Saturday, June 15, 2024

Ahilyabai Holkar – The Queen Who Rebuilt India’s Temples

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If the modern Sanatani women need a role model, they should look at Queen Ahilyabai Holkar. This queen of the Maratha Malwa kingdom chose not to be a Sati upon the death of her husband at the advice of her father and family. Queen Ahilyabai holds a special place of honor in the history of Bharat. On her Birth Anniversary, let us explore her devotion and dedication to Dharma by remembering the temples restored and built by her! 

Ahilyabai Holkar – A Devout Shiva Bhakt

Ahilyabai: ऐसा क्या हुआ था कि देवी अहिल्याबाई ने सुना दी थी बेटे को मौत की सजा | Untold Story of Queen Ahilyabai Holkar Jayanti 2024 life story real photo historical facts |
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Born as Ahilyabai Shinde, she was married the heir to the throne of Malwa. After the death of her husband in 1754, she followed a devout window path. But life had other plans for her.

Upon the death of the King and her father-in-law, Malhar Rao Holkar, in 1766; Ahilyabai Holkar was crowned as Queen.

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As a queen, she was an astute and compassionate ruler. Her administration was marked by a focus on justice, welfare, and public works. She built numerous temples, rebuilt mandirs, made ghats, commissioned wells, and built roads. Thereby, contributing to the infrastructure and spiritual landscape of her kingdom.

Queen Ahilyabai Holkar was a devout bhakt of Lord Shiva. Every royal proclamation issued under her name bore the inscription “Shri Shankara” along with her signature. Almost as if she was submitting her work to her Aradhya! This unashamed Hindu Queen who worked at stabilizing her kingdom and ensuring the welfare of her people. However, Bharat is primarly grateful to her for her preservation and restoration of Hindu religious sites.

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Rebuilding Kashi Vishwanath Temple

Aurangzeb Tolerant? His Razing of Kashi Vishwanath; Rebuilt by Ahilyabai  Holkar
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One of Queen Ahilyabai’s greatest achievements was reestablishing a Jyotirling at the Kashi Vishwanath Temple in Varanasi. The original temple was one of the twelve Jyotirlingas. On the orders of Emperor Aurangzeb, the temple was destroyed and a mosque was constructed on the remnants of the temple. 

In 1780, Ahilyabai Holkar took on the task of replacing the lost temple adjacent to the old one. Her work gave the Hindus of Varanasi a place to conduct the worship of the lost jyotirlinga. The temple’s golden shikhar was a later addition by Maharaja Ranjit Singh.

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Restoring Manikarnika and Vishnupad Temples

Step into a Time Warp at Manikarnika Ghat in Varanasi | Krazy Butterfly
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Queen Ahilyabai Holkar’s dedication didn’t stop at Kashi Vishwanath. In 1791, she rebuilt the entire Manikarnika Ghat in Varanasi. This ghat, mentioned in a 5th-century Gupta inscription, became an important spiritual site under her patronage.

Vishnupad Temple, Gaya, Bihar - Sannidhi The Presence
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In 1787, she also rebuilt the Vishnupad Temple. Situated on the banks of the Falgu River, this temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. Here devotees worship the footprint of Bhagwan Vishnu at the temple. These two restorations are another example of her commitment to preserving Hindu heritage.

Reviving the Somnath Temple

Shree Somnath Temple - spiritualseva
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Another Jyotirlinga, the Somnath Temple, had faced repeated destruction. History claims the temple faced 17 plunders and 3 destructions under Mahmud Ghazni, Alauddin Khalji, and Zafar Khan.

Ahilyabai Holkar replaced the old Somnath temple with another one near the main Jyotirlinga. Legend says she dreamt of the swayambhulinga or a self-manifested lingam. This dream inspired her to build the temple. Thus, granting the Hindus a temple to replace the one lost to invaders. 

Temples Across India

Ahilyabai Holkar’s efforts to restore Dharma and Hindu worship extended across India. She built and restored temples in many places; including Srinagar, Haridwar, Kedarnath, Badrinath, Rishikesh, Prayaga, Nasik, Omkareshwar, Mahabaleshwar, Pune, Indore, Srisailam, Udupi, and Gokarna. She even contributed to temple construction in Kathmandu, Nepal.

Ahilyabai Holkar – Life Lesson For The Modern Woman

Ahilyabai Holkar’s legacy is one of faith, leadership, and cultural preservation. She restored and built temples, to strengthen the spiritual and cultural fabric of Hindu society. Her reign is remembered as a golden era of temple restoration. And her contributions continue to inspire generations.

Ahilyabai Holkar’s life offers valuable lessons for modern women. Her dedication to public welfare came despite facing personal tragedy. She broke away from the customs to preserve cultural heritage. She earned the people’s trust despite being a woman. How? Due to her diligent perseverance of justice marked by compassion. Ahilyabai Holar showed that a woman leader can be both strong and compassionate.

Modern Sanatani women can draw inspiration from Ahilyabai Holkar’s legacy. They can embrace her qualities of strength, wisdom, and benevolence. Her deep devotion to Dharma while ruling in a man-centric world is another lesson to learn. Ahilyabai Holkar is not just remembered as a queen; she is honored as the guardian of Hindu traditions and a beacon of unwavering devotion. Thus, let us all pay homage to this visionary queen! 

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