Saturday, July 27, 2019

Spiritual Delhi

I was travelling to Delhi and weekend of 16/17 March was with me to explore a few places. Though I have toured Delhi extensively but as time passes by, the memories start getting a bit blurred.

I decided to visit some of the famous temples of Delhi on 16th March.

I had planned to visit, Chhatarpur, Kalkaji, Lotus, Birla, Jhandewalan and Akshardham Temples. But later realized that it will be a too hectic and so dropped Akshardham and added the Ancient Hanuman Temple of Cannaught Place in my list.

Akshardham Temple, I left for some later times, as it needs a minimum of half a day to properly feel and enjoy the place.

Entire trip across Delhi was done on Metro, except a stretch between Jhandewalan Temple and Birla Temple, where I took an auto.

I started early at around 8 AM after a quick breakfast. Its always good to carry a water bottle.
The plan was in below order:

Chhatarpur Temple to Kalkaji and then nearby Lotus Temple. Then to Birla Temple and Jhandewalan Temple and in the end visit Hanuman Temple at Cannught place before retiring for the day!

I took metro to alight at Chhatarpur station.

To enquire about Delhi Metro station, visit journey plannersection of Delhi Metro Website. 

Chhatarpur Temple

Chhatarpur temple is about 1 KM from metro station.

There are two temple complexes here. When we approach from Metro station, left side complex is the original one and right side complex is the extension one.

Shri Aadya Katyayani Shakti Peetham is dedicated to Goddess Katyayani. The entire complex of the temple is spread over a wide area of ~70 acres.

The temple was established in 1974, by Baba Sant Nagpal ji. His samadhi shrine lies in the premises of the Shiv-Gauri Nageshwar Mandir at temple complex.

The temple complex has over 20 small and large temples. A shrine within the main temple houses a shrine of Goddess Katyayani (Durga), which opens only during the bi-annual Navratri season, when thousands of people throng the premises for darshan.

At the entrance to the main temple, stand an old tree, where devotees tie holy threads for wish fulfillment.

Another shrine of Goddess Durga is open to devotees morning to evening, it lies above the shrines dedicated to Radha Krishna, and Lord Ganesh.

Blessed to be there, I visited all shrines and then crossed the road to visit the second temple complex. There is a giant idol of Lord Hanuman. It also has a very beautiful south Indian style temple.

After visiting all shrines and revering the almighty, I walked back to metro station to go towards Kalkaji temple.

Kalkaji Temple

Kalkaji temple and Lotus temple are close to each other and are at walkable distance from Kalkaji Metro station.

Kalkaji Mandir is dedicated to the Goddess Kali. It is believed that the image of the Goddess Kalka here is a self-manifested one, and that the shrine dates back to Satya Yuga when the Goddess Kalika had incarnated and killed the demon Raktabija along with other demons.

The oldest portions of the present building are believed to have been constructed not earlier than the 1764 AD by the Marathas, with additions in 1816 by Raja Kidar Nath, the Peshkar of Akbar II during second half of the twentieth century, a considerable number of dharamshalas were constructed around the temple by bankers and merchants of Delhi.

Walking through narrow street, I reached the main shrine. The street is horribly encroached and need some attention from authorities. Police announcement was continuous to be aware of pick pocketiers.
Main shrine is not very grand but very powerful place of worship. Mother Kalkaji, pleased with the prayers offered and rituals performed by the gods on the advice of Lord Brahma, appeared at the site of temple and blessed them, and after annihilating demons, settled at the site.

During the Mahabharata era, Lord Krishna and the Pandavas are said to have worshipped Kali at this temple.

There was some rush over here and I walked slowly in that very unorderly queue. Many people chanting the glory of mother and calling for her blessings and grace.

Being there is meditation. Mother blesses all.

The Sanctum, which is 12-sided in plan, 24 feet across, with a doorway in each side, is paved with marble and is surrounded by a verandah and contains 36 arched openings or exterior doorways. This verandah encloses the central chamber from all sides. At the middle of this arcade, opposite the eastern doorway, are two red sandstone tigers sitting on a marble pedestal. Between the tigers there is stone image of Kali Devi with her name engraved on in Hindi, and a trident of stone standing before it.

