Sunday, February 22, 2015

Jwalamukhi Temple- A visit on Maha-Shiva-Ratri holiday


Throughout the world, every religion has its few very famous places of pilgrimage, which millions of pilgrims visit every day. In India, Maha-Shivratri fair is still running and therefore this post suits very well on this auspicious occasion.

Why I thought of visiting these Maha-Shakti Peethas!

If you read the main title, you would know which Maha-Shakti-Peethas I am talking about. Well, in Hinduism there are 51 Shakti-Peethas, among them, 9 are known as Maha-Shakti Peethas. You might be already knowing that these 9 places are related to the legend of Sati and Shiva. 

Jwala ji (or JwalaMukhi) shrines a main eternally(since times immemorial) burning flame, which is the representation of the burning tongue of Sati(A form of Shakti/Parvati).

I am not that much of a religious minded person, rather I aspire to be an spiritualist, but I am always curious to know everything.
The news about the protest by some Hindu fanatics against the Bollywood movie "pK,"  made me curious to inquire into the events shown in the movie.

I think, Being a Hindu doesn't stop me from inquiring into my own religion i.e. Hinduism, to know whether something is wrong with the way rituals are being followed. 

I wanted to know, if the priests of the temples are really that much greedy to not return the money in case money was accidentally fallen into the money box.

 I never saw that happening through my own eyes, so I will let that go, because it was just a movie, about an imaginary character from the other world, i.e. an alien, with whom happens some alien events!

Reaching the temple

Well, one line that I didn't like from the movie was " The one who fears, goes to the temple," I will credit that one to the character of the pK himself, a little immature and a little over-acting. Even if the line is true, it was unnecessary and a little irritating to put it into the movie. 

On 17th Feb, 2015, being a Shiva-Ratri day, it was a big celebration day for the Shiva followers, and because there are not many famous Shiva temples, around Hamirpur and Kangra, I expected a big crowd at Jwala ji. Deepak Patial, my batchmate at NIT Hamirpur was interested in going along, so we started on my motor bike at around 9:00 AM.

At the frontiers of the Nadaun town one can have a magnificent view of river Beas. At the upstream of the crossing bridge and downstream as well, they provide the boating services for the interested ones.

At 9:40 AM, we started to step up an ascending road that starts from the main gate of Jwala Mukhi that lies on NH-88 just as you step out of your vehicle. 
Main Gate to Jwala Ji Temple, Kangra. H.P
Witnessing the mid-day at the Jwalamukhi Shrine

The shopkeepers at the market shops on both sides of that road, some of them almost standing on the mid road, tried to make us buy the Halwa and Prasad(offerings for temple, locally known as 'Bhent'), an act which looked a little discomforting to me, because they look so desperate to sell. Main shrine is not more than almost half to one kilometer distant from the main gate. 

Standing in queue for your turn to see the eternal flame burning in the Sanctum at Jwala Ji, Kangra
We were lucky to find a short length line of people, so it took only ten minutes to get in and get out. A blue colored flame, which is said to be burning eternally, was enshrined on one of the walls of the top opened rectangular chamber below the floor surface. 

Only the temple priests are allowed to step into that chamber, they listen to the prayers of the people and accept the offerings and give the prasad. This small square central hollowed stone pit is enclosed by the four cornering walls(cave wall and artifitially constructed) and a spherical dome at its top. 

In between the cave walls and the constructed walls there was sufficient floor space for one or two people to walk around the periphery of the flame pit. 

All people, ladies and gents followed the line alike, they waited in queue for their turn. Police was present inside the temple as well as outside of it at every place, so it was more convenient. Later the line grew to a length of more than 200 metres. 

We crept along the periphery, witnessing some old inscriptions on the metal covered walls, and few other eternal burning flames on the cave walls. Finally temple priest would offer a tika, and we were out. 

A tika/tilaka which looks good when vertical , the temple priest made it a samosa shape on my forehead, he was in big hurry. I am not mad at him, because even I also am always in a hurry.

Adjacent to the main temple, we located a metallic umbrella put inside a glass chamber(Image above), on the top was written " Umbrella offered by Akbar is here."  

It is being said that once Akbar, the great mughal emperor tried to extinguish the eternal burning flame, but he failed to do so. So he started to believe in the power of the goddess and offered a golden umbrella. 
The umbrella that I saw was not of gold, might be the original one had been kept safe somewhere. 

After visiting few other adjacent idols, Patial took me to this hall shown above, where a bed is kept at the center. 

He told me that this was for the goddess herself, her sleeping chamber. Of course, we could not witness that happening, so leave that part. Its all a matter of faith. At the back face of the temple area, foot steps rise on the mountain slope to take you to the Tara Devi temple. 

Of course, I didn't count the number of steps, but as per my memory and improvisational judgement, they were not more than 2000. Tara Devi has its own legends, which you can google by yourself. 

 spot gave a bird's eye view of the Jwalamukhi shrine and its adjacent temples. Please have a look on the photograph posted above. 

The right golden dome capps the chamber, where the main flame is shrined, and the left golden domed hall is 'Shayan Kaksh," the sleeping place of goddess.

On the right of the Tara Devi temple was constructed a Navgrah Vatika containing the erected idols of the 9 planets from the Vedic Astrology, enclosed in a chamber hall . 

It is said that if we meditate or worship in a Navgrah vatika, every planet starts to work with its goodwill for you. 

Tedha Mandir (Tilted Temple):

Up from the Tara Devi temple, a 3 km trek takes you to the 'Tedha Mandir,' a temple which got tilted in a major earthquake, of 1905 AD. 

This temple is dedicated to the Ram, Sita and Lakshman, and is important because it is witness of that 8.2 magnitude earthquake popularly known as the 'Kangra Earthquake'. 

Well, we didn't trek all up to the temple, but we reached it via a single lane road which runs for almost 6 km from Sapri(3 km via NH-88 from Jwalamukhi). Temple looked as is shown in the photo above. It was more or less an adventure to reach this temple. 

On the same day, we visited Chhinnamastika Chintpurni temple, but that story I shall post in my subsequent post, subscribe yourself to get further updates directly into your email box. 

Thank You, please come visit again!