City Faith – Shiv Hanuman Temple, Daryaganj
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
In a city where blue sky is as elusive as a dream, it is dream-like to see Lord Shiv gleaming in blue—his statue is majestically perched atop this little-known but beautiful temple. Shiv Hanuman Mandir in Daryaganj is so small that you can walk around it in two minutes flat, and yet it is an immensely satisfying sanctuary of divinity.
Tucked at one end of a three-way crossing near the Mughal-era Dilli Gate, with a popular kachori-subzi stall clinging to it like a limpet, the long-time landmark does lack the grandeur. No stately flight of stairs, no imposing tower of stone. But all of that is compensated by the blue-bodied Shiv. Seated in a yogic posture on the temple roof, the god is seen serenely watching the busy-hurry world go by from his high vantage point.
Inside, the young friendly priest Karan Sharma describes himself as the temple’s fourth-generation “pujari”.
The mandir’s marble floor is almost level with the road. On the right stands Kal Bhairav, an incarnation of Shiv. Bhairav is sculptured in black marble though his lips are blood red. An alert snake (in stone) is draped around the neck. One of Bhairav’s six arms is holding a severed head. A ferociously sculpted black dog stands under the legs.
The principal praying room teems with an assembly of gods including Shani Devta, Ganesh, Parvati, Nandi bull and Shirdi’s Sai Baba. Some idols are draped in gold-tasseled silk. The visual centre-piece inside the shrine’s premises is unmistakably the giant peepal tree. A part of the massive trunk is generously smeared with orange tika, which is a representation of Balaji, or Lord Hanuman.
The peepal passes through an opening in the ceiling, beyond which it bifurcates into a network of branches. A metallic ladder-like staircase takes you to the roof, perpetually covered with fallen peepal leaves. Standing up here beside the blue Shiv, you get to see the area’s entire street life in a single glance: gossiping men, preoccupied shoppers, food hawkers, bikers, rickshaw pullers, labourers, beggars, stray dogs and occasional camera-toting tourists. This messy world instantly vanishes when you climb down to return inside the temple. These days, however, the door to the roof mostly remains closed due to intrusive monkeys.