Saturday, 27 October 2012

Hill Temples Of Bangalore -3 : Hare Krishna Hill - ISKCON Temple

Previous Posts :
Hare Krishna!!!
Spread over 8 acres of land atop a hill, in the heart of Bangalore is ISKCON’s largest temple complex in the world. Also known as the Hare Krishna Hill, this is home to 5 temples of various forms of Lord Krishna: Sri Sri Radha Krishna-Chandra, Sri Krishna Balarama, Sri Nitai Gauranga, Sri Prahlada Narasimha and Sri Srinivasa Govinda.
The temple complex is equipped with various facilities for the purpose of promoting the spiritual and cultural message of Lord Krishna and His pure devotee His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the Founder-Acharya and spiritual master of the entire ISKCON movement.
All activities on Hare Krishna Hill are centered around the principal Deities of Sri Sri Radha Krishna-Chandra. Beginning with the mangala-arati at 4:15 am, a typical day is filled with spiritually inspiring programs of aratis and kirtanas. The morning’s program includes a procession where devotees performing sankirtana, accompany the Deity of Srila Prabhupada on a palanquin to the various temples. The day ends with the festive shayana utsava, when the Lord tours His temple room on an ornamental palanquin before entering His sleeping quarters for rest. This daily utsava offered to the Lord is a unique feature of ISKCON Bangalore.
Radha-Krishna Idols in ISKCON Temple
 Free Prasadam for all and The Higher Taste Outlets : -
Every visitor to the temple receives a cup of free kichiri prasadam, made of rice and dahl. In addition to the free prasadam, this kitchen is also used to prepare varieties of sweet and salty items, which are offered to the Lord and made available as prasadam to the visiting pilgrims for a nominal price. ISKCON’s Bakery is well-known in Bangalore for its eggless cakes and biscuits. ISKCON Prasadam is also availaible in "The Higher Taste" outlets in other places of Bangalore.
Organic Farming :
ISKCON encourages organic farming, in which grains, vegetables and fruits are grown naturally without the use of chemicals and fertilizers. ISKCON Bangalore’s 100-acre farm near Mysore, on the bank of the River Kaveri provides an active model of such farming. The farm’s products are made available in the temple’s natural foods shop on Hare Krishna Hill known as “Dharani”.
Dakshinakriti :
ISKCON Bangalore has a scheme to promote and protect the traditional art and craft of South India. This project encourages and supports talented craftsmen by providing them an outlet for their work. It gives them an opportunity to sustain themselves through the creations of their artistic expression. Through this service, ISKCON Bangalore is bringing into focus the richness of Indian tradition and the need to recognize its importance in preserving our culture and heritage. The products made under this scheme are available at “Dakshinakriti”, the temple’s sculpture showroom. This is my favorite section in ISKCON. If you enter you will be attracted those sculptures and you wont feel like coming out of Dakshinakriti.
ISKCON Temple Interior
Multivision Cinema :
The Multivision Cinema at ISKCON Bangalore was conceived by devotees and produced in the United States. This is India’s first show combining visual projection and animatronics. The 14 projectors, Laser Disc players, the surround sound processors and the animatronics mechanisms are controlled by a special purpose computer which operates through electronic control units and software developed in Sweden. The 40-minute Cinema conveys a simple yet significant spiritual message and is priced nominally. Nearly 50% of the visitors to the temple choose to watch the cinema, which operates at specific times in the morning and evening.
Dwarakapuri :
The temple complex also houses “Dwarakapuri”, a marriage hall with ultra-modern finishing and “Mathura”, a hall for seminars and conferences. These halls help generate revenue for the temple’s maintenance and preaching activities.
Bhakti Vedanta Book Trust :
The Bangalore branch of the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust is housed on Hare Krishna Hill and is involved in translating and publishing Srila Prabhupada’s voluminous works in the Kannada language.
Goloka Trust :
The Goloka Seva Trust promotes and maintains the valuable art of incense (agarbatti) making, using purely natural ingredients. At present the Goloka Seva Trust produces 73 varieties of incense that is meant for worship. The trust also conducts in-house research to develop varieties of non-toxic user-friendly incense and related products. These products are also made available at the temple’s counters for the visitors.
The Akshaya Patra Foundation :
ISKCON's The Akshaya Patra Foundation is a NGO in India providing food for 1.3 million school children across 9 States and 19 locations. The standards of hygiene at Iskcon's Akshaya Patra kitchens are as high as a hospital's operation theater.
If I keep writing about ISKCON then pages fall short. It is a must visit temple in Bangalore. Please visit ISKCON temple once and be blessed by Lord Krishna. Hare Krishna!!
(Few Information are taken from various websites belonging to ISKCON)

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Hill Temples Of Bangalore -2 : Omkar Hills - Dwadasha Jyotirlinga Temple and Matsya Narayana Temple

