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Friday, 25 October 2013

Astava dasa Shakthi peetam - Birija Devi

Goddess Biraja Devi:-


Maa Biraja registers herself as one of the prominent seat of shakti worship in Orissa since prehistoric period. Goddess Biraja,the presiding deity of Jajpur is perhaps the most ancient of the Goddesses of the Hindu Pantheon. References about the Mother can be found in ancient puranic texts.She is worshipped and adored not only as Adishakti or primeval power but forms an integral part of the social religious and cultural life of the people of Orissa.

The Goddess who resides in Her temple at Jajpur, by all accounts was a principal deity of Orissa in the ancient times.Although the temple of Thhe mother is of recent origin, the idol by all accounts dates back to prehistoric times. the Mother manifests Herself in the temple as Mahisamardini holding a trident in her had.





Biraja Temple or Biraja Kshetra, or 'Oddyana Peetha, is one of the ancient Hindu temples located in the Jajpur district. This temple was built in 13th century. It is situated in Jajpur town. The main idol is Devi Durga who is worshiped by the name “Biraja”. The idol is having two hands (dwibhuja), in one hand she pierces the chest of Mahisashura with a spear and in the other she pulls the tail of the Mahishasura.

Goddess Biraja Devi Idol:-
The Durga idol is standing on a Lion in one leg and other leg is on Mahishasura chest. The Mahishasura is depicted as a Buffalo, not as regular human demon. The crown of Devi has symbol of Ganesha, Crescent Moon and a Shivalinga. The temple covers a large area, and it has several Shivalingas and other deities. Jajpur is also known as Biraja Kshetra or Biraja Peetha. According to Skanda Purana , utkala khanda it washes all rajo guna of pilgrims. This temple is also called as Girija Devi temple. It is one of 51 shakthi pentagrams and it is where Sati's navel fell.

Jajpur is the ancient kingdom of Orissa It was named after King Jajati Keshari.  The place is also known as ‘Gadakhetra’ because as per Indian mythology, in the era of Mahabharata, Bhima’s Gada (mace) was laying anywhere in this holy place. The town is sanctified by the sacred river Baitarani and Maa Biraja, the Holy Goddess.


Goddess Biraja Temple:-
 Biraja Kṣetra Jajpur, the sacred abode of Goddess Biraja registered its importance as a prominent seat of Śakti   worship since the prehistoric period. Goddess Biraja, the presiding deity of Jajpur has glorious antiquity. She is perhaps the most ancient Goddess, the Śakti or primordial energy incarnate of the Hindu pantheon, Goddess Biraja is worshipped and adored not only as Ādiśkti or primeval power but forms an integral part of the social, religious and cultural life of the people of Odisha.
The glory of Goddess Biraja has been endorsed in various texts starting from the age of the epics, purāṇas, Sthalamahātmyas and Tantric works. The Biraja Kṣetra mahātmya, which is considered as a part of Brahmaṇḍa purāṇa enumerates the origin of Goddess Biraja. It states that the days of yoke Brahma (the creator of the Universe) performed a yajna or Vedic sacrifice on the bank of the sacred river Vaitaraṇī. At the invocation of Brahma, Goddess Parvati or the AdiŚakti   emerged out of the Garhapatya fire of the sacrificial pit. Being move by her prayers, Parvati instructed Brahma to name her as Biraja. She appeared in the form of two armed Mahiṣāmardinī tramphing on the neck of the theriomorphic form of the buffalo demon and piercing the trident into his body politic. She was entreated by Brahma to glorify the Kṣetra by her presence as the devine consort of Siva. When she occupied her position the circum centre of the triangular Kṣetra (region), Nine Durgās, Eight Candikās, and Sixty four Yoginīs were created from her mind and their pervading presence made this land a unique Śakti   Kṣetra  in the country. 

The perimeter of the Biraja Kṣetra is triangular in form. The apex of the triangular region or the extreme points extends in the western, South-eastern and North-eastern by direction and those corners are guarded by the Siva lingams like Uttarsvar/Vilvesvara, Varuṇesvara and Kilalatesvara respectively. They are regarded as the guardian deities of the Kṣetra. The presiding deity goddess Biraja adored the cicumcentre of this triangular region.
In the medieval period almost all the ancient Tirthas were converted into pīṭhas in the name of some Gods or Goddesses and so became the abode of Goddess Biraja. Therefore Biraja Tīrtha and Biraja Kṣetra became famous as Biraja pīṭha. Pīṭha has a Tantric commotation of a place where an sādhaka achieves his goal through penance, austerities and Tantric rites near the presiding Goddess, from the Dakṣa-yajna-vidhvamsana-prakaraṇa of Kālikā purāṇa, it is known that the places where the limbs of Sati, the consort of Siva fell were called Śākta-pīṭhas, or the holy seats of mother Goddess. According to this tradition the ‘Navel’ of sati fell at Biraja Kṣetra and this place became known as Nabhipīṭha or Nābhigayā in the tantric tradition. So Goddess Biraja is regarded as the pīṭha Devi of this Śakti pīṭha.

The tantric texts contain the names of such pīṭhas with pīṭha Devis. The Biraja pīṭha is mentioned in the ‘pīṭhanirṇaya’ which mentions fifty one pīṭhas along with pīṭha Devis and Bhairavas accompanying them. From the tantric texts it appears that Biraja pīṭha was a great śākta pīṭha and goddess Biraja has been adored as the pīṭha Devi of Odisha with lord Jagannāth as Bhairava, Tantric texts like Hevajra tantra, Kālikā purāṇa, Rudrayāmaḷa Tantra, Aṣṭadasa pīṭha, Kubjikā Tantra, Tantrasāra, Jñānārṇava tantra, Tantra Cudāmaṇi, Uddīyāṇa Tantra, Candīmangaḷa, Brihannila Tantra, praṇatosiṇī tantra etc, mention about Biraja pīṭha too. The Buddhist work named Daṭhadhatuvamsa mentions about Biraja pīṭha also. 
According to puranic tradition Goddess Biraja is described as ‘Pitṛīkanya’ or the mental child of the ancestral mānas, keeping the line of this tradition Vāyu purāṇa and viṣṇu purāṇa state that Biraja is the mental child of Ājyapā pitṛgaṇas i.e.-

“Ājyapā nāma pitarah karddamasya prajāpateh 
Samutpannasya pulahādutpannaṣṭasya vai punah 
Lokeṣwetesuvartante kāmagesu bihangamāh 
Etanvaisyaganāh śrāddhe Bhāvayanti phalārthinah
Etesām Mānasi kanyā Biraja Nāma Visṛtah
Yayateh janani sadhvi patni sā Nahuṣasya tu “


  The whole idol of Goddess Girija Devi is decorated with flower garlands and gold jewelry. We can see only the face of Goddess Birija. The idol is decorated with silver crown full of jewels. Goddess Girija Devi blesses her devotees with her pleasant smiling face and charming looks.

Another significance aspect of this temple : –
 It is a well near the main temple of Girija Devi in which devotees perform ritual rites to their ancestors (Pinda pradhaan). People believe that these Pindas will reach Kasi directly. It seems the depth of the well is somewhere around 4 to 5 feet but it never dried up till now.


Biraja Kṣetra or modern Jajpur is regarded as the synthesized cultural centre of Odisha. Apart from general festivals connected with other religious faiths observed throughout Odisha. Specific festivals are celebrated in the precients of temple in honour of Goddess Biraja throughout the year. The worship of the goddess Biraja in her various manifestations encompass a host of festivals and ceremonies which have contributed to enrich the cultural fabric of the region. Śākta-Tantric rituals are the basic principle behind all the festivals admitting the Brahmanical method of worship. The important festivals celebrated in the Biraja temple are enumerated below.

 

Important Festivals:-

Triveni Amāvāsyā:-
 Triveni Amāvāsyā or the birth day ceremony of goddess Biraja is one of the most important festivals observed in temple. The day comes in the month of Māgha(January-February) on the new – moon day. On account of her birthday she is decorated as Goddess Sāvitri, the consort of Brahama(the creator) with golden ornaments. She is exclusively attired in yellow and worshipped with Gayātri mantra prescribed in the Brahma-Tantra.


