Lakshman Temple, Lokpal Lake at Hemkund

It was many generations before the Sikh community was introduced to Hemkund Sahib, was worshiped by the local Bhotia and Gharwali community who lives in the border area of India and Tibet and nearby villages of Joshimath use to come and pay their respect to the Lokpal or Lakshman the younger brother of Lord Ram , it is believed that in his previous birth as Shesnag meditated in the lake here

 

Lokpal Temple or Laxman Temple at Hemkund

Lokpal Temple or Laxman Temple at Hemkund

Situated  at an altitude of 4329 mts, (14,200 ft) in the Garhwal Himalayas , on the banks of a glacier lake, surrounded by several towering pinnacles of snow, reflected in its clear water. Surrounded  by the ‘Saptashringa’ Peaks (seven snow-clad peaks, including the Hathi Parvat), also called Hemkund Parvat, the lake mirrors its surroundings on the crystal-clear waters. It is the source of the Hem Ganga stream that merges with the Pushpawati stream flowing from the Valley of Flowers at village Ghangharia (Gobind Dham). From here onwards the river is called Laxman Ganga. This valley had been earlier known to the local residents as the Bhyundar Valley . This places is accessible from Gobind Ghat ( 20 km from Joshimath on Sri Badrinath Highway) a trek of 13 km up hill steep climb or helicopter a 7 minute flight to Ghangharia and the 6 km trek by Palki , mules, or in basket carried by porter on his back.

One can reach this place from the month of May till October

Lokpal Lake , Hemkund Lake

Lokpal Lake , Hemkund Lake

 

The stories about this place have mentions in Puranas (ancient books of Indian mythology) and the Hindu epics (the Mahabharata and the Ramayana). The sanctity of Lokpal is attributable to tales of Lakshman, (brother of Lord Rama) Goddess Durga, the Pandavas and some Rishis as well. Lakshman is said to have meditated or done penance here . In a popular story, Lakshman was brought to the shore of Lokpal after being mortally wounded in battle with Meghnad .

Another story related to Lakshman is , during a previous incarnation as a seven -headed serpent meditated under the water at Lokpal and lord Vishnu slept on his back. In a variation of the same theme, the snake was called Shesh Nag,  its tail was wrapped around the base of the mountain.

In a third legend, it is said that during Sat Yug, (the first of four ages according to Hindu mythology), fierce demons called ‘Dhents’  were terrorizing humans and gods. The goddess Durga was engaged in battle with the demons Bel and Subel , she had to flee and take refuge in the mountains. There, she approached a great Rishi who was meditating, seated on a lion skin. When Durga asked for his help, he told her to hide near him. The demons came the Rishi said that ” the mother of all, had come to him and it his duty to protect her”. The demons were infuriated , they were about to attack him , the Rishi said he and his disciples do not kill any one but he will  create a Khattri ( Warior) to kill them all ,  he got up and shook the lion skin , from the dust of lion skin there emerged a shakti (power) in the form of a strong Khattri (warrior) youth clad in lion skins and carrying a sword. The Rishi commanded the youth to kill the demons . When the youth had destroyed all the demons, the goddess appeared before him and gave him a sword with the blessing that he would henceforth be known as Dusht Daman, the ‘destroyer of evil’ since he came from the skin (khal) of a lion, he would also earn renown as Khalsa. The goddess departed after telling the youth that he would be given a mission to fight like a lion (Singh) in a later incarnation as a human being and for that he would create the Khalsa ( ‘The Pure).  The Rishi mentioned above is also known with references in various holy scriptures as Samundh Rishi, Rishi Medhasa, Rishi Bishala,  and Asan Rishi , the story of Dusht Daman’s battle is recorded in the Brahma Purana and some of the characters and events also resemble those in the Markandeya Purana, referred to in the Dasam Granth ( the Sikh Holy Book) References to Lokpal and Sapatsring also appear in the Skandha Purana.

Camps at Ghangharia

Camps at Ghangharia


Lokpal also reputed to be an ancient place of pilgrimage for the Tibetan people.  The local Garhwali people have followed a tradition of visiting the temple on the shore of the lake on three annual festivals held during the summer season: Rakshabandhan, Janam Ashtami, and Durga Ashtami ( Nanda Ashtami) The sacred journey was made primarily by women, both Garhwali villagers from the valley below Lokpal and villagers of Bhotia (Indo-Tibetan) ancestry from neighboring valleys. Out of respect for the purity of the water and the surrounding landscape, they made the steep climb barefoot, clad only in white cotton dhoti. The women left their clothes and shoes behind at a halting place set in a glade of fir trees. This place became the site of what is today Gobind Dham or Ghangaria, named after the ghagara (petticoats or skirts ) which the pilgrims would leave there. The women would spend the night singing songs of the goddess, and at dawn they would set out to climb the slope to the lake, at the Lokpal lake . They would bathe in the cold water, and pray to Lakshman for the blessing of a son, a better future, the health of their menfolk, or a cure for sickness.

