Hidimba Devi Temple built in 1553 over a huge rock jutting out of the ground is located in Manāli, a hill station in the State of Himāchal Pradesh in north India. The temple is surrounded by a cedar forest at the foot of the Himālayas.
It is an ancient cave temple dedicated to Hidimbi Devi, sister of Hidimb, who was a character in the Indian epic, Mahābhārata. Hidimba used to perform meditation in this cave. She lived here with her brother Hidimb, and not much is known about their parents. Born in the Rakshas family, Hidimba vowed to marry one who would defeat her brother Hidimb, who was supposed to be very brave and fearless. During the Pandava's exile, when they visited Manali; Bhima, one of the five Pandvas, killed Hidimb. Thus, Hidimba married Bhima, and gave birth to their son Ghatotkacha. When Bhima and his brothers returned from exile, Hidimbi did not accompany him, but stayed back and did tapasyā (a combination of meditation, prayer, and penance) so as to eventually attain the status of a goddess.
The Hidimbi Devi Temple has intricately carved wooden doors and a 24 meters tall wooden "shikhar" or tower above the sanctuary. The tower consists of three square roofs covered with timber tiles and a fourth brass cone-shaped roof at the top. The earth goddess Durga forms the theme of the main door carvings. The temple base is made out of whitewashed, mud-covered stonework. An enormous rock occupies the inside of the temple, only a 7.5 cm (3 inch) tall brass image representing goddess Hidimbi Devi. A rope hangs down in front of the rock, and according to a legend, in bygone days religious zealots would tie the hands of "sinners" by the rope and then swing them against the rock.
About 70 metres away from the temple, there is a shrine dedicated to Goddess Hidimbi's son, Ghatotkacha who was born after she married Bhima. The most surprising feature of the temple or what believers could call the most reassuring feature of the temple is the fact that inside the temple the imprint of the feet of the Goddess carved on a block of stone are worshipped and if you go to Google Satellite and zoom into the area where the temple is located, you can clearly see the imprint of a giant foot spanning across the valley in the area near the temple.
Tara Devi Temple
Maa Bhagwati Tara Devi" temple is located on Tarav Parvat in the western side of shimla Town about 15 Km from Shimla situated by the side of Kalka- Shimla National Highway near Shoghi. The road meandering uphill through the sweet smelling pine forests and lush green meadows with the cool gentle breeze touching one softly infusing a freshness and vigor in the devotees, pilgrims and tourists visiting this holy shrine. The location of the temple on the Hill top makes it appear that the goddess Maa Tara Devi seems to keep everyone under the protective gaze ,showering innumerable blessings on her worshippers. The picturesque view from the temple is indeed breath taking and captivating with the superb panorama of the lofty and majestic forested mountains around, which offers a calm peaceful and tranquil countryside, a site that has a soothing and rejuvenating effect, being away from the din, pollution and the taxing effect of a fast urban life style.
The history of this temple dates back to about 250 years when this temple was built here. There is a belief that the goddess Tara was brought to Himachal Pradesh all the way from the eastern state of Bengal . Hundreds of years ago a king from the Sen Dynasty visited this area. This king had brought his family deity in the form of a small gold Idol encased in a locket which he always wore around his upper arm. For many years the idol remained encased but in the 96th generation of sen dynasty , Raja Bhupendra Sen one day had an unusual experience while hunting in the dense forest of Juggar , near by the present temple, where he had a vision of his holy family deity goddess :"Maa Tara" along with her Dwarpal Bhairav and Hanuman Ji , who expressed her keen desire to be unveiled before the people. The Raja immediately donated 50 bighas of land on the name of Maa Tara and got constructed a temple there, in which a wooden idol of the Goddess was installed in accordance with Vaishnav traditions . Later on Raja Balbir Sen of the same dynasty had a dream in which the Goddess expressed her desire to be installed on the hill top of Tarav Parvat. The Raja on the advice of one of his pandits named Bhawani Dutt got a beautiful Idol prepared out of ‘Ashtadhatu’ from one Gusanwu artisan at his capital Junga and carried it over an Elephant named ‘Shankar’ and had it installed in the Vikrami era, 1825 on the Hill Top of Tarav Parvat , where it stands in all majesty and grandeur even today. The Sen dynasty of the erstwhile Keonthal State till date is carrying on with the age old tradition of worshipping their family deity Maa Tara on Ashtami during Shardiya Navratras each year when a fair is also held in the same day in the temple complex. The wrestling is an age old tradition of this fair every year.
