This temple, Ekklingji near Udiapur, is my favorite of the Hindu temples in all that I have visited in India. And we visited many of them as 80% of India is Hindu. Why, you might ask? Thinking and wondering myself, I came up with the small city wrapping its arms around the temple which is nestled into the fabric of the city. Well, the huge temples we visited in Tamil Nadu were woven into their cities, too but somehow they were different in their mammoth proportions.
When you look at the first short video , you will see the opening to the temple complex just there next to shops with shoppers. You can see a an opening into the vestibule where you remove your shoes, and give a small tip to a man who watches over them. The women with the marigold necklaces used for offerings are lining the wall. Just at the step up is a man who is blessing you with a colorful spot on your forehead of color , for a few rupees. Next we walked down a path paved with huge blocks of stone, that moved up the sides into walls higher than we could see over. What that walk reminded me of was the ancient stone streets and walls of Jerusalem that I have only seen in pictures. Our first visit was at dusk and the night was falling. We entered the main 1200 year old temple built to honor Shiva and is the oldest , and most famous of the temples in the complex. There was incense and chanting with smoke from candles. I am thinking there was no electricity but of that I am not sure. lt was mysterious. There was a statute of the god and some , but very little gold, just carved and wearing away of very old stone.
In the second video, you can see the pathway marked by the red carpet to protect the pilgrims feet from the burning stones during the day ( first 12 minutes) . There were definitely no lights out in the 108 squeezed temples into the hillside of the city. We had only moonlight and a myriad of stars. It was hard for the students to decide where to begin to sketch, so most just tried to take it all into their memories.
Ekklingji was built in the 14th Century , really not old in such an ancient country.It is hard for me to articulate my feelings being there. I am not a Hindu, but I am a person of faith. To me, this temple is very spiritual, very mysterious, and filled with the faith of people today and years ago. Faith, mystery, life, death. . . . . Faith is mysterious, a gift, the hope of things not seen, a revelation of hope.. . . . . .