Skip to main content

Featured Post

Ladakh Diaries Part 9: Lamayuru

Lamayuru is one of the most ancient monasteries in Ladakh, the oldest surviving structure dating to the 11 th century CE. What makes this monastery particularly fascinating, is its location, amidst what is today called the “moonscape”, for the spectacular natural rock formations, which truly are “out of the world”! As per legend , there once existed a huge lake in this area, populated only by the Nagas (serpents). It was prophesized that there would be a great monastery built here. This prophecy came true when the great acharya Naropa (756-1041 CE) arrived. He emptied the lake, meditated for many years inside a cave, and built the first monastery here. The present structure is a new one, built around the cave where Acharya Naropa is said to have meditated. This legend seems to fit well with the geological formations seen in the area, which suggest this was a paleo-lake, which disappeared around 1000 years ago. Lamayuru is about 130 km from Leh , and the Indus River flows along th

Temples of Bikaner - Part 3: Laxmi Nath Temple

The temple resounds with bhajans, sung of Meera and Krishna. Devotees enter, and settle down in any available space, and join in the singing, enthusiastically. It’s evident that everyone knows the words. There are no queues, but there is a sense of order. No one is in a hurry. They wait patiently for others to have darshan before getting up for a closer look at the Lord. The temple is small, but beautiful, with intricate paintings on the ceiling. There is no space to stand and admire, so I sit down, along with everyone else, and allow my eyes to wander over the ceiling, rather than the image in the sanctum.




The Laxmi Nath Temple was built in 1504, during the reign of Rao Luna Karan, the 3rd king of Bikaner. There might have been older shrines around, or even right here, but this was one of the first Hindu temples built here. It is dedicated to Vishnu, seen here as Laxmi Nath, along with his consort, Laxmi, the goddess of wealth, suggesting that, during that period, the early 16th century, there was a strong Vaishnavite presence in Bikaner. This is believed to have been one of the earliest temples built by the royal family, and the Lord is believed to have been their patron deity, under whose influence they ruled this land.

The main shrine is a small one, as I have mentioned, and the paintings on the ceiling are embellished with gold, a technique we see at the Junagadh Fort as well. Around the central temple are other smaller shrines, dedicated to the many Gods of the Hindu pantheon. The entire complex is a walled one, and photography is prohibited.

The Laxmi Nath Temple Complex, as seen from the Jain temple


The Laxmi Nath temple is located right next to the Jain temple, and both temples would have been constructed around the same time. While the Jain temple, being more elaborate, took over 40 years to build, and was completed in 1514, the Laxmi Nath temple took 22 years to complete, and was ready by 1526.

The spires of the Laxmi Nath Temple, as seen from the Jain temple


A comparison of the two temples leads to some interesting thoughts. Built roughly around the same time, the architecture, as well as the ornamentation of the Jain temple is far more elaborate. While the Laxmi Nath temple is considered to be the temple of the royalty, does it also hint that the merchants even then had far more wealth available, even for construction of temples, than royalty?


And yet, it is the Laxmi Nath Temple which is a hub of activity, with locals visiting and offering prayers. While the Jain temple is also under worship, the visitors are more tourists than locals, since many of the wealthy Jain merchants have shifted to other cities and only visit occasionally. 

A newly married couple visit the temple, immediately after their wedding. This, apparently, is a common custom in the area. 

Disclaimer: These posts are based on two trips to Bikaner – the first one, a personal trip, and the second, when I was invited by Narendra Bhawan. While the first was an enjoyable experience with my family, I barely spent a day here, and while it was enough to see the sights, it was too quick to leave an impression.

The second trip, which was on invitation from Narendra Bhawan, filled the gaps and added a context to all that I had seen before, which actually helped me write. While the experiences are courtesy Narendra Bhawan, the words are, needless to say, all my own! 

Related Posts:



Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Havelis of Bikaner - A Photo Post

The lanes are narrow , twisting and turning amidst buildings old and new. Crumbling old structures with intricate workmanship stand side by side with art deco buildings, and more modern constructions, which follow no particular style. Autos, bicycles, motorcycles and vans rush past, blowing their horns as loudly as possible, while cows saunter past peacefully, completely unaffected by the noise. In the midst of all this chaos, children play by the side, and women go about their chores, as we explore these by-lanes of Bikaner, and its beautiful Havelis. Facade of one of the Rampuria Havelis

Kabini Part 3 - After the Rains

Visiting Kabini in peak summer, we hadn’t bargained for the rains, which dominated our three days at the Lodge. While animal sightings were understandably lesser than usual, seeing the forest in the rain was an interesting experience in its own way. However, as we headed back into the forest for our second and third safaris, we hoped the rains would let up, and allow us to see more animals! Winding jungle paths

Kabini Part 2 - A Boat Ride

The river Kabini is the heart of the Nagarhole National park, and a boat ride on the river is an integral part of the stay at the Kabini River Lodge. The incessant, unseasonal rainfall had marked our stay so far, and heading to the jetty for our boat ride on our second evening at the lodge, we kept our fingers crossed, hoping for clear skies.  The Jetty... at the Kabini River Lodge