Mankameshwar Temple is one of the oldest Shiva temples in Prayagraj and sits atop the Sheshnag Hill on the bank of the Yamuna River, a little distance away from the sacrosanct Saraswati Ghat. According to the Shiva Purana, Skanda Purana and Padma Purana, Mankameshwar is the place where Lord Shiva reduced Kamadeva to ashes.
It is also mentioned that in the Satya Yuga, Lord Shiva manifested himself as a Swayambhu Linga along the Yamuna River. When Bhagawan Rama reached Prayag during his exile, he along with Sita Mata and Lakshmana rested at Akshayavata. He then performed jala abhishek to this Shiva Linga and sought his blessings to complete the exile.
When Bhagawan Rama and Sita Mata returned victorious from Lanka, they stopped at Prayag and attained the blessings of Bharadwaja Brahmarshi. On his advice, Sita Mata came to have darshan of Lord Mankameshwar and offered her prayers. The consecration of this Shiva Linga is said to have been done by Lord Rama. According to the locals, this Linga is at least 3 feet deep if not more and is known to grow an inch on every Maha Shivaratri! The priest emphatically states that the original Shiva Linga was very small and has grown to its present height of about 3 feet over centuries!
It is also said that even when the temple is empty, praises of Lord Shiva resonate through the air. Besides Lord Mankameshwar, there is a beautiful shrine dedicated to Parvati Devi as Kameshwari. The famous Rinmukteshwar and Siddeshwar Mahadev shrines mentioned in the Hindu scriptures are found in the temple premises.
The grand statue of Lord Siddeshwarnath Hanuman, Shiva Lingas placed under the divine Peepul tree as well as Lord Ganesh and Lord Nandi within the temple complex are revered by the locals. There is an old banyan tree and smaller statues around it that are known for its spiritual potency.
It is highly recommended to circumambulate the hill and wash one’s hands and feet with the water from the well that has never known to dry up before offering prayers at the main shrine. Thousands throng this temple to offer jala abhishek on four consecutive Mondays, in the auspicious month of Shravan, on Maha Shivaratri, Amavasya and Karthik Purnima. Lord Shiva as Mankameshwar is known to bestow all that one asks for.
Written by Lakshmi Subramanian
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