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479. Maharashtra tour – V

After visiting Pandharpur, we went to our room. Next day morning, we started early for Thuljapur Bhavani temple.  It is a hindu temple dedicated to the Goddess Bhavani.  It is situated 45  km from  Sholapur. It is one of the Shakthipeda in Maharashtra.  Goddess Bhavani destroyed demons Matanga and Mahisha.  The idol of Bhavani is Suyambu and is the Kuladevi of Shivaji.

We could standfor a minute in front of Goddess Bhavani to offer our prayers. Then we started for Kohlapur.  Kolhapur is a blend of ancient tradition and modern influences. Kolhapur city is on the banks of River Panchganga and reflects a rich heritage along with a fast growing industrial town. The Shri Mahalakshmi Jain Ambabai Temple is one of the most famous temples of Jainism and Hinduism of the state. Mounted on a stone platform, the  murthi of the crowned goddess is made of gemstone and weighs about 40 kilograms. The image of Matha Mahalakshmi carved in black stone is 3 feet in height. The  Sri Yanthra is carved on one of the walls in the temple. A stone lion, the vahana of the goddess, stands behind the statue. The crown contains an image of the Sheshnag, the serpent of Vishnu.

After visitng all the temples in our plan we started our journey towards Pune Airport. On the way we spent some hours in our relative’s house. Then we started our journey to Chennai. Finally we came to Coimbatore by train, carrying very sweet memories about the trip.

 

478. Maharashtra tour – Part IV

On 10th May evening we reached Pandharpur and since we made arrangements for our stay and dinner at Palijar Mutt, Ramdham  we went there straightaway. After keeping our luggages in the room, we asked our car driver to drop us before the temple. We booked for darshan through online, already.

There was heavy rush there in the temple but the queue moved quickly. The Vithoba Temple, Pandharpur is officially known as Shri Vitthal-Rukmini Mandir. All the devotees are allowed to touch the feet of the idol of Vithoba.  There is a legend about this temple.  Pundalik is a devoted son to his parents Janudev and Satyavati, who lived in a forest called Dandirvan. But after his wedding, Pundalik begins ill-treating his parents. Tired with their son’s misbehavior and ill treatment, the elderly couple decide to leave for Kashi. However, the elderly couple are not destined to escape their suffering so easily. Upon hearing his parents’ plans, Pundalik and his wife decide to join them on pilgrimage. The ill treatment continues. While the youthful son and his wife ride on horseback, the frail old couple walk in bad weather. Pundalik even makes his old parents work to make his own journey comfortable. Every evening, when the party camps for the night, the son forces his parents to groom the horses and do other jobs.

On the way to Kashi, the group reached the ashram  of a pious and venerable sage, Kukkutswami. Exhausted, the family decides to spend a few days there. That night, when all were asleep, Pundalik by chance is awake and sees a remarkable vision. Just before dawn, a group of beautiful young women, dressed in soiled clothes, enter the ashram; they clean the floor, fetch water and wash the venerable sage’s clothes. After finishing their chores, they go to the prayer-room. When they reappear after prayer, their clothes are spotlessly clean. Then, they vanish as inexplicably as they had appeared.

He approaches the beautiful women and asks details. They reply, they are the Ganga,  Yamuna and other holy rivers of India which are revered for their holiness. Pilgrims wish to take a dip in their holy waters to wash away their sins, which in fact are soiling their clothes. Then, the women say: “But O Pundalik, you, with your ill-treatment of your parents, are the greatest sinner of them all!” Pundalik is utterly shocked and his consciousness transforms. He realizes his misdeeds, becomes entirely devoted to his parents and ensures their comfort.

Impressed by Pundalik’s devotion to his parents, Lord Krishna planned to bless  Pundalik immediately. So, he left for Pundalik’s ashram. Krishna knocks at Pundalik’s door, when he is busy serving his parents food. Pundalik does realize God is at his door. But such was his devotion to his parents, he wants to complete his duties and only then attend the visitor. Then, Pundalik does something strange but out of real devotion. He throws a brick outside for God to stand on and wait for him until he finishes attending to his parents. It is the first day of monsoon so it is wet and muddy outside. If Lord Krishna stands upon a brick his feet will remain clean and dry.

