The Nawabs of Lucknow were the forerunners of the secular culture, and the Lord Hanuman Ji Temple in Aliganj, Lucknow, is a magnificent example of that. This beautiful temple was built by the wife of Nawab Mohammad Ali Shah, Begum Rabiya. If you think this fact makes it one of the most incredible places to visit in Lucknow, wait till you hear the story behind its construction.
It is believed that the Begum had a dream in which she came across an idol of Lord Hanuman hidden inside a particular spot in a garden. An unknown voice then advised her to dig the idol out and install it in the temple. Nobody knew who, how, and if, anybody placed it there. It was not long afterwards that she was blessed with a child. Convinced that there was a divine hand at play behind these events, the Nawab ordered the construction of a temple in close proximity to Bara Imambara with the statue inside it. It is this temple which is known as the Purana Hanuman Mandir, or the Old Hanuman Temple.
The other famous temple, which is called the Naya Hanuman Mandir, or New Hanuman Temple, was built in 1752 AD, and is therefore, almost 30 years old. This temple was built by Jathmal, a commander in Alia Begum’s army. The idol of Lord Hanuman, which was housed in the Old Hanuman Mandir, was now sought to be installed at some other place. What happened thereafter was even more surprising. Everybody was taken aback and amazed when the elephant carrying the statue to the temple stopped in its tracks, sat down, and refused to even budge an inch further. Repeated efforts to get it going again proved completely futile. Matters came to a standstill until a saint intervened and suggested the construction of a temple at that very place. Thereafter, not only was the temple built, but a plot of land was also granted for its maintenance.
The temple, which is one of the most visited tourist places in Lucknow, is also famous for hosting the Bada Mangal festival. The festival is unique because it is celebrated only in Lucknow and reflects the wonderful synthetic culture of the region. Devotees from all over the state as well as different parts of the country flock to the temple to participate in the festival. It is celebrated on the first Tuesday of the Jyeshtha month, which in the Gregorian calendar, are the months of May and June. On the eve of the festival, the gates of the sanctum sanctorum are closed for visitors. During this time, various rituals like bathing, clothing and make-up are performed on the statue of Lord Hanuman. Finally, the doors are opened for devotees a few hours before midnight and remain open for the early hours of the day.
The architecture of Purana Hanuman Temple suggests an amalgamation of Hindu and Islamic architectural styles. One place in the temple which reflects this style rather strongly is its tomb, which is topped by a moon, a feature usually found in mosques. It is a reminder of the spirit of tolerance, love and brotherhood which has prevailed in this region since ages. The temple premises also house a pond as well as a garden. The pillars of the temple, painted in saffron, enhance its overall aesthetic appeal.
Apart from Lord Hanuman, which is the main deity, the temple also houses the statues of Nandi Bull and Lord Ganesh. The hall inside the temple is very spacious and is meant to accommodate a large number of devotees. Its walls are adorned with murals of various gods and goddesses. The Naya Hanuman Mandir is also as the beautiful as the old one. Its entrance is guarded by two statues dressed in traditional attire. A flight of stairs take you to the main gate of the temple, which then opens to a medium sized courtyard. Its niches are decorated with intricate designs and pictures of divine beings in Hinduism.
After visiting the Purana Hanuman Temple and Naya Hanuman Temple in Aliganj, you can go on a sightseeing tour to the other popular tourist attractions in the city. Some of them are mentioned below.
Lord Hanuman Temples of Aliganj is located in the capital city of Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh. As a religious structure, you can visit it throughout the year. The best time to visit however, entirely depends upon the weather and when you are comfortable in it. If you are daunted by the heat of the summer season, then the winter season is the perfect time to plan a trip. During this time, the weather is cool, pleasant and enjoyable, and presents the right conditions for sightseeing and exploration.