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Gorekhanath Temple: Glimpses of History in The Present Age

As we have said at the beginning, we always try to bring out what is beautiful and ancient in our fair state and the Gorekhanath Temple at Jagatsinghpur is a good example. This post is a compilation of experiences that one of our team members collected when he visited the site about three weeks ago. We have collated all of that into a video for you to peruse.

How do we get there?

Jagatsinghpur is connected to Cuttack via NH43 splitting from NH12. From there on there is a 13 minute drive to Gorekhanath. However a better route will be to take NH12 (Cuttack-Paradip Rd) straight out to Jaipur (not the one in Rajasthan) and turn right out of the highway. Overall it would take a car about an hour and 30 minutes to reach Gorekhanath from Cuttack. There is also a railway station at Gorekhanath itself where trains ply the Cuttack-Paradip route.

Gorekhanath Temple gate

The History

It is said that Yogi Gorekhanath along with his master Matsyendranath established a pitha here under a banyan tree for meditation. As the story goes Lord Shiva descended from Kailash Parbat (Mt. Kailash) to instruct Parvati about the Yoga doctrine at the sea shore. As Matsyendranath was present close by in the sea as a fish, he overheard the two and also learnt about Yoga.

Later on Matsyendranath gave a woman something to eat so that she may bear a son. However she did not eat it but threw it away in a dung pile. Twelve years later Matsendranath came upon the woman again and asked about the child. She told him what she did so he checked the dung pile. He found a child in the dung and named him Gorekhanath. There are many variations of this legend across India.

Gorekhanath became Matsendranath’s disciple and founded the Nath tradition of master Yogis who are practioners of Hatha Yoga. His sect of yogis are credited with the establishment of many pithas around western and northern India, the most famous being Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh.

This particular pitha is supposedly the first established by Yogi Gorekhanath himself and the massive banyan tree which covers the pitha is said to be the one underneath where he sat to meditate.

What Can You Find There?

There are three gates that lead into the compound, one to the north, one west and another facing southwards. All gates have attached parking spaces for tourist vehicles. The north and west gates are close to a small pond and the south gate leads to another temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. At the center of the compound sits a massive banyan tree with the main temple built into the roots themselves. There are shops for pooja ingredients as well as well as small rooms for devotees.

You would find a troupe of monkeys around the tree as well as a collection of birds who prefer the tree compared to the surrounding areas. There are also many king cobras around the compound but they are rarely seen and are considered to be auspicious when spotted.

The tree itself has no central trunk and is spread over a wide area. The main temple has been built alongside the roots and special care was taken so that no part of the tree was harmed during building it.

Traditions

There is a belief that any cows suffering from illness can be cured if the owners come and pray at the Gorekhanath Temple. It is said that snakebite can also be cured by praying at the temple. Devotees tie red bangles with red string to the roots of the tree so their wishes may come true.

Temple side

During Mahashivratri, the visiting crowds swell to a great degree as devotees gather en mass to worship Siddha Gorekhanath, the presiding deity of the temple. King cobras are said to come out in large numbers on this day.

In the End

Gorekhanath has become a popular destination for both tourists and pilgrims. However all this is relatively new. Not too long ago the pitha was surrounded by farms and devotees braved snakebites from king cobras to visit the temple. There are other attractions nearby as well in the form of the famous Sarala Devi Temple. However our teammate did not visit there so we don’t have anything from that.

We heartily recommend all to visit this place, be they religious or not. It is a beautiful and peaceful place and is not too far from Cuttack, a easy destination for anyone trying to get away from the hustle bustle of the twin cities.

We will continue to bring more content like this to the blog so keep visiting and reading. See you soon.

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