Sunday 23 December 2012

The Linga that Shiva himself consecrated

Lakhs and lakhs of people come to view the Taj Mahal. After the Taj, they make a hurried visit to the Red Fort before either going back to Delhi where a majority of visitors come from or to other places such as Fathepur Sikri, Mathura, Brindavan and Gokul, all places associated with Krishna.
Last year, more than three million visitors poured into Agra to see the Taj. But only a very small percentage of them, perhaps less than a few thousands, realised that Agra where the Taj is, has a  mythologically important monument that is related to both Krishna and Shiva.
Yes, this monument is in Agra and not in any of the famous places associated with Krishna. This is the famous Mankameshwar Temple, which is one of four ancient temples dedicated to Lord Shiva in the four corners of Agra City.
The importance of the temples is derived from the fact that the Linga was consecrated by Shiva himself. What more do you want in a temple where the deity is consecrated by the God himself.
The Mankameshwar temple is situated at Rawatpara, near the Jama Masjid and it is just two and half kms away from the Taj and less than a kilometre from the Agra Fort.
The temple is easy to locate as it is surrounded by many of Agra’s old markets.
There is a beautiful story about how the temple came to be built. Krishna had decided to take birth in Dwapara Yuga in Mathura, which is near Agra. When Krishna made this decision known to Gods, Shiva wanted to see Krishna as a child.
He therefore, came down from Mount Kailash. He decided to rest at a cremation ground near Yamuna river. He rested and meditated here.
Shiva was contemplating the pleasure he would derive in seeing the young Krishna play with him and sit on his lap. He though he would install a Linga if his desire came true.
Suddenly Yashoda arrived at the place and spotted Krishna. She felt that Krishna would be scared if she saw the ash colored Shiva with a serpent around his neck and a Trishul in his hand.
Krishna heard the entire conservation. But he realised it would be difficult to get Yashoda to allow him near Shiva. So he hot upon the oldest trick that a child plays before its mother and the mother invariably falls for it.
Krishna pointed to Shiva and started crying. Meanwhile, a disappointed Shiva was sitting under a Banyan tree and meditating. Yashoda called Shiva and asked him to bless Krishna.
Shiva took Krishna in his arm, blessed him and left the place a happy God. But he did not forget his promise. He consecrated a linga at the precise spot where he had lifted the infant Krishna. This is the Mankameshwar Temple.
Shiva then said people visiting his Linga here would be blessed and all their wishes would be fulfilled.
The linga here is covered with silver.
Only people wearing traditional dress are allowed here. This is a peculiarity here as in north India, the dress code is not rigorously enforced. Therefore, no pants, leather jackets and dress, salwar Kameez here.     
You cannot miss the temple. It is surrounded by a very busy shopping hubs with grocery, cosmetic market, shoe, jewellery and Indian sweet markets. There area around the temple is known for a special pan which you get at Mankameshwar locality.
The pan  is folded in the shape of a pyramid. The pan is then coated with "chandi ki Barak" (Silver foil) and garnished with coconut powder.
Visit the temple and eat the pan. Both have their own devotees. 
The other three Shiva temples in Agar are Kailash Mandir, Balkeshwar Mandir and Prithvinath Mandir.
The Balkeshwar and Kailash temples are located besides the Yamuna. The Kailash temple is situated nearteh Sikandra side of Yamuna. The Prithvinath temple is in Shahganj, on the road to Jaipur.
The annual “parikrama” (circumnavigation) of all the four Shiva temples is a well-documented event in the history of Agra. The route totally covers 50 kms.
So the next time you visit the Taj, make sure to take time off to see the Linga and pray for your desire to come true. Of course, do not forget the pan. You will not get it anywhere else.

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