The temple is visited by worshippers all year round, but the culmination point of their prayers and celebration is during the twice yearly festival of Navratri, in spring and autumn.

The major ritual consists of offering and bathing the idol (Mata Snanam) with milk followed by an aarti every morning and evening. This, in turn, is followed by hymn recitation.

Getting blessed, I came out of shrine and walked slowly towards Lotus temple.

Holi was approaching and some people were throwing colors on all faithful. I also got a shower of colors and happily shot selfies for my first colors in this season.

One point to note is that not very far from Kalkaji temple, on a hill in the east of Kailash Colony and near the ISKCON temple, lies an edict of Ashoka, dating from the 3rd century BC.

Lotus Temple

Spread across ~26 acres, The Lotus Temple looks extremely beautiful. It is a Bahá'í temple of worship. It was constructed and completed in December 1986 and notable for its flowerlike shape. The building is composed of 27 free-standing marble-clad "petals" arranged in clusters of three to form nine sides, with nine doors opening onto a central hall.

I roamed in the garden, taking snaps and then went in a small queue to go inside the central hall. It was quite peaceful to be there and as I sat with closed eyes and tried to meditate.

A 2001 CNN report referred to it as the most visited building in the world. By late 2001, it had attracted more than 70 million visitors. According to the government of India data, it had received over 100 million visitors by April 2014.

The Bahá'í Faith teaches that a Bahá'í House of Worship should be a space for people of all religions to gather, reflect, and worship. The sacred writings of not only the Bahá'í faith but also other religions can be read regardless of language.

Abdu'l-Bahá, the son of the founder of the religion, stipulated that an essential architectural character of a House of Worship is a nine-sided circular shape. While all current Bahá'í Houses of Worship have a dome, this is not regarded as an essential part of their architecture. Bahá'í scripture also states that no pictures, statues or images be displayed within the House of Worship and no pulpits or altars be incorporated as an architectural feature.

The surface of the House of Worship is made of white marble from Penteli mountain in Greece, the same marble used in the construction of many ancient monuments (including the Parthenon) and other Bahá'í buildings.

The architect was an Iranian, Fariborz Sahba .The major part of the funds needed to buy this land was donated by Ardishír Rustampúr of Hyderabad, Sindh, who gave his entire life savings for this purpose in 1953.

It was afternoon now, and I was feeling hungry and thirsty. Near the metro station, I took my lunch on a small road side dhaba and a bottle of bisleri helped me to withstand the Sun.

It was time to take metro to Jhandewalan.

I took a pedal rickshaw to reach the Jhandewalan temple, only to find that temple was closed and that it will open only at 4 PM. As far as I remember it was 230 PM them and so I decided to visit Birla temple first.

With help of an auto rickshaw, I reached Birla temple in about 10/15 minutes from there.

Birla Temple

The Birla temple is very famous among Delhites as well as among the tourists flicking to Delhi.
The Birla Temple is also known as  Laxminarayan Temple. This temple was inaugurated by Mahatma Gandhi in 1939 and was built by Baldeo das Birla and his son Jugal Kishore Birla. While the main sanctum is dedicated to Lord Lakshmi and Vishnu, The side temples are dedicated to Shiva, Durga, Krishna and Buddha.

It is said to be the first new Hindu temple constructed after many centuries in Delhi. The temple is spread over 7.5 acres, adorned with many shrines, fountains and a large garden. The temple is one of the major attractions of Delhi and attracts thousands of devotees on the festivals of Janmashtami and Diwali.

The foundation stone of the temple was laid by Jat Maharaj Uday Bhanu Singh in 1933. The temple was built under guidance of Pandit Vishwanath Shastri. The concluding ceremony and Yagna was performed by Swami Keshwa Nandji.

This is the first of a series of temples built by the Birlas’ in many cities of India, which are also often called Birla Temple.

A flight of steps takes us to the main sanctum.

The three-storied temple is built in the northern or Nagara style of temple architecture. The entire temple is adorned with carvings. The highest shikhara of the temple above the sanctum sanctorum is about 160 feet high. The temple faces the east and is situated on a high plinth. The icons of the temple are in marble brought from Jaipur. Kota stone from Makarana, Agra, Kota, and Jaisalmer was used in the construction of the temple premises. The Geeta Bhawan to the north of the temple is dedicated to Lord Krishna. Artificial landscape and cascading waterfalls add to the beauty of the temple.

