SRINGERI, also written as SHRINGERI, is a hill town and taluka headquarters located in CHIKKAMAGALURU District in Karnataka.  It is the site of the first MATHA (SRINGERI SHARADA PEETA) established by Adi Shankara, Hindu theologian and exponent of the ADVAITA VEDANTA Philosophy in the 8th century CE.  It is located on the banks of the River Tunga and is also an historical temple (1,200-years-old).


The name SRINGERI is derived from RISHYASHRINGA —- a nearby hill which is believed to have contained the hermitage of RISHI VIBHANDAKA and his son.  The Rishi appears in an episode in the Ramayana, where a story narrated by VASISHTHA, relates how he brought rains to the drought-stricken Kingdom of ROMAPADA.

According to legend, ADI SHANKARACHARYA is said to have selected the site as the place to stay and teach his disciples because when he was walking by the Tunga River, he saw a cobra with a raised hood, providing shelter from the hot sun to a frog about to spawn.  Impressed by the place where natural enemies had gone beyond their instincts, he stayed here for twelve years.  He also established MATHAS in the northern (at JYOTIMATH, near Badrinath), eastern (at PURI) and western (at DWARKA) quarters of India.


SRINGERI is home to a number of historic temples.  Of these, SRI SHARADAMBA Temple & SRIVIDYASHANKARA and PARSHWANATH Jain Temple are prominent.  Other historic temples nearby are HORNADU, KOLLUR & KALASA.


(1) SHARADAMBA TEMPLE, dedicated to the Goddess of learning and wisdom, has grown from a simple shrine dating to the time of Adi Shankaracharya.  In the 14th century, VIDYARANYA is said to have replaced the old sandalwood image with a stone and gold image.  The Temple structure itself continued to be made of wood till the early 20th century.  After an unexpected fire that damaged the structure, the current structure was built in the traditional South Indian CHETTINADU Style of Temple structure.


(2) VIDYASHANKARA TEMPLE was built in commemoration of the Pontiff Vidyashankara, around 1357 – 58 CE.  It was built by Vidyaranya, patron-saint of HARIHARA & BUKKA, the brothers who founded the VIJAYANAGARA Empire.  The niches in the Temple have a number of sculptures from Hindu Mythology.  Inscriptions in the Temple record contributions made by several Vijayanagara Emperors, but the Temple was probably built on an earlier Hoysala site as it combines Hoysala and Vijayanagara architecture features.  The Temple architecture is also an exhibition of the astronomical expertise of Medieval South Indian Temple builders.  The main Temple Hall features  12 pillars designated for the 12 signs of the Zodiac.  Windows and doors along the Temple walls are arranged such that EQUINOXES sunrise views reach the Deity.  The northern and southern gates enable the sunrise view from the Hall during SOLSTICES.  The Temple was built in the year 1338 AD.  It stands on a high plinth and commands a magnificent view from the hills and the slopes all around.  It is more or less a rectangle with  APISIDAL east-west ends.  On the western side is the GARBHAGRIHA, with VIDYA GANAPATI on one side and DURGA on the other side of the entrance.  On the other three sides are shrines to BRAHMA, VISHNU & MAHESHWARA with their consorts.  In the eastern half of the structure is a MANTAPA with 12 pillars, huge monoliths carrying large figures and carrying heavy projecting CORBELS on top.  The central ceiling is an exquisite piece of workmanship with lotus and pecking parrots.  The VIMANA over the GARBHAGRIHA rises magnificently with SHIKARA, MAHAPADAMA & STUPI.  The rest of the roof is made up of sloping channelled slab.  The basement is elaborately sculpted with animals, Siva, Vishnu, Dasavatara, Kali, Shanmukha and so on.  To a student of Hindu Iconography, this Temple is a veritable storehouse of sculpture.


(3) THE ZODIAC PILLARS, in the Vidyashankara Temple, are popularly known as RASHISTAMBHAS (Zodiacal Pillars).  Among the many delicate carvings, lions that are engraved in biped positions on the pillars may be mentioned.  There are stone balls inside the growling faces of the lions and they can be moved inside their mouths.


