Someshwar Temple - Kausani, Bageshwar District, Uttarkhand

Someshwar temple is a very old Shiva temple. Someshwar is about 12 kms from Kausani and 35 kms from Dwarahat. Its main entrance is very inconspicuous and one is liable to miss it easily. So after crossing mall area of Someshwar town, one has to start looking for a small board amidst old shops. From a old board depicting the entry to the temple, one has to walk about 100 meters on a narrow path to reach the temple. 

The main temple has a Shiva Linga and has idols of Brahma, Ganesha and Lakulesha placed at the back of Shiva Linga. This Temple was built by ruler Lakshmi Chand in 1602 but the idols which are kept in the temple belongs to 7th – 16th century.

Besides these idols, there are
several sculptures of deities placed outside open to sky without any

The authorities have to open their eyes towards the maintenance of this ancient

Shakumbari Temple- Jasmour Village, Shivalik Hills, Uttar Pradesh

Shakumbari devi temple is situated in
Jasmour village, on the Shivalik hill ranges which is about 40 kms from
Saharanpur town in Uttar Pradesh. The temple is very ancient and is considered
as one of the 51 Shakti peethas with Sati’s head fallen here.

In Sanskrit, Shaka means vegetarian
food and Ambari means one who bears to the hungry. So Shakumbari means bearer
of Vegetarian food.

As per Vedas, there is only one principal power called Brahman, who creates the whole universe with the help of Maya. Hence Maya and Brahman are inseparable. Maya or Mula Prakruti is the highest divine primordial force which is called Adi Parashakti. So various forms or names of devi are the attributes of Maya alone, which has a specific name and a designated virtue. Most common name of Adi Parashakti known for worship is Durga, one of the form or attribute of Maha Maya – Adi Para Shakti is Maa Shakumbari. There was a demon (rakshas) named Durgama, who worshipped Brahma for several years. As a result he acquired all the four Vedas from chaturmukha Brahma and also got a boon from him that- all the benefits of Pujas, Homas and Yajnas to reach him instead of other gods and goddesses. So as a result devatas became weak and Durgama became stronger. Obviously he became arrogant and started tormenting every one

As the devatas became weak, they
could not perform their duties resulting in lack of rains followed by famine.
Then the rishis and munis worshipped Adi Parashakti, who appeared before them
and was deeply moved by their plight. Tears started flowing from her countless
number of eyes, which gave her the name – Shatakshi. The tears of Devi took
form of rivers.

Devi found rishis and munis had
nothing to eat. So she appeared in a form bearing grains, cereals, fruits and
vegetables- hence she is called Maa Shakumbari. Then rushis and munis requested
Devi to get the Vedas from Durgama and also kill him so that the havis of homa,
yaga and yajna would go back to devatas.

Durgama came to know that people were
happy with Devi’s blessings. He attacked Devi and rishis with a huge army. Devi
protected everyone by creating a huge wall of fire around them, fought with
Durgama fiercely and killed him with her trident. She recovered Vedas from him
and handed over to the Saints.

When Durgama died, all the powers of Homa and yajnas which was possessed by him transformed into a bright light emitted by thousands of sun and entered Devi. From her body, Maa Shakumbari manifested the ten most powerful Devi’s known as Dasha maha vidyas and 64,000 other goddesses. Hence Adi Parashakti came to be known as Durga after killing the demon Durgama.

Maa Shakumbari devi is mentioned in
Skanda Purana. Her splendid form is described in Durga Saptashati, in the last
chapter named murthy rahasya. According to this, goddess is of blue color and
her eyes like lotus. A lotus is carried in her one hand, which is thronged by
bees, the other carries arrow, another bow representing devi’s fierceness.
Another hand carries fruits and vegetables, symbolizing goddess of vegetation.
People who worship this goddess would be bestowed with plenty of food, water
and infinite bliss.

Maa Shakumbari is worshipped in Pindi
form here. Shankaracharya also might have worshipped here. Shankar mutt can be
seen in front of Devi’s temple.

Shakumbari Temple, Jasmour Village, Uttar Pradesh Shakumbari Temple, Jasmour Village, Uttar Pradesh There is also a temple of Chinnamasta before Shakumbari temple in an elevated place. One has to climb about 50 steps to reach the temple. Here also Chinnamasta is worshipped in Pindi form.

