds there are very strong and bone-chilling. ShriKhand Kailash is situated at 18500 feet above sea level. It is usually undertaken to coincide with the Ashada Poornima or, full moon day of June to July) as per the Vikrami calendar. It can be accessed from Bathad, Gushani, Jlori and Jaon – Adventure Tour. The easiest and most travel starts from Jaon Village of Kullu district which is 167 Km. from Shimla and can be reached by Car, bus or bikes. Jaon is the starting point of this trek, where temple of goddess Shakti is situated. It is a 70-km two-way track passing through dense forests, water streams, sprawling meadows and lofty mountains. The climb is difficult and offers a panoramic view. 2 Km. from Jaon there is village called Singh gad, which was named after a brave man who dared to live their and established a village. Singh gad is the last habitat of civilization on this route – Adventure Tours.

The main journey starts from Jaon to Shrikhand Mahadev. There is three main spot while your journey. First you will see singhgad where you can get langer seva. After a long journey you will get second spot with the name of Thadu. There you will get also langer and then you start your journey to Bhimdwar that is the last spot for refreshment. After Bhimdwari you have to reach Shrikhand and will be back anyhow. Between this journey there is lot of hurdle and glacier and too much adventure

The best two routes to the Shrikhand Mahadev Peak are Shimla – Narkanda – Rampur –Busharhr – Arsu – Bagipul.
From Kullu side: Bathad - Bashleu Pass – Kullu Sarahan.

Rampur Bushahr is around 130 km from Shimla. Bagipu is around 40 km from Rampur Bushahr. You can travel another 7 km in a vehicle to a small village nearby. The next part of the journey is by foot. It might take 3 to 5 days to reach the peak.

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Lord Shiva in Nature

Lord Shiva in Nature:




* Peaks
Famous "Kailash Peak' near Manasrovar in Tibet.
"Chhota Kailash", also in Tibet.
Another "Kailash Peak" in Gangotri region.
"Kinner Kailash" in Kinnaur Valley, Himachal Pradesh.
"Neelknath Peak" near Badrinath.
"Shivling Peak" near Gaumukh-source of Ganga.
"Shrikant Mahadev" peak in Himachal Pradesh.
"Kedar Dome and Peak" in Gangotri glacier region.
"Dhaulagiri Peak" in Nepal.
"Mani Mahesh Peak" beyond Chamba in Himachal Pradesh.
"Ganesh Himal Peak" in Nepal.
"Nandi Hills" near Bangalore.

* Lakes and Kunds
"Parvati Kund" near Kailash Parbat, Tibet.
"Parvati Kund" near Mani Mahesh.
"Gauri Kund" near Kedarnath.
"Kedar Tal" in Garhwal.


* Rivers/Streams
"Parvati River" in Kulu Valley.
"Kedar Ganga" in Gangotri town.
"Madhyamaheshwar Ganga" in Garhwal.
"Rudra Paryag" in Garhwal.

* Caves
"Patal Bhuvesneshwar Cave" in Kumaon.
"Jata Shankar Cave" in Pachmari, Madhya Pradesh.
"Mahadev Cave" in Pachmarhi.

* Natural Shivlings
"Ice Shivling" in Amarnath, Kashmir.
"Swayambhu Shivling" in Kedarnath temple.
A vertically tall more than 100 feet high natural rock near Kinner Kailash called Shivling locally.
Shivling in Swayambhu temple in Nepal.


Amarnath Yatra:
There is famous Rigvedic Verse that says "Ekam Sat " that is "There is one Being, the sages call him by many names." The God (Parmeshwar) has three deities who carry on the world .This is Known as Holy Trinity. Brahma- the creator, Vishnu - the perpetuator of life and Shiva (Mahesh ) -the purifier and perpetuator of good and destroyer of evil. Rig Veda refer Shiva as Rudra as in its following verse . "We Worship Tryambaka (Rudra) , Who spread Fragrance and Increases Nourishment , May He release me, like the cucumber from its stem, From Mortal Life, But not From Immorality. "(Rig Veda Mandal VII Sukta 59 and Mantra 12)

The Yajurveda describes Shiva as ascetic warrior Whose robe is of Deer Skin and he carries Trishul.
According to the verse Satyam, Shivam, Sundaram the life is described as having three facets Truth (Satyam), Good (Shivam) and the Beautiful (Sundaram).
According to the older scriptures, He has three places of his residence. One is Kailash Parvat another is Lohit Giri under which Brahamputra flows and third is Muzwan Parvat.

