Sri Siddeshwara Temple – Warangal

Built in 3rd century CE, Sri Siddeshwara temple lies 4 km away from Warangal city in peaceful surroundings. This temple is one of the few temples that has west facing doorway (paschima mukha dwaram).

Sri Siddeshwara is a Swayambhu sivalingam.

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Sri Siddeshwara temple

Sthala purana – After many years of tapasya by Sandilya maharshi, Mahadev blessed him by manifesting as a Swayambhu shivalingam, as Sri Siddeshwara Swamy. It is said that everyday between midnight and 3 am, many rishis and devatas do Pooja to Siddeshwara Swamy. It is said that the pranava naadam can be heard by mahatmas during this period. Kanchi kamakoti peetadhipati Jagadguru Sri Chandrashekara Saraswati Swamiji had been blessed with hearing this pranava naadam. He told everyone of the greatness of Sri Siddeshwara Swamy here and said that the wishes of devotees will be fulfilled here. It is said that 9 aushadha siddis did tapasya here and were blessed by Siddeshwara. So this is holy land.

From ages ago, a cobra has been safeguarding the temple. It comes at night and winds itself around the shivalinga. Many people have seen it. People who want to get married or want to have children, pray to this Nagendra on Tuesdays.

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Because there was no source of water to do worship, Mahadev instructed Nandi to make a pond, so a Pushkarini was made by Nandi and was called Nandikeswara Gundam.

Revana Siddeshwara who is considered as the incarnation of Sri Renukacharya, did tapasya here. When this temple was in ruins, the descendants of Siddeshwara did re installation (punah prathista) of the lord. It has been recorded that the Kakatiya rulers worshipped Sri Siddeshwara Swamy. From the time of the Kakatiyas, the descendants of Revana Siddeshwara are the pujaris (archakas) and caretakers (dharmakartas) of this temple.

Another greatness of the temple is that for 3 days in the year the sun’s rays fall directly on the shivalinga.

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The pillars in the mandapam inside the temple signify the age. You can see the utsava vigrahas in the picture above.
Outsiders do not know about this temple. Many of us know about 1000 pillar temple and Ramappa temple, but do not know about other ancient temples in this great land.
I was lucky that my search for ancient temples led me there to seek blessings of Mahadev. I hope people who visit Warangal will take the blessings of Sri Siddeshwara Swamy.

 

Bhadrakali temple – Warangal

Bhadrakali temple is situated on a hillock between Warangal and Hanumakonda. Originally it was built during the time of Chalukya king Pulikesin II in 625 CE after he succeeded in bringing the Vengi region under his rule.

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To celebrate his victory he built a temple for Bhadrakali Amma. In the interior there are a few pillars that are from the Chalukya time. Amma is made of Ekanda Shila (single stone) which was Chalukyan style. Later the Kakatiyas considered Amma as their Kula Devata and contributed to the temple.

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Bhadrakali lake beside the temple was built during Kakatiya reign to serve the water needs of the kingdom. It is spread over 2 and a half acres. It is said that Rani Rudrama Devi wouldn’t take food unless she had the darshan of Amma.
Ganesh temple was added later in the temple premises.
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This is a picture of how Bhadrakali Amma looks. I was expecting to see her in a fierce (roudra) form, but she looks very peaceful (shanta).
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As Amma is always in Alankara (decoration) and we cannot see her full form, the temple authorities got an statue of Amma made which depicts how she looks without the decoration.
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Allauddin Khilji and later Tuglak led to the fall of the Kakatiyas. The area was later under the Bahamani sultans and the Nawabs, hence the temple became neglected. In 1950 after the Warangal area became part of Indian Union, a Devi upasaka Sri Ganapati Sastri started renovating the temple.
Many affluent dharmic locals contributed towards the renovation along with Sastri and brought the temple back to its glory. It is said Bhadrakali Amma transformed as Tripura sundari by holy mantras. She is not only beautiful but a darshan of her fills us with so much joy.

Sri Shambulingeshwara Temple – Warangal

Right opposite the Warangal fort is the ancient Sri Shambulingeshwara Temple. Built in 1162 CE under the Kakatiya king Ganapati Deva Chakravarty, it is a Swayambhu sivalingam.

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The Shambulingeshwara temple is built in a style that reflects Shaiva and Vaishnava sampradayas. The Shivalinga is similar to the one in Srisailam.

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The chaturmukha (four faced) lingam is a special feature here.

The faces are slightly damaged. In this picture you can notice the shape of the temple and a shivalinga is kept there. Maybe from a later period.