“Hatkoti Temple” is located at Jubbal (Hatkoti), 100 K.M. from Shimla the capital of the Himachal Pradesh. Temple is located in village Hatkoti of tehsil Jubbal distt Shimla of Himachal Pradesh. Hatkoti Mata is regarded as the most powerful goddess among all the goddesses of northern India by the residents of Hatkoti. As we know Himachal Pradesh is a state of gods and goddesses. Hartkoti is one of them. Himachal Pradesh is known as a valley of temples. There is no written proof about the history of the temple but as we enter the premises of the temple the history diverts our minds towards itself, as there are a number of historic monuments in the temple which makes us remember about the Mabharata period. There are five stone “Deols” present in the temple premises which makes us remember about the five pandavas. These “Deols” are decreasing in size, first one being the largest in size and then the decreasing ones. In the building it’s a beautiful “Lord Shiva” temple having a large and beautiful shrine inside it, others idols present in the temple are also a proof a great architecture skills. The interior walls and roof of the temple have also been designed using great architecturing skills. The people of Hatkoti believe that the temple was established by Guru Adi Shankracharya. Some people also believe that the temple was built somewhere in the Third era. Three Gupta Age’s Rock Edicts (in scripted stones) have been found at three different places of this ancient and historic place.
Scriptures describe about Mata Hateshwari as:- Hateswari is known as the Shakti of Hateshwar and hence this place is known as Hateswari, one of the main residences of Shiva and Shakti.
In front of the temple of Mata Hateshwari towards the east direction is a small mountain known as a fort of Rambhasur. Rambhasur was the father of Maheshasur whom he has got as a reward of his prayers to Agnidev. He also went through a tough prayer of Lord Shiva and was rewarded by lord Shiva that his son would be un defeatable .Taking the advantage of this he captured the “Triloks” of the gods and betrayed them of all their powers. The defeated gods took shelter in the hard to reach places of pabbar valley and asked Mata Hateshwari to protect them from the devil. On the demand of gods Mata Hateshwari killed Maheshasur and gained the name of “Maheshasurmardini” (destroyer of Maheshasur Devil).
The idol of Mata in the Temple is unexplainable. The artist has tried imagining the whole universe in this idol. The statue is made up of a mixture of eight valuable metals. The statue is 1.20 meter in height. The idol displays the destroyer expression of Mata. The interesting fact about the idol is that it changes its expression, sometimes it has a smiling face and some time it is in a angry posture, the idol has such effect on the devotee that he take off his eyes from the idol. On both sides of the idol there is something written in Brahmi script.
There is a huge vessel type of a thing present near the entrance of the temple known as “charu” surrounded by chains it attracts the attention of people towards itself following one more story of its existence behind it. There is a huge hall in the temple premises known as “yagyashala” used to perform rituals. In the centre of the hall is a Hawan kund where the rituals are performed. The idols of Lord Brahma,Vishnu,Mahesh And Ganesha can be seen placed here There is a lot of sitting place available for the devotees .there is one more hall in the premises known as Satsang Bhawan which can adjust 350 devotees at a time. Nearby is a rest house where the saints and devotees take rest. There is one more hall known as Dharamshala which is mainly used to store various things of the temple. The whole premise of the temple is covered by a 12foot high wall on all the three sides. It has two main doors one towards the east serving as an entrance to the temple.
Best time to visit Hatkoti Temple from April to October. However, temperatures vary with the seasons. May to September have pleasant day’s cold nights while April & October have pleasant days. Nearest Airport and Railway Station located at Shimla. U can visit there by bus and also take cab from Shimla and Chandigarh.