There is a temple of Bhura Dev or
Bhairav about a km away from Shakumbari temple. The temple of Bagalamukhi is
also present at the beginning, before the river. It appears to have been quite
new. Maa Shakumbari devi temple is also located in several other places

1. Maa Shakumbari devi temple at Sikar, Rajasthan
2. Maa Shakumbari devi temple at Kedar, near Gowri kund, Uttaranchal
3. Maa Shakumbari is also known as Banashankari at Badami, Bagalkot district,
4. Banashankari temple is also located at Bangalore, which was built in 1915

Rudreshwar Temple - Manikarnika, North Guwahati, Assam

Rudreshwar temple is located in North
Guwahati, on the Northern bank of Brahmaputra river. Ferries and Motor boat
services are available from Fancy bazaar to this point. 

After alighting from boat one has to walk up for a kilometer to reach the
temple. But there is a sign board adjacent to the steps leading to the temple
and next to the boating point. 

This temple was built by Ahom King Pramata Singha (1744-1751) in memory of his
father Rudra Singha, who died in 1714. The temple is located at the place where
the king was cremated. 

It is a temple with not much grandeur but with esoteric carvings on its wall.
The temple has a Shiva lingam situated about 10 feet below, which appears like
a small cave. The whole atmosphere is serene and wonderful.

Prasanna Rameshwara Temple - Devavrinda, Mudigere, Chikkamagalur, Karnataka

Devavrinda Prasanna Rameshwara an
ancient temple located in Mudigere Taluk, Chikkamagalur District, Karnataka. It
is about 25 kms from Mudigere.

According to the sthala purana, Sri Rama during his 12 years of Aranya vaasa, believed to have got fascinated by the beauty of this place and decided to stay here for some time. Gods and Goddesses after learning about Rama staying in this place, they descended down to be with him. Hence the name- Devavrinda meaning conglomeration of gods.

Sages like Kapila and Parushurama
believed to have performed penances here. When Parushurama was doing penance
here, he saw a cow pouring out the milk on an ant hill. Being curious to know
what contained inside, Parashurama dug open the anthill. During the process of
digging, a Shiva lingam, which was embedded in the soil got injured and started
bleeding. Apparently Parashurama got panicked and started a deep penance on
Lord Shiva. Pleased by his penance, Shiva appeared, blessed Parashurama and
told him to apply sandal paste on the broken part of Lingam. Religiously
Parashurama applied sandal paste on the Lingam which immediately turned black
and got blended.

So even to this day sandal
paste is given to the devotees which is called as Vajraprasadam. It is believed
that the said Vajraprasadam is known to protect the individual from all the ill
As per the inscriptions, the first Kadamba king, was responsible for building
this temple in 1st century AD. Later Hoysalas and Kings of Vijayanagar improved
There are Shrines for Veerabhadra, Ganapathy, Parvathi and Chennakeshava within
the premises of the temple. 
The temple is getting renovated now by the temple management.

Naina Devi Temple – Nainital, Uttarkhand

Naina Devi or Nanda devi temple, at
Nainital, Kumao region of Uttarkhand, is an ancient temple. It is believed to
have been built in 15th century A.D.

Nainital is a picturesque place with Himalayan ranges all around. It is about 340 kms. from New Delhi. The town Nainital has a lake, which is about 1567 yards long, 167 yards wide and 93 feet deep. Naina devi temple is believed to be very old and is also a Shakti pith as Sati’s eyes is believed to have fallen here. The temple got destroyed by a land slide and was re built in 1842 by Moti Ram Shah.

The temple is located at the northern
shore of lake, which can be reached by road all along the lake. However one can
also go by boat to reach the temple.

After entering the temple on the right side, there is a Hanuman idol located in an open enclosure. Left side has an old huge Peepal tree. There are also idols of Ganesha and Maa Kali in the temple complex. Next to the main temple of Maa Naina devi temple, there is a shrine for Bhairav.

A Shiva Ling is also placed in an
enclosure, which is open on all the sides.

A view of Nainital lake from the
temple is wonderful. 

