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Vadodara, the Banyan City and the Cultural Capital of Gujarat (India) Is Also Shiva-Nagari - the City of Shiva Temples

Vanita Thakkar is an Entrepreneur - an Engineer-Researcher-Consultant and an Artist - Singer-Composer-Poetess-Writer from Vadodara, Gujarat.

The famous Laxmi Vilas Palace of Vadodara marks the identity of the Banyan City Vadodara which is also known as the Cultural Capital of Gujarat (India) ....

The famous Laxmi Vilas Palace of Vadodara marks the identity of the Banyan City Vadodara which is also known as the Cultural Capital of Gujarat (India) ....

A lesser known fact about Vadodara, the Banyan City and the Cultural Capital of Gujarat (India) is that it is Shiva-Nagari, the Abode of Shiva - the city of Shiva Temples, with about 1042 big and 560 small Shiva Temples scattered across the city, which inspire, nurture and sustain devotional and cultural values among the residents. This is an article on the main nine temples surrounding the city, fondly known to be protecting it.

Vadodara - The Banyan City And The Sanskaar Nagari - The Cultural Capital of Gujarat (India)

Vadodara, the third largest city in the state of Gujarat in Western India and the tenth largest city of India is also known as

  • the Banyan City - bestowed with bounty of big beautiful banyan trees
  • the Sanskaar Nagari (the Cultural City) - the cultural capital of Gujarat, leading in activities, developments and promotions in the fields of Education, Arts, Architecture, Science and Technology.
  • the Kalaa Nagari (Kalaa means Art and Nagari means City, so, the name translates to the City of Art) - a major hub of various forms of Arts, including Visual Arts, Performing Arts, Museology and so on ....

There is one more lesser known dimension to the glories of the beautiful historical city of Vadodara. It is a city of Shiva Temples, thus known as Shiva-Nagari. There are about 1042 big Shiva Temples and about 560 small Shiva Temples scattered across the city which inspire, nurture and sustain devotional and cultural values among the residents.

Shiva Sculpture in the Sursagar Lake, located in the heart of Vadodara ....

Shiva Sculpture in the Sursagar Lake, located in the heart of Vadodara ....

Shiva - The Supreme Being

Lord Shiva, also called Mahadeva (spelt as Mahaadeva), the greatest of Gods, is the Supreme Being as per the Hindu Philosophy of Life.

To transform from Jeeva (being - soul) to Shiva (the Ultimate / Absolute / Supreme / Omnipresent Soul) is the aim of human life.

According to a well-known tale from the Shiva Puraana, eons ago, once Brahma and Vishnu got into an inconclusive debate for supremacy and suddenly an infinite flame appeared, which brought the debate to an end. This infinite flame, with no end from above and below, known as the Jyotirlinga, was Shiva.

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The NavaNaath Shiva Temples of Vadodara ....

Among the more than two and a half thousand Shiva temples in Vadodara, nine are considered especially auspicious, mythologically as well as historically and are called the NavaNaath Shiva Temples (Nava means nine in Sanskrit, Gujarati, Hindi and many other Sanskrit-based languages and Naath means Lord). Each of these temples has a name that ends with the word Naath and each has an interesting and inspiring story behind its establishment.

The NavaNaath Shiva Temples are located in all the nine directions surrounding the city and are considered as the protector Deities of the city.

A combined snap of all the nine NavaNaath Shiva Temples ....

A combined snap of all the nine NavaNaath Shiva Temples ....

These temples were originally established by the great Sage Vishwaamitra, who is believed to have resided in this region. The river flowing through Vadodara is called Vishwaamitri as the regions surrounding the river were the Tapobhoomee of Vishwaamitra, meaning, the regions where Vishwaamitra performed his Tapa - the ascetic practices voluntarily carried out to achieve spiritual power / purification / enlightenment.

According to the Vaalmiki Ramaayana, Vishwaamitra had promised to send Trishanku to heaven with his mortal body (without dying). Trishanku, originally named as Satyavrata, was the son of King Nibandh of Ayodhya, an ancestor of Lord Raama. While helping Trishanku with ascending to the heaven, Vishwaamitra asked him to walk westwards from the Pavagadh Hill along the flow of the River Vishwaamitri. On the path that Trishanku followed, Vishwaamitra came later and established nine Shiva Temples, at places where Trishanku had halted.

Renovation of the Shiva Temples by Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad ....

Between the years 1850 AD to 1875 AD, an ascetic / monk of the NavaNaath Sampradaaya (order of ascetics) advised the Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad of Vadodara to renovate the nine Shiva Temples. This is another reason why these temples are called the nine NavaNaath Temples.

