The golden cave temple or the royal rock temple complex has five separate caves that contain about 157 stunning buddha statues and mural paintings covering 2100 sq meters some of srilankas most important and evocative religious art . Created over 2,000 years ago they have been embellished over centuries by subsequent kings . The early paintings of dambulla are believed by some to belong to the 8th century AC . A sacred pilgrimage site of 22 centuries it is the largest best preserved cave temple in srilanka . The site is insulated and vast in size with its perpendicular height about six hundred feet . Few parts of the complex are covered with wood and the surface is largely bare and black . Dating back to the first century BC , this temple was designated a unesco world heritage site in 1991 .
Location : On eastern coast of orissa a bear shaped littoral strip of land overlooking the bay of bengal with fertile alluvial plains to the northwest the stunning lagoon of chilika to the south west and the state capital bhubaneshwar to the north .
Distances : 478 km SW of kolkatta , 56 km of bhubaneshwar , 81 km S of cuttack , 32 km sw of konark .
Route From Bhuneshwar : NH 203 to Puri
As the sun rises over the boundless bay of bengal the massive stretch of sea by the sacred city of puri vest clad fisherman toss their study dinghies onto the choppy waters . The radiant star , unburdened by the tasks of the day spares a red smile for you . Patitapaban the sacred flag atop teh jaganath temple flutters in the robust morning breeze . The wide bada danda the road which leads uoto the majestic temple provides a view of the grandness of scale and proportion that typifies puri . This is also the path by nirvana where the chariots of the much loved divine sibling jagannath , subhadra and balabhadra roil down in the famous annual rath yatra which inspires awe and draws tumultuous crowds . Central to the town the old lanes near jaganath temple give an indication of how everything grew around this magnificient edifice . In puri everything has to be big . The main road is called bada danda or grand road , the sea is called mahodadhi or the widest ocean the bhog is called mahaprasad or the great prasad . Is it any wonder then that the lord of the universe jagannath presides here ?
An orissa style temple of awesome grandeur the shrine to jaganath stands on raised platform and soars to a height of 65 m dominating the landscape for miles around . The temple is surrounded by two enclosures the first of which is 20 ft high and measures 652 ft by 630 ft . In front of the main gate is a majestic 11 m high 16 sided monolithic pillar . Originally this pillar stood in front of the famous sun temple at konark and was bought here in 18th century. This is part of aruna stambh ( 34 ft high ) a pillar of black granite that forms the base of garuda , lord vishnu ‘s carrier . The main gate guarded by two lions is known as singha dwar ( the lions gate ) . Towards the eastern side connecting the outer enclosures to the inner enclosure is the baisi pahach a sacred flight of 22 steps ( only 17 are left now ) . Parents bring their children and make them roll slowly over the steps from top to bottom in the expectation of spiritual bliss . At the 16 pillared mukti mandap located in front of the southern gate of the temple priests of puri 24 sasanas ( a collective regional authority divided into ancient administrative divisions hold theological discussions. At the end of the steps turn left to the ganesha temple situated at the foot of kalpavat a very old banyan tree . Behind it is the rohini kund a water trough. Legend has it that a crow which was a great devotee of jaganath would sit on a branch above the water and devotees noticed the suddenly had four feet instead of two . Her devotion was acknowledged and she was named kaka bhusundi the rohini kund is also known by this name . Visitors usually throw a coin into the water as homage to her. There are nearly 30 shrines around the main temple seen when according to established practice the pilgrims circumambulates the main temple . There is no escaping the pandas who try to persuade pilgrims to engage them for various services along the way . If the visitor has very little time he may visit at least the three temple’s to ganesha vimala and lakshmi. The tantric shrine of goddess vimala is located in south western corner of the inner compound. The four armed lac deity holds a rosary and a kalasa ( jar ) .There is some controversy over what she holds in her upper hand . It is variously