श्री रामलिङ्गेश्वरस्वामि देवालयम्

IMG_20160925_095912.jpgLocation: Map (17.633879, 78.470714). Sri Ramalingeshwara Temple, Medchal, Secunderabad.

Highlights:

  1. Ancient Swayambhu lingam, believed to be worshipped by Shri Raama.
  2. This is a cave temple on a hillock and is around 1200 years old.
  3. Another ancient cave temple of Ranga-Naayaka-Swaamy (map) is just beside this temple.

Timings: Pujari visits the temple once in a day, but there are some Saadhus who open the doors on request.

Details of the Temple: This temple is on a small hillock. Once needs to ascend around 50 steps to reach the Temple. The garbhalayam is a cave in which Lord appears as Swayambhu lingam. The main mandapam has a beautiful idol of Dakshinamurty. The surroundings are very scenic. On a hillock adjacent to this one, there is an ancient Ranganaayaka Swamy temple.

Logistic Tips (as of 2016): Being an ancient structure, water leaks into the temple during rains and portions are water-logged. Hence best time to visit is during day in summer. Also, the approach to the adjacent Ranganayaka temple (17.633116, 78.470946) is essentially walking on the hillock itself. So it is also difficult to approach it in rainy season. Here’s a video on this temple: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ckn5jKfXM1E.

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बालाजी देवस्थानम्

IMG_20161015_090252.jpgLocation: Map (17.264695, 78.455589). Balaji temple in Mamidipalli village, Badangpetnagar Panchayati, Saroornagar district, Rangareddi.

Timings: Closes in afternoon.

Highlights:

  1. 500 year old temple.
  2. Nearby there is the original Svayambhu murti on a hill.

Details of the Temple: The original swayambhu murti of the Lord appears on top of a hill opposite the current temple structure (Location: 17.262156, 78.458378). Since ascending the hill top may be difficult for devotees, the Lord wished to appear below also (at the current temple location). The current temple structure was built around 400 years back. It is beautiful and well-maintained. The temple is popular among the surrounding villagers.

Logistic Tips (as of 2016): One needs to ascend around 200 steps to reach the Svayambhu temple on the hill.

चीकटि वेङ्कटेश्वरस्वामि मन्दिरम्

IMG_20161015_100356.jpgLocation: Map (17.090671, 78.432788). 40kms from Hyderabad, in Pulimamidi village, Kandukur mandal.

 

 

 

Timings: Open only on Saturdays 8am-11am (contact Pujari @ 9848238080)

Highlights:

  1. Very ancient temple from times unknown (atleast 500 years old as per historical evidences).
  2. Swayambhu murti on a rock inside a cave beneath the earth.
  3. Current temple structure built by Akkanna and Madanna.

Khetra Purāam:

Details of the Temple: This is an ancient cave temple located below the earth level. The narrow steps leading down into the cave are steep and are very difficult for aged people. However, there are only a few (5-6) such steps. Inside the cave, onto the left there is a rock on which Lord Venkateshwara Swayambhu murti appears. There are few steps one has to ascend to reach this rock. Since the murti is extremely ancient, only the Shankha, Chakra and Tiru-naamams are visible currently.

Additionally, the locals recently installed Venkateshwara murtis in the middle of the same cave. There are also newly installed murtis of Ganesh and Shiva in the premises. Lord Hanuman is the Kshetra Palaka and resides outside the cave in the same premises. The temple is located in the middle of fields and is in a scenic environment. Here is a video on the temple: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5wMAPO6qe7Y .

Logistic Tips (as of 2016): The cave is completely water-logged when it rains. Hence it is better to avoid visiting in rainy season (especially if travelling from far). Please note the odd temple timings mentioned above. It is recommended to call the Pujari to confirm his presence during the visit on a Saturday.

वीराञ्जनेय देवस्थानम्

IMG_20161015_115054.jpgLocation: Map (17.120613, 78.394742) 40kms from Hyderabad. In Gattupalli (Ghatpally) village, in Kandukur.

Timings: Closes in afternoon.