Seeing this act, Krishna was extremely impressed and the ever-loving God waited for his devotee. When Pundalik came out, he begged for pardon but far from being displeased, Krishna was taken over by Pundalik’s love for his parents and granted a boon. Pundalik requested Krishna to stay back on Earth and bless all his true devotees. He agreed to take the form of Vithoba, or God who stood upon a brick, and a temple came up there. Along with Vithoba, Rukmini  is also worshipped here.

We all had very good darshan there and returned to our room peacefully.

477. Maharashtra tour – Part III

In our Maharashtra tour on 9th May after having Baba darshan, we visited Thriambakeshwar and and went to Panchavati.  The place Panchavati has gained holy importance, as it is believed that Rama, Lakshman and Seetha had stayed here, during Ramayana period.

When  Rama and  Seetha were asked to leave Ayodhya by beloved Step-Mother Kaikeyi under the influenced of Manthara her maid, the two left. However, compelled by the love for his elder brother, Lakshman also left with the couple on exile for 14 years. Panchavati was the place where the trio made their home while serving the exile, the word literally meaning ‘Garden of five banyan trees‘. The trees could still be seen in the temple premises nearby Seetha Gufaa. With Godavari flowing nearby, even the scary forests with roving animals became heavenly sanctity.

Kalaram temple , Kapaleshwar temple, Ganga Godavari temple, Sunder Narayan temple, Talkuteshwar temple,temple, NilkantheshwarGoraram mandir Murlidhar Mandir,Tilbhandeshwar mandir, Balaji temple, Sandvyachi devi temple, Vitthal temple, Pataleshwar temple,Naroshankar temple, Ramkund, Karthikswami temple,Dutondya maruti , Katya maruti temple, Panchmukhi Hanuman temple , Bhadrakali temple,Katpurthala monuments are located in and around Panchavati area.

To visit the above places, we have to travel by auto only, as we have to go through narrow lanes. We gave rest to our taxi driver for 3 hours and visited all places. We came back to Shirdi by night and we stayed there that night.

Next day(10th May)  morning, we started by 4.30 AM and went to Shani Shinganapur, after vacating room in Shirdi.  Shingnapur is 35 km from Ahmednagar city.  Shingnapur is also famous for the fact that no house in the village has doors, only door frames. Despite this, officially no theft was reported in the village, as Shani bhagvan won’t allow any thief to enter the place. The temple is believed to be a “Jeet devasthan” ,  “alive temple”, meaning that a deity still resides in the temple icon. Villagers believe that God Shani punishes anyone attempting theft. The deity here is “Swayambhu” that is self emerged from earth in form of black, imposing stone. After having darshan of Shani Baghvan in the pleasant morning, we started our journey to Pandharpur.

I will continue the details in my next blog.

476. Maharashtra tour – Part II

We started our journey to Maharashtra from Chennai, by catching flight to Pune from Chennai on 08-05-2019 night by 11.55. We reached Pune airport by 1.30 AM. The taxi booked by us was waiting for us in Pune airport. It took 4 hours by road to reach Shirdi. Since we have booked room there in Dwaravathi, we reached there straightaway.

Actually we booked one AC room for the first day ie from 4 PM of 8th to next day evening. Since we reached the room by 6 AM on 9th May, we had little time for refreshing. We had bath quickly and started to walk for darshan. It took about 10 minutes to reach the temple. Since, we missed Kakda darshan due to cancellation of flight, we were given special darshan. The special darshan queue joined the darma darshan queue within 5 minutes. Since, it was a thursday, there was heavy rush. But, we could have the drshan of Baba for a minute.

With peace of mind, we came outside the temple to have tiffin.  The tiffin in Maharashtra was OK for us but lunch was not at all suitable. We somehow managed for 3 days. We came to room and immediately started for Thriambakeshwar. It was a big and old Shiva temple. Considered as the holiest temple of India, the Trimbakeshwar Temple houses one of the most important twelve Jyotirlingas, a form of Lord Shiva. Perched on the foot of Brahmagiri Hills, the temple is situated in the pious city of Trimbak  in the  Nasik district which finds its mention in the powerful Mrityunjaya Mantra that bestows immortality and longevity. Built in the 18th century by Maratha ruler, Peshwa Nana Saheb, the temple is a perfect epitome of classic architecture. The sacred river Godhavari originates near Trimbak. There is a kunda in temple premises that is considered to be the source of river Godhavari. Amidst the hustling and bustling market of the town, the shikhara of the Trimbakeshwar Temple rises above and witnesses lakhs of devotees every year. The fascinating feature of the Jyotirlinga is its three faces symbolizing Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu and Lord Rudra. The Trimbak town is like a heaven on earth. We will not be able to resist soaking ourselves in the holiness and purity of the place which washes away all our regrets and sins. A trip to this sacred place will make us taste freedom, wisdom and spirituality.