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Entrance to the temple.

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Pillared mandapam inside the temple. It is these stone structures that show us the age of the temple.

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Beautiful Veerabhadra Swamy murti.

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Mahishasura Mardini murti on top and Varuna below.

These are kept to the left of the temple. These statues look ancient but may or may not be part of this temple. They could be from here or brought from another place to safeguard them.

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Nandi in front of the garbagriha. Again big, heavily ornamented and damaged. Ears and tail broken.

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Coming out, there is another Mandapam in the prakara. There are smaller nandis kept in the prakara. Some damaged. The vimana on the garbalaya looks similar to the one in the tree temple of Kasipatnam here. I took a picture of the interior of the vimana in the tree temple. This may look same. The design sure looks the same.

There is a murti of Hanumanji in the compound. In Warangal you see lot of Nandis and Hanumanji statues.

Though I didn’t know of this temple previously and it was not in my schedule, I am grateful that my gaze fell on this temple and I was able to have darshan in another ancient temple.

For the temples that are under the purview of ASI, they keep a board saying that anyone who damages the structure will be punished. That is fine. But a board describing the structure and the history behind it would be greatly appreciated.

 

 

 

1000 pillar temple – Hanumakonda

Hanumakonda and Warangal are like twin cities, situated side by side. Hanumakonda was the capital of the Kakatiya dynasty before they shifted the capital to Warangal. In Hanumakonda we can see the famous Rudreshwara Temple, also famously known as the 1000 pillar temple, because it is made with 1000 pillars.

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The thousand pillar temple was built during the reign of Rudra Deva of the Kakatiya dynasty in 1163 CE in the style of later Chalukyan and early Kakatiyan Architechture.

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The temple measures over 31*25 m and stands on a platform which is one meter above the ground. The temple is called 1000 pillar temple because of the pillars used for the temple. The entire wall of the temple is made up of pillars which are joined.

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It consists of three shrines to Shiva, Vishnu and Surya on three sides of the Rangamandapam. While Rudreshwara was having Nitya Pooja and was well illuminated, I am not too sure about Vishnu and Surya temples. One was locked, the other not too visible because of low lighting.

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Black stone dwaram (doorway) to the garbagriha is richly sculpted. Photography is not allowed inside. But I requested the pujari to let me capture just the sculpture, because by then I was very sad seeing a lot of destruction in the Warangal fort and partly here too. Maybe he saw the love that I had for the art and sculpture, he allowed me to take pictures. I did not abuse his trust by taking pictures of Deva. Grateful that I was able to record this beauty.

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Coming to the massive Nandi in front of the temple, it is on an elevated plain pavilion. Richly ornamented it must have been glorious previously. Mark of invaders is very visible. Both ears are cut of, part of tail and left leg are broken. It breaks the heart to see such damage.

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A pillared Mandapam being reconstructed by the ASI. Because work is going on, couldn’t go there.

 

Thus ended the visit to another great ancient temple.

Warangal – Ruins of Swayambhu Shivalay

Warangal city is the district headquarters of Warangal Urban district of Telangana state. It is a city steeped with history. Previously known as Orugallu or Ekashila nagaram, which means a ‘single stone’ in telugu, it got its name by the huge boulder that lay in the Warangal fort. It was the capital city of the Kakatiya dynasty when they shifted their capital from Hanumakonda. Warangal is a three hour drive from Hyderabad and a must visit place for history and culture enthusiasts.

When I had planned a trip to Warangal, searching for places to see, I saw that Warangal fort is an important sightseeing place. So I was waiting to see a ruined fort. But when I went to the place called Warangal fort, I realised that it was that section of the fort where previously a Swayambhu Shivalayam existed and now had relics which were excavated.

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The Kakatiya thoranams

On four sides we can see the famous Kakatiya thoranams, one of which we can see in above picture. Smaller thoranams are also there. The Kakatiya Thoranam has been included in the emblem of the state of Telangana.

This area is the place where a Swayambhu Shivalay existed. The relics that have been excavated are displayed here.

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The beautiful sculpture by the Kakatiyas is on display, so is the destruction wrought upon them by the barbaric invaders. The Kakatiya rulers must have been great patrons of art and culture. Throughout Warangal, in the sculpture on the temples we can see dancers and musicians.

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Even animals were not spared. Be it horses, elephants or lions. Their legs and heads were broken.

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A huge Kirtimukha gives us an idea of the scale of the temple. It must have been outstanding and majestic.

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A mandapam with Nandi. Again the sculpture has been destroyed.

