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Amid ceaseless chants of Radhe Radhe and devotional songs blaring out of the loudspeakers, Govind Devji Temple is far from being secluded. Located within the City Palace conclave, this temple is devoted to Lord Krishna and has a history that is much older than the city palace itself. Although built on the orders of the illustrious Maharaja Man Singh, it is believed that the consent and the allotted land, was actually a gift from King Akbar. This shrine, however, has not always been where it is today, as the original temple was built in the late 16 Century in Uttar Pradesh. Over the years, the idol of Lord Krishna traveled from Govindpura Village to Kanak Valley, till finally in 1735 A.D., it was enshrined in “Suraj Mahal”, which was to be the permanent site of this temple. Today, thousands of devotees arrive here for divine blessings. Each evening brings in its wake, an electric atmosphere with mythological plays been enacted on the temple grounds, as devotees wait eagerly to catch a glimpse of their beloved Lord. Once the temple door opens, as is the custom, there is a collective cry of joy that is nothing short of startling. Anyone who wants to observe the essence of the Hindu religion and its association with the masses should come here.
Far away from the city centre, lies the historic Galtaji Temple which was a drought-stricken place in the past. Centuries ago an ascetic named Galav meditated for more than a hundred years to appease the Gods and Goddesses, who then blessed him and the fervent locals with a perennial natural spring in this region. In the 18th Century, this temple was built in honour of the selfless effort of the saint. Galtaji has many temples within its premises. The pink sandstone exteriors and spellbinding architecture of these temples might easily be mistaken for palaces. Situated atop the hill, this temple dedicated to the Sun God, is considered the most sacred of all the shrines here. On auspicious occasions, devotees cleanse themselves in the holy natural springs and offer their prayers to God. Positive vibrations of devotional hymns and expansive views of the city, contribute to the tranquility of this sacred space.
On visiting Jaipur, one will see the abundance of temples and palaces. But the Moti Dungri Temple is a class apart from all other temples. The word "moti" means "pearl" and "dungri" means hill in Hindi. This religious shrine is located atop a hill and is adjacent to a palace. The temple, which is dedicated to Lord Ganesha, attracts large crowds, some who come to pay homage to the deity and others who come there for the magnificent view it offers. This temple is one of the main tourist attractions in the city and many tours are conducted for those who wish to visit it during their stay in the city.
More popularly known as the Birla Temple, Laxmi Narayan Temple serves as a tourist attraction, as well as a significant place of worship. Built in 1985 by the B.M Birla foundation, this temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and His wife, Goddess Laxmi. Constructed from pure white marble, the enclave is best visited in the evenings, when the brilliant lighting scheme accentaues the delicate marble work across the facade. As a matter of fact, white marble is a common feature in of all the Birla Temples across the country, including the ones in cities like New Delhi and Kolkata. The one in Jaipur is set in the middle of a vast garden and overlooked by the spectacular Moti Doongri. Other than that, the Laxmi Narayan Temple premises also house a souvenir shop called Amrit Malini.
Just before entering Singhpol, or the main entrance leading to Diwan-i-Aam, you would find Temple of Goddess Shilla that has an interesting history behind it. According to one of the many legends, the then reigning Maharaja, Man Singh, once dreamt about Goddess Kali, who ordered him to get Her idol from the seabed near Jessore. Being an ardent devotee, he promptly acted on it and ordered for a temple to be built within the Amer Fort complex. Since then, this black Idol of Kali or Shilla Mata sits in the temple that is made of pure white marble, creating a beautiful contrast. At the entrance of the temple, you will find a Ganesh idol carved out of a single coral, which incidentally is one of the largest in the world. But what sets this temple apart from the others is the offering made to the deity: meat and whiskey! It is said that back in the 17th century, when the temple was built, Maharaja Man Singh faced problems and much opposition from the Brahmins of that time, who refused to carry out any rituals in the temple because of the nature of the offerings. Finally, he had to get four Pandit families from Bengal to perform the daily rituals. And to this day, it is the descendants of one of those families that take care of this temple.
This one-of-its-kind, Krishna-Mira temple was built in memory of Jagat Singh, son of Maharaja Man Singh and his first wife Kankavati Devi. The entire structure is crafted from black marble and sandstone, while the upper floor and ceiling are covered with intricate paintings, depicting scenes from various mythological stories. The main beauty, however, lies in the idols made of white marble that is placed in the main area that is brightly lit up even during the day. One of the hundreds of temples in Amer, Jagat Shiromani Temple was built from the late sixteenth to the early seventeenth century. Tucked away in one of the narrow streets that lead to Amer Fort, it should be visited for its ancient vegetable dye paintings and delicate artwork.
Nestled away cozily in the north of Jaipur, lies the lush green Kanak Vrindavan Valley. It was christened by Sawai Jai Singh, who was the ruler and founder of Jaipur. This natural attraction is one of the most visited tourist spots in Jaipur owing to its gorgeous ancient stone temples and the picturesque scenery it offers. The valley is also a favorite spot for film shooting and picnickers, and is also a perfect spot to watch exotic migratory birds.
A jewel of Sanganer, the foundation of Shri Digamber Jain Atishay Kshetra Mandir Sanghi Jee dates back to over 1100 years. The architectural style of the temple reflects that of the Mount Abu Dilwara Temple, while the eight crests of the temple resemble Khajuraho (famous temple in Madhya Pradesh). The courtyard at the first gate is made from Pylons of red stone, while the pillars have exquisite carvings of Kinnera Devis (Musician Goddesses). The courtyard at the second gate depicts the Dhola Maru image from the 8th and 10th Centuries. The Nij Mandir (inner temple) has three crests etched with flowers and elephants, and an idol of Lord Parshwanath placed in between. One would find such mystic idols, the oldest being the idol of Lord Adinath, enshrined in one of the three small temples around the courtyards. The main highlight of the seven-story Sanghiji temple is the underground section where carefully restored Jain statues and idols lie beneath. Entry is permissible only to ascetic saints who fix an auspicious date for the idols to be taken out for darshan (prayers). Religious Jain devotees and tourists from all over the world come to witness this spectacular occasion. With an aim to serve the community, the temple committees also have started a dharmashala (lodging), bhojanalaya (kitchen), school and hospital. Overall, the splendid temple is an educational subject for architecture students, and most of all, an evidence of rich history and culture yet to be unfolded.