The main temple houses statues of Lord Narayan and Goddess Lakshmi. There are other small shrines dedicated to Lord Shiva, Lord Ganesha and Hanuman. There is also a shrine dedicated to Lord Buddha. The left side temple shikhar (dome) houses Devi Durga, the goddess of Shakti, the power.

It was time to go back to Jhandewalan Temple. One auto rickshaw helped me with that.

Jhandewalan Temple

Temple was still closed when I reached so waited patiently. There was a small queue. Finally at 4 PM, the temple sanctum got opened and we all got blessed to be there.

The Jhandewalan Temple is near Karol Bagh and is dedicated to the goddess Aadi Shakti. It is among the oldest temple in Delhi and located on Jhandewalan area.

During the 18th century, a famous cloth merchant named Badri Das often used to walk on the Delhi Ridge of Aravalli range. While digging near a waterfall, the idol of Jhandewali Mata and a stone lingam with carvings of nāga were found by him. Das built the temple on the spot. Since the hands of the idol were damaged during excavation, hands of silver were made and the original statue was consecrated in the cavern basement which came to be called "Maa Gufa Wali" (The Mother Goddess of Cave). A new replica of the idol was installed on the ground floor which came to be called "Maa Jhande Wali" (The Mother Goddess of Flag). Since a large prayer flag was installed by Badri Das, who came to be known as "Bhagat Badri", the place came to be known as "Jhandewala" ("the place of the flag"). Within the temple compound there are shrines of Shiva as well as Kali.

Evening was approaching and I was satisfied with sojourn today. It was time to take metro to Rajov Chowk (Cannaught Place) where I wanted to visit the Praachin (ancient Hanuman temple)

Ancient Hanuman Temple

Hanuman Temple in Connaught Place, New Delhi, is an ancient Hindu temple and is claimed to be one of the five temples of Mahabharata days in Delhi. The other four temples are the Kalkaji, the Yogmaya Temple near Qutub Minar, the Bhairav temple near the Purana Qila and the Nili Chatri Mahadev (Shiva temple) at Nigambodh Ghat.

The idol in the temple, devotionally worshipped as "Sri Hanuman Ji Maharaj" (Great Lord Hanuman), is that of Bala Hanuman namely, Hanuman as a child.

The temple, which has a self manifest idol of Hanuman, has an unusual feature fixed in the spire (Shikhara) in the form of a crescent moon (an Islamic symbol) instead of the Hindu symbol of Aum or Sun that is commonly seen in most Hindu temples.

It is believed that Goswami Tulsidas (1532–1623), who wrote Rama Charita Manas (popularly known as Tulsi Ramayan and penned the famous Hanuman Chalisa hymns in praise of Hanuman), visited this temple in Delhi. During his visit, he was summoned by the Mughal Emperor and asked to perform a miracle, which he did with the blessings of Lord Hanuman. The Emperor was pleased with Tulsidas and presented the Hanuman temple with an Islamic crescent Moon finial which adorns the temple spire. It is also claimed that because of the crescent moon symbol on the spire, the temple was not destroyed by the Muslim rulers who invaded India at various times.

Entry to the temple is through the Baba Kharak Singh Marg. The Sanctum Sanctorum, which houses the Hanuman idol, is on the north wall on the right side of the entry foyer, with the idol facing the southern direction in a small bas-relief carving. Images of Radha and Krishna, a central triumvirate of Rama, Lakshmana and Sita are also installed to the right of the Hanuman idol on the same wall.

Idol of Hanuman faces the southern direction. The idol depicts a Gada (mace or club) in the left hand with the right hand crossed across the chest showing veneration to the adjacent idol of lord Rama, Lakshmana and Sita. The height of the temple is reported to be 108 ft. The ceiling of the main mandap (hall or pavilion) depicts the story of Ramayana artistically painted.

Getting blessed with darshan, I sat there for sometime. Though badly tired, I was happy to have covered the temples as planned.

During next visit, I will again try to cover the five Mahabharat time temple in Delhi.

Though I wanted to roam sometime in Cannaught place, but being tired badly, I decided to go back to my room.

1 comment: