Konark Sun Temple – Essence of the Corners

Konark Sun Temple, also known as Black Pagoda was built in the 13th century in Orissa. The Eastern Dynasty King, King Narasimhadeva I constructed it using sandstone. The temple is a perfect example of Orissan architecture from the Ganga Dynasty. It has been declared as a World Heritage Site and also voted as one of the seven wonders of India. According to an old legend, the temple was built by Lord Krishna’s son, Samba when he was suffering from Leprosy due to a curse by his father.  He was ill for 12 years and thereafter the sun god, Surya cured him. Samba built the splendid Konark Sun Temple to honor him.

How to Reach

By Rail – Konark Railway station is well-connected to all major cities of India.

By Air – The nearest airport is Bhubaneshwar and it is well-connected to all major airports. One can hire a private taxi or take Volvo buses from Bhubaneshwar.

By Road – Konark is well-connected to all major cities through state and national highways.

Climate

In the summers it gets very hot and all tourists avoid this season. In the winters, it gets very cold and the temperature goes to as low as 12 °C. Konark receives medium rainfall during the monsoons. The best time to visit the city of Konark is from September to March.

Architecture of Konark temple Sun Temple

The temple is in the form of a chariot of the Sun God, Surya, which is drawn by seven horses on twelve pairs of wheels which are beautifully decorated. The temple has stone carvings all over it. The wheels of the chariot are a major attraction, since they serve as sundials. There are many erotic sculptures in this temple which remind one of Khajuraho. The famous Orissan architecture can be seen all over the temple.

The entrance of the temple has two huge lions which are shown as crushing a war elephant each. There is a Nata Temple at the entrance of the temple. It is believed that dancers used to dance here to please the sun god. There are lots of geometric and floral patterns all around the temple. Some sculptures of the temple are kept in the Sun Temple Museum. This museum is maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India. This beautiful temple is worth a visit.

History

The fall of the Konark temple is often linked to the Kalapahad, who was the general of Bengal Sultan Sulaiman Khan Karrani. Some legends state that Kalapahad was originally a Hindu Kayastha but had converted to Islam. He attacked Orissa in 1568 and demolished the Konark Temple, along with other Hindu Temples. After this Orissa was under the Muslim rule and Hindu Temples continued to be destroyed. The Priests of Konark buried the deity of the Sun Temple under sand for many years to save it. This image was moved to Puri later on and placed in the Indra Temple in the Jagannath Puri Temple Complex.

Since the image of the sun god was not present in the temple, people stopped worshipping there and the number of devotees who visited there, also reduced considerably. The city was deserted.

A Maratha Sadhu took away the Aruna Pillar in 1779 and placed it in the Jagannath Temple at Puri. The entire glory of Konark was lost and it became a shady city, where people feared to go.

Do’s & Don’ts in Jagannath Puri Rath Yatra

Do’s & Don’ts in Jagannath Puri Rath Yatra

This small list of do’s & don’ts for those devotees who are going for Rath Yatra to Jagannath Puri. I hope my & my friend’s last year experience will help you for flawless journey:

Do’s

1. For Gundicha Marjan buy a big pot – as big as you can for cleaning Gundicha Temple. If possible take bhoga’s pot.. Why big???

For cleaning you have to take water in pot from hand pump (that is outside of Temple) to inside Temple. So with small pot u have to do in-out-in-out many times. Means waste of time.
After 1-2 pm Pandas (Pujari of Temple) close the Temple.
(Note: People with medical condition, children should avoid big pots)

2. Try to book yr hotel nearby Temple. Just to save time of internal traveling in Puri dham.

3. On Rath Yatra day get up early like 5 am & try to get in Temple before 6-7 am. The ceremony call Pahandi in which Panda (Pujari of Lord) carry Jagannath from alter to Ratha,starts after 7 am. In this ceremony Jagannath wear nice Mukuta (TIARA) which is get removed inside of Temple only. Mainly Jagannath do dance in side of Temple. Its most beautiful scenes you will ever see. SO DON’T MISS IT. There will be ticket for entering inside the Temple, so book it one day before. It will be around 500 Rs. but its worth of paying it.