Previous Posts :-
1.Hill Temples Of Bangalore -1 : Shrungagiri Hill- Shanmukha Temple

Do you want to see Orissa (Odisha) style temple in namma Bengaluru? Do you want to visit all 12 jyotirlingas under one roof in Bengaluru? Then visit Dwadasha Jyotirlinga temple which is situated on Omkar Hills. Omkar hills is the highest peak in Bangalore. Omkar hills houses an Ashram called Omkara Ashram and many temples namely Omkareshwar Temple which has Dwadasha Jyotirlingas,  Matsya Narayana Temple, Nagadevata Temple, Vana Durga Temple, Ganapathi Temple and  Munishwara Temple - and a giant tower clock which is one of the biggest clock in the world. Apart from the temples, the ashrama campus is having a Vishwamitra Veda Vidyalaya and a Goshala. SRI SHIVAPURI MAHASWAMIJI founded Omkara Ashrama Mahasamsthana in 1992 on Omkar Hills.
Omkareshwara Temple, Dwadasha (12) Jyotirlingas and Temple Gopuram :
This temple is unique and beautiful in many ways: -
1. The Temple Gopuram : The Gopuram of Jyotirlinga temple attracts with Orissa style and North Indian architecture. Tall white colored gopuram complex shines with golden colored mukuta. There are 12 gopuras each representing a Jyotirlinga.
Dwadasha Jyotirlinga Temple

Temple Gopuram
2. In this temple the Twelve Representative Jyotirlingas of the original Pauranik Twelve Jyotirlingas, which are in different parts of our country are under one roof, each with an individual Garbhagriha and Vimanagopuram.
3. Inside the main temple, these 12 Jyotirlingas are seen along with Sri Vidyaganapathi, Sri Subrahmanya, Sri Kalabhairava, Sri Chandikeshwara, Ekadasha (11) Rudradevatas, Panchaloha Nataraja weighing around 1000 Kgs and the Divine Mother Shakti in the form of Sri Yantra.
Above photos are of following Jyotirlingas :
-> Omkareshwar
-> Vaidyanatha
-> Vishwanatha
-> Bhimashankara
-> Triyambakeshwara
-> Ghushmeshara

Above photos are of following Jyotirlingas :
  • Nageshwara
  • Mallikarjuna
  • Mahakaleshwara
  • Chandikeshwara
  • Triyambakeshwara
  • Kalabhairava

4. Of these Twelve Jyotirlingas, the Omkareshwara Jyotirlinga measuring around 6 Feet in height, occupies the place of pride with Spatika Shree Yantra, at the centre of the temple, encircled by the other Eleven Jyotirlingas. This is the Main Jyotirlinga of this temple.

Omkareshwar....Main Jyotirlinga Of The Temple
5. The Vimana Gopurams of Sri Shaila Mallikarjuna and Sri Rameshwara Jyotirlingas which are in South India are in the Southern style, and the Vimana Gopurams of the remaining Ten Jyotirlingas which are in North India are in the Northern Style. Hence, this temple is a harmony of South Indian and North Indian Sculptures. The height of the Vimana Gopuram of the main Jyotirlinga, Sri Omkareshwara is around 100 Feet from the ground level and is the highest among all the Vimana Gopurams.
6. All the 12 Jyotirlingas are Narmadeshwara Lingas (also known as Baana Lingas), and are made from the Stones of the River Narmada, which is very auspicious for Shivalinga.
7. Below each and every Jyotirlinga, 1000 Small Narmadeshwara Lingas measuring around 1 inch in length are placed. But beneath the Sri Omkareshwara linga, 2000 Small Narmada Lingas are placed.So in total the temple consists of visible 12 main Jyotirlingas and 13000(thirteen thousand) invisible Narmadeshwara Lingas.
8. Beneath each and every Jyotirlinga, Saligramas, many Rare Herbs, precious Stones (Navarathna), Metals, Grains, good quantity of Mercury and Specially worshipped Yantras are also placed along with Small Narmadeshwara Lingas.
Matsya Narayana Temple :
Matsyanarayana Temple in Omkara Ashrama is the only temple of its kind in Karnataka of Bhagavan Sri Matsyanarayana Swamy.Matsya Avatar was the first Avatar of Lord Vishnu, among the Dashavatara of Mahavishnu. Matsya means ‘fish’ in Sanskrit and Matsya Avatar is the incarnation of Lord Vishnu in the form of Fish.
Mathsya Avatar was taken by Lord Vishnu at the end of the first epoch (Satyuga), when the world was destroyed by a great flood. Lord Vishnu saved humanity and the Vedas from the deluge. Matsya Avatara is generally represented as a four-armed deity with the upper part of MahaVishnu and the lower of a Matsya. The Matsya Narayana Moorthy has four arms:two arms hold shankam (conch shell) and chakram (divine discus) and the other two arms are in abhaya-hastam (divine protection) and varam (boon).
Matsya Narayana Temple

We were happy to see the only temple in India which is dedicated to Matsya Narayana.
Religious Harmony :
Infront of Matsya Narayana Temple, there is a big banyan tree under which we can see statues of religious leaders. Statues of Goutam Buddha, Ramanujacharya, Mahaveera, Jesus, Guru Granth Sahib etc are present under the banyan tree surrounding it in a circular shape. This area is also called "Sarva Dharma Samanvaya Peetha".  This says Omkar Ashram promotes religious harmony in the society.

