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This series is based over my reflections upon visiting Thailand.

Shahjahanabad (Const 1648 CE)- The Legacy of Delhi Series (Vol 8)

'Shahjahanabad' is the eighth post in a series of 9 articles on the former capital cities which were built in the historical region of Delhi. Read on to know more..

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Know more about this incredible World Heritage Site here..

The Immortal Kumbh Mela - Mahakumbha of 2013

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Guru Dongmar Lake, one of the highest in the world

Few destinations have the ability to change your life; Sikkim being one of them. Check out the series 'Sikim Soujourn' to find out why ?

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Monday, October 31, 2011

Diwali Part 2 - Temples of Delhi


New Delhi (or Delhi as it is commonly called as) is a large and populous city. The city is extremely rich in history and legacy. At the location where the city is situated, on the banks of the River Yamuna, there stood 7 capital cities of various kingdoms spanning across the age. Starting from the mythological Indraprastha (5000 b.c.) to the current New Delhi (founded 1929). So, an area which has been inhabited since the dawn of time will certainly possess some of the oldest and holiest shrines of Hindu faith apart from other invaluable monuments (whom I shall cover soon). I went around the city traveling, enquiring and taking pictures of the most important Shrines or Temples which a traveler or pilgrim must visit while in Delhi. These temples are one of the major attractions of Delhi and attract thousands of devotees during the Hindu festivals of Diwali, Janmashtami and the Navratra’s. I have christened these series of temples as the part of ‘Delhi’s Temple Circuit’.

We start with the temple visited by 70 percent of tourists who visit Delhi, The Akshardham Temple:-


Akshardham Temple


                                                          The 'shikhara' or peak of the Temple

                                                       Front View of the Temple (Courtesy Juthani, Source Wikipedia)

The primary deity of the Akshardham Temple is Swaminarayan and the architecture of the temple is as per Vastushastra and Pancharatra shastra. The temple was built and consecrated on 6 November 2005. The Akshardham temple complex displays the history of traditional Indian and Hindu culture, spirituality, and architecture.
The temple complex features a large central monument crafted entirely of stone, exhibitions on incidents from the life of Swaminarayan and the history of India, a musical fountain, and large landscaped gardens. Akshardham temple holds the Guinness World Record for being the World’s Largest Comprehensive Hindu Temple

Hanuman Temple (Connaught Place)

 Main Idol of Bal(Baby) Hanuman (Courtesy Nwchar, Source Wikipedia)

Hanuman Temple (Connaught Place)

As I have revealed to you earlier that Delhi has seen habitation by people since the year 5000 B.C. (as per the epic Mahabharata the city was known as 'Indraprastha'). Hanuman Temple in Connaught Place, New Delhi, is an ancient Hindu Temple and is claimed to be one of the five temples from the days of Mahabharata in Delhi.
Said to be constructed by Pandavas in honor of Lord Hanuman the temple, which has a self manifest idol of Hanuman, has a unique feature fixed on the spire or top (Viman) of the temple in the form of a crescent moon (an Islamic symbol) instead of the Hindu symbol of Aum or Sun that is commonly seen in most Hindu temples. This became particularly important during the sacking of Delhi by various Islamic invaders (for example Nadir Shah in 1739) who spared it from vandalism.
The current structure is said to have been built in 1724. The idol in the temple, worshiped with devotion as “Sri Hanuman Ji Maharaj” (Great Lord Hanuman), is that of Bala Hanuman namely, Hanuman as a child.


Kalkaji Temple, New Delhi

Kalkaji Temple (The main idol of the deity)

This very old temple built atop a hill is in honor of Goddess Kali. It has been considered to exist since the days of the epic Mahabharata(5000 BC). Current structure has got some parts which were built in 2 BC and modifications which were done in 1734 and mid-19th century. In the vicinity is the ISCKON temple and an edict of Emperor Asoka dating 3rd century BC. One particular incident which is associated with this temple is that the noise of the powerful bells of this temple (during early morning prayers) used to disturb the sleep of the extra alert Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb and were eventually pulled down. (His palace the Red Fort was situated 10 miles away).


Laxmi Narayan Temple

Laxmi Narayan Temple(The 'shikhara' or peak of the temple is 160 feet high)

The Laxminarayan Temple is a temple dedicated to ‘Laxminarayan’. The temple is built in honor of Goddess Lakshmi (Hindu goddess of wealth), and her consort Narayana (Lord Vishnu) by B. R. Birla from 1933 and 1939, when it was inaugurated by Mahatma Gandhi. The side temples are dedicated to Lord’s Shiva, Krishna and Buddha. The temple spread over 7.5 acres, is adorned with many shrines, fountains, and a large garden, and also houses a ‘Geeta Bhawan’ for religious discourses.
The architecture of the temple is based on the Northern or Nagara style.The entire temple is adorned with carvings depicting the scenes from Hindu mythology. A visit to this informative temple is a very good experience.


