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Temples: history, architecture and distribution
Temple Giants - Elephants in the Culture of Kerala.

by Jane Schreibman

There are over a thousand temples in the state of Kerala, in south India, and nearly all of them have an annual elephant festival. Indeed, elephants are an integral part of temple life. "We cannot imagine a festival without elephants," says Jaypakash, a citizen of the state. "They are part and parcel of the package."

In all of Kerala there is only one temple where elephants are not allowed. That is the Trichambaram Krishna temple. The prohibition recalls an episode when the Lord Krishna was attacked by the elephant Kuvalayapidea. The animal was owned by the evil King Kamsa, the leader of the demons, who wanted to destroy Krishna. For this reason, devotees of the Trichambaram temple do not let elephants near their building.

Elsewhere, elephants are revered. The ultimate gift one may present to a temple is a male elephant. As economic conditions in Kerala improve, more and more people find themselves in the financial position to do this. The Guruvayoor Sri Krishna temple, one of the wealthiest in the state, now owns about fifty-five elephants. It has a sanctuary for them called Punnathoor Kotta. In 1997, Lakshmikutty, believed to be the oldest elephant in the world, died at the age of eighty-four. He had been donated to the temple in 1923.

In addition to temple-owned animals, the camp is home to about a thousand elephants owned by 314 families. These are used for logging or rented out to small temples for their festivals. Those who find their elephant to be a financial burden may also donate the animal to a temple, which is duty bound to care for it. Consequently, Kerala's temples are now supporting many more elephants than ever before.

Life with elephants

Visiting Punnathoor Kotta, I met a mahout (elephant handler or trainer) named C. Sathyapalan who works for the Sri Krishna temple. He told me that his father was an "elephant middleman," hiring the animals out for celebrations and festivals. "We always had elephants and their mahouts camping out in our backyard," said Sathyapalan. "That's how I became a mahout. I was always around elephants.

"I love my elephant like one of my own children. Together we make enough money to support three families. I work for the temple, which is funded by the state [run by a government trust], so my pay is regulated and I will get a pension."

Showing me the animals in the sanctuary, Sathyapalan explained that because the elephants were gifts to the temple, they were all male. "No one would ever consider giving a female as a gift to a temple," he declared, "because they don't have tusks. The beauty of an elephant is judged by the size of his tusks. His trunk and tail should touch the earth, and he should be pure black."

Elephants can be very loyal. Sathyapalan told me of one mahout who was a kind person but an alcoholic. When the mahout passed out from drink, his elephant would pick him up with its trunk and carry him home. Sathyapalan also recounted another story, about an elephant that arrived with its mahout in a new town. It would not obey the mahout and kept going to a certain house. No one knew why. Then an old villager remembered that its previous occupants had always given bananas to the elephants. The new owner began feeding his elephant bananas, and from then on it obeyed his commands.

Generally, an elephant is controlled by pushing or nudging on 64 of its 120 vulnerable points. Treats or rewards like bananas are also useful, as well as supplements to its feed. Elephants, of course, do not eat meat. Nevertheless, mahouts often add some ground meat to their feed in the belief that it will make their bones strong.

Until about twenty years ago, it was common for the children of mahouts to follow in the trade of their fathers. Usually the eldest son would apprentice with his father for about ten years. Now the offspring of mahouts are less interested in going into the profession. Many become drivers or enter another field altogether.

In India, there are thought to be only two woman mahouts. One is Nibha Namboodiri. She is a zoologist and is moving into the field of elephant welfare. She studied with the first female mahout of India, Parvati of Assam. Parvati learned her trade from her father. Namboodiri explained that mahouts may be classified into three types. Those who use love to control their elephants are called reghawan; those who use ingenuity to outsmart them, yukthiman; and those who control their animals with cruelty, balwan. It is common wisdom that if a mahout is cruel to his elephant, he may end up being killed, but if he is kind, it may one day save his life. There is the story of Subedar Ali, a mahout who was mauled by a tiger. His elephant carried him to safety, traveling several miles with the tiger in hot pursuit.

The great challenge in training elephants comes when they musth. This is a Hindi word that means intoxication, or euphoria. "My elephant is chained now," explained Sathyapalan. "He is starting to musth.

"Once a year we notice a discharge near the elephant's eyes. [Musth first manifests itself as an oily secretion from a gland located between the eyes and ears.] This means that it is mating time for the elephant, and he will become rogue, wild. He has to be chained, and no one can go near him. At this time he is very dangerous. We give him his food and water him but from a distance.

"See that elephant over there. He is very beautiful and very well trained. But every year he musths right at festival time, so he has never been in a festival."

Although man has trained elephants for centuries, not much is known about these musth periods. Male elephants first experience musth between the ages of fifteen and twenty. It can happen one to three times per year and can last from a few days to a few weeks. Musth periods tend to last longer as the animal gets older. For many years it was believed that male elephants only mate when they musth, but this is no longer thought to be entirely true. Rather, musth causes the males to be more aggressive, so they may be more successful in finding mates. This aggressive behavior can make caring for an elephant very dangerous.

Threatened behemoths

The most common use of domesticated elephants has been to transport people and goods. Despite their bulk, elephants are surprisingly agile when moving on mountainous terrain, and they are also good at walking through marshes or muddy land. Another point in their favor is that their huge size scares off other animals.

Many Keralans still own elephants and use them for transportation, mostly to move timber in the logging industry. In 1995, a proclamation ending indiscriminate logging in the northern states of India created a climate conducive to an illegal elephant trade. Elephant owners in the north, often no longer able to make a living and stuck with the cost of upkeep, may be anxious to get it off their hands. They are happy to sell, but elephants smuggled to the south have brought diseases with them.

Because many northern elephants are not brought into the state legally, they have not been subject to a proper veterinary check. They are also often not registered. But an elephant's death does not go unnoticed in Kerala. Recently two elephants owned by the same family died. From the autopsy reports, the veterinarians declared the cause of death to be poor treatment. Investigators discovered that these elephants were not registered, and it was assumed that they had been smuggled from the north. It may seem hard to believe that an animal as large as an elephant can be smuggled. The feat is achieved through the use of false papers and bribes.

In 1997 the Oriental Insurance Company began to offer insurance for elephants. The insurance covers payment in the event of an animal's untimely death, and related injury to a third party or the mahout. Payouts contribute to the burial or cremation of the elephant. The insurance company will pay toward its sedation if it turns wild during musth but will not compensate the owner if the animal is mistreated.

