IN SEARCH OF A HILLOCK – UTTARA SWAMIMALAI MANDIR
At the time when India gained Independence, the population of South Indians in Delhi was meagre. As the years rolled on, the population increased and the Skanda Sashti festival which celebrates the killing of the Asuras by Lord Murugan became popular. The devotees felt the need of a temple to worship the Lord. Also known as Kartikeya, Skanda, Kumara, Swaminatha, and Subramaniya; Lord Murugan is the Hindu God of war and the son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Paravathi.
Why on a hillock, Lord Murugan?
Lord Murugan is the Lord of the Mountainous regions and as such, all the temples are situated on a hill. In 1961 the search for a hillock in Delhi commenced. Secluded in the village of Vasant Gaon, was a small hillock surrounded by a thicket of berry trees. Not discouraged, by the distance and its remoteness the task for the erection of the temple began.
Palam Marg in R.K. Puram is a bustling area with non- stop traffic and it’s quite normal to get stuck in a jam on this busy road. En route, I have glanced at the Pahadiwala Mandir from far. Uttara Swami malai temple is also known as the Pahadiwala Mandir or the Malai Mandir. Looming atop a 90 feet high hillock the temple seemed intriguing. Each time I mentally made a note of stopping by the next time, to climb its kachcha rasta all the way to the top.
Next time! Next time! Next time!
15 years passed by and I never did. Isn’t that how we all are? So caught up in the rat race of life that we never take time to pause and do the things we want to do. I waited too long!
Last Sunday I finally did. With parking easily available and no entry fee required, I was ready to see the temple in no time. As I stepped in, a huge courtyard opened up in front of me. It’s another beautiful world in there. There are different temples at varying levels of the complex. Photography is strictly prohibited as it is now in most temples of India. This is the time to pray, introspect and connect with The One. As I moved from one temple to the other I couldn’t stop admiring the sculptures. The magnificence of the temple had me spellbound. What amazed me was that the temple is assembled and not constructed. 900 massive stones have been assembled together without the use of cement or plaster. With its unique architecture, beautiful sculptures and intricate workmanship, the Malai Mandir is truly spectacular.
This is the only shrine where Brahmasthana Prathista has been done. What is Brahmasthana Prathishta? Deities portrayed in human form are not usually placed in the Brahmasthana or the center of the garbha graha. The idol of Sri Swaminatha, that took nearly thirty months to sculpt, is an exception.
There is a reason why I feel bad I didn’t go to the temple sooner. While the stairs to climb up is cemented and smooth today, the raw appeal of the kuchcha raasta as it intrigued me from the road is missing. The exterior of most of the temple is painted blue while a part of the main temple still has the unpainted granite sculpted stone. I wish the rest of the temple had not been coloured. While monuments and temples need a makeover, yet I wish while giving a facelift they would retain the old world charm of yesteryears that one identifies them with. What are your thoughts on this?