Since SRINGERI is situated in the MALNAD Region, the best time to visit is between October and March.


Virupaksha temple

PATTADAKAL, also spelled PATTADAKALU is a World Heritage Site, a Village and an important tourist centre in the State of Karnataka, and is located on the left bank of the MALAPRABHA River in Bagalkot District.  It is 22km from BADAMI and 514km from AIHOLE, both of which are well-known for Chalukya monuments.  The pre-Chalukya historical and archaeological site BACHINAGUDDA is also near Pattadakal.

Pattadakal temples

Pattadakal, the place for Chalukya’s Coronation, was the capital of the Chalukya Dynasty of Karnataka in Southern India.  The Chalukyas built many Temples here between the 7th and 9th century.  There are 10 Temples, including a Jain Sanctuary, surrounded by numerous small shrines and Plinths in fusion of various Indian architectural styles (Rekha, Nagara, Prasada and Dravida Vimana) .  Four Temples were built in Chalukyan Dravidian style, four in the Nagara style of Northern India and the PAPANATHA Temple in mixed style.  Nine Shiva Temples and one Jaina Basadi, situated along the northern course of the river, which is considered as very auspicious according to the Holy Scriptures.

virupaksha temple

Pattadakal was a great centre of art and architecture.  According to the inscriptions, the place was known by the names KISOVOLAL (red town  ——- mostly mountains near Pattadakal gave this name, RAKTAPURA.  It continued to be an important centre under the RASHTRAKUTAS and the KALYANI CHALUKYAS.  It became a chief city for a small region called KISUKADU.  The SINDHAS of YARAMABARIGE (Yelburgi) also ruled it for some time.

Virupaksha temple

UNESCO, in 1987, included PATTADAKAL in its list of World Heritage Sites.  The group of 8th century monuments in Pattadakal are the culmination of earliest experiments in the VESARA style of Hindu Temple architecture.

Temples Pattadakal

VIRUPAKSHA Temple is the largest and grandest of all the Temples in Pattadakal.  It was built in the 8th century by Queen Lokamahadevi to commemorate her husband Vikramaditya — 2 victories over the Pallavas of Kanchi.  The Temple has rich sculptures.  It has a sanctum, pillared navaranga and triple entrances from the north, east and south porches.  It has a massive gateway in front from the east.



PANDHARPUR is a most popular pilgrimage city on the banks of the Bhima River in Sholapur District, Maharashtra, India.  It has an average elevation of 1,520ft.

Pandharpur, alternatively known as CHANDRABHAGA because of its half-moon like shape, is a city named after a great merchant, PUNDALIK, who achieved self-realization here.  Pandharpur, also known as PANDHARI, hosts the renowned  VITTHALA TEMPLE.  Vithoba, Panduranga and Pandharinath are the popular alternate names of the Deity, VITTHALA, who is regarded in Hinduism as a form of Lord Krishna.  Lord Krishna is considered as an incarnation of Lord Vishnu.  RUKMINI is Vitthala’s consort in the Temple.

Pandharpur Rukmini

The worship of Vitthala is based mainly on the contents of the Puranas and the contributions of the Vaishnav Saints of Maharashtra and Karnataka, during the 13th through the 17th centuries.  The Pandharpur Temple covers a large area and has six gates.  The eastern gate is known as NAMDEV GATE.

Pandharpur Vittala

Pandharpur is the centre of the BHAKTI Movement.  For centuries, every year, just before the rains, thousands of pilgrims known as VARKARI, followers of HARIPATH ( path of God who is Krishna – Vishnu) travel long distances from rural Maharashtra and Karnataka to Pandharpur.

Pandharpur Dindi

The pilgrimage, known as DINDI, is a sight to behold, with long lines of fluttering flags against the summer sky, majestic flower-bedecked bullock carts and palanquins, men dressed in white, anointed with sandal paste, wearing strings of tulsi beads, carrying lutes and cymbals, singing traditional songs, and women in colourful nine yard saris balancing tulsi plants on their head in brass pots.  They travel to pay obeisance to Krishna known locally as Pandurange Vitthala.  Devotees affectionately address him as —VITTHA – AI, which means Mother Krishna, attributing to him boundless maternal wisdom, bypassing all gender rigidities.

