Kankhal

 Kankhal is a village about 3 miles south of Haridwar, and most pilgrims to Hardwar visit Kankhal at least once, since it has several important sacred places. For many years Kankhal was a much larger town than Haridwar, and many wealthy Hindus built homes in the early 19th century. It's a smaller town now, less busy, and full of ashrams and religious centers. This shows one of the ashrams there, decorated for the Kumbha Mela, and was taken in April 1998.

 
Kankhal's main attraction is the Daksha Mahadev Temple, which is a temple to Shiva.  The temple's charter myth tells how Shiva's wife Sati (who was also Daksha's daughter) went to her natal home when her father was sponsoring a sacrifice.  At the sacrifice, Daksha publicly insulted Shiva, and in her anger and shame Sati self-immolated on the spot.  Shiva was enraged when he heard the news, and sent his minions to destroy Daksha's sacrifice, which they did.  In the end, Daksha proclaimed Shiva as the greatest god of all, and out of grace Shiva agreed to remain on that spot forever, in the form of a linga.  This particular temple was built in 1961.  This photo was taken in February 1990, when the temple was decorated for the festival of Shivaratri.  

 

Here's another view of the temple looking from the eastern side.  It clearly fits the architectural pattern found in north Indian temples, with the single central spire (whose summit is over the temple's primary deity) surrounded by smaller domes.  The shed-roofed building in the foreground encloses the sacrificial fire-pit, in which according to tradition Sati met her end.

This photo was taken in January 2005.

 

This shows the lower part of the temple--you can see the picture of Shiva carrying the body of Sati, his wife, as well as the multiple levels and the elaborate decoration in the construction.    

This photo was taken in spring 1998. 

 
This is a sacred banyan tree, whose aerial roots have been wrapped in red cloth.  English visitors  in 1789 mentioned an enormous banyan tree as a sacred object at the Daksha temple, and although this is almost certainly not the same tree, it is undoubtedly older than any of the temples built here.    

 

This is a picture of Anandamayi Ma, a modern Hindu saint whose followers saw her as an incarnation of the Goddess. Her followers built her a large ashram in Kankhal, the place she chose to live, and this is also where she is buried after she died in 1982 at an advanced age. Her burial site is exceptionally quiet and peaceful, matching the serenity she exhibits in this picture, and possessed all of her life. 

 

This is the doorway from one of the grand houses of the early 19th century, showing its hand-painted decorations.  Traveler's reports from that time describe these grand structures, which fronted on the main road leading toward Haridwar (and which were largely facades).  Unfortunately, this building hasn't really been kept up, and since the weather in north India is pretty hard on paint and masonry (cold, very hot, wet, etc.), it is in pretty bad shape.

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Last modified 25 December 2003