Welcome to my blog. If you have enjoyed reading the first post on the TOI Heritage Walk and are back for more, I’m truly honoured to welcome you here again! Today I will write about the KalaRamji Mandir. Sit back in the chair, relax and read on.
Post 2 – Kala Ramji Mandir
Ram (or Ramachandra) is a Hindu God, an avtar of Vishnu. Born to Kaushalya and Dashrath, Ram was the prince of Ayodhya and married Sita, the daughter of Janaka. As the mythological tale goes, Ram was sent off on a 14 year exile to the forest and was joined only by Sita and Lakshman. Hanuman, who met Ram during the course of his life, became his devotee and dedicated his being to Ram. Ram is referred to as the Maryada Purushottam (or the ideal man) and is depicted in Hindu temples standing with his wife Sita, brother Lakshman and Hanuman, his devotee. He is depicted holding his bow in one hand and the other hand in Abhay Mudra (please Google this).
This temple is unique for several reasons. Located within Haji Patel ni Pol (I will talk about Pols in my next post, so wait for it…but for now, imagine an extremely busy residential campus), this temple is a Haveli mandir. Haveli means a mansion. Hindu temples are usually quite grand and elaborate with a huge courtyard and a garbha griha (the womb) where the deity is placed. The garbha griha usually is crowned by a tall tower (also called Shikhar/Viman/Gopuram) which is adorned with sculptures that represent scenes from mythology. The idea of such a layout is to have enough space for devotees to gather for prayers and discourses (courtyard) and for the tower to represent the geographical location of the temple (in the ancient times, the towers were meant to be the tallest structures within an area so anyone could spot it easily from a distance). These gopurams have also been used as watch towers by many a kings. However, the KalaRamji Mandir has neither of these two features. The temple is a part of a regular household where a certain portion functions as a temple and the rest is used as a residence by the families of priests.
This temple is supposedly 350-400 years old and is also talked about for the idol of Lord Ram here, which is made from a jet black stone called Kasauti (a rather rare stone from which to carve out Lord Ram) and depicts Ram in a sitting posture, his hand in Padma mudra (please Google this one too). The only other such idol of Ram is in a temple in Nashik, Maharashtra, India.
Fun fact (thanks, internet): Kasauti in Hindi means ‘test’. The stone gets its name from the old tradition of jewellers using the stone to check the purity of precious metals like gold, silver and copper. To test the purity of gold, jewellers usually scratch it against the surface of this stone. The marks left behind by pure gold are easy to identify and spot as opposed to metals with impurities.
Lore says that the then priest of this temple in Ahmedabad hid the idol during Mughal rule (when they destroyed many a Hindu temples, idols and structures) to avoid its defacement. Much later, the idol was unearthed in a serendipitous moment and placed in this temple for worship.
I don’t know if the lore is true (but I don’t see why it should be false either) but I do find it a unique structure. The temple welcomes you with the sweet smelling fragrances of the incense sticks and with sounds of shlokas and bhajans. And the idol of Ram is decorated beautiful with vibrant clothes and fresh flowers (see picture) and is definitely a sight to look at!
Hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed my visit and the process of writing this piece. Have a wonderful day. Be sure to come back for more of these posts. In my next post, I will share my experience of walking through Pols and about life within the walls of a Pol.