stated to be a human figure a naga woman a noose or none of these . After offering bhog to jaganath it is again offered to vimala . The goddess sleeps after the supreme lord does . When jaganath remains away from the temple during rath yatra it is vimala who remains sleepless guarding his abode . In the garbgriha seated upon the ratna simhasan a 4 foot high throne are the enchanting wooden images of jaganath his sister subhadra and brother balabhadra and the goddess lakshmi and saraswati. There are many times during the day after the bhog has been offered and the deities are being decked with flowers when devotees are allowed to go up to right up to seat of the deities. It is blessed to be here when this is happening which is not always possible as the ritual timings are not all that fixed . Jaganath sits on the right up to the seat of deities. It is blessed to be here when this is happening which is not always possible as the rituals timings are not fixed. Jaganath sits on the right with elder brother balabhadra to the left and little sister subhadra in the middle . They are like human siblings- balabhadra is a stickler for principles, subhadra is pampered sister having a way and jaganath in krishna avatar is the loving manipulator and all knowing guide. There is an immediacy about their divinity they are not sacred to the point of being out of reach and their half finished less than perfect physical appearance and humanised rituals make devotees feel an immediate communion . Swargadwar ( gateway to heaven ) is the stretch of sea to the south of the temple where a dip in sacred waters is said to open doors to heaven . It is believed that the wood from which the three main deities at the temple have been carved floated to the beach at swargadwar . And it is here that shri chaitanya mahaprabhu merged into the sea and into brahma . On the second day of the bright fortnight of asadha ( jun -jul ) nearly a million devotees gather to participate in jaganath rath yatra one of the grandest festivals in the world. Three separate chariots are built every year for lord jaganath hid brother balabhadra and sister subhadra . Jaganath car is the largest with 16 wheels and is called nandigosh . Subhadra comes next riding in her 12 wheeled padmadhwaja driven by her husband arjuna himself . Balabhadra’s 14 wheeled chariot is called taladgwaja .Since only hindus are allowed inside the temple to jaganath it is believed that the nine days of the rath yatra are an opportunity for people of other faiths to come close and even touch the lord when he is in the chariot. The rath yatra is also known as gundicha yatra after the queen who interrupted the making of deities. The chariots remain at the gundicha temple a kilometer away away from the jaganath temple for seven days . This is a golden opportunity for devotees to clamber up the huge chariots see the gods at close quarters and even touch them . The fortunate are even able to see the deities in suna bhesa ( covered in exquisite gold jewelry ) The fervor of the millions of the faithful is almost a physical force . It is as as the gods have happily and indulgently given themselves over completely to their devotees. The best place to see the chariots is from the roof of the raghunandan library in front of the temple or by buying tickets from any of the monasteries or maths around the temple they make seating arrangements on their balconies . Location : At one end of the arterial bada danda that bisects the city 2 kms north of the railway station Timings : 5:30 am -10 pm except between 3 and 4 pm when the deities are offered bhog . Related Info : Devotees who arrive at 5:30 am can hear the loud call of the temple priest to inform the lord of their ( the devotees ) arrival. The ideal time to visit is between 6 and 7 am when deities are dressed up by priests and the astrologer reads out the position of the stars and planets to arrive at the auspicious moments for the days ritual . Pilgrims have close access to the images and can touch the bejeweled throne though not the deities. The temple remains open but main sanctum is closed during rath yatra ( jun jul ) when the deities make their annual sojourn to mausi ma temple . The bhog in jaganath temple is without parallel. Only hindus are allowed inside the temple . However non hindus can have a fair view of the inside of the temple from the roof of the nearby raghunandan library opposite the main gate of the shrine ( ₹ 20 ) Cameras , caps mobile phones and leather items like belts are not allowed inside the temple.
