It was like stepping into a mystical fairyland! Just that it wasn’t exactly one.
I was about 10 when I first stepped into this ethereal fane & everything seemed magical!
Ensconced in a beautiful bower, verily in the suburbs of Mumbai, then Bombay, the place was nothing short of a fairyland; it had held me in thrall.
The vibes were different & yet powerful. I had always longed for our temples to reflect the quietude of a church but that was hard to come by.
And here, I got to experience just that. It was so peaceful & divine & devoid of devotees that I wondered why other temples were noisy.
‘Why did temples have to play blaring music? Why did an acquaintance visiting the temple have to ask me if I had finished my homework or if I were still naughty?’ I pondered.
But this place was different. It was exactly as I had desired.
It was hard to comprehend the significance of tranquility at that age; but I was awestruck; the place simply stood out!
Among the locals in the hermitage, were foreigners who had renounced their culture & flown all the way to Mumbai, India, to embrace Hinduism. Clad in snow-white habits & with the sacred rosary for a necklace, their irenic countenance radiated nothing but sheer bliss.
Again, as a teen, I had visited the place. It was a rainy day & the vale cloaked in a veil of mist, looked so enchanting that I was loath to leave the place.
I might’ve made several trips to this enchanting spot but for the sake of this post, made a revisit recently, with a dear friend.
The place —the Chinmaya Jagadeeshwara Temple, located in the plush suburbs of Mumbai —Powai, whose tutelary deity is Lord Shiva of the Hindu pantheon, is undoubtedly an Elysium of sorts.
As you drive closer to its precincts, the Linga or the hallowed rune that’s enshrined atop the temple tower, begins to loom large. This is unmissable & there’s something about the route itself that heralds a divine vibe.
The leafy boscage at the gates that lends a sudden coolness & the pervading peace —all cast a spell that’s hard to resist.
The occasional chiming of bells as you trudge up the winding steps is bound to make you feel instantly light & serene.
Once indoors, a commodious prayer hall greets you & believe me, instantly, your worries will vanish into thin air! The inviting entrance & the patio, pale in comparison.
At the farther end of this spacious hall is the sanctum sanctorum, & enshrined within, is the imposing marble statue of Lord Shiva.
Facing this marmoreal statue is the Nandi (Bull) in black stone.
At His feet, emplaced in a recess on the floor, is the Linga. My wild guess —so that the libation doesn’t sully the sanctum, this is placed in the floor-cavity.
Behind the sanctum sanctorum, is the statue of Lord Ganesha.
Talking about the ambience, unlike other crowded temples, this is simply —otherworldly! Even little children seem to display unusual aplomb; you’d hardly see them running amok or wailing loudly.
No prying eyes trying to size you up or tear you down, for all eyes rest upon the deity or are shut in quiet contemplation.
Arti time & the hermits —both men & women, Indians & foreigners, who cohabit in harmony, commence their invocation with utmost reverence &, believe me, their sacred chants are literally music to the ears —so soothing & euphonious that you’d be in a trance! No loud paean here.
White is not my thing but the temple’s milky white marble floors & their coolness, the white-washed walls, the roomy space, all invoke an atmosphere that’s very pacific & comforting.
The ingress although not very elaborately done, is certainly pleasing to the eyes & matches with the spartan ambience of the prayer chamber.
The neatly carved pillars depict Shiva in a dancing pose (Nataraja —the Cosmic Dancer, He, with His consort —Shakti, He crushing the demon Apasmara, he in a meditative pose, the sacred marriage ceremony et al.)
When beauty & serenity commingle, can divinity be far behind? The temple reflects just that — Satyam Shivam Sundaram!
So, the spartan hall is between these embellishments & the main sanctum.
Is there a lesson here?? The rites of passage are to be left at the portals, if the seeker wishes to seek Himself, to discover that Divine Spark!
And now comes another interesting tidbit! Inscribed on the frontispiece at the entrance, is a plaque in Urdu that caught my attention. (I discovered this only ‘this’ time as I was clicking to make this post.) Upon enquiring with the retainer, I was informed that that was the name of a Mohameddan benefactor living abroad. The inscription was a token of appreciation for his generous contribution to the building of this temple.
A temple that embodies the stillness of a chapel & one built with devotion by an Islamite!
Visit in the morning hours to experience this bliss, for, the place is usually devoid of devotees. Stay on for Arti, to experience oneness with the Universe & solidarity with kindred spirits.
Note-Since August 2022, (till further notice) temple timings are from 9am to 11.30am.
Take your time & sit awhile; pray & meditate as long as you wish. When you’re done, you’d not want to leave because you’d be afraid to shatter the equanimity you just experienced!
Once you step out, you’d be delighted to see this patch of green.
Just behind, is the silent green valley —a rarity in the otherwise loud city. The tranquil temple environs & the soothing verdure will surely lull your senses.
We felt so carefree that morning that my friend & I spent ample time ‘capturing’ soaring eagles & chasing flitting butterflies.
Monsoon clouds were waiting to release their payload.
The air was redolent with the heady fragrance of Coral Jasmine & Frangipani.
And flitting about, was this pretty brown butterfly with delicately dappled wings.
Outside is a bookshop, which you certainly must visit.
Housed within are sacred texts & stories from the Gita & other ancient scriptures. You can take your pick, which I’m sure will keep you hooked.
Those for children are so illustrative that you’d want to buy even those.
Abutting this, is another shop selling all spiritual stuff like incense sticks, brass lamps, Urlis, T-shirts with holy imprints et al.
A little farther, is Chinmaya Pradeep —a small gallery exhibiting the life & teachings of Swami Chinmayananda.
Little reminders of Vedic wisdom stand out on ‘leaves’ & pebbles, on placards & plaques, as points to be pondered over.
