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Rani Ahilyabai’s legacy: Kaliya Ghat and Chain Bihari temple

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Rani Ahilyabai statue at Chain Bihari temple ← Rani Ahilyabai statue at Chain Bihari temple 

Vrindavan, 2018.06.02 (VT): Rani Ahilyabai Holkar (31 May 1725 – 13 August 1795) was a great queen, warrior and spiritualist who made a significant contribution to Vrindavan’s architectural heritage. Rani Ahilyabai became the queen of the Maratha Malwar kingdom (in present day Indore) after her husband died. She traveled widely in North India, sponsoring hundreds of temples and Dharamashalas.

In his work Mathura: A District Memoir (1874), F.S. Growse mentions that there is a huge well, with 57 steps , on the Mathura-Vrindavan Road, which was commissioned by Rani Ahilyabai.

Braj researcher, Dr Rakesh Sharma, said that he became interested in the contribution of Ahilyabai when he saw mention of her name on several monuments like Vrindavan’s Kaliya Ghat. Dr Sharma said that Rani Ahilyabai played a big role in the construction of Vrindavan’s ghats. Rani Ahilyabai also commissioned the Chain Bihari temple behind Kaliya Ghat. This lesser known temple, surrounded by a huge wall encompassing extensive grounds, is situated in the place where Shri Krishna took rest after killing the Kaliya demon.

Speaking to a Vrindavan Today correspondent, the current servait at Chain Bihari temple said that his ancestor, Mayaa Ram, provided Rani Ahilyabai with ashes that cured the tumours on her back. Seeing the potency of Mayaa Ram’s yagya, Rani Ahilyabai ordered a grand temple to be built for Mayaa Ram’s Chain Bihari deity.

Rani Ahilyabai was a great pioneer and builder of Hindu temples. She built hundreds of temples and Dharmashalas throughout India, especially during the later period of her life. She was also a fierce warrior and personally led armies into battle.

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