Sunday, 6 May 2012

Gnana Saraswati Temple, Basar, Andhra Pradesh



Gnana Saraswati Temple is a Hindu temple of Goddess Saraswati located on the banks of Godavari River at Basar, Andhra Pradesh, India. It is one of the two famous Saraswati temples in India, the other being in Jammu & Kashmir. Saraswati is the Hindu Goddess of knowledge and learning. Children are brought to the temple for the learning ceremony called as Akshara abyasam. 

Basar is a census town in the Adilabad district in the state of Andhra Pradesh. It is about 30 km (19 mi) from Bhainsa, 50 km (31 mi) from Nizamabad, 70 km (43 mi) from Nirmal, and 205 km (127 mi) from Hyderabad.

According to legend, Maharishi Vyasa and his disciples and sage Śuka decided to settle down in a cool and serene atmosphere after the Kurukshetra War. In the quest for a peaceful abode, he came to Dandaka forest and, pleased with serenity of the region, selected this place. After his ablutions in the Godavari, Maharishi Vyasa used to bring three fistful of sand and place it in three small heaps and made images of Saraswati, Lakshmi and Kali with his mystic power and later conducted prayers. This idol made of sand has its face smeared with turmeric. Eating a little bit of this turmeric paste, it is believed, will enhance one's wisdom and knowledge. Since Maharishi Vyasa spent considerable time in prayers, the place was then called "Vasara" and turned into Basara due to the influence of the Marathi language in the region. 

However, according to the Brahmanda Purana, the poet Valmiki installed Saraswati and wrote Ramayana here. There is a marble image of Valmiki and his Samādhi near the temple. 

It is also believed that this temple is one of the three temples constructed near the confluence of the Manjira and Godavari rivers by Ashtrakutas. 

Historically, 'Bijialudu' a Karnataka king, who ruled the province of Nandagiri with Nanded as his capital in the sixth century, constructed the temple at Basara.

Many pilgrims come to Basara to perform the "Akshara abhyasam" ceremony for the children before they start formal school education. The children perform the exercise of letters, and devote books, pens, pencils notebooks to the goddess of knowledge. The Puja at the temple starts at 4 am in morning with Abhishekam which carries on for an hour. At 5 o'clock they start the Alankarana whereby the new sarees are adorned to the goddesses. The whole atmosphere is very pious and pure. At 6 am, in the rays of the morning sun, the aarti starts at the temple after which the prasadam is given to the devotees. 

Special poojas and celebrations are held at the temple during Maha Shivaratri, beginning 15 days before (Vasantha Panchami) and continuing 3 days after the festival. Devi Navarathrulu is celebrated for ten days during Dasara. 

The temple also has a Mahakali idol situated on the 1st floor very near to the main temple. Devotees often go to the nearby mountain which has an Idol of Goddess Saraswati on the top of the rock. The image of Lakshmi stands besides the Goddess Saraswati in the sanctum sanctorum. Due to the presence of Saraswati, Lakshmi and Kali, Basara is considered as the abode of the divine trinity.

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