Shivrinarayan Temple : Where Shabari ate Ram’s berries
Chhattisgarh has been long known for its religious importance and Shivarinarayan is one of the most prominent places. With a special importance in the epics of Ramayana and Mahabharata Shivarinarayan is popular as a holy land where the great Rama devotee Mother Shabari, fed sweet Ber fruits to the Lord. Shivarinarayan is a famous Purushottam Tirth with beautiful temples dedicated specially to Laxmi-Narayan.
This is also the pious land where the three most holy rivers unite, mainly – Mahanadi, Jonk and Shivnath. The Shivarinarayan Mela is a reflection of people’s love for the revered Gods as they come here to wash every sin away. Chhattisgarh is a beautiful destination where Shalva, Vaishnav, Jain and Buddhist religions exist in cultural harmony, and Shivarinarayan is an example of the same.
Shivarinarayan enchants all with the enigma of famous events that have a very high Importance in the Hindu religion. Prominently known as the Purushottam Tirth of the Vaishnavas, Shivarinarayan is a favourite destination for all Vaishnav pilgrims. Situated on the banks of the Mahanadi River, this holy town is just 64kms away from Bilaspur and has maximum artistic temples of the Kalchuri Kaleen period. All these beautiful temples are dedicated to Lord Vishnu and their magic can only be witnessed by visiting this Purushottam Tirth.
Mother Shabari was a great devotee of Lord Rama and it was here that Rama tasted the sweet fruits of her loyalty and motherly love. There is even a temple in the name of Shabari and legend has it that this place came to be known as Shabarinarayan owing to the above belief. The splendid brick temple and various other temples stand testimony to many legends that Shivarinarayan boasts of
This ancient temple dates back to the 12th Century and traditional folklore has it that King Shabar of Dandakaranya had constructed this temple. The specialty of this temple is that it showcases the most unique idols and way of idol installation. The entrance of the teniple is decorated by beautiful creepers and flowering buds. In the temple’s Mandapa, God Laxmi-Narayan is seated on the left and all around the Idol, Vishnu’s ten avatars are painted with supreme creativity.
Proceeding further, one comes across the sanctum doorway which is very exquisitely carved. Shankha and Chakra Ayudha Purushas (anthropomorphic forms of conch and discus, attributes of Vishnu) are found on two lateral walls of the Mandapa just before the sanctum. The entire door is an exuberant showcase of rare artistic expressions portraying river goddesses, Ganga and Yamuna. These sculptures also include Saraswati, Naag. Nagin, and Tortoise. The Ganga and Yamuna idols are accompanied by dvarapalas of Vishnu, namely Jay-Vijay Right above the door, in the centre, is a breathtakingly beautiful image of Lord Ganesha Snakes and serpents are carved all around the jambs. Vishnu is present in the centre of the door lintel and in the remaining space above the door, his many avatars are depicted excellently. Another image of Vishnu riding over Garuda is present above the previous lintel.
Lord Narayan’s radiant Idol welcomes every devotee who comes into the Garbha Griha of the temple. This idol is crafted in Balua Stone and was discovered duri ig excavations. With the presence of Lord Vishnu resonating through the calm ambience, the impression of his radiant face remains fresh in the memory of every devotee, lifelong.
Situated just opposite the Nar-Narayan Temple, the Keshava-Narayan Temple holds Lord Vishnu’s most ancient Idol. Various images of Vishnu are adorning the door bands. If you notice, you will find that these Vishnu images differ in the arrangement of the attributes in his hands. Various Vishnu incarnations are depicted around this statue. There are two main pillars, one of which is beautifully painted and the other one is left completely blank. According to traditional folklore, the woman sitting at Lord Narayan’s feet is Mother Shabari. Crafted completely out of bricks, the Keshava-Narayan Temple dates back to the 9th century AD and the depiction of Lord Vishnu’s 24 incarnations at the main entrance is remarkable.
This is the only Shiva temple at Shivarinarayan and it is located near Nar-Narayan temple. This is probably the oldest temple at the site as evident from a Kalchuri Kaleen inscription found in this temple. The temple has been renovated and refurbished to a great extent. Created in the Chedi Samvat 919 era, this temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and beckons pilgrims from all over India.
Dating back to 1927, this temple is situated just a few steps away from the Nar-Narayan Temple. This temple resembles the Jagannath Temple of Puri and is equally sacrosanct. There is a beautiful tree in the temple which is called the ‘Krushnavat’ or the ‘Makhan Katori’. This tree is extremely unique and not found anywhere else. The leaves of this tree are in the form of a ‘Dona’ – A bowl made of banyan leaves. Every year, during the Magh Pournima there is a grand fair held here. Extremely sacred, this Mela lasts for around 15 days and is filled with feisty and piety. It is believed that every year, God Jagannath himself visits this holy abode. The whole fair ends on Mahashivratri and the energy of the people during this occasion is simply contagious!
Shivarinarayan is located at the confluence of the most holy rivers, namely-Mahanadi, Shivnath, and Jonk. This is called the Triveni Sangam or Holy confluence that washes away every sin and the water here is extremely pure. Devotees and pilgrims enjoy bathing in the sacred waters. The lush green fields of melons and cucumbers present an extremely wonderful sight. The scenic beauty of Shivarinarayan calms the flutters of the heart and purifies the soul.
Just 3kms away from Shivarinarayan is the Shiva temple of Kharod and a Shaiva Math. This is why it is called Shivkashi, Lord Shiva is revered here in his most gigantic form in the name of Dulha Dev. Along with Lord Shiva, Shakti and Kankali Devi is also revered in the name of Gram Devi. Pristine ponds decorate the entrances of the Nagar and a magnificent temple stands beside. It is here that the Lakshmeshwar Temple is located along with the Sheetala Mata Temple on the east, the Rama Sagar Devdhara Talaab and Hanuman’s Kirtipataka is on the North. The artistically crafted Temple of Shabari Devi is in the South and the Indal Dev Temple is in the middle. These temples are all extremely ancient and narrate soul stirring sagas of spirituality. The most important among them is the Lakshmeshwar Mahadev Temple.
Lakshmeshwar Mahadev Temple
Constructed with Immense passion by Somvanshi Kings of Sirpur, this temple has many secrets trapped in its mysterious stone inscriptions. These inscriptions mention the names of Indrabal and Eshaan Dev. In the inscriptions dating back to 1192, there is an in-depth description of all the Haihaya Dynasty Kings. Starting from King Kalingaraj to Ratandev III, entire generations are mentioned here.
The Lakshmeshwar Mahadev Temple is almost 1300 years old and belongs to the 7th century. The Garbha Griha of this temple has a unique Shivalinga. This Shivalinga comprises 1.25 Lakh other Shivalingas. It is so believed that when Lakshmana was returning from the victory over Ravana in Lanka to Ayodhya he contracted leprosy and fell down on that very land. He then created the Shivalinga and pleaded Lord Shiva to cure him, and Lord Shiva moved by his devotion, granted the boon. Every year, a very big fair is held here in February and ends on the day of Mahashivratri. It is believed since then, that Lord Shiva blesses every person who makes an offering of 1.25 Lakh rice grains on the Shivalinga. The wishes and prayers of such devotees never go unheard!
Hotels and shelters offer a comfortable stay to guests all through the year.
How to reach
By Air: Raipur (100kms) is the nearest airport well connected to Mumbai, Delhi, Nagpur, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Bengaluru, Vishakhapatnam and Chennai.
By Rail: Bilaspur railway station is the nearest station
By Road: Shivarinarayan can be reached via NH200. Taxis and public buses are available from Bilaspur.