Indians may be the programmers of choice in Silicon Valley, but it not just their tech skills that got them there. Many ladoos and coconut offerings also paved their way.
Some of them undertook 119 pradikshnas before their departure from India at the Chilkur Balaji temple, which is situated amidst lushy green trees on the outskirts of Hyderabad on the banks of Osmasagar Lake.
This abode of Lord Venkateshwara is more popularly known as Visa Temple or Visa God. Applicants for student and work visas to the United States and other countries pray at this temple ahead of their appointments with consular officers.
K.K. Reddy of Secunderabad is convinced of its magic. Reddy, who has been living in the United States for the past 25 years, was initially rejected for a visa. He then visited the temple and performed all the rituals. Behold, his second visa application was granted.
“I visited the temple just before my interview for visa and sought the blessings of the Lord. Can you believe it, I succeeded! I succeeded! Got the visa,” said the New Yorker. Now whenever he revisits home, he makes sure to pay obeisance to the Visa God.
The temple, built in the 1300s and among the oldest in Hyderabad, has long been popular with devotees seek fulfillment of their dreams. It became a big draw among US visa applicants after news spread that several engineering students whose visas had been rejected, had received the visas on their second upon praying at the temple and seeking Lord Venkateshwara’s intervention.
The temple’s appeal has since grown manifold among visa applicants, according to Prof. M V Soundarajan who is Hereditary Archaka cum Trustee Chairman of Chilkur Balaji Temple.
An estimated 75,000 devotees visit the temple every week, but the visa devotees have attracted the most media attention. Indians constitute the largest foreign group to receive the coveted H1 visa. Perhaps it is no accident that Hyderabadis are among the largest subgroup of Indian techies. Indeed, even the religiously skeptical hedge their bets by making a pilgrimage to the temple in advance of their visa interviews.
During the visit, devotees undertake prayer rituals, which include 11 pradikshnas, or rounds of the inner shrine. Once the wish is fulfilled, devotees return to take 108 rounds of the sanctum sanctorum to thank Lord Venkateshwara for granting their wish. Often the wishes of devotees are visa related, thus Chilkur Balaji is also referred to as “Visa” Balaji.
Hari Rao wants to join the University of Houston. He has strong faith in Visa Balaji and claims that a large numbers of IT professionals like him successfully obtained their visas after praying at the temple.
Like Rao, hundreds of students planning higher studies in the USA, Canada or Australia or professionals seeking a H1(B) visa to the USA take a pilgrimage to the temple for Visa Balaji’s blessings ahead of applying for their visas. They are convinced that Visa Balaji will ensure that the consular staff stamps their passports without a hitch.
Somnath Temple is believed to be the place where Lord Krishna ended his Lila and thereafter left for heavenly abode
The first Siva temple at Somanath is believed to have been built at some unknown time in the past
Gujarat was raided by Mahmud of Ghazni in 1024, plundering the Somnath temple and breaking its sacred jyotirlinga
Somnath Temple is a specimen of fine architecture of one of the 12 Jyotirlingas Shrines of Shiva. This place is believed to be the place where Lord Krishna ended his Lila and thereafter left for heavenly abode, therefore it is dubbed as Eternal Shrine. This legendary temple has been vandalized numerous times in the history but with the help of some Hindu Kings, the temple was reshaped each time.
Somnath Temple is located in Veraval on the western coast of Gujarat, India. The temple is popular due to various legends connected to it. The place is an important pilgrimage and tourist spot. Lord Shiva has a strong connection here and also known as shrine eternal.
Somnath Temple History
According to popular tradition, the first Siva temple at Somanath is believed to have been built at some unknown time in the past. The second temple has been built at the same site by the “Yadava kings” of Vallabhi around 649 CE. In 725 CE, Al-Junayd, the Arab governor of Sindh destroyed the second temple as part of his invasions of Gujarat and Rajasthan. In 815 CE, the Gurjara-Pratihara king Nagabhata II constructed the third temple, a huge structure of red sandstone.
The Chaulukya (Solanki) king Mularaja possibly built the first temple at the site sometime before 997 CE, even though some historians believe that he may have renovated a smaller earlier temple.
