Bhutan Diaries – Day 2

The next day morning we woke up to drizzling skies. After a sumptuous complimentary breakfast, we started on our sightseeing for the second day. Before I go ahead, I would like to mention that the food they produce is organic. The honey there, is simply awesome.

First we went to the National Memorial Chorten. We learnt that the ticket to go in was 300 rupees and then we would be allowed to just go around the Chorten and not inside it. So we chose not to go into the compound, instead took pictures from the road.

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In the slight drizzle, we proceeded to the statue of Sakyamuni Buddha on the Kuensel Phodrang hill.

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Shakyamuni Buddha is a 51.5 meter long bronze statue, plated with gold. The statue sits atop a meditation hall with another big statue of Buddha and many smaller statues in it. The construction started in 2006 and it was completed in 2015.

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Stupa at the entrance

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The place is so beautiful, you can have an uninterrupted view of the valley and it is also known as the Buddha View point. Though we got wet slightly in the drizzle, we didn’t have any regrets because due to the weather the views we had were amazing. Clouds covering the Mountains and the serene atmosphere of the place gave us so much happiness. Inside the meditation hall the work on the pillars is also beautiful. After sitting in the hall for sometime, we came out, took pictures and started back.

Next we were to go to the Changangkha Lhakhang, which was an important religious structure dating back to the 15th century. But some restoration work was ongoing, so we were not able to go there. Then we went to the Takin Zoo, but it was drizzling a lot by then and we didnt want to pay 300 rupees for a ticket in that weather where we would have lesser chance of sighting the animal. But Mr Ganesh took us to a point where we had a chance to see the Takins from an elevated area.

From there we went to a place where we could see the Trashi Chhoe Dzong from a distance. It is a Buddhist monastery and a fortress which houses the Throne room and offices of the king, the Secretariat and the Ministries of Home and Finance. It is out of bounds for visitors and we had a view from afar.

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Trashi Chhoe Dzong

From there, we went to a place called Simply Bhutan. It is a place where the culture and way of living of the Bhutanese is showcased. The ticket is 300 rupees for the entrance and if you want to take a picture in the local dress, it is an extra 100 rupees. Paid for both and went inside. Was impressed at the way the whole tour was held. It is in such a small area, but with compactness they have showcased their way of living so well.

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This is so similar to what our grandmothers used to grind pulses.

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Dried up vegetables to sustain them in the winter months.

Enjoyed thoroughly at Simply Bhutan. There was a little sample of archery also at the end which entertained us a lot.

Overall enjoyed the second day in Bhutan.

 

 

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Bhutan diaries. Day 1

In the month of August, I went to Bhutan with a few friends of mine. Starting from Kolkata, we took the Bhutan Airlines flight from Kolkata to Paro. As the flight was at 8.15 am, we reached the airport at 5.30 am and had to wait for 15 minutes before the Bhutan airline counter opened. After checking in our luggage and going through the security check, we had ample time to go through the Kolkata airport. Finally boarding started and our trip started. It is a short flight from Kolkata to Paro. Just 1 hour time. 15 minutes before we reached Paro, the announcement came to see the Mount Everest and K2 at a distance. Took a picture of the peak.

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Seeing Bhutan from the flight, we were delighted to see the scenic beauty. Sparsely populated, green hills and lovely atmosphere. Landing in Bhutan, we took out our shades and wore them because the sun shines very brightly over there. The airport is small, quaint and beautiful.

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Beautiful luggage belt showcasing their Dzongs

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Immigration, so pretty to look at.

We can take sim cards for our phones if we have a need to keep in touch with home regularly. These can be taken at the airport. Coming out of the airport, we were met with our tour guide who after greeting us and loading the luggage on to the van, took us to Paro. Going beside the Paro river, which flows in pristine beauty, we started enjoying the surroundings. We were informed that no one is allowed to step into rivers and that the rivers are allowed to flow without any man made pollutants.

On the way to Paro we stopped at Chojum, to take photographs of the confluence of the two rivers of Bhutan, Thimpu Chu and Paro Chu.

