Search Here For Previous Post

Monday, March 14, 2011

Kasi And Rameswaram

Kasi and Rameswaram are the holiest places for Hindus in India. Kasi and Rameswaram are two of the oldest Hindu pilgrimage centers in India. Kasi is in the Northern part of India and Rameswaram is in the Southern end of India, 3200km apart. Two of the Jothingam shrines out of the twelve are in Kasi Vishwanatha temple and Rameswaram Sri Ramanathaswamy temple.. Ganga is for Kasi and Agni theertham for Rameswaram
Kasi Vishwanath Temple
Kasi is the other name for the ancient city Varanasi. It is also called by the name Benaras. It is situated on the banks of the river Ganges and this is the primary reason for its sanctity. It is located in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. In Kasi devotees can touch and perform abhishekam to the sacred Jyotirlingam, with water from the Ganges, milk and flowers. People worship Kasi to get liberated from the real world and reach the foot of lord Siva after death (Moksha). Kasi is considered the holiest place in the world by the Hindus and they are expected to pilgrimage at least once in their life to this holy place. Kasi is home to Viswanatha Temple where the presiding deity is Lord Siva. Siva is worshipped in the Jothilinga form in this temple. Apart from the Hindus, the Buddhists and the Jains consider Kasi as very holy indeed. Gautama Buddha gave his first sermon at Sarnath located near Varanasi. Kasi has derived a lot of importance due to its proximity to the river Ganges. There are around hundred ghats in Varanasi linking to Ganges. Many of these ghats are associated with Hindu legends and mythologies. Some of these ghats are used for taking holy dip in the Gange and for performing religious rituals while some other are used as cremation sites. The Hindus firmly believe that a holy dip in the Ganges in Kasi would make them get rid of all their sins. Death in Kasi is considered very holy in the sense that the person is not destined to be born again. Oblations are given to the dead ancestors with the belief that they would be happy in the other world.

The temple complex consists of a series of smaller shrines, located in a small lane called the Vishwanatha Galli, near the river. The
linga the main deity at the shrine is 60 cm tall and 90 cm in circumference housed in a silver altar.[2] There are small temples for Kaalbhairav, Dhandapani, Avimukteshwara, Vishnu, Vinayaka, Sanishwara, Virupaksha and Virupaksh Gauri in the complex.

Ramanathaswamy Temple ,Rameswaram

It is located on Pamban Island and is about 50 kilometers from the Mannar Island in the country of Sri Lanka. Like river Gange to Kasi, Agni theertham is for Rameswaram. According to Hindu mythology, Rameswaram is the place from where Lord Rama built a bridge with the help of monkeys to retrieve Sita who was abducted by Ravana, the king of Lanka. Hindus worship at Rameswaram for prosperity in this life The Hindus consider that their pilgrimage to Kasi is incomplete without a pilgrimage to Rameswaram as well. Lord Siva is the presiding deity of Rameswaram too, and in the same Jothilinga form with the name Sri Ramanatha Swamy. In Rameswaram traditional form of worship is followed.Those who are unable to visit Kasi take a holy dip in Agni theertham and give oblations to their ancestors at Rameswaram.There are 36 water springs in Rameswaram of which 22 are in the Ramanathaswamy temple and these waters are said to possess medicinal properties. Bathing in these is considered to be of great significance. The Agni theertham of the temple refers to the ocean while the Koti theertham is located within the temple itself. The thousand pillar corridor in the Sri Ramanathaswamy temple and the foot of Rama, Naga Idols at Ram temple and Sita Kund are some of the places to see in Rameswaram.

The temple was originally a small thatched hut looked after by a ‘sadhu’. Subsequently over the centuries various people added to the structure among whom the ‘Sethupathys’ of Ramnad were significant. King Parakramabahu, King of Sri Lanka, constructed the sanctum around Sri Ramanathaswamy, Sri Viswanathar and Sri Visalakshi in the 12th century. Like all ancient temples in
South India, there is a high compound wall (madil) on all four sides of the temple premises measuring about 865 feet furlong from east to west and one furlongs of 657 feet from north to south with huge towers (Gopurams) at the east and west and finished gate towers on the north and south. The temple has striking long corridors in its interior, running between huge colonnades on platforms above five feet high.
The junction of the third corridor on the west and the paved way leading from the western gopuram to Setumadhava shrine forms a unique structure in the form of chess board and it is popularly known as Chokkattan Madapam where the Utsva deities are adorned and kept during the Vasntotsavam (Spring festival) and on the 6th day festival in Adi (July-August) and Masi (February-March) conducted by the Setupati of Ramnad.
The outer set of corridors is reputed to be the longest in the world being about 400 feet in each in the east and west and about 640 feet in north and south and inner corridors are about 224 feet in east and west and about 352 feet each in north and south. Their width varies from 15.5 feet to 17 feet in the east and west about 172 feet on the north and south with width varying 14.5 feet to 17 feet. The total length of those corridors is thus 3850 feet. There are about 1200 pillars in the outer corridor. Their height is about 30 feet from the floor to the center of the roof. The outer corridor is flanked on either side by a continuous platform with large number of pillars, each adorned by intense sculptures. The longest corridors are the north and south corridors which from each end present a vista of receding columns and one cannot fail to marvel the grandeur and precision of the art ancient architects and artisans. The western tower is about 78ft high and the eastern tower about 126ft made up of nine tiers. There is an imposing ‘nandhi’ in front of the ‘moolsasthanam’. The sanctum of Lord Ramanathaswamy contains aLingam which is believed to have been installed by Lord Rama himself while on the north of this shrine is the sanctum of Lord Viswanathar which is believed to have been brought by Hanuman from Mount Kailash. There are other shrines dedicated to various minor deities and 22 ‘theerthams’ (source of sacred water) within the precinct of the temple. Devotees bathe in these waters before proceeding to the inner sanctum to receive ’dharshan’.

1 comment:

  1. Kashi Vishwanath is beautiful! Definitely you are right- these temples can not be explained in few lines :)