Elephants are also being lost due to poachers, who kill males for their ivory tusks. (Tusks are actually teeth, incisors, that just keep growing.) Some elephant owners shorten the tusks to deter the poachers. According to Iqbal Malid, an animal rights activist, 10 percent of the male elephant population is lost to them every year.

When I was in Kerala recently, I visited the Peryar Wildlife Sanctuary. This occupies about thirty square miles of jungle. On my ride around the sanctuary's lake I saw herds of elephants, but all were female. When I asked if there were any trips into the forests, I learned that entering the sanctuary was too dangerous because of bandits and poachers. A three-day trip could be organized, but it would have to be accompanied by two armed guards. Maneka Ghandi, of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, believes that there are just eight hundred breeding male elephants in all of India. Temple elephants do not mate.

Government initiatives

Recently, India's government began to sponsor a monthlong training program for mahouts and other elephant-care workers in the south. The program covers medical treatment of elephants (including traditional treatments), interaction with the public, care of the calves, and the general welfare of elephants. This government initiative continues a long tradition of ruling-class involvement in elephant care.

The great temples of Kerala were built by ancient monarchs using government funds. In return, the temples became a source of funds for the government. When ruling dynasties changed, the control of the temples changed too. Now, in Kerala, temples are run by boards of trustees, including government representatives. Currently, the communist-led government is proposing bills that will protect and control working conditions for the elephants.

The government has proposed registering elephants, licensing mahouts, and issuing fitness certificates for the animals. They are planning to limit the load an elephant can carry according to its weight and height. Calf labor is to be eliminated, and a retirement age of sixty- five is to be set. They also want to require that each female elephant be mated every twenty years and are even discussing maternity leave.

Also, an Elephant Study Center has been set up to observe the approximately six hundred captive elephants in Kerala. The center is functioning in conjunction with the College of Veterinary and Animal Sciences and operates under the umbrella of the Kerala Agricultural University. All aspects of the elephants' well-being are being researched. The center will work closely with owners, mahouts, veterinarians, and biologists in sharing the knowledge. The World Bank has donated funds for Kerala to set up the Elephant Museum, which will create awareness and information about the Asian elephant. It will include a library and initiate programs to promote awareness of the elephant among the young. It is that these steps will help protect the elephants and preserve their unique place in Keralan culture.n

Jane Schreibman is a freelance photojournalist based in New York.
<b>IT department plans taxing Devaswom deposits</b>

THRISSUR: Another controversy is in the making at the Guruvayur temple
with the Income Tax Department planning to levy tax on the Guruvayur
Devaswom's bank deposits. The decision comes as a sequel to the
department's move last January to inspect a gold crown offered by
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalitha to the temple which saw the
sparks flying.

Banks where the Devaswom has deposits have received communication from
the IT Department that they should furnish details of the deposits and
whether the tax has been deducted at source.

Responding to the move, the Devaswom has written to the banks that it
enjoys tax exemption, Devaswom Commissioner Mohandas told.
Following a move to levy tax by the department last June, the
Guruvayur Devaswom in August had written to the Income Tax
Commissioner, Kochi, explaining that it has been exempted from paying
tax since 1967. But the Devaswom has not received a reply to date, he

The Kerala High Court on a petition filed by the Cochin Devaswom Board
in 1987 had ordered that the Central Board of Direct Taxes has no
authority to cancel or alter any notification of the Government of
India. In this case, the Government had exempted institutions such as
Devaswoms from paying tax. In addition to this, the Income Tax Act,
1961, duly amended in 1979, has a clause exempting such institutions
from paying tax.

But there is no provision for a permanent exemption for the Guruvayur
Devaswom, says K.Anil Kumar, Devaswom Administrator. The Devaswom has
fixed deposits in 22 banks amounting to approximately Rs 250 crores.
In the event of paying tax, the Devaswom will have to dole out Rs 3-4
crores, he said.

We are viewing it seriously and the banks have been asked to reply
that the Devaswom enjoys exemption from paying tax. If required, we
shall take up the issue with the Central Government, K.Velayudhan
Nambiar, Chairman, Guruvayur Devaswom Managing Committee, said.
The audit of Guruvayur Devaswom is done by the Director of Local Fund
Audit and reports are duly submitted to the government by the audit

An earlier move by the Devaswom ad hoc committee to permit Income Tax
officials to examine an offering by the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister's a
gold crown weighing 349 gm and studded with 26 stones ? had sparked
off a controversy.


<i>( One can register or can use my login name - `dumbhindus' and
password - `new1234' )</i> <!--emo&:roll--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/ROTFL.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='ROTFL.gif' /><!--endemo-->

March 21, 2005

'IT Dept won't be allowed to interfere with Devaswom'

Monday March 21 2005 00:00 IST
GURUVAYUR: The Income Tax Department will not be allowed to interfere
with Guruvayur Devaswom anymore, Minister for Devaswom and Tourism
K.C.Venugopal said here on Sunday.

The government was sure about this and was taking necessary steps to
avoid further controversies, he said.

The letter received by the Guruvayur Devaswom administrator from the
Additional Commissioner of IT at Kochi stated that the IT office could
not explain the particular section of the amended Income Tax Act on
exemption of taxes. The administrator had been directed to seek
clarification from the Central Board of Direct Taxes, the minister said.

If the IT authorities could not interpret the Act, then how could they
issue directions to remit taxes, he asked.

When the Cochin Devaswom Board, Travancore Devaswom Board and Wakf
Board were not taxed, he was surprised by the move to slap taxes on
Guruvayur Devaswom, he said. There was no IT law exclusively for
Guruvayur Devaswom, he added.

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy had already taken up the matter with the
Union Finance Minister. As the Minister for Devaswom, he also had sent
a letter to the central ministry. The issue would be settled soon,
Venugopal added.

DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS: Projects for the comprehensive development of
Guruvayur were getting finalised, the minister said and added former
devaswom commissioner K.Mohandas had submitted the projects after
consultations with all concerned.

The same would be reviewed by the Principal Secretary, Devaswom, and
the new devaswom commissioner, G.Rajasekaharan, and placed before the
Chief Minister and the high-level delegation arriving at Guruvayur on

The Chief Minister would clear the projects, related to sewage
treatment, drainage, drinking water and low-cost accommodation and
other amenities, he said. These would be implemented in a time-bound

The high-level meeting would be held from 9 am on Wednesday and the
Chief Minister would declare major projects for the development of

Earlier, Venugopal addressed the new devaswom managing committee at
the devaswom conference hall and reviewed the projects chalked out by
the committee. The meeting was attended by devaswom commissioner
G.Rajasekharan, devaswom chairman K.V.Nambiar, members R.Rajasekharan,
A.M.Gopalan, Thrivikraman, Mallissery Parameswaran Namboothiripad,
P.N.P.Panicker and devaswom administrator K.Anil Kumar.

