Ambaji Temple, Gujarat
Ambaji is in Danta Taluka of Banaskantha district, near the Gujarat-Rajasthan border.Ambaji is an important temple town with millions of devotees visiting the Ambaji temple every year. It is one of the 51 Shaktipeeths. The full moon of Bhadrapad is one of the four most important festival days of the year, when farmers and agriculturists come to Ambaji. Ambaji Temple in gujarat , is the principal shrine of a goddess who has been worshiped since the pre-Vedic period. She is often referred to as Arasuri Amba, named for the location of the temple in the Arasur hills, near the source of the Saraswati river at the south-western end of the Aravali mountain range.
The Ambaji Temple is the principal shrine of the goddess in Gujarat and its origins are still unknown. The original seat of Ambaji mata is on gabbar hilltop in the town. The Temple of Ambaji is recognized as one of the original Shakti Pithas (religious texts) where, according to the ancient Scriptures, the heart of the goddess Ambaji fell to earth when her body was dismembered. A triangular Vishwa Yantra, inscribed with figures and the syllable ‘Shree’ in the centre, represents the deity. There is no idol, which in fact testifies the temple’s antiquity. Idol worship became popular much later.
Pilgrims from all regions in Gujarat visit Ambaji chanting their way ‘Bol mari Ambe, jai jai Ambe.’ The ll-km-long Trishulia Ghat route towards Ambaji town is decorated with festoons, flags and colorful lights. On the way, all the roads leading to Ambaji from different regions are found with walking pilgrims, singing and dancing with chants of Amba mata. On the way are refreshment stalls and rest houses set up by donators.
A large number of devotees throng the Ambaji Temple during Purnima fairs held, on the full moon day, in the months of Kartik, Chaitra and Bhadrapad. A short distance from Ambaji, there is a hill named Gabbar Hill. People believe that the Goddess revealed herself on the hill and left the imprints of Her feet. She is even considered the prime Goddess of the region. This has made the place a pilgrim for the Hindus in the state and outside.
Being one of the oldest and most revered temples of ancient India, there are many enthralling legends attached to this temple. Each story intensifies the brilliance of the goddess and the faith of a devotee.
In Ramayana period ,Lord Rama and Laxman came to the hermitage of the sage Shringi in the south of the forest of Mount Arbud or Abu, in search of Sita after Ravana abducted her. Shringi advised them to worship goddess Amba at Gabbar. The goddess presented them an arrow, called Ajaya, with which Lord Rama finally killed Ravana.
In Mahabharata period ,the Pandavas worshipped goddess Ambaji during their exile. She gave Bhimsen a garland called ajaymala which would ensure victory in battles. She gave Arjun divine costumes for disguise as Brihannal in their last year of exile while hiding at the court of Virata. As per another legend , Rukmini, the daughter of King Bhishmak of Vidarbha, worshipped goddess Ambaji here to make Lord Krishna her husband.
Architecture of Temple
The architecture of ambaji temple is very artistic and wonderful, displaying Indian Culture and Traditions. A glorious Pot or Kalash shines at 103 feet height on the top of the temple, weighing more than 3 three tones as a whole. It is made from a whole special marble, brought out from the mines of Arasur (Parvat) Hill and has been plated with pure gold, attached with The Holy Flag of Mata Ambaji and Trishul. The Main Temple of Ambaji is smaller with a huge Mandap and a Holy Gokh of Mataji in the Garbh – Gruh, in front of which is a huge Chachar the ritual worships of Ambaji is usually performed in Chachar Chowk. The newly constructed Main Temple Nij Mandir is worth seeing all time for its holy significance in Shaki Sampraday – the worship of the supreme power of cosmic energy and is also for its wonderful carvings on artistic renovation displaying an Indian traditional culture.
In the total area of about 20 meters X 9.50 meters as a whole in place of the above shown old Havan Shala, new Havan Shala is developed and below this Havan Shala in the Chachar Chowk. And there is also the main market road of city of Ambaji.The Great Miracle of this Holy Place is that there is no idol or picture in the Nij Mandir the Temple of Shri Arasuri Mata Ambaji, but a simple cave like Gokh in the inner wall, in which a Gold Plated Holy Shakti Visa Shree Yantra, having kurma back convex shape and 51 Bijletters therein, connected with that of the original Yantras of Nepal and Ujjain Shakti Piths,is also ritually installed in such a way it can be visible for devotion, but never photographed in past nor can be so done in future.The worship of this Visa Shree Yantra is done only after tying a bandage on the eyes.