To some, these may seem too profound but definitely they’re worth ruminating over.
Once out of the gates, these would be long-forgotten. Yet, at that point, we were receptive to the readily available meliorism.
Surrounding this hermitage & contrasting with its timeless aesthetics are state-of the-art structures, which despite their cutting-edge architecture, look quite hideous & startling.
Yet, we revelled in the heartsease that was soon to be replaced by the mundane.
Once you’re out of the sacred confines, you’d again have to face the sordid city scene; but now, you’d do it with utmost sangfroid. In short, you’d be ready to take on the world.
Visit the place whenever you need an emotional catharsis, for, it is indeed a spa for the soul & if you cannot, given your hectic schedule, do pause to browse through the books that you might’ve picked up from the bookshop. An early morning perusal will surely set the tone for the day..
Of course, it’s needless to say that you must make a revisit, for, I’m certain that you would.
Wonderful narrative, as usual. Yes, it’s a serene place, especially for the devoted and for people who look for tranquility while meditating. I had been here 3 to 4 times and my first trip was in 1981 when my director,Mr.Rajesh Batra got married here , with the blessings of Swami Chinmayananda. I have always been drawn to this temple for its natural beauty, cleanliness and peace all around.
Thanks for rekindling old memories and urging me to visit again.
Yes, very tranquil & clean. Another drawcard is that unlike other temples, this one doesn’t encourage any songs/bhajans other than during evening/morning arti.
In short, people can pray or meditate in absolute peace & silence
Thanks. You must include this during your next visit.
Nice share…. soulful. Beautiful pictures to complement too. Those staying nearby are lucky to find peace at close quarters. Those staying faraway have to just read , digest the pictures and close the eyes in high devotion thinking of the dream destination.
Yes, we feel blessed that this one is quite close by. Do remember to include this during your visit.
Unlike some famed fanes, this one doesn’t have devotees in hordes. That’s a huge drawcard.
Very nicey written as usual…gane me a feeling of experiencing it through the blog…wil plan to visit sometime..
Beautiful place. There are so many nooks and corners which needs to be discovered. Thanks for bringing this place to the attention of all. Very well written as always. Enjoyed the snaps and the wonderful commentary.
Thanks for finding the time to read. Yes, that’s one reason I thought I must cover some lesser known temples for their serene ambience & beauty..
Beautifully articulated the entire experience.
Enjoyed the snaps as if one is actually in temple.
Thanks for finding the time to read. & Yes, do visit the place. Surely, you too will be drawn to it
Very nicely articulate this beautiful experience
It felt as if the person is actually on spiritual tour
Beautiful Shubrata.Lovely pictures to go with the narrative.
Thank you, Radhika. Hope you’ve visited the place. If not, do make a visit especially in winter or monsoon.
Really a spiritual trip.
I use to visit this temple frequently 25 years before when we were staying g at Andheri.
There use to be Geeta pravachan at evening.Generally I don’t goto temples but this temple has some different magic.
Absolutely true! I too think twice before visiting temples but this one is certainly irresistible.. very magical. In fact, one will be loath to leave the place..
Excellent narrative Shubrata. Never knew such a lovely temple with such serenity around existed in concrete jungle of Mumbai. Your description certainly makes it a very interesting read. Pictures too are apt and very good. Keep up the good work. Looking for more on your other travel stints.
I’m glad you got to know about the place. Do plan a visit soon. You’ll love it.
I have been to this place. On Mahashivratri this place is crowded
Of course, because it’s a very important festival for Shaivites. However, you must visit the place on other days, that is, if you haven’t. It’s very serene. What I like the best about this place is that unlike other famous temples, here you will get to enjoy the sound of silence! In other temples, chants/ music on the music system or by the resident hermits is a constant, which at least to me is annoying.
Thank you Sheela, for liking it..
Very well written Shubhrata. Great pictures make it all the more interesting. Your choice of words is rare, like your Sunday songs. Seems you have penchant for doing something offbeat! Keep it up.
Have you given the address of the place as well for people like me to make a maiden visit? Or do I have to knock the doors of Google kaka? 😊
😀. Some words have no substitutes, I believe & must be used where needed. I’m sure you too would agree. The temple is in Powai & yes, Google Kaka would help a bit. Do make a visit & you’d love the place..do look for Chinmaya Mission, Powai or Chinmaya Jagadeeshwara Temple, Powai
Beautiful narrative and images have been captured with great detail. Wholly endorse the views expressed by the blogger
Thank you for agreeing. 🙂 In fact, I was wondering if I must retain my childhood experience in places as mentioned. Ultimately, I felt I must, although I must also confess that I too am guilty for carrying on small talk, where it’s uncalled for.
Very Cleaned and Awesome Narrative! With Necessary & Perfect Photographs for Support!!
Thank you Subodh, for finding the time to read & for your kind words.
You are welcome!!
Very Cleaned and Awesome Narrative! With Necessary & Perfect Photographs for Support!!!
Beautiful narrative as always. This place is filled with so much of positive energy. Ideal place for deep meditation far away from the busy buzzing city life. I never imagined Mumbai could have such a lovely place to explore. It’s a must visit place for me on my next trip. Thanks for sharing.
Thank you for liking it. Yes, many in Mumbai aren’t aware of the existence of this temple. It can indeed be a sanctuary for the people of Mumbai, who’re always on the lookout for some peace & inner guidance. Do include this during your next visit.
Good write up as usual Shubhrata👍Beautiful temple, so clean and well kept. Great clicks captured by your lens makes the reading more interesting. Keep writing and sharing.
Thank you so much for that. Do visit the place if haven’t. You’ll love it & you’d thank me too because a few readers did manage to visit after going through my blog & they loved it..A unique temple indeed..