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Guptkashi on way to Sri Kedarnath

Guptkashi is a village situated at the height of 1319 meters above sea level famous for its Vishwanath temple. The Guptkashi means the Hidden Kashi , it is on the way to Sri Kedarnath, legend is after the Mahabharat war was over the Pandava brothers wanted to wash their sin of killing their own relatives in the war , they were searching the Lord Shiva , Lord Shiva hide himself at this place . It is also said that Lord Shiva proposed to  Parvati here at the confluence of river Son Ganga and Mandakini at Triyuginarayan ( 48 kms) . It is also said that during the Mughal King Aurangzeb period when he ordered to construct the mosque at Vishwanath temple at Varanasi ( Kashi) or Kashi Vishwanath, the original Shiva Lingam was removed from there and brought here to be in safe hiding .

According to the old texts the Purans of Hindus the Kashi and Kanchi are the two eyes of Lord Shiva and there are six more Kashi  sacred and of equal importance as main Kashi the Varanasi or Kashi Vishvanath , those who can’t travel to main Kashi can reach the nearest one , these are Uttarkashi and Guptkashi in Uttrakhand , The Dakshin Kashi in South India, the Bhubneshwar in East of India , Nashik in Western India ( also called Paithan) and Mandi in Himachal Pradesh.

Vishvanath Temple Guptkashi

Vishwanath Temple

It is built of stone with high tower and a wooden frame with sloping roof , at the entrance there are two guards and walls are painted with flowers , main entrance is also guarded by the Bhairov, on the one side is a temple of Ardhnarishvar the half man and half woman form of lord Shiva , outside this temple is the Nandi bull statue made of metal.

Ukhimath

It is the temple across the river Mandakini at Guptkashi , it is the winter seat of the Sri Kedarnath  , there is a small water pond the Manikarnik Kund two water sources the water is coming out of a mouth of cow  is called Ganga  the water is coming out of a elephant trunk  is called Yamuna , the water falls on the Lingam. There is a Stupa which according to the local legends is a grave of Nala one of the characters in Ramayana , The legend also says that the Anirudha the grandson of Lord Krishna  and Usha the daughter of demon King Banasur had affair at Ramgarh ( Ronitpur) this affair led to the war between Banasur and lord Krishna  which resulted in as  end of the Banasur dynasty.

Guptkashi is becoming more important for a night stay on trip to Sri Kedarnath as there are good hotels, guest houses and camps , it is also because of the Phata , Sita Puri and Sirsi helipad ,  people prefer to stay here.

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Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary|Rajasthan

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Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary|Rajasthan, situated at a distance of 180 km from Delhi, 55 km from Agra and 35 km from Mathura and 195 km from Jaipur. Ranthambor National Park is 235 km from here.  This park is also known as Keoladeo Ghana National Park, spread over in an area of 29 square kilometers. One can combine its visit by road with Agra, Mathura, Jaipur, wildlife sanctuary Ranthambor and Chambal Alligator and Birds Reserve Park  is a World Heritage site since 2002 as “Habitat of Rare and Endangered Species” Keoladeo is Lord Shiva temple in the Sanctuary.

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This park is a low land situated between the confluence of two rivers Gambir and Banganga, Jat King Maharaja Surajmal who ruled Bharatpur constructed high-rise mud bund on the western side of city , a bund at the confluence of two rivers and filled the ground with water. This marshland was created as an additional measure for the protection of Bharatpur from the invaders coming from Agra, Alwar and Jaipur side.

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Bharatpur city use to get flooded during the monsoons, In 1760 AD an earthen Dam was constructed to protect the city, the soil removed for the purpose left more space for water to be trapped, series of small dams, dykes and gates controlled the level of water, this area afterwards started attracting lots of birds due to the favorable vegetation, small fish, weeds and low depth of water and became the best water duck shooting game wetland in the world. The birds hunting started around 1850 AD and regular duck shoots were organised by the Bharatpur Royal Family to honor the British Viceroys.

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The Royal Family had hunting rights till 1972 after which It became a Bird Sanctuary/Protected area on 13 March 1976. It got its National Park status on 10 March 1982 and became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1985.

