Thursday, July 26, 2012

Uravappara

The hillock Uravappara and surrounding areas of 'Olamattom' of Thodupuzha
in Idukki District,Kerala State  is an enchanting serene place where tourists in large numbers visit every year.
On the Uravappara hill top there exists an ancient Subramanya Temple in which childhood form of Subramanya(Bala Subramanya) is enshrined.It is believed that the idol of this temple is 'Swayambhoo'(Self Originated).
Devotees in large number visits this temple which has a connection to the Pandavas of Mahabharatha.
Pandavas during their exile period stayed in this temple compound is a belief.
There can be seen three big stones in the compound which the devotees believe as the 'Hearth' of Pandavas made in their Kitchen.
There is a pond nearby to this in the shape of a human foot and the story is that when there was no water for the Pooja purposes in the temple Bheema
of Pandavas forcefully stamped on the rock with his foot so that there formed a pit in the shape of his foot.Water from mineral spring filled that pit to form
a pond which will not dry up in summer also.The hillock is 500 ft above sea level and steps on the rock are made to climb up.




The 'Aduppu'(Stone hearth) of Pandavas and the foot shaped pond also attracts tourists to this place.
The scenery from the hillock is very beautiful which enthrals our hearts.
The annual festival of Uravappara Temple is in the Malayalam month of Makaram(Jan-Feb) for three days  which starts on Thiruvathira star day  and ends on Pooyam star day.Salt and pepper are submitted  in this temple by the devotees as an offering.
Gold and silver forms of human beings are offered to cure aliments.
The 'abhisheka theertham(Water used for unction of the deity) flows to the bottom of the rock and that is the reason this place is called as 'Uravappara'
is a belief.But most people believes that the pond in the shape of a foot  on the top of the rock  which will have water round the year because the natural mineral spring in it will not dries up and so the name derived as 'Uravappara'.
To 'Olamattom'  bus services are available from Thodupuzha and Moovattupuzha.Kottayam is the nearest Railway station and Cochin is the nearest Airport.

Friday, July 20, 2012

KUMBHALGARH

Kumbhalgarh is a tourist spot of 'Rajasthan State' in India.The main attractions of Kumbhalgarh are the 'Kumbhalgarh Fort'  and 'The wild life Sanctuary' existing there.
The Kumbhalgarh Fort is a 15th century Fort constructed by Maharana Kumbha
which covers an area of 12 square kilometers.The fort is encircled by  thirteen elevated mountain peaks of the Aravali ranges. It is made on the top most ridges about 1100 meters above sea level.The whole place situated away from
the city crowds and busy traffic in a serene beautiful locality will be liked by tourists.
Kumbhalgarh Fort is located approximately 105 kilometers  northwest of Udaipur  City and the Udaipur Airport is 85 km away.
It is situated in Rajsamand District.The dominion of Maharana Kumbha  extended up to Gwalior and Ranthambore.He constructed  this Fort where there existed a Citadel dating back to the second centuary A.D. built by a Jain descendant of  Mauryan Empire.
The fort is massive and it is second to the eminent Chittaurgarh Fort.The walls of the fort is 36 km long and it is 7 meter wide.This fort remained unconquered till to date  because of its unique location and solid construction.It but fell once to the combined forces of Mughal and  Amber  because of scarcity of water.
The 19th Centuary Maharana,  Fateh Singh renovated it.Now this fort encloses
another fort in its complex which is known as 'Kartargarh Fort' and comprises
of a Palace built by Maharana Fateh Singh.This Palace was built by him after demolishing a palace existed there  which was built by Rana Kumbha.In the Kumbhalgarh 
Fort there are 365 temples which  belongs to Jains as well as Hindus.
The fort complex has many palaces and the magnificent one is 'Badal Palace'(Palace of Clouds) which is situated in a high altitude and seems to be
situated among the clouds.A bird's eye view from there is a splendid sight.
Apart from Palaces,temples etc the complex have fields,water resources etc
which were sufficient to withstand  all type of emergencies.
The Fort served the rulers of Mewar  as a refuge in times of strife.It served
as a refuge for baby King 'Uday' of Mewar.Another historical fact is that  'Badal Palace' was the birth 
place of Maharana Pratap.
The fort has seven massive gates and several watch towers.The wall which 
circumvents for 36 km is world's third longest one which is 7 meters wide.
After entering the main gate the scenery on the way which winds up to the pinnacle in a 




comparatively quiet atmosphere is  but enriched with greenery and gardens.The view of the surroundings is breathtaking  and enchanting.
The wild life sanctuary at Kumbhalgarh is stretched to  578 square kilometers.
Animals such as leopards,Sloth Bears,Wolves,Jackals,Deer etc can be spotted  
here.Jungle treks and Safaris are arranged by the authorities for the tourists.
There are comfortable hotels available for a night stay at Kumbhalgarh.
Udaipur City is 105 km away,Jaipur City is 318 km away and Jodhpur is 171 km away.Udaipur is well connected to all major cities by road and rail.