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In such a scenario, any sculpture without destruction gives us great joy.img_20200110_212607

This partly broken elephant was used by children as a showpiece in a park and they were climbing it for pictures. I couldn’t keep quiet so told the teacher who came with them to not allow them to climb on top but to take pictures beside it and to not spoil our heritage.

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Destruction and beauty side by side fills us with sorrow.

But we have to appreciate the talent of the sculptors of the Kakatiya period.

 

 

Kolanupaka

Almost 80 kms from Hyderabad lies the village of Kolanupaka in Aler mandal of Nalgonda district. The village is a must visit for heritage enthusiasts because we can visit an ancient Shiva and Jain temple.

Sri Someshwara temple

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Before we enter the temple complex, we can see a small shrine of Shiva with Nandi below the ground level. Few pieces from temples have been kept in such a way so that it doesn’t get filled with sand and mud. Sri Someshwara temple is under ASI.
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Shivalay below the ground level.
Entering the prakaram, we see a statue of a life sized Mahavira in a Padmasana. Behind is a stone Dwajastambam from ancient times. The present temple is 800-900 years old and built during the time of the Kalyani Chalukyas. It was also patronaged by the Kakatiyas.
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In front of Dwajastambam is the standing statue of Hanumanji with Murti’s of Ganesha and Kartikeya on two sides. A little ahead is a small Mandapam with Nandi in it. This Nandi is well carved with ornaments.
Around this area is a prakara Mandapam which is used like a museum by ASI.
Some sculptures of various times are placed here. Some were found during a construction of a school and library in Kolanupaka. Sculptures from the 10th, 11th, 12th and 16th century can be found here. Some inscriptions of the Kalyani Chalukyas are also displayed.
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Parsvanatha                                                  Naga
At the entrance Mandapam some artifact’s are kept in a haphazard way. To the left there is an temple for Veerabhadra Swamy.
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Opposite to it is a temple of Shiva with Nandi in front.
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Doorway to the inner prakaram has carvings on three sides.
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This Nandi and Shivalinga are in the Mandapam inside the temple. There is another lingam and paadams on another side. The garbagriha has a Swayambhu shivalingam and a Murti of Renukacharya behind it. It is said that Renukacharya was born from this shivalinga. He appeared on this earth to spread Veera Shaivism and after fulfilling his duty he is said to have joined with the lingam again. The Swayambhu lingam is said to be from Satyuga though the temple is 900 yrs old. Teachings of Renukacharya to Agastya rishi are recorded in ‘Sri Siddanta Shikamani’.
Beside the garbagriha is a temple for Sri Chandeeswari maata. Amma is said to be powerful and many people tie mudupulu to the top of the mandapam in front of her temple to ask for fulfillment of wishes.
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Coming out, we come to the temple of Kotilingeshwara swamy. The shivalinga is carved with miniature Lingas on it. There is a big Nandi in front of the garbagriha.
In this temple too I was happy seeing musicians entralling Deva with their music. A small tank  is there beside the main temple.
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At first I thought this structure was a Mandapam, but it is another Shivalay with Shivalinga and Nandi, but in bad shape.

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This structure is a ruined mandapam
It is easy to imagine how it must have been when it was built and many years later. The peaceful aura is not to be missed. Nor are the pieces of history kept all around.
Kulpakji Jain Mandir
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Kulpakji Jain Mandir is about 2000 yrs old. The present structure is a couple of decades old. It has murtis of Lord Rishabhanatha (carved in green stone), Lord Neminatha and Lord Mahavira.
Kolanupaka was a famous Jain center during Rashtrakuta times.
Photography is not allowed inside.
Kolanupaka was a place where Jainism thrived, before Veera Shaivism took over. Yet Jainism still flourishes over here.

Sri Rama Chandra Temple – Ammapalli

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Ammapalli is a village situated 30 kms from Hyderabad and 5 Kms from Shamshabad. In this small village lies the ancient Sri Ramachandra temple.

Built during the time of the Kalyani Chalukyas, it is between 800 to 900 years old. Though there are no stone inscriptions as to the date of the construction of the temple, the history has been told through generations and thus we know of its age. This temple has been used for many movie shootings and is believed to bring the movie success at the box office.

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The first look

When we approach the temple, we come towards the west side of it. We can see a Mandapam adjoining the prakara (compound wall). Going a little further, to the left we come across the temple tank or Pushkarini.

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Pushkarini.

Though it doesn’t have water in it now, we cannot fail to appreciate the beauty of it. It has a Prakara mandapam on 3 sides. The tank is surrounded by trees making the look so beautiful.