Pandharpur temple

The word VITTHALA has a mysterious etymology.  Based on VIT, which is Marathi for “brick” on which he stands.  It is even more confusing that a dark-complexioned Krishna is called PANDURANGA, the “fair-complexioned”.  What matters to the devotees, is that Krishna came to this region to meet a devotee called PUNDALIK who was too busy taking care of his old parents to turn around and pay attention to his Divine Guest.  So, he pushed a brick in Krishna’s direction and told him to wait while he completed his duties.  So Krishna waited, arms akimbo, and is still waiting, for the archetypal devotee to turn around.  Thus, through temporal household drama, the lofty divine connects with the devotee.

———–Inputs by Devdutt Pattanaik at  


Yogyakarta Indonesia

Despite the official spelling, the name is usually pronounced and not uncommonly written — JOGJAKARTA or just JOGJA (JOGH – JAH).  YOGYAKARTA, also JOGTA or JOGJAKARTA is a city and a capital Yogyakarta Special Region in Java, Indonesia.  The city is named after the Indian city of AYODHYA from the Ramayana Epic.  YOGYA means “suitable, fit, proper” and KARTA means “prosperous, flourishing” (i.e. “a city that is fit to prosper” ).  The Dutch name of the city is DJOHJAKARTA.

Yogyakarta Indonesia

The area of the city of Yogyakarta is  While the city spreads in all directions from the KRATON (the Sultan’s Palace), the core of the modern city is to the north, centred around Dutch colonial-era buildings and the commercial district, JALAN MALIOBORO, with rows of pavement vendors and nearby markets and malls, is the primary shopping street for tourists in the city, while JALAN SOLO, further north, is a shopping district more frequented by locals.  At the southern end of Malioboro, on the east side is a large local market of BERINGHARJO, not far from Fort VREDEBURG, a restored Dutch Fort.

Yogyakarta temples

At Yogyakarta’s centre is the Kraton and surrounding it is a densely populated residential neighbourhood that occupies land that was formerly the Sultan’s sole domain.  Evidence of this former use remains in the form of old walls and the ruined TAMAN SARI, built in 1758 as a pleasure garden.  No longer used by the Sultan, the garden has been largely abandoned.  For a time, it was used for housing by the Palace employees and descendants.  Reconstruction efforts began in 2004 and an effort to renew the neighbourhood around the Kraton has begun.  The site is a developing tourist attraction.

Yogyakarta malioboro

Nearby to the city of Yogyakarta is Mount MERAPI.  The northern outskirts of the city run up to the southern slopes of the mountain in Sleman Regency (Indonesian language : KABUPATEN ).  GUNUNG MERAPI (literally “mountain of fire” in Indonesian / Javanese ) is an active strato-volcano located on the border between Central Java and Yogyakarta, Indonesia.  It is the most active volcano in Indonesia and has erupted regularly since 1548.  The south of Merapi is KALIURANG Park.

Mount Merapi

Because of its proximity to the BOROBUDUR and PRAMBANAN Temples, and because of the Javanese Court Kraton, Yogyakarta has become an important tourist destination in Indonesia.

Yogyakarta Indonesia

Nine rock sites have been declared as Geo-heritage Sites : (1) ECOCENE LIMESTONE at Gamping in Sleman.  (2) PILLOW LAVA at Berbah in Sleman.  (3) Prehistoric volcanic sediment at CANDI IJO in Sleman.  (4) PRAMBANAN in Sleman.  (5) Sand Dunes at PARANGTRITIS in Bantul (6) KISKENDO Cave and a former manganese mining site at KLERIPAN   in Kulon Progo.  (7) NGLANGGERANG prehistoric volcano in Gunung Kidul (8) WEDIOMBO – SIUNG Beach (9) A bioturbation site at KALINGALANG near Wonosari.

Some of the cultural aspects of Yogyakarta are :
Yogyakarta Indonesia(1) Batik fabric production.  The most famous Batik marketplace is BERINGHARJO Market.  Yogyakarta Silver market(2) Silverwork, fine filigree jewellery and the production centre is in KOTAGEDE.
(3) Traditional Javanese dance performance, especially Ramayana WAYANG WONG dance performed in Prambanan and Purowisata.

WAYANG WONG dance Indonesia

(4) WAYANG KULIT, a traditional Javanese leather puppetry used for shadow plays.

(5) Contemporary puppetry and theatre, for example the Papermoon Puppet Theatre.

WAYANG KULIT puppet show

(6) GAMELAN Music, including the local Gamelan Yogyakarta which was developed in the courts.

(7) Annual traditional Javanese festivals such as SEKATEN or GEREBEG MULUD.
(8) Visual artists including the TARING PADI Community In Bantul.

Traditional Indonesian festival

To the east of the town, is the large Air Force Museum ( MUSEUM PUSAT DIRGANTARA MANDALA ) with 36 aircrafts in the building and 6 aircrafts displayed outdoors.  As Indonesia was for a period in the Soviet sphere of influence, this Museum contains a number of vintage Russian aircraft not widely available for inspection in the NATO sphere of influence.  There is also an assortment of Japanese, American and British aircraft.  There is also another museum —— Jogja National Museum.


Veerabhadra temple Lepakshi

LEPAKSHI is a charming hamlet situated in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh and is part of the Anantapur District. It is about 120km north of Bengaluru in Karnataka. and 15km from the town of Hindupur.  Although small, the hamlet has a lot of historical and religious significance for the locals.  In the Ramayana, Lord Ram accompanied by Hanuman, meets the dying JATAYU.  They help him to attain MOKSHA by uttering the words : LE PAKSHI which is Telugu for “rise, bird”.  Hence the name LEPAKSHI.

Lepakshi temple

The place is famous in South India for its Temples.  There are three Temples dedicated to Lord Shiva, Lord Vishnu and Lord Virabhadra.  Another attraction of the place is a small hillock that is shaped like the back of a tortoise and has been named KURMA SAILA and located on the hillock are Temples of Sri Rama, Raghunatha, Papanatheswara and Goddess Durga.

Lepakshi paintings

The Temples are examples of the exquisite craftsmanship displayed by the VISHWAKARMA Brahmins, who were the sculptors employed for carving out the hard walls of the temples.  Many people believe that even the famous Vishwakarma Sculptor — Amarashilpi Janakachari helped prepare the design and layout of the temples.  In fact, famous sculptors of the time, including KAKOJU & MOROJU, helped prepare the carvings of the temple walls.  On the walls are depicted various scenes from the Ramayana and the Mahabharata.  Interestingly, the carvings on the walls of the temples also inspire the designs for the famous LEPAKSHI Saris.


The chief attraction of LEPAKSHI is the VEERABHADRA Temple, dedicated to Lord Veerabhadra, which draws devotees from all over South India.  The temple was built by two brothers —- VIRANNA & VIRUPANNA.  It is an example of the Vijayanagara architectural style.  Points of interest include a rock chain, hanging pillar, Vastu Purush, Durga Paadam and Lepakshi Sari designs.  The paintings on the roof are made with natural colours.

Lepakshi Nandi

The LEPAKSHI NANDI is a granite monolithic sculpture on the main road of LEPAKSHI, approximately 200 metres from the Temple.  It is 4.5metres high and 8.23metres long, making it one of the largest Nandi in India.  The sculpture has been positioned so that it faces the SHIVALINGA that is inside the Temple, and is shielded by a large serpent.  The Nandi wears a KAASU MALAI (a bell chain), earrings and other jewellery.  Legend has it that the NAGA of the NAGALINGA was carved out of a single stone by the sculptors while they waited for their mothers to prepare lunch.

Lepakshi temple hanging pillar

Beach pilgrimage

With abundance of beaches and sunshine, Tamil Nadu is where tourists come to soak in the sun, frolic in the waves and spend many a languid hour on the sands.  Let’s go on a “beach pilgrimage” instead.

Velankanni Church Chennai

(1) MILES TO GO : Easily, amongst the most crowded beaches in Tamil Nadu, MARINA is Asia’s longest beaches too.  Two temples, the 8th century PARTHASARATHY TEMPLE, with its majestic Rajagopuram, and the KAPALEESHWARAR TEMPLE, a 7th century Dravidian temple, are close to this beach.  USP : The Lighthouse on Marina offers a breath-taking view of the city and the sea.



(2) POP GOES THIS BEACH : Competing with the Marina in the popularity stakes, ELLIOT’S, which is lovingly called BESSIE by locals, is big business.  From trinket sellers and parrots which foretell you future to games and horse rides, this beach is entertainment central .  The VELANKANNI CHURCH and the ASHTALAKSHMI TEMPLE could be packed into the beach itinerary.  USP : The SCHMIDT MEMORIAL, erected in memory of a Dutch sailor who lost his life while saving a girl from drowning, is a prominent landmark.  That and the supposedly haunted BROKEN BRIDGE.

Shore Temple

(3) WHISPERING CAVES : The bustling temple town of Mamallapuram boasts of fabulous beaches.  The majestic SHORE TEMPLE looks out to the vast blue and showcases the 7th century Pallava architecture in all its splendour.  Browse through the shops that sell everything from sculptures to clothes, handicrafts, second-hand books, and lure you with promises of rejuvenating massages, healing Ayurveda, and uplifting yoga.  USP : If you plan your trip between December and March, you can the world-famous Mamallapuram Dance Festival.


(4) REMAINS OF THE DAY : If you’d rather have a beach all to yourself, or almost, then TRANQUEBAR is your go-to place.  Do a quick inspection of the 17th century FORT DANSBORG and then have a run of the museum nearby.  Check out the ancient 14th century SHIVA TEMPLE, steeped in history and mythology.  USP : If your are a seashell fiend, expect to find a scintillating variety here.


(5) FAITH MOVES WATERS :  VELANKANNI BEACH is one of the more famous beaches of the country, thanks to the Church of our Lady of Health located here.  The architecture of the Church, quite similar to the one at Lourdes, France, has earned it the sobriquet “LOURDES OF THE EAST”.  One can also go to the dargah at Nagore, the Murugan Temple at Sikkal, and the Sri Rangam Temple at Trichy, which isn’t far.  USP : The museum at the Basilica is a splendid draw.


Rameshwaram Temple

Rama Sethu

(6) SITA’S RESCUE ROUTE : A dip in the waters of Dhanushkodi is considered by many.  The place, just 28km away from Sri Lanka, is famous for its mythological importance.  It is said that Lord Rama and His “vanara sena”, together with his brother Lakshmana, Hanuman and Ravana’s brother Vibhishana, built a bridge using floating stones.  They used this bridge to reach Lanka and rescue Sita from Ravana.  USP : You need to clear out of Dhanushkodi by 5.30p.m, after which the sea meets the mainland.  But, don’t miss a train ride on the PAMBAN BRIDGE.  The RAMESHWARAM TEMPLE, with a magnificent corridor arched by 1,200 granite columns, is a must-see.

————— and

Sita’s place


Mythology adds to the spice when it comes to visit an ancient place.  One such place with a Ramayana link is AVANI in Kolar District.

There is a beautiful Temple at the foothills of a hillock.  The Karnataka Gazetteer says, the place was earlier known as  AVANTIKA KSHETRA and was considered to be of great sanctity.  “According to legend, the hill was the residence of poet Valmiki, the author of Ramayana, and is therefore known by the name VALMIKI PARVATA also.


Rama is said to have encamped here for some time on his way back from his expedition  to Lanka and Sita, when subsequently abandoned by her husband, is said to have come here and given birth to her twin sons.  The place is mentioned in Bana inscription, the professed date of which is 339AD.  In a later inscription, it is called the GAYA OF THE SOUTH.

Interestingly, there is also another hillock near Avani known as KARVEDI KONDA.  This place was said to be another camp of Lord Rama.  The story goes that during Ashwamedha Yaga, when Luv and Kush tied up the horse, Rama and his sons fought a war between Karvei Konda and Avani.


Ramlingeswara Temple Avani Hill

Apart from stories, the hillock offers a good climb.  As you move up, you get a panoramic view of the nearby hillocks.  En route, there is a small spring.  You could rest at the summit.  In fact, many people trek to the summit just to sleep.


There are also a number of ancient temples at the foothills.  They stand at the southwest corner of the hill and consist of a dozen different buildings in all within a single courtyard having two gates, one in the south and the other in the east.  Ten of these forma sub-group dedicated to different deities like Shiva, Parvati and Subramanya.  Local mythology attributes the consecration of these images to the days of Sri Rama and his brothers.  However, there are inscriptions indicating that these temples go back to the Ganga times.  While the majority of these shrines belong to this period, reconstructed or at least renovated in the Chola period, there is evidence to show that at least one temple, that of KAMAKSHI, was built during Vijanagara days.

——– Sridhar Vivan.



KODAGU, also known as COORG, is an administrative district in Karnataka.  It occupies an area of 4,102 sq.kms in the Western Ghats of south-western Karnataka.  It is the least populous of the 30 districts in Karnataka.


Kodagu is a hilly district, the lowest elevation of which is 3,000 ft. above sea-level.  The highest peak, TADIANMOL, rises to 5.740ft, with PUSHPAGIRI, the 2nd highest at 5,627ft.  The main river in KODAGU is the KAVERI (Cauvery), which originates at TALAKAVERI located on the eastern side of the Western Ghats, and with its tributaries, drains the greater part of KODAGU.

coorg bridge

In July and August, rainfall is intense and there are often showers into November.  In jungle tracts, the rainfall reaches 3,000-3,800 millimetres and 1,500-2,500 millimetres in the “bamboo district” to the west.  KODAGU has an average temperature of 15 degrees, with the highest temperatures occurring in April and May.  The principal town and district capital is MADIKERI or MERCARA.


KODAVU was the native name of KODAGU.  The Kodavas were the earliest agriculturists in KODAGU, having lived there for centuries.  Being a “warrior community”, as well,  they carried arms during times of war and had their own chieftans.  The HALERI DYNASTY ruled KODAGU between 1600 and 1834.  Later, the British ruled KODAGU from 1834. after the Coorg War, until India’s Independence in 1947.  A separate state (called COORG STATE) until then, in 1956 KODAGU was merged with the Mysore State (now Karnataka). The KODAVAS are the dominant community of KODAGU.  KODAVA oral traditions are very rich.  They revere ancestors, arms and worship a number of deities.


KODAGU is rated as one of the top hill station destinations in India.  Some of the most popular tourist attractions in KODAGU include TALAKAVERI.  It is the place where the River Kaveri originates.  The Temple, on the river banks, is dedicated to Lord Brahma, and is one of only two Temples dedicated to Brahma in India and Southeast Asia..

coorg 103

BHAGAMANDALA is situated at the SANGAM (confluence) of two rivers —- the KAVERI & the KANIKA.  A third river, the SUJYOTHI, is said to join from underground, and, hence this spot is called the TRIVENI SANGAM.


IRUPPU FALLS is a sacred Kodagu Hindu spot in the Brahmagiri hill range.  The KAKSHMANA TIRTHA river, with the waterfalls, flows nearby and has a Rameshwara Temple on its banks.

Iruppu falls

Omkeshava temple Coorg

OMKARESHWARA TEMPLE is a beautiful Temple built in the Indo-Sarcenic style in KODAGU.  A legend is associated with the Temple built by Laingrajendra — 2 in 1820 CE.  The King put to death a pious Brahmin who dared to protest against his misdeeds.  The spirit of the dead man began to plague the King day and night.  On the advice of wise men, the King built this Temple and installed a “Shivlinga” procured from Kashi in North India.