Dola Purṇimā: -

Dola Purṇimā is observed on the full-moon day of the month of fālguna (february-march) On this occasion, the representative  deity is taken in a Vimana (chariot) to Dolavedi(pedestal)in the temple premises in the evening after certain rituals. After the required rites of worship (pūjāniti), the Goddess is sprinkled with fagu or the sacred red powder. Then the astrologer of the Temple opens and recites the new almanac for the year. People gather in large numbers to see the chaceri of Dola yatra and listen to the prescriptions of the new almanac read out.

Vāruṇi Festival: - 
Vāruṇi, an auspicious day comes in the month of Caitra(March-April) that attracts pilgrims from all over India for sacred ablution in the Vaitaraṇī Satabhiśā, the 24th  asterism of the constellation is otherwise known as ‘Varuna’. If the thirteenth day of the dark fortnight of caitra is conjoined with Varuṇa, The day becomes sacred for a bath in the holy river. So the day is called “Vāruṇi”. On this occasion Goddess Biraja is bathed with the holy water of the Vaitaraṇī and a special worship is performed. Hindu Vaishnavite pilgrims come from nook and corner of India and abroad to take a holy dip in the river Vaitaraṇī near Daśāśvamedha Ghāta and offer piṇḍas to their ancestors there and Nābhigayā. They have a holy darshan of Goddess Biraja.


Mahāviśuva Samkrānti:-
On the first day of the solar month of Vaiśakha (April-May) Mahāviśuva Samkrānti or paṇa Samkrānti is observed in the Biraja temple. The deity is magnificently dressed, which is called “Bada Simhāra Veśa” and special pūjā is performed. Prapānaka or a special kind of drink is offered and new almanac or pañjikā is once again inaugurated in the temple.


Candana Purṇimā: - 
On the Candan Purṇimā day in the month of may-June, the face of the deity of Goddess Biraja is smeared with sandal paste. So the day is very significant for the pilgrims. The Candana veśa of the Goddess attracts people form far and near to have a Darsan of the great mother Biraja.


Sāvitri Amāvāsyā:-
Sāvitri Amāvāsyā is exclusively celebrated on the new-moon day of the month of Jyestha (May-June). On this occasion there is a great rush in the temple premises specially married women come over here to worship Goddess Biraja for their unbroken conjugal happiness. As Goddess Biraja is regarded as Sāvitri they pray her for long-life of their husbands. They come with new-clothes and after worship break their fast taking different kinds of fruits.

Citālāgi Amāvāsyā :-
Citālāgi Amāvāsyā is a special occasion celebrated in the month of Srāvaṇa (July-August). On this day the citā (a gold ornament for the fore head) is put on the fore head of Goddess Biraja after the due rituals citā (a special and aromatic cake) is offered to the Goddess.

Gahma Purṇimā :-
Gamha Purṇimā is otherwise known as Rākṣi Purṇimā that comes on the full moon day of Srāvaṇa (July-August). On this occasion special pūjā is held of the Goddess and she puts on Gold and silk band named Rākṣi on her left hand.

Suniā:- 
Suniā marks the beginning of the Anka year of the Gajapati kings of puri and it also marks the beginning of the Autumnal Durgāpūjā festival in the Biraja temple. Goddess Biraja has been identified with Mahiṣāmardinī Durgā, So she is worshipped as Durgā at the time of autumnal festival Suniā is observed on the 12th day of the bright fortnight of the month of Bhādrapada (September), on this festive day after the traditional rituals the worship of lord Gaṇeśa and Goddess Saraśvatī is performed and the cutting of Gold (Svaraṇachedani) is held. Mangalārpaṇa (chanting of auspicious songs) work is performed before the Goddess. On this occasion the “Vanayāga” ceremony or Vilwa-Varana (worship of Vilwa tree) is observed for the construction of Simhadhvaja Ratha (chariot) that carries the deity during autumnal festivals. The construction of the said Ratha (chariot) starts form the day of Suniā.

Autumnal Durgā Pūjā:-
Autumnal worship of Goddess Durgā, the Mahiṣāmardinī is the most important festival near Goddess Biraja at Jajpur. This festival continues for a period of sixteen days starting form the 8th day of the dark fortnight of the month of Āsvina (September - October) and ending on the Mahānavami (9th day of the bright fortnight) day with much pomp and ceremony. Vedic and Tantric methods of worship are adopted for the great worship during the days of Mulāṣṭami (8th day of the dark fortnight) Pañcamī, Mahāṣṭamī, Mahānavamī and Daśharā (the 5th, 8th, 9th and 10th days of bright fortnight) the temple is over crowded by the devotees. This festival attracts pilgrims from all over Odisha and abroad.


Rathayātrā:-

Rathayātrā or the car festival of Goddess Biraja is the most important festival of Jajpur. During Durgā pūjā it is celebrated for nine days form the first day of the bright fortnight (Pratipada) of the month of Āśvina (September-October), the wooden chariot of Goddess Biraja is placed in front of the lion’s gate. After the traditional morning rituals the consecration work of the chariot named Simhadhvaja is held on the Pratiṣṭhā Maṇḍapa (an altar for consecration) after the yajna or sacrificial work is over, the representative deity of Goddess Biraja is ushered into the massive decorated chariot parked in front of the lion’s Gate in a special ceremonial procession arranged by the temple administration. The rhythmic clang of metal gongs, blowing of trumpets and devotionals chanting of the devotees fill the air. It is very interesting to know that a car festival for the Goddess is nowhere found in Odisha. We have such instances near Vindhyavāsinī and Sthambhesvarai in Madhya Pradesh and near Goddess Cāmuṇḍesvarī in Mysore, people from far and near come ever to Jajpur during the nine days car festival. The Ratha moves around the temple compound once a day for nine days continually. It is believed that one who perceives the Goddess on the Ratha is liberated form all sorts of sins.


Lākhavindhā:- 

The Lākhavindhā (shooting of arrows) ceremony is held at the midnight of the Mahānavami day. The representative Goddess (Vije-pratimā) of the great mother Biraja descends from the chariot after nine days car festival and sets out towards Lākhavindhā ground (a specific place at the outskirts of the temple premises) in a Vimāna specially made for the purpose in a ceremonial procession. The Goddess is worshipped there as Mahāmārī. A Goddess named Lakṣesvari or Dākesvari near the ground is offered with a delicious and aromatic drink. After Pūjā rituals the pujaka throw arrows to four directions near a high pedestal. After this archery work the representative Goddess is brought back to the temple in a dark and soundless atmosphere. After a long period of nine days the Goddess is placed on the pedestal and the ceremony is declared over.


Kumāra Purṇimā :-

Kumāra Purṇimā festival is observed on the full moon day of Āsvina (September-October). On this festival occasion the deity decorated with golden ornaments like a virgin. Cowry-play (Aksa) is held between the virgin Goddess and the chief priest. Khai or parched paddy is scattered on the entire ground in the temple premises special worship is held for the Goddess and it attracts large number of devotees in the evening.

Dipavali:-
On the eve of Kāli pūjā in the month of November, Dipāvali is celebrated with the lighting of several lamps. Special Tantric rituals are held near the Pārsva Devatā Ekapāda Bhairava and Cāmuṇḍa on the western side of the temple.

Prathamāṣṭami: -
It is a tradition is Odisha that or the day of Prathamāṣṭami in November, the eldest sons and daughters wear new clothes and takes a special and delicious cake with turmeric aroma named ‘Enḍurī’. Similarly Goddess Biraja is dressed with new clothes after due rituals and offered ‘Enḍurī’ (Steam boiled cake with the cover of turmeric leaf and prepared with rice paste, coconut, crystallized sugar or molasses, Ginger, cheese and camphor).


