Wednesday 6 March 2013

The temple spring that changes color

Once called the Switzerland of India, it is today a pale shadow of what it was a few decades ago. Unfortunately, it has been in the news all these years for the wrong reasons.
Terrorism has taken a heavy toll and there is always a fear of fundamentalists striking against the State and the people. Wherever  you go, you see policemen, paramilitary and army out n full strength.
This is Jammu and Kashmir, which has been at the centre of a painful conflict for decades. Though the intensity of terrorist strikes have reduced over the last few years, its shadow still casts a dark spell.
What many do not know is that Kashmir is not only well-known for its Islamic and Sufi tradition, but also for its Hindu link. It has some of the most charming places you can ever see in the world. Besides, it is home to scores of  legends and myths.
Some of the temples here are not only noted or their architecture but also for their uniqueness. Once such structure is very near Srinagar and it is the temple of  Kheer Bhavani. This is just 14 miles east of  Srirangar in the charming village of Tula Mula.
The temple is constructed over a sacred spring and Kheer Bhavani can be termed as the guardians of Hindus of Kashmir. As the name Kheer itself suggest, the temple is famous for the rice pudding that is offered every spring to propitiate Goddess Bhavani.
You may say that there is nothing unique in the offering of Kheer as it is common in many other temples. Yes, true. But it is not the Kheer here that is unique though I can only say that the taste is heavenly.
It is the little spring that is located adjacent to the temple that has its on unique character. The spring is highly revered by the locals and they believe that it changes color when something bad or calamitous is going to happen.
The spring called Mata Ragini Kund changes color to prophecy such happenings and locals swear to its accuracy. When it turns black or dark, it is believed to indicate inauspicious times for Kashmir.
Way back in 1886, Walter Lawrence, the-then British settlement commissioner for land, visited the temple and also observed the spring. He reported that the water of the spring had a violet tinge. The locals say they  observed a darkish or murky tinge to the water just before the assassination of Indira Gandhi and the 1989 insurgency in the valley.
Even Abul Fazl, a courtier of the Mughals under Abul Fazl, and Swami Vivekananda have testified to the changing color of the spring.  
The Chinar trees around the temple give the structure a touch of natural beauty. The deity of Bhavani is known by other names such as Maharagya Devi, Ragnya Devi, Rajni and Ragnya Bhagwati.
Legend has it that Ravana prayed and Maharaghya Devi appeared before him. Ravana installed an image of the Devi in Lanka. However, Ravana’s wayward ways displeased the Goddess and she asked Hanuman to bring her to the village of Tula Mulla.
Kalhana, the 12th century writer of Kashmir, mentions about Kheer Bhavani in his magnum opus Rajtarangini. Abul Fazl mentions about this place in Ain-i-Akbari.
The Kheer Bhawani Temple is on the road from Srinagar to Sonamarg. The trees in the temple have joined together to  form a Map of India.

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