Saturday, 31 December 2011

History Of Kollur Mookambika Temple, Karnataka

 The history of Kollur Mookambika temple states that there lived a demon named Kaumasura who was unleashing a reign of terror upon all the gods with his special power given by Lord Shiva. When all the gods were trying their best to stay away from his vicinity, Guru Shukracharya brings good news to the gods that this demon would face death by a woman, that is Parvathi Devi. Knowing this Kaumasura undertakes severe penance, Lord Shiva asks this demon to ask for the boon, sensing grave danger if he his offered the boon, this goddess of speech makes this demon dumb.

Hence this Kaumasura came to be known as Mookasura (mooka means to be dumb). Thereafter Devi mobilised all the powers of the gods and then this demon was killed by Kollur Devi Parvathi. She was hence forth called Mookambikai. This place where Devi killed Mookasura is known as Marana Katte.

The Kollur Devi thereafter became the deity of this place offering her blessings to all who sought her. She poses with all her radiance along with the shank and chakra in both her hands sitting in the padmahasana posture.

Suyambulingam at Mookambika temple

The Suyambulingam at Sri Mookambika temple is said to have come into existence when Parameshwara drew the chakra with his toe. This chakra is believed to be the Udhbava linga which has drawn its strength due its proximity to all divine beings. It is also very sacred since Kollur Devi is supposed to be merged with this Suyambulinga and that has made her acquire great power.

Here she is said to have formed part of Lingam along with Lakshmi and Saraswathi on one side and Lord Brahma, Vishnu and Parameshwara on the other side. Apart from this there is also an carved image of Shiva said to be injured by during the clash with Arjuna known as Kiratharjuna and this is on the right side of this Suyambulinga.

Adhi Shankaracharya is believed to be instrumental in Devi Mookambika taking this place Kollur as her abode. It is this place near the bank of Souparnika river that Adhi Shankarar stopped to fix the Chakram and on above it placed the Devi and this forms the central idol behind the Linga. This temple has been patronized by many ancient kings who donated many precious jewels to Sri Kollur Devi and they are still adorned by her. Many other hindu kings have also donated to this temple since it was believed to be the state temple in those days.


Kanyakumari, Tamil Nadu

 Kanyakumari is a town in the state of Tamil Nadu in India. It is also sometimes referred to as Cape Comorin. Located at the southernmost tip of the Indian Peninsula, it is the geographical end of the Indian mainland. The district in Tamil Nadu where the town is located is called Kanyakumari District.

Kanyakumari takes its name from the Kumari Amman or Kanyakumari Temple, situated in the town, on the sea-shore, the very confluence of the three water-bodies – the Arabian Sea, the Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean. In his work on ancient India, Ptolemy had identified Kanyakumari (Cape Comorin) along with the Gulf of Mannar as a center for pearl fishery. He also identifies Korkai, a place to the east of Kanyakumari as an emporium of pearl trade, also Travancore Census 1931 says that Paravars ruled that Coast and built the temple for their reverence to Sea Goddess

There are multiple myths revolving around this place:

    According to Hindu legend, Kanya Devi, an Avatar of Parvati, was to marry Siva, but as he failed to show up on his wedding day, the rice and other grains meant for the wedding feast remained uncooked and remain unused thereafter. As the legend goes, the uncooked grains turned into stones as time went by. Some believe that the small stones which look like rice on the shore today, are indeed grains of the wedding that was never solemnized. Kanya Devi is now considered a virgin goddess who blesses pilgrims and tourists who flock the town.

    According to another Hindu legend, Lord Hanuman dropped a piece of earth as he was carrying a mountain with his life-saving herb, Mrita Sanjivani, from the Himalayas to Lanka (Sri Lanka) during the Rama-Ravana war. This chunk of earth is called Marunthuvazh Malai, which is literally translated to "hills where medicine lives".This is said to be the reason for the abundance of unique native medicinal plants in the area. Marunthuvazh Malai is located near Kottaram about 7 km (4 mi) from Kanyakumari town on the Kanyakumari-Nagercoil highway.

    The sage Agasthya, who was himself an expert in medicinal herbs, is believed to have lived around this site in ancient days. The reason why, some believe, so many medicinal herbs are to be found on these hills near Kanyakumari. There is even a village by the name Agastheeswaram close to the town, named after the sage. Today, there is a small Ashram on the middle of the Maruthuvazh Malai hill, which tourists visit (after a short trek from the base of the hill), both to visit the Ashram and also to take a glimpse of the sea near Kanyakumari a few kilometres away, and the greenery below.


