Nepal in the Mahabharata Period, Part 11
BY: SUN STAFF
Mahabhairava Temple - Tezpur, Assam
Feb 20, 2013 CANADA (SUN) A serial presentation of Sri Krsna's liberation of Banasura, the Yadava dynasty's presence in Nepal, and the events that preceded and followed.
The asuric presence in the Himalayan foothills of India, Assam and Nepal during the Mahabharata period has been mentioned throughout this series. But as we see in the descriptions to follow of Assamese temples related to King Banasura, by Krsna's arrangement, the mleccha and yavana temples in that region were still being destroyed as recently as the end of the 19th Century.
The Mahabhairava Temple in Sonitpur, modern Tezpur, Assam, is an 8th to 10th Century temple dedicated to King Bana's worship of Lord Shiva. The original temple was built by King Bana, who installed a very large Siva lingam. Located on the northern outskirts of Tezpur, the current structure was built by the kings of the Salasthamba dynasty. During the Ahom rule, the kings especially of the Tungkhungiya dynasty donated large area of Devottar land to the Temple and pujaris, and Paiks were appointed to look after the temple.
Along with Shivalinga, Durga Ma is worshipped here. Banasura's daughter Usha regularly came to this temple to worship the goddess.
Overlooking the Kolia Bhomora Setu across the Brahmaputra River, Mahabhairava Temple is known locally as Maithan and Bhairabi Devalaya. Ruins of the original stone temple are seen in the form of huge pillars scattered all around the temple. The original temple was destroyed by the ravages of time, then rebuilt by successive kings and rulers, until it was heavily damaged by the catastrophic earthquake of 1897. Continuing the mleccha/yavana heritage of the asuric-ridden north, there are still sacrificial offerings of goats and bulls going on here, sanctioned by the government who now manages the temple.
Sivadoul at Biswanath Temple - Sonitpur, Assam
The Gupta Kashi Siva Temple is situated at the confluence of the Bridhaganga (Burigonga) River and the sacred Brahmaputra. All that remains of this temple are stone posts, beams and other ruins. During the summer, the temple remains under water. Worship is only conducted here in the winter, when a temporary shed is constructed.
Another temple was built on higher ground, and presumably the deities were moved from the original Gupta Kashi to the new structure, but it was swallowed underground during the great earthquake of 1897. The current Biswanath temple was built to replace it. Located in Biswanath Chariali of Sonitpur district, the place is also known as Biswanath Ghat. There are many Shiva temples here, including the Siva dol (doul), built by King Bana.
Lord Shiva's footprint at Rudrapada
The Rudrapada Temple is situated on the bank of the River Brahmaputra, to the east of Tezpur, Assam. Lord Shiva (Rudra) is said to have left the print of his left food (thus the name, 'Rudra-pada) in a stone in the temple. It is said that Mahadeva revealed himself to King Bana here.
Rudrapada Temple was later built on the spot by Siva Singha, in 1730 A.D. The main temple was destroyed due to erosion of the Brahmaputra.
Finally, there is the Agnibareswar Temple, located approx. 14 km. from Hajo, enroute from Guwahati. This 'Agni Pahar' is popularly known as Agiathuri. The devalaya (sanctum) has a Siva Linga Peetha. The temple was established by King Banasura. Along the road there is a well known Ganesh temple, but few visitors travel the 1 km. road back to the site of Agnibareswar. There is a large tank on the property, and priests are in attendance only during the day here.
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