Ambaji is situated in Gujarat’s Arasur Hills. It is considered to be a sacred town having a deep heritage. All the Hindu sects pay their homage in this much adored and idolized place of Ambaji. It personifies female superiority. Numerous beautiful temple and religious places are located all over Ambaji, however among all the locations, the Ambaji Mata Temple, which is located on the hilltop of Gabbar, exceeds all the other temples in beauty. Due to its ethereal beauty, many people from distant place come here to pay regards.
In the Holy Scriptures, trace of this place was found by Ambaji. According to “Tantra Chudamani”, a sacred book, this is the location where Goddess’s heart fell. One unusual fact about these temples is that, these temples of Ambaji do not house any statues of the goddess. Among all the kind of pilgrimage to religious places, the pilgrimage to the Ambaji temple is considered to be the best.
Apart from being important due to legends, Ambaji is generously gifted with a lush atmosphere and surroundings. One can see the grandiose mountain peaks of the Aravalli Range, the rich and intense forest of Arasur. The pure and peaceful environment of Ambaji helps the people, who come to visit here, to have an ideal vacation full of calm and quiet along with the natural beauty of the place.
As many as 30 lakh pilgrims come here every year. One should definitely join the pilgrims in order to have the experience of devoting and worshipping themselves to the goddess, who has been idolized for since ancient times. Numerous Indian saints and sages, since historic times, had applauded and sung the praise of the goddess. Believed to be the climax of all the forces and power of all gods, this goddess is the initial and first power of the universe. She is the luminous light who does not experiences birth or death. The dwelling place of the goddess is located close to the starting point of Saraswati river, which is situated in the southwestern corner of the Aravalli mountain range. As a consequence Arasur Hills is also called Arasuri Amba.
THINGS TO SEE
Ambaji Temple: The major shrine of the goddess is the Ambaji Temple. She has been idolized from the ancient time. The dwelling place of the goddess is located close to the starting point of Saraswati river, which is situated in the southwestern corner of the Aravalli mountain range. As a consequence Arasur Hills is also called Arasuri Amba.
The top of the temple has a flag, which is red in colour. The flag waves in the gentle wind in a welcome like manner. The Nagar Brahmins were the one who constructed the temple. The temple has been built with white colored marbles with cones made of gold. It is so believed, that the goddess has denied providing any extra door in the temples, so the temple only has a main door as an entry point and a little door in the side. Chachar chowk, which is an open area in square shape, encircles the temple. In this chowk, havans take place, which are basically sacrifices for ceremonial reasons.
Silver coated doors are present in the inner shrines. The primary focus of attention for worship is the Viso Yantra, which is a Vedic text based on sacred geometry. The text has been inscribed on gold plated marble. This inscription is present on the wall. It is known as a gokh, where the inscription is located. No statue of the goddess is there in the temple. The reason for this is mainly because of the fact that the temple is quite ancient and during that time there was no idol worship. However, the top part of the gokh is presented and by the priest in such a manner that it seems to the public eye as an idol.
One should definitely visit one more temple, located on the Gabbar. This temple is believed to be the first dwelling place of the goddess. Mansarovar is located close to the temple of Ambaji. This place is a big area, rectangular in shape. It is a kund. The four sides of the kund contain staircases.
Garba is a dance form which is done encircling the Holy Mother. During the exciting festival called Navratri, Garba is performed. This festival is celebrated throughout the whole of Gujarat. The Bhavai theatre is also shown by the Nayak and Bhojok communities during the nine festive nights of Navratri. Varahi Mata, Ambikeshwar Mahadev and Ganapati temples, located in the chachar chowk which is the unclosed place encircling the temple and temples of Khodiyar Mata, Ajaya Mata and Hanumanji, located in the village, are the other six temples, which are present in Ambaji.
Gabbar: Located at a distance of 4 Kms in the west direction of the village of Ambaji, Gabbar is a small hill like structure. This place is also known as Gabbargadh. It is so thought that this is the first abode of the goddess and also the location for the tonsorial ceremony, meaning a ceremony involving shaving of the head. It is also the place, where Mahishasur-Mardini used to dwell.
