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Pilgrim / Temples In Rajasthan
 
Brahma Temple, Pushkar: Though he may have no other temple sacred to his memory, Brahama seems to have take full advantage of the only one where prayers are offered to him. Not only did he perform a yagya or ritual fire ceremony here, he also dropped a lotus from his hands to create the lake where people bathe before offering him prayers. A silver turtle at the entrance of the marble temple is a symbol of his means of transport (the gods had various animals on which they moved along their heavenly paths).

Pushkar is best known for its Brahma temple, though it is by no means the only temple here, with as many as four hundred temples lining the banks of the lake. Spires form a skyline that, when the vesper bells ring, are worthy of the kingdom of haaven itself. Though it is visited throughout the year, Pushkar in November, during the time of its annual fair, is a colourful mass of people and celebrations coinciding with the largest camel fair held in the world.

Eklingji Temple, Udaipur: The founder of the Mewar dynasty that ruled from Chittaurgarh, Bappa Rawal had a miraculous dream in which he prayed before an image of Shiva which resulted in the removal of problem that had been troubling him in his waking hours. He resolved then to build a temple to Shiva, and so the complex had its genesis, 24 km north of Udaipur. Edlingji, this particular manifestation of Shiva, has ever since been regarded as the true ruler of the kingdom in whose name the maharanas governed Mewar, and has been the tutelary deity of the Sisodia clan.

Eklingji consists of a complex of 108 temples, coinciding with the number of beads in the rudraksh necklace that sadhus use for meditation. The temple dedicated to Eklingji is the tallest of them all, its black stone idol a representation of the linga with four faces that have four images in the cardinal directions of Surya, Brahma, Vishnu and Rudra.

The complex also has a life-size image of Bappa Rawal, and its numerous temples have carved images of Ganesh, Ambamata, Kalika, as well as other Shivalings, and brackets with images of celestial nymphs.

Govind Devji Temple, Jaipur: The family temple for the Kachchwahas of Jaipur, and open to the public, the idols in the temple, brought here from Vrindavan, are believed to have been carved by Vajranath, one of the freatest sculptors of the time, and grandson of Krishna. No wonder, the Krishna image has such a bewitching countenance.

The temple was consecrated as part of the City palace complex by Sawai Jai Singh II. A simple temple, with an open pavilion surrounded by columns, and with a tiered courtyard, obeisance and ritual worship at the temple is deemed high on the scale of merit. Mounted on a silver throne, and ornamented with gold jewellery, the idols are particularly venerated during janamashatmi, the monsoon celebrations coinciding with Krishna's birth anniversary.

Shrinathji Temple, Nathdwara: A Krishna temple with an image carved from a single block of black marble, Nathdwara has a history that is only a few centuries ago. Faced by Aurangzeb's persecution, Goswami Dev carried this particular idol from Mathura in a chariot seeking to bring it to Udaipur. However, a wheel of the chariot got stuck in the sand and toil as they would, the people could not pull it out. Seeing it as an act of divine will, it was decided that the image of the lord would be consecrated on the very spot, and so the temple of Shrinathji came to be.

At the temple, glimpses of the idol are permitted for short intervals at fixed times of the day, and it is believed that the faithful see him in different moods associated with his life. The curtain cloths behind the idol have also given rise to one of the better known are forms of Rajasthan, its famous cloth paintings or pichwais. The ruling house of Udaipur has always come to pray at the temple, and as the head of his clan, it is not surprising that the maharana is also popularly known as Shriji among his people. Nathdwara is 48 km from Udaipur.

Dilwara Temple, Mt Abu: For many visitors, this is reason enough to visit Mt Abu. Located within an ancient mango grove, the Dilwara temples are profusely carved, and are open between noon and six in the evening. During the morning, the priests perform several ritual ceremonies that are not open for public viewing. The Jains house images of their tirthan-karas (those who impart knowledge) within the sanctums, and the two main shrines, those of Adinath and Neminath, are elaborately carved, from doorways and lintels to ceilings, pillars, walls and arches. The sculptor's art is as much a dedication to the gods as it is a repository of the stone-carver's skill, enshrined here forever. A separate hall, dedicated to the donors who worked towards the building of these magnificent temples, houses their lifesize images including the delicate tracery of their garments captured in exquisite detail on marble.

Parsvanath Temple, Nakoda: Situated in a valley ringed by hills, on the Jodhpur-Barmer highway, the temple dedicated to the tirthankara Parsvanath is carved in black stone. Beside it are other Jain tem-ples, including Shantinath with its steep flight of stairs, as well as some ancient Hindu temples.

Ranakpur: Since the Jains held important positions in Rajput courts, made their money through trading, and were influential money-lenders to the royal house, it was hardly surprising that the Ranas, in turn, were patrons of the Jains and their quiet religious ways. In fact, the tract of land on which the Ranakpur temples have been laid was a gift of the Ranas to the Jains in the 15th century. The Chaumukha is its principal deity in the main temple with its impressive dimensions: 29 halls spread over 40,000sq ft, and consisting of 1,444 pillars, not one of which is alike in its carving. Cupolas surround the five spires. Three entrances lead to the temples via doublestoried portals and pillared courts. Halls and courtyards radiate around the main shrine. Also in the valley are a polygonal sun temple, and two 14th century Jain temples dedicated to Neminath and Parsvanath.

Shri Mahavirji Temple: Located 90 km from Ranthambhor, it is believed that the spot was converted into a pilgrimage spot following the unearthing of a statue of Mahavira by a cowherd. The temple is a vast complex that has been constructed with white sandstone, and has cupolas of red sandstone. Its chhatris and spires are visible from all around. The walls are painted with religious scenes, and facing the temple is a tower where the footsteps of Mahavira have been consecrated.

Rishabdo Temple, Dhulev: A temple complex that is beautifully carved, 64 km from Udaipur, it is dedicated to Rishabdeo, while images of several other tirthankaras are carved into panels on the walls. Built in the 15th century, the temple has stone elephants at the entrance, and images of goddesses flanking the main shrine. Various phases of Rishabdeo's life are also illustrated through sculptured panels. Offerings of saffron are made to the deity, and a rath yatra every year attracts pilgrims from all over.

 
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