Gauri Shankar Mandir
The Gauri Shankar Mandir is an 800-year-old ancient Hindu temple that is graced by the presence of Sri Digambar Jain Lal Mandir that lies next to it on the main Old Delhi road in Chandni Chowk which makes it easily accessible via local transport and Delhi Main Metro Station from any corner of the city and especially from the Old Delhi Railway Station due to its close proximity.
The Gauri Shankar Temple as the name suggest is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is considered as one of the most significant temples of Shaivism which is a religious sect of the Hindu Religion that ardently worships Lord Shiva. It is blessed with an 800-year-old Lingam made of a brown coloured Phallus Stone that is wrapped within a marble structure that represents the form of a female organ. The Lingam which is universally known as a ‘Cosmic Pillar’ or ‘Life’ is seen wrapped with swirling structures in the form of snakes made of pure silver.
Legend has that the Gauri Shankar Temple was constructed by Apa Ganga Dhar who was a Maratha Soldier and an avid devotee of Lord Shiva. He was once severely injured in a battle and chances of his survival was minimal, in fact, it was none whatsoever and he prayed to Lord Shiva requesting that his life be spared and should his wish be granted, he would construct a beautiful temple in the name of Lord Shiva. Despite the odds, Apa Ganga Dhar survived and later went on to build this beautiful ancient temple that has miraculously survived the test of times over these eight centuries. Even today, one will notice his name inscribed in the Hindi language at the lower part of a pointed pyramidal roof like construction upon a tower that lies near the main entrance of the temple. In 1959, Seth Jaipuria renovated the temple and this fact is depicted in an inscription over the windows of the temple. Visitors will easily notice the difference in the previous and new architecture of the temple.
The Gauri Shankar Temple welcomes you with a stairs made of marble at the main entrance that is flanked by tall pillars seen with carvings of bells and chains. The steps lead you directly to a huge courtyard that is always packed with devotees from the city and neighbouring states. The Courtyard is seen with vendors that sell prayer or puja items and hence one can purchase Sandalwood paste, Rice, Bilva leaves [considered sacred as it comes from the tree of Lord Shiva] and flowers necessary for the prayer or puja activities here itself. The Courtyard also showcases a chair made of marble that belonged to a Hindu Saint named Bhagat Swaroop Bramachari who had spent over 50 years of his life in this temple. A Portrait and the Sandals worn by him are neatly kept over this chair and one can also learn about his teachings which basically focused on the methods of how to achieve spiritual enlightenment.
The Gauri Shankar Temple also homes the ancient shrine which nestles the sacred Idols of Lord Shiva and his divine consort Goddess Parvathi and hence the name of the temple was derived from ‘Gauri’ symbolising ‘Parvathi’ and ‘Shankar’ symbolising ‘Shiva’. The idols of both their children and rather sons who are Lord Ganesha [God of new beginnings] and Lord Karthik [God of War] are also seen inside the temple. In fact, one will notice that the idols of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvathi lying next to the ‘Lingam’ are dressed in real and pure Gold Jewellery and placed under a canopy made of silver. One main attraction in the temple is a Vessel made of Silver that can be seen above the Lingam from where droplets of water continuously drips over the Lingam and the other attraction lies behind the Idols which reveal extravagant and beautiful paintings done in silver depicting scenes and stories from the life of Lord Shiva.
The best time to visit the Gauri Shankar Temple is during the festival of Shivaratri when it is grandly decorated and filled with devotional activities. One should especially visit the temple on Mondays which is considered very auspicious as it symbolises the day of Lord Shiva. The temple is opened all year round and welcomes visitors from all walks of life and religious background on all days preferably between 1000 hours and 1700 hours. The temple authorities also offer free homeopathy services to anyone in need at their homeopathic clinic which is situated within the temple complex itself.