Bade Hanuman Ji or Lete Hanuman Ji, as the name suggests is a magnificent shrine of Lord Hanuman in a rare supine position. Located about 500 m north of the Allahabad Fort close to the Triveni Sangam, this massive idol of Lord Hanuman is one of the oldest in Prayag.
Bade Hanuman Ji is often referred to as the Kotwal (guardian) of Prayagraj and therefore, a trip to this ancient city is deemed complete and successful only after one has darshan of the reclining Hanuman. According to the Hindu scriptures, after Lord Rama returned victorious from Lanka with Sita Mata, Lord Hanuman who had sustained several injuries in the fierce war was in great pain and fatigued.
Sita Mata took pity on him and gave him some vermillion to apply on his body and asked him to rest in Prayag. Lord Hanuman is seen lying on his back with his eyes open. He is 20 feet long and at least 6 to 7 feet deep. It is believed that Kamada Devi is seated below his left foot and Ahiravana is below his right foot. Lord Rama and Lakshmana are in his right hand and his mace is in the left.
This temple is said to be around 600 to 700 years old. According to the locals, a prosperous trader from Kannauj who was blessed with immense wealth and riches was sad that he had no heir to continue the lineage. He went to the Vindhyachal Hills to construct a temple dedicated to Lord Hanuman hoping to seek his blessings for a son.
The trader built an impressive temple in the hills and erected a huge idol of Lord Hanuman which he felt should be bathed in the holiest waters of Akhanda Bharat. He finally arrived at the divine Sangam in Prayag and made the necessary arrangements to have his beloved statue bathed in accordance with the rites and rituals prescribed in the Hindu scriptures.
With the name of Lord Hanuman on his lips, the trader fell into a deep sleep at night and had a dream that if he were to leave the idol here, his wishes would be fulfilled. The trader decided to leave Lord Hanuman close to the Sangam and returned to Kannauj. He was soon blessed with a son and his gratitude knew no bounds.
However, with passage of time and perhaps the erosion of both the Ganga and Yamuna rivers, the impressive idol of Lord Hanuman got submerged in water and remained like that for a few years. A pious man who came to take a dip in the Sangam in the auspicious month of Magha pressed his trishul into the sands and found something hard at the bottom. He slowly removed the sand around it and discovered the idol of Lord Hanuman. It was clear on first glance that the idol was of great antiquity and potency. A temple was built and other shrines came up within the temple complex.
Some locals say that it was not a trader but a king who brought this idol to Prayag. Unfortunately, his boat sunk, and with it the idol of Lord Hanuman and this is how the idol remained under water for decades.
It is also said Akbar wanted to make Prayag as an important military outpost to quell the rebellions in Magadh, Awadh and central Bharat. He built the Allahabad Fort and tried to move Bade Hanuman Ji into the fort but failed. Aurangzeb on hearing the spiritual potency of Bade Hanuman Ji sent his army to remove the idol and throw it into the Ganges. Curiously though, every time the soldiers tried to lift Lord Hanuman, he would sink deeper! The soldiers reported this to Aurangzeb who decided to leave the temple alone.
The water level of the Ganges rises in the monsoon and flows into this temple. The priests view it as an auspicious event and say that no calamity will occur once Lord Hanuman is bathed in the waters of the Ganga.
Written by Lakshmi Subramanian
* Photos are only symbolic (Taken from public domain/internet and any copyright infringement is unintentional and regrettable)
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