Somnath Temple Attacks
Gujarat was raided by Mahmud of Ghazni in 1024, plundering the Somnath temple and breaking its sacred jyotirlinga. Ghazni took away the wealth of almost 20 million dinars. As per historical records, the damage to the temple by was quite negligible because there are records of pilgrimages to the temple in 1038, which has no much mention of any damage to the temple.
But claims are there that Mahmud had killed 50,000 devotees who tried to defend the temple. The temple at the time of Ghazni’s attack appears to have been a wooden structure, which is said to have decayed in time.
According to an inscription of 1169, Kumarapala rebuilt it in “excellent stone and studded it with jewels,”
Then in 1299, the Somnath Temple was invaded by Alauddin Khalji’s army, led by Ulugh Khan. They defeated the Vaghela king Karna and sacked the Somnath temple. Legends state that the Jalore ruler Kanhadadeva later recovered the Somnath idol and freed the Hindu prisoners, after an attack on the Delhi army near Jalore. However, some other sources state that the idol was taken to Delhi, where it was thrown to be trampled under the feet of Muslims.
The Somnath Temple was rebuilt by Mahipala I, the Chudasama king of Saurashtra in 1308 and the lingam was installed by his son Khengara sometime between 1331 and 1351.
In14th century, Gujarati Muslim pilgrims were noted by Amir Khusrow to stop at that temple to pay their respects before departing for the Hajj pilgrimage.
In 1395, the temple was again destroyed for the third time by Zafar Khan, the last governor of Gujarat under the Delhi Sultanate and later founder of Gujarat Sultanate.
In 1546, the Portuguese who were based in Goa attacked ports and towns in Gujarat including Somnath Temple and destroyed several of its structures.
Somnath temple to Dwarka
Dwarka is an ancient city in the Indian state of Gujarat. It is very near to Somnath temple and due to its relevance to Hindu pilgrimage; people do tend to visit this place also.
The magnificent Temple of Dwarka has an elaborately tiered main shrine, a carved entrance and a black-marble idol of Lord Krishna.
The road distance between Dwarka and Somnath is 231 km and the aerial distance from Dwarka to Somnath is 210 km. One can also cover the distance through train which is almost 398km distant.
Here are some facts that are attached to this sacred and architecturally marvellous temple.
The present-day Somnath Temple was built in five years, from 1947 to 1951 and was inaugurated by then President of India Dr Rajendra Prasad.
Somnath Temple said to have been safely hiding the famous Syamantak Mani within the hollowness of Shivalinga, the Philosopher’s stone, which is associated with Lord Krishna. The stone is said to be magical, which was capable of producing gold. It is also believed that stone had alchemic and radioactive properties and thus it remains floating above the ground.
The temple finds its reference in the sacred texts of Hindus like Shreemad Bhagavat, Skandpuran, Shivpuran and Rig-Veda. This signifies the importance of this temple as one of the most popular pilgrimage sites in India.
According to records, the site of Somnath has been a pilgrimage site from ancient times as it was said to be the junction of three rivers, Kapila, Hiran and the mythical Saraswati. The meeting point was called as Triveni Sangam and is believed to be the place where Soma, the Moon-god bathed and regained his lustre.
According to Swami Gajanand Saraswati (a Hindu scholar), the first temple was built 7, 99, 25,105 years ago as derived from the traditions of Prabhas Khand of Skanda Puran.
The temple is said to be located at such a place that there is no straight-line land between Somnath seashore till Antarctica continent. In a Sanskrit inscription, found on the Arrow-Pillar called Baan-Stambh is stated that the temple stands at a point on the Indian piece of land, which happens to be the first point on land in the north to the south-pole on that particular longitude.
According to the text of Skanda Purana, the name of Somnath Temple will change every time the world is reconstructed. It is believed when Lord Brahma will create a new world after ending the one we are living, Somnath will acquire a new name of Pran Nath Temple.
On the walls of Somnath Temple, the sculptures of Lord Brahma, Shiva and Vishnu can be seen.
According to another reference in the Skanda Purana, there are about 6 Brahmas. This is the era of 7thBrahma who is called Shatanand.
The flag mast on the peak of Somnath Temple is 37 feet long and it changes 3 times a day.
The saga of Somnath temple is related to moon god and curse of his father in law Daksha Prajapati.
Non-Hindus doesn’t require any special permission to visit Somnath Temple. The decision was taken in view of security issues.Now, pack your bags and begin your journey to one of the most the sacred places of India.