In the very heart of old Bhubaneswar, Bindu Sagar tank is somewhere nobody will need to directions to find. It’s omnipresent, and is the backdrop for a number of ancient temples in the city such as Markandeshwar, Mohini, Ananta Vasudeva, Dwarabasini, Uttaresvara and Asta Shambhu.
According to local tradition, Shiva and Parvati settled in Varanasi after their marriage. Over time, Varanasi became a populated place and Lord Shiva sought out a new location in order to meditate in disguise. The location he chose was in a jungle with a single large mango tree. That place became known as Gupta Kashi (hidden Varanasi), or Ekamrakshetra.
Parvati came to know of Lord Shiva’s whereabouts and came searching for him. She spotted hundreds of cows under the huge mango tree automatically milking, and came to know that Shiva was there. Disguised as a milkmaid, she took care of the cows. According to this legend, the cows were coming from Gosagaresvara. The legend continues that Parvati was confronted by two demons, Basa and Kirti, who she killed by stamping them into the ground. The temple tombs of these two demons can be seen within the Bhabani Shankar Temple Complex, where it is also said the Goddess fell asleep with Lord Shiva by her feet.
Parvati felt very thirsty after her exploits, and to quench her thirst Lord Siva struck his trident at this place, out of which a spring appeared. The water was then sanctified by the waters of all rivers and streams, and ultimately took the shape of a large water body which is today known as Bindu Sagar. An alternative legend says that the water body that was created by Lord Shiva is the tank adjacent to Gangeswara and Yamuneswara Temples.
Laterite tank as we see it today is believed to date to the 7th – 8th century A.D, and so is contemporary with the early temples in the city. It is the largest water body in Bhubaneswar, and many of the rituals of Lord Lingaraja are closely associated with this tank.
Set in the middle of Bindu Sagar Tank is a small white temple known locally as Jagati Temple, but often referred to as Brahma Temple. Visiting the temple does not seem possible, and I never saw anyone making the trip by boat to go there. However, during the 42 day Chandan Yatra festival this temple becomes a ritualistic centre, as the image of Lord Lingaraja pays a visit here by boat.
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