Eklingji Temple, Rajasthan
The Eklingji temple, Rajasthan is devoted to Lord Shiva, the tutelary deity of the former Mewar rulers. It is situated approximately 24 km to the north of Udaipur.The temple at Eklingji or Kailashpuri is one of the prime pilgrimage destinations in Rajasthan. Eklingji has been the deity of the royal Mewar family since the time of Bappa Rawal, founder of the Mewar dynasty. Ek means ‘one’ while ling means ‘lingum or the life giving phallic symbol of Lord Shiva’. The patron deity of the Mewar clan is considered the actual ruler of the region while the kings are merely the Dewan (or the Prime Minister) of this God of Mewar.
The Eklingji Temple is said to be initially built by Bappa Rawal on the side of 72 rooms Jain temple which housed a four faced statue of Adinath, first Jain Saint. The site is also important as it was the place where Bappa Rawal received religious discourse from his guru, Harit Rishi. The temple was first built in the year 728AD, however, subsequent changes and renovation work was done later as well. The temple that stands today is not the original structure but the one built on the site of ancient temple. Infact, as later as in the 15th and 16th century, Maharana Raimal too rebuilt and renovated this temple.
The temple is open for the devotees at a little odd hours – from 4.00 – 6.45 in the morning; next 10.30 am – 1.30 pm and lastly from 5.15-7.45 pm (timings need to be checked before a visit to conform any changes). Monday is considered immensely auspicious day for devotees as such the crowd on this day can be more than usual.
The temple complex is located at the banks of Indersagar Lake. Within the walls of the Eklingji Temple, there are 108 shrines built of marble and sandstone. The main shrine has a double storeyed covered platform, a hall with a number of pillars and a flat pyramidal roof with circular knobs. In this main shrine is a four faced black marble statue of Lord Eklingji with Brahma facing west, Vishnu facing north, Shiva facing south and Surya facing east.
Outside the temple are the statues of Nandi, Shiva’s bull and Bappa Rawal. Bappa Rawal is shown facing Nandi with his hands clasped. There is another statue of Nandi in silver in the hall of the temple.
Though the temple is mainly dedicated to Lord Shiva, yet other deities are worshipped here as well. Few of the prominent among these are Parvati, Ganesha, Ganga, Kartikeya, Yamuna and Saraswati. Smaller temples dedicated to Amba Mata and Kalka Mata can also be found in the temple complex.
There are two tanks situated on the northern side of the temple – Karz Kund and Tulsi Kund. Water from these tanks is utilized for temple services. Temple services are performed in a very elaborate manner in the Vedic and Tantric styles – everyday beginning at 4 in the morning.
The temple is the centre of attraction during the festival of Shivratri. The entire complex as well as the deities are decorated to make them appear as beautiful as possible. Devotees in large number throng the temple to offer their prayers to the Lord of universe.
One of the legends relating to Eklingji is that after killing Vrakshasur, Indra had meditated and prayed to Eklingji in penitance and to get rid of the curse. According to another legend, Bappa Rawal, the founder of Mewar regime, had seen the Shiva lingam in his dream when he was in trouble. When the problems were solved, he approached a sage called Harita Rishi, who advised him to build the temple as a gratitude.
Places of Interest
Lakulisha Temple –
The Lakulisha Temple built in 972 AD also lies within the temple complex. The temple is quite large but otherwise simple in structure. It has a shrine, a mandapa (columned prayer hall) and a porch in the front. The mandapa has pierced windows in its side edges, but the basement and the wall alcoves are plain except for two – one inset with an image of Goddess Saraswati, and the other with an inscribed slab. The structure over the mandapa and the shrine are fast eroding. The shrine has the idol of a seated Lakulisha and the doorway to the altar has a similar image engraved on the lintel. Alcoves containing various deities again surmount this engraving. The mandapa (columned prayer hall) is square in plan but the columns are laid out in an octagonal manner. The outer wall alcoves contain images of various goddesses.
Meera Bai Temple –
A beautiful lake lies at a little distance from the temple alongwith a few other temples for company. Among these temples, the one built by Meera Bai in the 16th century is quite an elegant one. The temple has several 16th century sculptures mostly damaged and an eagle headed garuda (half man and half bird on which Lord Vishnu rides). The exterior of the shrine has a flying Kicaka or bracket figure playing a flute, and not Lord Krishna, as was previously believed. The most surprising fact is that the temple has no deity of Meera Bai, a Mewari princess. Meera was a poetess, saint and the daughter-in-law of Maharana Sangram Singh more popularly called Rana Sanga.
Bappa Rawal –
Chhatri Attraction – This is neither a town nor a historical site. This place has only the chhatri (cenotaph) of Bappa Rawal in a jungle. The cenotaph contains the figure of Bappa Rawal and an image of Lord Vishnu. Bappa Rawal was the eighth descendent of Guhil, founder of the kingdom of Mewar. Bappa was brought up at the Shiva Temple at Eklingji and reigned during the 7th and 8th century. He defeated the Mauryas and took over the Chittaurgarh fort in 677 AD.
Getting there and Around
By Air –
The Dabok Airport of Udaipur regularly receives direct flights from major cities such as Delhi, Jaipur, Jodhpur and Mumbai. The airport is located at a distance of 25 kms from the city centre
By Rail –
Udaipur is served by direct rail links with Delhi, Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Ajmer, Jodhpur and Chittor with the railway station been just 4 kms away from the centre of the city.
By Road –
The National Highway 8 links Udaipur to Delhi as well as Mumbai. There are numerous bus playing on this route, that can also connect other regional centres like Agra, Ahmedabad and few other cities of Rajasthan.
Accommodation in Udaipur is not a problem at all.There are thousands of hotels ranging from Five stars to Low budget hotels.There are many guest houses and Dharamshalas too.
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