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Narayana Sarovar - the sacred lake in Gujarat, India

Dr. A K Chatterjee is a seasoned writer with more than 330 blogs in English and Bengali and 10 books mostly on travel, trekking and temples.

Narayana Sarovar

Narayana Sarovar 1

Narayana Sarovar 1

Narayana Sarovar 2

Narayana Sarovar 2

Narayana Sarovar : The legend of Panchsarovar (Five Holy Lakes)


In the religious texts of Hinduism, there are five sacred lakes which are collectively called Panchsarovar (Five lakes). Each of these is related to one or other of the Trinities of Hinduism, viz. Lord Brahma (The Creator), Lord Vishnu/Bishnu (The Sustainer) and Lord Shiva ( The Destroyer).
These sacred lakes are Mansarovar in Tibet (related to Lord Shiva), Puskar Sarovar in Rajasthan (related to Lord Brahma), Pampa Sarovar in Karnataka (Related to Lord Rama, the 7th Avatar of Lord Vishnu), Narayana Sarovar in Gujarat (related to Lord Vishnu) and Bindu Sarovar in Gujarat (related to Parashurama, the 6th Avatar of Lord Vishnu).

The present article is about a visit to Narayana Sarovar, one of the sacred Five Lakes or Panchsarovar.

Narayana Sarovar : Where is it?


Narayana Sarovar is situated at the extreme western end of India in the Lakhpat Taluk of Kutchch district of Gujarat near the Kori Creek of the Arabian Sea.
It is situated about 160 km from Bhuj, the district Headquarters.
Its geographical co-ordinates are 23.675 degrees North, 68.538 degrees East.

Narayana Sarovar : the mythology


According to a mythological legend, once there was a severe draught in this region resulting in acute crisis of water. Humans, animals and the plant lives were dying. Finding no respite, people started praying to God for water. Eventually, Lord Vishnu had mercy on them. He created a big lake by the pressure of His foot, and everything was saved by the water of this divine lake. This lake is known as Narayana Sarovar, Narayan being the other name of Lord Vishnu.

Narayana Sarovar : The Saraswati connection


It is generally believed that the water of this lake is from one of the paleo-channels of the Vedic river Saraswati, thus making Narayana Sarovar extra-sacred.

Narayana Sarovar : the sacred lake

Narayana Sarovar with the high wall

Narayana Sarovar with the high wall

One of the bathing ghats, Narayana Sarovar

One of the bathing ghats, Narayana Sarovar

Narayana Sarovar

Narayana Sarovar

The Pipal tree, Narayana Sarovar

The Pipal tree, Narayana Sarovar

Narayana Sarovar : the sacred lake


Narayana Sarovar is a sacred lake.
On one side of the lake is a stone built high wall, akin to the rampart of a fort. There are 'Ghat' or bathing areas with stone built stairs descending into the water of the lake.
With an area of 0.759 square kilometer, the lake is a fairly big one, though smaller than Puskar lake (and no match to the massive Mansarovar).
The water is greenish, but clear. I visited in mid-March, and saw some migratory birds like Common Coot and Northern Pintail there.
There are arrangements for performing religious functions like 'Tarpan' (offering water to the deceased ancestors and relatives), and 'Panda'-s ( priests) are present there to help. There is a Pipal tree on the bank of the lake where 'Tarpan' is performed.

Narayana Sarovar : associated temples

An Ashram on Narayana Sarovar

An Ashram on Narayana Sarovar

Mukhya (Main) temple of Trivikram Ray-ji; Narayana Sarovar

Mukhya (Main) temple of Trivikram Ray-ji; Narayana Sarovar

Adi Narayana temple; Narayana Sarovar

Adi Narayana temple; Narayana Sarovar

Pancha Pandava temple; Narayana Sarovar

Pancha Pandava temple; Narayana Sarovar

Narayana Sarovar : associated temples


Narayana Sarovar is surrounded by a number of old temples and Ashrams. The most important of these temples is the temple of Trivikram Ray-ji or Trikam Ray-ji. Another important temple is the Adinarayana temple. A small temple dedicated to Hanumana-ji is situated by the side of the Mukhya temple, housing a small vermilion-smeared stone idol of Lord Hanumana.
There is another big temple on the far side of the lake called the Panch Pandava temple, which is said to be originally founded by the Pandava brothers of the Mahabharata fame.

