The holy city of Bareilly will be the next focus of development in Uttar Pradesh. Recently, the Yogi government declared the project of building ‘Nath Corridor’ in ‘Nath Nagri’ or Bareilly. This move comes after their successful makeover of the Kashi Vishwanath Dham in Varanasi.
Bareilly is situated in the Terai region at the foothills of Himalaya. The ancient city is home to numerous temples that stand as testament to the deep religious beliefs of Sanatana Dharma followers. The city is the birthplace of Panchali or Draupadi. Bareilly is one of the epicenters of Shaivism in India. The city gets its name of ‘Nath Nagari’ due to the presence of seven prominent Nath Mandirs. The Central Government supports the UP government’s focus on places of importance to Hindus. The state government’s move to develop Nath Corridor in Bareilly is part of their overall effort to encourage religious tourism in Uttar Pradesh.
Archeological Importance of Bareilly
Bareilly’s importance as an archeological site is related to the remains of Ahichhatra, a capital town of Northern Panchala. The site yielded approximately five thousand ancient coins. The archaeology of the Bareilly region provides a snapshot of the cultural sequence from 2000 BC to 11th century AD. The ancient architectural structures in Bareilly are an amalgamation of several religious beliefs. Bareilly’s architecture is also influenced by Buddhism, which is observable in the remains of Buddhist monasteries of Ahichhatra. The importance of the Hindu religion and Shaivism in the ancient lands of Bareilly is observed by the presence of towering monuments of massive Nath temples.
The Seven Nath Temples of Bareilly
Hidden amidst the bustling city of Bareilly lie the enchanting seven Nath Mandirs or temples. They are a cluster of ancient sanctuaries that hold a mystical allure. Each temple is a gateway to an ethereal realm where Shiva is revered and worshiped in his many forms.
In the serene ambiance of Alakhnath Temple lingers the divine presence of Baba Alakhnath. This temple is 930 years old. Baba Alakhnath attained enlightenment at this sacred site, thereby, drawing seekers from far and wide in search of spiritual awakening and solace. The temple is the headquarters of Naga sannyasins or Naga Babas of the Anand Akhara order .
Dhopeshwar Nath Temple:
Steeped in divine ambiance, the Dhopeshwar Nath Temple is located in the Sadar Bazar Bareilly Cantonment area. Primarily, the site is believed to be the birth site of Draupadi (Panchali) and her brother Drishtadyumna from Mahabharata. Since Draupadi and Dhrishtadyumna were born by the grace of Lord Shiva, locals believe that the temple is permeated with spiritual energy. Additionally, it is believed that Dhopeshwar Nath performed intense meditation and attained enlightenment at this sacred place. Thus, the temple is named after this revered Nath yogi.
The sacred atmosphere of Pashupatinath Mandir is the site where Lord Shiva revealed his majestic form as Pashupatinath, the lord of all creatures. Devotees offer prayers and seek divine blessings for prosperity, well-being, and spiritual growth. The temple is also called the Jagmohaneshwarnath Temple. In 2003, the temple was built by a merchant. It is the newest amongst the seven Nath Temples of Bareilly.
Tapeshwar Nath Mandir:
This temple is the oldest Nath temple in Bareilly. It is an ancient Hindu shrine in dedication to Lord Shiva. Locals believe the Lord Shiva himself performed intense mediation and penance at this site. Thus, it holds a deep spiritual significance for all shiva worshippers. Devotees visit the temple seeking blessings and a connection with the divine presence of Lord Shiva.
The mystical ambiance of Madhinath Temple is a sacred abode. This 5000 years old temple reverberates with its dedication to Lord Shiva. The local priests believe that the Pandavas established the temple’s Shivalinga during their exile. Devotees gather here to offer their prayers and seek solace, believing that Madhinathnath, a prominent Nath yogi, blesses them with spiritual awakening and transformation. Hence, the name of this temple is Madinath Temple.
Bankhandi Nath Temple:
This is a Dvapara yuga temple that is home to the members of Dashnam Juna Akhara. A large number of sages and saints gather in the temple to do rigorous penance. Their samadhis litter the temple premises. It offers a peaceful setting for devotees that seek blessings and perform rituals at the site.
Trivati Nath Mandir
Bareilly also houses an ancient temple of Trivati Nath. The local Hindus worship a divine Shivalinga in this temple. Legend states that the temple was built in the near three ‘vat’ or banyan trees under which the Shivalinga naturally appeared. Shiva devotee diligently offer prayers and seek blessings in this beautiful temple.
The Objective of Nath Corridor
The UP government aims to build a six-lane road around the Nath Corridor. They also plan to deploy electric buses and/or e-rickshaws as a transport facility for devotees to move around the circuit. Development of pedestrian footpaths and renovation of Shiva temples in the circuit are a primary goal for the project.
The government also plans to provide facilities for pilgrims. The project shall also undertake aesthetic upliftment of the area on the theme of Lord Shiva.
These initiatives are an attempt to rekindle temple tourism in Hindus and tourists. The government aims to develop employment, create business opportunities, and increase infrastructure in the state. This endeavor shall benefit the image of the BJP government on both state and national levels. The Nath Corridor is an attempt by BJP to stand firm on their promise of ‘Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas’.