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Brahmapur
 

Brahmapur nicknamed "The Silk City", is a city located in the eastern coastline of Ganjam district of the Indian state of Odisha. It is one of the oldest and largest cities of Odisha. It is famous for its silk, its temples and its culture. The latest estimate of the population of the city is 702,672 (2009 est.) making it the third most populous urban area in the state and 58th overall in India. Brahmapur (old British name Berhampur) got Corporation status after Bhubaneswar and Cuttack.

Overview

Brahmapur is the primary rail head for nearby tourist destinations. It serves as a node for the nearby small towns and villages, so trade is predominant. A majority of the people are self-employed in various businesses of different scales. Brahmapur is well known for its intricately designed silk sarees called Berhampuri patto, handloom cloth and Jewellery shops. It is also known as the "Silk City".

Attractions

Gopalpur beach: The nearby coastal place of importance and worth a visit is Gopalpur beach. Located at a distance of 16 km from the city, Gopalpur on Sea is a retreat for sun, sea and sand lovers. At one time a busy seaport, it still displays the crumbling walls and pillars of the jetty. There are various town buses that run from Old Bus-stand to Berhampur University to Gopalpur. Also it is quite convenient to drive to Gopalpur on personal vehicle. Gopalpur once used to be a bustling place with tourists. There are many good hotels like Oberoi Palm Beach. It is also a very less known fact that Oberoi Group of Hotels started with this small Hotel in Gopalpur.

Gopalpur has an old light house, and a small fishermans cove.

The Gopalpur Beach Festival, yearly extravagenza is the main attraction of Gopalpur. The Ganjam District Hotel Association, Berhampur organising the Beach Feastival every year with the support of Ganjam Distrct Administration. The credit of Gopalpur Beach Festival goes to Mr V.Santosh Kumar, who has first mooted the idea of having the Beach festival.

Maa Tara Tarini Hill Shrine, the Sthana Peetha (Breast Shrine of Mata Sati): Taratarini Hill Shrine near the silk city Berhampur in Odisha is one of the oldest pilgrimage place of mother goddess and amongst the four major ancient Adi Shakti centers in India. The mythological texts recognize four major Shakti Peethas (centers), like Bimala, Taratarini, Kamakshya and Dakhina Kalika, which originated from the limbs of the Corpse of Mata Sati in the Satya Yuga.

Rooted in the hoary past, mentioned in the Puranas, the Tantras and as the main seat of Tantric cult for thousands of years and center of Shakti worship since time immemorial, this Hill Shrine is believed to be the Sthana Peetha (Breast Shrine of Mata Sati) and an important prehistoric religious center which bears an uninterrupted history of about 6000 years.

According to mythological texts and folk lore this Shrine has seen all the greatest icons of the human civilization like Lord Ram, Lord Krishna, Lord Parasuram, the Pandavas and great saints like Jagadguru Sankaracharya, Shri Chaitanya and Balayogi Neelakanthi. It has also been the confluence ground of plethora of ancient religions like the Vedic religion, the Brahminical religion, the Hinduism, the Buddhism, the Tantricism etc. Unquestionably, these facts from the mythology demonstrate the historicity and importance of the Hill Shrine it occupied in the past. Further, the presence of the mythological pious river Rushikulya or Rushikalyani (Known as the elder sister of the Ganges in the Vedas) on the foothill of the Shrine has further enhanced the significance of the Tara Tarini Shakti Dham which is also known as Kalyani Dham.

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE 6000 YEARS HISTORY

According to the mythological Puranas the origin of Maa Tara Tarini is directly attributed to Daksha Prajapati's Jagna in Satya Yuga. The famous Shakta Peethas of Bimala, Tara-Tarini, Dakshina Kalika, and Kamakshi originated from the limbs of the divine Corpse of Devi Sati. Mythological sacred texts like the Shiva Purana, the Kalika Purana, the Devi Bhagabat (a contemporary text of the Mahabharata written by Shri Vyasa Dev around 6000 years ago) attested this fact. It is known from the Mahabharata that before the commencement of the Mahabharata war Lord Srikrishna had advised Arjuna to offer prayer for victory at Shridevi kupa or Bhadrakali. Bhadrakali originated from the limbs of Mata Sati like the other four major Shakti Peethas, existed during the time of the Mahabharata or around 6000 years ago. This is the oldest data/information we get till date, regarding the existence of the Shrines originated from the limbs of Mata Sati.

Tara Tarini Hill Shrine under Buddhist control: According to available historical sources the fall of Kalingan Empire and its capital Sampa (Samapa) in the Kalinga war around 2300 years ago by Mauryan Emperor Ashoka, strengthened the grip of Buddhists in this part of India. The then Sampa capital of the Kalingan empire, was hardly 4 km away from Taratarini Hill Shrine. So, scholars believe that Tara Tarini might be the principal deity (Ista-Devi) of the mighty Kalinga Empire.