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In buddhist culture Dzongs or Stupas are built at the confluence of two rivers. In Hindu culture also we build temples at the confluence of two rivers. But the difference here being that while we consider the confluence auspiscious and holy, the Buddists build Dzongs to ward of negative energy. Here the three Stupas are of the Tibetian, Nepalese and Bhutanese models.

We then reached Thimpu and were taken to the Hotel Osel. It is a very nice hotel. While we were checking in, our guide Mr. Ganesh took our passports to get the visitors permit. With the stamping done at immigration, we can travel to Thimpu and Paro. But for Punakha, we have to take another visitors permit. We went to our rooms and freshened up. Then we were ready to start our tour. First we stopped for lunch and all of us wanted to enjoy Bhutanese food. While the non vegetarians took chicken and fish items, four of us are vegetarians. We ordered Red rice, Jeera rice, Ema Datshi (cheese and chilli curry) and Khewa Datshi (potato and cheese curry). The food was really good and we enjoyed our first meal in Bhutan. In Bhutan, once we order, then they start preparing the food, so it might take some time but you can be assured that the food will be fresh.

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Then our sightseeing started. First we went to the Zorig Chusam which is the painting school, where students undergo a 6 year training course in Bhutan’s 13 tradional arts and crafts.

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The ticket to go in is 100 rupees. The currency of Bhutan is Ngultrum. It is equivalent to Indian rupees in value and is widely accepted there. Hence we didn’t have to exchange our currency. The only dissatisfaction here was that there was nobody to explain what was happening. We just went in, took a look around and came out. It would have been good if there was somebody to explain all that was there in the painting school.

Next we went to The National Library. It has a collection of priceless Buddhist books and also has a 5*7 feet book, which is known to be the worlds largest published book.

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National library

After seeing the National library we went to Royal Textile Academy of Bhutan and from there went to shop for little mementos.

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After the shopping, we were very tired and went back to our Hotel. We had arranged to have dinner at the hotels we were to stay, so we relaxed for a couple of hours and came down to have dinner. As it was off season, there were hardly any guests in the hotel and we enjoyed having the restaurant to ourselves.

The food was good, we had wifi and the service was excellent at Osel. With that we completed day 1 of our trip.

Pancharama 4 – Kumararama

The 4th Pancharama that I had visited that day was the Kumararama in Samalkot, East Godavari district. It is called the Kumararama Bhimeswara temple, which is built by East Chalukya Bhima between 892-922 CE.

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This shivalinga has been installed by Kumara Swamy, hence the name Kumararama. The temple has two prakarams.

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The outer prakaram has Kalabhairava temple and a path to go to the Pushkarini.

Though the construction style is similar to Draksharama, it is smaller in area. Here amma is in the form of Bala Tripura Sundari. Though the temple was started by the Chalukyas, in 14th century the Kakatiya rulers added to the structure. 

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Similar in style to Draksharama, it is built in 2 floors, with the Prakara Mandapam also in 2 floors.
From morning we were going in and out of ancient temples. So by then, the light was fading, we were tired  so couldn’t check out for many inscriptions. Ancient temples are power centers, so being in and out of them was bound to effect us.
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This beautiful ekasila (made from a single stone) Nandi was huge and magnificent. This temple was not as crowded as the rest of the Pancharamas. But when we entered some Brahmins were chanting Slokas which gave a divine and heavenly feeling.
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Main temple
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Dwarapalas
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Entrance to garbhagriha was carved with Gajalakshmi on the lalata. In the picture you can see the locked door inside. I didnt realise I was looking at the garbagriha because the archaka was not there. Only when my husband pointed out the shivalinga, I realised. You can see part of the white shivalingam. Here also the shivalinga is so tall, it reaches the second floor. The archaka was here and so we had darshan of Deva. This shivalinga is slightly shorter than the one in Draksharama and is white in colour.
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Coming down saw another miniature temple like in Draksharama, but this had Ganapati beside it and it was not as well carved as in Draksharama.
With this completed the darshan of 4 Pancharamas on Sravana Ekadashi.