Email address guruvayurdevaswom@vsnl.com<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--><b>Evidence of two more temples at Mahabalipuram </b>
K Venkataramanan/ Chennai
The ongoing excavation work in the vicinity of the historic Shore Temple at Mamallapuram has led to the discovery of the remains of two hitherto unknown temples, a leading archaeologist said here.

The remains of both temples are found to the south of the Shore Temple, now standing on the coast at Mamallapuram, also known as Mahabalipuram, the ancient <b>port town famous for its rock sculptures and carvings dating back to the seven century AD</b>, Dr. Alok Tripathi, Deputy Superintending Archaeologist, Archeological Survey of India (ASI), told a press conference.

The discovery lends credence to extant historical accounts of travellers and scholars that <b>there were 'seven pagodas' at Mamallapuram</b>, although only the Shore Temple survived. There is as yet no evidence of the remaining temples or the famous Mahabalipuram port to which traders are believed to have brought their commodities from many parts of the world, including Arabia and China, more than 1,300 years ago.

Referring to one temple whose remains are available in bigger sizes, Dr Tripathi said: "<b>This temple has a square garbagriha (sanctum sanctorum) sized eight metres by eight metres, and a porch marking the entrance about 4.50 metres facing the sea."</b>

<b>"The east-facing temple was surrounded by an open courtyard and a prakara wall. The temple was probably 20 metres wide and 25 metres long," </b>he said. "We found chisels and a ring- shaped well," he added. The other temple's existence could be inferred from the remains of three rocks bearing marks of human activity. The superstructure is not available, but there is tell-tale evidence that there was a structural temple above them. <b>Further excavation in the vicinity revealed a Vaishnavite symbol</b>, Dr Tripathi said. "This one was possibly constructed on the sand itself, without much of a foundation.'

That these were remains of temples were confirmed by the discovery of "architectural fragments, mouldings, including parts of the shikara, and carved segments from the prakara and different parts of a temple," he said.

Besides these temples, the archaeologists have discovered a wall, about 70 metres long, that runs from a spot to the north of the Shore Temple on the shore up to some structural remains found below the sea. They were successful in identifying the link between some structures found off-shore with similar formations found under the sand. They form a single long wall, made of rock blocks with slits.
The excavators infer that the shoreline had significantly changed over the years, and the sea level itself could have fluctuated during the intervening centuries.

"We can conclude with certainty that some more structures existed near the Shore Temple and their remains lie under water, that there is evidence of human activity near the submerged rocks and that there were some more temples on shore and the remains of one such temple have been unearthed during the recent excavation," Dr Tripathi said.

Mamallapuram was a famous port town during the reign of the Pallava Empire (seventh and eighth century AD), and became particularly famous during the rule of King Mahendra Varman and his son King Narasimha Varman I (also known as Mamalla, for his prowess in wrestling). The town is named after the latter. The marine and on-shore excavation was conducted from February 17, 2005 by the ASI with the help of the Indian Navy. 
Here is something interesting. Archeological evidence for what we already knew. Neither Dravidian nor Aryan theories holds water. They are all underwater now.
<b>Lost city 'could rewrite history'</b>


Marine scientists say archaeological remains discovered 36 metres (120 feet) underwater in the <b>Gulf of Cambay off the western coast of India could be over 9,000 years old.</b>

The vast city - which is five miles long and two miles wide - is believed to predate the oldest known remains in the subcontinent by more than 5,000 years.


<b>'Earliest writing' found</b>
So-called 'plant-like' and 'trident-shaped' markings have been found on fragments of <b>pottery dating back 5500 years.</b>

They were found at a site called Harappa in the region where the great Harappan or Indus civilisation flourished four and a half thousand years ago.


Lost city found off Indian coast

One of the expedition team, Graham Hancock, said: "I have argued for many years that the world's flood myths deserve to be taken seriously, a view that most Western academics reject.

"But here in Mahabalipuram, we have proved the myths right and the academics wrong."

Scientists now want to explore the possibility that the city was submerged following the last Ice Age. If this proves correct, it would date the settlement at more than 5,000 years old.

/* (Sunder's comments: this is news from 2002, now, they think Poompuhar is 7,000+ years old. */
Vastu Shastra - An Established Science – part 1

Nature has potentially endowed man with the faculty of delving deep into its secrets to be able to ensure good health, happiness and soul progression. The cultivation is a never-ending process, though the momentum, depending upon several factors, keeps on changing. Vastu (vastu) is one such field of occult knowledge that was recognized by the Indian sages (rishis) as the vibratory force of Nature hidden in one’s residence and its surroundings. With the increasing curiosity and fascination of people, past few years have witnessed a mushrooming of popular lectures, books and web sites on this holistic discipline of architectural principles.

Our life is sensitive to not only the environment and the ambience around, but also to the structure and designs of the residence we live in and the type and topography of the plot of earth on which it is built. The rishis were well aware of this fact and had therefore linked the knowledge of architecture and interior and exterior design of residence with the science of vastu and had developed it as one of the sub-vedas entitled “Sthapatya Veda”. This vedic discipline of knowledge is collectively known as the “Vastu Shastra”. Many of the ancient temples stand as living monuments of the awe-inspiring majesty and inspiration emanating from these magnificent houses of worship built according to the Vastu Shastra.

A house provides shelter to someone or the other and hence it is given the importance of a sacred activity in the Indian Culture and is counted as a part of dharma. “Vrahad Vastumala” – a scripture of the Vastu Shatra, highlights the purpose of house construction as ––

Striputradikabho Ârañya, Jananam Dharmarthakama Puram |
Jantunamayanam Sukhasyadamidam, Shitambu Dharmaham ||

Meaning: House (Home) is that which offers the worldly joys of having a family, keeping pets, cattle, etc; which protects from cold, heat, storms and other external hazards, and which facilitates the proper performance of dharma (righteous duties), artha (attainment of wealth/material power and progress) and kama (fulfillment of desires).

