Jyotir Lingum Yatra
Thursday, December 05, 2002
Back to a Taj Hotel in Nashik
Today was strictly a travel day, first with a flight from Rajkot to Bombay, then a long busride from Bombay to Nashik. We are back in a Taj Hotel, which is much much nicer than the Hotel Aditya in Rajkot, Gujarat. I was left under that impression that Rajkot was not especially economically developed. In my mind, one example of evidence of this would be that very few of the signs for businesses were in both English and Gujarati (or Hindi as in Bomday). However, we were not in Rajkot to study economic opportunities, but rather it was a place to land before taking the 4.5 hour bus ride to Somnath.
Somnath is the location for one of the Jyotir Lingums. As I understand it, however, the original lingum (a representation of Lord Shiva) was destroyed by the Mogul Invaders. The last invasion was in the middle of the 18th c. The present temple was not rebuilt until the 1950s.
What disenchanted me intially was the incredibly high level of security. Not only were cameras forbidden, a common frustration for me in most of the temples we have gone too so far, but simple electronics, like my organizer, and even coconuts. I guess the message this should send back to everyone at home is that even though we are all being very inconvenienced by security in airports and temples, I guess I should feel safer...I do sometimes, but after the fact.
The big Somnath temple by the ocean was beautiful, and the noontime arati was very exciting with lots of ghee lamps, clanging bells, and the beating of drums, but along with this was a rather typical pushy crowd. I notice that many people in our group get out of the way for the locals, but my attitude is a little more chavalier, in that we are the ones to have traveled a great distance to see this place.
What was special about Somnath was a smaller temple nearby which is now considered the home of the Jyotir Lingum. It seemed to be run by a team of younger priests, all very helpful and enthusiastic about our desire to do a puja. Also, these gracious men were renounded for their ability to chant a beautiful Rudrum, a hymn to Lord Shiva, which we all enjoyed. Granted, we rewarded them for their services handsomely, but supporting them was a pleasure.
Tomorrow we visit Trambesheshwar...more soon.