Tilinga Mandir, The Temple of Bells of Faith!
I was born and brought up in our Tea garden, in Upper Assam, India. The Land of Red River and Blue Hills, the land of the mighty Brahmaputra and of Mother Goddess Kamakhya,is also known for its Tea Gardens. The tea of Assam is known world over and nothing beats a hot cup of Assam “Chai” to calm your nerves and soothe your mind. Amidst these luscious green gardens in Upper Assam,in Tinsukia District, is a small town known as “Bordubi.I remember it as a town where we always had to wait at the railway crossings for such time, which seemed eternity then, till our car could cross over to the other side. In this small sleepy town was a Banyan tree(amidst the tea garden, on the main road), where we would slow down our car and pay obeisance to the Shiva Linga, which had mysteriously appeared many years ago. Sometimes we could go all the way from our garden, especially on Mondays(Mondays are dedicated to Lord shiva in Hinduism) and offer milk flowers fruits etc, while the priest would recite prayers.We were told that the tree was a wish fulfilling one and whatever we prayed there we would get. As a mark of gratitude for prayers answered we would tie bells on the branches of the Banyan tree.
(At the foot of the Banyan Tree)
The Story as is told:
Legend has it that nearly half a century ago, in 1965, tea garden workers working in the gardens noticed a black rock in the shape of Shiva Lingam emerging from the ground, nestled among the roots of the peepal tree (banyan).They unearthed it and after due formalities of consecration they started praying and offering puja there.Gradually,they discovered its mysterious powers.And as the word got around, people began to flock to the site.To cater to the devotees,the garden administration built a small temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. Wishes were being fulfilled and prayers were being answered. As a mark of gratitude,of the Divine intervention,one would hang bells,(Tilingas). One can also offer pigeons or “Trishul”(Tridents). And as the number of devotees grew,a bigger temple came up in place of the smaller one. Thus, came about the “Tilinga” Mandir,dedicated to Lord Shiva!
This temple has the largest collection of bells in different sizes and materials such as bronze, brass, copper and aluminium,giving it a place in the Limca Book of World Records. The temple itself has three bell-shaped domes each smaller than the other (from left to right) so that when you look from the front, it looks just like a single bell.
When I visited this place recently, I was amazed to see the transformation of not only the small sleepy town which I literally grew up seeing but the place where the revered banyan tree stood once. A small temple big enough for just one person to enter had given place to a much bigger one and the banyan tree which years ago, had a few bells tied to its branches was now covered with a thousand odd bells. Environmentalist had stepped in when the tree was dying, probably suffocating and being bogged down by the weight of the bells tied to it. Now bells are tied around the bars erected around the Divine tree. According to Hindu mythology, Banyan trees are considered “Kalpavrikshas” or wish fulfilling trees and this tree in Bordubi is a proof of beliefs that would go beyond the realm of science.
Faith is an unquestioning belief. It sees the Invisible,believes the Unbelievable and receives the Impossible.
How to get there:
By Air: The nearest airport is Mohanbari airport, Dibrugarh. A taxi service from the airport would take about an hour or so.
By train: Nearest station is Tinsukia town station.(Around 7 Kms from Bordubi). One can travel by bus or opt for a taxi service.