Shri Sthaneshwar Mahadev Temple in Kurukshetra

      Shri Sthaneshwar Mahadev temple is in the northern part of Thanesar, which derives its name from this famous temple. Thanesar is a small town, located about five kilometres to the north of Kurukshetra town. Sri Sthaneshwar Mahadev is a famous temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is believed that the Pandavas, accompanied by Lord Krishna, prayed to Lord Shiva to seek His blessings before the commencement of the Mahabharata war. It is also believed that Lord Shiva in the form of a Linga was first worshipped here.

      The roads leading to this temple were very narrow, so we had to park our car quite far from the temple and walk the rest of the way. As I walked along the narrow lanes, I saw small shops on either side of the road, selling idols of various Gods and artifacts related to Kurukshetra. When I reached the temple premises, I saw the sacred Sthaneshwar Tank on my right and the temple building to my left. The temple consists of two buildings. The one on the left, Mandir Sri Badri Vittal Sri Lakshmi Narayan Ji, was the smaller of the two. To the right was the bigger and the more famous Sri Sthaneshwar Mahadev Temple.

      The Sanctum Sanatorium of Sri Badri Vittal Sri Lakshmi Narayan ji Temple had three altars. The altar in the centre had idols of Badrinath, Vishnu, and Lakshmi. An idol of Adi Shankaracharya was in the left altar. Next to this altar was a Shiva Linga. The altar on the right had an idol of the Goddess of Learning, Saraswati. Next to this was an inner courtyard which connected this temple to the Sthaneshwar Mahadev temple.

      When I entered this courtyard, I saw a black idol of Bhairav on my left and a cream-coloured idol of Hanuman on my right. As I crossed the courtyard and moved towards the sanctum sanctorum, I found myself in a small room. This had idols of Radha and Krishna on my left and idols of Rama, Sita, Lakshmana, and Hanuman on my right. All these were made of white marble. As I walked further, I entered a huge room. This was the sanctum sanctorum which had a dome-shaped ceiling. There was huge black Shiva Linga at the centre. The Linga had white marble slabs along the border. On the opposite side of the room were idols of Shiva, Parvati, and Ganesha. There were many pictures on the walls surrounding the Shiva Linga. These pictures were quite unusual because the scenes depicted in these pictures were not well-known incidents. One of them depicted Shiva and Vishnu playing in the water in a lake. Another had Krishna and the Pandavas pouring milk on a Shiva Linga and worshipping Lord Shiva to seek His blessings before the Kurukshetra war.

      I found it quite unusual that there was no priest performing the puja of the idol. Instead, devotees were allowed to go right up to the Shiva Linga and perform the puja themselves! I saw lots of devotees pouring milk and water over the sacred Linga. A few decorated the Linga with marigold flowers. This scene is unthinkable in the temples of south India where we are not even allowed to enter the area around the main altar, let alone touch the idols.

      On the other side of the sanctum sanctorum, I saw a flight of steps which led me to a huge open courtyard. On my right, I saw another flight of steps which took me to a small room. This room too, like the one below, had a dome-shaped ceiling. The Shiva Linga at the centre of this room was the most unusual one I had ever seen in my life. A Shiva Linga usually has only one mound at the center. However, this Shiva Linga had one huge mound at the center and 10 small mounds surrounding the big one.

      To the right of the inner courtyard of this temple, was a huge room with two altars. The altar on the left had an idol of Jagadamba sitting on a lion. The altar on the right had an idol of Santoshi Maa. Both these were huge idols and made of white marble.

      The Sthaneshwar Tank was in front of the temple. This sacred tank had a huge blue idol of Lord Shiva. The tank was well-maintained and the water looked clean. There were steps, on all four sides, for devotees to descend to the tank. On the opposite side of the tank was a garden which had a huge idol. I found this idol quite unusual since the left portion of the idol showed Lord Vishnu with Garuda, and the other portion had Lord Shiva with Nandi. Was the artisan, who created this beautiful idol, trying to convey that Vishnu and Shiva are essentially one God? While standing near this idol, I gazed at the main temple building, I noticed one more unusual sight. The temple's gopuram did not look like the ones we see in the temples of north India. This one had a mosque-like structure with a lotus on top of that. A brass trishul was mounted on the lotus.

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