The road to temple has plenty of shops selling coffee, snacks and mementos.
There is ample place for car parking. Behind the parking lot, there is a huge
Mosque and a Church. 

Naina devi temple is open on all days of the week from 6 am to 10 pm.

Naina Devi Temple- Bilaspur District, Himachal Pradesh

Naina Devi temple is located on the
top of a hill, in Bilaspur district of Himachal Pradesh. It is about 100 kms
from Chandigarh and 20 kms from Anandpur Sahib and can be reached by road
almost till the top. But one has to climb about 100 steps to reach the temple.
There is also a cable car facility from base of the hill to the top.

As per legend, goddess Sati, self
immolated in the yagna performed by her father Daksha. Then Shiva destroyed
Daksha yajna and carried sati’s corpse in grief. Hence Lord Vishnu dismembered
Sati’s body into 51 pieces. Where ever her body parts fell on earth, those
places are called Shakti Peethas. Here in Bilaspur district, eyes of Sati had
fallen and hence called Naina devi.

Another story is related to a Gujjar boy called Naina. While he was grazing his cow, he saw his white cow showering milk on a stone. Subsequently Devi in his dream told that the stone is her Pindi form. Then the Gujjar boy told the dream to King Bir Chand who personally saw the cow showering milk on the stone. So immediately the King built a temple on that spot and named it as Naina devi after the Gujjar boy.

Naina devi temple is also known as
Mahisha Peeth. There was a demon named Mahishasur, who was powerful because of
a boon from Brahma, that he could be killed only by an unmarried woman. Due to
this boon, he was tormenting every one. Then gods and sages requested Devi to
kill the demon. When Devi went to kill Mahishasur, the latter was mesmerized by
Devi’s beauty and requested Devi to marry him. Devi told him that she will
marry him if he could defeat her in a combat. Obviously a battle took place
between them and Devi killed the Demon. Then all the sages and gods happily
applauded Devi by saying Jai Naina and hence the name.

Jai Maata di

Mount Kailash Trip

A trip to Mt. Kailash and Manas
Sarovar is the ultimate pilgrimage trip for all Hindus, Jains and Buddhists.
Trip is seasonal, starting from mid May to mid September, subject to weather

It is a 14 day trip from Kathmandu, Nepal. Definitely not a luxury trip! One has to accept the hardship of high altitude problems and enjoy the nature’s beauty. Travelers can select the flight from IGI airport, Delhi and reach Katmandu in 45 minutes. Nepal is about 15 minutes ahead of Indian time and One Indian rupee is 1.60 of Nepali rupee. Indian currency is widely accepted at all the places in Nepal, but not 500 rupee note, which is banned there. Most of the local people can speak Hindi. Kathmandu town is congested and looks like any Indian town.

At Kathmandu, we went on an aerial tour for one hour in 18 seated aircraft, wherein the aircraft flew at 30,000 feet. The charges were around Rs 5000/ per individual. We can view the entire Sagaramatha ranges of Himalayas including Mt. Everest, which is at 27,000 feet and also the other popular mountain Gowrishankar.

Normally air trips are scheduled early in the mornings. After returning from air trip, we had our breakfast and visited Pashupathinath temple. It is an old temple of Lord Shiva, much older than Adi Shankaracharya’s period. According to the evidences Adi Shankaracharya visited this temple along with his four disciples. Infact Shankaracharya’s ashrama has been built in the premises of Pashupathinath temple.

10 kms drive from there is Budha Nilakanth temple. Here Lord Vishnu with Shanka and Chakra, sleeps on Sheshanag. This idol is about 17 feet long and is fenced with a 20 feet enclosure.

Since there was a delay in receiving
the Visa to China, we left Katmandu and travelled to Nagarkot. Nagarkot is a
hill station, located about 200 km from Kathmandu. The roads were winding with
beautiful sceneries. In the evening, while having coffee on the roof top of the
hotel where we stayed, we suddenly noticed the letter OM formed in the clouds,
with a backdrop of setting sun. The whole group was elated and inadvertently
started chanting Har Har Mahadev.