When we turn towards the temple, we can admire the 5 tiered Gopuram which is 90 feet high.

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Gopuram

The Gopuram which is 5 tiered surprisingly has a Rajasthani style of architechture in its first tier. There is a carving of Lord Vishnu on his Sheshtalpa on top of the Doorway. Once we enter the temple prakara (compound) we can see the Prakara mandapam (compound corridor) all around.

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Though there are some trees in the compound, what catches our eyes is the tree to the left that is said to be more than 300 years old and which has many bundles tied to it.

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These bundles are tied when a devotees prays for a specific wish and which will be removed when the wish is fulfilled.

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Vimana on the Garbagriha.

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A mandapam which has a stone Kurma (tortoise)

Going into the antarala, we go for the darshan of Lord Sri Rama, Sita Devi and Lakshmana. This place is believed to be a place where the three of them took rest during their aranyavasa (exile) hence only the 3 three murtis are there. As it was before the time they met Hanuman, his murti is not alongside Rama, Sita and Lakshmana. Here the Lord holds an arrow in his right hand and hence is called Kodanda Rama swamy. The murtis are made from ekasila (single stone) and are unique because they are carved with the makara toranam. While in all temples we have makara toranam above the deities in brass or silver, here they are carved within the same stone along with the murti. The Makara toranam of Lord Rama is unique because it has the dasavataras carved on it. It is said that once the devotees come for the darshan and ask anything with devotion, Sri Kodanda Rama fulfills it and the devotees come again to thank the lord.

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There are steps to go to the top of the prakara mandapam.

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We can see bench like structures on top which will enable people to sit and enjoy the peaceful atmosphere.

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View of the temple from the top of the prakara mandapam.

Coming out we can see another mandapam where previously marriages and the brahmotsavams of Rama took place.

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One movie whose picturization revolves around this temple is Murari. The story is woven around this temple and extensively shot here. Though it is a Rama temple, in the movie they showed it as a goddess temple. The movie was a huge hit and I am fond of it. Always I thought the temple shown in the movie was in a far off place,  I never imagined that it was so close to Hyderabad.

Outside there is an old Shiva temple and a smaller temple for Hanuman.

Was happy with the visit as I was able to enjoy the peaceful aura of the temple, have darshan of Deva and enjoy seeing the temple where the movie’s shooting took place.

 

Sri Endala Mallikarjuna Swamy – Ravivalasa

Ravivalasa is a village of Srikakulam district of Andhra Pradesh. In Ravivalasa lies the largest Swayambhu sivalingam. The Shivalinga here is 20m tall and 3m wide. There is no enclosed temple for this shivalinga.

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Sri Endala Mallikarjuna Swamy temple

According to sthala purana, in Tretayuga after Rama killed Ravana and was returning to Ayodhya, Sushena who was their physician expressed his desire to stay back at Sumancha Parvata and do penance for Lord Shiva. People around the area were with ill health and he wanted to help them. After some time passed Rama sent Hanuman to enquire about Sushena. When Hanuman came, he saw that Sushena had passed away. Seeing the body of Sushena and feeling sad, he covered the body with a deer skin (ajina in sanskrit) and placed some jasmine flowers on top of it and went to convey the news to Lord Rama. Rama, Sita and Lakshman come there to pay their respects and when they remove the deer skin, a Shivalinga starts growing. They took bath in the Pushkarini(pond) near the Swayambhu lingam, did Pooja and left. The lingam grew gradually. From the time the Shivalinga came, people started recovering their health. This Swamy was called Mallikajina Swamy. Mallika(jasmine flower) and ajina(deer skin). Hence he was called Mallikajina Swamy.
Later in Dwaparayuga when the Pandavas were in agnyatavasam, Arjuna is said to have worshipped this Swamy, hence he was known as Mallikarjuna Swamy.
In later times the Raja of Tekkali tried to build a temple around this shivalinga but did not succeed. Lord Shiva appeared in his dream and told him not to enclose him in a temple, that the air which touches him and reaches the devotees will keep them safe and healthy. So a temple was not built. As he was exposed to the sunlight (enda in telugu), this swamy was called Sri Endala Mallikarjuna Swamy. 
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The Swayambhu shivalingam
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Structure enabling the devotees to go and do abishekam from top.
In the months of Kartheeka and Maagha, there is huge crowd. People from surrounding villages and Orissa also come here for Swamy. A bath in the Pushkarini which is known as Sitamma Koneru is believed to cure people from skin diseases.

Pic credits – Dr D L Naidu.