After the foundation of Shri Arasuri Ambaji Mata Devasthan Trust of Ambaji, (SAAMDT) in the year 1963, as per the final order of the court in 1960 , as against the former rulers of Danta State, this temple trust is being completely controlled and administered by The District Collector of Banaskantha and the full time administration is being handled by a Deputy Collector as the administrator of the trust, duly appointed by the Government of Gujarat, since its foundation and there is a special Trust Committee to supervise its administration, which includes 20 distinguished members from the different sectors and fields of Gujarat. Ambaji Development Committee was founded in 1972 and it had recommended to renovate the total Ambaji temple complex. Therefore in the year 1975, on the basis of the various recommendations of Ambaji development Committee, the temple trust has initiated the long lasting giant works of total renovation of the temple complex, which has been scheduled to be concluded in three parts, phases and period of time. In the beginning during the period of 1975 to 1988, in the first phase of this project, Shri Arasuri Ambaji Mata Devasthan Trust has constructed and renovated in the inner parts of the Main Temple Nij Mandir, replacing the old structures, floors, domes and ceilings totally with the beautiful piece of marble and wonderful pieces of carvings, under the guidance of the well known architect Shri. Prabha Shanker Sompura, the Padma Shree Award Winner Dignitary and all this renovation of Nij Mandir has been done as per the Shashtras and religious rituals, keeping the Old Gokh and Visa Chakra intact as it was in past. From the year 1986 to 1989, the top of the main temple, at the height of 103 feet, has been replaced with a highly Suwarn Kalash Shikhar a decorative single piece marble Top coated with Gold, weighing at about 3 ton, donated by one of the mine owners, attached with the holy Trishul and Big Flag prepared under the auspice of a donor from Bombay. It is coated with gold plates, donated by one donor from Nairobi, in a beautiful traditional conical shape. On the eve of Kalash Vidhi on the top of the temple, a worship of Ma Ambaji was carried out in 30 Yagna Kunda, in a quite Vedic rituals and holy traditions with the help of more than 145 Brahmins, invited from all over India, Nepal & Kashmir. The Main Temple of Ambaji with a big Mandap has a Holy Gokh of Mataji in the Garbhgruh, in front of huge Chachar Chowk carpeted with beautiful marbles. At present, the outer part of the temple and its surroundings, mainly the Court Yard, Five Big Gateways, idols on the outer walls of the temple, together with Chachar Chowk and Marble Toran are completed.The lower parts from the Golden Top (Suvarn Shikhar) of Nij Mandir which are known as Ambalsaro having diameter about 13 feet is plated with Gold at the cost of Rs.27.21 lakhs, in order to glorify the Nij Mandir and attached Nrutya Mandap. Another 288 Suvarna Kalash are also fitted on the Nrutya Mandap in addition to 56 existing Kalash on Shikhar & allied parts. It is decided that every inch of this place is going to be replaced with marbles in a marvelous artistic design. Shri Arasuri Ambaji Mata Devasthan Trust has planed to construct a Shakti Dwar in Gopuram style, 71 feet long and 18 feet broad, parallel to state highway in centre at the western end of the flyover bridge, containing total five gates in a whole structure, at the estimated costs of Rs.1,99,31,200/- using Bansi Pahanpur Stone, attached with 10 feet high compound wall at its all ends.
Festivals and Fairs celebrated at Temple
Some of festivals celebrated in temple are Navratras , Poshsud Punam ( Birthday of goddess Ambaji ) and Bhadarvi poonam. During Bhadarvi Poonam (in September), a big Religious Fair is organized at Ambaji by Shri. Arasuri Ambaji Mata Devasthan Trust, with the help of the whole District Administration. More than 17 to 20 lakhs of pedesterian pilgrims and tourists attend this Bhadarvi Fair of Ambaji every year. Janmasthami, Dashera and Rathyatra are also celebrated in Ambaji. Adivasi Mela is also an unique traditional Fair of the aboriginal people, living in vicinity of Ambaji.
Shakradaya Stuti, the gods’ prayer of thanks, is an important part of Saptashati,700 verses praising the deeds of the goddess Ambaji, recited with reverence at the Ambaji Fair.
Timings of Temple
Ambaji temple is open all days of the week, 7:15 -11:30 am, 12:00 – 4:15pm, 6:30 – 9:00 pm.