The savants of Vastu Shastra affirm that a house constructed according to the norms and guidelines of this vedic science, helps allay the tensions and minimize the chances of familial conflicts and stresses arising out of economic problems, social pressures, sickness, etc. “Vishwakarma Prakash” states that –– “The divine power of Vastu is pervading everywhere on the earth, on which Lord Vastu is (subliminally) lying with his face towards North-East direction (Purvottaramukho Vastu Purusah Parikalpitah). A house built as per the vedic instructions of “Vastu Shastra” is blessed by the grace of Lord Vastu and thus lends enormous support in the progress and happiness of the people residing therein.

The worship of Lord Vastu, along with other manifestations of God, is an integral part of Deva Pujana in the major sacraments and religious ceremonies of the Hindu Dharma. This signifies the subliminal presence of divine powers and energies inherent in the five basic elements (the panca tatvas1) and hence in the visible and invisible forces of Nature and stresses the maintenance of a harmonious balance between them in all activities of life.

Vastu Shastra is believed to be the oldest science of Architecture. It is literally defined as –– the Shastra (a branch of Vedic Literature), which deals with the knowledge of the topography and the design of any construction to be built for residence, worship or any other purpose. The word “vastu” in Sanskrit language is derived from the verb “vasa”, which means living, residing, lodging, etc. The word ‘vastu’ is defined in “Amara Kosha” as ––

Graharacanavacchinnabhumeh |

Meaning: the plot of land suitable for the construction of a house for living is (the base of ) vastu. According to the “Halayudha Kosha” ––

Vastu Samkshepato Vakshye Grahadau Vighnanashanam |
Ishanakoñadarabhya Hyekashitipade Tyajet ||

Meaning: In short, vastukala (the art of vastu) is the art of house construction, which teaches perfect (science and techniques of) designs starting from the ishaña (east-north) angle so as to protect the house from all natural calamities and other adversities.

The scriptures further describe the ‘vastu purusa’ or ‘vastu devata’ as the presiding deity, the divine source of this hidden realm of Nature working in the properties of land and building-architecture. This vastu purusa, is said to be ‘enshrined’ in its global form, facing the ishaña (east-north) direction. This is why the construction of houses according to the Vastu Shastra should be started from the ishaña (east-north) angle.

The ancient science of Vastu stipulates that the basic purpose of building a house is that it should be auspicious and beneficial to the people living in it; it should bring them peace, happiness, success and progress. Therefore, according to Vastu Shastra, the topography and properties of the plot should be analyzed first to examine, apart from its location, solidity, vibration, etc of the land to determine whether or not it would be beneficent to the owner and his family. Then, before laying the foundation stone, the architectural design of the house should be drawn so as to maximize the positive effects (of Nature’s salutary vibrations or grace of vastu devata) from different directions. For example, what should be the direction, location, design, etc of the worship chamber, study room, living room, kitchen, bedroom, storeroom, entrance, water storage, toilet, bathrooms, etc? How many doors and windows should be there and in which directions? What should be the interior makeup and exterior surroundings of the house? The latter includes, the types and positions of trees near the house, etc.

Apart from their individual locations and designs with respect to the position and properties of the plot, all components or units inside and around the house should also be mutually compatible and with respect to the distance and directions of the nearby roads, highways etc. Similar constraints are considered for the construction of shops, offices, hospitals, etc. Wherever necessary, the different aspects of the house (or any other building) architecture are also reviewed in Vastu Shastra with respect to the zodiac sign of the owner.

It is amazing to note that the Vastu Shastra indeed gives detailed guidance in regard to architectural designs and layouts – keeping in view also the constraints of cost, area limitations, appearance of the building, etc. Most remarkably, it also incorporates all the factors like stability and durability, safety, optimal availability of fresh air, sunlight along with the climatic nature of a particular area, which, we in the modern world, regard as the only ‘scientific factors’ relevant for house construction.

The properties of the plot or the piece of land (called g—ahapiñda) –– on which a particular building is to be erected –– that are considered important for detailed vastu-analysis include the colour, brittleness and smell of the soil; the geometrical shape, size, slope and height of the plot from the sea-level; the types of trees, plants, mountains, spring, river, lake, pond, etc, if any, in the surrounding area and the relative position of these from the plot. For example, square shaped or rectangular plots are regarded most beneficial. Triangular, hexagonal, circular, elliptical plots or land pieces in the shape of the musical instruments like mridang or dholak, or in the zigzag shapes of cactus or like the face of a lion are considered maleficent in terms of the Vastu-effects. The downward slope of the land towards the East is regarded auspicious for prosperity. Lands with slopes inclined downwards in the West or South are given least preference. The land in the shape of the back of a tortoise (i.e. protruded in the center and descended on the boundaries is also considered good. The plots in the shape of the back of an elephant, with upward portions in the Southwest and Northwest directions are regarded lucky for the owner. Deserts, barren or swampy lands are supposed to hinder the house-owner’s progress; people are therefore advised not to choose such plots for construction of their houses.

Having selected the most suitable plot, the next important step in the construction of a house, according to the Vastu Shastra, is the selection of the positioning of different rooms according to the directions. Eight directions are regarded significant here – namely, the four principle directions: North (Uttara), South (Dakshina), East (Purva) and West (Pashcima) and the four diagonal directions in between, namely, East-North (Þshana), North-West (Vayavya), West-South (Nai—atya) and South-East (Âgneya).

While deciding the location and size of the rooms as per the guidelines of the Vastu Shastra, ideally, the architectural plan should also take into account the provision for leaving some place free for the concerned Lord(s) in a given direction. The Lords of eight directions are as follows: East- Indra (Vedic Sun has also been called Indra); South-east- Agni; South- Yama; South-west- Niruti; West- Varun; North- west- Vayu; North- Kuber; and North-east- Esana (God). The free space should be left as per the properties (e.g. the magnetic and other effects) of the gross manifestations of these powers. For example, as per the scriptures on Vastu, substantial open space should be left in the East direction; much lesser space in the North direction and very little in the West-South direction. Negligible or no space is to be left free or open in the other directions.

“Samarangana Sutradhar” by Bhoj, focuses on the scientific aspects of why directions are given so much importance in Vastu Shastra. It is described here that the invisible flow of infinite energy waves pervading the space together with the sublime currents of cosmic powers continuously affects every being, everything in the perceivable _expression of Nature. In particular, our minds, our residence (and hence our activities in it), are influenced by these with varying momentum. The principles of Vastu Shastra have been discovered so as to enable people gain maximum benefits from these energy currents and from sublime connection (of the inner mind) with the cosmic forces, and thus get support and help of these divine energies for living a happy, peaceful, progressive and enlightened life. If we follow the guidelines of Vastu Shastra and modify the get up or arrangement of our houses and living-style accordingly, to the best extent possible, we can experience these positive effects and lead a better and more purposeful life.