Clock Tower :
One of The attractions of the Omkar Hills is a big Clock Tower near the entrance of Matsya Narayana Temple.

 Significant features of this clock tower are :
1. This is the biggest clock tower in India.
2. It is bigger than the reputed Big Ben Clock tower in London,
3. This Tower clock is installed by HMT.
4. At the commencement of every hour, the clock chimes the sound of couch (Shankanada) followed by “Om” five times. This can be heard hear fro far away distance.
5.Height of the clock tower is 40ft.
6.Weight of the clock is 500kgs.
7.Hour hands and minute hands weighs around 40kgs.

Vishwamitra Veda Vidyalaya :
Vishwamitra Veda Vidyalaya present on Omkar hills is the Veda learning centre.  Students are educated in Sanskrit and General Knowledge by well qualified Acharyas at the gurukul.
The Vidyalaya is providing free accommodation, Food, Clothing and study materials for the students during their entire course which normally will be 6 years.

Vishwamitra Veda Vidyalaya
If you are in Bangalore then please visit Omkar Hills.  It is an easy opportunity to even a common man to have the satisfaction of visiting these Sacred Temples of Jyotirlinga spread all across the country – a rich treasure of our religion.
How to Reach Omkar Hills :
Omkar Hills is located on Kengeri Uttarahalli Main Road 2.3 km OFF Mysore Road. It is very near to JSS institute of Technology.
(Few information are taken from omkar hills website).

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Hill Temples Of Bangalore -1: Shrungagiri Hill - Shanmukha Temple

Every street of Namma Bengaluru has temples which are beautiful in their own way. Shanmukha temple which is in Rajarajeshwari Nagar and situated on top of the hillock called "Shrungagiri", is unique, modern and first of its kind. The temple is situated 240ft. height from the ground level. This temple belongs to Shri Sharada Peetham, Shringeri. We visited this temple recently and bowled over by the beauty of the temple. It is an absolute delight to watch and the architecture of the temple is really enchanting.  
The reasons why this temple stands out from other temples are:-
1. "Shanmuka" means Six face. Lord Shanukha has six faces. He is also known as Subramanya, Karthikeya, Murugan, Skanda....The main attraction of the temple is the gopuram which contains six faces of Lord Shanmukha. The six faces of Lord Shanmukha are thick concrete moulded structures.This gopuram is visible from far away distance.
2.A crystal dome has been placed above six faces. This crystal dome is embedded with 2500  crystals. During day time, when direct Sun Light falls on the crystals, the same is converted into a beautiful “Rainbow” pattern. In the evening the crystals are illuminated LED lights,each crystal disseminating 16 colour combination lights. Watching this gopuram in the evening is really a feast to eyes.
3. The design of the whole Temple is based on ‘Star” ( ) concept. The Sanctum (Garbha Gudi) and its outer circle (Prakara), devotees’ hall, outer walls, roof design – all are ‘Star’
 ( ) shape constructions.
4.Sanctum has three beautiful idols - Lord Shanmukha and his two wives - Valli and Devayanai standing on both the sides of Shanmukha.
 5. Temple Prakara displays more than 1000 Lord Ganesha idols. These Ganesha idols differ in shape, size, color and appearance. These idols are collections of Dr.Aruchalam, who designed the entire temple structure.
6. In addition to the Shanmukha Temple, a Panchamukhi Vinayaka Temple is also present at the foot-hill of “Shrungagiri”. This temple is also unique. Panchamukhi Vinayaka is “Simhavaahanaroodha” (riding a lion). Walls surrounding the  Panchamukhi Vinayaka temple has small holes through which we can see each face of Lord Ganesha. 
Panchamukhi Vinayaka Temple Gopuran

7.After getting darshana of Panchamukhi Vinayaka one has to climb more than 100 wide steps to reach Shanmukha temple. While climbing the steps you can enjoy the view from the top. The view of nice road from the top is beautiful.

