Strange Temples of India

India is a country that is best described as “diverse”. With nine major religions and innumerable subcultures being practiced in twenty-nine states and seven Union Territories, diversity runs in the country’s veins. Such diversity brings extreme variations in lifestyles, habits, upbringings, and models of worship. Due to the presence of such a staggering amount of different cultures in India, there emerged thousands of temples and churches and mosques and gurudwaras, each with their own ravishing history.

 India is a spiritual and religious country. The devotion among the people is such that they forfeit their personal comforts for the sake of receiving blessings from their chosen place of worship. Such is the dedication.

However, some temples exist which have complicated histories, bizarre rituals, and never-heard-of festivals. Let’s dive into some of the unique temples in India and their stories, legends, and secrets.

1. Sun Temple, Konark, Orissa

 The Sun Temple in Konark, also known as Konark Temple, is the most famous attraction in Orissa. The term 'Konark' has been derived from 'Kona' and 'Arka' that means 'Corner' and 'Sun' respectively since this place stands at the north-eastern corner of Puri. It was built by King Narasingha Deva to commemorate his victory over the Muslims. The deity worshipped in this temple is Lord Surya or the Sun God.

According to folklore, the king had appointed a man named Bisu Maharana as the chief architect of the temple. Twelve years passed by and the temple was almost done with, except for the mounting of the crown stone. The impatient king issued an ultimatum for the temple to be finished in the next three days or all artisans would be hanged. At this point, Bisu Maharana’s son arrived on the site and suggested a clever solution to complete it as per the king’s demand. The people were apprehensive because when everyone found out who completed the temple, it would be the name of a little boy over hundreds of men who had toiled for over a decade. However, to save his father and his men, the child mounted the crown stone in the dead of the night and jumped off the roof into the water and saved everyone’s pride.

What’s so special about this temple is that it has been designed to look like an enormous chariot on no less than twelve wheels, guarded by two stone lions at the entrance. Each wheel has a set of eight spokes which serve as sundials. The shadows made by these sundials give an exact time of the day.

Konark Temple is one of the most majestic temples in India. The chariot represents the chariot of Lord Surya himself as if transporting him to earth from heaven.

2. Kamakhya Mandir, Assam

 Kamakhya Mandir is considered as one of the holiest shrines in the country. It is located in the Nilanchal Hill in Kamrup district of Assam. This temple commemorates Goddess Sati in her Kamakhya form and is regarded as one of the 51 Shakti Peethas in the Indian subcontinent. This is the place where Sati used to secretly visit Shiva.

According to legends, Sati’s father highly disapproved Sati and Shiva’s marriage. He organized a huge yagna at his palace and did not invite them both. Yet, Sati insisted on visiting him and asking for an explanation for this grievous insult. At the palace, her father insulted them further, which greatly upset Sati. Unable to bear the insult to her husband, Sati jumped into the fire and sacrificed herself. This incident triggered Shiva’s legendary anger and he picked up Sati’s corpse and began dancing the tandav with her in his arms. Fearing the destruction of the universe, Lord Vishnu arrived on the scene and cut her body into 51 pieces with his legendary weapon, the Sudarshan chakra. Around 15 of the places these pieces fell have been enshrined and are named “Maha” or the important ones.

Kamakhya is the location where Sati’s yoni or genitals are supposed to have fallen. The temple doesn’t actually have an idol, but instead, an oddly shaped orifice in the ground symbolic of the same. Visitors climb down a flight of stairs into a dark, shady cave where the actual worship takes place. Due to its controversial history, many attempts have been made to destroy the temple; however, the last reconstruction was made by King Nar Narayan of Bihar. Kamakhya Temple is also known for celebrating the goddess’s menstrual cycle, which is a three-day festival and is known to attract an unbelievable number of tourists.

3. Balaji Temple, Dausa, Rajasthan

 The Mehendipur Balaji Temple is located in the Dausa district of Rajasthan. It is a noted, yet not very spoken-of temple in India. This temple is dedicated to Lord Hanuman, who is also called by the name, Balaji (Bala means child in Hindi). It is so named because the child form of Lord Hanuman is worshipped in this temple. Sounds extremely normal? Well, it isn’t.

This particular Indian Balaji temple has legends and beliefs associated with it that astounds all. Two more deities are worshipped in this shrine- Pret Raj (the King of Spirits) and Bhairav. This temple is infamous for a very spooky ritual they perform- exorcism. The temple was built in the 20th century. However, the idol inside is said to be over a thousand years old and what’s more, it is said to have appeared on its own, with no creator. The temple, according to legend, is bestowed with magical powers to cure people possessed by evil spirits and black magic.

It is not easy to get into the temple. Crowds start gathering as early as 3 a.m., and the shops in this town never shut: people just work in shifts. Once into the town, one is said to face hurdles on their way as a sign of warning as well as experience constant chills even though this happens to be one of the warmer places. Once you enter the temple, you are greeted by screams of the possessed, instead of bells and hymns. You may see people bathe themselves in boiling water without hurting themselves, pounding their heads on the walls and many such bizarre activities going on.