Narayana Sarovar : Trivikram Ray temple

Trivikram Ray-ji temple; Narayana Sarovar

Trivikram Ray-ji temple; Narayana Sarovar

Inner side of the dome of the Mandapa

Inner side of the dome of the Mandapa

The idol of Trivikram Ray-ji

The idol of Trivikram Ray-ji

The "Jali" work of Trivikram Ray-ji temple

The "Jali" work of Trivikram Ray-ji temple

Narayana Sarovar : Trivikram Ray temple


This is the "Mukhya" or the main temple here, dedicated to Trivikram Ray-ji (a form of Lord Narayana). It was constructed in 1734 CE by Vagli Maha Kunwar, the wife of the Ruler of Kutchch Rao Deshalji I.
The stone built temple is constructed in the Nagara style on a stone platform 6 feet high. It has 3 components -- a verandah, the hall and the sanctum.
The 'Mandapa' or the hall has a dome shaped roof. The inside of the dome-shaped roof is richly decorated.
The sanctum has a 'Shikhara' (spire) which is 72 feet high. The sanctum houses the black stone idol of Lord Trivikram Ray-ji.
The 'Jaali' work in the front of veranda portion of the the temple is praiseworthy.

The Adinarayana temple; Narayana Sarovar

The Adinarayana temple; Narayana Sarovar

Dwarapala-s; Adinarayana temple

Dwarapala-s; Adinarayana temple

Dwarapala (Gatekeeper); Adinarayana temple

Dwarapala (Gatekeeper); Adinarayana temple

Common veranda of the shrines; Adinarayana temple

Common veranda of the shrines; Adinarayana temple

Idol of Adi Narayana-ji

Idol of Adi Narayana-ji

Idol of Dwarakadhish-ji

Idol of Dwarakadhish-ji

Idol of Govardhan-ji

Idol of Govardhan-ji

Idol of Sakshi Gopal-ji

Idol of Sakshi Gopal-ji

Idol of Kalyan Ray-ji

Idol of Kalyan Ray-ji

Idol of Shri Laxmi-ji

Idol of Shri Laxmi-ji

Narayana Sarovar : Adinarayana temple


This temple, situated opposite to the main temple, is actually a complex of seven small temples placed under a common or rather adjacent roof with six domes over a common Mandapa and tall Shikhara-s (spires) over the sanctums. The temples houses six idols of six different forms of Lord Narayana with six different names (Dwarakanath or Ranchhodji, Govardhannath-ji, Adinarayana-ji, Sakshi Gopalji, Lakshminarayan-ji and Kalyan Ray-ji), and one temple houses the idol of goddess Laxmi, the divine consort of Lord Narayana.

Of these, the idol and the temple of Kalyan Rai-ji were established by Rao Deshalji II in 1828 CE, the rest were established by Vagli Maha Kunwar in 1734 CE.

On either side of the main entrance to this temple are statues of "Dwarpala"-s (gatekeepers) accompanied by statues of decorated elephants.

Narayana Sarovar : the old caves


In the nearby hills there are a number of caves of which Rama Gufa, Laxman Gufa and Shesh Gufa are important. Enthusiasts can have a peek into those.

Narayana Sarovar : Vallabhacharya connection


The famous Hindu saint Vallabhacharya, the founder of the "Pushtimarg" sect visited this holy place. It is designated as
The followers of Vallabhacharya come here in flocks.

Narayana Sarovar : Annual fairs


Two annual fairs are held here, one in the month of Chaitra (April-May) and the second one in the month of Kartik (November-December). During these fairs, hundreds of thousands of pilgrims flock here to perform religious rites.

Narayana Sarovar : Wild Life Sanctuary


In 1981, the area around Narayana Sarovar has been declared as a wild life sanctuary. Here one can find Red Antelopes, locally known as 'Chinkara'-s.

To Narayana Sarovar

Towards Narayana Sarovar

Towards Narayana Sarovar

The first Gate of Narayana Sarovar

The first Gate of Narayana Sarovar

The main entrance; Narayana Sarovar

The main entrance; Narayana Sarovar

Wild peacocks on the way to Narayana Sarovar

Wild peacocks on the way to Narayana Sarovar

Narayana Sarovar : How to go?


Narayana Sarovar is about 160 km from Bhuj, which is a big city with good road, rail and flight connection. The road from Bhuj to Narayana Sarovar is very good state highway, passing through scenic rural Kutchch, dotted with a large number of wind turbines.
Endless stretches of low shrubs extend to the horizon on both sides of the road. If you are lucky, you can have a glimpse of lots of wild peacocks en route.
Before you enter the Narayana Sarovar area, a big gate or Torana welcomes you. On either side of the road are backwaters of the Kori Creek.
After this, there is another big gate which leads to the Sarovar proper.

It takes about 3 hours to reach Narayana Sarovar from Bhuj, so a trip by car from Bhuj can easily cover Narayana Sarovar, Koteswar and Lakhpat on the same day, and you can add the famous temple of Goddess Ashapura at "Mata No Madh" in your itinerary.

Conclusion


Narayana Sarovar is a very important pilgrimage site. The famous Shiva temple of Koteswar is situated only 4 km from Narayana Sarkar. Another great tourist as well as religious attraction the "Ghost city" of Lakhpat is situated 33 km from Narayana Sarovar. These three can easily make a great Trio of immense tourist attraction.

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