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A huge variety of Flora and Fauna throughout the year and suitable climate in winters makes Bharatpur a favorite destination for birds coming down from  Central Asia, Siberia, Russia, Northern Europe and North eastern Asia to spend their winters and start their return flights around the end of February

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Flora

This marshy wetland is on the edge of Thar Desert and experiences extreme hot summers (around 48 Centigrade )  and not very cold winter ( around 5 Centigrade). There are grasslands of Khus Khus ( Vetiveria Zizanoides) , trees of Babul , Kiker ( Acasia Nilotica),  Kadamb (Mitragyana) , Jamun (Jambula) , Kandi ( Prosopis), Berberry (Zizyphus), Aquatic weeds like Water Lillys (Nymphya Species) , Duck weeds (Lemna species), Water Ferns, Hydrilla, Naga Species and Chara Species. Many birds feed on roots, fruits, nuts, seeds and build their nests on thorny trees for safety .

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Fauna

There are over three hundred species of birds in the 11 sq. km. of marshland, rest is the grassland and shrub trees the migratory birds species are Grey Heron, Geese, Sarus Crane, Pelican, Eagles, Ducks, Hawks, Shanks, Stints, Brown long ear Bats, Wagtails, Warblers, Garganey Teal, Fly catchers, Larks, Pipits, Larks etc. Permanent residents are Peacock, Crows, Wood Sand Piper , Indian Shag , Parrots, King Fisher,

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The Siberian Crains use to spend their winters here are no more arriving due to hunting in Afghanistan where on way to India they were spending 2-3 days.  The Neelgai, wild boars, Cheatals, Indian Mongoose Sambhar, Fox, Fishing cats, Leopard cats, Jackals, Hyenas and Small Indian Civets, Rhesus monkey, Langur etc. Reptiles Rock Python, Cobra, Russel’s Vipers and Monitor lizards. Amphibians are Tortoise, Bull Frog, Skipper Frog .

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In addition to the above, when few villages within the park area were relocated they left their cattle behind, they are now permanent residents, feed , breed in open like the wild animals since 1971.

Best bird watching times are early morning just around the sunrise when birds leaves their nest in search for the food and then around the afternoon when birds return to their nests to feed their young ones and have rest.

There is a entry ticket , Naturalists / Guides are available, only paddled rickshaw , bicycles and battery operated carts are available or one can walk in the Bird Sanctuary.

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Pathar Sahib Gurudwara , Leh, Ladakh

Pather Sahib gurdwara is located on Leh-Nimu road 25 km from Leh , this place is equally respected by Buddhist Lamas , Hindu and Sikhs .

Image Shri Guru Nanak Dev Ji In rock

Guru Nanak Dev Ji traveled to Nepal, Tibet and Sikkim during 1515 – 1518,  on his return to Srinagar he stopped here and came to know about a demon who troubled the people in this area and wanted his help , to bring  him on the right path Guru Ji sat here in meditation, upon knowing , the demon rolled a big rock from the height to kill him but the rock upon touching Guru Ji’s body became soft as hot wax   the demon thought he had killed him and came down to kick the rock away , to his surprise his own feet got embedded in the soft rock and also saw Guru Ji alive , he realized his mistake  touch Guru ji’s feet , asked for the forgiveness and promised to serve the people for good , since then until 1965 the local people preserved the rock and worshiped it they fondly call Guru Ji as Nanak Lama .

Guru Nanak Dev Ji meditated here

The construction of road by the army in 1965 it was seen as a  hurdle in making the road and wanted to remove it but this rock could not be moved , mean while the driver of bulldozer and Army Officer Commander of the team  dreamed of some one instructing them not to remove it from this place, upon knowing the story from the locals the Indian Army constructed a Gurudwara and till now it is managed by the Indian Army.

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Ghantiyali Mata Temple Tanot Jaisalmer Rajasthan

Ghantiyali Mata temple is situated on main  Jaisalmer – Ramgarh – Tanot highway , 110 km from Jaisalmer ,  just 09 Km. before Tanot , situated between the beautiful yellow Sand Dunes .

Sand Dunes at Gantiyali Mata Temple Tanot Jaisalmer

Sand Dunes at Gantiyali Mata Temple Tanot Jaisalmer

It is considered must  to visit this temple first before Ma Tanot Temple . Ma Ghantiyali is sister of Ma Tanot and showed miracles at the same place before the temple was established and then in 1965 AD war with Pakistan.

Ghantiyali Mata Mandir , Tanot , Jaisalmer

Ghantiyali Mata Mandir , Tanot , Jaisalmer

How did the temple come at this place? According to a legend , a village nearby was overrun by a rival community and every one was killed except for one pregnant lady who was away at her mother’s village , this lady gave birth to a son , after few years when this boy grew up, started inquiring about his family and father , mother narrated the whole story to his son. This young boy was full of anger and pledged to take a revenge.  One day this young boy took his sword and left his house to take his revenge , after few days, thirsty and tired, when he reached this spot, he saw a little girl who served him with a pot of water , the boy thanked her and asked her who she was, as there was no village nearby. The little girl told him that she knew about his arrival and blessed him  ” his mission will be successful “. The boy said she is not aware of for what mission he has left his home , the little girl replied that “she knows every thing “ she also instructed him that he will kill only one person . The boy reached his destined village where he saw a marriage celebrations was on , he quietly killed one of the guest and went in hiding , when guests saw one of their member is killed , in the confusion they accused the host villagers and in fighting killed each other . This boy’s mission got accomplished and returned to the place in search of the same little girl , not finding her there he wanted to kill himself as a gratitude ,  little girl who was Ma Ghantiyali appeared and instructed the boy to make a temple and let the people know about her.