Pancharama 3 – Draksharamam

Draksharama is a town in East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh. It is a Pancharama kshetra and also an Ashtadasa Shakti Peeta. It is built like a fort. It has two prakarams and the outer prakaram has four entrances with 4 gopurams.

Sri Bheemeshwara Swamy and Manikyamba Devi are the chief deities in this temple. Lord Vishnu is the kshetra palaka of this kshetra. Sri Vyasa describes this kshetra extensively in the Skanda purana. It is famous as a Shiva and Shakti Kshetra.

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Gopuram which is used as the main entrance along with a mandapam.

The 4 gopurams of the outer prakara are named after 4 goddesses Gogulamma, Nookambica, Moodhambike and Ghattambike. This temple was renovated by the Eastern Chalukya Bhima in 10th century.

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Another gopuram

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The outer prakaram is very big. The whole temple is said to be built on 12 acres of land. Temple is under ASI and apart from the temple and structures, vast lawns have been made in outer prakaram giving a beautiful look to the place. The wall is like a fort wall with some carvings. In one corner of the outer prakaram, a ruined Mandapam has been converted into an office which the ASI uses now.

Draksharama is also known as Daksha Vatika and Daksha tapovana. It is said to be the place where Daksha Prajapati conducted his yagna and where Sati Devi unable to bear the insult to her husband Shiva by her father, immolated herself in the yagna fire. An enraged and griefstriken Shiva does the pralaya tandav and carries Sati Devi body and roams the earth. Lord Vishnu, with his chakra cuts the body into pieces and the places where they fell become Shakti Peeta. Daksha Vatika is where her cheek is said to have fallen and is mentioned by Adishankara in his poem.

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Kalabhairava temple with 8 lingas called the Astabhairavas.

Amma is known as Manikyamba here. Adi Shankara is said to have installed a Sri Chakram in this temple. She is seen standing on a Srichakra. The Srichakra is covered throughout the year, it is seen by devotees only on one day and we were lucky to see it.

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A big Mandapam in outer prakaram

The lingam of Bheemeshwara is the largest Swayambhu sivalingam. It towers at 15 feet.

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Here Nandi doesn’t look at Shiva but his head it tilted towards Amma.

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There is a huge peepal tree with many carvings of nagas around it. When we go to the side of the 4th Gopuram, we can see a shivalingam and Nandi. Ganesh is also kept there. It has a very strong aura.

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Going through the 4th gopuram, we reach the Sapta Godavari Kundam which was formed by the water of 7 rivers, brought by the Sapta Maharishis. This water is considered sacred and it is used to perform abhishekam to Mahadev.

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Entering the inner prakaram, going through the Prakara Mandapam we can see various gods in different alcoves. Chaturmukha Brahma, Natarajeshwara, Saptamatrukas. There are other shrines to Kanaka Durga and Annapurna Devi also.

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The temple which is 2 storied, has a prakara Mandapam which is also 2 storied. The shivalingam is a sphatika lingam and very powerful. In the beginning the power coming out of the shivalingam was so intense that the saptarishis too couldn’t approach Deva, so they installed 7 lingams in surrounding places with the cooling nature of the moon. Surya installed the eight lingam to bring a soothing lunar energy over Deva, thus covering all 8 directions and making him approachable. The eight places where the shivalingam were installed by the Saptarishis were Penumuru, Kollanka, Dangeru, Vella, Kotipalli, Someshwaram, Venduru and Korumilli. These places are within 3 – 12 miles from Draksharama.

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A miniature temple fully carved.

In the second floor, beside Deva is the Murti of Sati Devi also known as Dakshayini. The pillars in the second floor have carvings, but being too immersed in seeing Deva and due to the crowd, couldn’t take pictures of the pillars.