4. Make a group of 6-8 & book an auto (TamTam) to take a tour of all holy Gaudiya Vaishnavas spots in Puri. There are around 8 spots. Auto driver will take 200-250 per person & he will take you to all spots. At each spot wait for 10 mins & sit & chant 1 round. Take this tour on 2nd or 3rd day when most of roads are open for autos. This tour will take 5-6 hours with auto.

5. Check 7 Wonders of Jagannath Temples as follows (keep yr scientific brain aside & then read it. Still if you don’t believe this then check yrself in Jagannath Puri) –

a) Flag always flap in opposite direction of air
b) From any place in Puri you will find Sudarshan Charka (Charka at top of Temple) is facing to you only
c) Normally in day air comes from sea to land & at evening opposite way but in Puri it’s totally opposite
d) No bird or planes fly above the Temple
e) The shadow of the main dome is not visible at any time in any direction
f) The quantity of cooked food inside the Temple remains same for entire year. But same prasadam can feed few thousand people & 20 lac people also; still it won’t not get waste or never lag
g) In Jagannath Temple kitchen, 7 pots are kept on each other & cooked on wood fire. In this process top pot get cooked 1st & bottom one last. After entering from Singhadwara’s first step inside the Temple you can’t hear any voice of ocean & when you cross the same step outside you can hear it. Mostly we can notice this at even time clearly.

Prasadam is cooked by Laxmidevi herself every day; only pure devotees of Lord can see her inside the Temple kitchen.

Don’ts:

1. If you are going in group then don’t order or arrange food (prasadam) in particular hotel or Bhojanalya for entire group. Pay individual each time where ever you eat. Why not in group???

In Puri there are many hotels and bhojanalayas. Jagannath Puri is too big & during Yatra times mostly you have to travel by walking from hotel to Rath Yatra marg or any other spot. So if you order yr food at any particular hotel then you have to travel to that hotel from wherever you are every time, so again waste of time. Anyway you have to pay to for food then don’t waste yr time in traveling, just eat at nearest hotel or bhojanalaya every time.

2. Don’t carry money & mobile in bead-bag or money belt. Again Why????

Local thefts know that Gaudiya Vaishnavas are becoming more & more fashionable nowadays. They know we are using zipper pocket bead-bag so they just steal our bead-bags. Many of my friends lost their bead-bags & money like that.

3. Don’t carry Initiated beads for Rath Yatra. If you are carrying then keep it inside of yr room only, don’t bring them outwith you on Rath Yatra day. Why so???

In the crowd of around 25 lac people, it is possible that we may lose it or thieves may still it

4. Don’t dare to pull any of Rath on 1st day. Now this is big WHY??? We are going to pull Rath there so why not to pull it on 1st day????

A – 20 Lac people come for 1st day to pull Rath & many times new devotees have lost their life in stamped. So pull Rath on 2nd day, that time most of people leave Puri. Mainly all local Orissa people come for 1st day only, 2nd day it’s almost clear. Even on my 1st Rath Yatras 2nd day I got kicked by crowd several times, many punches on face & stomach. So be careful.

5. Don’t put yr step on Yamaraj step after completing Temple parikaram while going out from Temples Singhadwara (main gate exit side -east opening)
Why so??? And how to identify which step is Yamaraj step???

Jagannath Puri is holy Dham, if anyone does parikrama to Temple his/her liberation is confirmed. His/her all senses get clear, so in past Yamaraj saw that all people are visiting Puri & getting liberated & going back to godhead. As everyone was attaining Liberation by the Jagannath Puri kshetra, Yamraj was becoming ideal in his work so he complains to Jagannath. And as you know Jagannath is so kind he accepted request of Yamaraj & kept one step in exits side of main gate (Singhadwara). So if anyone keeps his/her feet on that step his/her all pious karma get nil & they will get back all old karmas.

Q – How to identify which step is Yamaraj step???
A – Before entering to Temple ask any panda (pujari of Temple). We made sure, we didn’t cross it as we were informed well in advance. The Yamraj step is the only black coloured step.