In the modern times, the architectural studies and practices across the globe have mostly been dominated by the trends of ‘world class’ or gorgeous looks, modern gadgets of comforts, maximum grabbing of surrounding land, etc. Not only the mega cities, the developing towns are also being flooded with concrete jungle of small and big multi-storeyed buildings. Growing populations and greed of real-estate market have further blocked the chances of consideration of any of the important factors of the ancient architectural sciences like that of Vastu. As a result, even if people are able to get plush houses in the well-developed localities, they get no peace of mind there; most families are living under acute stressful conditions.

Although some rising trends of general interest and awareness about Vastu are seen among people across the globe since the past few years, the ground reality hardly shows any improvement. On the contrary, many fake experts or those having half-cooked knowledge or stolen information of “Vastu Shastra” have made it a business to dupe the gullible masses, who want to spend their hard earned money in building a house which will bring them good fortune and ward off evil. The added negative effect is that in their blind craze for ‘Vastu’ benefits or prevention of ill-effects of a house not fitting into the scheme of so-called ‘laws’ of Vastu Shastra, many people have even demolished their houses or sold them off abruptly. Deep study of the teachings of Vastu Shastra has therefore become very important and relevant today.
Source: akhandjyoti
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->New Pallava temple complex discovered in Mahabalipuram

Tuesday, April 12, 2005 at 3:03:00 a.m.

In a major success, archaeologists in Mahabalipuram district have discovered remains of a 4th century Hindu temple built by the kings of the majestic
Pallava dynasty.

Archaeologists say the uncovering is the result of the December 26 tsunami that destroyed the beaches of various South Asian countries and claimed thousands of

The archaeologists inform that the newly discovered temple is a complex by itself.

"We carried out extensive diving offshore and there we found certain remains which suggested some human activity in the region.  To confirm and correlate
that, we carried out excavation on this land and during the process we found the remains of a temple, which is quite big, with an entrance porch, open
courtyard and a big wall.  Near the rocks also we are getting evidence that there was a structural temple built on the rock and we are finding its remains,"
said Alok Tripathi, Deputy Superintendent Archaeologist, Under Water Archaeology Wing.

Tripathi also said that all the figures discovered in the temple are over six feet tall.  The recovered objects include an elaborately carved, life-sized head
and shoulders of an elephant, a horse in flight, and a life-sized reclining lion.

The modern city of Mahabalipuram, also known as "Mamallapuram", has been a major tourist destination for decades now, some of the major attractions being
its beautiful beaches and pristine national monuments.

The city is known for its unparalleled architecture including rock-cut and structural temples built during the times of the Pallava king.  Archaeologists say
since the shore temple was built on bedrock, it survived thousands of years.

But after the tsunami a large section of the beach were destroyed, and over 100 people were killed.

http://www.newz.in/large35.asp?catid=1&number=1803 <!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
<b>Minneapolis to get Rs. 38 cr Hindu temple</b><!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Fast coming up on 40 pristine acres in Maple Grove area, the Vishnu temple when finally completed, most likely in 2006, would become one of the most magnificent and imposing Hindu structures in the United States.

Being constructed by the Hindu Society of Minnesota, the first phase of the temple is expected to be inaugurated in October this year around Diwali.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
Pictures of Sharda Mandir, PoK
<!--QuoteBegin-k.ram+May 11 2005, 12:52 PM-->QUOTE(k.ram @ May 11 2005, 12:52 PM)<!--QuoteEBegin--> Pictures of Sharda Mandir, PoK <!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
For thousands of years this temple has been the seat of prime Hindu worship.

Every Hindu prays to this temple even now when they do simple prayer.
<b>Ancient Vietnamese Vedic Diety Gallery</b>
Just came back last week from a vacation to Bharata. Visited a lot of temples (50 to be exact) in Kerala and TN. Visited Guruvayoor and Kaladi for the first time. Kaladi was just great. More later.
sridhar k,
hope to see lot of pictures also.
11th century temple in state of neglect

Articl in Hindu about a 11th century temple in the style of the Thousand Pillar and Ramappa temples- disctinctly a Kaktiya style.

<img src='http://www.hindu.com/lf/2005/05/25/images/2005052501520201.jpg' border='0' alt='user posted image' />

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->11th century temple in state of neglect

J.B.S. Umanadh

3 distinctive Sikharas of the temple damaged; sarpanch wants it as tourist spot 

TIME TO DEVELOP IT INTO TOURIST SPOT: The Trikutaalaya temple of Kalpagur. near Sangareddy.

Sangareddy: From almost 1,000 years, every day, <b>the rays of the sun pass through the Nandeeswara, Ranga and Artha mantapas to land at the feet of Anantapadmanabha Swami, one of the three main deities at the Trikutaalaya of Kalpagur near Sangareddy, 61 km from Hyderabad. The rays illuminate the sanctum sanctorum that house the Kasi Visweswara, Venugopala and the Anantapadmanabha Swami in bright colours.</b>

<b>Legend has it that in the 11th century the temple was built by the Kakatiya kings and Vontimitta Obulayya, a sculptor with only one hand, who carved the stones. The mantapas are reminiscent of the thousand-pillar temple in Warangal and also the Ramappa temple, which were built much later than the Kalpagur temple. </b>

Steeped in history

<b>Madapathi</b> Chandraswamy, hereditary priest of the temple, said that people in this region believe that this is one among the one and half crore lingas that Lord Rama established during his exile. Records show that Kalpagur has been the capital of the founder of the Reddy dynasty, Raminedu.

The temple itself was built on a pedestal shaped as a star. The huge blocks of stone were arranged without any plaster or adhesive joining them.

Inside, the Trikutalaya is built with black basalt rock. But, years of neglect has damaged the three distinctive Sikharas of the temple.

The villagers used mortar to repair them, which gives a modern look to the 11th century temple.

The Sarpanch of Kalpagur, Perka Lakshmi, wants the Government to develop the temple as a tourist spot. Even though Kalpagur has been recognised as a tourist destination nothing has been done to promote this temple.

The temple is run only with the help of donors and volunteers in the village.

The best time to visit this temple is Sivaratri, Vysakha Sudha Padyami, Vidiya and Akshaya Tritiya.