Broken Idols by Pakistani Army in 1965 War

Broken Idols by Pakistani Army in 1965 War

Second miracle happened  in 1965 AD during India’s war with Pakistan. The Pakistani army had invaded and captured the temple , they left a few soldiers here , and then proceeded to capture Ramgarh further ahead , few of the Pakistani soldiers at temple started vandalizing the temple and the idols. Some of there fellow soldiers objected  and they killed many of their fellow comrades , it is said when some soldiers who tried steal the gold and silver ornaments from the temple, they somehow became blind. The remainder soldiers marched towards Ramgarh to join their army, nearing Ramgarh the Pakistani soldiers who were already there misunderstood their men as Indian soldiers and approaching soldiers misunderstood that there are Indian soldiers at Ramgarh and in firing from both side killed each other .

 

Ghantiyali Mata Temple Tanot Jaisalmer

Ghantiyali Mata Temple Tanot Jaisalmer

The management to look after for day to day affairs , Aarti and other arrangements are with the Border Security Force (BSF) of India , there no villages or shops nearby ,  one can spend a night here only after the permission from the BSF .

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Sahastra Baahu Temple|Nagda|Udaipur|Rajasthan

Sahastra Baahu Temple Nagda about 22 km from Udaipur is also known as  Saas Bahu Ka Mandir, a twin Vaishnav Mandir, here are group of temples of early 7th century, dedicated to lord Vishnu, there use to be a town in the East of this temple, in 15th Century the Gohila King Mokala constructed a lake ( Baghela Talav) after his brother’s name Bagh Singh and town was relocated . This temple is no more in use , it is in partial ruins, tourists  main attraction is of it’s architecture and rare artistic beauty of carvings of more than thousand years ago.

Makar Torna Gate, Sahastrabahu Temple, Nagda, Udaipur

Makar Torna Gate, Sahastrabahu Temple, Nagda, Udaipur

The Twin temple are on a raised platform , The entrance use to be from east through a Makar Torna ( arched gate), there are ten small temples around the large temple The Vishnu Temple, built by Yasomati, wife of the commander in chief of the Mewar rulers ( Saas or Mother-in-Law) and five small temples around the small ( Bahu or Daughter-in-Law) temple.

The twin temples view from West Sahastrabahu Temple, Nagda, Udaipur

The twin temples view from West Sahastrabahu Temple, Nagda, Udaipur

The Saas temple is large and Bahu temple is small , The Bahu temple has the Octagon ceiling, there are eight female figures, the Saas temple has the Torna , the walls are not much decorated but pillars , roof and projections are full of carvings.

Kirtimukha at the entrance, Sahastrabahu Temple, Nagda, Udaipur

Kirtimukha at the entrance, Sahastrabahu Temple, Nagda, Udaipur

Temples are constructed on “Pancharatha” plan , The Garbhagriha, Antryalaya, Ardhmandapm, Mandapam and Varandha ( Sanctum, Vestibule, Hall and Porch ). Kirtimukha is at the main entrance of temple.

Sahastrabahu Temple, Saasbahu Mandir, Nagda, Udaipur

Sahastrabahu Temple, Saasbahu Mandir, Nagda, Udaipur

The outer walls are decorated with carvings of people in their daily life work, inlaid work are remarkable , lady playing with child, churning curd, potter making pots, elephant punishing a culprit etc.

Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu incarnations, Lord Brahma, Lord Ram, Balram, Parshuram, epics from Mahabharat, Ramayana  and Lord Krishna’s life are very well preserved .

Lord Vishnu riding Garuda's sholders, Sahatrabahu Temple, Nagda, Udaipur

Lord Vishnu riding Garuda’s sholders, Sahatrabahu Temple, Nagda, Udaipur

 

Lord Shiva and above is Parshuram, Sahastrabahu Temple, Nagda, Udaipur

Lord Shiva and above is Parshuram, Sahastrabahu Temple, Nagda, Udaipur

Lord Shiva and Parsuram in meditation are on the west wall ( rear ) of Sahastrabahu temple

Carved Torna Mandap , Sahastrabahu Temple, Nagda, Udaipur

Carved Torna Mandap , Sahastrabahu Temple, Nagda, Udaipur

The mandap of Sahastrabahu temple is beautiful carved pillars and Toranas , the carvings are of Lord Shiva with Parvati, Godess Chamamunda , Godess Ma Kali, Godess Ma Mahishasur Mardani .

