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Home Eminent Columnists Sarvamangala

Sarvamangala

SarvamangalaKnowAP.com takes you through a magical journey across the weaving and craft centres of India. The writer of this column, Sarvamangala, has been associated with handlooms and handicrafts for 14 years. She has started and run, very successfully, a retail store in Secunderabad dealing with ethnic handlooms and ecofriendly craft/toys. She has her own outlet now....Anagha, in Banjara Hills, Hyderabad..

The business woman turned writer was earlier an airhostess with Indian Airlines. "I got into business and into handlooms by default", she says. I have an Air Force background and had no clue of how to run a business.But having got into it. she gave it her all.

She has travelled to the major weaving centres of Andhra Pradesh and other States of India and interacted with master weavers understanding the method of weaving from them and giving them colour and design inputs in return. Handlooms soon became a passion with her. "I realised the variety and scope of Indian handlooms after I got into it. The designs and combinations that can be made are endless and mind boggling...leaving one spellbound", she says. For instance, who could have thought that Kalamkari paintings could be appliqued on to sarees? or the traditional Lucknowi chikankari work done on Maheshwari sarees? or block prints on Kanjeevaram silks? or Jute infused into Tussar Silk sarees?

Read about all these and more in the forthcoming months in "Weaves and Crafts of India".

A Look At Srisailam & Basara

This time we will take the road that leads to one of the most popular Shiva temples in India, Srisailam and towards one of the two famous Saraswati temples in India, Basara.

SRISAILAM
Location: Srisailam near Kurnool. It is located in the forests of the Nallamalai hills, on the Rishabhagiri hills of Kurnool district.
Diety: Lord Shiva as Srisailam. The temple here is known as Mallikarjuna, which is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas.

A reference to Srisailam is found in the Mahabharata in the Vanaparva which states that Lord Shiva abides with his consort Parvati on Srisailam. Brahma also stays here with other Gods. A bath in the sacred lake has the same value as the performance of an Asvamedha sacrifice. It is said that the pilgrim benefits and his entire race is freed from sins. The Lingapurana also refers to the Jyotirlinga here. The goddess here is known as Brahmaramba. The place is one of the eight main sthans of Lord Siva and is a Shaktipeetha of the Goddess.

Sri Adi Sankara stayed here and composed the beautiful verses in praise of Mallikarjuna Swamy in Sivanandalahari. The Sthalamahatyam of the temple has an interesting story, of the origin of the temple. Princess Chandravati, the daughter of Chandragupta offered a garland of jasmine flowers to Srisailam and eventually married him. This legend is written on one of the stone records of the 16th century, in this temple.

Among the bas-reliefs on the outer side of the courtyard, there are two panels, which illustrate this legend on stone. There is another legend concerning the origin of this temple. The tribals say the Chenchus lived in these hills. Once Lord Shiva came to Srisailam on a hunt and fell in love with a beautiful Chenchu woman. He married her; and she accompanied him in his hunting expeditions to the neighbouring forests. Hence, he is also known as Chenchu Malliah. This story is corroborated by beautiful bas-relief, on the prakara of the temple - showing a tiger being killed by Lord Shiva with his trident. He is followed by Parvati dressed as a forest woman with a quiver full of arrows and four dogs. Chenchus are allowed admission into any part of the temple even today. The garbha griha enshrines a linga. The tribal people drag the rath (car) during the temple festival and perform minor services within the temple.

During the great Mahashivratri festival, thousands bathe in the waters of the Pathalaganga and worship Lord Mallikarjuna. The Chenchus also worship inside the garbha griha without the priests. Everyone is allowed to perform abhishek, they have to be Hindus, with the waters of Pathalaganga or offer flowers directly. The Buddhist pilgrims, Fahiyan and Hieun Tsang have made references to the Sriparvata hill.

The main festival period lasts from February to May, during this period the temple comes under Pushpagiri Math of Cuddapah district, while otherwise the management is taken care of by the Jangam priest, who is assisted by local Chenchus. The Chenchus take a leading part in the festivities both before and after Shivarathri. Goddess Bhramaramba festival comes a month or two after Shivarathri.

BASARA
Location: Basara in Adilabad.
Diety: Goddess Saraswati
Basara Saraswati Temple is situated in a village called Basara, Nizamabad. Basara is a village on the banks of Godavari River. The village is about 50 kilometers from Nizamabad. The temple is among the two famous Saraswati temples in India. It is dedicated to Goddess Saraswati, the Goddess of Knowledge and Learning. A number of legends are associated with the Saraswati Temple at Basara.

Legends state that after the Mahabharata war, Maharishi Vyasa and his disciples embarked on a pilgrimage. He decided to settle down in a cool and serene atmosphere. He reached the Kumaranchala hills on the banks of Godavari. Here he meditated by preparing three small heaps as images of Saraswati, Lakshmi and Kali with his mystic power. It is said that, Saraswati appeared before him and granted blessings. Saraswati is the consort of Lord Brahma. However, Brahmanda Purana is of a completely different view. It is believed that the poet Valmiki installed Saraswati and wrote Ramayana here. There is a marble image of Valmiki and his Samadhi, near the temple. Other legends related to the Basara Saraswati Temple reflect the belief that this temple is one of the three temples constructed near the confluence of the Manjira and Godavari rivers by Ashtrakutas. Historical lore proceeds with the view that, a king of Karnataka, Bijialudu ruled the province of Nandagiri with Nanded as his capital in the sixth century. He was the person to have constructed the temple at Basara. Various myths about the Basara Saraswati Temple had made it a popular holy place. In addition to that, this ancient temple is also renowned for its beautiful architecture. The structural designs of the temple dates back to the Chalukya period. The unique feature of the temple is that there are no carvings. The presiding deity is in a seated position with a veena in hand and bedecked with turmeric. The temple is also an abode of Goddess Maha Lakshmi, Maha Kali, Papahareswar and Pathaleswar. Basara Saraswati Temple is a place of adoration of Goddess Saraswati. The festivals celebrated in the temple are in reverence to the goddess of learning.

During Mahashivarathri, Dussehra, Navratris and Vasanta Panchami festivals a popular custom in the temple is to bathe in the Godavari River and seek the blessings of the Goddess. Furthermore, children are brought to the temple before the beginning of their formal education to a learning ceremony called Akshara Abyasam. The important festival celebrated is Devi Navaratrulu.  The temple in Basara is an easy place to visit from Hyderabad. The village is well connected through road and rail routes. The Basara Saraswati Temple can be reached by airways as the nearest airport is Hyderabad. After reaching Hyderabad, one can travel by bus or private taxi. Basara has a railway station and one can reach the village by Secuderabad junction and Mudkhed Junction. Road can also be another way to get to the village. Andhra Pradesh Road Transport Buses are available from Hyderabad, Mahatma Gandhi Bus Station and from Jubilee Bus Station, Secunderabad. Buses are frequently available every half-hour. It is about 201 kilometers from Hyderabad.

Month: August 2010.

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