Monday, August 15, 2011

Lord Shiva Temple in Ambernath, Maharashtra during Shravan

"Who wears snakes as garlands, whose eternal abode
is in the heart of the devotee, I bow to Him (Lord
Shiva) and His consort Bhavani (Uma or Paarvati)"

Month August, Hindu Calendar Month Shravan –

‘Mom, it’s raining so heavy today!’
‘The RainGods are bathing Lord Shiva dear…’

As a small child, I remember such instances quite vividly. For me, it was just the dark clouds and the cool breeze of the rainy season that came along in the months of July-August. But for her (read my mother) it was a little bit more… And it took me a few more years to understand the complete depth and significance that this month of rains contained within itself…

Auspicious Shravan also known as Sawan, The Beloved Month of Lord Shiva

…The Holy Month of Shravan it was…

Believed to be the holiest month of the year according to the Hindu traditions, this is the month dedicated to Lord Shiva and is packed with auspicious days, festivals and celebrations. The relevance finds its roots in the traditional story according to which Lord Shiva had consumed the Halahal or poison that had emanated from the churning of the ocean and stored it in His throat (this is the reason, he is also known by the name of Neelkanth). To cool him off and provide relief, The Hindu Gods and Demi Gods poured Holy Ganges water on Him. A ritual which is still honored with devotees offering special prayers and Ganga water/milk to Shivalingams in the Shiva temples all round the country to commemorate this time of the year.

Ambernath Yatra:  A Visit to the Ancient Ambreshwar Shiva Temple in Ambernath, Maharashtra during Shravan

The name Ambernath literally means Lord of the sky. Ambernath is the site of a very old temple, the ancient Ambreshwar Shiva Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, the construction of which dates back to 1060 AD in the 10th century.

Way to the ancient Ambernath Shiva Temple in Maharastra
Way to the Ambernath Shiva Temple in Maharashtra

Located by the bank of Vadavan (Waldhuni) river, the temple is a towering structure surrounded by a fenced wall. Richly carved and decorated out of a single black stone, the intricate carvings are inspired from Hemadpanti style of architecture.

The Domeless Ambernath Shiva Temple in Maharastra
View of the temple from a distance

There are two popular accounts that form the basis of the beliefs of the local legends here.

One belief suggests that the temple was constructed by the Pandava brothers of the epic Mahabharta fame for taking a night refuge during their period of exile (vanvaas).  They could not complete the structure which is reflected even today in the missing roof directly above the main sanctum area (Garbha Griha) of the temple. It is also said that there is a km–long passageway which was used by the Pandavas to escape which lies shut and locked today.

The view of the Lord Shiva Ambernath Temple in Maharastra from the temple compound
Spot the missing roof in this picture
in the direction pointed by the fluttering flag

There is another official version that advocates that this temple was constructed by Shilahara king, Chittaraja and later rebuilt by his son, Mummuni.

Magnificient stone carvings and architecture of the Ambernath Shiva Temple in Maharastra
Magnificient architectural stone work at the Ambernath Temple

However, the saddening part is that a historical monument like this with such an exquisite past is gradually decaying with some of the sculptural carvings falling off due to neglect and poor maintenance by the authorities.

Main Entrance to the Lord Shiva Ambernath Temple in Maharastra
Main Entrance to the Ambernath Temple

Inside the temple, the main sanctum housing the shivling is situated at a slightly lower level and one has to descend a few of steps to take the blessings of Lord Shiva. There are a couple of other smaller temples too in the temple premises that you will come across while circumambulation.

The astounding architecture and various deities in the premises of the Ambernath Shiva Temple in Maharastra
Ancient Ambernath Lord Shiva Temple in Maharastra

One can’t help but marvel at the beauty of the religious place of worship which not only opens the window to the state’s rich past but also brings alive the time-honored stories from our ancient texts. And then, whichever way you may deem these stories to be, true or false; one can’t deny the peace and calm and the sense of spiritual energy that one is filled with when one visits such places and that also outlines one of the prime reasons I travel for!

Festivals at the Ambernath temple

The Ambernath temple is the hub of an enormous fair during Mahashivratri (Feb/March) and the entire Month of Shravan (July-August). Mahashivratri Fair continues for 3-4 days starting 2 days prior and extending to 1 day after shivratri as well.

Fast facts on the Month of Shravan

1. Every year, the month of Shravan marks the rainy season. This year, the auspicious month commenced from July 16 and will end with the sibling festival of Raksha Bandhan on August 13.

2. Mondays, called the Shravani Somvaar hold a special significance and many people observe the fast - Shravan Somvar Vrat - to please Lord Shiva and seek His blessings.