Carvings in Mandap above Torna , Sahastrabahu Temple, Nagda, Udaipur

Carvings in Mandap above Torna , Sahastrabahu Temple, Nagda, Udaipur

The walls above the Tornas are carved with epics from Ramayana and Mahabharat.

Butifull carved lotus, ceiling of Mandap, Sahastrabahu Temple, Nagda, Udaipr

Butifull carved lotus, ceiling of Mandap, Sahastrabahu Temple, Nagda, Udaipr

The ceiling above in the Mandap is beautifully carved lotus flower floating  in a water pool .

Mahishasur Mardan, pillar of Mandap, Sahastrabahu Temple, Nagda, Udaipur

Mahishasur Mardan, pillar of Mandap, Sahastrabahu Temple, Nagda, Udaipur

One of the Mandap pillar carved to show Ma Mahishasur Mardani .

 

Lord Krishna taking away Rukmani on his chariot , Sahstrabahu Temple, Nagda, Udaipur

Lord Krishna and Arjun on chariot scene from Mahabharat , Sahstrabahu Temple, Nagda, Udaipur

The projections of the roof plate ( chajja) depicting the Lord Krishna and Arjun on a chariot at Mahabharat battle field.

Lord Shiva with scaled snake skin, skull in one hand, Sahastrabahu Temple, Nagda, Udaipur

Lord Shiva with scaled snake skin, skull in one hand, Sahastrabahu Temple, Nagda, Udaipur

One of the rare carving of Lord Shiva with four hands one of the left hand is carrying a skull trident in right hand and other two arms are carrying flowers , it is showing lord Shiva’s body skin of a snake with scales .

Balram in medation with club and Plough, Sahastrabahu Temple, Nagda, Udaipur

Balram in medation with club and Plough, Sahastrabahu Temple, Nagda, Udaipur

Just above the lord Shiva statue is the Balram , lord Krishna’s brother carrying a club and a plough in his hands, sitting  in deep meditation .

Ma Kali with skull in hand and Lord Shiva lying on ground, Sahastrabahu Temple, Nagda, Udaipur

Ma Kali with skull in hand and Lord Shiva lying on ground, Sahastrabahu Temple, Nagda, Udaipur

One of the outer wall is having Ma Kali with a skull in one hand a trishool in another hand and lord Shiva is lying on the ground with Ma Kali above the lord.

Carving Hindu Mythology Kalpavirksha a divine tree , Sahastrabahu Temple, Nagda, Udaipur

Carving Hindu Mythology Kalpavirksha a divine tree , Sahastrabahu Temple, Nagda, Udaipur

Kalpavirksha or Kalpa padap is a divine tree as per the Hindu mythology , it is carved in the inner wall of the temple, it is said it is a wish fulfilling tree.

Ravaged and plundered by the invading Muslim armies in the 14th century, this temple has survived the turns of history gracefully. Worth visiting for its architectural beauty .

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Ekling Ji Temple|Nagada|Udaipur

Ekling Ji Temple Nagda Udaipur was built in 734 AD by the Bappa Rawal (Prince Kalbhoj) a devout Lord Shiva Upasak and a Yati ( a person with full control over his passions), the eighth ruler of Guhilot Rajput dynasty and founder of Mewar, it was repaired by Maharana Mokal ( assassinated at the age of 24) 46th ruler,  the present main temple was rebuilt in 15th century by Maharana Raimal grand father of Rana Kumbha  from the ruins over the destroyed temple. This place is also known as Kailash Puri .

Main entrance Ekling Ji Temple Nagda , Udaipur Rajasthan

Main entrance Ekling Ji Temple Nagda , Udaipur Rajasthan

There are two silver idol of Lord Ganesh and Kartikey to ward off the evils, after crossing this gate no cameras are allowed, photography is strictly prohibited inside.

The temple is big, magnificent in conception and perfect in making , a fifty feet high Shikhar has a sixty feet circumference at base, the Garbhagriha has four doors in four directions , each gate has a Nandi (the Bull) statue facing the main idol.The South and the western Gates are covered with silver strips. The temple complex is enclosed within high wall of hard rocks and in addition to the main temple there are 108 more temples carved out of marble and sand stone.

Ekling Ji Temple , main gate Silver idol of Lord Ganesha

Ekling Ji Temple , main gate Silver idol of Lord Ganesha

Just before the Sabha mandap in the west direction there is a black stone Nandi and small one made of Ashtdhatu on a raised platform facing the Garbhagriha .on the same platform is the statue of Bappa Rawal with folding hands facing the East looking at the statue of Maharishi Harit engraved at the main entrance of Sabah Mandap. Two big white statues of elephants stand before the main entrance to the Mandap .