Highlights:

  1. Swayambhu murti of Lord Hanuman.
  2. Around 500 year old temple.

Khetra Purāam: The swayambhu murti of Veeraanjaneya was found by some locals around 500 years back. When they wanted to move the murti to Maheshwaram, a near by well-populated area, and consecrate it, they could not move the murti. Then Lord Hanuman appeared in the dream of the locals and said that He wished to stay in the place as the current temple.

Details of the Temple: The current temple structure is renovated and is well-maintained. The temple attracts huge number of devotees everyday and is quite popular in the surrounding villages. The Swayambhu murti of Veeraanjaneya is very large and is covered with Sindhur. There are new temples of Lord Rama, Shiva and Navagrahas inside the premises. The temple is under endowments department and hence sells archana/pooja and Prasadam (Tamarind rice, laddu) tickets. Here is a video on the temple: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=24ETpSU5oo0IMG_20161015_115054.jpg

चेन्नकेशव भ्रमराम्बामल्लिकार्जुन देवस्थानम्

IMG_20160918_101707.jpgLocation: Map (17.323697, 78.479184) in Hyderabad.

Timings: Closes in afternoon (Pujari resides on the same Keshava hill. contact no.: 9849796057)

Highlights:

1) 5000 year old ancient, and once glorious, temple.

  1. 2) Locality goes by Lord’s name as “Chenna-raayani-gutta”, meaning the hillock of Lord Chennakeshava. Now Chennaraayanigutta is being called as Chandrayangutta.
  2. 3) Temple houses both Vishnu and Shiva in Swayambhu-murti forms, which is quite unique and supports Advaita philosophy.

 

Khetra Purāam: Once a great Rushi performed severe Tapas in a cave on Keshavagiri. Pleased with his Tapas, Lord appeared and accepted to stay on Keshavagiri as a Swayambhu-murti to bless the devotees. This is the ChennaKeshava murti we now see in the main Temple. To the left of the murti, there is the cave passage where the Rushi performed his Tapas. Owing to the Tapas-shakti of the rushi, the waters in the Swami’s Pushkarini has medicinal value and poison cannot harm the living creatures on this Hillock.

Details of the Temple: The current Temple structure is quite old and built as per agama-shastras. It is built around the cave where the Swayambhu-murti appeared. The garbhaalayam also has another consecrated murti of Chennakeshava just in front of the Swayambhu murti. Both the murtis have Lord Chennakeshava with a mustache. Aandal Devi is His consort who is in the left-side mandir whose gates open only on Vaikuntha-Ekadashi. Lord Hanuman is the Kshetra-paalaka of the Temple. Hanuman here appears with four hands, which is quite unique. Swami’s pushkarini (pond) is located almost at the highest point of the Hillock, which the locals have experienced to have medicinal powers. Another interesting feature of this great Kshetram is that it also has a Swayambhu murti of Bhramaraamba-Mallikarjuna Swamy (not to be confused with the new Shiva temple built beside Chennakeshava Temple). It is quite unique that Mallikarjuna appears here in murti form rather than Lingam form. Also, there seems to be a secret cave passage between these two temples. It is also interesting that Lord Ganesha appears here on the branch of the Kshetra-Vruksham, located beside the main sanctum. In the olden days, this was a very glorious temple having huge area of land and directing multiple other temples. Infact, the Temple area was once so big that the four Gates and corresponding Temples (which themselves are quite old) are located kilometres away. Unfortunately, because of the agnostic nature of Hindus, the temple is now barely known even to the locals residing near Keshava-giri. Here are videos related to this temple: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLYCE6I9KEBGvd-1zd4BELkldtjpLaqfK5 .

Logistic Tips (as of 2016): Though the location of the Temple shared above is exact, there are atleast six different ways of reaching the top of Hillock (where Temple is situated). It is unfortunate that many locals are not aware of the greatness of the Temple and will hence not be themselves capable of giving you the best directions. The easiest route is a tar road that reaches the very front entrance of the Temple, starting at the bottom of the hillock in the same direction (front-side of the temple). However, the road is very narrow and can barely allow two cars side-by-side.

 

Jīvdāni Mātā Mandir

Jivdani2-Amazing MaharashtraLocation:  80kms from Mumbai (map).

Timings: All day.