6. Don’t argue with Pandas (Pujari of Lord).
A – They are pure devotees of Lord. They are born in specific families which are appointed by Lord himself to worship him at the time of Indradumaya Maharaj. They born in such families & we are born in some city outside of Puri, that only shows that we are not qualified. While entering in Temple Pandas hit you by stick on yr head, accept that hit if they don’t do it then ask them to hit you. That hit represents yr ego to get crush before entering in Lords Temple. As per Vedas one should enter in Temple without ego if anyone has it then it must get crush before entering.

7. Don’t travel alone. Complete Big NOOOOO Why???
A – For yr safety purpose & you will easily get lost.

8. Don’t buy anything on M.R.P. or shoppers price; do bargain like – ask for half of a price. Why???
A – During Rath Yatra most off shopkeeper double the price of all things in shops so do bargain. And besides its fun to bargain especially for Matajis…

9. Don’t consider that all devotees around you in Yatra are normal human being.
Why???

A – Many times demigods come in form of human to serve Lord. Demigods are not allowed to take darshan or eat Lord’s mahaprasad in normal days. They are allowed in Rath Yatra time only. So be careful with other unknown devotees. Don’t do any vaishnava aparadha.

Have a wonderful yatra & chant the maha mantra !!!

Andaman and Nicobar Islands

The Andaman and Nicobar Islands are one of the union territories of India, located at the edge of Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea. There are twin island groups – Andaman and Nicobar. The capital of the territory is Port Blair while the capital of Nicobar is Car Nicobar, also referred to as Malacca.

 Climate

Andaman and Nicobar Islands experience a tropical climate. It gets medium to heavy rainfall. Summers are pretty hot. One can visit Andaman and Nicobar Islands from mid November to April.

 History of the Islands

The Andaman and Nicobar Islands have been inhabited since 2200 years according to archeologists. People of varied backgrounds have stayed here. During the pre-colonial era, the islands were occupied by a Tamil Chola dynasty king, Rajendra Chola, who used them as a naval base against the Sriwijaya Empire. The Marathas also made them their maritime base in the 17th century.

In the colonial period, the Danish settlers arrived here and set up the Danish East India Company. They called the Nicobar Islands as New Denmark and later changed the name to Frederick’s Islands.  There were frequent outbreaks of diseases such as malaria and the inhabitants abandoned the islands.

In 1778, Austria established their colony in the Nicobar islands and named them Theresia Islands. The British set up their naval base in 1789 on an island adjacent to the Great Andaman, the Chatham, but later shifted to Port cornwallis and finally abandoned the island in 1796 due to the spread of an epidemic.

The Danish settlers sold Denmark to the British in 1868 and the Britishers included them in British India. In 1858, the British established a penal colony at Port Blair and also bult a cellular jail for the freedom fighters from India.

The Japanese occupied the islands during world war II. Netaji Subhsh Chandra Bose also visited the islands during this time and named the islands as Shaheed Dweep and Swaraj Dweep, which stands for Martyr Island and Self-rule island.

In 1950, The islands became part of the Indian Sub-continent and in the year 1956, they were declared a union territory.

Flora and Fauna

Andaman and Nicobar islands offer a beautiful sight for nature lovers with their exotic tropical rainforest trees, which include mixed species of flora from India, Malaysia and Myanmar.There are more than 2200 species of plants. The various types of trees that are found are epiphytic vegetation, dciduous trees, evergreen trees and grasslands.

More than 50 species of animals are found in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. There are rodents, reptiles, birds and fishes.

 Places to Visit in Andaman and Nicobar

  1. Baratang
  2. Havelock Island
  3. North Bay Island
  4. Cellular Jail
  5. Barren Island
  6. Mount Harriot
  7. Carbyns Cove Beach

How to Reach

  • By Air – Port Blair is connected to all major cities such as Kolkata, Chennai and Delhi.
  • By Sea – One can also reach Port Blair through a ship. Passenger ships can be taken from Kolkata, Vishakhapatnam and Chennai and back.