The main Shikhar Ekling Ji Temple , Nagda, Udaipur, Rajasthan

The main Shikhar Ekling Ji Temple , Nagda, Udaipur, Rajasthan

A five face black marble Shivaling was established by Maharana Raimal son of Rana Kumbha at the end of 15th century, the West face is of Lord Brahma , East is of Lord Surya, North face is of Lord Vishnu, South face is of Rudra and upward is Shivalinga with a silver snake . Shivlinga is encircled by Goddess Parvati, Lord Ganesha and Lord Kartikay. In the North direction there are two water tanks. The Mewar Ruling family is a Suryavanshi Rajputs therefore above the Western door in the garbhagriha there is a silver image of Lord Surya.

Ekling Ji Image courtesy Wikipedia

Ekling Ji Image courtesy Wikipedia

Another very important Temple only one in the world is Lakulish Temple, within the complex  built in 971 AD. According to Linga Puran and Skandha Puran the Hindu Religious texts, the Lord Shiva worshipers oldest sect Lakulisha is supposed to be the 28th and last avtar (incarnation) of lord Rudra or Shiva who also introduced the Yoga system in the worship .

Bappa Rawal had his religious education from his Guru Sage Harit who meditated in a cave near by, he educated the code of conduct for the ruling families of Mewar to follow which has been the guiding source. The Ruler of Mewar is lord Shiva himself and Maharana of Mewar is the Diwan ( Prime minister) a representative of Ekling Ji. When Maharana is in Udaipur, every Monday night they pay a visit and worship the deity . Only the Maharana of Mewar can perform the Pooja of Shri Ekling ji, the daily puja is performed by the pujaris and receives the blessings on behalf of Mewar Maharana .

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Kumbhalgarh Fort|Rajasthan

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Kumbhalgarh Fort Rajasthan was built by Rana Kumbha over a hilltop 3600 ft. above the sea level with perimeter walls 36 km in length and frontal walls are fifteen feet thick with seven fortified gates , it is the second longest wall in the world. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site .

The location of Kumbhalgarh fort had the advantage of its location ,it is enclosed within 13 mountains of Arawalis range the rough hostile landscape. Kumbhalgarh Fort also separated Mewar and Marwar and was often used as a place of refuge by the rulers of Mewar at times of danger. It is said that Rana Kumbha built 32 forts in his life but it is the largest .

 

Main entrance Hanuman Pole (gate) Kumbhalgarh Fort Rajasthan

Main entrance Ram Pol (gate) Kumbhalgarh Fort Rajasthan

The perimeter walls made of ramparts between 3-5 meter in height, enforced by circular structures constructed using rubble and brick masonry using lime mortar, plastered at few places. The characteristic elements of Mewar defensive . access are to the fort are through zigzag  turns walled pathway between the gates, the small side cells,  chambers for guards, the horizontal beams rather than arches are part fortifications .

Small entrance before Ram Pol ( Gate) Kumbhalgarh Fort

Small entrance before Ram Pol ( Gate) Kumbhalgarh Fort

Due to its strategic location, it is considered as the second most important fort after Chittor fort of Rajasthan. Constructed between 1443 AD and 1458 AD  under the supervision of famous architect Mandan. The fort was constructed on the site of an older castle supposed to be of 2nd BC  it was virtually inaccessible in the 15th century Kumbhalgarh fort is on a high hill overlooking the approaches from Ajmer and Marwar. On the completion of this fort Maharana Kumbha issued a coin engraved fort and its name.

 

The Great Wall of Kumbhalgarh 37km. long, 20ft. thick , second longest in the world

The Great Wall of Kumbhalgarh 37km. long, 15 ft. thick , second longest in the world

The walls of fort are broad enough to have space for eight horses can stand side by side

The important buildings within the fort are Badal Mahal, Kumbha Palace, Brahmanical and Jain Temples, water reservoirs, baoris, (step-wells) chhattris etc. Kumbhalgarh Fort is one of the very few forts in history, which never got conquered

 

Kumbhalgarh Fort , Palace on hill

Kumbhalgarh Fort , Palace on hill

Badal Mahal is situated at the highest point , it is a two story structure divided into two portion Zanana Mahal  (Ladies Chamber) and Mardana Mahal ( Mens Chamber) . There are decorative wall paintings all over and Ladies chamber has the stone Jalis to give privacy to the royal ladies but they could watch all the proceedings in the royal court . From Badal Mahal one can have a panoramic view of the countryside from the top, the Temples , gardens, water reservoirs, Baolis and town within the fort .