Another day passed. Our Visas did not arrive. Hence our tour operator took us to Kodari, a village on Nepal – Tibet border. The altitude of Kodari and Nyalam in Tibet seemed to be more or less the same. So he decided to have us acclimatization at Kodari instead of Nyalam. We stayed in Kodari for one more day and waited for Visa.

Kodari is a small boder village,
having small and simple lodging facilities at one side of the road and the
other side has a stream separating Nepal from Tibet. Individual double rooms
per couple were allotted there.

Before starting the journey from
Katmandu, we were asked to put our luggage in a single duffle bag supplied by
our tour operator- Narayani holidays. The duffle bags were marked with numbers.
Throughout our journey, after checking into the rooms, all we had to do was to
tell the numbers of our duffle bags to Sherpa (the helpers) who in turn carried
them from the vehicle to the respective rooms.

Kodari village has beautiful waterfalls along with hot water spring called Tatopani. It was about a kilometer away from the lodge. Our tour operator told us that next six days we will not have bathing facilities. We enjoyed a wonderful hot water bath under the spring.

At last our visa arrived and the tour
operator had brought the currency exchange agent to the lodge. We exchanged
about Rs.25000/ worth Chinese currency- Yuans per head. Next morning, we left
Kodari village, crossed a bridge and got custom clearance at the Nepal border
and entered Tibet. The difference of time between Nepal and Tibet, just across
the bridge is two hours. Tibet is 2 hours ahead of Nepal. We stood in the line
at the Nepal bridge gate before 8 am. There is a small but beautiful Waterfalls
before the bridge.

The bridge on the Tibet side is
slightly elevated, and we were gasping and panting for the breath but were
amazed to see middle aged Sherpa ladies carrying 3 to 4 duffle bags on their
backs with a supporting strap running over forehead, walking effortlessly
across the bridge smoking cigarettes and talking to fellow Sherpa.

At the Tibet entry, multi axle AC bus was waiting for us. We finished our lunch at the border village of Tibet and proceeded to Nyalam. It was a tortuous road till Nyalam. But the road was well laid and free from pot holes. Initially the topography was green but as we ascended, the topography was changed to dry Tundra region.

Finally by evening we reached Nyalam
which is at an altitude of 3700 meters viz. almost 11,000 feet. The weather was
pretty cold. As advised we wore thermal pant and shirt topping up with water
proof tracks, sweater and a thick jerkin (given by tour operator). At Nyalam we
were given rooms with four beds. The mattress was quite thick and the quilt to
cover up was also equally thick and warm. Though the room was warm, there was
only a common toilet and no hot water facility. Obviously no bath! There was
power problem. Fortunately sun sets late in the evening and till 8 pm, one can
manage without light.

Nyalam is a small village, having
just 2 or 3 roads. It has couple of shops. We bought a rechargeable torch light
which could be strapped to forehead so that it would be useful while trekking.
It really was a great help while doing Parikrama.

Next morning after breakfast, we left Nyalam. Lunch was at Saga a small town. From there we traveled up to a tiny place called Dongpa.

Dongpa is much smaller than Nyalam.
It had just one road with an altitude of 4500 meters, viz. about 13,500 feet.
The rooms allotted had no power, hot water and toilets. This was the beginning
for the usage of open air toilets. Each room had six beds. The cots were so
tightly cramped that it was difficult to move around in the room. But the room
was warm and beds were quite thick. There was a tiny solar bulb. But the
amazing factor was food. We were served hot rotis, curry, rice and sambar along
with soup and a sweet. In fact we should thank our tour operator for providing
hot Indian food in such a remote place. The tour operators have taught Sherpa
to cook Indian food so well, that we never felt we were in a foreign country.

Next morning, we left Dongpa after breakfast. The road was extremely good and the scenery was breath taking. We stopped in the midway just to enjoy the beauty of the place. A lake called Hanuman taal is on the way to Manas Sarovar. It is believed that Hanuman took bath in this lake while carrying Sanjeevini parvath.

Finally we arrived to the much
awaited destination Manas Sarovar. It was quite warm and the sky clear. So we
could view Mount Kailash from Manas Sarovar. Our lunch was served on the banks
of Manas Sarovar. What an out of world experience to sit and gaze at crystal
clear water of Manas Sarovar!!! This is one of the largest fresh water lakes in
the world. It measures around 75 sq km and is about 70 feet deep. Three great
rivers namely Brahmaputra, Indus and Sutlej take birth from Manas Sarovar. But
it is difficult to pinpoint the origin of these rivers in the lake.