3. The Lord is worshipped by slowly trickling water/milk from a pot. In temples, a dharanatra or container filled with water or milk is hung over the Shivalingam with a small outlet at its base, the liquid dripping over the deity as offering. Bel or wood apple leaves, flowers, sweets, etc are also offered while chanting the Shiva mantra.

4. During this month, the Kanwarias take the holy water from the Ganga river in small pots and offer it to Lord Shiva at various big and small temples in the city. The first day of auspicious Shravan month also marks the beginning of fortnight-long ‘Kanwar Mela’.

Getting There and Distance: How to reach Ambernath

Ambernath Shiva Temple is on the Mumbai-Pune railway line at Akoli. Nearest airport from here is Mumbai. Temple is located about 2 km from Ambernath Railway Station (East). State transport plies buses regularly to Ambernath from almost all important places in Maharashtra.

From Mumbai, It is better to go to Ambernath (which is on the central line) by train and then take an auto-rickshaw (share rickshaws ply at the station for the temple for Rs. 8) from there to the temple.


Other Lord Shiva temples covered in My Yatra diary -


Note: The Char Dham Yatra continues next post onwards.


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46 comments:

  1. that is a nice place...very informative :)

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  2. i love this sentence of yours: " one can’t deny the peace and calm and the sense of spiritual energy that one is filled with when one visits such places and that also outlines one of the prime reasons I travel for!"

    So true, Arti.

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  3. Its been years since i visited this temple, and nothing much seems to have changed since then! i also remember hearing that the shiva lingam here was found in a well, and the temple was built over it, which is why the lingam is still at a level lower than the ground.

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  4. Wow.. This temple resembles Halebid-Hoysala Architecture..Nice photos and pretty useful info as usual Arti..!

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  5. the temple is really awesome!!! the black stone architecture is amazing.... photos were good and the facts nice.... a good post as usual...

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  6. Marvellous temple. Wonderful pictures.And thanks for the official stories about the temple:)

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  7. Hello,Arti.
    What a magnificent Ambernath temple is with such a long history and its spiritual energy!!
    It is sad to see the decaying sculptural carvings. However they have still remained the detailed works and the beauty.
    Have a nice week.
    Redrose.

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  8. It's really unique and historical temple which I must visit.
    The detailed of architecture inspires and makes us to think about something.Thank you for sharing.

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  9. Hi,Arti.
    The lord is worshipped by water or milk or people offer holy water from the Ganga river to Lord Shiva. I have heard Ganga river is important thing for Indian.
    The Ambernath Temple reminded me of the temple of Angkor Vat in Cambodia. I feel the atmosphere resemble.
    Have a wonderful week!
    Sarah.

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  10. I so enjoyed reading how important this month was to your mother. Also fascinating is the thought of the Raingods bathing Lord Shiva. Whenever it thundered my grandmother used to say it was God moving the furniture.

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  11. @ Anu
    Thanks I did not know the reason why the lingam is underground.

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  12. @ Redrose
    Yes it is sad to see some structures lying neglected...
    And you are right the places exude a spiritual power.

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  13. @ sarah
    Yes the Ganges river is the most important river in India...
    Also the comparison with Angkor Vat of this Temple is interesting, they do look bit similar!!!

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  14. I'm in a state of disbelief while looking at these ornate carvings made from a single stone. that is amazing, and so beautiful. these are wonderful photos. thanks for sharing Arti. have a fabulous week!

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  15. Your posts are always so fascinating and informative, Arti, and I always enjoy them, and better still, I learn something new to me about your wonderful country. Hope you had a great Independence Day! Enjoy your week!

    Sylvia

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  16. आरती बहुत अच्छा लगा आपकी पोस्ट पढ कर । अंबरनाथ स्टेशन को तो कई बार देखा है पर मंदिर नही गये कभी । बहुत सुंदर चित्रों से आपने मन में एक ललक पैदा कर दी है । यात्रा वृतांत और श्रावण मास का महत्व इसको और भी रोचक बना रहा है ।

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  17. Xcellent post Arti (as usual...) :)

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  18. Looks like a very beautiful temple, never heard of it before. Thanks for sharing.

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  19. The stonework is just stunning.

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  20. Hi arti,
    How you dng?

    visiting you after a long time...

    This si very nice and informative post(as ur space always contain)

    I can trace ur devotion towards Shiva in this post...This might be the reason for me that this post appeared some more special when compared to other posts..