Khetra Purāam: Once Pāndavas, during tīrtha yātra, came to the banks of vaitariṇī river, which even today flows near this sacred place. On the banks of this river and near Tungareśvar hill, they worshipped Ekavīra Devī. (This ancient temple of Ekavīra Devī was destroyed by Moghuls and Portugese and now one can only see remains of this destruction). Inspired by the Devī, they then worshipped Her in the mountain caves near by in the form of invisible Goddess by the name Jīvadhani Mātā. Even today, one can see a small passage just beside the newly consecrated idol, where the Goddess resides in invisible form.

Till the advent of kaliyuga and Buddhism, this sacred place was visited by many yogīs and thereafter was forgotten. Infact, many ancient temples and caves around vasai were destroyed by the portugese (see this). To a large extent, the Śankarcharyas of Pū have played a key role in reversing the damage done by Buddhists as well as Portugese to this place.

Not surprisingly, Jīvdāni Mātā Mandir was re-discovered because of the 7th Śankarcharya of Pū, Śrī Svāmī Padmanābha Tīrtha. The story goes as follows. Once when Śankarcharya visited this place, a mahar came to Him and expressed his desire to have darshan of invisible Jīvdāni Mātā, who is his kuladevī. Śankarcharya blessed him and asked him to do go-seva on the Jīvdāni Hill. The mahar followed His instructions very carefully and ultimately indeed got darshan of the Devī . When Devī appeared before him, he with his conversation impresses the Devī. Devī then asks him how he being a mahar has such great knowledge of Vara-āśrama-dharmas. The mahar, with humility, says it is all the blessings of Śankarcharya. Devī impressed by mahar, says: “with the puya of serving this cow, who is none other than kāmadhenu, you can cross this un-crossable vaitariṇī and attain Mokha“. This amazing story throws light on how true followers of Hinduism and Guru’s of Hinduism like Śankarcharya did not discriminate mahars and infact helped them attain Mokha itself! On contrary, it is unfortunate that modern activists consider mahars to be of low-caste and victims of social injustice.

This entire episode of mahar getting Mokha was witnessed by a barren woman. Impressed by the woman’s stotrams, the Devī blessed her with a child. The barren woman replied saying, she would be happier if the Goddess blessed all barren woman rather than her alone! The Devi then gave a boon that any barren woman who offers beetle nut near my cave will be blessed with children. Thus the ancient cave and the Goddess once again became famous due to Gurus like Śankarcharya and great bhaktas like the mahar and the barren woman.

About the Temple: The temple and idol that exist now are recent constructions. The cave temple itself is on a hill and one needs to ascend around 1700 steps to reach the temple. There is rope-way facility intended for elderly people. For young people, the waiting time for rope-way will be more than hill-climbing time. The present cave temple is beautiful with idols of Devi and Shri Krishna in marble. The small passage, where the devi resides in invisible form, can also be seen near the main temple. The temple is visited by a large number of locals and pilgrims from near-by villages. On holidays and holy days, there will be long queues for seeing the Goddess. From the temple, the view of vasai is very beautiful.

Near-by temples: Agashi Bhavani Shankar, Tungareśvar, Chakreśvar, Chaṇḍikā Devi.

Albela Hanumān Mandir (Wadala, Mumbai)

Location: Wadala area, Mumbai (map).

Timings: All day (except afternoon).

About the Temple: The idol of Hanumān here is svayambhū. There is a very interesting story of how this idol was consecrated here. Long time ago, a king found this idol in the near-by area, which was then a forest. When he was bringing it, the idol of Lord Hanumān did not move an inch from the place where the temple is currently situated. The king was not able to move it in-spite of repeated efforts. Then he realized that it is the wish of the Lord to stay in this sacred place and then constructed a temple for the Lord. Since Lord Hanumān acted as per His will and chose not to move from this place, He was named as Albela Hanumān. The present temple priests have been worshiping this idol since atleast 150 years and they reported that the actual period of temple construction is unknown and the idol is from ancient times. The idol of Lord Hanumān has a large base and has idols of other devatās including Lord Gaṇeśa. The idol is completely covered with sindhūr, while the Lord’s mouth portion appears black and has a mustache.

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