Shri Bhima Kali temple is situated about 180 km from Shimla at Sarahan and is one of 51 Shakti Peethass. The town Sarahan is known as the gate way of Kinnaur. Down below at a distance of 7 km from Sarahan is the River Satluj. Sarahan is identified with the then Sonitpur mentioned in Puranas. Bhimakali is the presiding deity of the rulers of former Bushahr State. According to a legend, the manifestation of the goddess is reported to the Daksha-Yajna incident when the ear of the Sati fell at this place and became a place of worship as a Pitha - Sthan.
The temple complex has another three temples dedicated to Lord Raghunathji, Narsinghji and Patal Bhairva Ji (Lankra Veer) - the guardian deity.
The temple of Vajreshvari built by the Pandavas at the time of Mahabharatha is on a mountain near Chamunda Devi temple. It is one of the 51 Shakti Peetha. The left breast of Sati fell at this spot, thus making it a Shakti Peeth. It is located in the town of Nagarkot, Kangra district, Himachal Pradesh, India which is 16 km away from Chamunda temple and 11 km away from the nearest railway station of Kangra. The Kangra Fort is situated nearby.
Legend says that one day Pandavas saw Goddess Durga in their dream in which she told them that she is situated in the Nagarkot village and if they want them self to be secure they should make a temple for her in that area otherwise they will be destroyed. That same night they made a magnificent temple for her in the Nagarkot village. This temple was looted a number of times by the Muslim invaders. Md Gaznavi looted this temple at least 5 times, in the past it used to contain tonnes of gold and many ghantas made of pure silver. In 1905 the temple was destroyed by a powerful earthquake and was subsequently rebuilt by the government.
The main gate entrance has a Nagarkhana or drum house and is built similar to the Bassein fort entrance. The temple is also surrounded by a stone wall like a fort.Inside the main area Goddess Vajreshvari is present in the form of Pindi. The temple also have a small temple of Bhairav. In front of the main temple an idol of Dhayanu Bhagat is also present. He had offered his head to the Goddess at the time of Akbar. The present structure has three tombs in it, which is unique in itself.
Makar sakrantri, which comes on second week of January, is also celebrated in the temple. Legend says that after killing Mahishasura in the battle, devi had got some injuries. to heel those injuries Goddess had applied Makhan (butter) on her body, in Nagarkot. Thus to mark this day the Pindi of Goddess is covered with Makhan and the festival is celebrated for a week in the temple.
Jwalamukhi Devi Temple
Jwalamukhi is a famous temple to the goddess Jwalamukhi, the deity of flaming mouth, built over some natural jets of combustible gas, believed to be the manifestation of the Goddess. Raja Bhumi Chand Katoch of Kangra, a great devotee of goddess Durga, dreamt of the sacred place and the Raja set people to find out the whereabouts of the site. The site was traced and the Raja built a temple at that location. The building is modern with a gilt dome and pinnacles, and possesses a beautiful folding door of silver plates. Under the gaze of the Dhauladhar range and set amidst the undulating hills that character sub-Himalayan Himachal Sati's tongue is believed to have fallen at Jwalamukhi and the goddess is manifest as tiny flames that burn a flawless blue through fissures in the age old rock.
In this temple there is a copper pipe through which natural gas comes out and the priest of the temple lights this.
The temple located on a small spur on the Dharamsala-Shimla road at a distance of about 20 km from the Jwalamukhi Road Railway Station attracts hundreds of thousands of pilgrims every year. No idol is located in the temple and the deity is worshipped in the form of flames which come out from the crevices of the rock. They are natural jets of combustible gas. There is a small platform in front of the temple and a (check usage) big mandap where a huge brass bell presented by the King of Nepal is hung. Usually milk and water are offered and the ahutis or oblations are offered to the sacred flames in the pit, situated in the centre of the temple in between the floor pillars supporting the roof.
The deity is offered Bhog of Rabri or thickened milk, Misri or candy, seasonal fruits, milk. There is a mystic Yantra or diagram of the goddess, which is covered with, shawls, ornaments and mantras are recited. The puja has different 'phases' and goes on practically the whole day. Aarti is performed five times in the day, havan is performed once daily and portions of Durga Saptasati are recited.