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The inscriptions range from 10th to 15th century. Patrons include Velanadu and Reddy chiefs of Rajahmundry, shatavahanas, kondaveedu rulers, the Chalukya cholas etc. Inscriptions of Tamil, Telugu & Devanagari scripts are found. Over 400 inscriptions are found on the walls.
Draksharama is one of the Trilingas which gave the name Trilinga desa to Andhra desa. The other two being Kaleshwaram in Telangana and Srisailam in Rayalaseema. It is also known as Dakshina Kasi.

 

Pancharama 2 – Ksheerarama

After Somarama, we went to the next Pancharama called Ksheerarama. It is also called Sri Ksheera Ramalingeshwara Swamy temple and is in Palakollu, 20 km from Bhimavaram. It was built in 9th century by Chalukya Bhima.

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Just seeing the Gopuram brought a smile on my face. If Somarama Gopuram was beautiful with colours, Ksheerarama Gopuram was imposing in its height. It is one of the tallest gopuram in Andhra at 120 feet and 9 levels. This shivalinga has been installed by Lord Rama (Vishnu). I have told the purana of the Pancharamas in Somarama thread.

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Carvings on both side of the dwaram of the Gopuram, aesthetically painted.

This Gopuram is built by Sri Alladu Reddy in the 14th century. This shivalinga is whitish in colour. Parvati ma is the goddess.

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After entering we can see the Dwajastambham with a Mahadev statue in front of it.

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Entering the next dwaram we come into the Aasthana Mandapam with rows of pillars.
Nandi which had a railing blocking the view so couldn’t take a proper picture. It is difficult for the devotees also to see thru his ears with this setup.
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Nritya (Dance) mandapam
To the right of the main temple we have the Nritya Mandapam, small & compact. It has pillars with carvings of musicians & dancers.
Another story about this temple is, there lived a poor Brahmin Koushika who struggled for his daily needs. One day his son asks his mother for ksheeraannam(Pongal, a sweet made with rice and milk). The helpless lady asks him to pray to Shiva. The boy sits in front of the linga and prays. Mahadev pleased with the boy creates a pool of milk with his Trishul. Thus this place was called Ksheerapuram and Palakolanu(milk pond) which later became Palakollu.
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Kalyana (marriage) mandapam
To the left, there is a Kalyana Mandapam with carved pillars.
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Prakara mandapam
The Prakaram was designed by Sri Velupathi in the 10th century. It has ancient and modern aspects now. All around, old murtis are placed in alcoves. Sri Suryanarayana Swamy, Sri Veerabhadra, Saptamatrukas, Sri Brahma, Sri Karthikeya, Sri Kumaraswamy, Sri Subramanya Swamy, Sri Ekanadha, Sri Medha Dakshinamurthy, Sri Nataraja, Sri Dattatreya, Sri Kalabhairava are some of the Gods ancient murtis that are there.
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View of Gopuram from inside. Some statues painted in colours. By taking a ticket, we can climb the Gopuram. Since we had to cover more temples, we did not climb the Gopuram.
With that, completed the darshan of the second Pancharama.

 

 

 

 

Pancharama 1 – Somarama

Sri Someshwara Janardhana Swamy temple also known as Somarama is one of the Pancharamas. Located at Gunupudi, at Bhimavaram, the present temple with Gopuram and Prakaram was built in 9th century by Eastern Chalukya Bhima.