The scariest part of the temple is the last of the four chambers within. Bodies of men, women, and children tied and chained to pillars and rocks are seen in here. Along with this, it looks like they have all been starved for days and all of this is done for the purpose of exorcising all those people and rid them of evil spirits.

And, no one dares to ask why they’re there. It is a sin to ask.

4. Ravan Temple, Ravangram

Every victor of a mythological war has worshipers around the world. As per the Mahabharata, the Pandavas are idolized along with their saarthi, Krishna. Many others from that epic tale are today recognized as Gods, while the vanquished, the Kauravas, and all their supporters are demonized. In the same way, the victor of the Ramayana is Lord Ram. Him, along with his wife Sita, and follower Hanuman are recognized as Gods all over India.

However, there are a few places in this wondrous country where the vanquished of the Ramayana, Raavan is worshiped. One of them is the Ravan Temple at Ravangram. It is located in the Nateran tehsil of Vidisha district in Madhya Pradesh. Raavan is said to have belonged to the Kanyakubja Brahmins, a Brahmin sub-sect, who now worship him as a deity. The villagers are said to be devout worshipers of the Lankan. No good deed is carried out without seeking his blessings first, from marriage to purchasing property or vehicles. In fact, all modes of transportation in this village flaunt ‘Jai Lankesh’, which is considered as a sign of good luck and prevents accidents.

Dusshera in this village is celebrated with a twist. Naturally, no burning of Raavan’s effigies takes place in Ravangram. What’s more, neither are Ram’s. A 10-foot idol of Raavan is placed inside the temple and adorned with colors and flowers. While he is the chief deity, the villagers believe there is no Raavan without the mention of Ram. The priest, while making offerings and chanting hymns to please Raavan, compliments Ram, too. They believe that Ravan was a stout devotee of Shiva and a great Brahmin, he was not evil. He simply played his part in bringing out the greatness of Ram, but he was great in himself too. The villagers also believe that if the idol is disturbed in any way, an unforeseen calamity will strike them all. The village is said to be protected from evils due to the fearsome aura of Raavan because if anyone incurs his wrath, the temper that follows can give Shiva’s tandava a run for his money.

 

So you see India is not just cultures and colors and rituals, it is also a land of dark secrets and entwined histories and frightening legends. Every corner of this deep, historic country is full of stories that have continued to baffle mankind for centuries. Unravelling these mysteries aren’t a day’s work, but you can start right here.

 

Every victor of a mythological war has worshipers around the world. As per the Mahabharata, the Pandavas are idolized along with their saarthi, Krishna. Many others from that epic tale are today recognized as Gods, while the vanquished, the Kauravas, and all their supporters are demonized. In the same way, the victor of the Ramayana is Lord Ram. Him, along with his wife Sita, and follower Hanuman are recognized as Gods all over India.

However, there are a few places in this wondrous country where the vanquished of the Ramayana, Raavan is worshiped. One of them is the Ravan Temple at Ravangram. It is located in the Nateran tehsil of Vidisha district in Madhya Pradesh. Raavan is said to have belonged to the Kanyakubja Brahmins, a Brahmin sub-sect, who now worship him as a deity. The villagers are said to be devout worshipers of the Lankan. No good deed is carried out without seeking his blessings first, from marriage to purchasing property or vehicles. In fact, all modes of transportation in this village flaunt ‘Jai Lankesh’, which is considered as a sign of good luck and prevents accidents.

Dusshera in this village is celebrated with a twist. Naturally, no burning of Raavan’s effigies takes place in Ravangram. What’s more, neither are Ram’s. A 10-foot idol of Raavan is placed inside the temple and adorned with colors and flowers. While he is the chief deity, the villagers believe there is no Raavan without the mention of Ram. The priest, while making offerings and chanting hymns to please Raavan, compliments Ram, too. They believe that Ravan was a stout devotee of Shiva and a great Brahmin, he was not evil. He simply played his part in bringing out the greatness of Ram, but he was great in himself too. The villagers also believe that if the idol is disturbed in any way, an unforeseen calamity will strike them all. The village is said to be protected from evils due to the fearsome aura of Raavan because if anyone incurs his wrath, the temper that follows can give Shiva’s tandava a run for his money.

 

So you see India is not just cultures and colors and rituals, it is also a land of dark secrets and entwined histories and frightening legends. Every corner of this deep, historic country is full of stories that have continued to baffle mankind for centuries. Unravelling these mysteries aren’t a day’s work, but you can start right here.

Fond of exploring the unexplored, read our next post

Unexplored Islands of India

Sources:

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4. https://www.google.co.in/search?biw=1517&bih=681&tbm=isch&sa=1&q=ravana+temple+ravangram&oq=ravana+temple+ravangram&gs_l=psy-ab.3...149320.162350.0.162635.27.21.6.0.0.0.189.1922.11j7.18.0....0...1.1.64.psy-ab..3.7.621...0j0i67k1j0i8i30k1.65ytVF5VpHg#imgrc=cKQ9lw27fh8_lM:

 

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