According to the texts of Mahayana Buddhists, in the initial days, the Buddhists didn't believe in the Matrupuja (Goddesses worship) or in Pratimapuja (Idol Worship). But, the ecclesiastical texts of Mahayana's reveal that from 1st century AD after the fall of Kalinga, for the first time the Mahayana Buddhists accepted the worship of Mother Goddess 'Tara'. So there is seldom any doubt that the Buddhists have learned the 'Tara' Puja concept from this Shrine. The Bouddha Tantrik texts, texts of Vajrajani sect and Hindu Tantrik texts also attest these facts. Scholars believe that in the primary days the Buddhists worshiped Taratarini, the principal seat of Tantrik sect in Hinduism at that time, as Bouddha Tara, and later on included 'Tara' as the Tantrik deity or spouse of bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara in their belief system. Gradually this 'Tara' worship spread to different parts of the world.

Besides the worship of Tara by the Buddhist Tantrikas, the maritime history of Kalinga also suggest the worship of 'Tara' by the Sadhavas (merchants) and seamen before launching their sea voyage from the great sea ports like Dantapura (Gopalpur), Pallur near Chilika Lake, kalingapatna and river Rushikulya. It is important to mention, that all these major Seaports of the ancient world were present very near to the Taratarini Hill Shrine.

According to folklore and folk stories, it is around 9th Century AD when Jagadguru Sankaracharya toured the whole country, that he discovered this Shrine. But, it did not exist in its present form. After long try he came to know that this ancient Shakti centre was under the control of Buddhist tantrikas. Then he released this Peetha from the control of Bouddha tantrikas and handed it over to Hindus.

It is known from the available sources that till 17th century this place was out of the sight of the common man. But, according to a folk story once Maa Taratarini appeared as two sisters in the house of Shri Basu Praharaj. He was a learned Brahmin of Kharida Vira Jagannathpur village in Ganjam District and one of the great devotees of the Mother Goddess but child less. After staying for some years one day both the sisters disappeared suddenly from the house of Basu Praharaj and according to the account of the villagers both the sisters traveled up to the Tarini Parvat/ Ratnagiri and disappeared there. Basu Praharaj searched these two sisters but did not find their tracings. His heart broke down with grief and pain. On that night he saw a dream where the Goddesses Tara Tarini informed Basu Praharaj that actually they were not his daughters; but they are the Goddesses Tara and Tarini. The Goddesses ordered Basu to come out of the grief and said that the time has arrived and with full devotion renovate the temple on the Hill Top of Tarini Parvat and establish the deities according to the tradition.

After that divine direction Basu discovered the tracings of ancient most presence of Goddesses Tara-Tarini on the sacred Hill Top and immediately took steps to reconstruct the temple and the Shrine. Since that time for its magnetism and sanctity this Shakti Peetha became a centre of faith and reverence for countless numbers of people, out in search of peace, tranquility, guidance and spiritual energy and its fame spread like wild fire to become one of the popular religious destinations for millions of devotees.

Bi-Annual Thakurani Jaatara - The Festival of the Goddess: This welcomes the goddess Budhi Thakurani to her temporary abode for the biennial Thakurani Jatra festival late at night. The hereditary head of the festival, who is also regarded as the head of the weaver Dera community of the city, Desibehera, dressed in his traditional attire, visits the Budhi Thakurani temple to invite the goddess to her parental abode at his home on Saturday afternoon. His wife also accompanies him, and they make offerings at the Kalika temple.

Rituals to welcome the deity for the festival started at the temporary temple built at Desibehera street from evening with the Changudi Puja. After these rituals, flowers are carried from Desibehera's house to the Budhi Thakurani temple. Fallen flowers are carried as representative of the deity to Desibehera Street in a large decorated procession at night.

Sri Sri Sri Sidha Binayak Pitha

Hillpatana, Berhampur: This temple is centrally located in the city near Giri Road, which will be one of the largest Ganesh Temple in Odisha. The templework is in progress.

City market area

Maurekalua: It is a deep dense forest where Goddess of shakti'maa Thakurani' is worshiped. it is near about 30 km from Berhampur. In every sankranti house people are coming for worship the goddess.

Kalua jatra: BERHAMPUR: The Kalua jatra festival begun in Gosani Nuagaon area of the city from Sunday. This festival would continue for 15 days till next full moon's day which is celebrated as Kumar Purnima in the State . According to the president of the organising committee, Panchanan Choudhury, they will try to promote traditional folk art forms through regular shows during the festival.

Dhabaleshwar beach: Dhabaleswar is a quiet beach close to Gopalpur beach, with facilities for surfing, sailing, and sun-bathing. The famous pilgrim center, Dhabaleswar, with its sand-bleached Shiva temple and the Dhabaleswar Island are nearby attractions.