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The history of Pancharamas is thus.
Tarakasura was a powerful asura who had the boon that he would die only at the hands of a child of Shiva. He had after penance to Shiva acquired an atmalingam which he wore and became invincible. It is for Tarakasura samhaara (destruction) that Karthikeya was born. Karthikeya as a child fought against Tarakasura and cut him up into pieces. But no matter how many times he did that, Tarakasura joined again and became alive. Lord Vishnu tells Karthikeya that this is happening because of the atmalingam that Tarakasura has. He tells Karthikeya to break up the atmalingam into 5 pieces. He also warns him that the 5 pieces would join again chanting the Omkara. So, the minute the atmalingam is broken, the 5 pieces where they fall should be installed and a temple built around them. That way, the atmalingam cannot join again and Tarakasura can be killed easily. Karthikeya follows the instructions of Lord Vishnu and 5 Gods are ready to install the linga. Karthikeya breaks the atmalingam into 5 pieces by his Aagneyaastra (weapon of fire) and the 5 pieces are installed by Indra, Surya, Chandra, Vishnu and Kumaraswamy and the temples built. Then Karthikeya kills Tarakasura.
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Ganesh                                                                     Karthikeya
Ganesha and Karthikeya on either side of the dwaaram to go into the antarala. Beautiful murtis.
Somarama was installed by Chandra. This lingam changes colour according to the lunar time. It is white during Pournami (full moon) and a blackish brown during amavasya (new moon). We went on Ekadashi and it was more of a whitish shade. Janardhana Swamy is the Kshetra palaka of this temple.
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Dwarapalas
It is a two storied temple and Annapurna Devi is on the top floor.
The temple complex also has Anjaneya Swamy, Kumaraswamy and Navagraha temples.
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Nandi in front of the entrance.
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View of the Gopuram from inside
On either side of the gopuram inside the temple prakaram there is a temple for Subramanya Swamy and Surya Bhagvan.
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The Chandra Pushkarini in front of the temple which is also called Soma Gundam.
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The painting on the ceiling when you enter the gopuram. It is so beautiful. With that, finished the darshanam of Somarama, the first in our list of Pancharamas.

 

 

 

Sri Bhimeswara Swamy temple – Bhimavaram

Sri Bhimeswara Swamy temple of Bhimavaram, which is more than 1000 yrs old, is often confused with another illustrious temple of Bhimavaram, the Soma Rama, which is one of the Pancharamas.

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Gopuram

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As soon as we enter through the gopuram, we are in the Mandapam of the Rama temple which is in the complex. The Sri Bhimeswara Swamy temple is straight ahead. This temple has many more temples constructed in later years in the same complex.

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The Sita Rama aalayam that we see as soon as we enter the complex.

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The other temples of the complex.

This complex apart from the main temple and Sita Rama temple, has the temples of Anjaneya Swamy, Sri Subramanya Swamy and Radha Krishna temple.

 

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Sri Bhimeswara Swamy aalayam was built between 890 & 918 CE by East Chalukya king named Chalukya Bhima. He is said to have laid the foundation for this temple and named the place Bhimapuram, which was later changed to Bhimavaram. Varam means something that is bestowed in Telugu.

You can notice the sculpture of Meenakshi ammans wedding on the Vimana. Sri Jagannath Swamy is the Kshetra palaka of this temple. Sri Bhimeswara Swamy is the main Bhagvan and Mahishasuramardini is in the temple beside him. Amma is depicted in Vaishnava form, having 4 hands. She has a Shank in her right upper hand and Chakra in her left upper hand and the rest she is in abhaya mudra. It is the only temple in Andhra where she is depicted thus. She is believed to be very powerful.

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Dwajastambham and Nandi

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Opposite end of the Mandapam has two alcoves. One holding Dattatreya and the other has Brahma.

This temple is in the Gandhinagar area of Bhimavaram. Though I had passed it the previous day, I didn’t realise that it was an ancient temple. The list of temples that I planned for that day was Yanamadurru and 4 of the Pancharamas. While going to the first Pancharama, we were passing this temple when I saw mention of Chalukyas outside. This made me stop immediately and go inside. When Mahadev decided that I should have his darshan, he made sure that I stopped. Grateful for his benevolence. This way I had the chance of visiting another ancient temple.

 

Sri Shakteeshwara Aalayam – Yanamadurru

Today I will share with you this 1000 year old temple, though the shrine is said to be from the Tretayuga. Lord Shiva as Shakteeshwara is also called Seershasana Swamy because he is found here in an upside down form.

