Monday, April 25, 2011


" The Shiva Purana has twenty-four thousand shlokas. These are divided into six samhitas or sections."
The names of the sectiosn are -
1 - Jnana Samhita,
2 - Vidyeshvara Samhit,
3 - Kailasa Samhita,
4 - Sanatkumar Samhita,
5 - Vayaviya Samhita and
6 - Dharma Samhit.

Each samhita is further subdivided into chapters (Adhyaya).

Jnana Samhita has Seventy-Eight Chapters,
Vidyeshvara Samhita Sixteen Chapters,
Kailasa Samhita Twelve Chapters,
Sanathkumar Samhila Fifty-Nine Chapters,
Vayaviya Samhita Thirty Chapters and
Dharma Samhita Sixty-Five Chapters.

The Shiva Purana was recited by Vedavyasa's disciple Romaharshana, alternatively, Loma-harshana.



Location: Uttar Pradesh
Main attractions: Gupt-Godavari, Bharat-Koop
Best Season: July-March
Languages: Hindi, Bundeli, English

THE ANCIENT PILGRIMAGE in Banda district of Uttar Pradesh, on the banks of river Paisuni (Mandakini), Chitrakoot Dham is one of the most ancient holy pilgrim places of India. Lying in latitude 25 10N and longitude 80 53 E, on the road from Banda to Allahabad, it is 285 km from Lucknow and 120 km from Allahabad.

The fourteen years of exile of lord Rama have impressed the human mind more vitally than other period of his life. Wherever his august feet tread in the years that he roved the wilderness, the land sprouted a pilgrimage center. Chitrakoot is one of them. Legend has it that during his fourteen years exile, lord Rama, along with his consort Sita and brother Lakshman came to Chitrakoot and in the solitude of its forests came in intimate contact with sage Atri and Sati Anasuya.

Goswami Tulsidas, the author of epic Shri Ramcharitmanas, spent many years on the soil of Chitrakoot, rendered sacred by the touch of the Lords feet. He composed many of his verses surrounded by nature, in its fullest splendour. Wrapped in peace and tranquility, broken only by the flutter of birds and the murmur of gushing streams, Chitrakoot is a symbol of faith-dotted with myriad temples and filled with the reverberating sound of bells- truly, an abode of the gods.


Anasuya- Atri Ashram: About 4 kms away from Sphatikshila is the hermitage of sage Atri and Anasuya, surrounded by dense jungles. The peace and tranquility is occasionally disturbed by the sound of wild animals. The ashram houses the statues of Anasuya, Atri, Dattatreya and Durvasa Muni. A natural wonder, the Gupt-Godavari caves are at a distance of 9.66 km, from Anasuya Atri Ashram. In the heart of a dark cave is a tank, which is perpetually fed by a small stream of water. This tank which is known as Sitakund is not too deep. Gushing out of the cave into two tanks outside, the water disappears suddenly, creating an aura of mystery.

Bharat Koop: To attain salvation, the pilgrimage to Chitrakoot is incomplete without a visit to this hallowed place of worship. It is said that, to crown lord Rama as the king of Ayodhya, his brother bharat, collected the waters of all the sacred rivers to anoint him with. On the advice of sage Atri, the waters were later poured into a deep well popularly known as Bharat Koop. A temple dedicated to Lord Rama is also found here.

Jankikund: On the banks of the river Mandakini, bathed in a golden hue is the Jankikund, where Sita took her ceremonial dip every morning.

Sphatikshila: Situated around 1.5 miles from Jankikund, on the banks of river Paisuni is the Sphatikshila, where Ram & Sita used to sit and watch the beauty of the serene surroundings. It is also said that at this place, Jayant, son of lord Indra, in the guise of a crow, had attached and pecked Sita. Dhara: Approachable by a flight of 360 steps, situated atop a hill is Hanuman Dhara, which has a big statue of lord Hanuman. A streak of water, gushing out from the hillock falls into a tank situated in front of the statue.

Kalinjar: 88 km from Chitrakoot lies the invincible fort of Kalinjar. Once desired by kings & dynasties, it house the Nilkanth Temple, Swargarohan Kund, Balkhandeshwar Mahadev Temple, Shivasari Ganga & Koti Tirth. Other interesting spots within the fort area are Sita Sej, Patal Ganga, Pandu Kund, Budhi-Taal, Bhairon-Ki-Jharia and Mrigdhara.