Maa Bhairavi Temple: The place is named after the presiding deity goddess Bhairabee at the remote village Mantridi. Carved in crude fashion, the icon (one-legged goddess with four hands) was discovered and enshrined in a newly adorned temple in 1937. According to legend, fisherman and sailors used to worship the deity for blessings before commencement of their journey. Bhairabee now a day has become an important Sakti Pitha Venerable for the fisherman community that lives in nearby villages. Tourists from almost all parts of southern Odisha as well as northern Andhra Pradesh visit this holy shrine every day. The important dates with the deity are the Sankranties of the Hindu calendar, and all Tuesdays.

Taptapani: Taptapani, as the name suggests, is famous for its hot springs. Nestled at about 1,800 feet (550 m) above sea level, this spot is 56 kilometres away from Behrampore (or Brahmapur as the locals call it), the nearest rail station. The sprawling Panthanivas is the only shelter for tourists at Taptapani. The cottages overlook a pristine valley, and the dining hall is strategically placed between two crests of mountain fold. A few minutes walk from here will take you to Kandimata Mandir, where the locals bathe in the spring before offering their daily prayers. There is also a deer park maintained by the forest department.

Bala kumari: The temple of Balakumari is reached by climbing 1,240 steps and is dedicated to the goddess Durga.

Chilika: Chilika is India's biggest inland lake, spread over 1,100 square kilometres stretching across the length of the three districts of Puri, Khurdha and Ganjam and finally joining the Bay of Bengal through narrow mouth, forming an enormous lagoon of brackish water. Dotted with many emerald green islands with colourful names such as Honeymoon Island and Breakfast Island, Chilika is home to a rich variety of aquatic fauna. It is also a sanctuary and winter resort for migratory birds, some coming from as far as Siberia.

Biranchi Narayan: Buguda is a small town in Ghumusar Subdivision of Ganjam district. It is famous for the temple of Biranchinarayan. The temple was built by king Srikara Bhanja, who ascended the throne of Ghumusar in 1790 A.D. The image of the god Biranchinarayan which is installed in the sanctum of the temple was recovered from the ruins of Malatigarh. The temple is built in the form of a chariot driven by seven horses and is conspicuous for its remarkable wood carvings and wall paintings. At the other end of the main road facing the temple of Biranchinarayan is a temple dedicated to Lord Jagannath. The temple is built in such a manner that the devotees can see the arati of both the temples at the same time from any of these two places

Kulada: Kulada is famous for the goddess Bagh Devi; it is also said to be the birthplace of the great Oriya poet Kabi Samrat Upendra Bhanja. It is situated in the northwest of Ganjam District, with a ruined fort, the river Mahanadi flowing in the east, and dense forest in the west side of the ruined fort. The original temple is at the top of the hill known as Upper Bagh Devi, with 210 steps.

Panchama: Panchama is a small village famous for the temple of Panchama Ganesh, or Siddha Binayaka, as it is locally known. Tradition says that the Gajapati King Purushottamadeva (15th century) on the way to his conquest of Kanchi recovered the image in the hallow of two trees of Vara and Aswastha and paid his homage to the image after its consecration. Since then the place has become an important centre of Ganapataya worship, preserving the great tradition of Panchadevata worship of Odisha.

Narayani: Narayani,on the celebrated Vallery Mountain, is known for its romantic setting with a perennial spring and green mango groves, as well as the shrine of the goddess Narayani (Durga) with six hands.

Potagarh: Potagarh, built by Britishers in the 18th century close to the river Rusikulya, is a fort surrounded by a moat with remnants of majestic fort houses and a buried tunnel.

Ujaleswar: The shrine of Ujjaleswar, 19 km from Digapahandi and 45 km from Berhampur, near Ghodahada Dam, was developed from a cave temple, on a hillock which is approachable by steps. A huge stone shadowing the deity forms the back side of the temple, which has been also chiseled to steps for facilitating a circumambulating around the shrine. Before reaching the unctuous site, one would come across the pleasing surrounding of Ghodahada Dam, which has submerged a fort named Vijayanagar and its temple. The reservoir shelters a herd of elephants, crocodiles, and pythons and provides subsoil water for a horticulture farm of tuberose.

Aryapalli: The beach at Aryapalli is 32 km from Berhampur and 8 km from Chhatrapur and Berhampur

Mahendragiri: The hill Mahendragiri, 5,000 feet (1,500 m) high, is in the Parlakhemundi subdivision of the district of Gajapati. It is associated with mythological stories from the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, and has interesting archaeological remains.

Sonepur: Sonepur beach is on the Odisha-Andhra Pradesh border along the river Bahuda; on the other side is the beach Pati Sonepur.

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