P.C: Bhaumik Kaji
Pilgrimage shares an immense role in India's religious and cultural belief system. The idea of 'pilgrimage' must have sprung from the basic perception that travel helps people grow in a way where education and knowledge fails. This makes for such an exceptional reason to put on your travelling shoes to witness and experience the alluring temples and shrines this Mahashivratri.
The Hindu mythological deity, Lord Shiva, is one of the most revered Hindu Gods and the festival of Mahashivratri is celebrated with much fervour, because it is believed that this is the day when Lord Shiva saved the world from destruction as he consumed poison from the 'Samudra Manthan' and eventually attained the title 'Neelkantha'. Mahashivratri is symbolic and celebrated for several other reasons as well. It is also believed to be the very day when Lord Shiva married the Goddess Parvati. No matter what legend people believe in, Shiva devotees celebrate the occasion with utmost zeal and fervour. The festival is usually celebrated on the month of 'Phalguna' or 'Maagh' (February or March) according to the Hindu Lunar Calendar.
Mahashivratri, 2019 opens up great travelling scopes for all the travel enthusiasts, to experience and cherish the unique celebrations of the festival going on across the length and breadth of the country. While the nitty-gritty of these celebrations remains the same, each province has a touch of its own uniqueness about it. Come join in and be a part of this special occasion as the whole country gears up for Mahashivratri with beautifully adorned temples bathed in fresh blooms and glittering lights. Witness the grandeur and pomp of the festival while the devotees throng to the temples to offer prayers, chant hymns and fast for good luck and prosperity.
When: March 04, 2019
1. Neelkanth Mahadev Temple In Rishikesh, Uttarakhand
Perched atop at an elevation of 1330 m from the sea level, the Neelkanth Mahadev Temple in Rishikesh makes for a great place to visit this Mahashivratri. As per the name suggests, the temple is sanctified to Lord Shiva and goes all out on the celebrations of the festival.
The name 'Neelkantha' of Shiva sprung from a mythological story in the sacred Hindu texts. As per the legends in the 'Puranas' have it, once the Gods and demons decided to churn the ocean and disburse the things among themselves that emerged from it. When the ocean was churned: 'Samudra Manthan', a pot full of poison that could have destroyed the world, emerged. The Gods sought the help of Lord Shiva to protect the world. To help save the world from utter destruction, Lord Shiva swallowed the poison. The poison was so deadly that the throat of the Lord turned blue, since then he is also popularly known by the name 'Neelkantha'.
The Neelkanth Mahadev Temple hosts two grand fairs annually, first on the occasion of Mahashivratri, which dates from February to March and the other one on Shivratri during Shraavana month of Hindu calendar, that is from July to August. Come witness the festivities of this very occasion in its complete glory.
2. Tilbhandeshwar Temple In Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh
P.C: Vishu Gowda
Mahashivratri celebrations in Tilbhandeshwar Temple, is popular all across the globe. Besides the elaborate grandeur in which the temple is showered with, in this occasion, the pious rituals of taking a holy dip in the Ganges, the night long prayers and prolific celebrations of the wedding anniversary of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati that take place, adds colour and fervour to the spirit of the festival. Amidst joyous cheering, music and dance of the devotees, the festival attracts crowds in huge numbers every year.
3. Umananda Temple In Guwahati, Assam
Head to the far east and enliven your festive spirit with the celebrations going on in the Umananda Temple in Assam. Snuggled on the peacock island of the grand Brahmaputra river, the temple makes for a mesmerising spectacle to behold as it celebrates the occasion of Mahashivratri.
4. Srikalahasteeswara Temple In Srikalahasti, Andhra Pradesh
As one of the most famous Shiva temples in the country, the Srikalahasteeswara temple in Srikalahasti, Andhra Pradesh is one definite spot you must make a visit this Mahashivratri. Myriads of devotees throng the temple and wait in long queues, on this day to witness the pompous celebrations of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati's union. With elaborate processions and thirteen day long festivities going on in the temple, Mahashivratri is undoubtedly celebrated with unparalleled pomp and resplendence here.
5. Lokanatha Temple In Puri, Orissa
P.C: Rohan Reddy
The Lokanatha Temple in Puri is a very sacred place to celebrate the occasion of Mahashivratri, as this is the very spot where according to myths and legends, Lord Rama had placed the Shiva lklinga in order to offer his prayers to Lord Shiva. The linga remains submerged in water through the years and is only removed from the water about three days before the Mahashivratri. Devotees and tourists queue up for long hours, just for a glance of the linga on the auspicious ceremony of Mahashivratri. So if you are in Puri during the Mahashivratri celebrations, make sure you do not miss out on the grandiose celebrations.