Sunday, February 28, 2010
Name : Janardhana Swamy Temple
The Janardhana Swamy temple in Kerala is situated on a very steep hill on the beach road to Varkala of Thiruvanantpuram district.
Myths and Legends :
It is believed that brahma performed a sacrifice (Yagna) at Varkala. The striate of lignite and mineral waters found in Varkala are attributed to this sacrifice. Tradition also has it that when the west coast was reclaimed from the sea by parasurama, earthquakes were frequent and that land was unfit for human habitation. To remedy this situation, the founder is believed to the performed a sacrifice at Varkala.
In the central shrine there is a huge Dutch bell with an inscription on it is Latin. Centuries ago, a Dutch vessel reached the shore of Varkala and could not proceed further in the sea as there was absolutely no breezed at all. The captain offered the bell from the ship to the temple priest who prayed to the Lord for providing suitable wind to enable the ship to sail on its further voyage. Very soon a good breeze started to enable the ship to move on its voyage. The captain installed this bell at the temple before he set sail from Varkala. It is also says the bell was presented to the temple when the Dutch evacuated Fanjet where they had established a factory.
This famous temple, which is believed to be almost 2,000 years old, is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and Hanuman. The temple is a very good specimen of traditional South-Indian architecture. The circular building with a red-tiled roof houses the main shrine. Within the temple grounds, an old banyan tree contains within its trunk, images of ancient animistic snake deities.
The circular ‘Sanctum sanctorum” surmounted by a conical dome of copper sheets, the square ‘mandapa' with beautiful wooden carvings of Navagrahas on the ceiling and copper-plated roof over it, the quadrangular enclosures around them, a hall containing a ‘bali peetha' in front of the inner temple are the characteristic features of the Kerala style of architecture. One of the inscriptions indicates that the temple was improved during the reign of Umayamma Rani, who ruled this region during 1677-84 A.D.
Non Hindus are not allowed to enter the inner sanctum of the Janardhana Swamy temple, but are allowed to walk around the sanctum and stroll around the huge banyan tree. There is a belief that the water in the pond of the temple is holy and a bath in the pond will nullify all the sins.
This temple is very closely located to "PAPNASHNAM BEACH". Beach, where according to Hindu rituals, you can wash away or get rid of your sins by taking holy dip in its water and purify yourself. After the death of some near and dear, Hindu's bring there ashes here and after performing a custom famous in south India called 'Vavu Beli', the ashes are dipped permanently into the sea of this Papnashnam beach so that his or her sins should be washed away and he or she shall go to heaven permanently.
The Arattu, celebrated every year in Meenam (March-April), is the main festival at the Janardhana Swamy temple. The temple attracts many devotees.
Thursday, February 11, 2010
Name : Chamunda Devi Temple (Chamunda Nandikeshwar Dham)
Location : In the Kangra District of Himachal Pradesh, around 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) west of Palampur
The legend of the temple is related with two demons Chanda and Munda of Shumbh Nishumbh, the notorious demon king. With their wicked mind, they try to harass the goddess Ambika, which turned out in the form of battle between the gods and demons. Chamunda, emerged as Chandika from an eyebrow of goddess Ambika, was assigned the task to eliminate the demons. Chandika destroyed those two demons and presented their heads in front of Ambika. Pleased with the act of Chamunda, the goddess Ambika named the city as Chamunda and since then the temple Chamunda Devi is worshipped with that grace and faith.
The temple is located on a hill overlooking the town of Chamba and is a 30 minutes climb. This temple is dedicated to Chamunda, the enraged form of Goddess Durga. The entire wooden ceiling of this temple is embroidered with elaborate carvings portraying floral motifs and different deities.
At the back of the temple is a cave-like scoop where a stone "Lingam" under a boulder represents Nandikeshwar (Shiva). The temple complex is an enchanting spot with glorious view of Dhauladhar, the Baner Khad and Dadh. A 700 years old temple, Chanmunda Devi comprises of big complex with a 'Kund' (Ban Ganga)in it.
Taking dip in the Ban Ganga river is considered as more auspicious and sacred. People perform prayer to Lord Shiva with the water of Ban Ganga river. As per the rituals, the devotees coming to the temple take holy dip in the Kund. The main deity of the temple is kept under cover and is not accessible by the visitors, because of its sacred importance.
A trek of about 16 km up in the Dhauladhar ranges is the ancient temple of Aadi Himani Chamunda.
The Sui Mata Temple is located between the Chamunda Devi temple and Brajreshwari Devi temple, and is dedicated to Sui Mata. She is believed to be a local princess, who gave her life for the people in Chamba. Colorful paintings within the temple depict the life of Sui. Other temples to visit in Chamba are the Radha Krishna Temple, Harirai Temple, Sitaram Temple and Champavati Temple .
Beside temple, there is Ayurvedic dispensary, library and a Sanskrit college situated in the temple complex. The dispensary provides medical treatment to the pilgrims and locals. The library comprises of rare stock of old manuscripts, books on astrology, Hindu philosophy, Vedas, Puranas, Upnishads, Sanskrit and History. There is book sale counter, which provide these books on reasonable rates.
A Sanskrit college is also run by the temple trust and they organize free classes on Vedas and Puranas.
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Name : A-Ma Temple. The former name of A-Ma Temple (Ma Kok Miu) was Ma Tsou
Location : Macau, China
The oldest temple in Macao, which has a history of over 500 years. It is so alleged that over 400 years ago when Portuguese reached Macao and landed on the sea promontory opposite the A-Ma Temple, they noticed the temple of goddess and asked the local inhabitants the name of the whole place who misunderstood they were denoting the temple and answered "Ma Kok". In this way, the Portuguese transliterated into "Macau" which was the origin of the Portuguese name for Macao.
The whole Temple includes the main hall, stone hall, great mercy hall and Kun lam (Goddess of Mercy, Avalokitesvara) hall four buildings.
At the gate, there are stone lions guarding the temple and the eaves pointing the sky, full of Chinese folk characteristics. The A-Ma Temple was built by the cliff. There are winding paths around upwards the hill. Along the cliff, there are many poems and verses inscribed on stone in all scripts, regular, cursive, seal character and official.
Inside the courtyard, there is a relief stone sculpture of Chinese junk. Here goes the allegation that A-Ma sailed out to sea from her native land by this junk. After coping with strong typhoon and fierce-waves, she reached Macao safely. It is said, the Tin Hau, the Queen of Heaven and Protector of Seafarer who was from Pu Tien, Fujian Province, is otherwise known for Niang Ma. She could predict auspicious and inauspicious things and after death made her presence felt on the sea, helping merchants and fishermen to dispel calamity, overcome difficulty and turn danger into safety. Later generations built temple here to pay homage in her memory.
On 23 March every lunar year, the birthday of A-Ma, and in the spring festival, the Temple is crowded with worshippers.
Many male and female disciples gather here to pay homage and to pray for good fortune. Even young men and young women in western-style clothes and in long boots and short skirts come to burn incense to pray for good luck, a quite warm scene.