Day 10: Tuesday, March 13th, 2018. Holy City of Haridware, India day 2
Today we visited some well know Hindu temples and an Ashram. We didn’t have an English speaking guide so it was rough trying to understand the driver’s English and harder since he was not familiar with the area. For Chandra Temple, we ended up befriending a local teen who knew some English and guided us around the temples. For all Hindu Religious temples, you need to take off your shoes before entering. You can also purchase flowers and popped rice (?) offerings to the shrines of the different Gods and be blessed by local priests who mark your 3rd eye with color. Have tip money available for all of these things.
Chandi Temple. Adorned by the myth of Kali Mata- the supreme Mother, Chandi Devi Temple is lies atop the famed the Neel Parvat hill which is believed to have been the battleground of divine beings. Legend has it that Chandika Devi was born out of the energy of Goddess Parvati to fight the demon Kings Shumbha and Nishumba after she refused marriage to Shumba. Chandika Devi’s reigns as the epitome of all beauty and power. We had to take a rope way service up and there were line zigzags to control the crowds of people the come to visit the temples. There were also many moneys and beggers in the temples we visited.We also visited a nearby temple next to Chandi temple.
There were signs warning us of the monkeys!
Made friends with a local Indian guy who showed us around Chandi temple.
Mansa Temple. The temple of wish-fulfilling Goddess Mansa Devi also sits high on a hill in Haridwar which is one of the holiest seven places in India. Pilgrims who flock there in hopes of getting their wishes granted. We had a priest tie a string on our wrist and an orange color to our forehead. We also tied a string to a tree and made a wish. This was also a heavily visited temple with a ropeway and line controllers.
Tying a wish to the tree.
Next was Maya Devi Temple which is a a sacred Hindu temple dedicated to goddess Maya in the divine city of Haridwar. One of the Shakti Peeths (shrines), the temple is believed to be on the location where Sati's navel fell. Haridwar was previously known as Mayapuri in reference to this deity. Dating back to the 11th century, the temple is one of the three Siddh Peeth's shrines along with Mansa Devi and Chandi Devi. Adhisthatri, a three-headed and four-armed deity, an incarnation of Shakti is displayed in the temple and is worshiped by revered pilgrims throughout the year. The temple consists of idols of Goddess Maya in the centre, Goddess Kali on the left, Kamakhya on the right. There are also two other forms of Shakti present in the inner sanctum.
The last temple we visited was Daksheshwar Mahadev Temple Kankhal which was the most famous temple of the holy city about 6 kms from Har-Ki-Pauri.
A prominent priest and scholar of the Hindu scriptures, says that this spot is the source of all the 52 shakti peeths (centres of primordial energy) in the world.
The story of the temple is that as answer to the prayer of Brahma, one of the trinity of the Hindu gods, Jagdamba or Bhagwati (the supreme shakti) took birth as Sati. Sati was born in the form of the daughter of his son, Daksh Prajapati who had his kingdom at Kankhal. Sati performed hard and long tapasya (worship) to please Lord Shiva to wed her. Finally, the Lord consented to marry her. However, later on strains developed in the relationship of King Daksh and his son-in-law. Shiv Purana narrates how once King Daksh organized a big yajna (ritual offering ceremony) at Kankhal and invited all the gods and rishis (sages) to the ritual, but ignored his son-in-law. When Sati came to know of the function, she invited Lord Shiva to go there. During the function, her father uttered insulting words to Lord Shiva. Sati was so infuriated that she burned herself to the flames of the yajna. As the tragic news reached Lord Shiva, he sent Veerbhadra, one of his bravest warriors to Kanakhal who chopped off the head of King Daksh and threw it in the fire of the yajna. Lord Shiva appeared and in order to complete the yajna that had been disrupted, restored King Daksh to life by putting the head of a male goat on the shoulders of his corpse and King Daksh repented his misdeeds. After this, the grief-stricken Lord Shiva wandered across the universe, carrying the dead body of Sati.
The myths say that Lord Vishnu chopped off the parts of Sati's dead body into 52 pieces in order to separate it from Lord Shiva and free him from his deep mourning. The places where the severed parts body dropped on the earth later on became shakti peeths.
We ate lunch nearby at Hoshiyapuriwala and had Dal Makhani ( made of kidney beans), Paneer Butter Masala, Naan, and rice pudding.
Last stop was a local Ashram. Shri Ramanand Swami was born to a Brahmin family and is considered to be the incarnation of Uddavji, a close friend of Lord Shri Krishna. Uddhav Sampradhay was founded and headed by Shri Ramanand Swami.
Passed by a Jain temple and other Hindu temples on our way back to the hotel.