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Where the Lord's holy presence echoes in the heart of nature and every prayer is heard. The birth place of famous Saint Vallabhacharya, who was the pioneer and founder of the Vallabh sect, Champaranya is a land of great historical significance. Blessed by the righteous Hindu saints, this place holds many mesmerizing legends. On a tour to Raipur, you must include Champaranya, also known as Champaran, in your travel itinerary.
The best time to visit the Saint Vallabhacharya Temple in Champaranya is the eleventh day of Baisakh when the birth anniversary of Saint Vallabhacharya is celebrated. The followers of Vallabh Sect assemble at the temple to pay tribute to him. Besides this, the other interesting event of this place is The Annual Fair of Champaranya. It is organized every year in the month of Magh. During this time, you will witness unrestrained revelries and festivities.
Legend of the Champeshwar Mahadev Temple: There is an interesting story surrounding the history of the temple. Around 800 years ago, a shepherd took his cows for grazing in the dense forests. One fine day while returning a particular cow named Radha suddenly became violent and started charging back towards the forest. The forest was so dark and dense that no one would ever find their way out after sunset. The mystery haunted the shepherd as Radha kept roaming in the forest day and night as if searching for a lost bell. After a week, the shepherd followed the cow into the forest.
As Radha ran through the forest, the shepherd followed blindly. The branches of huge trees and a dense net of vines made the jungle impossible to invade. Slowly, as the shepherd followed the cow he came to a 'Shami' tree and was shocked at what he saw. A continuous stream of milk was falling from the cow onto a rock shaped like a 'Shivlinga'. Excited and amused the shepherd ran back to his village and narrated the incident to the villagers, but nobody seemed to believe him. The news spread across the village like fire and some of the villagers followed the shepherd into the forest. What they witnessed was a miracle that changed everything.
They saw that Radha was showering milk on a unique Shivlinga that had Mahadev, Goddess Parvati and Lord Ganesh together on it. Surprised, the entire village worshiped the Shivlinga, and thus was born the beautiful 'Shri Champeshwar Mahadev Temple'. Initially, it was just a small hut, but later a majestic temple was built for devotees and soon the temple became a popular holy destination. It is believed that one who prays here from the core of his heart never goes dissatisfied. To complete the 'Panchakoshi Yatra' visit to the Champeshwar Temple is a must. The Yatra includes – Fanikeshwar Temple, Champeshwar Temple, Bamhaneshwar Temple, Kopeshwar Temple and Pateshwar Temple.
Chhattisgarh is a state that honours the precious treasures of nature and thus, cutting trees is considered a sin. Folks here believe that cutting trees can actually bring natural calamities. The Champeshwar Temple has been renovated and looks majestic. The area of the temple sprawls over 6 acres and the entire temple is surrounded by trees. Calm and peaceful at all times, the serenity is only penetrated by holy hymns and chants. During puja, the entire temple resonates with rhythm and every beat can be heard clearly. Away from the chaotic sounds of the city, the temple is an escape into prayer and meditation.
Every year, around 30-50 thousand devotees flock here for the Mahashivratri Festival. Lord Shiva is worshiped and adored with butter, sugar, milk and curd. In the month of Magh, the Shiva devotees seek the blessings of the Lord by bathing him in the water of the 'Mahanadi'. During this time the temple is packed with tourists coming from all over the world. The Champeshwar Mahadev Temple is open from 8 am to 1 pm and 3pm to 7 pm. The village trust looks after the affairs of the temple.
The Legend of Shri Mahaprabhu Vallabhacharya: Champaranya is popularly known to be the birth place of the famous saint Shri Mahaprabhu Vallabhacharya. Saint Agasthi's 'Vanshaj' Khumbhkar travelled from Agrahaar to Kakakhand and settled there with his family. He, along with his family, embarked on a holy journey and reached Kashi via Prayag.
Due to the war and violence created by the 'Malechhas' he returned to his hometown and on the way reached Rajim. Here he visited the Champeshwar Mahadev Temple and his wife, Vallamagaru gave birth to a beautiful son in the year 1479 on the day of Vaishakh Krishna Paksha Ekadashi. The chances of the baby's survival seemed bleak and therefore he left the child in the shade of the Shami tree. The next day when he returned, he was amazed to see Lord 'Agni' Himself guarding the baby. The incident touched his soul and it became clear that the child was very special. He was given four different names: Devanath–Krishna Prasad, Maas Naam-Janardhan, Nakshatra Naam–Shravishtha, and the famous name – Vallabh.
Very sharp and extremely intelligent as a child, he was also called as 'Bal Saraswati'. A visionary, he grew up to be an extremely learned man, who imbibed the knowledge of the Yajurveda from Guru Vishnochitt, Tirumal Dixit taught him Rig-Veda. He also obtained knowledge of the Atharvaveda and Upanishads from his beloved father. In an era of budding religious beliefs, Shri Vallabhacharya established and preached the 'Pushti' way of life. He was among the other visionaries of his era including Shri Ramanand, Saint Kabir, Gurunath Deo, Shri Ramdas, Saint Tukaram, Meera, and Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.
A loyal devotee and ardent follower of Shri Krishna, Shri Mahaprabhu Vallabhacharya toured the earth on his feet three times! While doing so he studied and preached the 'Bhagwat Saptah'. His many 'Baithaks' are proof of his dedication and devotion. In India there are a total of 84 such 'Baithaks'.
Shri Mahaprabhu Vallabhacharya's Baithaks: Two of Vallabhacharya's Baithaks are situated in Champaranya. One of them is located at his birth place under the tree and the other one is at the 'Ghati Pujan' place. Bal Krishna is also worshiped and revered here and the devotees of Shri Mahaprabhu Vallabhacharya believe the Mahanadi here to be as holy as the Yamuna. 'Pushti' followers, mainly Vaishnavas, consider this place to be their main 'Tirtha Sthaan'.
Shri Mahaprabhu Vallabhacharya's Birth Anniversary Celebration: Every year, devotees from far flung places across the world participate in the festivities held in honour of the Saint on Vaishakh Krishna Paksha Ekadashi. Internationally and nationally acclaimed, this celebration takes the purity and sanctity of Champaranya to an entirely different plane.
Accommodation: Champaranya has the Temple Trust's Resting Shelters for accommodation. Raipur is the nearest city with excellent hotels for planning a comfortable stay.
How to reach
Raipur is the nearest airport well connected to Mumbai, Delhi, Nagpur, Bhubaneswar, Kolkata, Ranchi, Vishakhapatnam and Chennai.
Raipur is the nearest railway station on the Bombay- Howrah main line.
There are regular buses from Raipur to Champaranya. Local taxis and jeeps are also available.