Omkareshwar Temple

Situated on the banks of the Narmada, Omkareshwar is one of the 12 revered Jyotirlinga shrines of Shiva. It is located at a distance of about 12 miles from Mortakka in Madhya Pradesh. The river Narmada spits into two and forms an island Mandhata or Shivapuri in the center. The shape of the island resembles that of the visual representation of the Omkara sound, Om. There are two temples here, one to Omkareshwar and one to Amareshwar. Legend has it that the Vindhya mountain prayed to Shiva – Omkareshwara and was blessed here. Legend also has it that upon the request of the Devas, the Shivalinga split into two, one half being Omkareshwara and the other Amaleshwara or Amareshwar. King Mandhatha of the Ishvaku clan is believed to have worshiped Shiva here. The Omkareshawar temple is built in the North Indian style of architecture, with high spires. Devotees consider worship to Panchamuga Ganesha, to be very auspicious.
Shri Omkar Mandhata
The main temple with detailed carving in soap stone stands on a mile long and half mile island.
Siddhnath Temple
A frieze of elephants carved on a stone slab is the main draw of this example of early medieval Branmhatic architecture.
24 Avataras
A cluster of Hindu and Jain temples in varied architecture modes.
Satmatrika Temple
A group of 10th century temples.

Naina Devi Temple

The Goddess Naina Devi is worshipped as a single selfborn pindi. There is another pindi of Ganesha and a third established by the Pandavas. This is believed to be the ‘shakti pita’ where Sati’s eye fell. Naina means eye. The temple is also known as Mahishapitha because of it’s association with Mahishasur.
This area was the capital of Mahishasur. Mahishasur was given a boon by Brahma, the creator, that he could only be defeated by a maiden. His story is a major section in the Devi Mahatmya and can be found in greater detail in the Devi Bhagavata Purana. He enslaved the Gods and made life impossible for the righteous people of that time. To save themselves the Deva’s got together and combined their shakti’s (Goddess power within them) to create a new Devi powerful enough to defeat him. She stationed Herself on a nearby hill called Mahishapith. Hearing of Her unearthly beauty Mahishasur wanted to marry the Divine maiden. She agreed to the marriage on the condition that he could defeat Her in battle. She defeated his armies and finally Mahishasur himself. She plucked out both his eyes and gave his skull to Brahma. The Gods showered Her with flowers and cried out “Jay Naina” and hence Her name.
Another story claims that a cowherd named Naina, found a cow dripping milk onto a pindi with eyes on it. That night Devi Ma appeared to the cowherd in a dream and told him that the pindi was Her own form. He was told that he should build a temple there and worship the pindi. He did so and later a larger temple was built.

Mukteswara Temple

Built in the year of AD 950, Mukteswara temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva, and is carved with figures of ascetics in several poses of meditation. The highlight of the temple, is the magnificent torana – the decorative gateway, an arched masterpiece, reminiscent of Buddhist influence in Orissa.
This temple is considered to be the gem of Orissan architecture. The sculptured gateway, the Jagamohana with diamond shaped latticed windows and decorated interiors and the plethora of sculptural work all deserve mention in this temple dedicated to Shiva Although it is only a small monument rising to a height of 35 feet. Literally every inch of its surface is carved. This temple has also been described as a dream realized in sandstone and it is a monument where it is said sculpture and architecture are in complete harmony with one another. This temple dates back to the 10th century.
The sculptural decoration of the Mukteswara is exquisitely executed. The beautiful sculptures eloquently speak of the sense of proportion and perspective of the sculptor and their unique ability in the exact depiction of the minutest objects. The builders of Mukteswara Temple introduced new architectural designs, new art motifs and new conceptions about the icnography of the cult images. There are a number of depictions of skeletal ascetics among the sculptural images, most of them shown in teaching or meditation poses, which seems appropriate as the name Mukteswara means “Lord who gives freedom through Yoga”.