Allahabad: Allahabad, at the confluence of the three holiest of Indian rivers, the Ganga, Yamuna & the mythical Saraswati, has been the center of Hindu faith and devotion for centuries. People congregate in hundreds to take a dip in its sacred waters every day.

Sitapur: Lying on the left bank of Paisuni about 8 km from Karvi, it is intimately connected with the sacred hill of Kamtanath, which is 2 km to its southwest. Pilgrims first bathe in Paisuni, at Sitapur and then move on to do the parikrama of Kamtanath Hill.

Originally known as Jaisinghpur, it was given to Mahant Charan Das by Aman Singh Raja of Panna, who gave it the new name Sitapur, in honour of goddess Sita. There are twenty-four ghats and several temples along the river, which add to the glory of the town.

Rajapur: 42 km from Chitrakoot, this place is believed to be the birthplace of Goswami Tulsidas. A Tulsi Mandir is situated here.

Marpha: 4 km from Gupt Godavari is Marpha famous for its natural beauty along with waterfalls, Jal Mohan Sarovar, Sri Balaji Mandir, five-faced statue of lord Shankar and ruins of a fort, believed to be built by Chandela rajas.

Ganesh Bagh: 11 km. from Chitrakoot at Ganesh Bagh, on the Karvi Devangana Road, an exquisitely carved Shiva temple, a seven-storeyed Bawali and remains of a residential palace, built during the Peshwa rule, popularly known as mini Khajuraho are well worth a visit.

Air: Nearest airport is at Bamrauli (Allahabad) 135 km.
Rail: Chitrakoot is connected by rail with all major cities- Delhi , Calcutta , Jhansi, Gwalior , Lucknow , Jabalpur, Varanasi, Allahabad. Nearest railway stations are Karvi (8 km) and Atarra (40 km).
Road: By road, Chitrakoot is 8 km from Karvi and 72 km from Banda. For tourists, it is advisable to reach Karvi, headquarters of the sub-division, from where one can go to Sitapur, situated at the foothills of Kamtanath hill. Buses of both M.P. and U.P. state roadways ply on this route.

Sunday, April 24, 2011



yaM DAkinishAkinikAsamAje niShevyamANaM pishitAshanaishcha |
sadaiva bhImAdipadaprasiddaM taM shaNkaraM bhaktahitaM namAmi ||