From Thriambakeshwar, we started our journey to Panchavadi by car. I will continue my narration in my next blog.

 

 

 

 

475. Maharashtra tour – Part I

We were dreaming for a long time to make a pilgrimage tour in Maharashtra. Our dream came true this year. We planned to start the tour from Chennai, as my sister and her husband wished to join with us. We wished to visit Shirdi first by flight which starts by 12 PM  on 08-05-2019, so that we can reach Shrdi by 4 PM. After having Baba’s darshan on 8th evening and Kakda darshan on 9th morning, we decided to make one day trip to Panchavadi and Thriambakeshwar temple on the same day. So, we booked room for 2 days in Shirdi, online. Then, from Shirdi, we planned to visit Shani Singanapur, Pandharpur, Kohlapur and to Pune, to catch our return flight to Chennai. We booked room in Pandharpur also.

When we sat in the train for Chennai, we got a message from Spice Jet that our flight from Chennai to Shirdi has been cancelled, due to operational reasons. We were shocked as we have made arrangment for room and vehicle, for the whole trip. Moreover, we were longing to visit the above places. We didn’t want to disappoint my sister and her husband also. We tried to contact Spice Jet authorities over phone. We tried for more than an hour but we could hear the IVRS voice only saying that the line is busy. We got fed up and tried to make alternate attangement to visit some other place. But, within a short notice, that too, during summer vacation we didn’t get flight/train ticket to any other place.

Suddenly, we got a call from Spice Jet office asking whether we want to get full refund, as the flight had been cancelled. Controlling our anger, we requested them to book flight ticket by alternate flight, at the earliest to Shirdi or Pune. They finally agreed to give us ticket in flight to Pune, which will start by 11.55 PM from Chennai on 08-05-2019. We conveyed the news to my sister’s family and went to sleep in the train.

I will continue the journey details in my next blog.

 

466. Kasi Yathra – VI

In Kasi, our visits were over and we saw in two days as much as we can. On the second day night by 12 AM, we were asked to get ready. We travelled by bus to Gaya. It was really a tedious journey. As we were the first persons to book for the trip, we got seat in the front row. We could reach Gaya after travelling for nearly 8 hours.

We were accomodated in  Udupi Mutt, in Gaya. We were given coffee and asked to get ready for Srartha. It took a long time, as about 20 people participated. Immediately, we all were taken by walk through very narrow lanes and huge crowd to offer Pind to our ancesstors. There is nothing better than paying tribute to our ancestors soul. I felt like on a journey, after end of our life.

The pind daan has to be offered in three places. First, we went to  Phalgu River. My husband and other male members carried the balls and perform the pooja on the banks of the river, which was almost dry.  Next, at , the male members carry the balls and perform the pooja in the temple complex. Finally, they offer it at the feet of Lord Vishnu. A big size Vishnu Pad is kept there. The third place is Akshay Vat tree. The Pind balls are kept under the tree, with prayers.

After making small purchases, we returned to Udupi Mutt by walk and had our lunch directly, by 3 PM. After taking rest for sometime, we started by bus to Allahabad.  The distance from Gaya was about 380 KM and it took nearly 10 hours travel.  We stayed in Swaminarayan Mandir Dharamshala.  After taking bath and wearing new sari, we started for visiting some temples and doing Veni dana.

Nagvasuki Temple, located in Daraganj is situated on the banks of the River Ganges. Dedicated to Vasuki, who was the king of serpents, this temple is visited by large number of tourists every year. A fair is held every year near this temple on the occasion of Nag Panchami. We can see here statues of many legendery characters like Bhishm Pitamah, the great warrior of Mahabharata. This is one of the most ancient temples of Allahabad.

