Hurray! This is the 100th post in my blog and this is really special, and by coincidence the topic says it…quite a big achievement 🙂
We visited several temples during my travelogue during the past few days and I posted the photograph of the corresponding temple tower or gopuram in my corresponding posts. Now, let’s go into some details as to what these gopurams are about, their significance and the height of these monuments in several magnificent temples.
The Tamil derivation is from the two words: கோ (kō) and புறம் (puram) meaning ‘king’ and ‘exterior’ respectively It
originates from the Sangam age when
it was known as ஓங்கு நிலை வாயில் (ōnggu nilai vāyil)
meaning ‘imperishable gateway’.
An alternative derivation is from the Sanskrit word gopuram, which
can be broken down to go (Sanskrit: गो), which means either ‘a city’ or ‘a cow’, and puram (Sanskrit: पुरम्), ‘a town’, or ‘a
Vimanam means measure, indicating the number of
measures made in the construction and design of that structure. Gopuram consist
of two words, gawa and puram, meaning the place from which all the energy that
exists in all living beings comes inside.
The below information lists the height of the gopurams of various
temples (in descending order):
going to be the last post from my travels as of now. Over the last 20 days, it
has been a rewarding journey for me to reminiscence these places and my experiences
during their visits. I do wish to keep travelling and bring you the history and
visual beauty of many more places.
For more information on Chidambaram, Please visit the huge Wiki
Thillai Nataraja temple, Chidambaram
Nataraja Temple, also referred to as the Chidambaram Nataraja temple or Thillai
Nataraja temple, is dedicated to Nataraja – Shiva as the lord of dance. A Shiva shrine existed at the
site when the town was known as Thillai. Chidambaram, the name of the
city and the temple literally means “atmosphere of wisdom”, the
temple architecture symbolizes the connection between the arts and
spirituality, creative activity and the divine. The temple wall carvings
display all the 108 karanas from the Natya Shastra by Bharata
Muni, and these postures form a foundation of Bharatanatyam, a classical Indian dance.
The temple complex is spread over
an area of 40 acres (160,000 m2) in the heart of the city. The main complex is dedicated to
Shiva Nataraja and the complex contains shrines to deities such as
Shivakami Amman, Ganesh, Murugan and Vishnu in the form Govindaraja
The temple is one of the five
elemental lingas in the Shaivism pilgrimage tradition, and considered the subtlest of
all Shiva temples. The Nataraja temple has ancient roots, likely following the
temple architecture tradition that is found all over South India from at least
the 5th century.
Pancha Bhootham refers to the five prime elements of nature viz., Space, Air, Fire, Water and Earth. In Tiruvannamalai temple, Shiva is said to have manifested himself in the form of massive column of fire, In Thiruvanaikaval temple, Shiva represents water element where the appu lingam is submerged in water, In Chidambaram, empty space is worshiped as Shiva (akasha lingam) to signify God is beyond human comprehension. Unlike the other temples, this one does not contain a physical stone linga, while Kalahasti is representation of the airy element and Kanchipuram Ekambareswarar Temple is representation of the element Earth.
Govindaraja Perumal Temple or Thiruchitrakoodam in Chidambaram in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu, is dedicated to the Hindu god Vishnu. The temple is inside the premises of Thillai Nataraja Temple, constructed in the Tamil architecture. The temple is glorified in the Divya Prabandha, the early medieval Tamil canon of the Azhwar saints from the 6th–9th centuries AD. It is No.23 in the list of 108 Divyadesam dedicated to Vishnu, who is worshipped as Govindaraja and his consort Lakshmi as Pundarikavalli. Alwars. Kulashekhara Alwar mentions this temple as Tillai Chitrakutam and equates Chitrakuta of Ramayana fame with this shrine. The shrine has close connections with the Govindaraja temple in Tirupati dating back to saint Ramanuja of the 11-12th century.
travelled to one of the northern most states of India, Uttarakhand and visited the most revered places of pilgrimage, Haridwarand
Rishikesh. Today, we are going to the most north western state
of the country, Punjab
, renowned as the land of hospitality, and going to visit the heritage
Amritsar, historically also known as Rāmdāspur and colloquially as Ambarsar, is a city in north-western India, in the Indian state of Punjab.
