Behind the beautiful carvings of every important Hindu Temple, is a fascinating story. On this serene and spiritual nine hour drive, get up-close to these architectural wonders and understand Hinduism better as you explore four prominent Hindu Temples including Chamunda Devi, Chintpurni, Jawalaji and Brajeshwari.
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The divine aura of Chamunda Devi spell bounds its devotees with its spiritual appeal and attracts pilgrims from far and wide. A renowned holy shrine of the Hindus in in the picturesque beauty of lush green Himalayas, the Chamunda Devi Temple dates back to the 16th century and is dedicated to Chamunda Devi, a form of Durga / Shakti. Believed to be the abode of ‘Shiva and Shakti’, it is also known as ‘Chamunda Nandikeshwar Dham’.
Chamunda Devi is considered as the wrathful form of Durga, but at the same time, the Goddess is known to be kind to her true devotees. The term ‘Chamunda’ has been derived from two words, ‘Chanda’ and ‘Munda’. As per the mythological legends, Durga made a goddess with her power, to slay the demons, Chanda and Munda. With her immense power, the Goddess killed the demons. Goddess Durga became happy with the slaughter and blessed the goddess that she would be known and worshipped as Chamunda.
In the temple, the main image of the goddess, draped in rich clothes, is visible from the main entrance. The main shrine is adored on the sides by the images of the guards of goddess – Lord Bhairav and Lord Hanuman.
Chamunda Devi is worshipped daily while the sermons include ‘Aartis’ at intervals. Reciting the hymn of ‘Shat Chandi’ with devoted heart at this temple is considered auspicious. In the corner of the temple, one can see small footsteps of the Goddess on a stone. Besides the main shrine, there is a marble staircase that takes down to the cave of Lord Shiva. This is a cave-like scoop where Shiva Lingam is placed. People visit this cave and worship Lord Shiva with great devotion.
In the temple complex, there is a huge pond with images of Lords and people can take bath here. There is sculpture of Goddess, in which, she is garlanded with serpents, scorpions, and skulls. During the time of Navratras, the temple is a popular centre of worship amongst the pilgrims.
Legend says that around 400 years ago, a King and a Brahmin priest prayed to Chamunda Devi asking her consent to shift the image to an accessible location. Chamunda Devi appeared in a dream to the priest granting him the permission. She asked him to dig a certain area and subsequently, they will find an ancient idol. They can brought the idol in the temple and worship her. The priest told about the dream to the King and sent his men to bring the idol. The men got the idol, but they could not lift it.
Again, the Goddess appeared and asked the priest that the men could not lift the idol because they took it as an ordinary stone. She told the priest to get up early in the morning and take a bath. After wearing fresh clothes, he should go to the place in a devoted manner. The priest did the same what was told to him. He found that he could lift the idol easily. He placed the idol in its present location and from that time, the Goddess is worshipped by people.
Chintpurni Devi is regarded as the Goddess who takes away all the worries of her devotees. The term ‘Chhinnamastika’ suggests ‘without the head’. Here, the Goddess is depicted without her head in a pindi (phallic) form. Devotees come to this temple with a perpetual faith that the Goddess would bless them and fulfill all their wishes. It is said that nobody goes empty handed from the shrine of Goddess Chintpurni / Chhinnamastika.
The simple structure of the temple contains the main shrine, where the image of Mata Chintpurni is placed in the form a pindi (a round stone). During the time of Navratras, the temple observes grand fairs and festivity. People from far and near come to visit this holy shrine to seek the blessings from the Goddess.
Like other temples of the Hindus, this too has legends behind its establishment. According to the saints, at the time of self-sacrifice, part of Sati’s feet fell at this place and subsequently, a temple was built. Since, the temple is associated with the legend of self-sacrifice by Sati; it is regarded as the Shakti Peetha. Another legend says that Goddess appeared to slay two demons Shumbha and Nishumbha. After slaying the demons, the escorting friend of the goddess asked for more blood and the goddess cut her head to quench her thirst for blood.
Bhai Mai Das was an ardent devotee of Goddess Durga. Once, the Goddess came in his dream and asked him to build a temple at this place. Following the instruction, the temple was built in Chhaproh village. Till date, his descendants perform the worship of Shri Chintpurni. The present generation is the twenty-sixth generation of Bhai Mai Das. The village was named after the Goddess and it comprises maximum families from Bhai Mai Das’ clan.
In the early times, people tried to explore the fact behind these burning flames, but nothing substantial was made out. These flames are burning due to some natural jets of combustible gas. The temple came to be known as the Jwala Devi Mandir. In this temple, there is no idol because the Goddess is considered to be residing in the form of flames. This temple has nine ceaseless flames that are named as Mahakali, Annapurna, Chandi, Hinglaj, Vindhya Vasini, Mahalakshmi, Saraswati, Ambika and Anji Devi respectively.
Inside the shrine, there is a pit where several flames are burning. The offerings are made to the Goddess in this same pit. The ‘Aartis’ at different intervals of the day, are the main attraction of this temple. Usually, an offering of Rabri or thickened milk is made to the goddess. In the temple complex, there are several small shrines including Gorakh Dibbi and Chaturbhuj Temple. These blue flames are coming out from the fissures in the ancient rock.
Being an important pilgrimage of the Hindus, devotees come to this temple in large numbers. During the days of Navaratri, the temple is thronged by countless number of devotees. Colorful fairs are also organized for the period of Navaratri in March-April and Sep-October.
According to the legend, the mouth of Sati fell here at the time of self-sacrifice. Ever since, the Goddess occupied the place, she manifested into nine flames. After years, one day Raja Bhumi Chand Katoch, a resident of Kangra and a great devotee of Goddess Durga, dreamt of the holy place. He sent his men to locate the place. With the grace of the Goddess, the site was found and Raja started constructing a temple. It is believed that Pandavas also contributed in the erection of this temple. However, the construction of this temple was completed in the 19th century, when Maharaja Ranjit Singh and his son, Kharak Singh, gave the Gold and Silver for the dome and door respectively.
Legend says that Indra and the other deities went to goddess Parvati and requested her to help slay the demon Kalikala. Goddess Parvati assured that she would come to their aid at the right time. Another legend says that after Goddess Sati sacrificed herself in the honor of Lord Shiva in her father’s Yagya. Shiva took her body on his shoulder and started Tandav. In order to stop him from destroying the world, Lord Vishnu divided the body of Sati into 52 parts with his Chakra. The right breast of Sati fell at this spot, thus making it a Shakti Peeth.
The original temple was built by the Pandavas (of the Mahabharat mythology). If legends are to believed, one day the Pandavas saw Goddess Durga in their dream in which she told them that she is situated in the Nagarkot village and if they want to be safe and secure, they should make a temple for her in that area. Else, all will be destroyed. That same night they erected a magnificent temple for her in the Nagarkot village.
Inside the main area, Goddess Brajeshwari is present in the form of Pindi. The temple also has a small temple of Bhairav. In front of the main temple, is an idol of Dhayanu Bhagat – who had offered his head to the Goddess at the time of rule of Akbar – the great Mughal Emperor.