Dhanu Samkrānti: - This is beginning of the month of Pauṣa (December-January) when people enjoy sweetened balls of parched and husked paddy for health. The same tradition is observed near Goddess Biraja with special worship and offering of sweetened balls of parched and hasked paddy.

Vakuḷa Amāvāsyā: -
On the new moon day of Pauṣa (Dec-Jan) Vakuḷa Amāvāsyā is celebrated in the Biraja temple. The goddess is offered with a special kind of cake named ‘Gaiṇṭha’ mixed with milk, sugar and mango inflorescence after the pūjā rites are held.

Apart from these specific festivals many other festivals are held inside the premises of the Biraja temple on certain particular occasions. Gaṇeśa pūjā on the 4th day of the bright fortnight of the month of Bhādrapada is held in a separate temple of lord Gaṇeśa inside the premises, on the day of Mahāviśuva Samkrānti special worship of Hanumān is held in the Hanumān temple. On the day of Mahāsivarātrī Rudrābhiseka and special worship of Lord Siva is held in the Isaneśvara temple. Including daily rites Bagalāmukhī is worshipped on special occasions is a modern temple inside the premises. Moreover Samkrānti, Amāvāsyā, Purṇami etc. are observed as the festive days of Goddess Biraja. On Saturdays and Tuesday’s homa or sacrifice is held with the recital saptasati candī or the devi mahātmya. The celebration of such festivals reveal that the people of Jajpur have kept the śākta tradition alive all along, which is the basic culture of Biraja Kṣetra  along with other cultural aspects.


From the mythology it is revealed that down the earth or bottom portion of the soil,Goddess Biraja remain hidden because She was deprived of menstruation regularity. She was ashamed and insulted. Brahma the creator of the universe had performed five sacrifice and utterance of Mantras. Hearing the chantings of Brahma the raja trouble of Mother was removed and She was suo motto appeared there and Goddess Durga was named as Biraja.

In fact, situated on the banks of river Baitrani , Jajpur held a key place in the history of the nation as is evident from quite in a number of ancient Indian texts like Puranas and even the Mahabharat. The Mahabharat, for example depicts the famous legend of the Pandavas being instructed by Sage Lomash to go to the Baitrani River encompassed by the Biraja Tirtha and to take a holy dip in the river to washout all sorrows, sufferings and pain in the Vana Parva. The below mentioned couplet highlights the same:

“Tato Baitranim gachhet Sarvapapa Pramochanim Birajatirtha masadya virajate Yatha Sasi” (Mahabharat – Vana parva)

Similar references in Vayu Purana , Kapila Samhita and other religious epics confirm the antiquity & importance of the place. Its place in the history and as a prominent place of religious pilgrimage of India has been vindicated times and again as the place had been visited and mentioned by many saints including Adi Sankrachrya, Guru Nanak and Sri Chaitanya. Historically Jajpur dates back as the most ancient place in Orissa. There are five Kshetras (places where different deities of Vaishnavite importance rest) in Orissa. These are

Vinayakkshetra: Associated with Lord Ganesha is in Mahabinayak
Arkakshetra: Associated with Sun God, is in Konark
Padmakshetra: Different temples in Bhubaneswar
Sankhakshetra: Also known as Jagannathkhetra is in Puri
Virajakshetra: Also known as Gadakshetra is today’s Jajpur.
All these Kshetras emphasize the importance that the Vaishnavite Cult had on Orissa in the ancient days. Of all the Kshetras, Birajakshetra or Jajpur was considered the most sacred in the ancient times till 11 the Century AD when the Jagannath Cult started and slowly gained in prominence over the general masses of the state. In fact it was the cultural hub of Orissa and had hosted all sorts of religious movement in the state starting from Vaishnavite to Buddhism and Shaivaite to today’s Shakti.

Biraja Temple of Jajpur:-

Biraja Temple entranceThe temple of Maa Biraja is situated on the outskirts of the townships of Jajpur. Although the image of the Mother is believed to be of around 5th century AD., the present day temple is a later addition. Some historians opine that Maa Biraja was worshipped in a flat roofed square temple for a long time before the present day structure actually replaced the older edifice. Similarly there is no unanimity among historians over the original constructor of the temple. While many believe it to have been built by the Founder of Jajpur, the great king “Jajati Keshari”, others opine it to have been built by Zamindar Choudhury Sudarshan Mohaptra of Jajpur. The architectural design of the temple again reflects features from all the main ruling dynasties of Orissa – the Bhaumkaras (9th -10th century AD), the Somvamsis (10th-11th century AD) and the Gangas (11th – 12th century AD).



The temple of Maa Biraja confirms to the distinctive Kalingan School of architecture and consists of rekha Vimana and Pidha Jagmohana. It is about 21.15 meters tall.The Vimana stands on a stone base.the Vimana is coated with lime mortar.It consists of Bada or perpendicular wall, gandi or Curvilinear Spire and the Mastaka or the Crown. The Bada clearly shows the divisions those are so prominent of the Kalingan srchitecture; the pabhaga,lower jangha,bandhana,Upper jangha and the Baranda. The gandi is divided into five projections. The mastak or the crown of the temple has all the usual components – the Beki, the amalaka, the Khpuri,the Kalasha & the Ayudha.



The Jagmohna is built in the “Pidha” order. The Pidhas are arranged in continuous succession and topped by mastaka. The jagmohan is supported by Six pillars in the interior that support its tremendous weight. The exterior wall of the temple is bereft of any decoration.
The Simhadwara or the entrance gates of the temple are guarded by twin statues of a lion standing over the elephant. According to some historians, this has been deliberately done to depict the greatness of the Kesari dynasty ( whose state and dynastic emblem was Lion) over the Gajpati dynasty (whose state and dynastic emblem was Elephant). This fact is also taken into account to accentuate the fact that the temple had been constructed by King Jajati keshari of the Keshari dynasty.

Modern Paintings:-

Just at the entrance, inside the Simhadwara beautiful paintings that depict Puranic Storoies of Ramyana and Mahabharat have been done. These are recent additions to the temple.

Rudra Mela:-

The temple complex possess a series of over a hundred Siva Lingas. These are called Rudra Mela. These Rudra Melas have been restored under two flat roof complex close to the northern entrance of the temple.

Compound WallBiraja compond wall:-

The compound wall surrounding the present temple was built by Bhikari das, a saint who started the construction work in 1880 and completed it in the year 1895 by begging alms.
Parsavdevtas:-


Confirming to the prevalent architectural style, the Vimana of the temple consists of different parsvdevtas . Two Ganesha images lie in the southern niche. A two armed kartikeya image seated on a peacock holding sakti in one hand and Vijapurka in the other is placed as the northern Parsvadevata. Two Ekapada Bhairavas and Chamunda are present in the western part of the temple.

Ekpada Bhairava:-

The three feet Bhairava image stands on a prostrate human corpse. The hands are broken and the image is assigned to the 10th-11th century AD.

Chamunda:-

There is 2ft2inches image of a four armed Chamunda, wearing a garland of skulls and seated in Lalitasana in the temple. While two of her arms are broken, she holds karti and a trident on the other. A wolf to her right and a crocodile to her left decorate the pedestal under the corpse.

Chandimandapa:-

The Chandimandapa is situated on the front of the jagmohan. It has three entrances, one on to east while the other two are tp the north and south respectively. A small Shiva linga named Rudhiresvara is located on the north east corner. In the center of the Chandimandap, a five feet tall lion pillar is erected. An image of Hara-parvati and Vishnu are attached in the interior of the eastern wall. One inscribed hero stone and six armed Mahissurmardini images are restored on the left front part of the Jagmohan.

Nabhigaya:-

Biraja TempleThe Nabhigaya is a well just to the left of the Chandimandap. Mythological anecdotes provide that the nabhi(navel) of Maa Sati (Consort of lord Shiva fell at this place after being dismantled by the disc of Lord Vishnu. Another anecdote relates to Gaaysura, the great demon devotee of Lord Vishnu who offered his body for the performance of a great Yagna by the Lords Shiva, Brahma and Vishnu. The nabhi (navel) of Gayasur is said to have rested on this place.Agin since the avel is supposed to have been stabilized by the Lord Vishnu himself by putting on his gada (mace) over it. The place Jajpur is thus also known as Gadakshetra. The presence of Nabhigaya in Jajpur makes it a place for Pitrupinda – a place where ancestors are offered oblations. It is a belief among the Hindus that one who offers pinda (offerings to departed ancestors) here, gets his twnty one generation of ancestors liberated ; attain Moksha.

Ardhanariswara:-

An image of the Ardhanariswara lies to the outer eatern wall of the Chandimandap.

Lakulisa:-

The outside northern wall of the Chandimandap, has the image of a seated Lakulisa image. The crossed leg image holding lakuta between two hands is decorated with an image of Gajalaxmi and Navgraha unto its top.

Muktimandap:-

The Muktimandap lies in close proximity to the Simhadwara.

Dolamandap:-

Strategically important because of the Biraja calendar that is prepared annually at this place, Dolamandap is also the spot where the festival of Dolapurnima is performed every year. This is located unto the northern side of the Biraja temple.

Lord Yamadharma Raja Temple – Vaitharini River:-

           At a small distance from Goddess Girija Devi temple, Vaitharani River flows. But now the river is full of polluted water. ‘Dashashwametha Ghat is the most important ghat among all the ghats here. The temple of Lord Yamadharma raj is located here. People believe that one who dips in the holy river Vaitharini and worships Lord Yama would easily cross the River Vaitharini after death. It also said that the water of river Vaitharini has a magical power to treat diseases and can remove all the sins of devotees.

Some other Prominent Temples near Jajpur Shakti Peetha:-

           Another prominent temple in Jajpur is Sri Shwetha Varahaswami temple. When the Earth was going to be destroyed by a great deluge, Lord Sri Maha Vishnu incarnated as Lord Varahaswami and rescued the earth. Some more important temples of Jajpur are – Lord Jagannatha temple, Satyavrata Temple, Lord Sri Rama Mandir, Lord Sri Siddeshwara Temple, Lord Sri Beleshwara Temple, Varuneshwara temple, and the Sapthamathrukla temples.

Body part :- Devi's navel has fallen here.


Nabhi Gaya:-
It is heard from Puranas that Gaya is having mouth of Gayasura & the navel is in Jajpur inside Biraja Temple. Whereas padagaya is in Pithapuram of Andhra Pradesh. God Brahma did 10 Ashwamedha yagna here on the bank of Baitarani Or Vaitarani. It is called as Dakshina(south) Vedi of Brahma.Others being Gaya(east); Kurukshetra, (north); Pushkar, (west) & Prayag Allahbad, (centre) according to Vamana Purana. Many pilgrims gather here for Shraaddha during Mahalaya. A Holy dip commenses in Vaitarani river on the day of Chaitra krishna chaturdasi called as Varuni Snan Yoga. It becomes auspicious if the day is saturday and the star is Shatabhisha.

How to reach Jajpur:-

Jajpur is a district capital and a major city in Orissa. There are many direct buses starting from various places in Orissa. If we want to reach through Railway route, we have to stop at Keonjhar Road Railway station and from there travel in Bus or Taxi to Jajpur bus stand. It’s a journey of 30 mins or more. There is big Lord Shiva’s temple on the main road only. From there it’s better if one can take a reserved auto for visiting all these temples. It will take around Rs. 120/- for an hour or so. The atmosphere around the temple is very calm and tranquil and is far away from din and bustle of the city.

Nearest Bus Stand:-
Jajpur Bus stand.

Nearest Railway Station:-
Keonjhar Road Railway station.

Nearest Airports:-
Bhubaneswar





Thursday, 24 October 2013

Mahurye Ekaveerika Devi - Nanded


Mahurye Ekaveerika Devi  :-



 
As per Sri Adi Shankarachrya's shaktipeethas shlok the 8th Shakti peethas is 'Mahurye Ekaveerika'

Ekaveerika devi temple is in Mahur , Maharashtra. The deity here is called Ekaveerika mata. The temple is in Yavatmal district in Maharashtra. It is 50 km from Kinwat and 126 km from Nanded. Nagpur is 210 km by road from Mahur. Sati's Right shoulder has fallen here.

Mahur is famous for Renuka Devi temple and very few people are knowing about Ekaveerika devi temple and mostly they call Renuka devi temple as shakti peeth. It is said that Ekaveerika Devi is the elder sister of Renukadevi. Renuka devi temple is 800 years old.

one of the 18Shaktipeethas, it known as " Mahurye Ekaveerika" Ekaveera Mayura; or Ekaveera Mata, or Goddess Ekaveera Mata temple at Mahur, Nanded dist. Also called Mayura Kshetram or Matru Patanam.This temple 19/,23kms, from Mahur village, on the bank of Pen ganga (Pancha ganga river), in the fields. The temple has the' head' of the deity goddess .Near by hill and surroundings have numerous temples, viz. Renuka mata temple; parasurama temple;Dattreya Swami temple; Anasuya mata temple; Atri Maharishi Temple; Matru thirtha; Devdeveshwar mandir;Mahur Fort This place is also called Heure 2 19kms from Mahur. By and large this temple is more known as Ekaveera, locally, as i learnt from a bank manager of Nanded. Not as known as Ekavenika devi, localy, and mostly frquented by people from Andhra than mahara- stra.


 


About 
Ekavenika devi  Temple:-



 Mahur is famous for Renuka Devi temple and very few people are knowing about Ekaveerika devi temple and mostly they call Renuka devi temple as shakti peeth. We find more rush at Renuka devi temple than Ekaveerika mata temple. It is said that Ekaveerika Devi is the elder sister of Renukadevi. Renuka devi temple is 800 years old.

Prasad being grinded Here pan patta and supari are grinded as paste and offered as prasad. There are many important temples and sightseeing places on the top of hill, and in the deep forest.

Ekaveera mata temple :-


 It is present on the bank of Pen Ganga river (Pancha Ganga river). It is about 30 to 40 minutes distance from Mahur. The temple is present in the fields of near by Village. The temple is very small. We will see only the head of Goddess here.

Goddess Renuka is associated with the Goddess Yellamma worship in Karnataka and parts of Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu. Goddess Renuka is believed to be an incarnation of Goddess Durga and is popular in rural culture as the Mother Goddess and is worshipped as Amma, Yellamma, Duggavva, Dyaamavva and Marikamba. Her name and attributes changes from region to region.

Legend has it that Renuka was the wife of Sage Jamadagni and he suspected her of infidelity and ordered Parashurama to behead her. Lord Parashurama obeyed his father and when Sage Jamadagni wanted to reward his son, Lord Parashurama asked him to bring back his mother. Thus Renuka, the mother of Lord Parashurama, was brought back to life.


This story found numerous interpretations in rural culture and Renuka is believed to be an incarnation of Goddess Durga and in this incarnation she represented the fate of many rural women who were falsely accused of infidelity or other crimes.


Goddess Renuka performs the role of Mother Goddess and is responsible for the welfare of her devotees, for curing diseases and protecting the cattle. A large number of Goddesses worshipped in rural culture are forms of Goddess Durga. She is given different rural names and characteristics but her role remains the same that of the Mother Goddess


Story of Ekaveerika Devi:-

Renuka was the daughter of the king Renu of Kubaj country and the wife of the sage Jamadagni. When the king Sahastrarjuna paid a visit to Jamadagni in his abode, he was taken by surprise by the hospitality of the sage. When asked about the same, the sage told him that it is all because of the Kamadhenu, i.e., cow that fulfils the desires of the owner given to him by Indra, the king of the Gods.


                                                                                                           



Thinking that if the Kamadhenu was in his possession he would be able to maintain his vast army easily, the king Sahastrarjuna tried to seize the Kamadhenu from the sage by farce when his request to hand over the Kamadhenu to him was turned down by the sage. In the scuffle that ensued the sage died and his wife Renuka was injured due to 21 wounds she had received at the hands of the king. At this juncture many soldiers appeared on the scene from the body of the Kamadhenu by divine magic and farced the king to retreat.


