Rajim, the Kumbh Mela of Chhattisgarh

Rajim is a unique town around 45km from Raipur, sitting at the meeting point of three rivers. It boasts a number of very fine Hindu temples dating from the 8th to the 14th centuries, which are highly revered by both Vishnuites (devotees of Vishnu) and Shivaites (devotees of Shiva). The town of Rajim and is one of the most sacred places in the state of Chhattisgarh and the spiritual fervor culminates each year at the ‘fifth Kumbh’ festival or ‘Rajim Mela’ where thousands of pilgrims gather.

The town of Rajim stands at the confluence of three rivers, the Mahanadi, Pairi and Sondur. A confluence of three rivers is called Triveni Sangam and is considered sacred. This makes Rajim as holy a city as Allahabad and Varanasi, in Uttar Pradesh.

One of the fine sculptures of the Rajiv Lochan temple

In olden days it was an important halt on the pilgrim route; it was common practice to perform kalpvasi here, i.e. spending a month praying and practicing austerities by the Sangam. Rajim is still considered an essential stop before visiting the Jagannath temple in Puri.

Shri Rajiv Lochan temple

Shri Rajiv Lochan Temple

Shri Rajiv Lochan temple is the most revered temple in Rajim. It was built in the 8th century and is dedicated to the Hindu god Vishnu. The sculptures are particularly remarkable examples of the art that flourished in the post-Gupta period.

Lord Vishnu, the main deity of the Rajiv Lochan temple

These sculptures include an idol of eight-armed Durga, the goddess Ganga, the goddess Yamuna and the various incarnations of the god Vishnu: Rama, Varaha (the boar) and Narasimha (Man-lion) among others.

Sculpture of Durga in the Rajiv Lochan temple

There are other temples dedicated to various deities of the Hindu pantheon in the Rajiv Lochan temple complex. Surprisingly, there is also a statue of the Buddha in meditation finely carved in a black rock.

The surprising Buddha statue in the Rajiv Lochan temple complex

Kuleshvar Temple

Kuleshvar Temple built at the confluence of the three rivers

The smaller Kuleshvar Temple was built in the 9th century on an octagonal platform at the confluence of the three rivers, opposite Rajiv Lochan Temple. It is dedicated to Shiva and its shrine has a Swayambhu Lingam (a “self-created” or naturally-formed lingam).

the lingam of Kuleshvar Temple

The Fifth Kumbh

Attendees to the Punni Mela of Rajim

Every year, a gathering called the ‘Fifth Kumbh’ or Punni Mela (“full moon fair”) is held at Shri Rajiv Lochan temple. It starts at full moon in January (Magh Purnima) with a special puja performed at 3am, and lasts for two weeks.

Thousands of worshippers bathe in the Sangam before flocking to the Rajiv Lochan and Kuleshwar temples to make offerings to the gods.

Women perform a Kalash Yatra ritual, walking in line carrying earthenware pots on their heads, filling them with water at the Sangam and taking them to the Kuleshwar.

There is also a programme of music and dance.

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