Gundicha Temple : A major part of this temple associated with queen gundicha was built during the 16th and 17th centuries. It is set in a compound with two encircling walls which are adorned with murals and paintings .Unusually it is crowned by a structure akin to a dome and vishnu sudarshan chakra rests on the top . A beautiful garuda idol adorns the eastern most corner of the temple . The jaganath rath yatra arrives and stays here for seven days . The pious believe that a sight of the lord here is equal to a thousand visits to the main temple . This is also considered to be the birthplace of sita consort of rama . The gundicha temple has two gateaways one for jaganath’s entry and the other for his exit . In front of the temple is a stretch of land known as saradhabali or the sand of divine love . It is so named because devotees flock around jaganath out of sheer love and devotion. Location : 1.5 km north east of jaganath temple . Timing : 6am -3 pm , 4 -10 pm .
Mausi Ma Temple : On his way back from the gundicha temple at the end of the rath yatra jaganath is offered podapitha a fire baked delicious at this small white washed temple for goddess ardhasani or mausi ma . The legend goes that the goddess drank half the waters of the pralaya ( the apocalyptic deluge ) thus saving other temple’s. Location: At the opposite end of the bada danda Timing : 6am -3 pm , 4 -10 pm .
Narendra Tank : A bath in this tank ( 254 m by 266 m ) is said to purify one’s soul . An island in the middle has a small temple . It is connected to the south Bank by a bridge. During the annual chandan yatra ( apr may ) , madana mohan the representative deity of lord jaganath is bought to the temple for 21 days and a beautiful float festival is organized then .Location : Just over a kilometer to the north of the jaganath temple Timing : 6am -3 pm , 4 -10 pm .
Loknath Temple : The lingam of loknath remains under water in a small square vat at this shrine. It is fed by a natural spring from the nearby parvati tank . On the night of shivaratri all the water is bailed out to make the top of the lingam visible to worshippers. Location: Approx 3 kms from main temple on puris western outskirts. Timing : Timing : 6am -3 pm , 4 -10 pm .
The northern most jyotirlinga traditionally the third stop in the char dham yatra after yamunotri and gangotri is located at 11746 ft above sea level close to the source of the river mandakini . The experience of offering holy water from gangotri to he who held the holy ganga in his locks can only be described as divine . From gaurikund the roadhead kedarnath is a 14 km trek northwards which can be negotiated on foot or on ponies or palanquins hoisted by four men . The trek to kedarnath is along the river mandakini . It is an uplifting experience to walk by stark mountain faces , snow peaks , spectacular waters , flowers and floating clouds . The trek is steady ascent along a stone paved path in large parts through a thick forests of himalayan oak , rhododendron and a profusion of ferns . It is steep until garuda chatti ( about 10 kms from gaurikund ) one can spot the snow covered sumeru peak the spectacular backdrop of kedarnath temple – in all its majesty . According to the vayu purana , vishnu as narayan came down to the earth for the good of mankind . He landed at badrinath which was then the abode of shiva . On narayan’s request shiva accepted kedar as his permanent abode . Kedarnath is also part of panch kedar yatra . Adi shankaracharya attained samadhi at the age of 32 in the shrine behind kedarnath temple . He appointed veera shaiva priest as the rawals ( chief priest of kedarnath. At present the 337 th rawal is holding the seat governed from ukhimath which is also the abode of deity during winter . There are also local priests from the villages around guptkashi and ukhimath. They are not part of the temple committee but they take care of the pilgrims on the basis of their origin having divided the country between themselves into 360 districts for administrative purposes . The katyuri style temple stands againist the back drop of lofty , snow covered peaks . It is built with extremely large , heavy , and evenly cut grey slabs of stones and has a wooden ceiling topped by a golden kalash . Outside the temple door a massive stone idol of nandi stands guard. The temple has 3 parts the garbhagriha the darshan mandap where pujas are been conducted and the sabha mandap where devotees assemble. The inner walls of the assembly hall are decorated with figures of deities and scenes of mythology. Pilgrims also worship idols of ganesh with riddhi and siddhi , parvati , vishnu and lakshmi , krishna , kunti , draupadi , yudhisthir , bhim , arjun , nakul and shadev . Pilgrims offer butter and ghee to the jyotirlinga and then embrace it touching it with their forehead. In the month of july august september the rare brahma kamal flowers bloom in the area . Timings : 6 am – 2 pm , 5 -8 pm Season : The opening date of