Hanuman Chatti

Hanuman Chatti (7200 feet) is a few miles from Gaurikund; the name "chatti" indicates it used to be a night halting place for pilgrims. Juna Akhara Sanyasis live here during the pilgrim season, where they care for several small temples (the main one is to Hanuman, shown here), and take donations from passing pilgrims (it is empty now because I took this photo in November).  The flat space left of the temple is the samadhi shrine of Himalaya Giri, a sanyasi who must have lived in that spot for many seasons.  So for Hindus this site has two nodes of holiness: a deity temple, and a renunciant memorial.


This is a frontal shot of the main temple, which even with the tower is only 6 feet high.  The corbelling (overlapping courses of stone) to create the arch is clearly visible, here, as are the painted signs  identifying the Juna Akhara (a particular group of sanyasas) and the place as Hanuman Chatti.  Enshrined in the temple is an image of Hanuman carrying the mountain, which is one of his central heroic acts in the Ramayana.  The reddish banners and the garlanded lion are also symbols of the Juna Akhara.

November 2005


This is Himalaya Giri's samadhi (burial) shrine.  Hindus are usually cremated, but ascetics are immersed in rivers or buried as if sitting in meditation (samadhi); such burial sites often become shrines.  This difference reflects ascetic status as "dead to the world"--having renounced it years or decades ago, they are no longer bound by normal ways of doing things.  On top of the platform is a Shiva linga made from a stone set in the concrete; this identifies Himalaya Giri with Shiva himself. 

This photo shows the other side of the raised platform. In the center is the firepit (dhuna), with Shiva's trident protruding from it.  The forked pole at left doubtless supported some sort of covering to keep off the sun and the rain. 

The fire pit (dhuna) is the center of ascetic life.  It is used not only for cooking, warmth, and lighting the chillum, but is also the gathering-place where teaching is given and taken.  The fire itself is the god Agni, and so when one sits at a fire, one is already in the presence of god, who witnesses all that goes on before him. 

Here's a closer shot of the smaller temple on the left side, which contains a picture of the Goddess Durga.  It doesn't have the tower that the other temple does, and is clearly less important. 

Flanking the temple are two containers with tulsi plants, which are considered to be forms of the goddess Lakshmi.  So here the goddess appears both in iconic and in aniconic form.



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Last modified 1 September 2011