India is a land of historic monuments, amazing temples, churches, mosques and mausoleums. A veritable treasure trove for history, culture and architecture aficionados. Apart from the well-known sights and sounds, India has some wonderful surprises at many nooks and corners of its vast expanse which are relatively unknown.
The quest for something unusual took me to Jamnagar, a city situated on the western coast of India, in the state of Gujarat. The city is famous for housing the World’s largest oil refinery nearby. Jamnagar was a princely state known as Nawanagar and was founded in the year 1540 and one of its most illustrious Kings or Maharajah was the legendary cricketer Ranjitsinghji.
But it was not the love of cricket nor was it any latent interest in oil refining that brought me to Jamnagar.
What had stimulated my interest and drawn me like a magnet to this historic city was a small, ordinary looking Hindu temple dedicated to the childhood form of the Indian Monkey God, Hanuman. Outwardly and inwardly there was nothing extraordinary about this temple. One can find such temples in any village, town or city of the country in dozens.
As you enter the temple you are greeted by the mellifluous ring of the bells and a sweet humming chant soothingly touches your ears and enters your heart. On looking closer you spot a group of men and women who are chanting a Mantra in praise of the Indian God Ram. The words are simple enough but the devotion with which they are chanted transform them into a divine paean. The visitors to the temple would sit down with the group chanting the Mantra and join in the chanting of the simple words, “Shri Ram, Jay Ram, Jay, Jay Ram”.
But this is nothing extraordinary, this again happens in temples all over the country.
What is really incredible is the fact that this chanting was started on the morning of the 1st of August, 1964 and has been going on uninterrupted now for more than 52 years!
Young boys have grown into old men, the world has changed in so many different ways, but the chanting goes on. The devotees take turns in a relay system and this devotional audio offering to their beloved God continues in a perpetual and melodious flow of prayer. Rain, storm, earthquakes, wars, nothing has interrupted this devotional tribute. The temple has been featured in the Guinness Book of World Records twice and is now an important place to visit, when in Jamnagar.
How to reach Jamnagar, Gujarat, India
By road: Jamnagar is about 90 kilometers from Rajkot and around 305 kilometers from Ahmedabad. Gujarat state transport buses and private luxury coaches connect Jamnagar with various cities of Gujarat.
By rail: There are daily trains from Ahmedabad.
By air: There is an airport 10 kilometers from Jamanagar town. Various domestic airlines connect Jamnagar to Mumbai.
If you happen to visit India and happen to be in Jamnagar, do pay a visit to this unique temple which is known as “Bala Hanuman Temple”, a temple that has been echoing to the uninterrupted sonorous notes of devotion for 52 years! It is also known as Shri Balahanuman Sankirtan Mandir,Jamnagar.
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