Another temple we visited was Veni Madhav temple, located in  proximity to the Prayag Ghat is situated on the banks of river Ganges. This temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu or Narayana and to Lakshmi, who was the wife of Narayana. Believed to be blessed with the presence of idols of God Vishnu and his wife Lakshmi, this temple is also known as LakshmiNarayana temple.

Finally, we visited Alopi Devi temple. This temple is regarded to be one of the 18 shaktipeeths and also the holliest of them all. The uniqueness of the temple lies in the fact that there is no statue of the Deity that is worshipped here. In the sanctom sanctorum of the Alopi Devi Temple, lies a wooden cot, also known as “doli” of the new bride. It is this wooden craft that is devotedly worshipped by the people from all over the country. According to the Hindu belief, while Lord Shiva was grieviously travelling through the skies with the burnt body of his wife Sathi, Lord Vishnu threw his chakra at the corpse in order to relieve Lord Shiva from his pain. The various places where the body parts fell were sanctified and deemed as “Shaktipeeths”. Alopi Devi temple is the place where the last part fell, marking the disappearance of Sathi. Hence this place came to be known as Alopi which means disappeared.

Finally, we we left in a place where puja for Veni Dhan was performed The puja took place for more than 1 hour. The Pandit said the Manthras in a very fast manner and we followed & did puja  as per his instructions. Finally, we carried the items of Morathubayana and walked with the boatman. We travelled in a boat for about half an hour to a place called Sangam, where many boats like us gathered.

We had to cross three boats, parked nearby and reached a platform, where we took a bath in Thriveni Sangam and did veni dhana.  We showed morathubayana to the rivers.. Again, we came back, gave  the morathubayana, dakshin etc to the pandit and returned to our place, for taking lunch. After lunch, we visited Ananda Bhavan, the house of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru.  Finally, we started to Allahabad railway station. We came by train from there to Jansi. From Jansi we caught another train to Coimbatore.

The trip was really good and we could see many places.

465. Kasi Yathra – V

After finishing small purchases, we returned to our room. A friend of us in the next room called us and asked us to accompany for seeing Banaras saris nearby. We went with them and spent about 2 hours for selecting & purhasing few saris.

When we came back, we were asked to get ready for boating and seeing Ganga Aarathi.  Words are not sufficient to explain the beauty of ganges and uniqueness of Gabga Aarathi.  On the way of seeing the Ganga Aarathi, we visited many famous Ghats. There are nearly 64 ghats. The famous and oldest ghats of all these are the Dashashwamegha, Manikarnika and Harishchandra Ghat. Some of the ghats are made there by Hindu rulers such as Ahilya Bai Holkar of Malwa region, Peshwa’s of Gwalior, Man Singh of Amber, Jai Singh of Jaipur etc. Most of the ghats were made at the time of Maratha.

All of our group people were accomodated in a big boat.  There were hundreds of boats around us, carrying Indian and foreign tourists. Some costly boats with lot of decorations and facilities were also visible, to attract rich tourists. Our local guide was explaining and making us to see the important ghats.  The ghats are primarily used for bathing and puja rituals, but there are two  viz., Manikarnika and Harishchandra ghats where cremations are solely performed.

The boats were taken for a ride to visit all the important ghats and finally gathered before Dashashwamedh ghatGange Aarathi is performed daily in the evening by a group of priests there. Through the Aarathi, Agni Pooja is performed in which a commitment is made to the Lord Shiva, Matha Gange, Surya, Agni  as well as the whole universe made by the Lord Shiva. This beautiful ritual makes every moment of the evening period special and fills with the spiritual thoughts. It is performed by the brass lamps which accompanied with the mantra chant in the presence of the huge crowd. There are 5 priests on one side and 7 on another side. We were able to watch both sides, sitting in our boat.

All the priests who have to perform the Aarathi, wear same cloth, the dhoti and kurta which is tightly bind with a long towel. First they make preparation  by making collection of the five elevated planks, a multi tiered oil lamp, an idol of the Goddess Ganga, flowers, incense sticks, a conch shell, a big and heavy brass lamp having a snake hood at the edge of the River Ganga.  Ritual of the Gange Aarathi is performed by the students of the Vedas and Upanishads which is lead by the head priest of the Gangothri Seva Samithi. The whole event takes around 45 minutes, from 6.45 PM. Every person born in this world has to see this Ganga Aarathi in his/her lifetime.

