Famous temple of Lord shiva around the world

Shankracharya Templ in Kashmir
The Shankaracharya Temple, located in the southeast Srinagar, dedicated to Lord Shiva the main temple however is located on the summit of the Takt-e-Suleiman hill overlooking Srinagar town. The Shankaracharya temple dates back to 200 B.C.E although the present structure probably dates back to the 9th century C.E. The temple was apparently visited by the Adi Shankacharya and has ever since been allied with it. The temple lies at an elevation of 1100 feet above surface level of the city.

Shankaracharya Temple is built on a high octagonal plinth approached by a flight of steps. Shankarachar is a detached ridge of igneous rock to the southeast of Srinagar, separated form the Shilamar Range by the Aita Gaj Gap. The high point of the hill is coroneted with a pretty edifice. This hill was called Jetha Larak and afterwards it was named Gopadri Hill. Some are of the opinion that the temple at the top was originally built by King Sandiman (2629-2564 B.C.). There are 300 golden and silver images housed inside it. Around 1368 B.C. King Gopadittya, founder of Gopkar, revivified the temple and bestowed it to the Brahmans Arya Varta, agrahars that he built on its top. King Sandimati (34 B.C.-A.D. 13) enhanced and added to the Shankaracharya temple`s glory. Zain-Ul-Abdin (1421 1472 A.D.) renovated its roof that had tumbled down due to an earthquake. Sheikh Ghulam Mohi-Din, a Sikh Governor (1841-36) also restored its dome. Recently, the dome was also repaired by Swami Shivratnanand Saraswati at the request of a Nepali sadhu (ascetic) who supplied him with financial aid.

The temple is under the control of the Dharmartha Department. They have built two small buildings for the sadhus who live here. There is an old stone shed called the `Parvatihund bana koth` (the store house of Goddess Parvati). The structure of the Shankaracharya temple boasts architectural technique, reminiscent of prehistorical times. However, many additions and changes have been made to the original structure. Erected on a high octagonal platform, the temple can be reached by a flight of steps. The fencing walls of the steps have inscriptions embedded on them. Inside the Shankaracharya temple, there is s Persian inscription, dating back to the period of Shah Jahan. The main shrine is in the shape of a circular chamber and commands a spectacular view of the valley. After numerous repairs, the ceiling of the main chamber appears to be modern in its approach. The temple is considered as the oldest temple of the valley of Kashmir.

How to Reach
Shankarcharya temple lies in Srinagar District across the Nehru Park - a beautiful island within the Dal Lake . One can either trek to Shankaracharya Temple from the Durganag Temple lying in civil lines area or alternatively can take a automobile upto the footsteps from the Boulevard road. The climb is approx. 7 Kms and then there is a flight of 100 odd steps up. The road passes through jungle and offers beautiful views all around .The nearest Airport is approx. 25 Kms away in Badgam Distt. This Airport is connected with major cities of India. The nearest Rail Head is at Jammu which is 300 Kms away and from there National Highway NH1A connects the Kashmir valley with India. Every sort of transport to suit every budget from Buses to Taxis ply on this Highway. It Takes around 10 to 12 hours to cross this mountaineous road which crosses some beautiful spots and the famous Jawahar Tunnel linking KashmirValley with India.

Srikalahasti Temple in Andhra Pradesh

Srikalahasti Temple is known as the Kailash or Kashi of South India. SriKalahasti temple is located 36 km away from Tirupathi in Chittoor district of Andhra Pradhesh, India. The inner temple is constructed around 5th century and the outer temple was constructed in the 12th Century.

Srikalahasti Temple is situated in Chittoor district of the state of Andhra Pradesh. In South India, it occupies a place of eminence among the holy Siva kshetras. The temple is called as Dakshina Kailasam located on the banks of the river Swarnamukhi. The architecture of Srikalahasti Temple-Chitoor is extraordinary, it has three massive Gopurams which are breathtaking. Another striking feature of the temple is its huge Mantapam with hundred pillars.

Srikalahasti is a holy town and a municipality near Tirupati, Chitoor District of Andhra Pradesh. It is located on the banks of the river Swarnamukhi. It is also informally and wrongly referred to as Kalahasti. It is a popular ancient Temple dedicated to Shiva and is one of the Pancha Bhoota Stalams (temples celebrating Shiva as the embodiment of the primary elements), air being the element in case here, the other five temples being Tiruvannamalai (Fire), Chidambaram (Space), Tiruvanaikkaval (Water) and Kanchipuram (Earth) respectively. Thousands of pilgrims from all over India visit the temple to have darshan of the almighty Sri Kalahasteeswara God and Goddesses Sri Gnanaprasunambika Devi.

This temple is also associated with Rahu and Ketu, (of the nine grahams or celestial bodies in the Indian astrological scheme). The Tamil Cholas and the Vijayanagara Rulers have made several endowments to this temple. Adi Sankara is said to have visited this temple and offered worship here. There are Chola inscriptions in this temple which date back to the 10th century CE. The deities worshiped in Srikalahasti Temple-Chitoor are Srikalahastiswara and his spouse Gnanaprasunambika. The Chola rulers constructed the main temple. In 11th century A.D., the Chola king Kuluthungal built the Caligopuram. While in the 12th century AD Veeranarashimha Yadavaraya contributed to the construction of the temple by constructing the compound wall or Prakara and the four Gopurams. In 1516 A. D., the great Chola king Krishnadevaraya built the huge 100- pillared Mandapa. The inscriptions on the temple inform that it was built by the great Pallava kings and folowed by the Tondaman Chakravarthi (Pandyam Kings).