Somnath Jyotirlinga Temple

The story of unbeatable resolve of the Dharmics in our Bhaarat.

Somnath Jyotirlinga temple is situated in Prabhas Patan in Veraval municipality in the Saurashtra region of Gujarat. This is the 1st of the 12 Jyothirlingas.

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Somnath kshetra is an ancient teerth sthal with references in Skanda purana, Srimad Bhagavad and Shiva Purana. This place has been also called Bhaskar teertha, Prabhas teertha, Aarka teertha, Soma teertha among other names during mahabharat time.

According to the purana, Chandra (Soma) married 27 daughters of Daksha Prajapati. Out of them he favoured Rohini and neglected the others. They complained to Daksha about Soma’s neglect and an angry Daksha cursed Soma that he would become diseased. Soma begs forgiveness and asks Daksha to remove the curse. Daksha says a curse by a Prajapati cannot be undone. Soma then goes to Brahma who advises him to go to Prabhasa kshetra and pray to Mahadev. Soma does Shivalinga pratishta and performs severe austerities to Mahadev for six months. Mahadev appears to Soma and advises him to treat all his wives equally and says that he can remove part of the curse and not the whole curse. He also assures Soma that he would reside in the lingam there. Soma constructs the 1st temple with the help of Vishwakarma, the architect of the Gods. Hence this kshetra was known as Somnath kshetra. It is said that Soma made this temple with gold and in Dwapara yuga Krishna built it with sandalwood.

Attacks

In 1021 CE Muhammad Ghazni attacked and looted the riches of the temple and completely destroyed the temple and Shivalinga. Kumarapala, a Jain king, (r. 1143–72) rebuilt it in “excellent stone and studded it with jewels,” according to an inscription in 1169.

In 1298 CE Allauddin Khilji attacked, looted and destroyed the temple and broke the shivalinga. The temple was rebuilt by Mahipala I, the Chudasama king of Saurashtra in 1308 and the lingam was installed by his son sometime between 1331 and 1351.

The temple was again destroyed by the muslims again and again.

In 1547 CE a Portuguese governor destroyed the temple.

In 1665 CE Aurangazeb destroyed the existing temple.

In 1701 again he gave orders for destruction of the existing temple in such a way that it could not be rebuilt.

In 1786 Rani Ahalyabai Holkar constructed a temple very near to the actual temple site. It stands till now and the shivalinga looks exactly like the shivalinga in the main temple.

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This Shivalinga in at a level below the ground. People worshipped here till the main temple was rebuilt in 1951.

The new Somnath temple was built on the place where a previous temple existed in the Chalukyan architectural style, under the instructions of Sardar Patel post independence and Prana pratishta was done in 1951. The temple is situated at such a place that there is no land in a straight line between Somnath seashore until Antarctica. An inscription in sanskrit is found on the Arrow pillar erected on the sea-protection wall.

I have been to both the old and new Somnath mandirs. Many devotees do not know of the temple by Ahalyabai Holkar though it is very near the New Somnath Mandir. In both the temples I felt the divine aura.

Shatkoti pranam to all the kings through the years who rebuilt this temple again and again inspite of the many destructions.

 

Suraj Mandir – Somnath

Somnath is a place in Gujarat which has a number of religious, historical and spiritual associations.

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In the picture the Kamnath mandir is in yellow and the ancient Suraj Mandir in brown colour.

The Kamnath mandir was built 200 years ago by King Mayurdwaj. There is a cave behind it where Adi Shankaracharya is said to have meditated. This temple is opposite the Triveni Sangam in Somnath.

The temple in brown colour is the ancient Suraj Mandir (Temple of the Sun God).

Though it is believed to be 5000 years old, there is no proof of the fact. But it is a fact that it was looted along with the Somnath temple by Mohammad Ghazni. So it being close to 2000 years is a fact.

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The entrance.

The temple is in a ruined condition.

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A sculpture worn away by time and neglect.

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It has small houses besides it and they are using the temple exterior to hang clotheslines and clothes which is very sad.

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The doorway to the garbagriha has sculpture

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We can catch a glimpse of its glory seeing the sculpture on the Vimana and walls.img_20191009_153451

Seeing such temples gives a bittersweet feeling. Proud of our heritage and sad due to lack of maintenance.

Beside this is way to go to Hinglaj maata mandir which is deep in a cave. Going inside is difficult. But went and had darshan of maata. Here maata is supposed to have self manifested when the Pandavas prayed to her.

Coming away, I was wondering how it might have been in its days of glory. Hope ASI takes care of it.