The temple was looted and destroyed by Mahmud of Ghazni in 1009.
The Mughal Emperor Akbar, on learning about the legends of Jwalamukhi, tried to douse the flames with a stream of water but could not succeed in doing so. Out of reverence, Akbar offered a Gold umbrella (Chatra) to the Goddess, but the umbrella turned into an unknown metal suggesting that the Goddess did not accept his offering.
Maharaja Ranjit Singh paid a visit to the temple in 1815 and the dome of the temple was gold-plated by him. Just a few feet above the Jwalamukhi temple there is a six-feet deep pit with a circumference of about three-feet. At the bottom of this pit there is another small pit about one and a half feet deep with hot water bubbling all the time.
The temple is identified as one among the 52 Shakti Peethas. It is also one of the most renowned temples of Goddess Durga.
The shrine is regarded as a Maha Shakti Peetham. It is believed that Sati Devi's tongue fell here. Shakti Peethas are shrines of Devi, the primodial Mother Goddess. Each Shakti Peetha has a shrine for the Shakti and Bhairava. Siddhida (Ambika)is the Shakti and Unmatta Bhairava is the Kalabhairava. The mythology of Daksha yaga and Sati's self-immolation had immense significance in shaping the ancient Sanskrit literature and even had impact on the culture of India. It led to the development of the concept of Shakti Peethas and there by strengthening Shaktism. Enormous mythological stories in puranas took the Daksha yaga as the reason for its origin. It is an important incident in Shaivism resulting in the emergence of Shree Parvati in the place of Sati Devi and making Shiva a grihastashrami (house holder).
Jwalamukhi has produced some eminent people like Major. Sohal lal Sood from (Bohan) who served in the British Indian Army and later retired as a Major. Major Sohan Lal Sud popularly known as Major S.L. Sud and was the son of Shri Gauri Nand Karol and was also the first one to get a commission in the Royal Indian Army of the British days from his community i.e. Soods. Major Sood and is also credited with having introduced the Sandalwood plants in his native village. The sandalwood plants at that time were not only new to this place but for the entire northern region of India. A few plants of sandalwood numbering 3/4th have today developed into a full-fledged jungle in the hills overlooking the town of Jwalamukhi and this plantation has also spread to many parts of Himachal Pradesh. His three sons later on joined the Administrative services. The eldest son is Prithvi raj Sood who was also the first one to join the Foreign Services from the state and retired as an Ambassador, while the second one is Surinder Kumar Sood who joined the Indian administrative service and the youngest Ashok Kumar Sood joined the Indian Police Service in 1977 and later on retired as Additional Director General of Police from Shimla in the year 2010.
Chintpurni is a major pilgrimage center and one of the Shakti Peethas in India. The Chintpurni shakti peeth (Chhinnamastika shakti peeth) is located in Una district Himachal Pradesh state, surrounded by the western Himalaya in the north and east in the smaller Shiwalik (or Shivalik) range bordering the state of Punjab. The Chintpurni Shakti Peeth is dedicated to the temple of Chinnamastika Devi or Chinnamasta Devi. Chhinnamasta or Chinnamastika temple is one of the 7 major and 51 total Shakti Peethas. Here, Chhinnamasta is interpreted as the severed-headed one as well as the foreheaded-one.
When Lord Vishnu cut up the body of Sati into 51 pieces so that Lord Shiva would calm down and stop his Tandava, the pieces were scattered over various places in the Indian subcontinent. It is believed that parts of Sati’s Forehead fell at this place and is thus considered one of the most important of the 51 Shakti Peethas.
The goddess resident in Chintpurni is also known by the name of Chhinnamastika. According to Markandeya Purana, goddess Chandi defeated the demons after a fierce battle but two of her yogini emanations (Jaya and Vijaya) were still thirsty for more blood. Goddess Chandi cut off her own head to quench Jaya and Vijaya’s thirst for more blood.
She is usually shown holding her own severed head in her hand, drinking one stream of blood spurting from the arteries in her neck, while at her side are two naked yoginis, each of whom drinks another stream of blood.
