Temples, Shrines And Spiritual Places Across Rajasthan
Rajasthan, literally meaning the ‘Land of Kings’, represents an exotic mixture of rich heritage, vibrant culture, architectural glamour, ancient temples and spectacular scenic beauty. It echoes the tales of valour and bravery of its glorious historical past. Pilgrims of all faiths seek solace in their hearts by the rich melange of temples, monasteries, and gurudwaras.
The Brahma Mandir in Pushkar is designated as one of the most important pilgrim sites of the Hindus. This 2000-year-old temple, dedicated to Lord Brahma, holds the most important position among the other surrounding 500 temples in Pushkar. Legend suggests that the Lord descended and performed yajna at the present temple premises. The inner sanctum houses the idols of Lord Brahma and his wife, Gayatri.
The Karni Mata Mandir, dedicated to Mata Karni, one of the incarnations of Durga Maa follows the 20th century Mughal Style architectural glamour. The unique feature of these temples is that the ‘Rats’ hold the second most important position other than the goddess herself. It is believed that rats are the reincarnation of humans and vice-versa. Hence, devotees leave behind milk, bread, fruits etc. for the rats housing there.
Other Hindu Temples like the Parshuram Mahadev Mandir is considered a mythical marvel for their creation moulded by nature. The Salasar Balaji Mandir, dedicated to Lord Hanuman is regarded as Swayambhu or self-created and Shakti Stal or site blessed with ultimate power. Temples like Rani Sati Mandir at Jhunjhunu, Tanot Mata Mandir at Jaisalmer etc. bear religious and spiritual importance.
Several Jain temples adorn the city-states of Rajasthan. One of them is the Ranakpur Jain mandir, a marvellous sight that one cannot miss in his lifetime. This Jain temple is an amalgamation of aesthetics and is constructed with four facing directions in the shape of quadruple, indicating the Tirthankaras takeover over the cosmos, and bringing peace and spirituality. The cynosure of the main temple is the 6ft. tall statue of Lord Adinath, the first Tirthankara.
Other temples such as the Dilwara Temples at Rajasthan-Mount Abu is set in beautifully sculptured marble architecture, daunting upon the hills. The Mirpur Jain Mandir in Sirohi, the most important Jain Temple of Rajasthan is a globally acclaimed site that reveals the amalgamation of Hindu mythology with the emergence of Jainism.
Most of the Buddhist pilgrim sites at Rajasthan emerged in the form of cave temples and ancient ruins. The Hathiagor Buddhist Caves, located at the village of Pagaria are the most important monasteries of Rajasthan and is comprised of a set of five stupas emerging as a laterite excavation enclosing a stupa near the adjoining caves. The Binnayaga Buddhist Caves is a set of 20 laterite caves and is deemed quite important y the Buddhists. Other Buddhist sites include the Kolvi Caves etc.
Sikhs can find spiritual solace at the various Gurdwaras in the state. Gurdwara Pehli Patshahi at Pushkar was initially the site visited by Guru Nanak Dev and Guru Govind Singh, later commemorated into a Gurdwara for serving the people. Kolayat holds importance as the meeting ground of the first and last Gurus. But owing to the lack of Sikh settlements, gurdwara was not constructed till 1968, but later the land was blessed with the Gurdwara Sahib Kolayat Bikaner.
Another crucial religious shrines of the Sikhs is the Gurudwara Buddha Johad Shahab in Shri Ganganagar district. It is the site where Sukha Singh and Mehtab Singh brought the head of the guilty Mir Musalul Khan (Massa Ranghar) and hung it there as a treatment meted out to the forfeiture of religion.
The kaleidoscopic lanes of Rajasthan call for spirituality so do the realms of unvanquished culture and history. The north western portion of Rajasthan is generally sandy and dry, and most of this region is covered by the Thar Desert (also known as the ‘Rajasthan Desert’ and ‘Great Indian Desert’) which extends into adjoining portions of Pakistan. The Thar Desert and the Aravalli Range runs through the state from southwest to northeast, almost from one end to the other, for more than 850 kilometres. Mount Abu lies at the southwestern end of the range, separated from the main ranges by the West Banas River.