There are number of birds and dogs near the lake, which are unafraid of people. Adjacent to Manas Sarovar, there is one more lake called Raakshas Taal meaning ‘Lake of Demon’. As the legend goes, Ravan took bath in this lake while carrying Atma linga of Shiva. Hence this name Raakshas Taal. But peculiarly we don’t find any birds or fishes in this Lake, and is devoid of any habitations.

Manas Sarovar has Brahma Parvath on one side and Mt. Kailash on the other. Usually the trip is planned in such a way that we would reach Manas Sarovar on a full moon day. Even our trip was also scheduled in that manner, but since our visa was delayed by two days, we could not reach on full moon day. Some say that, there will be spectacular meteor shower at the night on full moon day. But we could not see any because of the delay. We were provided accommodation on the banks of Manas Sarovar. The lodge had half a dozen rooms and each room with six beds. No power and hot water as usual! We had to ease ourselves in the open air.

Next day, early in the morning, we
walked till the lake. Our tour operator had instructed the Sherpa to get gas
stove and a big vessel. So they pitched two tents on the banks- one to heat the
Manas Sarovar water to take bathe and another for ladies to change their dress
after bath. But in spite of taking bath in hot water provided by Sherpa, it was
too difficult to bear the cold. We could just pour three mugs of water and
immediately dressed up with warm cloth. It is a customary to perform Homa on
the banks. Our tour operator had brought the Homa materials for our group.

Weather is so unpredictable there, that suddenly it turned cloudy and started raining, but fortunately after homa. So we returned to our lodge, which was j ust 300 meters from the lake. By that time, weather once again became clear. It is very common for the weather to change so fast in that altitude of about 4460 meters.

We left Manas Sarovar after breakfast and drove for an hour to reach the base camp known as Darchin. It is at an altitude of 4575 meters viz. is about 13,725 feet. This place is slightly bigger than the previous villages having four roads. The lodge had two floors and we were given a room with four beds. Here general toilet was available but without hot water. Only one bulb was provided in a room which worked on solar. It would glow only after 8 pm. But fortunately sun sets at 8 pm there.

After lunch, we proceeded to
Ashtapad, which is about 8 km from Darchin. It is a motorable up to 6 km and we
need to trek only 2 km. A jeep charging 400 yuans takes 4 people. The trek is
not steep.

Ashtapad has 8 peaks. Hindus consider them as feet of Ishwara, Parvathi, Ganesha and Subrahmanya. Jains consider them as foot step of Adinath. Buddhists consider it as foot step of Lord Buddha. Here we see southern face of Mt. Kailash. So it is also called Aghora or Dakshinamurty.

After returning to the base camp
dinner was served. We had to wake up early to start our Parikrama or
Circumambulation next morning. All of us got ready for the long awaited
Parikrama of Mt. Kailash, which can happen once in a life time. We were given
packed food containing fruits, sandwiches, sweets and fruit juice. Our thermos
flask was also filled with hot water. We are expected to drink lot of water
while trekking as there will be dehydration and need to eat sugar or sweet to
keep our glucose level up. It is better to eat half the stomach throughout the
trip as there will be head ache and vomiting due to high altitude. We had
covered ourselves so much that it was impossible to identify anyone among us.

Some of the travelers hired horses
and porters which were allotted by a lucky dip. We started trekking early in
the morning from Yamadwar. It is a 13 km trek on first day to reach Diraphuk
camp at the altitude of 4890 meters viz 14,670 ft and 22 km on second day to
reach Dolmala pass at an altitude of 5650 meters viz. 16,950 ft and 9 km on day
three for returning to Darchin base camp.

By afternoon we reached a flat region
which looked like a temporary resting site. A small makeshift hut had a shop.
Our porters had their lunch in that shop. We also had our packed lunch there
and rested for a while. We could see Mt. Kailash’s west face on the way and also
from the place where we had lunch.