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Sri Shakteeswara Temple

Sthala purana – Lord Yama was upset that people forgot that he is the God of justice and only associated him with death. Instead of respecting him, people feared him. He prays to Lord Shiva and Mahadev grants him a boon that after the death of a certain asura, Yama himself would build a temple for Lord Shiva and from then onwards people will associate him with curing people of ailments. Yanamadurru purana name was Yamunapuri. A rakshasa by the name of Sambhera was disturbing the tapas of Rishis. So the Rishis went to Yama for help. Yama was defeated by the Rakshasa. He went to Lord Shiva for help but Mahadev was in Yoga Deeksha and didn’t respond to Yama. Parvati ma seeing Yama’s predicament sends him with a part of her power and Yama kills Sambhera. Yama as a mark of his victory names the place Yamapuri, which over the years became Yamunapuri and later Yanamadurru. He requests ma to come appear in that pradesa with Shiva and the baby Shanmukha, to safeguard that area from evil rakshasas. Hence Parvati ma, with the baby Shanmukha appears on the same Peetam of Shiva in his yogic pose.

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Nandi

Coming to proofs, there is an island near Narsapur called Shambareevi. Since Shambera was of tretayuga, this shrine is also said to be of that time. 1000 years ago, this temple was discovered under the ground. From then it has been worshipped. After many years the temple was rebuilt. Mahakavi Kalidas, in his Kumara Sambhavam, wrote about Shakteeswara of Yamunapuri. In 1909 some archaeologists vouched for its antiquity. This kshetra is believed to be older than the Pancharamas.

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The Kshetra palaka here is Kumaraswamy means Sarpa. There used to be 2 snakes guarding the temple and Pushkarini. Everyday early morning they used to go into the river and then enter the temple, after darshan of Deva they used to leave. Two years ago an old man killed one of the snakes and he became blind immediately. Now two smaller nagas come everyday.

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The Pushkarini here is called the Shakti Gundam, water is said to be very powerful. Prasadam for the temple is cooked everyday using this water. Once, for renovation people dried up the Gundam. No matter how many types of water was used, the prasadam would not get cooked. Finally the pujari dug into a corner of the Gundam and a little water came. The prasadam got cooked immediately with that water. It is believed that mixing this water with normal water and drinking it helps to cure diseases. This Gundam is supposed to be as holy as the Ganga.

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This is how Shiva and Parvati ma appear on the same Peetam in the Garbagriha.

Yanamadurru is a village located 5 km from Bhimavaram in West Godavari district. Though it is a small temple, the stories attached to it are fascinating. It is due to the healing properties of the Shakti gundam and Lords Darshan people started worshipping Yama also with respect.

 

Toli Tirupati – Srungara Vallabha Swamy Temple

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Toli (first) Tirupati is a temple in East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh, said to be 9000 years old. It is said to be older than Tirumala Tirupati. The entrance is simple with Vishnu on Seshatalpa with Lakshmi Devi, Brahma and Narada. It looks to have been recently painted.

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Mandapam on both sides before the main entrance.

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There are 7 dwarams to go through to reach the Garbagriha.

After going through the first and second door we come to the outer prakaram which has the dwajastambham.

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There are ancient inscriptions on the pillars.

Sthala purana – The purana of this temple is attached to Druva who is mentioned in the Vishnu and Bhagavata purana. King Uttanapada had two wives Sunithi and Suruchi. Sunithi’s son was Druva and Suruchi’s son was Uttama. Suruchi was very beautiful and hence the favourite wife though she was the younger wife and her son the younger son. She was jealous of Druva and wanted to make her son the king, after Uttanapada. So one day when Druva was a small child, seeing Uttama sitting on his father’s lap, he too goes to sit. Suruchi pushes Druva away and tells him that because he has not been born as her son, he is unlucky and tells him to keep away from his father. An upset Druva goes to his mother and tells her what happened. Sunithi tells Druva that Lord Vishnu is the most powerful one. If Lord Vishnu blesses him, then he will not have the pain that his step mother caused. So Druva sets out to take Lord Vishnu’s blessings. Narada muni sees him and asks him where he is going. After listening to the story, he tells Druva to chant ‘Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya’. Druva performs severe austerities for six months and Vishnu appears before him. Druva is unable to see Vishnu due to his huge form and shining Tejas. So Bhagvan comes down to the little boys size and asks Druva to see him. Bhagvan blesses him saying that he will be the size of whoever wants to see him. 