Location of Bimashankar Jyothirlingam

On the banks of the River Chandrabhaga (Bhima) on the expansive meadows, a large number of devotees can be seen dancing as if they are in a trance. This is a constant scene in Pandharpur. Bheemamayya (mother Bhima) is equated with Ganga-Bhagirathi and people take a holy dip in this river. In Pandharpur, river Bhima came to be known as Chandrabhaga, because it is here that Bhima curves towards Chandrakor.
River Ganga came jumping down from the Jata (Hair) of Lord Shankar, straight through Swarg (Heaven), to the earth. Bhimamayya is the perspiration of Lord Shankara. The origin of River Bhima is BhimaShankar, which is one of the twelve JyotirLingas. In Maharashtra, in Pune District in the Tehsil of Rajguru nagar (Khed) ahead of Ghodegaon, there is Sahyadri mountain range. Bhavargiri, Rathachal and Bhima Shankar mountains are located here. On the Bhima Shankar mountains, the holy shrine of Bhima Shankar is situated. Although it is a very windy palce, one does not experience any cold winds here.
There are lions in the forests here. In these thick forests there are other wild lives too. It is a treasure of various medicinal herbs. It is now quite easy to reach BhimaShankar. Direct and easy roadways are laid that take the pilgrims right up to the shrine. Reaching here from Kokanpradesh is a little difficult because of the mountain terrain.
Many years ago, Shakini and Dakini used to live in these forests. The settlements were far and few in between. But on the festival of Shivaratri, there is a huge gathering of crowds, which brightens up the entire area. The devotees reach here in time and take a Darshan of Lord BhimaShankar. A lot of improvements made here. There is a Government guest-house also. It is said that the lions from these forests come to the shrine every night to get a Darshan of the Lord. Here are some of the stories attached to the JyotirLinga here.
Purana of Bhimshankar Temple
In the ancient times demons by the name Tripurasura become drunk with power. They harassed every resident of Swarg (Heavens), Narak (Hell) and Patal (Nether world). The divines were very scared. Then Lord Mahadev Himself came to destroy Tripurasur. Lord Shankar assumed colossal proportions. Tripurasur feared when they saw this Rudravatar. The fight went on. In the end, Lord Shiva killed the wicked demon and set the there worlds, Tribhuvan, free. Lord Shankar in the form of a huge hunk (Virat) was very tired. In order to get some rest, He settled here on the high area of the Sahyadri mountains sweat started pouring down from His huge body in thousands of streams. It all joined together and collected in a pond or Kund. The river that started from there is known as Bhima, which can be seen even today. Devotees then prayed to Bhimakaya Rudra thus: “In order to save the good people, reside here forever”. Bholenath listened to the devotees and stayed there as a JyotirLinga forever.
There was once a demon called Bhima, whose parents were Kumbhakarna and Karkati. Demon Bhima was harassing and torturing one and all. He was hell bent in the path of destruction of Dharma. Once he asked his mother about the details of his father. His mother told him that his father Kumbhakaran is the younger brother of Ravana, the king of Lanka, who was slain by Sri Ramchandra.
“I am yet to see Lanka; I met your father on some mountains near by, and after you were born, I continued to stay here itself. After my husband was killed, only my parental place became a refuge of sorts for me. My parents are Pushkasi and Karkat. When they went to eat up Agastya the saint, he burned them to ashes with the power of his meditation and Tapas”.
When he heard the story, he was at once eager to take revenge against all the divines along with Hari. He began a severe penance or Tapas, and a pleased Brahma granted him the bon of becoming a very strong man. With this new strength, he captured all the divines including Vishnu and Indra. They were in his control. After this he won a victory over the great Shiva devotee Kamarupeshwar. Kamarupeshwar did not stop his worship of Shiva even when in prison. He performed the Puja with the same devotion, observing all the procedures his wife also joined him in this.
On the other hand, Brahma and Vishnu along with all the other divines started praying Shankara and of asking for deliverance from the wicked Demon King. Shiva assured the divines and sent them home after pacifying them.
Bheema learnt from someone that Kamarupeshwar was making preparations to kill him. On hearing about this, he went straight to the prison and started inquiring into the process and aim of his worship. When he learnt the truth from the king, the wicked Demon called Lord Shiva names and insulted Him and ordered the king to worship Bheema himself instead. When Kamarupeshwar resisted, Bhemma attached the Linga with his sword. Before he could strike, Shiva appeared there. A severe fight ensued in which bows, arrows, swords, axe, the disc and trident etc. were used. In the end, at the request of Narada , Lord Shankar blew a fire and burned the wicked Demon Bheema to ashes. Thus the Devas were released from their sorrows. After this, the divines who were present there, and the saints together pleaded with Lord Shankara to remain there. In view of the welfare of the world, Shiva decided to stay there in the incarnation of Bheema Shankar JyotirLinga.
Self-emanating Mahadev, in the shape of a chariot, the mountains have become the abode of BheemaShankara. It is also known as Rathachala. One Bhatirao Lakadhara (wood-cutter) used to live here. Once he was cutting some wood. Just as he struck the tree with his axe, blood started to flow from the earth. Bhatirao got scared and ran away. Soon, a crowd had gathered there. Someone brought a milk cow and made it stand there. The milk that came from the cow’s udders stopped the bleeding of the earth. Surprising everyone, a glowing JyotirLinga of Shankara, emanated from the earth. People built a temple there and installed the JyotirLinga in the temple. This temple eventually came to be known as Bhima Shankara temple.
Glories of Bhimashankar
In some classics like Shiva Leelamrit, Gurucharitra, Stotraratnakar etc., BheemaShankara is described as a woman. Gangadhar Pandit, Ramdas, Sridhar swamy, narahari Malo, Gnaneshwar, and other saints describe BheemaShankara as JyotirLinga.
Historical figures like Chatrapati Shivaji and Rajaram Maharaj were known to visit this shrine. This was a favourite palce for Peshwa Balaji Vishwanath and Raghunath, Raghunath Peswa had a well dug up here. The Diwan of the Peshwar, Nana Phadanvis renovated this temple. A court hall was built by a Pune trader or Sahukar by the name Chimanji Antaji Nayik Bhinde in 1437 AD.
The temple of Bhima Shankara is built in Hemadpanthi style. It is decorated with the Dashavatar statues. These are very beautiful to look at. The Nandi temple is close to the main temple. A huge bell weighing 5 mans(1 man=40 seens) is located close to the temple. It has 1721 AD inscribed on it. When this bell is rung, the entire echoes with its sound.
The worship of BhimaShankar is done, with Rudrabhishek, Panchamrit snan, everyday. The Lord is praised in rich words. On Mondays as well as other days, lot of devotees flock here for Darshan. A big fete (mela) takes place on Maha Shivaratri festival. The natural scenic beauty of this place is wonderful to look at.
There are many places of tourist interest near BheemShankar temple. Among these are Mokshakund, Gyankund, Gupta Bhumeshwar, SarvaAteerth, Papanasini, akhya Teerth, Vyaghrapada Teerth, Sakshi Vinayaka, Gorakhnath Ashram, Daityasamharini Kamalaja devi’s place, Kamalaja lake, Hanuman lake, etc are worth seeing. The Kokan Kagar or Nagphan is a very dangerous palce located at a height or approximately three thousand feet, from were the entire Talahati Kokan area can be seen. It feels like we are being air-borne. It is very difficult to see this “Kokan kagar” sanding. One has to lie down on the ground, near Kagar and then only it can be seen. A person who is seeing this in a prostrate position has to be kept steady by holding his feet firmly. While watching this is frightening, yet beautiful scene one has to chant “Jaya Bheema Shankar Jaya Bheema Shankar”.
“Panjara Bhimarathyacha Krishnaveni Brihannadi
Malapaharinee Yotra sata loka Vishruta”.
- Someshwar Dev
“Bheemabani Chandrabhaga Vithala Charan ki Ganga”