Information at the entrance


Chattarpur Temple

 Chattarpur Mandir (Main Temple in the complex)
 
This is the second largest temple complex in India, and is dedicated to Goddess, Katyayani (Durga). It is located at Chhatarpur, and is just 4 km (2.5 mi) from Qutub Minar, off Mehrauli-Gurgaon road. The temple was established in 1974. This temple was considered as the biggest temple in India and second largest in the world, before the Akshardham Temple was created in 2005 in Delhi. This temple is totally constructed from marble and on all the facets there is 'jaali' (perforated stone or latticed screen) work.

Temple featuring Dravidian(South Indian) Architecture in the complex

Some other pictures which I clicked while traveling are - 

A pujari (priest) of Hanuman Temple(Connaught Place). (The gentleman yelled at me for being clicked without permission)

This huge statue of Lord Hanuman(more than 40 feet high) dwarfs the landscape of Central Delhi is at Jhandewalan, Karol Bagh

 A pujari (priest) blessing a new car at Laxmi Narayan Temple

Shop selling materials for puja (Worship)

Kali Mandir at Bangla Sahib Marg. A temple thronged by Bengali devotees. Notice the depiction of certain incidences from Indian Mythologies right above the gate.

This is all about the Delhi Temple Circuit from me. In the month of November I will be back with a completely new series of posts over Delhi which would cover Old Delhi and its invaluable forts and monuments, complete with lots of pictures and narratives. Moreover I will also go on a tour to cover a completely new destination for you. Till then TC

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Note:- The pictures 'Front view of Akshardham Temple clicked by Juthani' and 'Bal Hanuman by Nwchar' are separate pictures clicked by photographers who hold their(pictures) rights and permit conditional free use.  They do not endorse the author or the blog.

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Thursday, October 20, 2011

Diwali Part - 1 - Festival of Lights

Deepawali(Festival of lights) or Diwali(as it is commonly known as) is arguably one of the most popular and significant festivals in India. This festival of lights is a religious festival observed by Hindus, Sikhs and Jains but such is the enthusiasm, gaiety and celebrations associated with it that Christians, Muslims and people of other religions in India also celebrate it with their Hindu brethren. The basic and universal reason for celebrating this festival is the victory of ‘Good over Evil’. When you look out of your window and see rows of Lamps (Diyas) illuminating the households, firecrackers being burst all around, sweets being distributed everywhere and see happiness on the faces of everybody you admit to yourself that although the darkness of evil is gloomy but, if you have the willingness to overcome it this is the type of celebration you deserve.

The festival of Diwali commemorates the return of Lord Ram, along with his wife Sita and brother Lakshman, from his 14-year-long exile and vanquishing the demon-king Ravan. In joyous celebration of the return of their king, the people of Ayodhya, the Capital of Rama, illuminated the kingdom with earthen lamps (diyas) and by bursting firecrackers. For Jains, Diwali marks the attainment of moksha or nirvana by Lord Mahavira in 527 BC. Diwali is celebrated across five days in which the day of Laksmi Puja (Goddes of Wealth) Puja is considered the most important day.

The date of Diwali is decided by the Luni-Solar Hindu calendar. This year the festival is being celebrated on 26 October.

Diwali being the festival of lights, is celebrated with symbolic diyas or kandils (colorful paper lanterns) which are an integral part of Diwali decorations. Rangoli, decorations made from coloured powder, is very popular during Diwali. The manner of celebration varies from region to region from fireworks to worship to lighting Diyas and sharing of home-made sweets.

On the day of Diwali folks get busy in preparing sweets like Gulab Jamun, Laddoos, varieties of Barfis e.t.c. and try to outdo each other in taste competition because the moment the puja (worshipping) ends they share the sweets or prasad amongst themselves greeting each other by saying ‘Shubh Deepawali’ (Happy Diwali). It is a common understanding that home-made sweets are much appreciated than the ones bought from markets.

A Diwali without visiting the temples is incomplete. Some of the major temples in Diwali which will be frequented by the worshippers in Delhi are being listed by me. These temples are also a part of the ‘Delhi Temple Circuit’ as these places of worship have either great historic value or have witnessed a miracle take place. These temples which are a must visit when you are in Delhi are as follows :-
(Contd in the next blog.....)