Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Jewels of Mumbai: ISKCON TEMPLE @ CHOWPATTY

Radha-Gopinath at the Sanctorum
I have been wanting to write about special places of Mumbai for a long while. The first one, about Koolar Restaurant @ Matunga was published on my blog in July last year. Unfortunately, it has taken me more than six months to come up with a second Mumbai jewel. I hope to have more on my blog in the future.

ISKCON
My sister-in-law Chandra had come to stay with us on January 1. She had plans of visiting the ISKCON Temple at Chowpatty the next day morning. Chandra goes to the temple every Sunday. I was keen to go with her on this Sunday and luckily for me, I could make it.

Temple Gates
We set off in a cab at 7.45 in the morning - yeah, on a Sunday. I surprised myself. We got off at a point as Chandra was not too sure about the way and walked a bit.

Entrance to Radha Gopinath Temple
It was terrific walking around in Chowpatty that early on a Sunday morning. There were some pedestrians and almost no moving vehicles around. I got to see the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan (University of Bombay) for the first time in daylight. What a lovely building, it is!

Along the downstairs corridor
We reached the temple by 8.15 and I started clicking away my camera beginning at the gate. Believe me, the temple was beautiful with carved pillars and motifs and paintings. A lovely vision, indeed!

An intricately carved wall
The temple is set in the heart of Mumbai and its obviously prime property. The decor and etchings are amazing. Looking at some of the pictures, my daughter Vinitha mentioned that they could have been shot somewhere in Rajasthan.

Up the staircase to the first floor
We went to the first floor where there was the sanctorum with idols Radha-Gopinath in the middle; Lord Gopinath’s devotees on the left and Udipi Krishna on the right. The idols were beautifully decorated in jewel colours and I have tried my best to capture them in my camera.

The Sanctorum with the beautifully decorated idols
Bang opposite, at the other end of the hall (about 50 ft long), was the statue of Srimad Prabhupada sitting on a chair. The statue appears so lifelike. At the two corners on the same side were idols of Garuda and Hanuman facing the sanctorum.

Srimad Prabhupada at the other end
The ceiling was painted beautifully with chandeliers, both big and small. The walls around had a number of wood carvings and paintings of scenes from Lord Krishna’s life. I feasted my eyes on all of this, not getting enough. There were a lot of devotees dancing away as they waited for the morning Bhagavatam lecture that began at around 8.30 am.

The ceiling with chandeliers
That Sunday was the scene when Lord Rama confronted Ravana, the King of Lanka. The person who gave the lecture – it was in English – first read the shloka, letting the audience repeat after him and then gave his explanation.

Bhagavatam lecture in English
The lecture:

Lord Rama looked at Ravana and called him ‘abominable’ and ‘shameless’ for taking away another’s wife. The Lord points out to Ravana how despite having all things material, he still felt the greed to possess something that belonged to another.

The beautifully polished floor with a Rangoli painted on it
The lecturer suggested that we contemplate on this. He pointed out that how the greed for material possessions has made man so uncaring that he keeps grabbing from nature, depleting it. Today, he said, Mother Nature is reciprocating with Tsunamis and Volcanoes but Man is unable to relate to this for what it is.

One section of a wall of the hall with carvings and paintings galore
There are a number of summits happening around the world to bring down Global Warming. But the lecturer suggested that the solution to this cannot be brought about by materialism but only by spirituality. I could not but agree with him.

The decorative fountain just outside the sanctorum
There was more on the same lines and also how Man is being punished for his sins. Well, I don’t believe in a punishing God and hence I could not relate to this. But the audience obviously enjoyed the lecture. It lasted about an hour and was a unique experience for me.

The rich carving with gold motifs next to the sanctorum. This is just one side.
We went down after that and had prashad for breakfast – it was upma made of lapsi and tasted yum with a lot of vegetables. They also served herbal tea, but I did not have any as I don’t much care for the taste.


Painting - A scene from Krishna's life on a door panel
We visited the ISKCON shop selling herbal products and other sacred things. Chandra bought some packets of agarbatti for me.

The shop selling pooja articles
There was a tiny Satyanarayana Temple in the same compound. We visited that too and went around the compound clicking more pictures.

Entrance at the side to the Satyanarayana Temple
I had prayed that I should get to visit the various places in and around Mumbai in 2011. And exactly that happened right on the second day of the New Year. A totally wonderful experience, indeed! All thanks to God and Chandra.

Satyanarayana & His Consort

Garudan

Hanuman

17 comments:

  1. wow.... too beutiful for words
    u have to take me on my next trip to bby

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wonderful description & photos. I would like to visit the temple on my next visit to Bombay. Thank you Sundari.
    Chandra.

    ReplyDelete
  3. lovely, lovely pictures and great writeup covering points of lecture too inbetween
    We are going there in my next visit to Bombay!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Nice photos and descriptions. Neat.

    Quick correction though

    "there was the sanctorum with idols Radha-Gopinath in the middle; Lord Gopinath’s devotees on the left and Udipi Krishna on the right"

    The above sentence should read deities instead of idols, Sri Sri Nitai Gaurchandra instead of Lord Gopinath's devotees and Sri Gopalji instead of Udipi Krishna

    ReplyDelete
  5. Can you please detail the address for easy location.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. https://www.facebook.com/iskcon.chowpatty

      more info on https://www.facebook.com/iskcon.chowpatty/info

      Delete
  6. @ Anonymous - the address is:
    7, K. M. Munshi Marg, Girgaon, Chowpatty, Mumbai – 400 007
    Phone: 23665500
    It is very close to the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan (Mumbai University)

    ReplyDelete
  7. your post is excellent. its a wonderful temple. I too daily visit the place. one aspect which cannot be captured in your camera is the hospitality and love of the devotees of this temple.

    * The rangoli painting on the temple hall floor isn't a painting, but a rangoli arrangement of precious decorative stones embedded in the wooden flooring.

    ReplyDelete
  8. @ Anonymous
    Thank you for the comment.
    and thank you for the info about the rangoli :)

    ReplyDelete
  9. Thank you very much for the blog post... in temples, we refer to those presiding as 'deities', not idols. They are persons, just like you and me. Their forms are transcendental, not material, even though they appear in such a way as to be visible to our material eyes. And Their name is Sri Sri Radha Gopinatha. Thank you - Milind Joshi, Toronto, Canada

    ReplyDelete
  10. Hey good day!
    I cant believe we have such a beautiful place in Mumbai :)
    I havent visited it in my life & iam sure going to as soon as possible.
    Lovely post & beautiful pics.
    Thank you for this.Its added to my places to be visted list ;)

    ReplyDelete
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