 

Jain Temple at Kumbhalgarh Fort Rajasthan

Temple at Kumbhalgarh Fort Rajasthan

There are around 360 Jain and Hindu temples within the fort .

 

One of the gate on way to the Palace, Kumbhalgarh Fort Rajasthan

One of the gate on way to the Palace, Kumbhalgarh Fort Rajasthan

The mansion known as Jhalia-ka-Malia or the Palace of Queen Jhali it is believed to be the birth place of Maharana Pratap a great Rajput Warrior.

 

Palace Pavilion where Maharana Pratap was born, Kumbhalgarh fort Rajasthan

Palace Pavilion where Maharana Pratap was born, Kumbhalgarh fort Rajasthan

 

 

Observation Tower , Kumbhalgarh Fort, Rajasthan

Observation Tower , Kumbhalgarh Fort, Rajasthan

The fort as a whole in its cultural values and other attributes such as forms of fortification walls, palace complexes, group of temples devoted to different sects and faiths, water bodies, other structures, material of constructions, its shape and design, traditional values, use and beliefs are still preserved intact .

Fort is open from 0800 hrs till 1800 hrs everyday, it is 45 km from Udaipur, can be done in a day, there is a entry ticket to the fort .

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Ranakpur Jain Temple|Rajasthan

Ranakpur Jain Temple is situated at about 95 km from Udaipur on road to  Udaipur – Jodhpur, on the banks of Maghai river,  built in 15th century by a Jain businessman Seth Dharna Shah inspired by Acharaya Soma Sunder Suriji , Rana Khumbha who was the then ruler Mewar helped him by giving land in valley of Mount Madri but also advised him to build a city near it now known as Ranakpur, the chief architect Deepaka with high value for art a vision of Nalinigulma Viman ( Viman of Gods) put the devotion of his patron to a dream come true in the form of a magnificent temple. It is also known as Patariyon Ka Mandir

Ranakpur Jain Temple, Main Entrance

Ranakpur Jain Temple, Main Entrance

it is the largest and most important Jain temple in India. The Dharna Shah died before the completion of work but before his death he installed the idol of Principal deity Lord Rishabhdeva in 1496 Vikram Samvat (1445 AD aprox.)  his brother Ratanshah carried forward the work with limited resources and could not got the final polish of marble done at many places. It took sixty five years to complete.

Ranakpur Jain Temple , Main gate pillars and carvings

Ranakpur Jain Temple , Main gate pillars and carvings

This temple could escape from the invading armies because it was not on the main routes to the battle grounds.

Kechak (Hindu mythological figure) at ceiling above the main entrance

Kechak (Hindu mythological figure) at ceiling above the main entrance

The construction started in 1446 Vikram Samvat (1395 AD aprox.) and completed in 1511 Vikram Samvat ( 1460 AD aprox ) It is a Choumukha Temple ( Four side open) , temple is 60 x 62 meters,  it does not conform to the traditional longitudinal plan as of Indian temples but follows a crisscross one. This plan has four separate entrances, one on each side. Each of these then lead through a series of columned halls to a central arena and the sanctum which has the four faced white marble 6 ft. tall image of Lord Adinath.

Ranakpur Jain Temple carved pillars, crisscross passage

Ranakpur Jain Temple carved pillars, crisscross passage

Ceiling at the entrance of Ranakpur temple is a mythological character Kechak a five body one head human is representation of five evils among the humans are Lust (Kaam), Anger (Krodh), Greed (Lobh), Attachment (Moh) and Conceit ( Ahankaar) are to be left behind while one enters the temple.

The artistically carved nymphs playing the flute in various dance postures at a height of 45 feet are an interesting sight.  Rishabhadev Ji  is surrounded by several other smaller shrines and domes. These are in turn surrounded by a Bhamati or range of cells for images, each of which has a roof of its own.

Ranakpur Jain Temple, Dome with flute playing ladies, stone carved chandelier

Ranakpur Jain Temple, Dome with flute playing ladies, stone carved chandelier

The ceilings of the temples are carved with fine, lace, leaf like motifs, scroll work and geometric patterns. The domes are carved in concentric bands and the brackets connecting the base of the dome with the top are covered with figures of deities.

Ranakpur Jain Temple, 1008 snake hood and the Lord

Ranakpur Jain Temple, 1008 snake hood and the Lord

The peculiar character of this temple is there are 1444 pillars carved in exquisite details, support the temple  and not a single pillar is of same design and they all are erected in a manner that from anywhere one can have the view of Lord’s image.