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No matter the actual size of the Murti, if you stand at the dwajastambham and look at the lord you will see him at eye level. This is the place where Vishnu is supposed to have appeared before Druva.

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Bhagvan appeared as a Swayambhu for his devotees and this temple was built. You cannot make out in this picture but Swamy’s smile is very beautiful. I was not able to look at amma when I went for the darshan, couldn’t take my eyes off his beautiful smile. Known as Srungara Vallabha swamy, he is very beautiful.

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Sculpture of Krishna, Another of Rama Sita, Lakshmana with Garuda and Hanuman

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Dancers and musicians

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Vimana painted aesthetically. This temple though patronized by kings from mauryas till British time became neglected later. Even if you cannot believe it is 9000 years old, you cannot reject fact that it is more than 2000 years old. Renovation has been taken up in the last 2,3 years.
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Walls of inner prakara have support type structure on the outside all around, which I haven’t seen for any temple till now.
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Prakara Mandapam
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Pushkarini
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Utsava Murtis of Srungara Vallabha swamy and Sridevi, Bhudevi
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Alwars in the antarala
Part of the pillars in Asthaana mandapam have been painted using various colours.
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Sarpas (snakes)                           Kinnera                                         Lord with Sri & Bhu Devi
This temple is in a village called Chadalavada, one km from Divili. On the National Highway going from Visakhapatnam towards Rajahmundry, we should take a diversion after Annavaram, near Dharmavaram and go to the interior for about 20 km to reach Divili. Though it is not known to many maybe because of the location, it is a temple worth seeing and taking the darshan of Swamy.

 

 

Tree Temple – Kasipatnam

A few months ago, I read about the Tree temple of Kasipatnam. It looked and sounded fascinating. Since I love exploring old temples, I was planning to visit it and finally was able to go 3 days ago.

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The Tree temple with dwarapalas on either side and Nandi in front.

73 Km from Visakhapatnam city, on the way to Araku Valley, Kasipatnam is very much in the district of Visakhapatnam.

The tree temple is said to be 400 years old. It is the temple of  Lord Shiva known as Uma Ramalingeshwara temple. In the beginning, it was a small temple that was popular and many people used to visit it along with few Royalty. Later with the changing times and changing political scenario in our country, the patronage stopped and the people also slowly forgot about the temple.

A banyan tree which was beside the temple began to grow and started covering the temple. With no one to put a check on the growth, over the years the tree covered the major part of the temple

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The tree covering the temple.

After doing the Pradikshana(circumbation) and taking pictures entered the temple. The temple has a small entrance room which leads to the Garbagriha (sanctum). It was dark in the entrance room and a branch has grown into the room.

By flashing a torch, I saw Ganeshji on the left side and Parvati Ma on the right side of the door. They are new murtis, but the stone murtis that much have been originally beside the door are also kept down over there.

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Ganeshji on left side                                       Parvati ma on right side of the door

I was hesitating to go inside the Garbagriha. Though a regular pujari is not there, someone takes care of the temple and we could see a lamp lit beside the Shivalinga. Seeing my interest in capturing the structure of the temple, some visitors told me to go inside and take pictures of the roof. I went inside and was surprised.

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The height of the roof was something that people seeing from outside would never expect. It was fascinating. No part of this upper structure is visible from outside. So you must just assume the age of this tree and the temple.

Later someone who saw this picture told me that the roof of the Garbagriha of a 8th century temple in Tamil Nadu is exactly similar. Since there is no record of when the tree temple was first built, people just assumed it was 400 years old by the recollections of their elders.

Another interesting fact is that, this place is completely surrounded by tribal area. All the villages around have tribal sounding names. But this village is called Kasipatnam and the next village is called Sivalingapuram. This made me wonder about what was the story behind the temple and this place.

The temple has a very peaceful aura but sadly no one knows the history behind it.