DUBARE is mainly an elephant-capturing and training camp of the Forest Department at the edge of the Dubare Forest, on the bank of the River Kaveri.  NAGARHOLE is a national park and wildlife resort.  NISARGADHAMA, is a man-made island and picnic spot near Kushalanagar, formed by the River Kaveri.

Abbey falls madikeri

Coorg view

ABBEY FALLS is a scenic waterfall, 5km from Madikeri.  MALLALLI FALLS is 25km from Somwarpet.  The TIBETAN BUDDHIST GOLDEN TEMPLE is at Bylakuppe, near Kushalanagar, in the Tibetan Refuge Settlement.

Dubare elephant camp



KODAGU is considered rich with wildlife and has 3 Wildlife Sanctuaries —– the BRAHMAGIRI, the TALAKAVERI and the PUSHPAGIRI, and I National Park —— the NAGARHOLE NATIONAL PARK, also known as RAJIV GANDHI NATIONAL PARK.


The flora of the jungle includes ironwood, ebony, Indian mahogany, Poon spar, Black Dammar and rose.  In the undergrowth, are found cardamom, areca, plantains, canes and wild black pepper.

mallalli falls madikeri

In the forest of the less thickly-wooded bamboo country in the west of KODAGU, the most common trees are blackwood, Kino tree, Matthi, Benteak, Dindul  and several species of acacia.  Teak and sandalwood also grow in the eastern part of the district.



Coorg tibetian temple

Then here there is the Asian elephant, tiger, leopard, dhole, gaur, boar and several species of deer.  KODAGU also has a wide variety of birds, roughly around 300 birds have been sighted and reported over the years.

Temple city – Maluti


Maluti (also known as Malooti) is a small village near Shikaripara in Dumka District of Jharkhand, India.  The village came into the limelight in the 15th century, as the capital of “Nankar Raj” (tax-free kingdom).  The kingdom was awarded to one Basanta Roy, of village Katigram, by Sultan Alauddin Hussan Shah of Gaura (1495-1525).


Basanta was the son of a poor Brahmin and he ha managed to catch the pet hawk of the Sultan and gave it back to him.  In lieu of the hawk, Basanta was given the kingdom.  Hence, Basanta was called Raja Raj Basanta.  The capital of Raja Raj Basants Dynasty was in Damra. Later, it was shifted to Maluti.
The Royal family was very pious.  The name Raj Basanta is comparatively prominent, because it can be found both in local history and government records.  Swamiji, the head of Sumeru Math, Varanasi, was the preceptor of Basanta.  Since then, the head of Sumeru Math, who is called Rajguru, becomes the preceptor of the descendents of King Raj Basanta.


How Maluti — the capital of Raja Raj Basanta Dynasty —– turned out to be a Temple City is a very interesting story.  Instead of constructing palaces, the Rajas built temples.  The dynasty was broken into parts (tarafs), but each ‘taraf’ kept building temples, competing with the others.  In the end, it turned out to be a UNIQUE TEMPLE CITY.  Inscriptions in Proto-Bengali, on the temples, show they were named after women.


Around 1857, Swami Bamdev (or Bamakhyapa), one of Bengal’s greatest spiritual leaders, came here to be a priest, but failed, because he couldn’t memorise Sanskrit Mantras.  He was made to cook food for the puja.  During his 18-month stay in Maluti.  Bamdev used to spend most of his time at Mauliskshya Temple.  Here, he was first blessed.  The, he moved to Tarapith.  His trident is still preserved at Maluti .
Maluti —— known as Gupta Kashi in ancient times —— is found as early as the Sunga Dynasty (185BC-75BC) , whose founder was Pushyamitra Shunga (185BC-151BC).  It was at Maluti that the King of Pataliputra performed “Ashvamedh Yajna”.  Later, Vajrayani Buddhists, followers of Tantrik rituals, settled here.  So, Mauliksha Maa is the most ancient idol in Maluti.