    I bow before Lord Shiva{the first and foremost devotee of Lord Govind(Krishna)}
    Hey Shiva,please bless me some of your devotion so that I can please Sri RadhaGovind!

    (long comment?)
    Smile,
    Gowthami.
    (And yeah,I remembered,you did not write on Vrindavan Yatra..right?Hehe..kk carry on dear..I was just kidding)

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  21. The temple looks so beautiful and I like all those carvings on it. I have never heard of it but thanks to you, I am well informed, thanks again.

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  22. Such a magical place Arti! And so interesting to read all about it. Hope your week is lovely - enjoy summer!

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  23. Oh Yea!.. the place is really magical! do not even want to tear your eyes, and plunged into Sambhava of Lord Shiva. I imagine if you stay in this sacred place for a month, probably would not want to go anywhere from there at all!!!

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  24. What a magnificent temple with so many ornate sculptures. To maintain those things in good shape would be more difficult than dealing with the main structure. To our sadness, an octagonal lantern in front of the Great Buddha Hall of Todai-ji, Nara, is being spoiled recently due to acid rain in spite of having survived long centuries since the 8th century. Rainfall is nature but acid rain is man-made disaster.

    I take all the rain in august as a welcome as healing rain in the very hot month, so I can borrow the idea of “RainGods”. Actually only rain can heal and coold down the heat at this time in my country.

    Enjoy your wet august, Arti.
    Yoko

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  25. Hi aarti,
    I am a resident of Ambernath n this marvellous temple has always attracted me right frm my childhood n i also do get a sense of peace n spirituall energy when i go there. This is my faith that no doubt such a gr8 structure would have been created by Self Realised Souls in love for the Nirakar self which could b the possible reason many feel the Adhyatmik bal n a no mind state when they enter d temple premises. One can definately prayer for the ultimate here n expect it 2 b answered. Thanks a lot.

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  26. I missed this temple despite residing in Mumbai for 12 years maybe next visit i will be able to cover it. The architecture seems to be unique, but i am unhappy to note that Pooja is allowed in this temple, it will destroy the edifice eventually because of too many devotees visiting the temple. Most of the ancient temples under ASI don t allow Pooja. That is how we can preserve these heritage structures.

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  27. I didn't get a chance to go here unfortunately when I was travelling in India. I feel like I just scratched the surface of what there is to see & do in this indescribable country. Your photos really captured this well.

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  28. Such beautiful carvings on stone ..feel like visiting the temple..

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  29. Your posts made me miss India! Unfortunately, I have not explored your country much yet :(

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  30. Pinay has perfectly expressed my sentiments. Your whole blog is magic.

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  31. I have been observing fast on every Monday since i was in class 9 or 10 years.Shravan month is special .Thanks for introducing this beautiful temple .I loved knowing both the legends and Pandava story very interesting .

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  32. @ Gowthami
    One day I will surely blog about Mathura and Vrindavan. I promise:)

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  33. @ stardust
    Yes maintaining these age old structures is an extremely difficult task and requires complete dedication from the authorities.

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  34. @ Anonymous
    To hear from a resident of Ambernath liking the post, what more can I ask for! Thanks.

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  35. @ Deguide
    Umesh ji, do visit the temple during your next visit to Mumbai, its beautiful. And you are right about the preservation of deities, some steps need to be taken.

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  36. @ Nomadic Samuel
    One lifetime is not enough to explore all of India, there is so much to see and explore and experience...
    Hope you visit again!

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  37. @ kavita
    Thats amazing. Yes Shravan holds special importance in our lives.

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  38. @ ALL
    Thanks for your comments. It was an uplifting experience for sure.

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  39. A beautiful temple. Love the sculptures. Beautiful!

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  40. The outer seems to resemble a fort. I am adding to my wish list. The temple seems to be inviting. I shall make it a point to visit next time. Beautiful post.

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  41. Beautiful pictures! Have been trying to go there since last few years but perhaps time hadn't come for that then. Planning to go to Ambernath on our way to Shirdi in january. May be you could help, Is there any other ancient temples on our way close to Ambernath? Would appreciate any info. Thank you.

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  42. @Anonymous Thank you!

    One ancient and very famous temple close to Ambernath that I can think of is the 'Ganpati temple in Titwala'. I haven't blogged about it in my blog but you may get more info on it from Google.

    Wish you a safe travel.

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  43. The temple is in a valley between small hills and has a river running at the compound wall; a grove of trees completes this hidden, contemplative site. On ...Lord Shiva Temple in Ambernath

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Delighted u stopped by... Your suggestions, feedback are really appreciated. Thanks a lot! Hope you visit again!

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