Let me add my little bit about temples in Goa for travellers:

You can go around in a day and visit Mangeshi, Mallikarjun, Shantadurga, Nageshi (main Goan temples). Within a temple complex: expansive open temple tank, tall deep stambh, properties often 2-300 meters away from each other for various dieties. Nice cobbled paths with coconut trees on sides between properties. Portuguese influence can be seen in the whitewashed temple properties, as well as Portuguese coins nailed to the horizontal strip that just precedes the door to the main temple chamber, as well as the presence of chandeliers ala church. But the temples are lovely, and if you sit on the cool marble floor of Mangeshi, you don't feel like getting up. <!--emo&Smile--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/smile.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='smile.gif' /><!--endemo-->

Unfortunately i didnt even take a single photo. They never allowed me to shoot even a single photo in Kerala temples thought i had a camera. For some strange reason, i forgot my camera for the TN tour. Will list the temples that i visited later.
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--><b>Shared heritage: Advani visits ancient temple</b> 
Sanjay Singh/ Katasraj/Lahore
Pak seeks help for restoration--- When a fresh chapter is being written in the history of Indo-Pak ties, authorities here took an unprecedented step to invite Leader of Opposition and propounder of Hindutva Lal Krishna Advani to inaugurate the renovation and restoration work of an ancient pilgrim site, Katasraj, considered as sacred as Pushkar.
The Pakistan archeological department urged the Indian Government to send its own experts to help the Pakistani team restore not just the site, but also conduct a survey of other Hindu centres in the area.

Following their request and the Leader of Opposition's subsequent talks with external affairs minister Natwar Singh, New Delhi has decided to send two experts from ASI to Pakistan. The winds of peace that have started blowing in the subcontinent recently saw the chairman of Pakistan Muslim League Chaudhary Sujat Hussain and the BJP president together climbing the rugged incline leading to the Hindu shrine, which lies on the salt range of Chakwal district.

<b>The seven-temple site, four of which were destroyed later, is mythologically related to Mahabharata. The Pandavas had apparently taken shelter here during their exile.</b>

The Pakistan Government ferried Mr Advani to the site in a state-owned helicopter with foolproof security and he even unveiled a plaque at the site. Almost the entire leadership of the Punjab Government was present there.Pakistan Muslim League senator Mushaid Hussain, who was also the information minister in the Nawaz Sharif Government, said, "We are aware that Mr Advani has a certain image.

But we have to look beyond the bitter memories of the past to secure a better future."

The passion with which director of archaeology AM Jaan urged the BJP leader to lend a helping hand to restore Katasraj and other temples in the adjoining
areas, including one at Malot, points to the change in the mindset of the Pakistani dispensation.

The Pakistani authorities are keen to turn this into a major Hindu pilgrimage site. This could well be the most significant people-to-people CBM as in the two

neighbouring countries, religion and politics often get entwined. This is the first time since the partition that an Indian leader has been invited to visit a Hindu pilgrimage site and asked to work jointly for its restoration.

The Punjab Government has already allocated Rs two crore for the purpose. Officials said <b>the pilgrims from across the border used to come till 1992, but following the demolition of the Babri Masjid and its fallout in Pakistan, the flow of pilgrim stopped. A portion of Katasraj was destroyed in December 1992.</b>

A marble plate at the site reads: "The place has been mentioned in Mahabharat written in 300 BC. According to Takrik-e-Hind, God Shiva wept so profusely after the death of his wife Sati that two ponds - one in Pushkar and another in Katasraj - came into being. It also explained how the Pandavas came to stay at this place and the famous dialogue Yudhistir had with Yaksha took place at the same pond. Ruins of living quarters are dedicated to the Pandavas. It also says how Al Baruni was impressed by Sanskrit on his visit to this place and subsequently went to Nalanda for further studies. An understanding of Sanskrit helped him write the Kitab-ul-Hind.

<b>Legend is that the Pandavas spent 12 of the 14 years at Katasraj.</b> While a good number of Indians will benefit from the re-discovery of this site, Pakistan will gain in goodwill and tourism.
Sharda Mandir, POK


Pictures of Sharda Peeth

From: yyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy
Date: Wed May 4, 2005 6:53 am

Dear All Namaskaar ,

Sometime back I came across a person through net and we exchanged
emails regarding J&K problem. As he was from POK so I requested him to
get some pics of Sharda Peeth for me from POK. As he was in Canada so
he promised me to get some pics as soon as he reaches his POK.
Now he has emailed me about his visit to POK (text is Below ), so
please be ready to share recent Pics of our Sharda Peeth.

Warm Regards,

Hi yyyyyyyyyyy

When I wrote to you 3-4 weeks ago, immediately after I set off from UK
to Pakistan and then Azad Kashmir. It was a quick whistle-stop trip of
2 weeks to see some relatives and take photos. Since I had made a
promise to you, I had to photograph Sharda even it was just plain
land; I had to keep my promise.

Although I had heard of Sharda, I had no idea where it was. Enquiries
revealed that it was in Muzaffarabd distt. but some 140km from
Muzaffarabad city. Along with some friends, I travelled to
Muzaffarabad and then onto Atthmuqam which is about 70km away. We
stayed there overnight and then hired a jeep to Sharda travelling
another 70 km on a partially metalled road.This part of the journey
was the most interesting. We travelled along the Neelum Valley and
along Neelum river which acts as the LOC. We could see AK settlements
and Pak army on this side and JK houses and Indian army across the
river. Until the recent cease-fire, visitors were not allowed in this
area as there was constant firing and shelling. Now it was quiet and
peaceful. Although the people are not allowed to cross the river/LOC
they can now live in peace and communicate with each other using
sign-language and shouting.

Anyway, we arrived in Sharda to be told that the Sharda temple was
inside Pak army barracks and permission had to be obtained to see it.
Apparently, the Pak army moved there a long time ago, taking over the
temple complex and the surrounding area for their barracks.The upside
of this was that the remains of the temple were being maintained and
protected by Pak army. Anyway, we got permission to see the temple but
were not allowed to take photographs due to some law (I think it was
more to do with the current political climate etc). Anyway, we talked
to the commanding officer and he gave us permission for photography.
As you can imagine, my camera did not stop clicking for a good 10
minutes. The temple was very much in ruin but some of the walls,
stairs and court yard had been saved. I did not know too much history
about the place so was unable to relate places. Facing Sharda village
was a snow-capped mountain range called Narda which was housed a
shrine visited by people in days gone by. Also below the temple was
the area which was once the university. The university dating back
2-3000 years had been a seat of learning during Budhist, Hindu and
Muslim era. There is not much of it left now.I heard that the AK govt
announced that Pandits would be allowed to visit Sharda sometime in
the future. I also heard on the grapevine that a few Pandit folks had
already submitted applications to travel to AK on the peace bus and
visit Sharda.