One of the major festivals celebrated in Srikalahasti Temple-Chitoor is Mahashivratri, celebrated in the month of February and March for 10 days. The Shiva Linga of Srikalahasti Temple is considered to be one of the five important Lingas. According to Hindu mythology the five lingas represent the five great elements namely - Water, Fire, Ether, Air and Earth,established in the five great 'Kshetras'. At Srikalahasti Temple, Lord Shiva is worshiped as Vayu Linga of the wind God. A flame present in the Garbhagraha of the temple flickers even though no wind can enter the shrine. The skilful Yadav architecture of the temple indicates the presence of a shaft of wind near the deity and hence the fire in the lamp flickers.

Significance of the Temple
The temple architecture is a treat to the eyes for all those who visit Srikalahasti. A huge white architecture with three lofty gopurams speaks volume for its construction that dates back to Krishnadevaraya and Chola dynasty. Srikalahasti Temple was built by Chola Kings including Todaman Chakravarti. Historically, the temple was constructed in parts by different kings of Chola Dynasty. It is the Chola Dynasty which is credited for renovating and embellishing the temple with intricate sculpture and art. Kulottunga Chola, the great Chola King, contrived and built the beautiful gopurams, located at the entrance facing south, during the 11th century AD. In the late 12th century, Veeranarasimha Yadavaraya festooned the temple with outer Prakaras and four other gopurams connecting four entrances.

The Mantapams and Galigopurams facing east were developed by the Vijaynagar rulers in 16th century. Finally, the Natukottai Chettiars of Devakottai gave a final touch to the temple in 1912 by contributing 9 lakhs of rupees.The tower built by Krishnadevaraya in 15th century over the main gate stands at an imposing height of 120 ft. Alongside, the hundred pillared Mantapam (hall inside temple) is another architectural splendour that Srikalahasti is famed for. The Prakara or the compound and four gopurams were built by Veeranarashimha Yadavaraya in 12th Century. The Mantapam or 100 pillared hall was contrived and built by Krishnadevaraya during 1516 AD.

In the centre of the bustling street and bazaars on the sides, Srikalahasti Temple stands elevated with an architecture enwrapped in old world charm. Estimated to be a 1000 and more years old, during a recent repair work, the Shiva temple reflects oodles of culture and antiquity in look.

Sculptures of sage Kannappa, Shakti Vinayak and Saivaite bronze figures are quiet old and the exact date of these idols are known till date. Even the lingam of the temple dates back to more than 1000 years. An inside view and study of the pillar and carvings in the temple prove its antiquity beyond 1000 years.

Note: While all the temples are closed during the eclipse, the temple of Srikalahasteesvara is open and special Abhishekams are performed here.The Manikanteswara temple, also in Kalahasti dates back to the period of Raja Raja Chola I (early 11th century), and it was reconstructed in stone in 1196 by Kulottunga III. Shiva here is also referred to as Manikkengauyudaiya Nayanar. There is also a Vishnu shrine in this temple.Bhaktha Kannappa, a hunter is said to have been a great devotee of Kalahasteeswarar. Legend has it that he offered his own eyes to the Shivalingam, and for this reason earned the name Kannappan (his original name being Thinnan), and the distinction of having his statue adorn the sanctum. Nakkiradevar, Indra, Rama, Muchukunda and others are believed to have worshipped Shiva at this temple.

The main Linga, which is in the shape of an elephant trunk, with tusks on each side and a figure of a spider at the bottom, is untouched by human hands, even by the priests. Abhishekam (anointing the Lord) is done to the ‘Utsava Murthi’ by pouring a mixture of water, milk, camphor and Panchamrita. Even sandal paste, flowers and sacred threads are offered to the utsava murthi and not to the main idol. There are some legends and myths associated with the temple of which two are most popular. One of them is in “Sri Kalahasti Satakam”, describing the origin of the name of the temple and the other, in the Tamil hagiology, describing the association of the original jungle temple where Kannappa, an ardent devotee of Lord Shiva worshipped.

Time to Visit
The Sivarathri Brahmotsavam is a 12-day festival of great importance that attracts lakhs of people from various parts of our country. Mahasivarathri, Nandi Seva, Lingodbhavam, Rathotsavam, Teppotsavam and Sri Swami-Ammavarla Kalyanotsavam are the important aspects of this festival.

Darshan Timings
On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 6 am to 9 pm and on other days fom 6 am to 9.30pm.

Other Places to visit
1.Chidambaram Natarajar temple representing Akash (space).
2.Thiruvanaikoil Jambukeswarar temple representing Jalam (water),
3.Kancheepuram Ekambareswarar temple representing Prithvi (earth) and
4.Thiruvannamalai Arunachaleswarar temple representing Agni (fire)

How to reach Sri Kalahasthi Temple
  • Through Airways: The nearest airport is in Tirupati Airport, which is just 25 kms. There are daily flights from Hyderabad, Delhi, Bangalore. Chennai International airport is the major closest airport to Srikalahasti at about 99 Kms. Bengaluru International Airport is about 230 km.

  • Through Railways: Through railways there is a railway station at Sri Kalahasthi. Srikalahasti is on Tirupati-Vijayawada broad gauge rail route and all express trains have stop at Srikalahast. It is well connected to all major cities in South India directly. There are trains from Hyderabad, Vijayawada and Kolkata .The closest railway junction is Renigunta and all trains plying between Chennai and Mumbai stop at Renigunta.The Renigunta is just 25 kms from Sri Kalahasthi.

  • Through Roadways: It takes about 5 hours by road to get to Tirupati from Bangalore. Both KSRTC and APSRTC operate buses during the day and night. It is about 3 hours by road from Chennai. Frequent buses are available from CMBT Chennai. APSRTC has buses plying very frequently (every ½ hour) from Tirupati. It also operates a special package called Yathra darsini and Divyadarsini.
 
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