Bodh Gaya – Vishnupad and Mahabodhi Temples

Bodh Gaya – Vishnupad and Mahabodhi Temples

Located 12 Kms away from Gaya City, in the Gaya district of Bihar, Bodh Gaya is known for the Vishnupad and Mahabodhi Temples, where Lord Buddha is believed to have obtained awakening (Bodhimandala). Earlier the main monastery of Bodh Gaya was called Bodhimanda – Vihara but later it came to be known as Mahabodhi Temple Complex. The name Bodh Gaya came into use after the 18th century, before which it used to be called Mahabodhi, Sambodhi, Uruvela or Vajrasana. The best of the year to visit Bodh Gaya is from October – February.

How to Reach

Travel facilities are provided by the Bihar State Tourism Development from Patna to Bodh Gaya. Buses going to Bodh Gaya are available from Kolkata and Varanasi. One can also take a train from Kolkata. The Gaya International Airport is 7kms away from Bodh gaya. It is also referred to as the Bodh Gaya International Airport.

Climate

Bodh Gaya experiences a hot summer season with the maximum temperature reaching 41-44 °C. It experiences plenty of rainfall and the climate becomes pleasant but also humid. The winters are cool and pleasant.

Bodh Gaya History

It is said that in the year 500 BC, in Circa, Prince Gautam Siddhartha was wandering and reached the banks of the river Phaglu, which is near Gaya city. He sat under a tree (Bodhi) and meditated. After meditating for three nights and three days, he said that he had obtained an enlightenment and he had the answers to all the questions which were disturbing him. He spent seven weeks in neighbouring areas at different places and meditated. After this period, he went to Sarnath and started preaching Buddhism.
Gautam Siddhartha’s followers started visiting him during Vaisakh (April- May) on full moon days. Gradually, the place was known as Bodh Gaya, the day of awakening – Budha Poornima and the tree under which Gautam sat, as Bodhi Tree.
Many pilgrims have documented the history of Bodh Gaya through inscriptions. The accounts prepared by Chinese Pilgrim Faxian and Xuanzang in the 5th and 7th century provide significant information. The Turkic army conquered the place in the 13th century.

The Mahabodhi Temple

The Mahabodhi Temple Complex is located 110kms away from Patna and it contains the famous diamond throne (Vajrasana) and the sacred Bodhi Tree. This tree was grown from a sapling of Sri Maha Bodhi Tree in Sri Lanka, which has also been grown from a sapling of the first Bodhi Tree.
Emperor Ashoka visited Bodh Gaya, 250 years after the awakening of the Buddha. Th original Mahabodhi Temple is considered to be founded by him. There is an elongated spire covered by a very small statue and a chhatri on an elevated platform. One needs to climb two flights of stairs to reach the platform. Historians also believe that the temple was renovated during the period of the Kushans in the 1st Century. The temple was buried under many layers of soil and forgotten after the decline of Buddhism in India. It is believed that Sir Alexander Cunningham restored the temple in the 19th century. Sir Cunningham excavated the site with the help of Dr Rajendralal Mitra and J.D.Beglar with great difficulty in the year 1883. They started the renovation and restored the temple.
Bodh Gaya is one of the four most significant places of worship for the Buddhists. This is so because there are four important places associated with the life of Gautam Buddha. They are Lumbini, Kushinagar, Sarnath and Bodh Gaya. The Mahabodhi Temple of Bodh Gaya was declared as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in the year 2002.

The Vishnupad Temple

The Vishnupad temple is located near Bodh Gaya, on the banks of Falgu river. It is believed that the temple is built on the footprints of Lord Vishnu. The footprints of Lord Vishnu are 40 cms long and it is imprinted over a solid piece of rock. This rock is called Dhrama Shiela. The temple displays the Shikhara style of architecture. It was built by Queen Ahilya Bai from Indore. The temple is not open to non-hindus. Many devotees visit the temple and worship the deity of Vishnu with flowers and milk. It is believed that by doing this one secures a place for themselves in spiritual world.