Friday, July 13, 2012

Sankaracharya and Govindacharya

The prime disciple of 'Aadi Sankaracharya' was 'Padma Pader' whose original name was 'Govinda' and after becoming a monk and philosophy teacher he was known as either Padma Pader' or 'Govindacharya'.
In an article about 'Aadi Sankaracharya' dated 10 Sept 2011 in 'Sorting Diamonds and Pearls' I have described in detail how Govindacharya got the name 'Padma Pader'.
Before becoming the disciple of Sankaracharya,  'Govinda'  who was a firm believer of God wished for a glance of 'God' and he was in search to fulfill this ambition.He was not knowing what he should do to see the God and  asked about this to several sages.One of them gave him a mantra and
instructed to recite it millions of times by concentrating the image of 'Narasimha Moorthy' in mind since the mantra was in his favor. Narasimha is
the fourth incarnation of Lord Vishnu who is having half the part above the waist as of a Lion and half the part below the waist is of human.
Govinda was told that when he chant the mantra millions of times  he would
get the vision of Narasimha.So Govinda set about in search of a lonely serene place away from any disturbances and hence he selected a beautiful place inside the forest area and started to chant the mantra.
In that part of the forest some tribal people were living and their main occupation was hunting wild animals.
One day a young hunter while wandering in the forest for a suitable pray saw
Govinda sitting inside a cave and meditating.The hunter was not knowing what that man was doing in the forest and he was anxious to know about it.
So he made some sounds and hearing  it Govinda opened his eyes and saw the hunter before him.The hunter asked in curiosity why he was sitting lonely 
there and what was his aim.Govinda replied that he wanted to see Narasimha
Moorthy and he was sitting to fulfill that ambition.The hunter was not knowing
who was Narasimha  but asked Govinda whether it was any human or animal.
Govinda replied that it was half part human and half part Lion.
The hunter was puzzled because he was quite sure that there was no beast
in that forest in such a shape.But Govinda said it was there for sure.The hunter in this instance challenged to Govinda that he would catch that animal by next day evening and bring before 
him.By saying this oath he went in search for half human and half Lion creature.He wandered all nook and corner of the forest in search of this special animal day and night and in this plight he forgot to take food and water.Each and every second he was thinking about Narasimha and in his mind he thought the image of Narasimha, Half human and half Lion.
He could not find Narasimha the next day also.He determined to die because
he failed in this task of finding an animal of the forest.What was the use of living as a hunter who could not find a certain  animal of the forest   was the feeling in his mind.He tied himself to a tree and
determined to lie there till his death without food and water.
Suddenly 'Lord Narasimha' appeared before  him and spoke to him kindly
and disclosed that he was Narasimha whom he was in search for.The hunter
felt happy and he suspected whether that animal would run away and so he
tied him firmly and dragged all the way to the cave where Govinda was performing his penance.


The hunter told Govinda that he had succeeded to bring the animal 'Narasimha'
as per the details given to him.Govinda but was not able to see Narasimha but he could
hear his sound.He felt very sad that after chanting Narasimha mantra million
times also he was unable to see him but without chanting any mantras within
two days the hunter got his vision.He wept in sorrow and deep agony thinking  about
this.
At that moment Lord Narasimha told Govinda that most of the people including monks also could not chant mantras with full concentration and would be very difficult to perform it 
avoiding food and water.Their mind would wander thinking about other things .But the hunter was concentrating continuously about the thought of  Narasimha only without
any other deviation  for one 'day and night' and next  'day  time' also without
food and water.Hence he got Narasimha's vision since he was pleased in him.
Govinda was told by Narasimha that he was also lucky at least  to hear his sound and it was  because  of his prayers and blessed him.
Govinda later  became the disciple of 'Aadi Sankaracharya' and attained the title 'Padma Pader. He also became  a famous sage.He was  a scholar who wrote several religious and philosophical  books.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Mahabaleswar Temple, Gokarnam

