Skip to main content

Featured Post

2023 - The Year That Was

Places impact you for a variety of reasons. And the same place impacts different people in different ways. This is especially true when it comes to spiritual experiences, where every single person’s experience is unique. And personally, every spiritual experience is unique, the same person can have different deeply spiritual experiences at different places, at different times. This thought has emerged because of my own experiences over the years, but especially so this year, with different and unique experiences at various places I have visited recently. I began this year with a visit to Baroda (Vadodara) with friends. It was meant to be a relaxed trip, a touristy trip, with our sons. We enjoyed ourselves to the hilt, but the highlight of that trip was a visit to the Lakulisha temple at Pavagadh. It was the iconography of the temple that I connected with, and I spent a few hours simply lost in the details of the figures carved around the temple. There was an indefinable connect with

Navaratri 2015 : Devis from Nalasopara



On this, the second day of Navaratri, let me take you to Nalasopara. 


"What is there to see at Nalasopara?" you might be wondering. Isnt the place one of the farthest and most crowded suburbs of Mumbai? Well, yes, that’s all it is, today, but Sopara has a history which goes way, way beyond this island city of ours. It was once a busy port city, known as Shurparaka. It was known to foreign traders from across the sea, and has been mentioned in ancient texts. It was also a major centre of Buddhist activity during Ashoka’s reign, and Ashokan edicts recovered from the Stupa here point to a rich and glorious history lying forgotten under the layers of time.There is so much to write about Nalasopara, but this post isn’t about them. Since it is Navaratri, I am sharing with you, some images of the Goddess recovered from the pond at the Chakreshwar Mandir, Nalasopara.



She is bunched with a group of idols recovered from the lake, and simply called a Yogini. She resembles Ambika, holding a child in one arm, a lotus flower in another, and seated on a lion. But, she could also be Skandamata. Whatever her name, she is an impressive figure.



Even more beautiful is this one, holding a parrot in one hand. The only such figures I have seen with parrots are from the South – Meenakshi and Andal. I have no idea who she is, but she is so beautifully carved, I just couldn’t resist clicking more photos of her!





Fixed on a niche outside one of the smaller shrines in the temple, is Mahishasura Mardini, the only figure I could easily identify in the lot. She is roughly carved, but so beautiful, and the depiction is superb! Look closer, and you can see her dragging the human form of the demon out of the buffalo, holding his hair in her hand. She is ferocious, but divine at the same time, and she is one who has been invading my thoughts ever since I returned!



Finally, last but not the least, here is Parvati, standing behind the Shiva Lingam in the main sanctum. She is so different from the other figures, demurely clad, with a rosary in one hand, and a kamandalu in the other. She could easily be a saint, or the wife of one. Or, she may just be from a different period than the others. Whatever the reason, she stands apart from the rest, alone occupying a niche inside the sanctum. She made me reflect on the ideas and thoughts which go behind the making of an idol, of what makes them divine.




These are just four of the many sculptures we saw at Nalasopara, sort of like a teaser to the post on the ancient city, which I have yet to write! Incidentally, while reading up about Nalasopara, I learnt that Parasurama is believed to have installed the 64 Yoginis in this city. There is no sign of these shrines today, and it has been difficult to even get information. However, considering that we saw so many forms of the goddess in just this temple, I wonder how many are hidden under ponds, yet to be discovered, or lying unseen under layers of kumkum and sindoor, worshipped in some wayside shrine. For now, I leave you with these, and invite your comments. 


Comments

  1. Beautiful devis - I have lived in Bombay for so long and never even heard of this!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Few people have, Charu. My post on Nalasopara is still in the drafts... there is so much to write about that I am not yet satisfied

      Delete
  2. I had no clue about this at all.. thank you for sharing all the info and lovely pictures. .

    And I marvel at the talent of the ones who made the idols.. Beautiful. .

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Too few people know about Nalasopara, Bikram. And yet there is so much history there. and yes, its the talent of the sculptors which is so amazing...

      Delete

Post a Comment

Thanks so much for stopping by. Please leave a comment for me so that I will know you have been here....

Popular posts from this blog

Gokarna Part II – The Five Lingams

We continued our Gokarna trip by visiting four other Shiva temples in the vicinity, all connected to the same story of Gokarna. The story of Gokarna mentions the Mahabaleshwara Lingam as the one brought from Kailas by Ravana, and kept at this place on the ground by Ganesha. (See my earlier post- Gokarna – Pilgrimage and Pleasure). However, the story does not end here. It is believed that, in his anger, Ravana flung aside the materials which covered the lingam- the casket, its lid, the string around the lingam, and the cloth covering it. All these items became lingams as soon as they touched the ground. These four lingams, along with the main Mahabaleshwara lingam are collectively called the ‘ Panchalingams’ . These are: Mahabaleshwara – the main lingam Sajjeshwar – the casket carrying the lingam. This temple is about 35 Kms from Karwar, and is a 2 hour drive from Gokarna. Dhareshwar – the string covering the lingam. This temple is on NH17, about 45 Kms south of Gokarna. Gunavanteshw

Rama Temple, Gokarna

To my right , the waves rush to the shore, eager to merge with the sand. To my left, the same waves crash against the rocks, their spray diverting my reverie as I ponder over the beauty of nature, and wonder what first brought people here. Was it this beauty that encouraged them to build a temple here, or was it the fresh, sweet spring water flowing from the hill here that made this place special? No matter what the reason, I am glad my auto driver brought me here. We are at the Rama temple in Gokarna, just a few minutes away from the Mahabaleshwara Temple, yet offering so different a perspective.

The Power of 8 - The Ashta Dikpalas and Ashta Vasus at Khajuraho

The four cardinal directions form the axis on which a temple is built, and are thus the basis of temple architecture. Leading from them are the eight directions, which are believed to be guarded by the eight guardians, or Ashta Dikpalas . In the temples of Khajuraho, great care has been taken by the sculptors to carve the Ashta Dikpalas on the walls, both inside and outside. They not only guard the temple, but also look over us as we circumambulate the shrine, protecting us by their presence. They are augmented by the Ashta Vasus , celestial beings which represent natural phenomena. Together, they enhance the idea of the temple as cosmos, enfolding within it, all the aspects of nature, both, on earth, as well in space.