Ranakpur Jain Temple , Pillar constructed by Rana Kumbha

Ranakpur Jain Temple , Pillar constructed by Rana Kumbha

Kalpvriksha or Kalpataru is a divine tree , originated during the Samundramanthan (Churning of Sea) the Raja Indra of Swarglok (Paradise) planted it in Swarglok , it is a wish fulfilling tree , Jains, Buddhists and Hindus holy literature finds mentions at various places with divine powers.

Ranakpur Jain Temple , Kalpvriksha

Ranakpur Jain Temple , Image carved on stone of Kalpvriksha a divine tree in Hindu mythology

As the sun rays shift through the day the pillars colour change from golden to blueish in the mandap (prayer hall). In the North of temple there are foot prints of Lord Rhishabhdev and a Kalpvriksha tree .

The people who were associated with the construction and daily rituals then 600 years ago, their families are still continuing the job of repairs, and rituals, family of Seth Dharan Shah lives in village Ghanerao. Events related to its construction are recorded on a copper plate inscribed in Sanskrit .

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Kushinagar, Maha Parinirvana of Lord Buddha

The Kushinagar was founded by the Kusha the son of Lord Ram of epic Ramayana the king of Ayodhya , it was then known as Kushavati. It is located on the banks of river Hiranayavati , this place was also a capital of Malla Kings during the Lord Buddha’s time. This place can be reached from Varanasi or Gorakhpur by road

Lord Buddha prior to his death spent his days many times as most of the Malla’s Kings were his admirers.

Lord Buddha decided to spent his last days at Kushinagar because of many reasons (a) It was the proper venue for preaching of the Mahá-Sudassana Sutta  (b) Subahadra  a 120 year-old Brahmin who, after getting attracted to Buddha’s speech, expressed his desire to join the Sangha, and is believed to be the last monk to be ordained by the Buddha and became  an Arahant  (c) Brahaman Dona lived here who was respected a lot, sorted the dispute of distribution of relics after Lords cremation .

Mahaparinivana temple and Stupa

Mahaparinivana temple and Stupa

According to a late tradition, one-eighth of the Buddha’s relics were deposited in a cairn in Kushinara  by the Mallas Travelling in stages via Pava where he ate his last meal, offered by the blacksmith Cunda, he reached the final resting-place at the Saala grove by the bank of river Hiranyawati  in Kushinagar, it was  the full moon day   (Vaisakh Purnima) in 543 BC. He told Ananda   to prepare a bed for him with its head turned towards the north between two Saal trees The Buddha was lying on his right side  with his head to the north when he breathed his last, his body was taken into the town by the northern gate and out through the eastern gate , After the cremation, the relics were divided into eight equal portions by the Brahmin Dona, who distributed them to eight clans. (1) King Ajatasattu of Magadha (2) The Licchavis of Veshali (3) The Sakyans of Kapilavatthu (4) The Bulians of Allakappa (5)  The Koliyans of Ramagama (6) The Mallas of Pava (7) The Brahman of Vethadipa (8) The Mallas of Kushinagar , the Urn was kept by the Dona himself ,by the time  the Mayurans of Pipphalavana  arrived the distribution was done so they took the ashes , these people on their way to respective place raised eight Stupas for the relics, a ninth for the Urn, and a tenth for the ashes.

Lord Buddha's Ashes were distributed under this tree

Lord Buddha’s Ashes were distributed under this tree

The place of lord Buddha’s death,  became one of the four holy places declared by the Buddha to be  places of pilgrimage for the pious.

The significance of this region is also due to being Link – route  of ancient highways, among them were important highways Ayodhya – Janakpur (Bihar), Rajgrih – Vaishali – Shrawasti, Maharshi Valmiki’s Ashram, Ashoka, the great Mauryas, Pillars routes, passing through this district.

The remains of the Parinirvana Stupa and Parinirvana Temple, when rediscovered, were covered in a 40 foot high mound of bricks surrounded by a dense thorny forest ,  around 1861–1862 it was suggested the site to be that of Gautama Buddha’s decease. Although no decisive evidence was found to prove  supposition that the site known at  Matha  Kuar Ka Kot  was Kushinara , a series of monastic seals with the Sanskrit legend Mahaparinivane caturdiso Bhiksumghah were taken to show that by the late Gupta period the site was understood to be that of the Buddha’s last breathed  .

Lord Buddha breathed his last at this place

Lord Buddha breathed his last at this place

Kushinagar was a capital city of the Malla kingdom of ancient India . Many of the ruined stupas and viharas at Kushinagar date back to 3rd century BC to the 5th century AD when  prosperity was at its peak.

This region was an ideal ‘Meditation Place’ for sages, saints hermits and Mahatamas who were attracted by its pious. tranquil and charming natural surroundings.  Archeological excavation has yielded rich collection of antiquities. Artistic artifacts and statues of various gods and goddesses.

For more information contact  within India + 91- 9810506646

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