Some pre-historic stone tools, found in the riverbed of Chila, confirm that Maluti used to be inhabited by our pre-historic forefathers, though the area was never excavated.  The River Chila is flowing at the edge of the village and marks the boundary of Jharkhand and West Bengal.  The river originated from Banspahari, a highland in the Dumka District.  Stone tools and primitive weapons are found in the riverbed at different places.
The stone tools found in the area are hand-axes, scrappers and blades.  Plenty of waste materials are also found scattered everywhere on the riverbed.
 Today, an important priority Maluti is accommodating 72 ancient temples.  It is alleged that the King originally constructed 108 temples, but later generations could not maintain such a huge number of monuments, and most were left uncared for.  With the passing of time, as many as 36 monuments deteriorated and finally, crumbled completely.


With regard to the temples’ architecture, it is noticed that the existing temples —–  no particular style like Nagara, Vesar or Dravida —– have been followed.  The specialist artisans, who were obviously from Bengal, had given shape to numerous designs while constructing these temples.
In a 2010 report titled Saving Our Vanishing Heritage, Global Heritage Fund identified Maluti’s Temples as one of 12 Worldwide Sites nearest (On the Verge) of irreparable loss and damage, citing insufficient management as primary cause.

Sivasagar Sivadol


Sivasagar Sivadol is a group of structures comprising 3 Hindu Temples of Sivadol, Visnudol and Devidol. These are located on the banks of the Sivasagar (the ocean of Lord Shiva), in Assam.

sivasagar sivadol

Sibsagar (present day Sivasagar) was the capital of the Ahom Kingdom.  The Ahoms had migrated from South China in 1228, and established their first capital at Charaideo (28 kilometres fro present day Sivasagar) in 1253.  Initially, they were Buddhists, though Hinduism came to prevail.  The Sivasagar tank was built by constructing embankments, and the water level thus created in the lake remains above the adjoining ground level.  The lake has a total area of 257 acres with a water-spread of 129 acres.  It is said that the lake water remains stable throughout the year, without any fluctuation, even during the monsoon months.  The depth of the water in the lake is 27 feet.  Many notable structures have been built on the banks of the lake —— 3 Hindu Temples —— Sivadol, Visnudol and Devidol, a Buddhist shrine, a bird-watching tower to watch wintering birds visiting the area are located on its east bank.  The Tai Museum, located on the west bank of the tank, is built with red bricks.  A Church and 2 Mosques are also located on the bank of the tank. —– Of the 3 temples, the Sivadol or Shiva Temple, built in the Shikhara architecture has a central tower, which is said to be the “tallest tower” in India at the height of 104 feet.  The base of the temple measures 195 feet and it is crowned with a 8-ft high golden dome.

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sivasagar sivadol inner sanctum

Inside the Garbhagriha, the Shiva Linga is deified and it is in a reversed setting.  The Shikhara or Vimana (temple tower) has a 4-tiered 8-ft mastaka and is crowned by a kalasha made of gold.  The tower, itself, is built with parallel ridges and furrows.  The lower part of the tower is flanked by four smaller identical towers, which are known as “angashikaras”.  The exterior walls of the temple are embellished with sculptures and floral designs set in Bas-relief.  Some of the sculptures on the outer walls of the temple are of the Goddess Durga, who is depicted decimating Mahishasura, the demon king with a buffalo head, by thrusting a spear.  She is riding a lion, which supports her in the fight with the demon.  This feature represents the harmonious blend of Brahminical Hindu culture with theShaktism cult which the royalty of the Ahom Dynasty had adopted in their religious practices throughout the kingdom.


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The Visnudol is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and the Devidol, also known as Joidol, is dedicated to Goddess Durga.  While the Vishnu Temple’s tower has a honey-comb design with an ornamental criss-cross frame-work, the Durga Temple’s tower is designed, in its vertical elevation, with an undulating pattern.


Sivasagar city is easily accessible by road, rail and air services.  Guwahati, the capital of Assam, is 370 kilometres away to its north-west and regular deluxe buses operate from here.  The nearest airport is at Jorhat.

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