The boats dropped us in Kedharnath Ghat. We liked to visit some temples near this ghat. This ghat is famous for  Kedar temple is in this place. The belief is that our visit here is as good as visiting the kedarnath temple in the Himalayas. a real spiritual experience. We also visited Chinthamani Ganapathy temple and returned by walk to our room.

I will continue the details in my next blog.

464. Kasi Yathra – IV

After visitng Kasi Viswanathar, we moved to visit Annapoorani Devi, the Goddess of Food.  There was a golden idol of the Annapurna Matha in the Annapurna temple.  Annapurna temple has a huge crowd of pilgrims at the occasion of Annacoot. Annacoot festival is celebrated in India every year after Diwali. On the occasion of Annacoot, coins are distributed to all the devotees. It is considered that whoever will worship this coin, he will be blessed by the Annapurna Matha for his successful and prosperous life. Annapurna Matha is the Goddess of the Varanasi city who always protects the Kashi and fulfill His devotees with the food.

Once, Lord Shiva said to the Goddess Parvathi that the whole world is an illsion and the food is the part of that known as ‘Maya’. The Goddess of food, Matha Parvathi became very angry and She had to show the importance of all the material, in order to that She had vanished all things from the world. In the absence of food from the earth, the earth became infertile and everyone had suffered from the deep hunger. She had to reappear in the world by seeing His devotees suffering from the deep hunger. She, then made a kitchen in the holy city, Varanasi. Lord Shiva too came to Her and said that I understand that the material can never be sent away as an illusion. Matha Parvathi became very happy and offered food to the Lord Shiva with her own hands. From that time Matha Parvathi is worshiped as an Annapurna means the Goddess of Food. It is considered that She does not eat a little bit till the time Her devotees have not been fed in Her temple.

After visiting  temples, as much as we can, we got very much tired, walked slowly. We caught an auto after 10 minutes and reached our place of stay. We had dinner and went for sleep at about 11 PM.

Next day morning our tour organiser has arranged for doing srartham in Uttaradi Mutt. After having meals, we went to a nearby shop for purchasing Kasi Gangajal Sombu, Annapoorani vigraha, Vishnu Padam and Gomuki chakra stone. You might have known about other things. I will just tell a few words about the Gomuki chakra stone. Found in the Gomathi River, the Gomati chakra stones are popular remedies for many problems people face in their day to day lives. Gomati Chakra is a white coloured stone with small circles seen on one side of the stone and the chakras are considered to be a symbol of Goddess Lakshmi. Gomati Chakra resembles the Sudarshan Chakra or Discus of Lord Krishna. According to many Vaishnavas and oral tradition in Northern India, the Gomathi Shilas were once part of Lord Krishna’s palaces in Dwaraka. They were used to adorn the walls and floor of many of Sri Krishna’s palaces. The Gomathi chakra stone can be used in innumerable ways to fix problems in one’s life. It is used as a Yantra and also is used in worships. It is believed that those people who possess Gomathi Chakra will be blessed with money, good health and prosperity. Gomathi Chakra Shilas are used along with Shaligrams in some special worship.The “Salagrama-Kosha” quotes that when Shaligram and Gomati Chakra are placed together and worshipped, the mass of sin will be burned down. Gomati Chakra Shilas are also used as protective amulet for children. Gomati shilas brings in wealth and good health.

OK, I will continue with more interesting news about our travel, in my next blog.

 

463. Kasi Yathra – III

In Kasi,  after visiting Durga temple, we went to Sankata Moksha Hanuman temple.  Here, the devotees  offer Prasad and Sindoor on the statue to the Lord Hanuman, which is sealed in the campus of the temple. They also decorate the idol of the Lord Hanuman with the flower garland. The temple of the Sankat Mochan has unique feature by having the idol of Lord Hanuman in front of his Lord Rama. According to Astrology, Hanuman saves human beings from the anger of the planet Shani, and especially people who have an ill-placed Saturn in their horoscopes visit this temple for astrological remedies.

Our next place of visit is Kavadai amman temple.  Here, we have to offer 5 kavadai or choli to the Goddess along with flowers. The priest  keeps them in front of Her. It is believed that She takes our misfortune and grants good luck to us. The priest gives back one kavadai to us, for keeping  in our pooja room.