I will try to sort out the photos and put them on the web this weekend
for you to see.
Regards. (


I have uploaded these  pictures in my yahoo folder, just click the
link and transport yourself to the era where Samskrit ruled
Pravarapurva (the current day Srinagar) and when the entire culture
was destroyed by the suvar ke bachche. Peace, Tranquility, Creativity
and Knowledge deserted Kashmir with the destruction of this revered
seat of knowledge by the stupid sultan.


<img src='http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v130/indiaforum/mabad_hend.jpg' border='0' alt='user posted image' />

Hindu Temple (Bandar abbas) -In Bandar-e Abbas, Iran
The Hindu Temple in Bandar Abbas, Iran, built during the Qajar era for Indian soldiers serving in the British Army during the British occupation. It is no longer used as a place of worship
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Can we save Puri Jagannatha's lands? (Hindu Jagran Forum)

Letter to Shri Naveen Patnaik, Chief Minister of Orissa

Subject: Nationalization responsible for Financial crunch at Jagannath Temple -- Govt. Control of Shrines is anti-Hindu, anti-secular and amounts to suppression of  Hindus right of religious freedom.

Hon'ble Chief Minister Patnaik,

We are deeply dismayed to learn that , Orissa's famous Jagannath Temple is being compelled to sell off all plots of land it owns in this and other states to overcome its severe financial crunch (attachment A). Though against the basic principle of secularism – separation of state and religion  - the Puri temple was nationalized and brought under government control in 1960 with the premise
and promise of good management. But in reality Govt. control of the temple and its estates has led to its financial ruins, stagnation and the present impasse. We firmly believe that if the management is not handed over to a Board representing the Hindu community , it is not difficult to surmise the temple closing in 30 to 50 years, because the estimated 100 crores of rupees in sale  may be
too optimistic and the real buying power would sharply decline over decades. Irrespective of the veracity of the report, the temple does not belong in the government domain and must be denationalized and restored to the Hindu community governance - only they as owners could decide on the future of
lands. The denial and systematic suppression of the majority  community's fundamental right  i.e.,  "freedom of religion" in any shape of form is completely unacceptable.

At this critical juncture of the history of the Hindu India, we must be candid in pointing out that the approach of selling property can neither be a durable nor a long term solution -- and it won't guarantee the survival of the temple for the next thousand years. For the temple, the one hundred crores by land sale even if realized,  will become insignificant for for its retention and sustenance over time.

The Squatters law was overridden by the Parliament Act of  1991, requiring the retention of religious places, as they existed on August 15, 1947. Further, the squatters law that a squatter becomes the owner of the land after 12 years could not apply to temples properties for such properties are neither private nor government properties. They are essentially community and religious properties
therefore, without the reach of the law in question. Only the Hindu samaj has the authority to take any decisions regarding use of these lands in the future.

The doctrine of nationalization and state control of the places of religious worship and their estates cuts at the very roots of the fundamental principles of secularism which dictates the separation of state and religion. Assigning such jurisdiction to an autonomous Hindu community Board would be the most appropriate instrument for guidance and  governance  of shrines and temples to satisfy public and government concerns, if any, on management. This is the
age old practice of operation  without  governmental dictates and is followed by other religious communities.

Our contention encompasses the legal and philosophical commitment of the secular Indian State -
that the management and administration of the religious institutions, their estates and places of worship, must reside in the hands of the representative bodies of the believers.  For instance: How would Sikhs (Golden temple), Muslims (Jama Masjid, Ajmer Sharif) or Christians react to Govt. control of their places of worship?  Frankly this whole issue could ignite the communal volcano
setting the entire country on fire particularly the state of its origin. 

Before embarking upon this highly controversial and turbulent path the state must ponder upon the following:-  What authority, background and special training the government operatives posses for controlling every aspect of the cultural centers of Hindus when the concept of secularism – neutrality towards religions - is enshrined in the Indian constitution?  Why not allow an autonomous
Hindu board to govern temples under the guidance of religious leaders, just as it is permissible in the case of other religions?  The Waqf Board of Muslims and the management of Christian churches and religious institutions have vast funds, properties and endowments, in addition to the immense flow of foreign funds - yet their independence and autonomy is left intact.  It is completely unethical, illegal and unconstitutional on the part of the government to willy nilly discriminate
against Hindu temples and their estates while other religions and their places of worship enjoy complete freedom from government control and interference.

Historically the Jagannath temple was supported by the king of Puri.  Sir, you as the Chief Minister, occupying a similar position, should support formation of an autonomous Hindu Board to provide  community guidance and efficient governance for a vibrant religious institution like this.  Only conducting pujas, rituals and annual rath yatras that a secular govt. could support are a
caricature of Hinduism and only a  part of the vast range of activities for such an important shrine.

Once under Hindu community control, its Board could raise funds by donations in India and abroad, better managing its endowments, etc. thus ensuring the temple to continue into perpetuity. Under a well structured, visionary and energetic Board, Puri could  be developed as a significant cultural center and a center of learning like the ancient Nalanda University. There are other community services like  widespread education and health services similar to the missionaries work,  that they could provide.

The grandeur of Hinduism - its Vedas, Upanishads, its glorious ancient culture, spirituality and values that the community would like to project and propagate can only be done under a devoted Hindu religious governance. This is essential for national cohesion and integration, because Hinduism is the single most important unifying  factor in India's body politic. In an open and democratic
society, the suppression of majority's "fundamental  right of freedom of religion" is a gross misuse of laws.

We urge that the representatives of shrines, temples, Hindu community and religious leaders from Hindu Dharma Acharya Sabha, etc. be motivated to convene an assembly where they could be asked to
take charge of clearly defining the new legal framework for the community governance of the Jagannath temple and other religious places in the state -- in accordance with religious needs and the wishes of devotees, donors, Acharyas and the community,  who have supported these institutions 
since ancient times. Such an  approach among other things could make the Board  completely  autonomous and thereby responsible for the entire administration including planning, executing,  auditing, guiding, investigating and taking corrective steps on any allegations and or complaints  as and when

May we also suggest that pending legislative action for denationalization, Hindu organizations – Hindu Dharma Acharya Sabha, etc.  -  be asked to appoint an ad hoc  representative Council to partner with the  "endowments"  department for familiarizing with and overseeing Jagannath temple administration, as a preliminary step towards the transfer of temples and endowments in the state to a
Hindu Religious Endowment Board.  Such an initiative is likely to assure the community's participation and smooth transition. 

