Naimisharanya : the place where Sin cannot enter
Introduction to Naimisharanya
As per Hindu tradition, there is a place on earth where Sin cannot enter, and where any sort of religious rites bear full fruits. The place is Naimsharanya, now known as Nimsar or Nimkhar, situated in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, about 80 km from the state capital Lucknow.
Once all the sages went to Lord Bramha to know about a place where Sin cannot enter and where the fruits of meditation would be available to them in totality. Lord Bramha told them that there was only one place in the whole Universe which qualified for these, and the place was Naimisharanya (meaning Naimish forest). When the sages asked the direction to the place, Lord Bramha released his Chakra (Disc) & asked the sages to follow it. The place where the Chakra will land with its Nemi (hub) piercing the earth, would be the place.
The sages followed the Chakra, and came to the place. The Chakra pierced the earth and created a bottomless deep circular pond which was filled with water from the Patala (the Underworld). The pond was called Chakratirtha. The place was a forest, where every tree was a Devata (deity). As the Nemi of the Chakra touched the earth here, the forest became famous as Naimisharanya.
The Chakra was still boring down, so Lord Bramha asked Mother Goddess Lalita Devi to stop it. She stopped it, & stayed here.
In another version of the mythology, the Chakra was sent by Lord Vishnu, who stayed here as Devaraja Perumal.
All the sages were very happy & started doing all sorts of penance and meditation here.
Naimisharanya in the epics
Both the great Indian epics the Ramayana and the Mahabharata mentioned about Naimisharanya. It is said that the whole of the Mahabharata was narrated here by the sage Ugrasrava Sauti.
Naimisharanya in the early history
Adi Shankaracharya, the famous saint who was the main spokesperson of Adyaita Vedanta visited this place. The famous saint-singer Surdas lived here.
Naimisharanya at present
Naimisharanya is known as Nimsar/Nimkhar now. It is a temple town and famous place of pilgrimage situated on the west bank of the holy river Gomati (Gomti) in the district of Sitapur in the Indian state of Uttarpradesh. There are so many temples here that it is almost impossible to talk about each and every one of these. The most important temples and places of interest are : Chakratrtha, the Lalita Devi temple and the Devraja Perumal temple.
Chakratirtha / Chakrakund
This is the famous pond created by the Chakra of Lord Bramha (or Lord Vishnu). It is a circular pond, about 30 metres in diameter and divided into two portions – a waist-deep outer rim and a very deep inner portion separated by a circular wall. It is said that the central portion has a well which is “bottomless”. It is said that the British tried to fathom the depth but failed in their attempt. Devotees perform several rituals in this pond and take bath in it by circumambulating wading in waist-deep water of the outer rim.
Devraja Perumal temple
This Vishnu temple is one of the eight Shayambyakt (self manifest) Vishnu idols in the world. A little distance from the Chakratirtha, this temple is rather small and inconspicuous considering its importance and status. The entry gate is rather small. Inside there is a small courtyard with a Garudasthambha [a tall pole with religious inscriptions and an idol of Garuda, the half-man half-bird Vahana (ride) of Lord Vishnu]. Inside the main temple, there is the idol, said to be self manifest, of Lord Vishnu . There are other deities as well.
Lalita Devi temple
It is considered as one of the Shakti Peethas (sacred places where body parts of goddess Parvati fell). It is a big temple with several deities in separate shrines besides the main temple dedicated to the Mother Goddess Lalita Devi. It has a standard temple pond also.
How to go
Nimsar can be approached from Lucknow, the state capital, by road along Lucknow-Delhi highway.
Naimisharanya is a famous pilgrimage site for the Hindus, but anyone can visit the place if interested. There are some other famous pilgrimage places nearby like the Dadhich Kund (where the great sage Dadhichi lived & sacrificed his own body so that gods could make Vajrastra, the ultimate weapon to kill the demon Vritrasura, from his bones) & Rudravarta Tirtha, a very important and sacred place for the Shaivites (followers of Lord Shiva).