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Tags : Temple

Timings : 6:00 AM - 1:00 PM, 4:00 PM - 8:30 PM

Time Required : 1-2 hrs

Entry Fee : No entry fee

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Koteshwar, Ambaji Overview

The small village island of Koteshwar in the west of the Kutch district of Gujarat is famous for its religious significance as it houses an ancient Shiva temple and the important pilgrimage site of Narayan Sarovar, one of the five sacred lakes mentioned in the Hindu mythology. The shrine here is said to be another form of Shiva (Bhairava – his fierce manifestation) of Hinglaj Mata at Hinglaj, a pilgrimage site in Balochistan, Pakistan, about 250 kilometres from Karachi. The area is known for providing picturesque sunsets overlooking the sea.

Legends and stories carried by generations over centuries have girdled and identified this place with utmost importance. Koteshwar translates to 'ten million gods'. A single road connects the mainland with the area which in the past was cut off because of rising tidal creeks. The Koteshwar Mahadev temple is the main attraction, overlooking the blue of the vast Arabian Sea and the waters of Kori Creek. The clashing landscapes of the sparsely inhabited Rann of Kutch on one side and the strikingly calm waters of the sea on the other, remarkably complement each other.

It is located on the westernmost inhabited outpost of the Indian subcontinent and is the only point of construction between the two sceneries, the calm sea and the deserted terrain. It is said that there were thrice as many as the temple structures that are standing here today. Built entirely by sandstone, the temple complex is an astonishing one with beautifully carved large domes, figurines of Hindu deities and captivating shrines.

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Legend and History of Koteshwar

Numerous legends surround this place. According to one of them, the story of Koteshwar begins with Ravana, who won a Shiva linga from Lord Shiva as a reward for his piousness. But in his briskness, Ravana dropped the linga, and it fell here at Koteshwar. To punish Ravana, Shiva illusioned the appearance of tens of thousands of lingas. Ravana, unable to distinguish the original from the others, picked one and left in haste. The temple is built around the original one left behind.

The earliest mentions of Koteshwar were found in the records of a Chinese traveller in the 7th century named Hieun-Tsiang who portrays the place as an important harbour, with around 80 monasteries and just 5 miles in boundary from the mouth of the Indus River.

The main temple was built in 1820 as per the inscriptions found on the left wall of the main gate, by Sundarji and Jetha Shivji, two Brahmin Seths by caste. On the site of the main building complex, there stood an older building, details of which have been lost in time.

Things To Do in Koteshwar

Being the location of two famous Hindu pilgrimage sites, the Koteshwar temple and the Narayan Sarovar are places of great spirituality and tranquillity. The sites are not as crowded as its Gujarati counterparts of Dwarka or Somnath.

The history and legends associated with the temple is in itself a great incentive to visit. Additionally, the Koteshwar Temple is an architectural paradise. Expansive domes, lovely hallways, quaint courtyards and to add to the beauty, the idyllic waters of the Arabian Sea. Narayan Sarovar is one of the five sacred lakes mentioned in the Hindu mythology of Bhagavad Gita. It is the spot of a famous temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu. The architecture here is majestic and awe-inspiring. According to a legend, the Sarasvati River had an outlet to Narayan Sarovar, being the reason for its source of sweet water although it borders the sea.

The views of the sea are particularly beautiful during crimson red sunsets over the horizon. It is said that on a clear and cloudless night, you can view the city lights of Karachi, all the way in Pakistan!

Best Time To Visit Koteshwar

Koteshwar is one of the lesser known tourist destinations in Gujarat, so you can expect it to not be very crowded any time of the year. The months between October and January are advisable to take up travel here as they are comparatively cooler than the months of summer which can get pretty humid and uncomfortable.

An annual fair is held here from 11th to 15th, during the Hindu calendar months of Karthik (usually overlapping in November).

Tips For Visiting Koteshwar

  1. It is advisable to take care of one's belongings.
  2. In addition to this, all the items of utmost importance should be carried along on the trip.
  3. No garbage should be littered inside or around the temple. 

How To Reach Koteshwar

District headquarters of Kutch is in Bhuj, which is the closest city at a distance of 150 kilometres approximately. State transport buses also frequent daily from Bhuj. Private vehicles can be hired in Bhuj after negotiating the prices. These are the only ways to reach Koteshwar by road. The nearest railway station is also in Bhuj.

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