Hon'ble Chief Minister, may we request that for upholding secularism and the constitution and for a sound long term  sustenance and development of the Jagannath temple,  you exercise your leadership in motivating the Hindu community to develop necessary organizational infrastructure in order
to assume the charge of managing the Hindu shrines, temples and their estates in a legal, democratic and transparent manner. In the meantime the proposed sale of some 70,000 acres of temple endowment lands must be stopped forthwith. On the other hand, violation of majority's  freedom for managing its places of religious worship and continuing intrusion and imposition of  governmental
dictates in an otherwise autonomous domain, will justify the charge against the state of being anti- Hindu and anti-national by shackling Hinduism - a faith that is the single most important unifying  factor in India's body politic.

With best wishes and looking forward to your response.

Dr. Jagan Kaul                                       
May 26, 2005  
Krishan Bhatnagar 
Hindu Jagran Forum (Maryland,  USA)
email: krishan.kb@verizon.net<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
Can some Delhi based folks verify this report in Pioneer, 25 June 2005?

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Ravana Janmabhumi

The demon king was born here. Phoolan Devi was a regular visitor and her husband an ardent devotee. Saurabh Tankha discovers adesolate Shiv mandir at Visrakh village, off NH 24, that was constructedby the mythological villain's father

Over the last couple of years, after having written about most heritage sites (both protected by the Archeological Survey of India and lots many which the ASI happily chooses to turn a blind eye to) in the national capital, I thought of discovering a new one. "But most Delhi monuments have been covered, let's unearth something new, somewhere else," I thought to myself. Thus began my hunt and research: Talks with conservation architects, heritologists, ASI officials and Intach staffers.

But most of the suggestions that arrived from the other side were conventional heritage spots. "Nothing great. No, no... the place is no great shakes and can't be termed as a hidden treasure," I was about to hang up on a source in Intach to find our office peon, Pandeyji smiling at me. "Aapko koi aisi jagah jaana hai jahan ka kisi ko pata na ho? he asked me. "Of course, dear friend," I told him. "To samjho aapka kaam ho gaya," he replied. And believe me Pandeyji did tell me of a place that is truly priceless and most certainly a hidden khazana.

So, off we were to a village called Visrakh where according to Hindu mythology, the 10-headed demon king Ravana was born. However, there is no concrete proof of the fact.

A Brahmin by birth, Ravana was the son of Vishwashrawa and Kaikasi. History has it that Visrakh village on the banks of river Hindon saw the birth of Ravana, where his father had constructed a Shiva temple, remains of which can still be seen scattered in the four-acre complex.

When the villagers were renovating the temple, bandit queen Phoolan Devi happened to have arrived to pay respect to the lord. "She took charge of constructing the boundary wall of the complex," informs temple mahant, Ramdas. Phoolan's husband Umaid Singh is a regular visitor to the temple even now. So are a number of bureaucrats, businessmen and politicians like former Prime Minister Chandrashekhar, who comes here at least once a year.

<b>Visrakh, now a part of Greater Noida in Gautam Buddh Nagar district, can be best reached from National Highway 24.</b> But the going is not easy. Once you get off NH 24, keep asking on the way, else you'll get lost. Take a left towards Lal Kuan after you cross Hindon river on NH 24 and then a right from the Samtel factory, which is around two km from the Lal Kuan crossing.

The village is around five to six km from here. Drive cautiously through the villages on the way as there are a number of speed-breakers on the narrow road (minus the mandatory white stripes of course) and children too tend to run across the road without warning. So can the cattle and the cyclewallahs. The best part of the drive is that the roads are well laid, except for a few odd bumps.

The village, comprising of over 100 houses, is a sleepy abode of farmers who tend to live life king-size. They are least bothered about a city-bred paying a visit to their gaon and take their own sweet time to guide you. "Pehle bayein (left) aur phir seedha (straight)," was how a villager guided us, after having thought for a good couple of minutes.

A narrow, winding lane with lush green farms on both sides takes you to the Shiv temple. <b>It is believed that Vishwashrawa had installed the eight-armed Shivlinga, a rare sight, in the temple. Ravana, like his father, was said to be a great devotee of Lord Shiva. Even though the villagers have dug more than 30 feet, many times, they haven't been able to find the roots of Shiva's eight arms.</b> During this excavation, however, they found another rare item, a 24-mouthed conch. But the villagers were conned by a famous tantrik, who took it away from them. "We tried really hard but never got it back," adds Ramdas.

Recently, while boring the ground to instal a water pump, a number of ancient pieces of stone artifacts and bricks were unearthed. These include a broken face of an elephant, a few door pieces and a number of Khajuraho-like art forms. Some of these pieces have been picked up and taken for verification by the ASI while a few others have been taken away by the villagers.

The temple, apparently, also has a tunnel that reaches a nearby ancient well but is inaccessible now. It is also believed that people who ask Lord Shiva for anything at this temple are blessed with it. "But for that one has to pay obeisance to the lord for 40 Mondays," says Ramdas. At present, the temple complex is being renovated. A dharamshala is being constructed for travellers by the Meerut Mandal.

However, the village mourns when the country celebrates Dusshera and the victory of good over evil. "How can we celebrate when one of us was killed on that day?" asks Shankarlal, a septuagenarian villager. He contests the fact that Ravana was an evil and selfish soul. "Anyone, you and me, can turn evil or selfish any day so why blame him. Ravana was more qualified than Rama in all respects. His 10 heads signify that he had knowledge spanning all the 10 directions. He was an accomplished scholar, a veena player and is supposed to have composed the Shiva tandavastotra. So, where is the comparison?" he adds.

But who can verify the fact that the temple was built by Ravana's father, that the demon king was born here and how did he reach Lanka to become one of the most powerful kings during that time? "Some of these facts have been mentioned in Ravana Samhita as also in an ancient scripture that is with a Marwari businessman in Meerut. He had come to this temple after reading it in the book and had shown me the pages which mentioned these facts," puts in Ramdas.

As we left the complex, I wondered if all this was true. Was the demon king actually the next-door neighbour of the denizens of the Capital?


Or this is a hoax like the movie Rudraksh?

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