Naimisharanya, Part Ten

BY: SUN STAFF

Jagannatha Deities at Kedarnath Temple, Naimisharanya


Dec 15, 2012 — CANADA (SUN) — A serial exploration of the sacred Tirtha at Naimisharanya.


The Holy Dhamas at Naimisharanya

As we've mentioned a few times during this series, one of the most interesting aspects of Naimisharanya Dhama is the fact that all the holy dhamas on the planet are said to co-exist here. Several of them are specifically worshipped, with temples constructed to mark the places where they appear at Naimisharanya. The Janki Kunda is also manifest here, as it is associated with the Naimisharanya pastimes of King Manu and his wife, and the subsequent birth of Ramacandra as their son.

The holy dhama of Ayodhya, the birthplace of Lord Rama, is also here at Naimisharanya, The original Ayodhya is fairly close; Naimisharanya is 100 kilometers northwest of Lucknow, while Ayodhya is 135 kilometers due east of Lucknow, on the bank of the Sarayu River.


Deities at Ayodhya Temple, Naimisharanya


We have also mentioned how Aadi Ganga is associated with the Gomati River, a manifestation Gangotri Dhama. In Naimisharanya, the Aadi Ganga, or holy Gomati River, is worshipped by all devotees who come to the dhama.

The original Gangotri is located in Uttarakhand, on the banks of the river Bhagirathi. The Dhama is marked there by a small temple of Ganga Ma, which stands in a flagged courtyard facing upstream. The water overflowing from Mansarover in Tibet starts coming down to Gangotri and forms the mighty Ganges River, which purifies and replenishes all of India, directly or indirectly.


Kedarnath Temple, Naimisharanya


The act of going on pilgrimage is as old as the ages, and Mother India is glorified from end to end by the many Holy Dhamas residing there. We typically categorize temples into groupings so they can be easily referred to when discussing and writing about them, which is often done for the purpose of making pilgrimage to the holy places. For example, there are 275 Shiva Sthalams and the 108 Divya Desams of Visnu. Likewise, places of pilgrimage, and particularly the Holy Dhamas, are also categorized into groups.

Sometimes a temple is included in several categories, and sometimes the temples in a single category vary, depending on who's discussing them. One prominent group of pilgrimage sites is the Chardham (four dhamas), a collection of four holy sites including Badrinath, Dwarka, Puri and Rameshwaram, which are generally located in the four cardinal directions. But another description of the Chardhams considers that the temples included are Badrinath, Kedernath, Yamunotri, and Gangotri. Similarly, Kedernath, Badrinath and Ayodhya are often grouped together because of their close proximity.


Kedarnath Temple, Naimisharanya


The latter Chardhama group of holy sites, nestled in the Garhwal (Middle) Himalayas, are mentioned in sastra and have drawn throngs of pilgrims since time immemorial. All four are associated with sacred waters. Gangotri and Yamunotri are dedicated to the holiest rivers in Mother Bharat, the Ganga and the Yamuna, and each of the four dhamas receives holy water: the Yamuna in Yamunotri, the Bhagirathi in Gangotri, the Mandakini in Kedarnath, and the Alaknanda in Badrinath. Badrinath is the seat of Lord Vishnu, while Kedarnath is the seat of Lord Shiva.

Going on pilgrimage to the Char-dhama sites will cleanse the surrendered seeker of the accumulated contamination of material life and release the jivatma from the repeated cycle of birth and death. According to the Puranas, every devotee must undertake this journey once in his lifetime. To be born or to die in one of these places is considered beyond auspicious.

The journey to these holy dhamas is arduous, particularly for children and the elderly, because they are buried under snow for a significant part of the year. But one can get darshan of these Holy Dhamas by visiting the preeminent Dhama at Naimisharanya, where they are also manifest. There are beautiful temples in Naimisharanya marking the manifest presence of Kedernath and Badrinath, and the Deities that reside there are very beautiful, as the reader can see.

The original Kedarnath temple was built by the Pandavas after the Mahabharata war. Standing at the head of Mandakini River, it is one of the most beautiful of all pilgrimage sites. A huge Nandi watches over the current temple there, which was built in the 8th century by Adi Shankaracharya, adjacent to the site of the Pandavas' temple.


Temple in Naimisharanya


Surprisingly enough, at the Kedernath temple in Naimisharanya, the presiding Deities are Lord Jagannath, Baladev and Subhardra. The Kedernath Deities at Naimisharanya are very beautiful and delightful, and are undoubtedly also a manifestation of Jagannatha Puri Dhama in Naimisharanya.


Deities at Badrinath Temple, Naimisharanya


The original Dhama of Badrinath is situated on the right banks of the River Alaknanda, at an elevation of more than 10,000 feet in the snow-covered peaks of the Himalayas. The Nar and Narayan mountain ranges stand like sentries over Badrinath, and the sacred Alakanda flows right beside the temple. At the Badrinath temple in Naimisharanya, the presiding deities are Lord Visnu and his consorts.


Badrinath Temple, Naimisharanya


Photos courtesy of Naimish Trust.


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