Finally, we returned to our room. After, having tea, we started by auto to the famous Kashi Viswanath temple. As the crowd was more,  the automan  dropped us at a place about two KM from the temple. The guide took us through many narrow lanes. We almost ran behind him, in the traffic. First, he took us to the famous Visalakshi Amman temple. The Vishalakshi Temple or Vishalakshi Gauri Temple is dedicated to the goddess VishalakshiMaa, meaning wide eyed Devi. It is located at Mir Ghat. This temple is among the 52 Shakthi Peetams, and is part of the famous triad of temples – Kanchi Kamakshi, Madurai Meenakshi and Kashi Visalakshi. When Adi Shankaracharya visited the temple, he performed prayers to replenish the powers of the temple, which had borne the brunt of several invasions. He also installed a Sri Yantram and it is to this Yantram that puja is done. Kumkumarchana to this Sri Yantram is considered very auspicious.

Next, we went to have the darshan of the famous Kasi Viswanathar.  It  is one of the twelve Jyothirlingas, the holiest of Shiva temples.   Vishveshvara meaning Ruler of The Universe. Kasi Vishwanath Temple is one of the most famous temple in Varanasi, also known as the Golden temple dedicated to the Lord Shiva. It was constructed in the year 1780 by the Maratha monarch, Maharani Ahilyabai Holkar of the Indore. This makes Varanasi a tourists place because of great religious importance to the Hindus. True devotees of the Lord Shiva get freedom from the cycle of the death and birth. After death they directly intermingled into the Mahadev. People beliefs that the one who decided to end their life at the temple, Lord Shiva himself drive a mantra of freedom in his ear.

We had to walk and stand in queue for a long time again. The crowd was much more as went near and the police people simply pushed away all the devotees,  before having the darshan of God. They could have allowed to stand there atleast for a few seconds. We stood at a distance and tried to see the Lord, again & again. Many people of our group came again on the next day, to have the darshan, once again. We thought  that Lord Viswanathar will call us once again to visit Him, after some years.

I will continue the details of the visit in my next blog.

462. Kasi Yathra – II

There is a saying about Kasi Kalabairavar temple, “Even air won’t enter Kasi city without the permission of Kalabairavar.  We will be get rid of all the worries and threats by our enemies, if we fell into the feet of Kalabairavar”. So, our first visit in Kasi was really useful to recharge our mind and body.

After returning to our room, we had lunch. Immediately we started to visit more places. We were taken to Birla Mandir by jeep.  The Birlatemple in Varanasi is called as Shri Vishwanath Mandir. It is one of the famous temple for its architectural beauty and serene factor. The temple has the highest temple tower in the world. The temple is 77 metre long. The temple is completely made of marble. There are 9 shrines inside this temple. In the ground floor, there is a large Shiva temple. In the first floor, there are shrines for Durga and Lakshmi Narayan. Other main temples are Hanuman temple, Ganesh temple, Parvati temple, Nataraj temple, Saraswathi temple and Nandi. The complete prose of the Gita is inscribed on the walls along with pictures. Since it is a replica Kashi Vishwanath temple, it is called as the New Vishwanath temple.

Next, we went to Thualasi Manas Mandir. It is located at Durgakund very close to the Durga Temple in the Varanasi city. It is made up of the white marble in the year 1964 and looks very attractive having beautiful garden. The temple is dedicated to the Lord Rama and constructed by the family of Banaras. The temple has beautiful images of the Ram, Sita, Lakshhman and Hanuman.  It is believed to be built at the same place where Tulsidas wrote the famous Indian epic, Ramcharitamanasa. The walls of the Tulsi Manas temple are engraved with verses and scenes from the Ramcharitammanasa, the Hindi version of the Ramayana. I lost my cheppal in this temple. My husband was very careful as he left the cheppal in the jeep itself.

Then, we went to Durga temple nearby. Durga temple is also known as the Monkey temple because of the presence of huge number of monkeys, situated in the Durga Kund, Varanasi.  It was built in the 18th century. Durga temple was constructed by a Bengali Maharani in the north Indian Style with multi tiered shikhara.  The statue of Goddess Durga is not human made; it was appeared by its own in the temple. This temple is made up in the square shape with the red color stone representing the color of the Matha Durga.

I will talk about more and more temples in my next blog.