The city is situated 217 km
(135 mi) northwest of state capital Chandigarh and 455 km (283 miles) northwest of New
Delhi, the national
capital. It is near Pakistan, with the Wagah Border (please
see pictures) being only 28 km
(17.4 mi) away.
As mentioned in the great epic Ramayana, Sita gave birth to Lava and Kusha, sons of Lord Rama at Ramtirth ashram. Large number of people visit Ramtirth Temple at annual fair and nearby cities to Amritsar, Lahore and Kasurwere said to be founded by Lava and Kusha, respectively. During AshvamedhaYagna by Lord Rama, Lava and Kush captured the ritual horse and tied Lord Hanuman to a tree near to today’s Durgiana Temple. (please see pictures).
For more information on Durgiana
Temple, Please visit the Wiki Page: Durgiana Temple.
The Jallianwala Bagh massacre, (please see pictures) involving the killings of thousands of Indian civilians on the orders of a senior British military officer, Reginald Edward Harry Dyer, took place on 13 April 1919 in the heart of Amritsar, the holiest city of the Sikhs, on a day sacred to them as the birth anniversary of the Khalsa (Vaisakhi day).
The lowering of the flags ceremony at
the Attari–Wagah border is a daily military practice that the security
forces of India (Border Security Force, BSF) and Pakistan (Pakistan
Rangers) have jointly
followed since 1959. The drill is characterized by elaborate and
rapid dancelike manoeuvres and raising legs as high as possible, which have
been described as “colourful”. It is alternatively a symbol of
the two countries’ rivalry, as well as brotherhood and cooperation between the
Hari means “Lord Vishnu“. So, Haridwar stands for “The Gateway to Lord Vishnu”. In order
to reach Badrinath, one of the four Char Dhams, with a temple of
Lord Vishnu, Haridwar is a typical place to start a pilgrim’s journey.
Therefore, the name Haridwar.
On the other hand, in Sanskrit, Hara means “Lord Shiva” and Dwara means “gate” or “gateway”. Hence, Hardwar stands for
“Gateway to Lord Shiva”. Hardwar has been a typical place to start a
pilgrim’s journey in order to reach Mount
Kailash, the eternal abode
of Lord Shiva, Kedarnath, the northernmost Jyotirlinga and one of the sites of the smaller Char Dham pilgrimage
circuit and Gaumukh, the source of River
Ganga. Har ki Pauri or footsteps of Lord Shiva is considered
the most sacred site in Hardwar.
In Hindu traditions, the ‘Panch Tirth‘ (Five Pilgrimages) within Haridwar, are
ki Pauri), Kushawart (Ghat in Kankhal), Bilwa Tirtha (Mansa Devi Temple) and Neel Parvat (Chandi Devi Temple). There are several other temples and ashrams located in and
around the city. Alcohol and
non-vegetarian food is not permitted in Haridwar.
Haridwar is one of the most important
pilgrimage centres in the country. I just mention some of the notable places of
Rishikesh, also known as Hrishikesh is in Dehradun
district of the Indian stateUttarakhand. Located in the foothills of the Himalayas in northern India, it is known as the “Gateway to the Garhwal
Himalayas” and “Yoga Capital of the World“. It lies approximately 25 km
(16 mi) north of the city Haridwar and 43 km (27 mi) southeast of the state
capital Dehradun. It is known as the pilgrimage town and regarded as one of the
holiest places to Hindus. Hindu sages and saints have visited Rishikesh
since ancient times to meditate in search of higher knowledge.
In September 2015, the Union tourism minister Mahesh
that Rishikesh and Haridwar will be the first in India to be given the title of
“twin national heritage cities”. Due to the religious
significance of the place, non-vegetarian
food and alcohol are strictly prohibited in Rishikesh.
“Hṛṣīkeśa” (Sanskrit: हृषीकेश) is a name of Vishnu composed of hṛṣīka meaning ‘senses’ and īśa meaning ‘lord’, thus ‘Lord of the Senses. Rishikesh has
been a part of the legendary ‘Kedarkhand’.