My Visit to the NavaNaath Shiva Temples ....

On 25th August, 2021, during the auspicious monsoon month of Shraavan (also called Saavan), I had visited these NavaNaath Shiva Temples with my friend, Shweta Joshi. Both of us are residents of Vadodara. Shweta Joshi visits the NavaNaath Temples every year during the month of Shraavan, for about two decades now. Shraavan is the month of festivities, fasting and worshipping Shiva and Paaravati. I had heard about these temples, but this was my very first visit to most of them. I am filled with joy as I relive the memories of the visit to the nine beautiful temples while writing this article .... Let us now visit the NavaNaath Shiva Temples one by one ....

The SiddhaNaath Mahaadev Temple ....

This temple is located on the bank of the SiddhaNaath Pond (once upon a time a Lake, perhaps) in the Khanderao Market area of Vadodara. This is an old city area.

Worship in this temple bestows the devotees with fulfillment of their wishes and so it is called SiddhaNaath (one of the meanings of Siddha is to accomplish or succeed).

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The remains of a Vaav or step-well are there beside the pond. It is believed that in the bygone eras, the temple was frequented by sages and the Vaav / step-well was constructed to serve their requirements of stay and worship.

The RaamaNaath Mahaadev Temple ....

This temple is also located in the old city area called Gajaraa Waadi.

It is believed that Lord Raama had performed worship in this temple and so, it is named RaamaNaath Mahaadev.

Worshiping in this temple is believed to awaken soul / consciousness of the devotee.

Beside the main temple, there are some other small temples. There is a small fenced area where old idols and Shiva Lingas are located.

The ThhekarNaath Mahaadev Temple ....

This temple is located in the Fatehpura area of Vadodara, near the old Ajabadi Mill.

There are two Shiva Temples in the same premises, under two temple domes.

The temple facing left on entering the premises is the ThhekarNaath Mahaadev Temple.

Next to it, towards the right side, is the family Deity of the Bheetaraa Khedaawad Brahmins (a sub-caste in the Gujarati Brahmin community). This shrine is renovated and maintained by the people of that caste.

Worshipping ThhekarNaath Mahaadev enhances spiritual progress of the devotee.

The MotaNaath Mahaadev Temple ....

This is a very famous old Shiva Temple in eastern Vadodara, at the outskirts of the village : Harni, which is now a part of the Vadodara city.

Like the RaamaNaath Mahaadev, this shrine is also believed to be consecrated by Lord Raama Himself. Jagadguru Shankaraachaarya, Shree Dongreji Maharaj, Shree Giri Bapu and many other great renowned saints have visited and worshipped in this temple. A Goswami family is serving this temple as the priests for the last seven generations. A memorial of the first priest of this family, Mahant Shree Shambhugiriji is located to the right side of the steps leading to the temple.

Worshipping MotaNaath Mahaadev relieves the mind and soul of attachments and illusions, thus arousing purity and wisdom and bestowing peace. This shrine is also known for fulfilling prayers and wishes of devotees.

The KaamaNath Mahaadev Temple ....

There is a famous Park in Vadodara called Sayaji Baug or Kamaati Baug built by the visionary king of Vadodara, Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad. It is the biggest park / garden in Western India and stretches across about 100 acres of land. There is a zoo, a planetarium, a museum - one of the finest of its kind, toy train, a floral clock and several other attractions in the park. Near the eastern gate of Sayaji Baug, beside a famous institution for children called the Baal Bhavan in the Karelibaug area of Vadodara, the KaamaNaath Mahaadev Temple is located. It is on the bank of River Vishwaamitri, which also passes through Sayaji Baug.

The shrine is svayambhoo, meaning self-existing, not made by anyone. During the rule of Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad, there was a grazing land for cows in this region. A cow used to walk away at a place everyday and stand alone for quite some time. One day, the puzzled cowboy went nearby and saw that a jet of cow milk was falling on the ground below. Amazed, the cowboy dug the place and found a Shivalinga. He informed the Maharaja about it. Soon, a temple was made at that location to consecrate and worship the Shivalinga that was discovered. It is believed that this is the Shivalinga which had fulfilled the wish of the Sage Vishwaamitra and hence, it is named KaamaNaath Mahaadev, meaning the one which fulfils wishes and prayers.

The KaamaNaath Mahaadev Shrine is located in a Garbhgriha (sanctum sanctorum) about seven feet below the ground level. The clean and cool marble flooring and footsteps add to the divine ambience of the temple.

The BheemaNaath Mahaadev Temple ....