Chhinnamasta, the headless goddess, is the Great Cosmic Power who helps the sincere and devoted yogi to dissolve his or her mind, including all the preconceived ideas, attachments and habits into the Pure Divine Consciousness. Cutting off the head suggests the separation of the mind from the body, that is the freedom of the consciousness from the material confines of the physical body.
According to Puranic traditions, Chhinnamastika Devi will be protected by Shiva - Rudra Mahadev in the four directions. There are four Shiva temples - Kaleshwar Mahadev in the east, Narayhana Mahadev in the west, Muchkund Mahadev in the north and Shiva Bari in the south - which are nearly equidistant from Chintpurni. This also confirms Chintpurni as the abode of Chhinnamastika Devi.
The Chinna Mastika Devi is a divine embodiment of self-sacrifice and there by the Chintpurni shri is considered as a Shakti Peetha. The mythology of Daksha yaga and Sati's self immolation is the mythology liked to the Shakti Peethas. Shakti Peethas are holy shrines of Shakti associated with a mythology that says about the falling of body parts of the corpse of Sati Devi, when Lord Shiva carried it and wandered in sorrow. There are 51 Shakti Peeth associated with the 51 alphabets in Sanskrit. It is believed that Sati Devi's feet fell here.
About the temple
Maa's durbar as seen from the havan kund, on left
The temple dedicated to Mata Chintpurni Devi is located in District Una of Himachal Pradesh. Mata Chintpurni Devi is also known as Mata Shri Chhinnamastika Devi.
Devotees have been visiting this Shaktipeeth for centuries to pray at the lotus feet of Mata Shri Chhinnamastika Devi
They bring with them their worldly concerns and seek blessings from the Devi.
It is believed that if you ask something from the Devi with a true heart, your wish will be granted.
Apart from the holy shrine, the place is full of picturesque surroundings. Some very nice places for sight seeing, indoor and out door activities are situated in and around Chintpurni. Chintpurni is very well connected through roads and with good number of hotels and dharamsalas erceted in and around chintpurni, accommodation is not a problem at all. You can come here for religious visit, on a holiday or for both, you would enjoy your time there and should return with everlasting memories.
Devotees usually get their photos clicked in the temple complex, after the holy Darshan of the Devi
Pandit Mai Das, a Saraswat Brahman, is generally believed to have established this shrine of Mata Chintpurni Devi in Chhaproh village in the ancient times. Over the time this place became known as Chintpurni after the eponymous deity. His descendants still live in Chintpurni and perform prayers and puja at the Chintpurni temple. These descendants are the official priests at the Temple.
Hindu pilgrimage and marriage records were also used to be kept at this holy place. The Genealogical Society (GSU) of Utah, USA has microfilmed Hindu pilgrimage records for Haridwar and several other Hindu pilgrimage centres. Priests (pandits) located at each site would record the name, date, home-town and purpose of visit for each pilgrim. These records were grouped according to family and ancestral home. The holdings by GSU include Haridwar, Kurukshetra, Pehowa, Chintpurni, Jawalapur and Jawalamukhi.
Devotees tie red crimson threads on making a wish, and come back and untie when fulfilled
The temple is open from 4 am to 11 pm.
Devotees usually bring offerings for the Devi. Sweets (e.g. suji halwa, laddoo, barfi), kheer (sugar-coated puffed rice), patasha, coconut (or other fruits), chunni, dhwaja (red-coloured flag), flowers and ghee are some of the offerings that devotees bring. You may bring the prasad from home or you may buy it from one of the shops in the bazaar.
In the center of the Temple is the temple garbha griha. The image of Mata Chintpurni Devi is installed here in the form of a pindi (a round stone). People queue up for a darshan of the Devi and make their prayers and offerings.
Its a kind of a custom at the Temple that the devotees, after the holy Darshan of the Goddess, get their photos clicked by the professional photographers in the Temple complex. The view of the Chintpurni town and the far flung scenic contours is enjoyable from the back-yard of the temple. The photos clicked here of the devotees are life-time memories for them.
