CONCEPT: 4.5/5 WRITING: 3/5 RESEARCH: 3/5 OVERALL: 3.5/5
“Most people write to the deity just like they would write to their best friend. They tell him what is working in their lives and what is not, what they are working for, and seeking his blessings for… A lady writes about the illness of her husband. She says doctors say terrible things about his disease. But then goes on to say, doctors are common human beings like me. You are the biggest doctor in the world. Please release my husband from illness. She then talks about her children and how they need their father. It was a heart-wrenching letter.”– Anuradha Goyal, Unusual Temples of India
While searching for an intriguing read centered around India’s culture and spirituality, I stumbled upon Anuradha Goyal’s “Unusual Temples of India” on my Kindle. Having previously come across the author’s work, “The Mouse Charmers,” a book that has also been featured on our blog, I anticipated another engaging read.
So, what’s this book all about?
Temples are an integral part of India’s cultural tapestry, dotting its landscape from bustling urban streets to serene rural villages, riverbanks, and scenic hillsides. While many temples are well-known pilgrimage centres, there are also those that remain hidden gems, unusual in their own right.
These temples pique our curiosity because they are not just different but uniquely so. In “Unusual Temples of India,” the author shares her experiences visiting some of these remarkable temples during her travels across the country. The book is essentially a compilation of chapters drawn from her temple travel diaries.
From Blog to Book
Originally, these articles discussing 20 diverse temples from various corners of India were published on the author’s blog, “IndiTales.” Later, they were thoughtfully compiled into an eBook format.
A Unique Blend of Extraordinary Temples:
This book offers a colourful tapestry of temples from nearly every region of India. Some of the temples featured include:
1. Karni Mata Mandir, also known as the “temple of rats,” near Bikaner.
2. The renowned Rukmini temple of Dwarka, dedicated to Shri Krishna’s beloved first wife.
3. The temple of the eternally waiting bride at Kanyakumari.
4. Yadagirigutta, the abode of the fearsome Narasimha Swamy, an avatar of Vishnu.
5. The temple of the god of the defeated at Khatu Shyam, also known as Barbarik from the Mahabharata.
6. The revered Lord Brahma temple in Pushkar.
7. Hidimba Devi temple in Manali, dedicated to Bhima’s wife.
8. The temple of the God of Justice, Golu Devta, in the Kumaon Hills.
9. The ancient Mahabharata-era temple in Mehrauli, Delhi, known as Yog Maya Temple.
10. Bharat Mata temples, honouring the living goddess of India, found across the country.
11. The temple of the Visa-granting God, Chilkur Balaji, near Hyderabad.
These are just a glimpse of the unique temples covered in the book; there are many more. The author skillfully captures the essence of each temple, delving into the deities’ greatness, their significance in local legends and Puranic references, historical insights, architectural details, and practical travel tips along with a list of dos and don’ts.
What I appreciate about the book is how it introduces us to unique deities from all corners of India, showcasing the incredible diversity of our country’s spiritual landscape. The book is written from a personal perspective, making the reading experience more intimate. The language used is simple and the descriptive narratives help readers vividly envision the temples and deities being discussed.
However, the writing lacks a certain smoothness and cohesion; the chapters feel somewhat disconnected when compiled as a book. Individually, they shine, but together, they could benefit from better integration.
Room for Improvement
Since the book originated from blog entries that presumably included many pictures, the text often references these images, which can be disappointing for readers as they are not included.
Who Should Read It?
“Unusual Temples of India” is a treat for temple enthusiasts and travellers alike. However, it’s worth noting that this is a relatively short read, spanning under 150 pages, with content that is more on the primary and beginner-level side. If you’re seeking in-depth exploration, this might not be the book for you.
“Unusual Temples of India” offers a concise exploration of unique temples in India, shedding light on the incredible diversity of deities worshipped in our country.
If you’re eager to embark on this spiritual journey, don’t wait—grab your copy of “Unusual Temples of India” now!