Places of Interest
Gabbar – Gabbar (or Gabbargadh), a small hillock about four km to the west of Ambaji village, is believed to have been the original seat of the goddess, the site of Krishna’s tonsorial ceremony (ritual head-shaving), and the abode of the divine Mahishasur-Mardini. The hill is very steep and difficult to climb. There are 300 stone steps at the foot of the hill after which the pilgrims have to climb through a narrow dangerous track. On the flat top of the hill there is a small niche facing the temple of Ambaji, in which a well-protected lamp is kept constantly burning, and can be seen from the main Ambaji temple at night. There are footprints of the Goddess under a pipal tree, which are worshipped. As per legend In Dwapar yuga, Nandrai and his wife Yashoda visited Gabbar for Lord Krishna’s tonsorial ceremony (ritual head-shaving). Sati’s heart is believed to have fallen on Arasur hill where the Gabbar Temple of Ambaji is today .
- Kumbheshawar Mahadev Temple – is another prominent place of religious importance that one would hardly like to miss. It is known for its architectural brilliance with the sacred idol of Ling of Ashutosh gracing devotees. The temple is also known for its unique construction based upon the principles of Vastu Shastra. Jaladhari and Shivlinga are two other idols that are made of marble.
- Someshwar Mandir – is one of the ancient temples dedicated to Lord Shiva and is located in Jetwas village of Danta Taluk, near to the town of Ambaji. The temple’s presence on the banks of a serene water spring adds more attraction to the entire area. Chamunda Math is located nearby, which is a must visit for all those tourists who seek the divine blessings of lord in Someshwar temple.
Richhadia Mahadev Temple – is located in Ambaji town. Considered as one of the ancient temples still gracing worshippers with fervour, Richhadia Mahadeve temple is visited by a huge number of pilgrims every year. Devotees from as far as Ahmedabad come on foot to visit the temple. It has got more historical importance because of being situated on the banks of Astakoni Vav.
- Mangalya Van – at a distance of around 1.5 km from Ambaji, is situated on top of the Kailash Hill. Tourists can enjoy a beautiful view of several water bodies present at this site. Astrologers believe that the plants, saplings and herbs in the Van have astrological significance.
- Kumbhariya Jain Temples – are a group of Jain temples, constructed about 900 years ago. The temples are situated at a distance of 2.2 km from Ambaji in the district of Banaskantha, Gujarat. The group of temples is devoted to the five Jain Tirthankaras namely, Mahavira, Parshvanath, Neminath, Shantinath and Sambhavanath. As per the belief, Mata Ambika had asked Sheth Vimal Shah to construct 360 Jain temples. However, none of the temples had the idol of Mata and she ruined all the temples except these five, in anger. Later, on realising the mistake, Vimal Shah installed the idol of Mata in all the remaining temples.
Kailash Tekari – is located on the Khedbrahma highway at a distance of 1.9 km from Ambaji. Tourists visit this site to witness the beautiful Shivalaya placed on the peak which can be reached by climbing the tekari.The Mahadev temple situated at this place has a Stone Gate which was built by the temple trust. The Shri Arasuri Ambaji Mata Devasthan Trust manages the temple and also its administrative requirements. Another popular attraction of this site is the sunset point known as the Kailash Hill Sunset.
- Poshina – is located about 18 km from Ambaji in the district of Sabarkantha. Tourists can find numerous tribal shrines with terracotta horses standing as offerings to the Goddess. The horses are also found in the nearby villages that are made by the local people. Tourists can also find different tribal communities such as Rabaris, Garasias and Bhils in the village. In a nearby village called Gunbhakhari, natives celebrate the Chitra Vichitra fair every year after holy.
- Kamakshi Mandir – is situated in the vicinity of Kumbhariya Jain Temple at a distance of 3.6 km from Ambaji. Tourists visit the temple to learn about various incarnations of Adhya Shakti Mata. Tourists can also receive the blessings of one of the 51 Shaktipeeths at this location. The temple is finely decorated during the Navratri festival celebration and is visited by tourists and devotees in large numbers.
- Mansarovar – is in the backyard of the holy temple of Ambaji. Having being built under the supervision of Shri Tapishanker, the lake holds enough priority while devotees are seen taking a dip before visiting the mandir. It is adorned with two temples, Mahadev and Ajay Devi, on either side. It took exactly 10 years for the construction of the lake, which was started in 1584 AD. Historically, there are written scriptures of Raja Maldev, available in the temple of Ajay Devi, who is regarded as the sister of Goddess Durga.
Getting there and around
- By Air – The nearest Airport is located at Ahmedabad approximately 179 kms from Ambaji.
- By Rail -The nearest Railhead to is Palanpur located 60 kms. by road from Ambaji. Palanpur is 144 kms. by Rail from Ahmedabad.
- By Road – Ambaji is 179 kms. by road from Ahmedabad.
Lot of Guest houses and yatri nivas are operated by Sri Ambaji Devsthanam trust. Many good hotels and resorts are also available for comfortable stay.
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