8. You are welcomed to the temple by two huge, beautiful peacock statues.

 Shrungagiri temple is calm and serene. Temple management is plannig to build a Shiva Temple and Navagraha Prathishtapana – both of which again would be unique in nature. Construction is in full swing. Once completed, the Temple is bound to be a land mark tourist spot of Bangalore.
 How to reach Shrungagiri :
Shrungagiri is  in BEML Layout just 5 kms from RajaRajeshwari Arch - one of the popular landmarks in Bangalore. Rajarajeshwari arch is near Gopalan mall on Kengeri -  Mysore Road. Temple Gopuram is visible from far away distance.
Nearby attractions -
On the way to temple you can also visit Rajarajeshwari Temple - one of the oldest temples in Bangalore and Gopalan Mall.
 Before concluding I would like to mention a hymn which describes the importance of Six faces written by Swami Sivananda in his book "Lord Shanmukha and His Worship".
"Six are the sparks of light from Siva’s Trikuti flashed,
Six are your faces to remind the world of your Omnipresence,
Six are your attributes and functions as Bhagavan of all,
Six are the letters of your Mantra ‘Saravanabhava’ for all,
Six are the Devis that nursed you from the Karttik Star,
Six are the days in the Vrata of Skanda Shashthi to glorify your Avatara!"

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Munnar : Elephant Safari and The Countryside

2. Munnar Part-2 : Eravikulam National Park and The Endangered Mountain Goat - Nilgiri Tahr
3. Munnar Part -3 : Mattupetty Dam and Mattupetty Lake
4. Munnar Part-4 : Attukal And Chinnakanal Falls

This is the final part of our Munnar trip. Trip concluded with awesome elephant safari in the jungle. When we reached the starting point of safari, there were few elephants with their mahouts (Elephant Trainers). Place was bit crowded with tourists waiting for their turn for safari. When our turn arrived, I was bit scary to sit on the elephant. As soon as we sat on the elephant it started asking for the food by raising its trunk to us. I screamed with fear. Mahout gave us a basket full of fruits and sugar cane to offer it to the elephant. But each basket costs 50 Rs.
The Safari Elephant asking for food
 We settled comfortably and safari started. Elephant entered the small forest area, ofcourse with mahout's guidance. As it was my first elephant safari experience, I was shivering and started chanting Lord Ganesha shlokas for our safe landing :). But experience was thrilling. Watching the beauty of the jungle sitting on the elephant is a different experience. Our elephant was so hungry that it was asking for the food by raising its trunk all the way throughout the safari!!!

Some interseting observations on Elephant Safari :-
1. Safari is bit costly. 250 Rs per person for half an hour safari and 400Rs per person for an hour safari.
2. Mahouts ask tourists to offer fruit baskets to elephants. Each fruit basket costs 35-40 Rs. But it is not cumpulsory.
3. Elephants ask every tourist for the fruit basket. Some elephants were so reluctant that without having the fruit basket they will not keep steps ahead.
4. Elephants were clean.
5. I would highly recommend this for a different experience.

The Countryside Of Munnar :
As this was the last day of our trip we had leisure time. So we thought of utilising this to see countryside scenery of Munnar. Eyes dont get tired of seeing lush green landscapes. We simply filled our  lungs with crisp mountain air while taking a leisurely stroll through the countryside.
Cyclist in Munnar

A Tea  Factory in Munnar
 Honey Bee Tree And Garden Fresh Carrots
We came across a huge tree which houses more than 100 honeybee nests. This is also one of the tourist attractions of Munnar and it is known as Honey Bee Tree.  Carrots are cultivated in some parts of Munnar throughout the year. You can see local people selling garden fresh carrots near tourist attraction places. Enjoy fresh and delicious carrots during your stay.
Honey Bee Tree with many Honey Bee Nests
Observations and Conclusions on Munnar :
1. Who says Heaven is not on the earth? Come and experience Munnar. You would definitely say - Yes this is the Heaven.
2. Munnar is the best destination for honeymoon couple.
3. Munnar's beauty is preserved without being spoilt by too many resorts and hotels.
4. The tea plantation workers and their families live on the plantation, which is totally self contained, with a school, healthcare facilities, cafes and meeting places.
5. The best way to get around  Munnar is by auto-rickshaw. Alternatively, rent a bicycle—inquire about the closest rental place at your hotel.
6. Munnar has some lovely walks in the surrounding hills—if time permits, opt for a trek lasting a few days.
7. Munnar is very clean. Plastic is banned here. So its tourists duty to obey the laws.
8. Hotel Saravana Bhavan - is the famous hotel in Munnar which serves the tasty South Indian Meal on banana leaves.  Try it once.
9. If you want to do shopping in Munnar then buy kgs of tea powder of different flavors  You can buy it directly from tea factories for a cheap price or you can buy from local shops.  Also dont forget to buy spices like elaichi, cardamom, cinnamon which are widely available for a reasonable price.
10. Best time to visit Munnar is from September to April.