Mahabaleswar Temple is situated at Gokarnam Town of Karnataka State.Gokarnam is a sacred ancient town  and pilgrimage center which has got
reference in Ramayana,Mahabhrata ,Skanthapurana etc.The idol of Lord Shiva in the temple of Mahabaleswar is known as 'Aatmalinga'.There is historical evidence that 'Aadi Shankaracharya' worshiped in this temple. 'Chatrapathi Sivaji' came to this temple for worship.
The famous  myth about Kerala is that Lord Parasurama created Kerala from the sea by
throwing his axe from Gokarna and the land up to Kanyakumari emerged from the sea.When Kerala state was formed in 1956 Gokarna became part of Karnataka State.
The meaning of the word  'Gokarnam'  is Cow's ear.It is believed that Lord Shiva once came out of the ear of 'Prithvi Devi' who took the form of a cow at this place and hence the place name derived.
There is a legend that 'Bhageeratha' brought river Ganges from the heavens to
Earth by doing a penance and his  penance was performed at Gokarnam.
The Shiv Linga of this temple has a bend (which can not be seen to the devotees)and there is a story regarding this.
The Demon King Ravana was a true devotee of Lord Shiva and he performed a
penance at Mount Kailash, the abode of Lord Shiva by reciting 'Shiva Thandava Sthothram' written by himself.Ravana's wish was to propitiate Lord Shiva to get a Shivalinga to consecrate in his country 'Lanka' so that nobody would be able to defeat him afterwards.
The semi Gods came to know  about Ravana's intention and they tried in vain to stop and prevent  his penance.But Lord Shiva appeared before his loving devotee Ravana
and gave him 'Aatma Linga' having tremendous powers.Lord Shiva told Ravana
that he should not place it on the ground till he reaches Lanka.
This was heard by the Semi Gods and they requested Lord Ganapathi to help them to prevent Ravana  from taking the Aatmalinga to Srilanka.
According to the request of Semi Gods Lord Mahavishnu covered the Sun when 
Ravana reached Gokarna.Ravana thought it was sunset time and he used to perform   prayers  at that time as a daily routine.Ravana had to handover the Linga to somebody for that much time of his prayer since the Aatmalinga was not supposed to place on the ground there.Ravana found a boy there who was willing to hold the Linga for awhile.The boy was Lord Ganesa in disguise who promptly placed the Linga at that place when Ravana was praying.After the prayer when Ravana
understood that he was cheated by that boy, he  tried to get back the Linga from the ground but it did not come up and was struck firmly on the ground.When he pulled very hard four small pieces
of the Aatmalinga  broke out and scattered to places where there are four other
temples at present.The temple aroused where the Aatmalinga was placed by




Lord Ganapathi  became renowned as 'Mahabaleswar Temple.'
Devotees are allowed to touch the Linga and pray.They are allowed to do worship themselves up to 10'o clock in the morning every day.Afterwards devotees are removed from the Sanctum Sanctorum and the  priests conducts 'Mahapooja'.The Sanctum will be decorated, lamps will be lighted, a decorative idol known as 'Mukhalingam' will also be  placed there behind 'Aatmalinga' and pooja rituals will be held.This kind of pooja ritual will be held in the evenings also.On the two sides of that sanctum there are deities of 'Chinthamony Vinayakan and Kunkuma Durga'.There are other deities of Aadi Linga,Saksheswaran,Veerabhadran etc also.Parvathy devi is also consecrated
here as 'Thamra Gowri'.Girls whose marriage is delayed because of any reasons
perform pooja for Parvathy Devi who is also known as 'Swayamvara Parvathy' for her blessing.A big  Ganapathi idol  is also enshrined here in a standing posture.
Mahabaleswar temple is famous as a sacred shrine which removes all sins of
the devotees.Sins of our previous births will be also removed is the belief.
Mahabaleswar will also bless his devotees with all sorts of happiness and prosperity.
Maha Shivarathri is celebrated here for nine days.'Rathayathra(pulling of temple car) is  performed during those days.All Mondays are also celebration days.
Gokarnam is 579 km from Bangalore and 60 km from Karwar.It is located at the ear shaped confluence of two rivers, Gangavali and Aghanashini.There are fine pristine 
beaches here.Scenically it is a very beautiful place with Western ghats in the back ground.