The Temple Series

Temple Series

Tirupati Balaji Temple: By Ahana

 

What makes the Tirupati Balaji temple different from other temples?

 

The Tirupati temple is the most famous in India to this day. Located in Andhra Pradesh, it reaches the maximum number of devotees almost every day, with up to 100,000 pilgrims coming in, but on the annual festival Brahmotsavam, up to 500,000 pilgrims can visit.

Why is the temple so popular and important?

 

The Tirupati temple is important to everyone from a very young age. Many families go there to shave their baby’s hair because according to ancient scriptures, shaving the hair of a child before he or she turns three helps stimulate proper brain development and nerve growth in that baby. This ceremony is known as “mundan”. During the mundan ceremony, the hair shaved is offered to Lord Srinivasa.

 

However, this is not the only jovial ceremony celebrated here at the Tirupati Balaji temple. There are many important events that the temple hosts throughout the year. For example, Bramhotsavam, which is an event to commemorate an offering made from Lord Bramha to Lord Vishnu. It is celebrated for nine days annually. The temple also celebrates Makar Sankranti, which lasts four days every year and is celebrated with great pomp and great festivity.

 

The Tirupati temple is not just known for all of these celebrations. During Kali Yuga, Lord Vishnu is known to be residing at the Tirupati temple.

The value of the temple is portrayed through the hard work that people must put in, in order to arrive at the temple itself.  For many people in India, taking a trip to Tirupati is very important when visiting temples. Many make pilgrimages in order to arrive. However, that is not the only hurdle one must climb. One must get to the top of the steps of this temple to enjoy the reward and reap the hard work they have sown. In order for the devotees to fulfill their vow to Lord Venkateshwara, they must climb a total of 3,550 steps which adds to a total of 12 kilometers, or around 7.5 miles. There are four temple towers, also known as Gopurams along the way. This journey is taken for religious fulfillment and is done with great effort. Those who manage to climb all 3,550 steps should be commended for their devotion.

 

The Tirupati temple is also very popular because of its famous prasadams offered, such as the Tirupati laddu. This is a famous treat that is offered to Lord Venkateshwara and is known as “potu” by the temple board. They make around 4,100 small laddus alone in a day. They are so popular, that in order to make sure you do not miss the ordering, the TTD ( Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams) accepts a payment of 50 rupees (a little less than a U.S dollar) to secure each laddu.

Fun Facts:

 

Did you know that behind the shrine of Lord Venkateshwara, if one places their ear behind the lord’s back, they can hear sea waves?

 

Did you know that there is a harmful chemical called green camphor that is known to cause stone erosion, but even though the idol of Lord Venkateshwara is smeared in it constantly, not a single crack or fissure is to be seen?

 

Did you know that the idol wears real hair offered via the “mundan” process?

 

Did you know that the ingredients for the worship of the deities such as butter, milk, buttermilk, flowers, and holy leaves, are all sourced from a secretive village with a 22-kilometer distance from the temple?

 

 

Ahana, 12 years

Gurukulam- The Shloka Learning Centre

 

LEPAKSHI TEMPLE:

Samarth NaiduGurukulam The Shloka Learning Centre ((Feb 2021)

My visit to Lepakshi temple was fun and interesting. It is situated in Andhra Pradesh and is about a two-hour drive away from Bangalore where I reside.

The temple’s main deity is Veerabadra, the fierce warrior form of Lord Shiva. We first went into the main temple and offered our prayers there. There are many other deities in this temple. Lord Vishnu, Lord Hanuman, and Goddess Badrakali. There is also a very beautifully carved Lord Ganesh. The temple was named after the words uttered by Lord Rama when Garuda fell to the ground after being struck by the demon Ravana.

Image Courtesy – Google Images

The temple has many structures including a giant Nandi which holds the title of India’s largest monolithic structure. I was very excited to see this because it was carved out of one giant rock! It was twenty feet high and thirty feet in length. In the main temple hall, there were about seventy magnificent rock pillars, but one pillar stood out the most! This pillar is not touching the ground fully so a piece of paper can easily slide under the pillar! This was my favorite of all the structures in the temple and I wondered as to how the pillar came to be like this. I was told by a local guide that a British marshal tried to push the pillar and level it to the ground but in doing so, many of the other pillars got dislodged.

Image Courtesy: Google Images

I looked up and was astounded since the ceiling was painted with beautiful images depicting Sita’s wedding to Lord Rama. Many other paintings about Lord Rama adorned the ceiling. All the paintings were painted with natural dyes made from flowers and vegetables.

After this, we went to see the Shivalingam. The lingam is guarded by a large seven-headed snake that directly faces the Nandi, which is 200 meters away.  Our guide told us that the builders of the temple, Virupanna, and Veeranna carved out this magnificent Nag lingam while waiting for their mother to prepare lunch!!

Image Courtesy: Google Images

Soon after that, we went to see a huge footprint said to be made by Lord Hanuman. I place my own foot beside the massive footprint and noticed that it was ten times larger than mine.

It was time to leave. I thoroughly enjoyed my trip to this beautiful temple and look forward to visiting it again.

 

PUTHUCODE – ANNAPOORNESWARI TEMPLE [PALAKKAD – KERALA]

About the temple –

At the centre of Puthucode is the Annapoorneswari Temple,dedicated to Goddess Annapoorneswari meaning, “Feeding one & all“. The Annapoorneswari Temple is believed to be one of the 108 Durga temples established by Lord Parasurama.

The Deity is also known as Santha Durga and is a very powerful Devi bestowing her benevolent blessings to all her devotees. The idol of Devi is almost 4 feet tall with four hands. She is always dressed in a pattu pavadai. To see the Devi in her full chandanakappu afterthe deeparadhana(aarthi)  in the evening is at once electrifying. It gives one such joy, peace and realhappiness.

The temple occupies extensive ground. It is difficult to find a temple in Kerala with such large and wide four-squared construction called “Chuttambalam”. It has been built on the principles of Agamasastra.The temple used to be the centre of activity for most villagers.On the four sides of the temple, are streets leading in four directions. Each of them is a village built in the traditional Kerala architecture called “Agraharam” and radiate from the central Annapoorneswari temple.

The daily rituals are held according to traditional Kerala customs. Cherumukku Mana Namboothiri’s hold the right as its head priest. But the daily poojas are done by immigrant Brahmins.

Temple Timings:

Morning: 5.30 am – 10 am

Evening: 4.30 pm – 9 pm

The devotes assemble in the evenings for community recital of Shyamaladandakam and Sahasranamam.

 

Best time to visit-

One of the most important festivals of the temple is the Navarathri festival in September/October each year. This festival is celebrated by the joint efforts of the villagers with lot of passion. An air of festivity descends on the village for ten days during this time. Most of the original inhabitants of the village return to the village to take part in the festival. Fireworks light up the evening sky through the week. True to Her name there is Annadhanam on all the nine days of Navarathri for all devotees. Puthucode Pulinkari which is served with rice and Olan is unique to this Navarathri sadhya.

Navratri starts off with the Ceremonial “kodiyettam” in the temple.The divine flag of Devi is hoisted in the Golden “Kodimaram” ( Flag mast) on the Mahalya Amavasya day after Sunset.And there it goes, its nine full days’ worth of celebrations due!There are processions with elephants twice a day for the first four days inside the temple around the outer praakaram and on the following four days the procession of elephants with accompanying panchavadyam and chendamelam is taken to the four village on successive days.

The temple decoration is the best during these days and it’s totally worth it even if we get to stand in long,winding queues to get the blissful darshan of the Divine Mother.

Puthucode Navaratri has many lovely and charming legends and faces and one has to be present in person in the midst of all these to truly understand and appreciate the awesomeness of it. So, do make it a point to be there at least once in your lifetime.


How to reach –

Puthucode is a beautiful scenic village off the NH 47. It is midway between Palakkad and Trissur. A major chunk of Puthucode is basically around the Annapoorneswari Temple and the Shiva Temple.

It is approximately 40kms away from both Palghat and Trichur towns. The nearest railway stations are Palghat and Trichur. The nearest airports are Coimbatore and Cochin. The village is located 6 km west of Vadakkencherry on the Palakkad-Thrissur stretch of National Highway 47. There are regular bus services from Trichur and Palghat to Puthucode.

 

Thank you,

TEJAS SHANKAR

 

 

 

 

Banke Bihari Mandir

BOLO SHRI BANKE BIHARI LAL KI JAI

Image courtesy: Temple website

There are 5,000 temples in Mathura and the one I have chosen is called Banke Bihari Mandir.

Location: Vrindavan

Country: India

State: Uttar Pradesh

District: Mathura

Built in: 1864

Style: Rajasthani architecture style

How to reach:

By Road: NH-2, Delhi-Agra road, various buses ply between Delhi and Agree. It is 7 kms from the highway.

By Train: Nearest train station is Vrindavan and Mathura.By Air: Nearest domestic airport is Agra, 67 kms from Mathura.

About the temple

This temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Krishna. It is also very close to “Nidhivana” The word “Banke” means bent, in three places and the word “Bihari” means “supreme enjoyer”. This is how Krishna who is bent in three places got the name “Banke Bihari”. In the temple the image of Lord Krishna appears in the form of a child and is seen standing in the Tribhanga position.

History

One of the earliest tales say a Rajasthani princess once travelled to Vrindavan to offer prayers to the Lord.  She was mesmerized when she set her eyes on the black idol of the Lord and was lost in divine love and worship. But she had to return to the kingdom to perform her duties but always had her thoughts on the Lord.  This went on for long time, and finally one day the Lord was drawn towards his devotee’s devotion.  The Lord left his seat from the temple and went to the princess. Hence, Pujaris keep closing the curtains and opening in the temple to ward off the evil eye on the God.

Interesting Facts

The image of Lord Krishna in the temple, is the one granted to Swami Haridas by the celestial couple Shayama-Shyam themselves. One interesting fact about this temple is that there are not any bells or conches in the premises, as the Lord does not like the sound of these instruments.Also belief that child Krishna should be woken up gently and not with huge noise.  Prayers are performed by peaceful chanting of ‘Radha Naam’.  This temple is visited by devotees all year round.

The method of worship at this temple sets it apart from other temples.

It is believed once the temple closes after the evening worship, the Lord visits the nearby Nidhivan silently, plays flute till early hours.  Even the gopis visit him and dance to His soulful flute music. Since the Lord is believed to spend longer hours in the evening, the rituals do not include Mangala Arati in the dawn, thereby allowing the Lord to sleep longer. Prayers are performed in three parts every day:

1- Shringar-includes bath, dressing and adornment with jewelry like a crown and necklaces.

2- Raj bhog-feast offered in the forenoon.

3- Shayna sewa means putting the lord to sleep like a baby.

It is also believed Lord Krishna descends into physical form to help His beloved devotees. Also believed one can still hear Lord’s flute whispering Radha Rani’s name and also hear the sound of their anklets in Vrindavan.

Festivals at the temple

Here, the Lord is always in celebration mood and it is believed there are more festivals than number of days in the year.  However, major festivals are celebrated in this temple with Akshaya Triteeya, Guru Purnima, HaryaliTeej (Swing festival), Raksha Bandhan, Krishna Janmashtami – only on this day Maha Mangalarti is performed andNandotsav.

Prasad at the temple

Vrindavan Peda Sweet + Tulsi and Chandana + Lord Krishna Photo + Sacred Yantra

Fun Facts

There are lots of monkeys around the temple streets and they always look for people carrying food and wearing spectacles.

 Opening Timings: Courtesy temple website

Morning

  Summer Timings
(effective 2 days after Holi)
Winter Timings
(effective 2 days after Diwali)
Opening 0745 0845
Shringar 0800 0900
Rajbhog * 1100-1130 1200-1230
Rajbhog Aarti and closing 1200 1300

*No Darshan during bhog

Evening

  Summer Timings
(effective 2 days after Holi)
Winter Timings
(effective 2 days after Diwali)
Opening 1730 1630
Shayan Bhog * 2030-2100 1930-2000
Shayan Aarti and closing 2130 2030

 

 

By: Abhay, 10 years

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