The Amarnath Cave has special significance:
The Legend about the importance of Amarnath Cave is as follows :-
This is The Cave which was chosen by Bhole Shankar for narrating the secrets of immortality and creation of Universe to Maa Parvati ji. The story goes like this. Centuries ago Maa Parvati asked Shiv ji to let her know why and when he started wearing the beads of heads ( Mund Mala). Bhole Shankar replied when ever you are born I add one more head in my beads. Maa Parvati said, " My Lord, my body is destroyed every time and I die again and again, but you are Immortal. Please let me know the secret of this ." Bhole Shankar replied that it is due to Amar Katha ."

Maa Parvati insisted that she may be told that secret. For long Shiva ji continued postponing . Finally on consistent demand from Maa Parvati he made up his mind to tell the immortal secret . He started for lonely place where no living being could listen it. He choose Amarnath Cave. In preparation to that he left his Nandi ( The Bull which he used to ride ) at Pahalgam (Bail gaon). At Chandanwari he released Moon from his hairs (Jataon). At the banks of Lake Sheshnag he released the snakes. He decided to leave his son Ganesha at Mahagunas Parvat (Mahaganesh Hill ). At Panchtarni, Shivji left the Five Elements behind (Earth , Water, Air , Fire and Sky) which make living being. He is the Lord of these elements. It is believed that as a symbol of sacrificing the earthly world, Shivaji and Maa Parvati had Tandav Dance. After leaving behind all these, Bhole Shankar enters the Holy Amarnath Cave along with Parvati Maa. Lord Shiva takes his Samadhi on the Deer Skin and concentrate . To ensure that no living being is able to hear the Immortal Tale, He created Rudra named Kalagni and ordered him to spread fire to eliminate every living thing in and around the Holy Cave. After this he started narrating the secret of immortality to Maa Parvati. But as a matter of chance one egg which was lying beneath the Deer skin remained protected. It is believed to be non living and more over it was protected by Shiva -Parvati Asan (Bed). The pair of pigeons which were born out of this egg became immortal having listened the secret of immortality (Amar Katha).
Many pilgrims report seeing the pair of pigeons when they trek the arduous route to pay their obeisance before the Ice-Lingam (the phallic symbol of Shiva).

The trek to Amarnath, in the month of sharavan ( July–August) has the devout flock to this incredible shrine, where the image of Shiva, in the form of a Lingam, is formed naturally of an Ice Stalagmite, which waxes and wanes with the Moon's cycle. By its side are fascinating, two more Ice Lingams, that of Maa Parvati and of their son, Ganesha.

కిన్నూర్ కైలాశం (Himachal Pradesh)




Kinnaur Kailash is one of the Five Kailash mountains( Lord Shiva's abode) as mentioned in vedic purana's and other Hindu mythology granths (ancient books by various saints).

Other four are
1. Mount Kailash (Man sarovar) in Tibet.
2. Mount Adi Kailash(chota Kailash) in Uttarakhand.Dist:Pitthoragarh
3. Mount Shrikhand Kailash in Himachal Pradesh.Dist: Rampur
4. Mount Mani Mahesh Kailash in Himachal Pradesh.Dist: Chamba

Kinner Kailash is situated at Reckong Peo in Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh. Kinner Kailash is also known as Bana Sur Kailash. It is a spritual place. The Shiv Lingam situated at the summit of Kinner Kailash is 79 feet vertical rock. Its colour changes as the time passes. Kinner Kailash is the natural abode of Lord Shiva. It is never covered with snow while surrounding is covered with snow. The Kinner Kailash is 6500 meters from sea level.The best time to visit Kinner Kailash is from June to August.

Kinnaur Kailash is considered sacred by both Hindu and Buddhist Kinnauris. The mountain is revered as a huge shivalingam, a representation of Lord Shiva. According to Hindu mythology Kinnaur Kailash is the legendary home of Lord Shiva, who is said to retire here each winter to meditate.

Every year thousands of pilgrims perambulate this peak on religious pilgrimages known as Kinnaur Kailash Parikrama.The trek is a 44-kms route that takes about 3 to 4 days.

How to reach Kinnaur

Come on a tour to Kinnaur, using the following means of transport -

By air :- The nearest airport is at Shimla (235 km) which can be reached from Delhi.

By rail :- The closest railway station is at Shimla, connected by a narrow gauge line from Kalka

By road :- Well-connected by National Highways-22, Kinnaur can be reached conveniently by availing of jeeps and taxis.

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