Shakti Peeth: Prayaga Madhaveswari Temple

Prayaga Madhaveswari Temple
This is the temple whereas per the legend Sati's fingers had fallen. It is famously called as Mata ji ka temple (or Lalita ) by the locals. Prayaga means Prakrishta Yaga, which means it is the place where Lord Brahma did a very great Yaga.  Hence its name became Prayaga. Prayaga is considered as one of the Sapta mokshapuras. This place is also called as Theertharaj, that means king of all theerthas.
There are 18-Shakti Peeths which are all very very powerful.  Besides, there are 52-Shakti Peeths also located in and around India.
Madhaveswari Devi Temple at Prayag location in PrayagRaj is also one of the most powerful 18-Shakti Peeths.  According to Puranas, Devi’s fingers fell at this place.  The entire story of this Shakti Peeth is also available above Puranas.

The popular belief is that the fingers of the hands of Goddess Sati fell at the spot where the Alopi Devi Temple stands. It must be noted that Goddess Alopi temple is also part of the Ashta Das Shaktipeetah concept more famous in South India and propagated through the Ashtadasa Shaktipeetaha Stotra of Adi Shankara.

Alopi means disappeared. The Goddess gets the name Alopi because of the belief that the last part of Goddess Sati’s body fell here and disappeared. Hence this is the last spot from where Goddess Sati disappeared from earth and it is considered highly auspicious.

At the Alopi Temple, Goddess Alopi Devi is depicted as a Dholi placed atop a marble stone.
Alopi Devi Temple is located at Alopi Bagh west of Daraganj in PrayagRaj in Uttar Pradesh.

Sthala Purana of Prayaga:
Temple Inside photo
Prayaga means Prakrishta Yaga, which means it is the place where Lord Brahma did a very great Yaga. Hence its name became Prayaga.

Prayaga is considered as one of the Sapta mokshapuras. This place is also called as Theertharaj, that means king of all theerthas.

Another important point is, this is the place of Triveni Sangamam. Generally, we consider the confluence of two water flows as a holy place. But, here we can see the confluence of three holy rivers, Ganges, Yamuna, and Saraswati. All three rivers have their importance individually. Hence the confluence became a very very holy place. One should take a holy bath here when visited this place. Here Kumbhmela will be conducted every 12 years.

Sthala Purana of Alopi Shaktippeth:
There are mainly three stories about the word Alopi. 

They are:

  1. Alopi means the one who disappeared. After Sati dahana and Dhaksha Yagna destruction, Lord Siva disturbed mentally and lifted Satidevi’s body and roaming without any destination. Lord Vishnu cut Sati Devi body parts by using Sudarshana Chakra. Every place, where Satidevi’s body part fell, became a Shaktipeeth. Prayaga is the last place, where the last part of Sati Devi's body fell on the ground. Here Sati devi body became disappeared, hence the name Alopi.
  2. There are some other stories about Alopi mata. In every temple, at least one idol or one symbol will be there for worshipping the goddess. But here, there is no idol or symbol. We have to imagine the goddess present on a wooden jhula. Hence the name Alopi.
  3. According to a local story, Alopi mata is a newly married bride. She disappeared from pallaki, when robbers attącked the marriage troop. As the bride disappeared like a miracle, she is worshipped as Alopi mata.
About the Temple:
This temple is peculiar in a way that there is no statute of any Deity in this temple rather there is a wooden carriage or 'doli' which is worshipped. The origin of the name, Alopi (disappeared) Bagh lies in the Hindu belief that when after the death of his wife Sati, the grieving Lord Shiva traveled through skies with her dead body. Lord Vishnu, to relieve him from this agony, threw his Chakra at the corpse, resulting in the fall of various parts of the body at various places in India, which were sanctified by the touch of the Goddess' body parts and hence were thereby deemed holy places for pilgrimage. The last part fell at this location thereby named as "Alopi" (where disappearance was concluded)and the holiest of all.

The other more convincing version dates back to the time when the entire region was covered by dense forests infested with dreaded dacoits. Once upon a time in that forest happened to pass a marriage procession. Marriage processions, in those days, used to be the most vulnerable targets of robbers as they used to return loaded with gold and other riches. While deep into the jungle this marriage party found itself surrounded by robbers, robbers, after killing all the men and looting the wealth, turned to the 'doli' or carriage of the bride. To their dismay when they unveiled the carriage they found there was no one inside. The bride had magically disappeared. The word went around, history became legend and legend became myth. A temple came up at the site where this incident had happened and locals started worshiping the bride as "Alopi Devi" or the 'virgin goddess who had disappeared'. However, this story provides no convincing explanation as to why the place would be deemed so holy.

Alopi Devi continues to be worshiped by thousands of people living in the region who share every festival, marriage, birth, and death with their guarding deity.

SANGAM (Triveni Sangam):
Triveni Sangam
Triveni Sangam
The sacred Sangam is the confluence of three of the holiest rivers in Hindu mythology Ganga, Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati which is also called the river of enlightenment.

It is said and believed that it is one of the four sacred spots where a few drops of the nectar 'Amritha" spilled while it was carried by Lord Maha Vishnu during the episode of Ksheera Sagara Madhanam.

