Draksharama Temple, Where Dozens of Hindu Gods Live as a Family
India is a land of many religious and has thousands of remarkable temples and holy sites. One of the most important in all of southern India is the Draksharama Temple, a Hindu site dedicated to the worship of Shiva. Situated in the state of Andhra Pradesh , it is popular with Hindu pilgrims as well as tourists.
The Mythology of Draksharama Temple
Draksharama means the ‘abode of Daksha Prajapati’, the father-in-law of Lord Shiva and one of the most important gods in the Hindu Pantheon. The temple site is associated with the tragic death of Sati Devi, the wife of Shiva, as a result of a dispute between her father and her husband.
The mythology states that Lord Shiva was enraged by his beloved’s death and caused a great deal of destruction. To restrain him, Lord Vishnu cut the body of Sati Devi into eighteen pieces. They were later placed in shrines in eighteen temples of which Draksharama is one.
Example of a Shiva lingam ( saiko3p / Adobe Stock)
The Draksharama Temple is one of the five Pancharama Temples. Along with four other temples in Andhra Pradesh, it holds the fragments of a lingam, a cultic object sacred to Shiva. It was broken into five pieces during a war between the gods and the demons . The location is also associated with a sacred river in Hindu mythology.
History of Draksharama Temple, Andhra Pradesh
This temple is a major center of Shaivism, one of the great traditions within Hinduism. Devotees worship the god as the creator and destroyer of worlds . Shaivites have been going on pilgrimage to Draksharama for hundreds of years.
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Draksharama Temple (Photo by Hindu Temples of India )
The current temple was likely built in the 9 th century AD and there are inscriptions in several languages at the site. Some state that it was built by the warlike eastern Chalukyan king , Bhima. The eastern Chalukya kingdom was the remnant of the great Chalukya Empire and it endured until the 13 th century. As seen in their many inscriptions, the Chola and Kalinga dynasty later contributed to the temple.
Today the temple is a protected building and has been restored by the authorities.
The Marvels of Draksharama Temple
Draksharama can be best understood to be a complex. It covers an area of 12 acres and is walled. The main entrance to the site is flanked by statues of Dhundhi Ganapati and Natya Ganapati, two avatars of the god Ganesha .
Ganesha idol in bronze ( R P Anand kumar / Adobe Stock)
The main temple is a two-story building and is similar in style to the other Pancharama temples. One of the fragments of the Shiva Lingam is held in its sanctum, placed there by the Hindu sun god. This large lingam is made from crystal. The inner sanctum, or the garbhaalaya, is ornately decorated with many statues and artworks.
Four entrances lead to the temple which is accessed by a circular path. At each entrance is a gopuram, an ornate entrance tower, each pointing in one of the four cardinal directions.
The temple has many beautiful religious sculptures that depict scenes from Hindu mythology . Architecturally the temple’s features and designs are a blend of Chalukyan and Chola styles. A number of shrines and smaller temples are dedicated to other Hindu deities.
Statue of the goddess Devi ( Stockfoo / Adobe Stock )
A shrine to Lord Vishnu and his consort can be seen at the main entrance to the temple, while at the rear of the temple is the shrine to the goddess Devi in her avatar, Vamachara Devatha. According to Hindu beliefs, some 26 gods live in the temple as a family and several shrines dedicated to a variety of Hindu deities can be found within the temple itself.
A water tank at the temple complex is believed to hold the waters from a sacred river than features prominently in Hindu mythology.
Visiting Draksharama Temple in Andhra Pradesh, India
The temple is in the East Godavari district and approximately 40 miles (67 km) from Rajahmundry, where there is an airport. There are good public transport links to the site, and it is open for most of the day. Accommodation in and around East Godavari is plentiful.
Many festivals are held here every year including the famous Sarrannavarathri Festival. Visitors can also see the faithful perform many rituals.
Top image: God Shiva statue situated in Rishikesh, is also worshiped at Draksharama Temple. Source: Keshav / Adobe Stock
By Ed Whelan
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