Haridwar - Gateway to the Gods

Haridwar - Gateway to the Gods

Haridwar, meaning Gateway to God, is one of the most holy places in India. It is believed to be as old as Varanasi. Haridwar holds the Kumbh Mela every 6th and 12th year on the famous Har ki Paudi ghat.

Haridwar is a holy city in the state of Uttaranchal in Northern India. Known as the Gateway to the Gods, Haridwar is considered one of the seven holiest places according to Hindus, as the devas are said to have left their footprints there. Here pilgrims float diyas on the Ganges, to commemorate their deceased ancestors. The city also stands as a gateway to three other important pilgrimage destinations: Rishikesh, Badrinath, and Kedarnath. In Haridwar you will see a great statue of Shiva at the fork of the river. If you are there for a short visit, it is definitely worth to visit the temple on top of the mountain, with a wonderful view.

Neelkanth Mahadev Temple - Dwaraka

Neelkanth Mahadev Temple - Dwaraka

Neelkanth Mahadeva Temple is one of the most revered holy shrines of the Hindus. Neelkanth Mahadev Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva, who is believed to be a complex God of the Hindu pantheon. The establishment of this temple has a legend behind it. According to the mythological stories, Lord Shiva drank the poison that appeared from the 'Sagar Manthan' (churning of ocean). On drinking the poison, his throat turned blue and from that time onwards, Lord Shiva came to be known as 'Neelkantha' (One having blue throat). The way to this shrine is quite a thrilling one. The main shrine of the temple comprises a Shiva lingam (phallic form of Lord Shiva). The spiritual aura of the temple creates a devotional feeling in the hearts of people. People make an offering of coconut, flowers, milk, honey, fruits and water to the Lord. Subsequently, devotees get 'Parshad' of vibhuti, chandan and other things from the shrine. This temple celebrates two festivals that held annually on the occasion of Shivratri (Feb-Mar) and Shivratri of Shravan (July-Aug). At that time, the temple is thronged by thousands of pilgrims. This place is also loved by tourists for its picturesque beauty. Neelkanth Temple is a holy place that provides a celestial affection to the people, who visit the shrine with a devoted heart.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Neelkanth Mahadev Temple, Rishikesh

A temple with patient devotees…a temple with no touts, no one to force you to pay up for a special VIP doorway. A temple where you can take your time and pray without hearing the words “Move Ahead, Keep Moving.”

