The temple at Eklingji or Kailashpuri is one of the prime pilgrimage destinations in Rajasthan. Eklingji has been the deity of the royal Mewar family since the time of Bappa Rawal, founder of the Mewar dynasty. Ek means 'one' while ling means 'lingum or the life giving phallic symbol of Lord Shiva'. The patron deity of the Mewar clan is considered the actual ruler of the region while the kings are merely the Dewan (or the Prime Minister) of this God of Mewar.
Eklingji, the city dotted with temples, is located about twelve miles to the North of Udaipur in Rajasthan. 22 kms from Udaipur, Eklingji is a complex of 108 ancient temples, incised out of sandstone and marble. The temple, built in AD 734, to propagate the blessings of Lord Shiva, worshipped as the Ultimate Reality, the supreme power, and the wholesome one - Parabhrama, is venerated by the Mewar household.
The temples of Eklingji located here, are exquisitely carved and dedicated to Lord Shiva, guardian deity of Mewar. This deity was regarded as the virtual ruler, by the Maharajas of Mewar - who considered themselves to be regents (Dewans) under Eklingji.
Legend and History of the temples of Eklingji
This temple is said to have been founded by Acharya Viswaroop, a contemporary of Adi Shankaracharya and is linked with the Sharada Math at Dwaraka, which was also founded by Adi Shankaracharya.
One of the legends relating to Ekilngji is that after killing Vrakshasur, Indra had meditated and prayed to Eklingji in repentance and to be free of the curse. According to another legend, Bapparawa had seen the Shivlinga in his dream when he was in trouble and when the problem was solved, he constructed the temple and later build Mewar. The ruler of Mewar regards Eklingji as the real kingdom. There are around a hundred more temples, big and small, around the Ekligji temple.
Bappa Rawal, who is said to have received religious discourses here from a sage called Harita Rishi, built the Eklinga Temple. The temple had to be repaired thrice, the last time by Rana Raimal (ruled 1473-1509). It is believed that the Eklingji temple was built on the site of a 72-roomed Jain temple that had a four-faced idol of Adinathji, the first Jain saint. The temple complex has 108 Shiva temples and is enclosed by a wall. First built around 728AD, the main temple is supported by columns and is made of white marble.
The architecture of the temple is parallel to the Jain temples of Gujarat. The flat top of the composite idol is covered with a Yantra, a mystic symbolic drawing, standing for the ultimate reality. Shiva here is worshipped as the Ultimate Reality, the supreme power, and the wholesome one - Parabhrama.
The Ekligji Temple Complex
Ekligji (Kailashpuri) is a town situated in a beautiful valley, attracting plentitude of visitors throughout the year. The temple complex is located at the banks of Indersagar Lake. The temple occupies an area of about 2500 sq. feet and is about 65 feet in height. The temple area is fortified with a strong wall running around it. The main entrance to the temple on the western side welcomes visitors into a big hall resting on lavishly carved pillars.
Within the walls of the Eklingji Temple, there are 108 shrines built of marble and sandstone. It is a complex with a flight of steps leading to the 'kund'. It has an ornate 'mandap' or pillared hall with the canopy of a huge pyramidical roof composed of hundreds of knots. The main shrine has a uniquely designed double storeyed porch and an altar – all made of white marble. The porch is covered by a flat pyramidal roof and has hundreds of circular knobs while the altar has a lofty towered roof. The interior is breathtaking with an ornamented silver doorway and screen, silver lamps add to the elegance and grandeur of the temple. In this main shrine is a four faced black marble statue of Lord Eklingji with Brahma facing west, Vishnu facing north, Shiva facing south and Surya facing east. In the centre of three images is the Shivlinga which is encircled by a silver snake. In this temple, Shiva is depicted with his family, Parvati and the elephant god Ganesh. According to a legend in the late 13th century Alauddin Khilji, Sultan of Delhi, had attacked the temple and hit the Nandi idol with his mace and out came a swarm of angry bees and attacked the high and mighty Sultan, who had no other choice but to leave his endeavour midway and fly for his life.
The underground pool in a corner of the temple has a small shrine. Nowhere in India is Lord Shiva worshipped with so much care and indulgence. The walls of the temple also act as an information bank on the history of Mewar. The walls have an inscription of a hundred couplets, engraved by Rana Raimal, that gives an insight into the history of the region as well as of the temple.
Outside the temple are the statues of Nandi, Shiva's bull and Bappa Rawal. Bappa Rawal is shown facing Nandi with his hands clasped. There is another statue of Nandi in silver in the hall of the temple.