This temple is located in the Sayajigunj area of Vadodara.

It is believed that the Paandava prince Bheema had worshipped Lord Shiva here, so it is called BheemaNaath Mahaadev. As per the Mahabharata, while escaping the conspiracy of Laakshagriha (a house of lacquer or wax), the Paandavas had passed though a forest where a demon called Hidimba resided with his sister Hidimbaa. Hidimba asks his sister to kill the Paandava family for a tasty feast, but Hidimbaa falls in love with Bheema and refuses to kill his family. Bheema kills Hidimba in a fierce battle that takes place between the two. Bheema marries Hidimbaa and is blessed with a great warrior son, Ghatotkacha. However, the demon nature of Hidimbaa was causing troubles to Bheema and to overcome that misery, he worshipped Lord Shiva at the place where the BheemaNaath Mahaadev Temple stands today.

There is a big old banyan tree in the temple premises which studs it beauty with its cool and historic ambience.

The Kaashivishweshwar Temple ....

This is the exceptional NavaNaath temple of Vadodara which does not have the Naath suffix in its name.

This temple is located close to the Jetalpur Crossing in Vadodara. It was renovated in the month of Shraavan in 1908 by the Late Shree Gopalrao Marale and is at present under the administration of the Government.

The great Gandhian saint and philosopher, Acharya Vinoba Bhave is believed to have resided in the temple premises.

Every Monday in the month of Shraavan, this temple is beautifully decorated with lighting. On Mahashivaratri, a huge Mahaprasad (food sanctified by offering to the God) feast is arranged here.

The worship in this temple bestows the devotees with material as well spiritual success.

The JaagaNaath Mahaadev Temple ....

In the south-west of Vadodara, near the Kalaali Railway Crossing, the JaagaNaath Mahaadev Temple is located.

Earlier, there were fields in this area. One day while ploughing the field, the farmer heard a loud noise of the plough dashing against something inside. The Shivalinga that was hidden below still has the marks of the impact.

There are two more small Shivalingas beside the main Shrine in this temple. Also, the idol of Maa Paarvati which is generally in line with the Shivalinga everywhere is slightly offset in this temple. There is a hearsay that it is very slowly shifting towards right.

It is believed that here Trishanku had performed 1000 Havan Kund Yagya, meaning there were 1000 sacred fires were lit for making offerings in the worship. This was meant for his journey to the heaven with his mortal body. Yagya is also called Yaaga in Sanskrit and so the name was YaagaNath, which turned into JaagaNath with passage of time.

According to a popular tale, Sage Vishwaamitra had boarded and flown his air-craft from here to the heaven.

The temple has had recent renovations done by a Member of Parliament from Vadodara, Shree Yogesh Patel.

A very big and beautiful white Ganapati (Ganesh) idol and an idol of Mooshak (means mouse, on which Ganapati rides, representing wisdom, intelligence and talent that Ganapati presides over), facing it is established in smaller temples next to the main temple.

A Yagyashaalaa (special sanctified sacred place for performing Yagya) is built in the temple premises where special worships are performed regularly.

Traditional outfits of Dhoti for men and Saaree for women are mandatory to perform worship in this temple.

The KotaNaath Mahaadev Temple ....

Moving to southeast from JaagaNaath Temple, there is a village called Vadasar that is now within the city limits of Vadodara. On the bank of River Vishwaamitri in Vadasar, KotaNaath Mahaadev Temple is located.

King Malharrao Gaekwad of the Gaekwad dynasty used to enjoy sitting on the bank of River Vishwaamitri near Vadasar. Once while sitting, he scratched the ground next to him, removing some soil and tiny twigs, and he sensed that there was something very hard below. It was a Shivalinga. He could not take it out in spite of great efforts. He was wondering as to what could be done, when in a dream, he received guidance to establish another Shivalinga in a temple that should be built at that spot. Later, the underground Shivalinga could also be recovered. So, there are two shrines in this temple.

Worshipping KotaNaath Mahaadev ensures well-being and spiritual progress onto the path of Moksha.

These are the nine NavaNaath Shiva Temples of Vadodara. They are among the most precious jewels of the rich cultural heritage conserved in this beautiful historic city - my city, Vadodara.

There are thousands of other temples, as also hundreds of magnificent architectural monuments, gardens, museums and other tourist and pilgrim locations across and around the city.

At the end, I wish a very happy and blessed ongoing MahaaShivaraatri festival to All !! May the Blessing of Shiva bestow health, wisdom, prosperity, peace and harmony to ever-struggling human lives !!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2022 Vanita Thakkar

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