Does this sound unbelievable? Trust me, I was surprised too.

Nestled on a high mountain top with pristine waters of the holy Ganges below, devotees are invited to seek blessings from Neelkanth Mahadev in Rishikesh.

Neelkanth Mahadev is none other than Lord Shiva. This name befell on him because of a precarious feat he undertook because he could not see his devotees suffer. The Puranas state that during the churning of the ocean-Samudra Manthan, there came out a poison called-Halahal. The venom was exceptionally powerful that it could annihilate mankind. The gods were distressed and didn’t know how to destroy it. Lord Shiva stepped in and decided to drink it.

Mahima (Magnanimous Aura) of Lord Shiva is divine. He surely drank it but did not swallow the poison. He allowed it to remain in his throat. This venom turned his throat blue. Neel defines the color blue, Kanth is throat and Mahadev means Lord of the gods. Lord Shiva came to rest in Rishikesh. The gods tried hard to comfort him and ultimately decided to pour water on his head to cool him off. This is one of the reasons why even today, devotees offer water to Lord Shiva.

After several years of rest and meditation, Lord Shiva removed the poison from his throat and left it on a mountain. He returned to his abode, Mount Kailash in the Himalayas. Later a temple was build around this and now stands as symbol of Lord’s grace at a height of 1675 m.

Neelkanth Mahadev Mandir

A drive of 32 km. from Rishikesh via Barrage or an alternate route of 22 km. via Ram Jhoola can get you there with ease. The scenic beauty was breathtaking as on one side was the mountain terrain and the other side was a steep drop into the fast flowing Ganges.

The holy water of Ganga was much cleaner as compared to the water that flows through Haridwar and Varanasi. The current was tremendous and so river rafting was an extremely popular sport here. Tourists worldwide visit this city for this adventurous thrill.

The temple’s car park was lined with stalls selling offerings for the deity. It consisted of coconut, a sealed-plastic glass containing water from the Ganges, Bel leaves, assorted-fresh flowers, fruits like dhatura and jujube, box of incense sticks, small Chunnari (piece of red veil) and a laminated photograph of the Lord Shiva with the backdrop of the temple.

As I walked ahead, I was taken aback by the temple’s architecture. The entire Samudra Manthan was depicted with colorful idols of all the gods and goddess. One look at it and the entire Puranic story flashes in front of your eyes. The architecture is extremely well-maintained and the photographs don’t do enough justice to them. Photography is not allowed inside the temple so I was forced to take as much as I could from the outside.

I stood in line to enter the inner sanctum. A life-sized idol of goddess Parvati was seated near the entrance. Her striking grandeur forced everyone to bow and offer their obeisance. The arena around the lingam was made of marble. There were detailed etchings of guards or Dwarpals on the columns with intricate detailing that showed their weapons. Opposite the lingam was Lord Shiva’s mount Nandi, the bull.

Devotees kept chanting “Om Namah Shivay” and finally it was my turn. I sat in from of the lingam which was encased in silver. It had an opening at the top to see the original form. I poured the water from the Ganges while a priest seated, chanted the Vedic mantras and helped me complete my worship.

At the exit of the sanctum, there was a gigantic Pipal tree. Devotees had tied chunnaris to it. I guessed that it was for their wishes that needed to be fulfilled. But I really didn’t have anything to wish for. Getting a darshan like this was more than what I had dreamt of.

I feel that if you really want solitude with Lord Shiva, you will get it here in Rishikesh. Even the 12 Jyotirlings won’t give you the solace because of the packed crowds and touts.

Jyotirling at Mallikarjun in Sri Sailam, Andhra Pradesh, Mahakaleshwar in Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh, Rameshwaram in Tamil Nadu, Trymbakeshwar in Nasik, Nageshwar near Dwarka and Somnath in Gujarat do not allow always devotees to touch the Lingam. Security concerns, crowd management and arrival of VIP dignitaries can dampen your spirits.