kedarnath is not fixed . It is decided every year on shivratri ( mid feb ) by panch purohits ( five priests) in ukhimath and then announced and cummunicated through various agencies . It usually falls around mid may. The closing date is however fixed and falls on yama dwitya or bhai duj . The temple’s of temple’s of yamunotri and gangotri close on the same day . The main rush of pilgrims takes place in may jun. Nobody lives in kedarnath after temple gates are closed for winter . The pandas return to guptkashi and the rawals live in ukhimath the winter abode of kedarnath. Pilgrims offer silver plated bilvapatras ( leaves of bilva tree ) which are available outside the temple and also in gaurikund to the lord . Holy water from gangotri is also part of the offering . Bhog is offered by priests at 4 pm . Pilgrim can assemble for it in the mandap but are not allowed in the garbgriha. The shravani annakoot mela is celebrated on the day of raksha bandhan ( mid aug) . On that day the jyotirlinga is covered with cooked rice which is distributed as prasad . On the day the temple closes for winter a special samadhi puja is held. There is no special or vip darshan . However pilgrims who visit by helicopter which has to return as soon as possible due to changing weather conditions can have darshan immediately. Shringhar darshan is from 5 pm onwards aarti is performed at 6:45 pm . During the peak may jun season devotees may have to wait 3 – 4 hours for darshan . They start queuing up from 2 am . The temple’s committee office ( opens 6 am – 8 pm ) closed 4 -5 pm undertakes bookings for special pujas which are performed between 4 and 6 am , that is before the temple opens for general darshan . But when the rush is greater special pujas during the visit devotees can also arrange for special puja to be performed on fixed days during the year for a period of 20 years .
High up in a deep cleft on the western face of the banderponch peak is yamunotri traditionally the first destination on the chardham yatra . The picturesque journey to yamunotri is along the river yamuna itself . The main temple here is dedicated to goddess yamuna who is represented by a black marble idol . The other deity is a white image of goddess ganga . Just outside the main temple is the divya shila a dark rock from which springs a stream of very hot water . This is a most holy area the origin of yamuna and pilgrims offer puja here before going to the temple . Technically the cold stream source of the river is on the champasar glacier near saptarishi kund a trek of 1 km above the shrine beyond yamunotri . But at 14,500 ft above sea level across very difficult terrain it is not accessible to the average yatri . According to legend surya dev the sun god married married sandhya daughter of vishwakarma .They had twins yama and yamuna. But sandhya could not bear the fierce heat of sun . She created her clone chhaya and begged her to take her place. Without telling anyone the truth sangya then left surya dev’s home . Chhaya agreed to keep the secret but said she would reveal the truth if ever surya dev punished her by pulling her hair . One day the child yama tried to strike chhaya with his leg .An affronted chhaya cursed him that his leg would rot and fall off .Surya dev was very surprised and angered by the severity of curse that too from mother againist her own child . In anger he pulled her hair . Chhaya then revealed that she was not his true wife and only a stepmother to yama and yamuna . It is said that yamuna came down to earth and did severe penance to save her brother from the effects of the curse and succeeded in her efforts . Yama the god of death then offered her a boon .She asked that her devotees be protected from akaalmrityu ( untimely death ) .It is believed that a bath in the holy waters of yamunotri will protect the devotee from an untimely death and lead to the attainment of moksha. It is believed that the hot spring at divya shila is the blessing of surya dev for his daughter the tank next to the divya shila is named after him Pilgrims take a holy dip in the hot waters of the taptkund next to the main temple of yamunotri which gets its water from suryakund nearby. There are separate bathing tanks and enclosures for men and women. Then puja is offered at the divya shila. This is of great significance and is done before visiting the main temple. After this a small offering of rice and potatoes is cooked in the suryakund. This is offered to the deity in the main temple and returned to the pilgrim as prasad . Pilgrims carry water from yamunotri to offer it to krishna in their homes during janmashtami or on other special occasions related to krishna. It is believed that yamuna was one of lord krishna’s eight queen. In 1816 james frazer a british army officer reached yamunotri. He found a 3 foot high temple built of stone and a priest performing worship there . There were some tridents to show that other devotees had also been visiting . A record of his visit is available. Subsequently local kings contributed to the setting up of the temple . Around 1850 sudarshan shah king of tehri had a wooden structure built and the deity consecrated. Later pratap shah rebuilt the temple in stone . But heavy snow in the region periodically damages the temple ( this happened last in 1982 ) and reconstruction has been done many times . The surajmal jain trust renovated the temple and this work was completed in 1994 . The temple is run by the panch panda samiti of about 200 priests .When the temple closes in winter the deity is taken to kharsali village ( 2 km from janki chatti across the river ) its winter abode . The yamuna valley called rawaai ghaati is decidedly most spectacular for its scenic beauty. The mountain roads are very narrow with frequent twists and the view is a surprise around every bend . The yamuna flows wild all along the journey because the dark mountain ranges are close to each other and there is no long straight stretch of water . The vegetation is lush but does not restrict the view one gets across the ranges . En route barkot is an interesting and very scenic halt . This is an area where the mountains range open up . Stepped rice field and red topped choulai ( a variant of spinach) field seem to be arranged for the pleasure of the visitor. The drive from barkot to janki chatti should be done at a leisurely pace if time permits that is. The flowers in the phul chatti area present several charming photo opportunities.
The greatly loved siddhi vinayak temple was constructed in 1801 by rani ahilyabhai holkar of indore as a replica of the temple in siddhatek ( 98 kms east of pune ) where river bhima once flowed . The idol earlier installed under a tree today resides in a large structure that combines tradition with modernity . The present temple though multi storyed has a small main mandapam or hall with the shrine of siddhivinayak . The inner roof of the sanctum is plated with gold and wooden doors to it are carved with image of ashtvinayaka. Most icons of ganapati depict the elephant faced god and wooden doors to it are carved with images of ashtvinayaka. Most icons of ganpati depict the elephant faced god with his trunk curled towards the left . But here the lord is depicted with four arms bearing a lotus , an axe , modakas , and a garland of beads. This unusual blackstone idol has a third eye on the forehead and a serpent tied around the shoulders in place of sacred thread . Every tuesday devotees throng the temple in the firm belief that their wishes and prayers will be fulfilled. In fact they walk to the temple from flung corners of the city often barefoot everyone including film stars , industrialists , politicians have done the tuesday morning barefoot walk . Queues of worshippers stretch upto 2 km .
Iranshah atash behram the sacred fire temple of parsis the most important spiritual centre for zoroastrians the world over . And whether they have just got married started a business or bought a new car hordes of parsis from world over make their way to pay their respect to 1280 year old holy fire enshrined within the sacred atash behram . The parsis are protective about udvada because the iranshah is believed to be their oldest consecrated fire . Of course udvada is not entirely immune to change and only about 150 parsi household continue to reside here . Although the iranshah atash behram is a large structure it is virtually hidden by whitewashed walls and a protective ring of houses . While the fire temple itself is out of bounds for non zooroastrians the little streets the sandalwood sellers and the bustle in the vicinity are fascinating. The iranshah is said to have been created out of 16 fires including fire from burning corpse , a shepherds house , a goldsmith’s hearth , a potter’s kiln and from lightning itself . Instead of waiting for lightning to strike and create a fire it is believed that the high priest nairyosang dhaval medidated for days and when the heavens finally cooperated he trapped the fire and preceeded with his rituals. Much of the fabric of old udvada is still intact and visitors can spend a wonderful evening reliving a bygone age . The old parsi houses in udvada reflect a distinct culture . Most have double otlas or porches the outer one is used for bargaining with veggie vendors while the inner one is used for praying and gossip sessions. Little gallis run behind the houses that in old days were used by nightsoil collectors and menstruating women . Most houses still have their own wells because well water plays an integral role in the purification rituals that the priests have to undergo
