Two ancient and relatively lesser known holy shrines in the North-east have withstood the test of time to tell tales of Rukmini-Sri Krishna’s love story. In this, the final part of the two-part series, we talk about Malini Thaan
By Dr. Monideepa Das | Photographs by Sikha Bora
Malinithan/Malini Thaan is a holy shrine comprising ruins of an ancient Hindu temple. It is located in the foothills of Siang Hill in Likabali town of Lower Siang District in Arunachal Pradesh.
This archeological site was discovered during the British rule. Studies reveal that there was extensive use of granite for the construction of Malinithan, which is in sharp contrast to the use of bricks in the construction of the temples in this region.The temple which dates to 13th-14th century was built during the reign of Chutia kings who took the initiative of settling Brahmins within their kingdom, by allocating land and offering allowances.
The chief deity worshipped was believed to be ‘Kechai-Khaiti’ (‘Kechai’ meaning ‘raw’ and ‘Khaiti’ meaning ‘to eat’)a Chutia tribal goddess. Evidence of sacrifices being offered during bygone days was witnessed by Akashiganga – the narrow stream that flows near the temple to this day.
Like most temples Malinithan too has a Hindu connection historically. It is well-known that Prince Rukma’s (son of King Bhishmaka of Vidarbha) plan of forcibly marrying off his sister Rukmini to his friend Shishupal was foiled by Lord Krishna who intervened by abducting Rukmini, at her behest prior to the wedding.
En route to Dwarka from Bhishmaka Nagara Lord Krishna and Rukmini had stopped at Malinithan/Malini Thaan where they were hosted by Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati who were performing penance in the guise of village folk. Goddess Parvati greeted and welcomed them with garlands made from flowers of her garden.
Popular legend says that Lord Krishna was so fascinated by the freshness and fragrance of the flowers that he addressed Goddess Parvati as ‘Malini,’ meaning ‘lady-gardener/lady of the garden’. Ever since then the place has become famous as Malini Thaan.
Major renovation has taken place in the last couple of years and Malinithan has received a wonderful facelift. Along with the construction of a beautiful temple, Malinithan has been made a plastic-free zone. Besides a ticket counter where tickets can be purchased for entry, there are several shops selling prasad and puja essentials near a large parking area.
A long walk and climb up several steps leads to the temple. Piles of stones and carved rocks which had been lying unattended and excavated ruins of ancient times that had been kept inside a grilled enclosure have now been displayed beautifully in front of the temple.
Apart from being a place of worship Malinithan is now a tourist spot too. Further uphill from Malinithan lies Rukmini Mandir. Many visitors are deterred by the sight of the long flight of stairs and choose not to trek up to the hill-top but it is worth the climb as it offers a panoramic view of the valley below.
It is indeed surprising and very heartening to see the intertwining of the remote north eastern states of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh with Princess Rukmini of Vidarbha which lies in the north-eastern region comprising Nagpur Division and Amravati Division of the Indian state of Maharashtra, and Lord Krishna of Dwarka which is located close to the cities like Jamnagar, Porbandar and Junagad in the state of Gujarat. Such is the magnificence of our country and beauty of Indian mythology.
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Dr. Monideepa Das, with a Post-Graduate degree in Medicine from Assam Medical College Dibrugarh, she is a Physician by profession and a homemaker by choice. Penning down thoughts, ideas, experiences and travelogues is her passion. Travelling and cooking are her other deep interests.