On coming to know of the above incident Parasuram, the son of Jamadagni who rushed there vowed to defeat and punish the king 21 times. His mother asked him to cremate his father. He carried his father and mother to Mahur and cremated his father there. His mother became a sati.






The religious rites were conducted on this occasion by the God Sri Dattatreya himself. However, after everything was over Parasuram was stricken by grief and at this time a voice from the heavens told him that his mother would came out from the earth but he should not look behind. Being eager to see his mother, Parasuram just saw behind far a fraction of a second to find the mother's face aver the earth. The upper facet is the present upper facet of the Renukadevi.


Renukadevi is adorned with various gold ornaments such as the golden flowers to be used as earrings, gold garlands (putal mal candrahar, jaymal, etc.), nose-ring (nath), etc.


Other places:-
 Parasurama temple:-
 Lord Parasurama (incarnation of Lord Vishnu) temple is also present on the same hill. There is a holy pond here, called Parasurama kund.

Dattatreya Swami temple :-

 Jagadguru Dattareya swami temple is present on another hill.


Anasuya mata temple :-

 Anasuya mata is the mother of Dattatreya swami. Her temple is present on the third hill.


Atri Maharshi temple :-

 Atri maharshi is the father of Dattatreya swamy. This temple is also present beside Anasuya mata temple.

Matru tirtha :-

 Matru tirha is a very holy pond described in Guru Charitra. Lord Parsurama did ceremony of his father, Jamadagni, in this place. People will take a holy dip in this pond and get rid off their sins.

Devdeveshwar mandir :-

 This is the sleeping place of Dattatreya swami. Daily Guru Dattatreya swami will take bath at Varanasi in Ganga river, Bhiksha (Lunch) in Kolhapur and sleep in Mahur. This temple is present in Mahur town.
Chinta mani Ganesh temple:-
 20 km from Yavatmal at Kalam ,Chinta mani Ganesh temple is there. It is one of the eight Ganesh temples in Vidarbha and it is the only temple where deity faces south.

The temple is 20 feet below the ground level and it is said that every 12 years the temple is submersed in water comes out of the well.

Route:-

 
By Air :- Nearest Airport is Nagpur, 200 kms

By Road :- Mumbai - Ahmednagar - Paithan - Jalan - Washim - Pusad - Mahur, 717 kms. Mahurgad - Kinwat, 50 kms.


By Rail :-
The nearest railway station is Kinwat which is 50 KM away, but Nanded which is 126 KM. is the more convenient railway station on South Central railway.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Kolhapur Mahalakshmi - Eyes of Godess Sati Devi

Kolhapur Mahalakshmi:-

The puranas, have listed 108 sites where Shakti (the goddess of power) is manifested. Amongst these, the Karveer area (the area where the present town of Kolhapur is located), is of special significance. This is one of the six abodes of Shakti, where one can achieve both fulfillment of desires as well as salvation from them. It is therefore considered to be of greater significance than Uttar Kashi. Shri Mahalakshmi is the consort of Shri Vishnu and it is said that they both reside in the Karveer area.


Sri Mahalakshmi Temple is one of the 51 Shakthi Sthalam/Shakthi Peedam located on the river banks of Pancha Ganga which is positioned on the Sahyadri Mountain Range in Kolhapur District, Maharashtra.  This is one of the oldest temples of Shakthi built during the 12th century by the Kings of Chalukya Dynasty.  This temple is famous for its exquisite architectural and sculptural work.  There are four entrances to this temple known as Maha Dwar/Paschim Dwar, Uttar Dwar, Purva Dwar and Dakshin Dwar respectively.  This temple also enshrines Lord Athibaleshwar /Lord Shiva, Lord Vishnu, Lord Ganesha, Lord Vittal, and Lord Dattathreya.  It is considered that dharshan of Lord Balaji of Tirumala is incomplete without visiting the temple of Goddess Sri Mahalakshami/Ambabai in Kolhapur.


Sthala Purana:-
 Once upon a time this city, Padmavathi pura, was ruled by a demon Kolha. when he went for penance, another demon named Sukesi occupied this city. After completion of penance Kolha got boons from Lord Brahma and returned to his capital, and observed that was captured by another one. He immediately kílled Sukesi and got his kingdom. He put his son Karaveera as incharge of this city. But in a war he was kílled by Lord Shiva, but at that time he got a boon from Lord Shiva, that this city will be called as Karaveera pura. Kolha became angry with this action and want to take revenge against devatas. He did penance for Mahalakshmi and got permission that she should not enter in to city for 100 years. She accepted for that, after that Kolha created many difficulties to Devatas and occupied their Swarga also. When Devatas praised Mahalakshmi, she told them to wait for completion of 100 years. After 100 years bond was over, she came to Karaveera pura and defeated Kolha in that war. He realized his mistake and praised her and got three boons from her. First one this city name will come from his name Kolha as Kolhapur, second she should live in this place permanently and third one this place should become as Siddha kshetra. In this way Kolhapur became an important Shaktipetham.




About Idol:-

The image of the Goddess has an extremely pleasant appearance. It is carved in black stone, is  about three feet in height and has four arms and crowned Goddess made of gemstone and weighs about 40 kilograms.  It contains mater mixed with Hirak bits.. The typical ayudhas of the devi are as follows. In the lower right hand is the matulinga, a fruit not unlike the ordinary lemon, but much larger in size. In the upper right hand is a large mace, kaumodaks, and its head touching the ground. The upper left hand holds the shield or khetaka, the lower one holding a bowl i.e. panpatra.  There is a natural “Padma-Ragini” (Lotus).  On the ’crown of the devi are a cobra-hood and a Shiva-ling with a yoni around it. Standing behind the devi is her vahana-a lion. The iconographical descriptions of the Goddess, going back to the thirteenth century or even earlier according to some authorities, resemble most of the lakshanas of the present image. The earliest mention comes from the Vishvakarmashastra as quoted by Hemadri in his Chaturvargachintamani. It refers specifically to the Karvirvasini Mahalakshmi.


Mahalakshmi left Vaikuntha and arrived at Kolhapur on hearing that Lord Venkatesh (Vishnu) her beloved husband failed to take action against sage Bhrigu for his horrific behaviour towards him. An angry Mahalakshmi is said to have observed strict penance in Kolhapur for several years until upon hearing the news of her husband being married to Tirumala Padmavati, another avatar of Mahalaskhmi. The greatness of this region has therefore attracted many sages and devotees, the blessings and affections showered by this region on its devotees are immeasurable. It is believed that Prabhu Shri Dattatreya still comes here every noon to seek alms.

The statue of the Goddess Mahalakshmi is made of gemstone and is considered to be at least 5000 to 6000 years old. It weighs about 40 kilos. The precious stones that adorn the deity indicate the antiquity of the idol. The platform of the Goddess Mahalakshmi is made of stone. The statue of the Goddess has four arms. In the lower right hand she holds the matulinga, (a fruit similar to and ordinary lemon but much larger in size). In the upper right hand she holds large mace, kaumodaks, its head touching the ground. In the upper left hand she holds the shield or khetaka, and while in the lower one she holds a bowl, panpatra.




On the crown of the Goddess Mahalakshmi are a cobra-hood and a Shiva-ling with a Yoni around it. Standing behind is the Goddess' vahana-a lion. Almost all the idols of the God face the north or the east directions, whereas here the Idol faces the west. The small window on the western wall which is open. Once a year, the rays of the Sun during sunset falls on the face of the image through this window. This period lasts for three days, each time, the 21st, of the months of March and September. This period is considered extremely auspicious, the Devotees throng the temple on all the three evenings the temple for a glimpse of the beautiful image bathing in the golden rays of the setting sun.