The whitewashed spendor of the shrine basilica of vailankanni leaves a lasting impression on any visitor , from a distance the effect of the white structure against a clear blue sky is stark even austere . As one goes nearer however the buildings true grandeur and beauty becomes evident and the whiteness becomes the only concession made by a gothic shrine to its tropical indian setting . This soothing and radiant color so apt for a shrine to mary mother of jesus continues to bring hopes to life long after we have left . Once the sailors had constructed the chapel they kept adding to it . They bought porcelain tiles from china , which can be seen around the altar even today . In 1606 the chapel was bought under the jurisdiction of the diocese of meliapore ( modern day mylapore in chennai ) according to a papal bull issued by pope Paul V .In 1771 vailankanni was raised to the status of an independent parish . Most of the building that we see today date from the time of rev fr sebastio xavier norhonha who served as a parish priest from 1910 till his death in 1942 . In 1962 vailankanni was raised to the status of a minor basilica by the holy see and from then on it has been called the shrine of basilica of our lady of good health . The shrine of basilica of our lady of good health is a sprawling complex that dominates the little town of vailankanni . There are four major structures within the complex the shrine basilica itself the chapel near madha kulam where mary appeared before the shepherd boy the chapel at nadu thittu where she appeared before the buttermilk boy & the museum of offerings . The path from the shrine basilica to the chapel at our lady’s tank is lined on the sides of artistic renditions of the stations of cross and the stations of rosary . There is also a sandy stretch in this path which is used by pilgrims to walk on their knees from the basilica to the chapel in fulfillment of their vows . An offering unique at vailankanni is the donation of coconut sapling . Many people also take away coconut saplings from here much the same as prasadam from temple’s. Devotees offer silver and gold versions of favors received for thanksgiving . For example a person who has become a doctor may offer a silver or golden stethoscope . A display of such items is to be seen at museum of offerings.
The vitthal temple said to be over two millennia old has a scripture that dates back to 1195 .It lists the donors who funded the renovation of the temple then . Devotees rub their back on this scripture in the belief that they will be exempted from 84 lakh births . The roof and the stone pillars of the vithal temple have exquisite carvings . The main entrance is known as the mahadwar. Saint namdeo lord vithal’s ardent devotee has his shrine on the first step of this entrance . This is called the namdeo payari ( step ) . To pay tribute to namdeo saintly devotion .it is custom not to touch it with the one’s feet but to worship it . The newly constructed darshan mandap opposite the main temple entrance can accommodate 80,000 devotees during the vari ( procession ) . Inside the temple there is another huge wall known as the solkhambi mandap. It is imposing 16 pillared stone structure , constructed in 1802 . All the pillars have exquisite carvings while the inner one known as the garuda khamb has been worked in silver . As per tradition devotees embrace this pillar before praying the lord . Pandharpur is a small place and most of the temple’s can be covered on foot . The vitthal temple is centrally located on the highest hillock in pandharpur . The perennial chandrbhaga flows a kilometer away from the temple in north south direction . The vitthal temple is said to be about 2,000 years old and could be better kept . The black sandstone idols of vitthal and rukmini are truly enchanting. After the vari is over the temple is washed with water and idols are given a different diet of spices and sugar and a new set of clothes since they are tired after a hectic day .During navratri and dusshera the deities are adorned with new clothes everyday. Both vitthal and rukmini have an exquisite array of jewelry that includes gold , pearls, diamonds , and the navratnas ( precious & semi precious gems in nine colors ) Situated on the river bank opposite the vitthal temple the pundalik temple is dedicated to vitthal’s ardent devotee . The kolis or fisherfolk manage it . There isna warm water spring outside the temple and devotees wash their feet in it before entering . Outside the temple is a small stone boat approximately 3 feet by 2 feet which is too heavy to lift with bare hands . But put it in the water and it actually floats . One legend says that sant tukaram sang some abhang which made it float . Take a ferry across the river to gopalpur where lord krishna used to graze cattle. It is a small place to pray . An old stone temple . Also on the other bank is ISKCON temple a quite place to pray . An old stone temple to mhasoba also stands on the opposite bank of chandrabhaga . These temple’s are about a kilometer from one another and the ferry stops at each . Vishnupad ( lord vishnu ‘s footprints ) is a rock in the middle of the chandrabhaga there’s a beautiful view of the river here . Ferries stop at vishnupad before going on to gopalpur .