Finally we reached Diraphuk camp at 5
pm. It has a small building with ground and first floor with six beds in each
room. The bed and quilt were quite thick and warm. The camp is at an altitude
of 4900 meters viz. 14,670 ft. As usual no power and toilet facilities. We were
served hot soup, rice and rasam for dinner

We had a wonderful view of Mt.
Kailash’s north face from the camp. Kailash was just 4 km away. The color of
the mountain changed frequently during sunset which was at 8 pm.

Next day early in the morning we had
to leave as weather became bad. The trek to Dolmala pass, which was 22 kms
became quite tough. The altitude is 5650 meters viz. 16,950 ft. But throughout
second and third day, Mt. Kailash is not visible at all. So east face of Mt.
Kailash remained unseen.

Third day’s trek is smooth
and only 9 kms. One could trek in 4 to 5 hours. After returning from Parikrama,
we had lunch and started our journey back with a long cherishing experience.

Maa Fullora (Attahas) Temple- Ahmedpur, Birbhum, West Bengal

Maa Fullora or Attahas (meaning
laughter) temple a Shakti Peeta is located in Birbhum district of West Bengal.
It is on Labhpur to Ahmedpur road. Labhpur to Ahmedpur is about 15 kms. The
temple is situated closer to Ahmedpur i.e about 5 kms before Ahmedpur.

It is believed that Sati Devi’s lower
lip had fallen here. The deity is made of stone and is about 15 feet long.

Idol of Shiva in Maa Fullora
templePond adjacent to Maa Fullora temple

An idol of lord Shiva is in the
middle of an artificial pond in the temple premises and there is also a natural
pond not much used adjacent to the temple.

Lepakshi, Andhra Pradesh

Lepakshi is a small town situated in
Ananthpur district of Andhra Pradesh. It is about 15 kms from Hindupur and 120
kms from Bangalore.

Lepakshi has shrines of Shiva, Vishnu and Virabhadra. It is interesting both historically and archeologically.

The famous Virabhadra temple built by brothers Viranna and Virupanna, is a notable example of Vijayanagar architecture. The sculptures have intricate design which shows the expertise of the sculptor.

Lepakshi is renowned for a huge Nandi (bull), made out of single granite. The Naga Linga is also made out of single rock. There is a legend that Naga of Naga Linga was carved by sculptors while they waited for their mother to prepare lunch. 
The temple complex is on a hillock known as Kurma Shila (tortoise shaped hill), having shrines for Shiva, Vishnu, Virabhadra, Papanatheshwara, Sri Rama and Durga. Of these temples, Virabhadra is very important.

Lepakshi is noted for its sculptures. It is believed that noted Vishwakarma Amarashilpi Jakanachari took part in planning the architecture of these temples. Popular sculptors like Dakoju and Maroju also contributed for this temple sculpture, which is mentioned in the inscriptions found in the premises. 
There are many unique features in the temple, like rock chain, hanging pillar, Durga paadam etc. Several stories of Mahabharata and Ramayana are depicted on the walls and beautiful paintings using natural colors on the roof. There are intricate designs depicted on the walls and pillars, which are used even to this day as Lepakshi prints for Saarees and other textiles. There are several pillars with various deities and rishis depicted.

It is very disheartening to know that
there was a misunderstanding between the king and sculptor. The king ordered to
glide the sculptor. After knowing this ghastly command of the king,
Virupakshanna plucked out his eyes by and threw it on a wall. Even to this day
that particular wall has red mark on it, which is believed to be Virupakshanna’s
Around 200 meters away from the main temple, on the main road there is a
monolithic Nandi, facing the huge Naga Linga. This Nandi is supposed to be the
second largest monolith in India after Gomateshwara.

Lankeshwar Temple - Guwahati, Assam

Lankeshwar temple is an ancient Shiva
temple in the western part of Guwahati. It is on the way to airport and close
to Guwahati University.

Lankeshwar is on the top of a hill
and has about 450 steps. The climb is very beautiful and a temple of Shani
(Saturn) is found on the way. A huge statue of a crow is placed on a pedestal
at the entrance of Shani temple since crow is believed to be the vehicle of the
planet Shani.

The main shrine of Lord Shiva is
under renovation. But visitors can have darshan of lord Shiva in the Sanctum.