Above the Mahalakshmi sanctum is a shrine with a Shivalingam and a nandi. The devakoshtas house Venkatesha, Katyayani and Gowri Shankar - facing the north, east and the south. There are a number of subsidiary shrines in the courtyard to the Navagrahas, Surya, Mahishasuramardini, Vitthal-Rakhmai, Shiva, Vishnu, Tulja Bhavani and others. Some of these images date back to the 11th century, while some are of recent origin. Also located in the courtyard is the temple tank Manikarnika Kund, on whose bank is a shrine to Visweshwar Mahadev.

Architecture of Mahalaxmi Temple:-

The four Shakti Peethas of Maharashtra are Tuljapur enshrining Bhavani, Kolhapur enshrining Mahalakshmi, Mahur enshrining Mahamaya Renukaand Saptshringi enshrining Jagadamba. Other Shakti temples in the state are those at Ambe Jogai and Aundh.


Kolhapur is located in Kolhapur district and is well connected with Pune, 240 km north. It is on the national highway between Bangalore and Pune. It is situated on the banks of the Panchganga river and is full of ancient temples and shrines.

The temple is a marvelous example of architectural style known as ‘Hemandpanthi’ in ancient India. The walls of the temple complex are adorned with exquisite carvings and many sculptures. The temple complex consists of five towers and a main hall. The idol of Mahalaxmi is very unique, weighing 40 kg, made as a monolithic stone structure embedded with precious stones and diamonds. The precious stones that adorn the deity indicate the antiquity of the idol.


History: Although several parts of the temple are of the second half of the second millennium CE, epigraphic references place the deity in the 7th century CE, and the temple in the 10th century CE. For a period in the interim, this temple had fallen out of worship and the image of the Goddess was housed elsewhere. Worship was restored in the year 1715 after the Marathas rose to power.The city is referred to in many Puranas, 500 years back. Research guesses that it was in existence in the times of Parashuram. The time is.considered parallel to that of Mata peeth (Mahurgad), Sapta Shringi (Nasik) and Bhavani Peetha, in the Ramayana times. Karveer washes off great sins. There are many ancient, rich temples, holy places and gardens.

There is evidence to show that the Konkan king Kamadeo, Chalukya, Shilahar, Yadav dynasties visited this city. Adya Shankaracharya also visited. Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj & Sambhaji reigned.

The idol of Mahalaxmi is made of jewel - stone, approximately weighing 40 kgs. The size is like Salunki. Sand & diamond are found in it. It stands on a stony stage with a lion behind it. In the middle there is natural lotus. It is four-handed, having Vetak, shield, Mhalung & Water-Pot. There is crown on the head and a snake holds shade.

In 109 A. D. Karnadeo cut off the jungle and brought the temple to light. The existence goes back to 8 th century, according to Dr. Bhandarkar & Mr. Khare.

In the 8 th century, the temple sank down due to earth­quake. In the 9 th century Gandavadix (King) extended the temple by building Mahakali Mandir. During 1178 -1209, in the reigo of

Raja Jaysing & Sindhava, South gate & Atibaleshwar Temple were built. In 1218 Yadav king Tolum built Mahadwar, and offered jewels to Devi. Further, Shilahar built Maha Sarasvati Mandir. He being a gain, got 64 idols carved. It is possible that new idol called Padmavati was installed at that time. Further, in Chalukya times, Ganapati before the temple was installed. It seems that the original temple was of the Hindus. In the 13 th century, Shankaracharya built Nagar Khana & Office, Deepmalas.

During 1712 - 1760 (Sambhaje Reign) Narhar Bhat Shastree had a dream which he told to Sambhajee. In the Mogal reign, the worshippers had hidden the idol for protection. Believing Sangavakar's dream, Sambhajee started a search. This idol was found in a house in Kapil Teerth Market. According to Sambhaji's letter dated 8 Nov. 1723, Sindhoji Hindurao Ghorpade of Panhala installed the idol again on 26 Sept. 1712 (Monday, Ashwin Vijiya Dashami)

The number of devotees grew, and in due course of time, the Devi became the Deity of Maharashtra. The idol began to denude due to Abhishekas. So Sankeshwar Shankaracharya got it repaired. After Vajralep & sacrifices, it was again installed at the hands of Kolhapur Shahajee Raje in 1954.

In 1960, there was transformation under the supervision of Mr. Lohiya. As a result, the premises seemed extensive. There are 5 main temples and 7 Deepamalas now. Around are 35 small - big temples and 20 shops. There are 5 Hemad-style tops. Adjoining is Garud Mandap, built by Mr. Harshe. There are 3000 temples in all in Kolhapur.

Temple inside:-

 Upper Temple:-


Over the sanctum sanctorum rises a superstructure. It has an “upper temple” that houses an icon of Ganapati with a decorated stone frame behind the idol sporting a Kirtimukh in the centre. In front of the Ganapati Idol is a rectangular Shivalinga better known as Matulinga (Shivalinga atop the Goddess idol) and outside this chamber lies a bull, vehicle of Lord Shiva. A staircase to the left of Goddess Mahalakshmi’s shrine leads to this storey of the temple.
It is said that the Matulinga was installed during the Yadava Period in 12th century as the devotees are not able to see the Shivalinga that is carved on the crown of Goddess Mahalakshmi since it remains covered. With the installation of Matuling devotees could worship it as the supreme from of genesis.





 
Two Additional Shrines:-

King Gandaraditya, also of the Shilahara Dynasty, embellished and completed the construction of Kolhapur temple of Goddess Mahalakshmi in 11th century A.D. He built the path on which the circumambulation is done around Goddess Mahalakshmi. He also added two sancta Sanctorum where Goddess Mahakali and Mahasaraswati were consecrated. On the left side of the main shrine is the temple of Mahasaraswati and on the right is the Mahakali temple. This temple houses the Shree Yantra (geometrical depiction of the Goddess) and in one niche in the wall lies and idol of Ganapati.

 First Archway Or The Main Shrine's Doorway:-

A few feet from this archway in the sanctum lies another arch-like gateway made up of black stone which is considered to be the manifestation of Shiva and Shakti. The weight of the entire temple rests on this frame work. Lalat Bindu, which is the centre point of the frame has Ganesh idol installed on it. This part is usually called the Ganesh pattika, plinth moulding of rectangular cross section having Ganesh depiction. Three consecutive frames are found along with this plinth moulding. The door jambs have sculpted designs on them.

 Darshan And Kurma Mandapam:-

The first mandap or hall called rangamandap that starts from the place where first archway is built is octagonal in shape. This part of the temple is divided into two. The part immediately after the first archway was traditionally called Darshan Mandap as from there the idol of the Goddess can be viewed at the closest (Darshan = view, mandap=hall). The ceiling of this hall is made up of octagonal layers.
Then comes another hall called Kurma mandap. It is called so as it has a Kurma (tortoise) installed in the centre. This Mandap is now called Shankha Tirtha Mandap because the holy water called Tirtha is sprinkled on the devotees from the Shankha (conch) in this hall. The ceiling of this hall is intricately carved. Both the halls have several pillars with sculpted patterns. For this, black Kaddapah stone, Basalt, Karnataka stones were used.



 Second Archway:-

These halls have a stone archway almost similar to the earlier one that leads to the Ganapati chowk. However this archway has decorative grilled screen walls on both the sides. Next to these screens are two idols of Dwarpals (the doorkeepers), called Jay and Vijay on either side. The legend states that Jay-Vijay built the temple of Mahalakshmi in one night. To justify this, images of spade and hoe are found close to the doorkeepers

 Ganpati Chowk:-

This hall is third from the sanctum sanctorum. It has a Ganapati Shrine in the centre. To the either side of the shrine are statues of Sage Agasti and his wife Lopamudra. On the outer side of the northern wall of this hall is a beautiful sculpture of Uma Maheshwar (Loard Shiva with Goddess Paravati) and statue of Lord Venkatesh as well as an idol of Goddess Katyayani in a niche in East. Kurma Mandap and Ganapti Chowk were built by King Singhan of the Yadava Dynasty.
The part of the temple from the sanctum sanctorum of Goddess Mahalakshmi up to Ganapati chowk is made up of black stone. There is a sharp contrast in the construction of the temple till the Ganapati chowk and the part thereafter which was constructed in wood during the Maratha reign.

 Garud Mandapam:-



The outermost hall which is called Garud Mandap was added during the administration of Daji Pandit between 1838 and 184318. Daji Krishna Pandit was placed at the head of the regency of Kolhapur by Mr. Townsend, the Political Agent Southern Maratha Country during the British rule in India and Shortly after he was made sole minister of the State after the death of Shahaji Chhatrapati also called Baba Saheb Maharaja.

 Outer Side Of The Main Temple:-

The outside of the three sancta is embellished with exquisite carvings. Besides the geometrical and floral patterns there are niches all along the wall. Each niche has beautiful sculptures of Surasundaris (musician ladies) and dancing Apsaras19 popularly called Chaushastha (for64) Yoginis20.
Spires And Demos.

The five spires and demos of this temple are said to have been added by Shankaracharya of Sankeshvar (1879-1967). An aerial view shows that they form a cross. There is one dome in the center and four other that lie in four cardinal directions of North, South, East and West. Under the tallest dome on the east lies the sanctum of Goddess Mahalakshmi. Below the one in the center is the hall called Kurma Mandap and under the one on the west side is a small Ganapati temple and a hall called Ganapati Chowk. On the north and south are two domes having below them respectively Goddess Mahakali and Mahasaraswati’s sancta.


As all the five domes are built relatively recent times the structure of the domes is a modern one which has triangular step like shape. They are currently cream coloured with orange and yellow spires.
These domes and spires can be accessed from the superstructure of the upper temple.


Boundary Wall, Entrances And the Complex:-

The main temple is surrounded by an almost pentagonal shaped stone wall which serves as the boundary of the complex. The open space between the wall and the main building is paved with stone slabs. The boundary wall has four entrances on four sides. The Mahadwar, the main entrance is on the west side of the complex. From this entrance the idol of the Goddess is easily visible. Adjoining the Mahadwar is the Nagarkhana at an elevation. It is a wooden structure having the musical instruments of Soanai23 Chowgada24 that are played during Aarti25 time and other major occasions. It is said that these two structures along with the Kacheri (Office) were built by Shankaracharya of Shringeri who also gave donation so that the musical instruments would be played everyday. Above the drum-chamber is the holy kitchen where meals of the Goddess were prepared. The current kitchen is at the ground level next to the Nagarkhana.

The entrance on the eastern side called Purva Darwaja (Purva=East, Darwaja=Door) has an inscription dating back to the Maratha period of 18th century stating that it was renovated by Army chiefs, Trimbak Dabhade26, Yashwantrao Dabhade as well as Bhairavjirao Gaikwad and Bhagwanrao Gaikwad.

Navagraha Temple (Temple Of Nine Planets):-

On entering in the temple complex from the Ghati Darwaja is the Navagraha temple on the left side. In 1941, Shirmant Jahagirdar Babasaheb Ghatge got the idols of nine planets installed in this temple. On a raised stone platform there are statues of nine planets including the Sun God in his chariot, Shivalingas and Ashtabhuja Mahishasurmardini. A small open hall like structure in front of the Navagraha temple dates back to the Yadava Period. Made of black stone it has sculptures of nine planets, Lord Vishnu reclining on the mystic serpent Shesha and Ashta Dikpal (guardians of eight directions.)




Along the southern gate called Vidyapeeth Darwaja are shrines of various gods and goddesses namely Radhakrishna, Kalbhairav, Siddhivinayak, Sinhavahini, Tuljabhavani, Lakshmi-Narayana, Annapurna, Indrasabha, Rameshwar, Narayanswami Maharaj. In the temple complex besides the main temple there are a number of other aforementioned small temples of which Navagraha and Sheshashahi temples are of special interest due to their intricate art sculptures.
A canon is located near the northern entrance which is fired on specific days. The litter of the Goddess receives one canon ball salute. This tradition was started by Queen Tarabai, daughter-in-law of the Maratha Regent Chattrapati Shivaji.
There were two ponds of holy water called Kasi and Manikarnika. The images and Veergal (the hero stones) that lined up these ponds have been removed and some of them have been placed in the Town Hall Museum. A garden has been developed in the place of Manikarnika pond.




Sheshashahi Temple (Vishnu Temple):-

On the side of the eastern entrance lies an intricately carved Sheshashahi temple, octagonal in shape. Inside the dome of this temple are two tiers of exquisite art. The topmost tier has 6 Petals of a flower and the lower tier has 16 petals of flowers sculpted on it. At the edge of the dome touching the main walls of the temple are 60 statues of Jain Tirthankaras. It is believed that this temples is of a Jain Tirthankara called Neminath. However the sanctum has an idol of Lord Vishnu reclining on the mystic serpent Shesha.
To the north lies the Ghati Darwaja sporting a huge bell installed by Rajarshi Shahu Maharaj (1874 to 1922). On the bell is mentioned “J.W. BENSON LIM.CLOCK MAKERS, LUDGATEHILL, LONDON E.C. 1902”. The gong of the bell is heard at specific times in the day. The earlier bell is now kept in the Town Hall Museum of Kolhapur. Inscribed on this bell there is a sentence in Portuguese: AVE MARIA GRATIA DOMINUS TECUM IHS (Hail Mary full of grace! The Lord is with thee). It is believed that this bell was brought to Kolhapur by Chhatrapati Sambhaji after the battle in Goa in 1683. The inner side of this gate has a lovely sculpture of Kirtimukh. Along the northern door are the temples of Navagraha, Viththal and Rakhumai.


Temple Timings: -
The temple is open from 4 am to 11pm.


Aarati & puja Timings:-
The 'Aarati' ritual is most important. Daily at 4-30 a.m. when the Mandir is opened, Aarati is performed after the worship of the idol's feet This is called 'Kakadarati.' Devotional songs in 'Bhup-Rag' are recited at that time.

At 8-30 a.m. Mahapooja occurs followed by 'Mangalarati.' At 11-30 a.m., worship with fragrant flowers & Kumkum is done for the devotees camphor is burnt and 'Naivedya' (Rich dishes) is offered. If there is no Mahapooja from devotees, milk instead of Panchamrit (milk, curds, sugar, ghee & honey) is spill on, the feet and then Aarati. This process continues till about 2 p. m. Then there is 'Pooja' with ornaments. In the interior of the Mandir, Vedic hymns are chanted. After 7-30 p.m., after ringing of bells, 'Aarati' is done. This is called 'Bhog -Arati.'

Every Friday, 'Naivedya' is offered to the Devi at night. After Aarati, ornarnents are taken off and returned to the treasury.
    Shejarati' is done at 10 p.m., when milk with sugar is offered. Aarati is done in the bedroom and 'Nidra Vida' song is sung. Then the daily routine is closed along with main & sub gate. Thus Aarati is done 5 times daily. Mahakali, Matuling, Shree yantra, Maha Ganapati 5 Maha Saraswati are also offered Aarati &. Naidedya. Every Tuesday fk Friday, Aarati seats increase. Arati-visit is given to all srnall & big 87 temples. There are different groups of devotees attending one or more Aaratis.

Their ratio is approximately 183 daily, every Aarati. Akarati, Pancharati, Kapurarti are different Aaratis used of which 2 are silver and the last is brass. Besides these Aratis in the Mandir an extra one is done at the festivals like Tryarnbuli Fair, Rathosava, Ashtami Jagar, Eclipse, Gokul Ashtami, Kiranotsava etc. There is a tradition to do special Aarati when Shree Shankaracharya and Shreeman Chhatrapati pay a visit to the temple. In the month of Kartik from Deepavali to Purnirna festival is celebrated. It is worth seeing as thousands of ladies and gentlemen attend it.

Navratri mahostavam:- 



Navratra (nine nights) festival is celebrated for ten days during the Hindu months of Ashwin (around October). The daily routine of the temple is modified during this period. At 8.30 a.m. and 11.30 a.m. Abhishek is performed followed by Mahanaivedya and Aarti. Later at 2.00 p.m. the deity is decorated with all the ornaments. On all ten days at 9.30 p.m. the litter of the Goddess is decorated in different forms with flowers and lights and is taken out in procession in the temple complex. Government sponsored police and military band is played at the head of the procession. The event culminates at 10.30 p.m. when the litter returns to the Garud Mandap and is placed on a special pedestal. The Goddess then receives one canon salute. Various cultural programmes are organized by the Mahalakshim Temple Trust in these ten days.


Lalita Panchami in Mahalakshmi Temple:-


At 7.00 a.m. and 10.00 a.m. Abhishek is performed along with the other routine rituals on Lalita Panchami the 5th day of Navratri. At 10.00 a.m. the litter of the Goddess Mahalakshmi is given one canon salute and it leaves the temple premises to visit Goddess Tryambuli's temple which is at a short distance from the main temple in Kolhapur. En route it halts at Shahu Mill and Takala for Puja and Aarti. The procession reaches Goddess Tryambuli's temple by noon. The Chhatrapati (the local royal ruler) performs Kushmandabali (breaking a pumpion gourd into two with a sword. This represents killing of the enemy) in the presence of an unmarried girl from the Patil family from Kasba Bavda, near Kolhapur. The litter returns to the temple at 2.00 p.m. later an Aarti is done. In the evening the litter is carried in procession around the temple itself.

Rathotsavam Celebrations in Mahalakshmi Temple:-

Rathotsav in Mahalakshmi Temple Kolhapur (chariot festival) is organized in April. The chariot bearing the silver representation of the Goddess Mahalakshmi is decorated with flowers and lights. It is taken out in a procession in the evening from 7.30 p.m. to 9.30 p.m. The devotees can pay their respects to the Goddess when the procession arrives at the main entrance of the temple. At 9.30 p.m. one canon salute is given to the Goddess and the procession is taken outside the temple. It moves in the city and returns to the temple. The procession is accompanied by military or police band. Huge Rangoli (floor paintings) are drawn along the path of the procession and fireworks add to the festivities. Several devotees flock to participate in this event.

Kirnotsavam:-

Kirnotsavam (festival of Sun rays) is celebrated when the sun rays fall directly on the deity's idol at the time of sunset on the following days :
31st January & 9th November : Sun rays fall directly on the feet of the deity.
1st February & 10th November : Sun rays fall directly on the chest of the deity.
2nd February & 11th November : Sun rays fall directly on the entire body of the deity.




Sri Mahalakshmi Temple is one of the 51 Shakthi Sthalam/Shakthi Peedam located on the river banks of Pancha Ganga which is positioned on the Sahyadri Mountain Range in Kolhapur District, Maharashtra.  This is one of the oldest temples of Shakthi built during the 12th century by the Kings of Chalukya Dynasty.  This temple is famous for its exquisite architectural and sculptural work.  There are four entrances to this temple known as Maha Dwar/Paschim Dwar, Uttar Dwar, Purva Dwar and Dakshin Dwar respectively.  This temple also enshrines Lord Athibaleshwar /Lord Shiva, Lord Vishnu, Lord Ganesha, Lord Vittal, and Lord Dattathreya.  It is considered that dharshan of Lord Balaji of Tirumala is incomplete without visiting the temple of Goddess Sri Mahalakshami/Ambabai in Kolhapur.

Kolhapuri Specials:-

Kolhapuri Chappals or Slippers are world famous. They come in 3 varieties, Kolhapuri, Kapashi and Dongari. They are usually made from chrome tanned leather.

Kolhapuri Pheta  or Turban used to be an integral part of the Male Costume. Today it is a customary honor to make guests wear it. It is usually made from Silk or Cotton and is  3.5 to 6 meters long and 1 meter wide. Saffron is the most popular choice of color.

Kohapuri Saaj is the traditional necklace worn by women. The best place to get one is from the jewelers in the Gujri market.


 Famous places, Attractions nearby Mahalaxmi Temple:-

    Bhavani Mandap and Juna Raj wada (old Palace) famous for
        Temple of Goddess 'Bhavani'
        Open Museum of wild animal that are hunted by Chatrapati Shahu Maharaj
        Rajabhau Bhail (Famous Chat Center)
    Magnet Super Mall (Old Shetkari Bazaar)
    Karveer Nagar Vachnalay (Rich library of good and old books)
    Mahadwar road
        Famous place for domestic shopping
    Binkhabi Ganesh Mandir
    Kapiltirth Bhaji Market (Central Vegetable Market)
    Rankala lake and Shalini Palace
    Shoe Lane (Chambar Ali) : World famous 'kolhapuri chappals' market place
    Khasbag Maidan : Famous wresting place
    Bindu Chowk : There is old boundary of kolhapur city covered by Shield wall and Citadel
    Fadatare Misal Centre (Udyam Nagar) : Famous for Kolhapuri Misal

Ramteerth:-
A scenic picnic spot in Ajra taluka, with ancient temples, a river, an old coffee plantation and an orchard, lend a quaint charm to this place. According to legend, the place is so named because Rama
stayed here during his vanvaas or exile in the forest. It is well known for its breathtaking natural beauty. This temple is located near kolhapur.

Jyotiba:-

Situated at a height of 3100 feet, this holy site nestles in the mountains near Wadi Ratnagiri. Jyotiba is supposed to be an incarnation of three gods -- Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh and the seer Jamadagni. A mammoth colourful fair takes place on the full moon night of the Hindu months of Chaitra and Vaishakh.

Getting There:-     
Transport Jyotiba lies 17 kms north-west of Kolhapur.
Khidrapur
The artistic temple of Kopeshwar or Mahadev at Khidrapur is a treasure-house of beautifully carved sculptures and a rare architectural marvel. The entire temple rests on a gajapeeth which is a semi-circular platform resting on the back of 92 carved elephants. This temple is located near kolhapur.

Narasimha Wadi:-

This holy place is situated on the confluence of the rivers Krishna and Panchaganga. It is well known for the holy padukas or slippers of Dattaguru ( an incarnation of Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh). Narasimha Saraswati, considered an incarnation of Dattaguru lived here for 12 years.

Getting There:-     
Narasimha Wadi is 45 kms from Kolhapur.

Rankala Lake: Just half a kilometer from the Mahalakshmi Temple is the huge Rankala Lake. The lake constructed by Shri Shahu Chhatrapati is a nice picnic and recreation spot surrounded by many beautiful gardens. There is a small resort - 'Sandhya Math' - which is mostly under water during the rainy reason. Many Hindi and Marathi movies have been shot here.


The New Palace (Chhatrapati Sahu Museum):-

 A royal palace partly converted into a museum, the New Palace has lush green parks, a zoo and a picturesque lake. The museum here has some rare paintings and artifacts used by the royal family. Royal weapons and a tableau depicting court life of the last century are worth watching.

The Old Palace:-


 Located behind the temple of Mahalaxmi, the Old Palace has an impressive marqee with filigree work in stone. The palace also houses a temple of the goddess Bhawani.

Shalini-palace, Kolhapur:-

 On the banks of the Rankala Lake stands Shalini Palace stands majestically. It was built in 193l -34 and named after the then princess of Kolhapur. The palace surrounded by towering palm trees & lovely gardens is built of intricately carved black stone and Italian marble.


  Nearest Major Town/City:-

    Panhala - 20 km from Panhala to Kolhapur

How to Reach:-

    By Air:-
    Both Pune and Mumbai are well associated airlines which schedule regular international and domestic flights.

    By Train:-
    The closest railway station is Kolhapur which is located at a distance of five kilometers away. There are a large number of trains and expresses that passes through various major cities of India.

    By Road:-
    From Mumbai, Kolhapur lies around 400 kilometer and Pune over 240 kilometers. This region is located on National Highway no. 4, which lies between Pune and Bangalore.