Agniteertham in Rāmeshwaram

photos from Agniteertham in Rameshwaram by Arun Shanbhag
Devotees throng Rameshwaram to take a dip in the sanctifying waters of Agniteertham

Just in time for Ram Navami


Visiting the island of Rameshwaram is considered a most auspicious pilgrimage; here Hindus pay their respects to Ramnathaswamy (Shiva) and it is one of 12 sacred Jyotirlingams. Continue reading “Agniteertham in Rāmeshwaram”

Hanumant Devasthan, Bhatkal

pics from the Hanumant Devasthan temple in Bhatkal Karnataka by Arun Shanbhag

In a spotless white dhoti, a white jhabba and a topi covering his pate, my abbu (grandfather) would stride purposefully to his pharmacy store in the Bhatkal (in rural Karnataka) paent every morning. Clutched under his left arm was an old-fashioned, wood handled umbrella, the black fabric faded by the south indian sun. When he walked, he did NOT saunter, amble, or loiter; he strode, like every cell from his heel to his head were marching to a higher purpose. Fingers on his right hand would count as he mouthed this mantras. As a little boy following him in awe, I was fascinated by the surroundings. Those dragon flies flitting about were hypnotizing; perhaps that quietly munching cow would charge; a cat meows, jumps on a low wall and scurries; a tribe of monkeys screeched in the trees; those naga (snake) stone in the fields tilted as they stood guard over centuries. I’d follow quietly. Continue reading “Hanumant Devasthan, Bhatkal”

Aśṭa Vināyak – Pilgrimage to Eight Gaṇeśa Temples – A Photo Essay

Pics from AstaVinayak Tirth Yatra Maharashtra by Arun Shanbhag In the Indian state of Maharashtra, a tīrth yātra (pilgrimage) to visit eight ancient temples to Gaṇeśa (Aśṭa Vināyak) is mentioned in the puranas and considered very sacred. These eight temples, each with exquisitely beautiful Gaṇeśa murtīs, are in tiny villages, scattered around the mountainous terrain between Mumbai and Pune. After much procrastination, last February we were called on this short, beautiful and spiritually uplifting tīrth yātrā. Continue reading “Aśṭa Vināyak – Pilgrimage to Eight Gaṇeśa Temples – A Photo Essay”

Break at a Marathi Village

During our AstaVinayak (Eight Sacred Ganapati Temples) tour, we stopped at a roadside eatery in rural Maharashtra. After a simple meal (roti & sabzi for us, yogurt and rice for Meera), I ambled over to the village square. Continue reading “Break at a Marathi Village”

Visiting the Daulatabad Fort at Deogiri

Daulatabad Fort, India Arun ShanbhagDaulatabad, previously known as Deogiri (Hill of Gods), was founded by Raja Bhillama of the Yadava dynasty in the 11th century of the current era. Raja Bhillama renounced his allegiance to the Chalukyas, and after victorious campaigns against neighbors, retained control of the strategic Deccan with his capital at Deogiri.

Having heard of the wealth of the land, Alauddin Khilji marched down, destroyed the town and laid siege to the fort in 1294. After a 3-week stand-off, Raja Ramachandra Deva surrendered on payment of a record tribute which had to be carted off on elephants and camels. The tribute was believed to include 54,000 lbs of gold, 560 lbs of pearls, 160 lbs of precious stones, silver, silk and adjacent towns. This was the first time Muslims had penetrated as far south as the Deccan. Fresh with booty, Alauddin schemed and murdered his uncle Jalauddin Khilji and ascended the throne in Delhi in 1296. And a few years later Alauddin would lust after Padmini, ending tragically in the massacre at Chittor. Continue reading “Visiting the Daulatabad Fort at Deogiri”

Hindu Temple Chicago

Picture Hindu Temple Chicago Rama Temple Lemont

For a friend’s wedding I recently traveled to Chicago. Since that’s where I did my doctoral work, we have many friends there and love the city. I have previously posted on the architectural wonders of Chicago, the Balaji Temple and have run the Chicago Marathon!

On this visit, I additionally got darshan at the exquisitely maintained Hindu Temple of Greater Chicago! Was surprised at their calendar of activities including Yoga, Meditation, Gita Recitation, Discourses and Sunday School. And importantly a cafeteria serving dosas, idli sambar, yogurt rice and else. Reason enough to go!
Continue reading “Hindu Temple Chicago”

Cave Temples of Badami – 2

Badami in Northern Karnataka, was the capital of the Chalukyan empire. During the 5th to the 8th century, skilled artisans cut caves in the mountainside and decorated the insides with stunning craftsmanship.

The four caves are dated to 578 CE. The first cave is dedicated to Shiva and you saw some impressive high relief figures of Nataraja and Ardhanareshwara in my earlier post. I hope you did not miss the cute Ganapati providing mridangam support for Shiva’s dance! In a prominent niche in this cave, is also housed a beautiful sculpture of Durga Devi in the form of Mahisasuramardini, which I previously used in a Dussehra greeting.

Cave two is dedicated to Vishnu. Near the entrance is an impressive carving of Varaha Murthy representing the avataar of Vishnu. He is accompanied by the king Naga (lower right). He is holding goddess Prithvi, representing the earth, which he rescued from the deluge.
Vishnu as Varaha Murthy, Cave Temples of Badami
Continue reading “Cave Temples of Badami – 2”

Cave Temples of Badami

Cave Temples of Badami

The Cave Temples of Badami in Northern Karnataka are part of UNESCO’s World Heritage Site. They are well maintained, and the sculptures are mind blowingly exquisite. Highly recommended. The above is an image of Shiva as Nataraja, Lord of the Dance. Apparently, his 9 arms on each side create the 81 combinations of Bharatnatyam poses.
Continue reading “Cave Temples of Badami”

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