Shivaji the great maratha was here . This legendary truth is often repeated when devotees speak of the temple to bhavani in tuljapur. The goddess is kulaswamini the patron deity of maharashtra. With shivaji many conquests attributed to her she has defined the state both geographical & spiritually. It is said that the goddess herself gifted the bhavani talwar the divine sword to shivaji. He set forth upon his many battles after having sought the blessings of ma bhavani his ishta devtaa ( favourite deity ) Why in the glorious glint of sunshine that flashes off the tapering temple pinnacle in the exuberant colors or red sindoor and yellow turmeric that paint the fervent pictures of the goddess grand possessions in the touching faith of her legions of devotees it is almost as if he is still here . The goddess welcomes us all in the same manner as him with her searing gaze which is fierce and compassionate ar the same time .
The hemaad panthi style architecture marks 12th century tulja bhavani mandir which is separated from the rest of the town by a stone wall . The peshwas of pune deeply revered bhavani . Ssmartha ramdas swami and sant eknath wrote poetic verses in praise of the powerful deity . Most of the sights in tuljapur can be covered on foot . The ample space around the bhavani temple known as praangana is very useful when huge crowds of 10,000 or more devotees congregate here . To the left of the entrance is 40 ft by 16 ft stone tank the kallol tirth . Bathing in it before sunrise is said to rid one of all diseases. At gomukh tirth a few steps ahead from kallol tirth water flows from a stones cow head set at a height of 6 ft . Equated to the ganges large crowds throng here . The vishnu tirth is on the north eastern side of the temple . It has stone steps and three entrances. It said that lord vishnu blesses the devotee so that he may get the blessings of tulja bhavani. Goats and chicken are offered to the deity a practice that pilgrims may be witness to . Two striking deepmalas built by shivaji in memory of his triumph againist afzal khan stand on either side of homa kund . Inside the temple a stone pillared sabha mandap features images of gods and goddesses . The exquisite idol is said to possess eight to nine petya ( boxes ) of ornaments which one box equals to kilogram of gold ! One of the necklaces called tikli bears the name chatrapati shivaji maharaj on each of its gold pieces. A beautiful marble statue of a lion ( bhavani matas vehicle ) a bed upon which the goddess rests her delicately carved simhasan ( throne ) and a shivlinga are also to be seen in the temple . Behind the bhavani temple is a round stone known as chintamani. It’s believed to help the devotee take the right decision. To its right is a temple to matangi the goddess who slayed the demon matanga . Uniquely the shrine is cared for by mahars , members of a dalit community . Shrines of khandoba , yammee devi and narsimha are also situated in temple premises. The chabina a special palanquin with hand painted wooden images of animal and birds carries the deity during festival occasions and on every tuesday , friday , sunday , and purnima ( fool moon day ) . The procession which goes around the main temple is witnessed by thousands of devotees. Sindoor and turmeric powder are thrown into the air as the goddess name is chanted.
