Chaurasi Ghanta Mandir
One of the lanes originating from Hauz Qazi Chowk leads to Sitaram Bazaar. It is a market mostly populated by the Hindu community and is famous for a number of temples that one can spot on the roadside, every 10 steps.
View of the Sitaram Bazaar from the temple gate.
The most famous temple in Sitaram Bazaar is Chaurasi Ghanta Mandir. The temple gets its name Chaurasi (84) Ghanta (bell) from the 84 bells that hang in the temple.
No one actually knows how old the 84 bells are but they represent the 84 lakh cycles of birth that one is said to go through to attain rebirth as a human being. The bells are all tied with a single chain, leading to one lose end. When the lose end is pulled, all the 84 bells chime together.
The exact date of establishment of the temple is unknown but is believed to be approximately 200 to 300 years old. The temple is home to the idols of Hindu Gods Hanuman, Ganesha , Shiv and even Sai Baba.
There are different versions explaining the origin of the temple. Some say that the Shiva Linga, the icon of Lord Shiva, appeared on its own on the site, which was once a graveyard, and so a temple was built around it. It is also rumoured that even the idol of Hanuman magically appeared on the site on day. According to the Hindu tradition, the unexplained appearance of an icon of a deity is called “Swayam bhuprakat”.
It is believed that one Lala Sitaram, who owned the market around the temple place, donated a large sum of money for the construction of the temple.
The temple walls are made of white stones and are decorated with religious scriptures and paintings, depicting important events from the Hindu mythology.
The temple is under the care of a Sharma family for many generations now. The male members of the family take turns to serve as pandits (priests) for 10 days at a time, after which another family member takes over.
Shankar Sharma is the 4th generation from his family serving as a pandit.
As is the case with most of the popular temples, this temple, too, is surrounded by shops selling sweets, flowers, idols, clothes for idols and paintings of Hindu Gods, besides other offerings to God.
Although the market is mostly quiet during the day, it becomes lively by evening as the time for regular evening prayer ceremony (aarti) approaches.