Meenakshi Temple

No text can do justice to the Meenakshi temple. The gigantic temple complex, the statues exploring the entire range of human emotions, everything here is larger than life. The Meenakshi temple complex is a city temple – one of the largest and certainly one of the most ancient. According to legend Madurai is the actual site where the wedding between Shiva and Meenakshi took place. The soaring and exquisitely carved towers enclose the temple dedicated to Meenakashi. The south gateway contains the twin temples of Shiva and Meenakshi and is about nine storeys high.
The Sri Meenakshi Sundareswara temple and Madurai city originated together. According to tradition, Indra once committed sin when he killed a demon, who was then performing penance. He could find no relief from remorse in his own kingdom. He came down to earth. While passing through a forest of Kadamba trees in Pandya land, he felt relieved of his burden. His servitors told him that there was a Shivalinga under a Kadamba tree and beside a lake. Certain that it was the Linga that had helped him; he worshipped it and built a small temple around it. It is believed that it is this Linga, which is till under worship in the Madurai temple. The shrine is called the “Indra Vimana”.
Once Dhananjaya, a merchant of Manavur, where the Pandyas had arrived after the second deluge in Kumari Kandam, having been overtaken by nightfall in Kadamba forest, spent the night in the Indra Vimana. When next morning he woke up, he was surprised to see signs of worship. Thinking that it must be the work of the Devas, he told the Pandya, Kulasekhara, in Manavur, of this. Meanwhile Lord Shiva had instructed Pandya in a dream to build a temple and a city at the spot Dhananjaya would indicate. Kulasekhara did so. Thus originated the temple and city.
Paranjothi Munivar wrote the Tiruviayadal Puranam in the sixteenth century. It is regarded as the temple’s Sthalapurana. An earlier work adds a few celestial sports not included in the latter. These are, or rather were painted on the walls around the Golden Lily Tank. Some of the painted wooden panels are in the Temple Museum.
The earliest references available to any structure in this temple is a hymn of Sambhandar’s, in the seventh century, which refers to the “Kapali Madil”. The present inner walls of the Lords shrine bear this name today. In the early times the entire temple must have been confined to the area between these walls, and the structures must have been of brick and mortar.
In the 14th century an invasion by Malik Kafur damaged the temple. In the same century Madurai was under Muslim rule for nearly fifty years. The temple authorities closed the sanctum, covered up the Linga, and set up another in the Ardhamandapa. When the city was liberated, the sanctum was opened, and, tradition says the flower garlands and the sandalwood paste placed on the Linga were as fresh as on the first day, and two oil lamps were still burning.
Ashta Sakthi Mandapa is a convention in this temple, different from that followed in others, that the devotee offers worship first to Goddess Meenakshi. Therefore, while there are four other entrances into the temple, under huge Gopuras in the four cardinal directions, it is customary to enter not through any of them but through a Mandapa, with no tower above it. This entrance leads directly to the shrine of the Goddess.
This Mandapa is an impressive structure, with a hemispherical ceiling. It is 14m long and 5.5m wide. There are bas-reliefs all over the place. Over the entrance one of them depicts the marriage of Goddess Meenakshi with Lord Somasundara. The Mandapa derives its name, the “Ashta Sakthi”, from the fact it contains sculptures of the eight Sakthis (also spelt as Shakti). Those of the four principal Nyanmars were added during renovation of the temple in 1960-63.
A smaller Mandapa connects the large one with another large one with another large hall, called the “Samagam Meenakshi Naicker Mandapa”, after its builder, a minister of Vijayaranga Chokkanatha (1706-32), who erected in 1707. In former times the temple’s elephants camels and bulls used to be stabled here. A brass “Tiruvatchi” holding a thousand and eight lamps stands here, 7.6m high. Marudu Pandya, one of the early opponents of the growing British power, installed it.
The Meenakshi Naicker Mandapa is a huge hall, 42.9m long and 33.5m wide. It contains 110 stone columns, each 6.7m high. There are yalis in the capital and delicate reliefs below. Some of the carvings are unfinished.
The Mudali Pillai Mandapa follows the Chitra Gopura. Added in 1613, it is 183m long and 7.6m wide. On its wall are many puranic scenes. It used to be without any natural light, but windows were added in the last renovation.
The lovely and historic Golden Lily tank then comes into view. It is from its banks that most popular photographic views of the temple are taken, showing the gigantic south outer Gopura. The northern corridor leads directly to the shrine of the Goddess. On its pillars are the images of some of the Sangam poets, of Kulasekhara Pandya, the first builder of the temple, and of Dhananjaya, who figures in the traditional story of its origin. There is no fish in the tank.
The corridors around the tank are rightly called the “Chitra Mandapa”, for the walls carry paintings of the divine sports of the Lord, as narrated in the “Tiruvilayadal Puranam”. They have been renewed from time to time. A short while ago there were paintings on wooden panels affixed over an older series. They have since been removed to the Temple Museum in the thousand-pillared Mandapa, leaving some dilapidated murals to view. It is impossible to ascertain the date of these.
It was in the sixteenth century that the corridors and the steps leading down to the tank were constructed; the northern corridor and steps in 1562, those on the east in 1573, and those on the south five years later.
Two Mandapas, the Unjal and the Kilikatti, stand on the farther way to the shrine of the Goddess. On their ceilings are more paintings. A celebrated mural, opposite to the entrance of the shrine, depicts the marriage of Goddess Meenakshi. The Kilikatti Mandapa derives its name from the fact that there are parrots in a cage here. On its walls are carvings of the divine sports. The most ornamental of the temple’s Mandapas, it was built in 1623.
A Gopura of three tiers stands over the entrance from this Mandapa into the shrine of the Goddess. Built in 1227 by Vambathura Ananda Tandava Nambi, it is named the Vambuthurar Gopura after him. The shrine consists of a square sanctum, an Ardhamandapa and a Mukhamandapa. In the niches on the walls of the shrine are images of Iccasakthi in the south, Kriyasakthi in the west, and Jnanasakthi in the north. There are shrines of Vinayaka and Subramanya in the outer Prakara. They probably belong to the fifteenth century.
There are a number of historic shrines in the Prakaras. Opposite to an entrance into the first from the Mahamandapa there is one of Lord Sabhapathi. This is the famous Velliambalam where one of the Lord’s divine sports took place when, at the request of the sages, Patanjali and Vyagrapadha, He danced as Lord Nataraja.
In the second Prakara a shrine, now called that of the Sangam poets, contains images of many of them. In the same Prakara there is a shrine apparently dedicated to Kariyamanikka Perumal, but now empty. Also in the same Prakara there is a row of fourteen small shrines, called the “isvarams”. Many of them contain Lingas.
The famous festivals held at Madurai, include Teppam festival, the annual Float Festival, wherein the images of Sri Meenakshi and Lord Sundareswara (also spelt as Sundreshwara) are mounted on floats, and taken to Mariamman Teppakkulam Tank, where for several days they are pulled back and forth across the water in the middle of the tank, on an illuminated raft embellished with flowers, before being taken back to the main temple.
The annual solemnization of the marriage of Meenakshi with Lord Sundareshwar (Shiva) is one of the most spectacular temple festivals at Madurai’s famous Meenakshi temple in Tamil Nadu. Car processions of the goddess and the god are some of the colourful features of this festival.
Meenaskhi Kalyanam, the wedding festival of Goddess Meenakshi and Lord Sundareshwar is celebrated for twelve days from the second day of the lunar month (i.e. two days after the new moon). This is a spectacular festival celebrated in the month of Chaitra (April-May).
The festival is characterized with royal decorated umbrellas, fans and traditional instrumental music. Scenes from mythology are enacted and the deities of Lord Shiva, Goddess Shakti and Goddess Meenakshi are taken out in a colourful procession. Thousands of devotees from all over the country gather in the city of Madurai on this occasion.

