Travelogue – Someshwara Temple

Srikakulam Temple Diaries 2

Today I will share the beauty of a Lord Shiva temple located in Jalamuru Mandal of Srikakulam, Andhra Pradesh.

It is the Someshwara temple which is right now undergoing some restoration work.

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Built in the 11th or 12th century CE by the Eastern Ganga dynasty kings, it has great sculptural beauty.

Each picture can be enlarged to appreciate the beauty.

 

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The entrance to the sanctum with beautifully carved doorway

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This is Gajalakshmi with meditating Devas above her.

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Ganga

This is Ganga, I loved the adoring looks of the sevikas.

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This is Gangadhara. The name given to lord Shiva because he bore Ganga on his head.

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Designs and people, a treat to see.

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The first level of the temple is intricately carved, while the vimana is a bit more simple in the carving.

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Ganesha in all his splendour with his vaahan, the mooshika (rat) and the ganas carved below.

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The four armed Lakulisa (Lord with the staff or club). He is considered to be the 28th and last avatar of Shiva, and revivalist of the Pashupata Sect. He is also known as the Yogic incarnation of Shiva. He had 4 disciples Kusika, Garbha, Mitra, and Kaurusya. You can see them carved beneath.

Also notice a carving like a water outlet. Didn’t see if they managed a real outlet.

 

 

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Stories from puranas carved in stone.

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Lord Karthikeya, also known as Kumara Swamy, Murugan or Lord Subramanya is the son of Lord Shiva and Parvati Devi. The peocock which is his Vaahan looking at him adoringly and ganas carved beneath.

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Mahadev (Lord Shiva) cajoling Parvati Devi.

 

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Ganesha, Kumaraswamy and the ganas watching the divine scene.

Notice the second person from the left in the first picture. I was fascinated by how skeletal he looked and the finesse of the sculptor. I thought there must be a story there too. Someone pointed out that he is Bhringi. Since I did not know the story of Sage Bhringi, searched the net and found a wiki page for Bhringi. It is an interesting story.

According to Hindu epics, Bhringi was an ancient sage (rishi), and a great devotee of Shiva,[1] the Hindu God. According to epics, all the rishis paid homage to both Shiva and Parvati,consort of Shiva , but Bhringi would not worship Parvati and dedicated himself solely to Shiva .

The story goes that Bhringi one day, came to Mount Kailash, the abode of Shiva , and expressed his desire to go around Shiva . As he was going around, Shiva ‘s consort, Shakti, said, “You cannot just go around him. You have to go around me too. We are two halves of the same truth.”

Bhringi, however, was so focussed on Shiva that he had no desire to go around Shakti. Seeing this, Shakti sat on Shiva’s lap making it difficult for Bhringi to go around Shiva alone. Bhringi, determined to go around Shiva took the form of a Bhring (Black Bee) and tried to slip in between the two.

Amused by this, Shiva made Shakti one half of his body – the famous Ardhanarishvara form of Shiva . This was God whose one half is the Goddess. But Bhringi was adamant. He would go around Shiva alone. So he took the form of a rat, some say a bee, and tried to gnaw his way between the two.

This annoyed the Goddess so much that she said, “May Bhringi lose all parts of the body that come from the mother.” In Tantra, the Indian school of alchemy, it is believed that the tough and rigid parts of the body such as nerves and bones come from the father while the soft and fluid parts of the body such as flesh and blood come from the mother. Instantly, Bhringi lost all flesh and blood and he became a bag of bones. He collapsed on the floor, unable to get up.

Bhringi realized his folly. Shiva and Shakti make up the whole. They are not independent entities. One cannot exist without the other. Without either there is neither. He apologized.

This is the story given in the wikipedia page. But carving the skeletal Bhringi is amazing.

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Mahishasura Mardini or 10 armed Durga, slaying the asura. The battle scene carved below.

Seeing the temple from afar, we can never imagine that it has such sculpural beauty. It was a treat for me capturing these carvings.

 

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Travelogue – Srikurmam

Srikakulam Temple diaries 1

Today, i want to share my experience of going to Sri Kurmanatha Swamy temple, popularly known as Sri Kurmam.

This temple is located in the Srikakulam district of Andhra Pradesh, India. It is the only Swayambhu (self manifested) shrine of Sri Maha Vishnu, where he is worshipped in his Kurma (tortoise) Avatar. Main shrine is said to be more than 10,000 years old and is mentioned in the Kurma, Vishnu, Padma and Brahmanda puranas. While the temple was built many times, the present temple structure is more than 700 years old.

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Sweta Pushkarini (the adjoining pond) is believed to have been created by Sri Vishnu’s Sudarshana Chakra and Goddess Lakshmi has self manifested as Kurma Nayaki.

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Sri Vishnu

 

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Gajalakshmi

 

Beautiful carvings around the temple

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Sri Vishnu in the yogic pose of padmasan
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Sri Vishnu with Lakshmi Devi

The beauty of these sculptures are the jewellery and clothes along with their folds, beautifully carved.

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Lord Yama
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Varuna Deva on his Makara

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Agni Deva

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The temple has 108 eka-shila(made of single stone) pillars. No two pillars are alike. Some pillars have inscriptions of the kings who ruled at various times.

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Pillar with inscription

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pillar with inscription

 

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This temple has the influence of both the Andhra and Kalinga (part of modern Orissa) architecture.

In the temple premises, a conservatory has been established for star tortoises and devotees who come to the temple feed the tortoise too.

This temple is also known as pitruksetra, a place for worshipping our ancestors.

 

Travel – And miles to go before I sleep.

Have you woken up one day and realised that the years have fled pretty fast? That there is so much to do and see before you face obstacles and find fulfilling your heart’s desire is no longer very easy? Well, that is how i feel now.

From childhood, palaces, forts, temple architechture and carvings have held a fascination for me.

When I was a child, we lived in United Kingdom for a few years. I had seen the Buckingham Palace from outside like any other tourist, but the image that stayed with me was not of Buckingham palace but of a castle that I had seen during a long drive. My father used to take these family trips with friend’s families, and it was during such a drive that I saw a castle. From afar definitely, but I couldn’t miss the atmosphere of it and was drawn to it. As a child you cannot ask your parents to change directions, when they were travelling with others. So that vague image stayed with me. Later our family shifted back to India.

Luckily in my country, we may not have castles, but we have palaces, forts, picturesque locales and temples with beautiful carvings. Till I was a student, I never travelled for sightseeing. The only travel was to visit relatives scattered in different places. So life just kept passing me by without me indulging in my love for sightseeing.

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After a few years I started getting a chance to travel. Even though it was occasional, I was glad that I was taking the first steps towards realising my dream. When you have a family, you have responsibilities, obligations and financial constraints, so even if I was taking a trip once in 3, 4 years, I was happy.

My trips may have been small, but they were definitely fulfilling. Going out of the country was not my focus (though I did take a trip to the US 2 years ago), but seeing what all beauty my country had to offer was very important to me. Till now, I have seen quite a few places, though I wasn’t able to photograph my earlier travels.

Going to new places is such fun. Each place has people speaking different languages, different dressing style, different cuisine, it is such a joy experiencing all these aspects of travel.

I have so much more that I want to see, and I surely will. As Scarlett O’Hara famously said, “After all …. Tomorrow is another day”.