The story of Nashik’s Kalaram temple

News Excerpt:

Prime Minister of India recently visited the Kalaram Mandir on the banks of the Godavari in the Panchavati area of the Nashik city in Maharashtra.

About the Historical background of the Temple:

A number of important events described in the epic story of Lord Ram took place here. 

  • Ram, along with Sita and Lakshman, spent the first few years of their 14-year exile in Dandakaranya, the dense forest in central India of which Panchavati was a part.
  • The temple is the site of a landmark agitation led by Babasaheb Ambedkar demanding temple entry rights for Dalits more than 90 years ago.
    • In 1930, B R Ambedkar and the Marathi teacher and social activist Pandurang Sadashiv Sane, known as Sane Guruji, led an agitation to demand access for Dalits to Hindu temples.
    • On March 2, 1930, Ambedkar organised a large protest outside the Kalaram temple.
    • Protesters faced opposition, and Ambedkar intervened to maintain peace. 
    • The agitation continued until 1935. Ambedkar had earlier led a 1927 satyagraha for Dalit water rights. Sane Guruji too, traveled all over Maharashtra to campaign for Dalit rights, and led a protest fast at the Vitthal Temple in Pandharpur.

Temple’s Uniqueness and Architecture: 

  • The Kalaram temple derives its name from a black statue of the Lord — Kala Ram translates literally to “Black Ram”. 
  • The sanctum sanctorum has statues of Ram, Sita, and Lakshman, and a black idol of Hanuman at the main entrance.
  • The temple, which is visited by thousands of devotees every day, was built in 1792 with the efforts of one Sardar Rangarao Odhekar
  • It is said that Sardar Odhekar dreamt of a black-coloured statue of Lord Ram in the Godavari, and recovered the statues from the river and built the temple. 
  • The place where statues were found was named Ramkund, according to the Kala Ram Mandir Sansthan.
  • The main temple has 14 steps, which represent the 14 years of Ram’s exile. It has 84 pillars, which represents the cycle of 84 lakh species that one has to complete in order to be born as a human. 
  • In the temple premises, there is also a very old tree, with an impression of Lord Dattatreya’s footprints on stone beneath it. 

About Panchavati’s Uniqueness:

  • Panchavati has a special place in the Ramayana and, therefore, in the Hindu religion.
    • Panchavati, a part of Dandakaranya in central India, holds significance in the Ramayana as the initial abode during Lord Rama's exile. 
    • The area, named after five banyan trees, witnessed pivotal events, including Sita's abduction by Ravan. 
    • This incident prompted Ram's journey southward, culminating in the war against the king lanka, Ravan.

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