The inclination of the hill is very high and so it is a tough job to climb up the hill. At the base of the hill, 300 stairs made of stone are present. However after these stairs, there is no proper track, but a dangerous pathway on which the pilgrims travel. There is a tiny nook on the hill summit, which is located confronting the Ambaji temple. Here, during the night time, a view of a lamp can be seen from the main temple of Ambaji. This lamp remains guarded, so that it can burn continuously. Below a tree of papal, there are marks of the foot of the goddess. These footprints are worshipped.
Koteshwar: The distance between Koteshwar and Ambaji is a mere 8 Kms. Supposedly this place is the origin point for the existing day Saraswati River. Two of the places that are worth paying a visit to, are Valmiki Ahram and Shakti Ashram.
Jessore Sloth Bear Sanctuary: In the Banaskantha district, there is a place to visit known as the Jessore Sloth Bear Sanctuary. The distance between the sanctuary and Palanpur is 45 Kms. In the month of May, 1978, this place was given the status of Wildlife Sanctuary. The area of the place is 180.66 square kilometers. The region has been gifted with varying species of animals as well as plants. The draining ecosystem of the Aravalli is conserved by the forests coming under the sanctuary. Working like a cushion, this area splits up the ecosystem of the desert from the ecosystem of the dry deciduous kind. The halting of the desertification and the development of the Thar Desert is being done with the help of the trees covered.
The second tallest peak of Gujarat is the Jessore hill located in the Aravalli mountain range. It is renowned for the Sloth Bear, an endangered species. Leopards, Rhesus macaque, Indian civet cat, porcupine, fox, striped, hyena, wild boar and may more are the other significant species of animals.
An excellent surrounding is provided by the forest for the huge variety of birds. Land birds as well as water birds are found here. In this sanctuary many a number of rare and other species of birds, which are becoming endangered, can be found here. Snakes, tortoises and lizards can also be seen. If one goes farther than the Muni ji ki kutia, one of the rarest breed of Indian Python can be seen.
An excellent time to tour this Sanctuary is during the time period following the monsoon and till the cold months.
Poshina: Poshina is located at a distance of 18 Kms from Ambaji, situated in the district of Sabarkantha. This place reflects the customs of the daily village life. Many interesting tribal groups such as the Garasias, Bhils and the Rabaris dwell in this place. As many as thousands of horses, made of terracotta horses are situated in form of rows. These are kept here as offerings for the goddess of the community. Poshina is considered to be a shrine for the tribal people.
Darbargadh Poshina was a palace in the old times but now it has been converted into a heritage hotel. Large doors, a huge dome like structure, many a number of pillars and arches, a beautiful open courtyard, plush gardens, lawns and nice terraces are situated in the palace. The Chalukya dynasty’s offspring owns this palace. Parshavnath and Neminath, two Jain temples made of sandstone, can also be seen here as well as an ancient Shiva Temple. Gunbhakhari village hosts the Chitra-Vichitra fair, which is a renowned fair. This fair takes place after a few number of weeks following the festival of Holi.
Mangalya Van: Mangalya Van is located on the hilltop of Kailash Tekri. This place is located at a distance of 1.5 Kms from the temple of Ambaji, situated on the Khedbrahma Highway. Many tourists come to visit this unusual garden. In order to come to Kailash tekri and also to Mangalya Van, a climbing of a number of stairs is quite necessary. These locations are also encircled by a water body. The forest department had constructed and improved the van. One of the key feature of this place is the Rishi Van, which an astrological garden.
HOW TO REACH
By road: From many a number of places such as Mount Abu, Palanpur, Ahmedabad and Idar, many a number of bus services are available. The distance between Ambaji and Mount Abu, Palanpur and Ahmedabad are 45, 65 and 178 Kms respectively.
By air: Ahmedabad has the closest airport to Ambaji.
By rail: The closest railway station to Ambaji is located at a distance of 45 Kms from the place.