Monday, March 8, 2010

A Trip To Hayagriva Madhaba Temple Of Hajo in Assam.

(Caution...it is an extra lengthy post ) .Hajo is a small town of cultural and religious importance in Assam . It is 30 kms to west of Guwahati .The uniqueness of this place is marked by its being a sacred pilgrimage centre for three religions -Hinduism,Buddhism and Islam.The whole area is thronged with innumerable ancient temples and also with some of the sacramental `artifacts`. Legends say that the Pandavas had taken refuge in this area during their agyatvas i.e, at times of their hiding. I visit this place on annual basis with my family.It is a beautiful drive of approx. one hour. As you enter this small town you see these pillars on both side of the road welcoming the visitors.Have a closer look at the picture and you will see three different architectural forms influenced by all the three religions mentioned.Its a perfect example of the term..unity in diversity. Hayagriva Madhav Temple which is highly revered by both Hindus who come here to worship Lord Hayagriva(an incarnation of Lord Vishnu) and the Buddhists who believe that the image inside the temple is of Lord Buddha as according to them he attained Nirvana here.As another striking and unique tradition Muslim inhabitants of this town and the nearby village lead a 15 km long procession where the three idols of Bhrahma,Vishnu and Mahesh are taken out to the banks of river Bhramaputra,once in a year.Muslims come Hajo to visit Powa Mecca a mosque which is believed to have some(i.e. one fourth...the word Powa in Assamese or Pao in hindi) of the sanctity of Mecca.If you want to know more interesting facts about Powa mecca click here.
The temple is located on a hill top named Manikut Parvata.These are the stone steps leading towards the famous shrine Hayagriva Madhav Temple.If i am not wrong they are 101 in number(i count them every time i climb up) .The temple was constructed in sixth century by the king of Pala dynasty according to some historians.Later in the year 1583 King Raghudeva Narayan rebuilt it.Before we approach towards the shrine it is customary to touch the water of the sacred pond at the base of the temple.The giant tortoises of this pond are a big tourist attraction . Here are my kids trying to follow the ritual by the help of their father while i was busy taking pictures.

Here comes a tortoise to gulp down Lily Biscuits( yes,they prefer this particular brand a lot) ..you get to buy these biscuits from the shops at the base of the shrine.
It is customary to offer Tulsi jaal malas (Thai holy basil leaves garland) to the residing god of the shrine .These garlands are made by experts and are sold at a reasonable price at these shops run by local people .
These guys sell pictures of various Hindu god , goddess and other things like beads ,toys etc.I make it a point to buy something every time i visit this shrine....shopping here is lot of fun.My daughter and my help bought lots of colorful beads and bangles here.
Let me tell you that climbing up is not a very easy task but once you do it you get to see this beautiful view of the town from the hill top.
The temple has been declared a monument of national importance by ASI (Archaeological Survey of India). It is made of stone and is octagonal in plan . The temple is in a pitiable condition owing to the lack of scientific preservation.I was happy to notice that conservation and preservation work is being carried out at a large scale for the shrine .The temple enshrines an image of Lord Vishnu which resembles a lot to that of Lord Jagannath of Puri(Orissa). Photography inside the temple garbhagraha is not allowed but you get to buy the images of the same in local shops near the temple.Many interesting legends are attached to the history of this temple.
This is a huge hall where visitors get to offer earthen lanterns and incense sticks which is not allowed inside the main temple. After this visitors get to enter the main temple and offer their prayers and the tulsi malas.This year luckily we saw lesser crowd.
This is another structure adjacent to the main temple. Centuries old tradition of Bulbul Songbird fight takes place here.Mughals introduced it and Hindus have kept up the tradition .I have seen this festival just once .
It is believed that if you look at this gate and offer your prayers ,the action equals to that of prayers being offered to the famous Jaggannath Puri Temple.
After the completion of offerings and the prayers we do parikrama (complete a round around the main temple)....while parikrama i took these pictures.As in many other temples ,a row of elephants(gajathara) appears as a basement moulding which is identical to the decorative style of the Kailasa cave temple of Ellora.
Some more carvings...
The exterior of the temple has many sculptured figures, representing the ten Avataras of Vishnu, with Buddha as the ninth.
After spending some time at the temple premises we returned back to the parking area where we had light refreshments and some tea (all brought from home) .Buying vegetables from the local market is another fun activity .We left this small town promising ourselves that in the coming years we will include other temples as well as Powa Mecca Mosque .... when my kids are little older may be then .