The temple is the centre of attraction during the festival of Shivratri. The entire complex as well as the deities is decorated to make them appear as beautiful as possible. Devotees in large number throng the temple to offer their prayers to the Lord of universe.
The temple is open for the devotees at a little odd hours - from 4.15-6.45 in the morning; next 10.30 am - 1.30 pm and lastly from 5.15-7.45 pm (timings need to be checked before a visit to conform any changes). Monday is considered immensely auspicious day for devotees as such the crowd on this day can be more than usual.
Other Deities in the Temple
Other deities housed in the temple complex include Parvati, Ganesh, Ganga, Kartikeya, Yamuna and Saraswathi. There are also small temples dedicated to Ambamata, Kalka Mata and Ganesh in the temple complex.
Other Temples and Attractions in the Eklingji Temple Complex
The town of Eklingji is dotted with temples. There are about 70 temples in all. Some of them are - the Sas-Bahu marble temple, dating back to the 11th century. It is a fine specimen of ancient art with elaborate sculptures. The Adbhudji Jain temple is of black marble and it dates back to the 15th century. Other temples in Kailashpuri include those of Pataleshwar Mahadeo, Arbada Mata, Rathasan Devi, Vindhyavasini Devi
There is another temple called Nathon Ka Mandir in the temple complex with inscriptions dating back to the 10th century AD. No worship is offered here.
There are two tanks situated on the Northern side of the temple - Karz Kund and Tulsi Kund. Water from these tanks is utilized for temple services. Temple services are performed in a very elaborate manner in the Vedic and Tantric styles - everyday beginning at 4 in the morning. Shivratri is an important religious event, when the image of the deity is decked with jewellery.
At a distance of around 1 km from the temple complex is the cave of Bappa. This is a hot picnic spot for visitors.
The Lakulisha Temple built in 972 AD also lies within the temple complex. The temple is quite large but otherwise simple in structure. It has a shrine, a mandapa (columned prayer hall) and a porch in the front. The mandapa has pierced windows in its side edges, but the basement and the wall alcoves are plain except for two – one inset with an image of Goddess Saraswati, and the other with an inscribed slab. The structure over the mandapa and the shrine are fast eroding. The shrine has the idol of a seated Lakulisha and the doorway to the altar has a similar image engraved on the lintel. Alcoves containing various deities again surmount this engraving. The mandapa (columned prayer hall) is square in plan but the columns are laid out in an octagonal manner. The outer wall alcoves contain images of various goddesses.
Meera Bai Temple
A beautiful lake lies at a little distance from the temple alongwith a few other temples for company. Among these temples, the one built by Meera Bai in the 16th century is quite an elegant one. The temple has several 16th century sculptures mostly damaged and an eagle headed garuda (half man and half bird on which Lord Vishnu rides). The exterior of the shrine has a flying Kicaka or bracket figure playing a flute, and not Lord Krishna, as was previously believed. The most surprising fact is that the temple has no deity of Meera Bai, a Mewari princess. Meera was a poetess, saint and the daughter-in-law of Maharana Sangram Singh more popularly called Rana Sanga.
Bappa Rawal- Chhatri Attraction
This is neither a town nor a historical site. This place has only the chhatri (cenotaph) of Bappa Rawal in a jungle. The cenotaph contains the figure of Bappa Rawal and an image of Lord Vishnu. Bappa Rawal was the eighth descendent of Guhil, founder of the kingdom of Mewar. Bappa was brought up at the Shiva Temple at Eklingji and reigned during the 7th and 8th century. He defeated the Mauryas and took over the Chittaurgarh fort in 677 AD.
A small stream from a kund (tank) runs through the place and lends a romantic feel to it. The cenotaph, the jungle and the stream all together make up the place called Bappa Rawal.
Location and Transport
The Eklingi temples are situated approximately 24 km to the north of Udaipur in the state of Rajasthan in India. Eklingji is built on the shore of a small lake bounded by the surrounding hills. A religious place from every angle it is also well known as Kailashpuri or the abode of Shiva, the family deity of the ruling Mewar dynasty. Even today the maharana of Udaipur visits this marble temple every Monday. The Lord is regarded as the real ruler of the state who functions through his representative on earth, the Maharana of Udaipur.
Udaipur is well connected by road with various cities and towns of Rajasthan. Rail network connects Udaipur with Delhi, Ahmedabad, Jaipur and Chittorgarh. There is also a domestic airport, serviced by almost all the major airlines.