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Ancient temple seeks spotlight

- At Ramgarh’s hidden gem, Ganga pours tribute to Shiva

Ramgarh, Aug. 3: Much has been said and written about Babadham in Deoghar that draws over 30 lakh devotees during the holy month of Shravan alone. But not many know about a centuries-old temple, also dedicated to Lord Shiva, in Ramgarh district.

Some 250km from Deoghar’s Babadham, the Ramgarh temple has immense potential to become a pilgrimage hotspot.

Merely 1km from NH-33, the ancient temple, locally known as Tooti Jharna, at Sandi village of Mandu block, has always been awe-inspiring. The most astonishing feature of the temple is an idol of the Ganga. Water flows out continuously from the idol’s navel to fall on the shivalingam.

“This uninterrupted water flow has been arousing curiosity for ages. The speed of the water has been the same for years. It neither increases nor decreases any time of the year,” said a 72-year-old priest, Raghudas baba, alias Raghu baba, who has been taking care of the temple for decades.

Also, there are two hand pumps installed on the temple premises spread over 100 acres that eject water continuously.

Throwing light on the temple’s origin, Raghu baba said a Ranchi-based contractor Ramji Balaji Parmar Kachchi was assigned the task of laying railway tracks in Ramgarh around 1925 during the British rule. Kachchi engaged labourers to search water for the work. While clearing the bushes, the workers discovered a centuries-old gate. Later, they cleaned up the entire area and discovered an ancient temple, which gradually became popular as Tooti Jharna.

Raghu baba, a resident of nearby Digwar village, added though no proper government-funded research or archaeological study was undertaken here ever, several individuals had tried to find out the source of the water over the years but in vain. “Since the British era, researchers from various parts of the country have been visiting the place to discover the source of the water coming out continuously from the Ganga idol’s navel,” the priest said.

But, according to local people, the temple receives only 150-200 visitors daily round the year. Though footfall increases during Shravan, the temple’s tourism potential is immense, they say.

“The temple is beautiful. Sandi river, which starts from Orla Pahad and enters the Damodar, flows nearby. Devotees come here during Shravan to take a bath and offer water to the shivalingam,” said a local villager.

Raghu baba said local residents and devotees had contributed to help construct a dharamshala here, but rued the government did nothing to promote this ancient place.

“A group from Delhi visited the temple recently and was surprised to see the neglect,” the priest added.