The golden temple is in south east amritsar in the heart of the old city . A circular road runs around the periphery of the walled area that’s the old city within which lie the jallianwalla bagh and shopping haven of hall bazar and katra jaimal singh . The railway station is in the centre of the city . The grand trunk road built in 16th century connecting delhi and lahore cuts the station roads towards the east of the city . Upmarket places such as mall road and lawrence road are to the north east of the railway statiion . Also known as the darbar sahib or the divine court the golden temple architecture reflects the basic tenets of sikhism . Just as the religion combines the principles of hinduism & islam . Sikh architecture fuses both religious styles while also expressing its individuality . Guru arjun dev had the structure built at a level lower than the surrounding land as he wanted devotees to go down the steps to reach the gurudwara a gesture symbolising humility . The harbinger has four entrances emphasing the fact that it’s doors are open to all . A marble parikrama surrounds the temple framing the pool a causeway connects the temple to the darshan deori ( entrance gate ) . A golden dome rises above the temple . There is a line of smaller domes to the front located on the four corners are chhatris ( umbrella like structure ) with fluted metal cupolas . Marble inlay work reminiscent of the taj mahal can be seen in the lower parts of the walls while the upper parts are encased in glided copper . The temple’s first floor was originally used by sikh gurus for medidation. Also known as the sheesh mahal ( as mirror work adorns it’s interiors , it’s wall has floral designs embossed with semi precious stones . It’s arches are embellished with verses from guru granth sahib possibly inspired by the muslim practice of engraving verses from the quran . On the walls next to the staircase leading to second floor are rare sikh paintings. According to a paper written by madanjit kaur of guru nanak dev university amritsar published in the book golden temple the temple’s fresco art borrows themes from hindu mythology , pointing to the tolerant nature of sikhism . The central sikh museum to the right as you enter the temple complex through the main entrance reinforces the feeling of heroism and courage interwoven in the art and plaster bricks of the golden temple . Along the parikrama there are two ber ( jujube trees ) which have survived all attacks of the temple . One is known as the dukh bhanjani ber a sacred spot where pilgrims congregate to take a dip in the pool . To the right of the darshani deori is other ber tree to which in 1740 two sikh warriors sukha singh and mehtab singh tied their horses while attacking and eventually killing massa rangar an official who had converted the temple’s sanctum into a dance hall . Also marked out is the spot where martyr baba deep singh died fighting the soldiers of afghan general khan who had desecrated the temple . It’s said that though his neck was slashed in a battle some way from the temple he managed to reach the periphery of the complex after killing enemy soldiers. The langar hall is built behind the dukh bhanjani ber . The concept of langar was created to break caste barriers. In a history of the sikhs volume 1 khuswant singh writes ” nanak took practical steps to break the vicious hold of caste by starting community free kitchens — guru ka langar — in all centre’s and persuading his followers irrespective of their caste to eat together ” . Guru amar das made langar an integral part of the gurudwara by insisting that those who want to meet him should first eat with his disciples . Located opposite the golden temple in the same complex the akal thakt was the seat from where orders were passed and military plans discussed. It also has religious significance in a tradition that harks back to the days of guru arjun dev the guru granth sahib is brought here from harminder sahib at night and carried back the next morning . The akal thakt was badly damaged in the operation blue star and had to be rebuilt . Gurudwara baba atal rai situated right behind golden temple was built in memory of atal rai , guru hargobind’s son . Gurudwara mai kaulan stands in the same compound of atal rai . Guru ke mahal is located near shastri market in chowk parsia on the site where gurus once lived. Gurudwara ramsar sahib near sgrd senior secondary school on ramsay road is where the granth sahib whose building is said to have been constructed by maharaja ranjit singh in 1833 . Saragarhi is close to the town hall and was built by the british in 1902 to honour sikh soldiers who lost their lives fighting for the queen . Next to the town hall is santokhsar sahib a gurudwara that is identical to bibeksar . A replica of the golden temple the durgiana mandir has a langar hall . The temple complex houses the lakshmi narayan mandir , the sheetala mata temple as well as hanuman mandir . It is a very sacred water tank for sikhs . It is believed to have been spotted and formed by 4th guru shri ram dass . A bath here cleanses the soul and wipes out all sins . The water of the sarovar is like nectar and is said to possess medicinal properties as well .