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Hindu Religious Centers In Rajasthan

Of the literally thousands of temples, a few have come to be known as major pilgrimage centres, and include the following:

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.

Amber's Kali Temple: A 16th century temple dedicated to the goddess, it has exquisite silver doors. Also in Amber are a number of other Shiva temples.

Bijolia and Menal: Located on the Kota-Chittaurgarh highway, these are Shive temples dating back to the 10th century, and have carved images of Shiva, Parvati and Nandi that are particularly note worthy for their craftsmanship.

Galtaji: Rising sharply from a deep gorge are hills where the medieval Hanuman temple, popularly known as Galtaji, has a mass following.

Kaila Devi: This hilltop timple has a following throughout Rajasthan, and is 24 km from Karauli. It becomes a point of pilgrimage in the months of Chaitra (March-April) and Ashadha (September-October).

Kolayat: An ancient pilgrimage spot associated with the great sage Kapil Muni, it is 50 km from Bikaner, and has a number of temples around the ghats of the lake.

Osian: Off the Jodhpur-Bikaner highway, and 65 km from Jodhpur, this was once a major centre of pilgrimage both for Hindus and Jains. The remaining temples are like a cathedral to their grand faith in the medieval ages.

Ranthambhor's Ganesh temple: Famous as a tiger reserve, the fort within the sanctuary has a Ganesh temple that has a large following among the people of Rajasthan.

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