The other three are Haridwar, Nasik, and Ujjain. These four places are called theerthas and considered holy by the Hindus.

Among them, Triveni Sangam(Prayaga) is regarded as the holiest and Tirtharaja. These three rivers maintain their identity and are visibly different as they merge. While the Yamuna is deep but calm and greenish in color, Ganga is shallow but forceful and clear, Saraswati remains hidden, believe that she makes her presence felt underwater The significance of Prayaga is widely known in the terrestrial and celestial universe. By bathing in the holy waters of the Sangam one is ridden of all sins and gets all his desires fulfilled. If it is coinciding with the Kumbh the results are manifold. The holy Sangam is the site for Annual Magh Mela/Ardh Kumbha Mela/Kumbha Mela.

The Magha Mela is held between mid-January and mid-February every year. The Maha Kumbh Mela attracts huge gatherings of pilgrims and others from all over the world. Prayagraj is world-famous for the Maha Kumbh Mela that is held once in 12 years. It is said that more than 30million people take part in the mammoth religious carnival which is supposed to be the largest gatherings of people on the earth.

Akshayavat (The Immortal Tree):
Akshayavat (The Immortal Tree):
Akshayavat (The Immortal Tree):
A sacred fig tree is located within the Patalpuri Temple at the Prayagraj Fort which is worshipped as the Akshayavat. Permission from the Commandant of Prayagraj Fort’s Ordinance Depot is needed to visit this tree. On one day during the Kumbh Mela, the site is open to all the pilgrims.

According to the local belief, the sage Shukdeva narrated Srimad Bhagavatam to King Parikshit under this tree. Once the Sage Markandeya asked Lord Narayana to show him a specimen of the divine power. Lord  Narayana flooded the entire world for a moment, during which only the Akshayavat could be seen above the water level. Hence this Akshay Vat is immortal and indestructible even during the time of complete destruction of this universe. But one can see the Akshay Vat from while traveling to Triveni Sangam via boat from Yamuna river.

Bade Hanuman jee or  Sleeping Hanuman at Triveni Sangam:
Bade Hanuman jee
Bade Hanuman jee
Hanuman Jee is undoubtedly the strongest personality in the Indian Ramayan. Hanuman temples can be located everywhere each and every village but the Sleeping Hanuman at Prayagraj is one of its kind.

This idol of Hanuman Jee in sleeping position exists only in Prayagraj at Sangam. As per the mythology, when Lord Ram after conquering Lanka and defeating Ravana came here to worship at Sangam, Hanuman Jee experienced severe body ache and laid at Sangam. Finishing his prayers, when Lord Ram asked Hanuman Ji to proceed further, Hanuman Jee denied proceeding due to severe pain. Sita Maa then blessed Hanuman jee and all the pains were flown away from his body by the sacred water in the Triveni Sangam.

Another belief lies with the people that, the year in which Ganga water does not reach Hanuman Jee’s foot, undesirable situations occur, such as drought and famines. People await the moment when the Ganges meets Hanuman Jee in the monsoons.

Mankameshwar Mahadeva Temple Prayagraj (Ishta Deva of Prayagraj):
Mankameshwar Mahadeva Temple Prayagraj
Mankameshwar Mahadeva Temple Prayagraj
Mankameshwar means God of the fulfillment of wishes and the Mankameshwar temple of Prayagraj was made to do just that. The legend of the temple is that when Sita Maa bathed in the Sangam and wished to pray to Lord Shiva, there was no Lord Shiva temple nearby the Sangam. Lord Shri Ram built a new temple for her, thus fulfilling her wish. This was the fulfillment of a wish, which lead to the naming of this temple as Mankameshwar. Even now it is believed that honest wishes made in this temple are fulfilled.

The temple is located at a 2 km distance from the Sangam, on the banks of river Yamuna. The temple can be visited all round the year and the timings are 6 AM to 9 PM.

How to Reach Prayagraj:
Prayagraj is an important pilgrimage destination in the Ganges plain and that is why it is well connected to all the major cities in Uttar Pradesh and India.

By Air:
There is an Airport at Bamrauli which is near about 10 Kilometers away from Prayagraj. Presently limited flights are available here. The second nearest Airport is at Varanasi that is 150 kilometers from Prayagraj. Varanasi being another important pilgrimage is well connected to the rest of India by daily flights. Both private, as well as public carriers, operate these flights.

By Rail:
Prayagraj is well connected by trains with all major cities, viz. Kolkatta, Delhi, Jaipur, Lucknow, Varanasi, and Mumbai. The main station in Prayagraj is Prayagraj Junction. Several expresses, as well as superfast trains, ply to and from Prayagraj.

By Road:
Prayagraj on National Highways 2 and 27, is well connected to all parts of the country by good roads and highways. Buses ply to all the neighboring as well as far-flung places such as Jabalpur, Manikpur, Varanasi, Lucknow, Kanpur, Patna, Jhansi and Gorakhpur among others. Both Uttar Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation as well as Private players operate these buses in large frequencies.

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