Lingaraja Temple

Situated in the ancient capital of the Kalinga empire, Bhubaneswar’s, the Lingaraja Temple is probably one of India’s most remarkable ancient, architectural achievements, with a 54-meter tower dominating the landscape. Encapsuled by high walls on all sides, the Lingaraja temple or the Bhubaneshwar is one of the most well known temples in Orissa. It is one of the best and splendoured examples of the architectural excellence which the artists had achieved during the 11th century.
The outer walls of the temple exhibit unparalled carvings. The beautifully carved and sculpted images of various God and Goddess are unrivalled. The temple complex has three compartments and each one has a temple each. Towards south of the entrance to main temple is image of Lord Ganesha, at the back is the image of Goddess Parvati and to north is Lord Kartikya. The Lingaraja temple has got various pillars and halls which add to its beauty.
The vast Bindu Sagar lake is the center around which are located the multitude of temples of Bhubaneshwar. The Lingaraja temple is located in a spacious courtyard covering over 250000 sq feet and is bounded by fortified walls. Its tower rises up to 180 feet and is elaborately carved.

Lepakshi Temple

The Vijayanagar Empire caused a number of monuments to be built and patronized in the State of Andhra Pradesh. The ornate Lepakshi temples being one of the popular temples of that era. Lepakshi is a small village, which lies nine miles east of Hindupur in Anantapur District of Andhra and is famous for its temple of Veerabhadra, and is also a renowned place where the best specimens of the mural paintings of the Vijayanagar kings are available.
The flat stuccoed granite ceilings of the Vijayanagar Empire provided a suitable background for frescoes as seen at Lepakshi. This temple is a notable example of the Vijayanagar style of architecture, and is built on a low rocky hill, which is called Kurmasaila so called because the bill is like a tortoise, in shape. An inscription on the exit of the outer wall of the temple records that one Virupanna constructed it in the 16th century.
The beautiful sculptures on the prakaram attract the pilgrims’ attention. These include 14 forms of Siva, like Dakshinamurthi, Ardhanareeswara, Tripurantaka etc. The hall of creepers is another excellent work of art, which has provided perennial inspiration to textile designers over the years. About 500m, North-East of the temple stands India’s largest monolithic Nandhi, measuring about 8.25m long and 4,60m high.

Kornark Temple


Konark Sun Temple is located , in the state of Orissa near the sacred city of Puri. The sun Temple of Konark is dedicated to the sun God or Surya. It is a masterpiece of Orissa’s medieval architecture. Sun temple has been declared a world heritage site by UNESCO.
The Konark temple is widely known not only for its architectural grandeur but also for the intricacy and profusion of sculptural work. The entire temple has been conceived as a chariot of the sun god with 24 wheels, each about 10 feet in diameter, with a set of spokes and elaborate carvings. Seven horses drag the temple. Two lions guard the entrance, crushing elephants. A flight of steps lead to the main entrance.
The Nata Mandir in front of the Jagamohana is also intricately carved. Around the base of the temple, and up the walls and roof, are carvings in the erotic style. There are images of animals, foliage, men, warriors on horses and other interesting patterns. There are three images of the Sun God, positioned to catch the rays of the sun at dawn, noon and sunset.
The temple city of Konark is situated in the eastern state of Orissa at a distance of around 65 km from Bhubaneswar and 35 km from Puri. The city extends between longitude 86.08°E and latitude 19.53°N.