Friday, 30 December 2011

San Lorenzo de El Escorial, Spain

 The Royal Seat of San Lorenzo de El Escorial is a historical residence of the king of Spain, in the town of San Lorenzo de El Escorial, about 45 kilometres (28 mi) northwest of the capital, Madrid, in Spain. It is one of the Spanish royal sites and functions as a monastery, royal palace, museum, and school. It is also known shorthand as El Escorial or the Escorial.

The Escorial comprises two architectural complexes of great historical and cultural significance: the royal monastery itself and La Granjilla de La Fresneda, a royal hunting lodge and monastic retreat about five kilometres away. These sites have a dual nature; that is to say, during the 16th and 17th centuries, they were places in which the temporal power of the Spanish monarchy and the ecclesiastical predominance of the Roman Catholic religion in Spain found a common architectural manifestation.El Escorial was, at once, a monastery and a Spanish royal palace. Originally a property of the Hieronymite monks, it is now a monastery of the Order of Saint Augustine.

Philip II of Spain, reacting to the Protestant Reformation sweeping through Europe during the 16th century, devoted much of his lengthy reign (1556–1598) and much of his seemingly inexhaustible supply of New World gold to stemming the Protestant tide. His protracted efforts were, in the long run, partly successful; however, the same counter-reformational impulse had a much more benign expression thirty years earlier in Philip's decision to build the complex at El Escorial.


The Empire State Building, New York

 The Empire State Building is a 102-story landmark skyscraper and American cultural icon in New York City at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and West 34th Street. It has a roof height of 1,250 feet (381 meters), and with its antenna spire included, it stands a total of 1,454 ft (443.2 m) high. Its name is derived from the nickname for New York, the Empire State. It stood as the world's tallest building for 40 years, from its completion in 1931 until construction of the World Trade Center's North Tower was completed in 1972. Following the destruction of the World Trade Center in 2001, the Empire State Building once again became the tallest building in New York. Once the new World Trade Center is completed, it will be demoted to second tallest building in New York. The Empire State Building is designed in the distinctive Art Deco style, and has been named by the American Society of Civil Engineers as one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World. The building and its street floor interior are designated landmarks of the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission, and confirmed by the New York City Board of Estimate.

It was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1986. In 2007, it was ranked number one on the List of America's Favorite Architecture according to the AIA. The building is owned and managed by W&H Properties. The Empire State Building is currently the third tallest skyscraper in the United States (after the Willis Tower and Trump International Hotel and Tower, both in Chicago), and the 15th tallest in the world. It is also the fourth-tallest freestanding structure in the Americas. The Empire State Building is currently undergoing a $550 million renovation, with $120 million spent in an effort to transform the building into a more energy efficient and eco-friendly structure. Receiving a gold Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating in September 2011, the Empire State Building is the tallest LEED certified building in the United States.


Billingsgate, London

 Billingsgate is a small ward in the south-east of the City of London, lying on the north bank of the River Thames between London Bridge and Tower Bridge. It is found within the boundary defined by the river, Lovat Lane, Fenchurch Street, Mark Lane and Sugar Quay.

Billingsgate is the United Kingdom's largest inland fish market. An average of 25,000 tonnes of fish and fish products are sold through its merchants each year. Approximately 40% of that tonnage comprises fish imported from abroad. The annual turnover of the Market is estimated to be in the region of £200m

Billingsgate Market is served by almost every port in the United Kingdom-from Aberdeen to Penzance. Most of the fish is transported by road directly from the coast and arrives at the market in the early hours of the morning. Imported frozen fish is usually shipped in large refrigerated containers. Imported chilled fish is often airfreighted-sometimes from countries thousands of miles away-or arrives by sea via roll-on, roll off ferries.

The Market complex covers an area of 13 acres and is entirely self-contained. The ground floor of the building comprises a large trading hall with 98 stands and 30 shops, including two cafes; a shellfish boiling room; a number of individual cold rooms; an 800 tonne freezer store (maintained at a temperature of -26°C), an ice making plant and 14 lock-up shops used by processors, catering suppliers and merchants dealing primarily in trade sundries, non-perishables, poultry and potatoes. The first floor of the building consists of offices for use by the Superintendent and his staff. The London Fish Merchants' Association, the Trade Union, the Fishmongers' Company's Inspectorate, the Sea Food School Training Association and for individual traders.