42 comments:

  1. wonderful post ya..supported by gr8 photos..the place looks very traditional n as u say the neglect is visible ya..i am a fan of this blog K, keep updating this often..plzzzzzzzz

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  2. Wow! Very informative and interesting place!! Sacred place for 3 religions is truly unique.
    Lily biscuits for tortoises...wah! Kya baat hai! :)

    PS: I wanted to add your blog in Google Reader, but can't find the icon to subscribe on your blog. Let me know about it. Thanks :)

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  3. Was this post long? It didn't seem long! Fantastic photos, amazing descriptions. I was held captive til the end, then wanted more!

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  4. wish we could have done all these trips during our RDC days. !!!!!!

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  5. fascinating, love learning more of your culture...

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  6. gorgeous shots! Did you photograph all this yourself?

    Climbing those steps wouldn't have been difficult for me. It is coming DOWN those steps that would have been difficult. LOL.

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  7. That was a false caution. Your posts about Assam' heritage and culture supported with ohotos are just exceptional. Loved the read as always.

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  8. I loved the first photo of the temple, beautiful. Will come back and read, Kavita...seeing this in my niece's place.

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  9. WOW.. MEra bharat mahaan .. I would say .. You know every time i come to your blog, I make up my mind .. Book holidays .. Book tickets Come home..

    There are so many beautiful places.. I am really amazed and WOWOED.... Keep uo the good work and posting more .. for people like us to see more of out nation..

    It would mean that you got to do a lot of travelling :)

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  10. Now, I noticed, after reading the notes...yes, the building depicts our three religions, beautifully. Thanks for posting this picture, Kavita. Very nice. Esp. these temples should get prominence now so that everyone knows how Hindus and Muslims did not have any problems living together all these years.

    Lily bisucuits?! And to tortoises, haha, interesting? Has it got special flavour?

    Tulsi is offered to Vishnu, here too. We don't use 'gende ka phool' for gods, but saamanthi/sevanthige/ Chrysanthemum or jasmine, arali, hibiscus are used.

    Instead of building new temples, people can try to renovate these old temples, I feel. The vibrations are more in the old temples.

    As gigi says here, climbing up the steps will not be a prblem, coming down should be done cautiously, esp. old people.

    Thank you, Kavita.

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  11. So many of our beautiful temples are in ruins, all over India. We should really learn how to take care of them.
    This one was absolutely breathtaking.And the town seemed so pretty and quaint. Would love to visit this place one day.

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  12. thanks ya..u r a gr8 friend..:)

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  13. great post Kavita..so very informative..loved the images..I didn't find it lengthy at all re.. :)

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  14. Not too lenghty but very interesting and loved all the pics.
    Thank you, Kavita for another wonderful post!

    Margie:)

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  15. This was a very nice post, the temples are so pretty. I could not make it up those steps. I was glad to read about the temples and the religion behind them.

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  16. You have been missed! Thanks for coming back to the blogosphere and to da Spiral :)



    Aloha from Hawaii my Friend!


    Comfort Spiral

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  17. I think Assam needs to publish your posts in a book format and put it on counters as they are such pro the tourism factor, Every time I read a post on Assam from you, I want to step into that state. You should seriously consider approaching the govts tourism or cultural secretary!!

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  18. Ramesh...thanks,you are very kind.

    Shilpa Garg..thanks.Yes ,how i wished i clicked a good picture of those tiny Lily biscuits..hee.