Yesterday we visited the KrishnaBhoomi, the twin cities of Mathura and Vrindavan, the place of birth and childhood pastimes of Lord Shri Krishna. Today we are going to Somnath, the place where the extinction of the Yadu dynasty and the disappearance of Lord Shri Krishna took place from the face of the planet Earth after performing his pastimes.
Important places of pilgrimage in Somnath include:
The Somnath temple located in Prabhas
Patan near Veraval in Saurashtra on the western coast of Gujarat, is believed to be the first among the twelve jyotirlinga shrines of Shiva. It is an important pilgrimage and tourist spot of
Gujarat. According to tradition,
the Shivalinga in Somnath is one of the
12 jyotirlingas in
India, where Shiva is believed to have appeared as a
fiery column of light. The jyotirlingas are taken as the
supreme, undivided reality out of which Shiva partly appears. Each of the
12 jyotirlinga sites take the name of a different
manifestation of Shiva. At all these sites, the primary image is a lingam representing the beginning-less and
endless stambha (pillar), symbolizing the
infinite nature of Shiva. In addition to the one at Somnath, the others are
at Varanasi, Rameswaram, Dwarka, etc.
The confluence of three rivers:
Kapila, Hiran and Sarasvati is a sacrosanct locale highly revered by
Hindus as the Moksha Teerth. This is the place where the three blessed rivers
flow into the Arabian Sea. As the sea is the ultimate destination of a river,
obtaining Moksha is the ultimate goal of the human life. The three rivers
Saraswati, Kapil and Hiran stand for the three stages of the life; birth, life
and death. Triveni Sangam Snanghat is the sacred site for taking a divine and
sin cleansing dip in the Triveni Sangam.
Parsuram or Parshuram Temple] – located to the right of the road to triveni sangam,
opposite to Rudralay temple, is popular among devotees. Lord Parshuram, the son
of Goddess Renuka and a pious sage Jamadagni is believed to be the sixth
incarnation of Lord Vishnu and one of the seven immortals (chiranjiv) as stated
in Hindu scriptures.
Balaji Temple – built in
Dravidian style is located close to the Main circle leading to Somnath Mandir.
Panch Pandava Gufa] [Hinglaj Mata Gufa] – established near Lalghati in Somnath, close to Suraj Mandir is a cave temple that was expanded to present form in 1949 by the late Baba Narayandas. The pandav brothers, during their exile, are believed to have done penance in the caves in order to impress Lord Shiva.
Gita Mandir, Somnath – also known as Birla Mandir, placed at the confluence
of three holy rivers known as Triveni Tirtha, is a Krishna temple built by
Birla family in 1970. As the legend goes, the Gita Mandir is nested at the very
exact spot where Lord Sri Krishna after being shot by a hunter at the Bhalka
Teerth had rested for a while.
Lakshminarayan Temple, Somnath – located adjacent to the Gita Mandir along river Hiren
is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and Goddess Laxmi. Positioned along the pristine
Beachside this Mandir is revered for enshrining the divine ‘Shree vigraha’ of
Bhagwan Laxminarayan. Supposed to be fashioned after the Laxminarayan Temple of
Badrinath, this temple is built in modern Indian style of architecture.
For more information on The Somanth
Temple, please visit the Wiki Page: Somnath Temple.
Vrindavan is a center of Krishna worship and the area includes places like Govardhana and Gokul that are associated with Krishna. Millions of devotees of Radha Krishna visit these places of pilgrimage every year and participate in a number of festivals.
Vrindavan, the land of Radha Rani, the City of Temples has more than 1000 temples to showcase the pastimes of Radha and Krishna.
Some of the post prominent temples that are most commonly visited by pilgrims include:
Rangaji Temple, built in 1851 is dedicated to Lord Ranganatha or Rangaji depicted as Lord Vishnu in his sheshashayi pose, resting on the coils of the sacred Sesha Naga. The temple built in the Dravidian style has a gopuram of six storeys and a gold-plated Dhwaja stambha, 50 feet high. The ‘Brahmotsdav’ celebration in March–April is marked by the pulling of the Temple car by the devotees from the temple to the adjoining gardens.