Odishatv Bureau

During the 15-day-long ‘Anasara’ period when Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra are down with fever and remain out of bound for public darshan, devotees swarm Alarnath temple at Brahmagiri, 25 kilometres away from Puri, for darshan of the Supreme Lord. 

The sibling deities of Puri fall sick after bathing with 108 pitchers of specially sanctified water on Devasnana Purnima day, which falls on the full-moon day of the Hindu month of the Jyestha.  

After the ritualistic bath, the deities are taken one after another to a sick room called ‘Anasara Ghara’ where they spend the next 15-days in quarantine for recovery from this fever. 

During this isolation period, as the deities are kept out of public view, devotees make a bee line at Alarnath temple at Brahmagiri to have a darshan of Lord Alarnath, who is believed to be the incarnation of Lord Jagannath. 

It is said that Lord Jagannath manifests as Lord Alarnath to bless devotees during the Anasara and the darshan of Lord Alarnath brings the same blessings and fortune of the darshan of Lord Jagannath. 

As per a legend, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the 15th century saint, is considered as Lord Krishna’s avatar by his followers. During his stay in Puri, he used to have darshan of Lord Jagannath daily. However, during the ‘Anasara’ period, he wasn’t allowed to have the darshan of Lord Jagannath. Saddened over it, he prayed to Lord Jagannath saying he would end his life by plunging into the ocean if he didn’t have a darshan of Him. Pleased with his prayers, Lord Jagannath came in his dream and directed him to go to Alarnath temple at Brahmagiri. 

As directed, he visited the temple and there he could see Lord Jagannath in the idol of Lord Alarnath. An elated Chaitanya Mahaprabhu prostrated himself before the deity. The stone got melted after getting his blissful touch. His body impressions on the stone can still be found today.  

Legend also has it that Lord Brahma worshipped Lord Vishnu here on the top of the hill. The 13th century Alarnath temple was built by a ruler of the royal Alwar dynasty of Rajasthan. Then the temple was known as Alwarnath. With the passage of time, the temple’s name changed and it gradually became known as Alarnath temple. 

Here in the sanctum sanctorum of the temple, the standing idol of four armed Lord Vishnu holding ‘sankha’ (conch shell), ‘chakra’ (wheel), ‘gada’ (mace) and ‘padma’ (lotus) is worshipped. The idol is made of black chlorite. Lord’s carrier Garuda can be found kneeling at the feet of the deity with hands folded in a prayer position. 

During the Holy Trinity’s Anasara, devotees visiting Alarnath temple also get ‘Mahaprasad’ at the ‘Ananda Bazaar’ like they get at Srimandir in Puri. The same amount of Prasad is offered to Lord Alarnath as it is offered to Lord Jagannath in Srimandir during normal days. 

Besides, Lord Alarnath’s favourite pudding ‘kheer’ is also available here. While ‘kheer’ is available for round the year at the temple’s ‘Ananda Bazaar’, the demand for the kheer goes up significantly during ‘Anasara’ period.  

There is also a legend to give credence to the fact that Lord Alarnath’s most favourite food is ‘kheer’. One day, the priest forgot to offer the ‘kheer’ to the deity and left the temple. It was when he realized this that he returned to the temple to offer the pudding. But he stood rooted to the spot after what he saw in the temple. He saw there were ‘kheer’ drops on the face of the idol, suggesting that he had already tasted His favourite pudding. 

At the temple, ‘Baal Bhoga’ is offered to the deity in the morning. At noon, different types of rice, daal, vegetable curries and kheer is offered. Similalrly, at night, khechudi, different types of pithas (cakes) and plantain fry are offered. This is why Alarnath temple is called the second abode of Lord Jagannath.