    Shilpa i have added the subscription tab to the blog,i hope it helps.

    Clytie..thanks for your kind words of encouragement.

    Nitu..hey dear you still have your rdc friends here in ghy.

    Lin..thanks.

    Gigi..thanks.Yes these pictures are clicked by me.You are right both the climbing as well as coming down is little tiring for kids as well as elderly people...this time one toddler had a nasty fall while she was coming down,luckily she was not badly hurt.

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  19. Holy Lama..thanks a lot,your comments always make me feel encouraged.

    Sandhya..Thanks.There are many more amazing facts about this temple but as it is the post was very lengthy so i skipped them.The temple committee has Muslim votes too while selection.The tulsi malas too are of various varieties depicting dft purposes.About genda phool,i have seen it being used in temples here.We seriously need to save these national treasures before it is too late.

    It was my husband's request to mention LILY BISCUITS.hee,so i did.


    Bikram..Thanks.Mera Bharat Mahan .I hope that very soon you get to visit the country.

    Aparna..Thanks .What are you waiting for...aa jaiye.

    Neha..thanks.you are a true friend .

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  20. Margie..thanks a lot.

    Margaret Cloud...thanks .

    Cloudia..Thanks for missing me.

    Sujata..Awww.thanks dear,you are very generous in saying so.Let me contribute more to this blog because there is still a lot to show and tell about Assam.Thanks from the core of my humble heart.

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  21. Wow.. that is truly Indian style ;) attracting more than one religion to a single place is a great place for sure.

    I like the minute details you have provided about this post. From your blog, I got to know so many places around Guwahati... Thanks for all the info :)

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  22. Hey Kavita Quite a tribute to highlight India's rich heritage! These places are added to my travel wish list! Thanks

    BIG OMi

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  23. What a tour. Almost felt that I was there with you at the temple. Hope the prayers will also be answered virtually. Hehehe.

    Really enjoyed this post a lot.

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  24. c dont scold yr daughter..i am with the kiddos...cheers dr...

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  25. Such an excellent photo feature.

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  26. Great photos, I'm so happy that I found your blog:) Greetins:)

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  27. Looks like you had a lovely trip. Sorry I haven't been
    around for a while. This week has been very busy and hectic. Hope you had a relaxing week-end.

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  28. Kavita-
    Someone would easily call it a lengthy post if he/she haven't got an eye for India's rich cultures and heritages. As much as I'm concerned, I thought it got over quite quickly. It really seems this temple is leftout, how can anything else be more beautiful when one brings so many religions together. Thank you for sharing Kavita, I'd certainly visit it in future.

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  29. I just found your blog ... and am hooked. It's like having a new book in my hands. :-)

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  30. Great post, so full of interesting information and the photos are awesome...makes you feel like you are there in person.

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  31. Thank you very much for this wonderful post. What a beautiful, incredible place you live in. Your photos are very interesting and amazing!

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  32. You have such a lovely blogspot.
    Enjoyed the read and nice photos.

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  33. Spectacular photos and explanations. I find it fascinating that Hindus and Buddists can come together at that same temple.

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  34. Dr thanks for yr motivation yar..god bless u and fmly...

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  35. Hi, Kavita, just popping back in to see what's new and to say have a wonderful week. I hope all is going well with you.

    Happy Wednesday!

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  36. Stopping back in to see how you are and to wish you a good week! I hope all is going well with you.
    (((((Hugs))))) from Leona

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  37. Very nice and wonderful post. All the pictures are excellent and you have described very beautifully. Keep writing.

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  38. wow amazing pictures :D
    seems there's a lot of place I haven't seen yet :) beautiful and informative post... I don't think it was that long :)

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  39. Thanks you for visiting my blog, Kavita. You have been missed!


    Aloha from Hawaii my Friend!


    Comfort Spiral

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  40. Nice reading! Hajo appears to be a beautiful confluence of religion & culture.

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