Chintpurni is situated at the altitude of 940 metres and is part, Una district, Himachal Pradesh. The temple is situated on one of the highest peaks of the Sola Singhi range of hills. It is about 3 km west of Bharwain which is located on the Hoshiarpur - Dharmashala road. This road is part of the State Highway network and is normally kept in good shape throughout the year.
Private vehicles are usually not allowed beyond the Chintpurni bus stand which is about 1.5 km from the Temple. You would have to walk this distance. About half of this distance is up a gentle incline and through a very busy market.
The Temple of Shri Naina Devi Ji is situated on a hilltop in the Bilaspur Distt. of Himachal Pradesh in India.The temple is connected with National Highway No. 21. The temple at the top of the hill can be reached via road (that curves round the hill up to a certain point) and then by concrete steps (that finally reach the top). There is also a cable car facility that moves pilgrims from the base of the hill all the way to the top.
The hills of Naina Devi overlook the Gobind Sagar lake. The lake was created by the Bhakra-Nangal Dam.
Several mythological stories are associated with the establishment of the temple.
According to a legend, Goddess Sati burnt herself alive in Yagna, which distressed Lord Shiva. He picked the corpse of Sati on her shoulder and started his Tandava dance. This horrified all deities in the heaven as this could lead to holocaust. This urged Lord Vishnu to unleash his Chakra that cut the Sati’s body into 51 pieces. Shri Naina Devi Temple is the place where eyes of Sati fell down.
Another story related to the temple is of a Gujjar Boy named Naina. Once he was grazing his cattle and observed that a white cow is showering milk from her udders on a stone. He saw the same thing for next several days. One night while sleeping, he saw Goddess in her dreams who told him that the stone is her Pindi. Naina told about the entire situation and his dream to Raja Bir Chand. When Raja saw it happening in reality, he built a temple on that spot and named the temple after Naina’s name.
Shri Naina Devi Temple is also known as Mahishapeeth because of defeat of demon Mahishasur by the Goddess. According to the legends, Mahishasur was a powerful demon who was blessed by the boon of immortality by Lord Brahma, but the condition was that he could be defeated only by an unmarried woman. Due to this boon, Mahishasur started spreading terror on Earth and Gods. To cope with the demon, all Gods combined their powers and created a Devi to defeat him. The Devi was gifted different types of weapons by all Gods. When Mahishasur got mesmerized by the immense beauty of Devi and proposed her to marry him. Devi told him that she will marry him if he would overpower her. During the battle, Devi defeated the demon and took out both his eyes. This urged Gods to happily applaud “Jai Naina” and hence the name.
Sunday, August 3, 2008, proved to be catastrophic day for this temple as at least 123 people died (many of them women and children). There are conflicting reports about the cause of these deaths. One report states that they were due to people falling down the cliff after the guard railing broke. Another report claims that they were due to rumors of a fight at the temple causing panic. And another states it was due to police who hit the fleeing worshippers with canes to get them to continue moving.
This happened in the holy month of Sawan, and the Temple's being a Shakti Peeth (place of strength) meant that there were as many as 3000 devotees present. According to the Times Online, 50,000 people were expected to attend Naina Devi during the day of the stampede, as part of a nine-day festival which had just started.
According to Daljit Singh Manhas, a senior police officer from the area, at least 40 of the victims were children. The Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh announced a compensation of Rs.100,000 for those who died, Rs. 50,000 for those seriously injured and Rs. 25,000 for those with minor injuries.
Chamunda also known as Chamundi, Chamundeshwari and Charchika, is a fearsome aspect of Devi, the Hindu Divine Mother and one of the seven Matrikas (mother goddesses). She is also one of the chief Yoginis, a group of sixty-four or eighty-one Tantric goddesses, who are attendants of the warrior goddess Durga. The name is a combination of Chanda and Munda, two monsters whom Chamunda killed. She is closely associated with Kali, another fierce aspect of Devi. She is sometimes identified with goddesses Parvati, Chandi or Durga as well. The goddess is often portrayed as haunting cremation grounds or fig trees. The goddess is worshipped by ritual animal sacrifices along with offerings of wine and in the ancient times, human sacrifices were offered too. Originally a tribal goddess, Chamunda was assimilated in Hinduism and later entered the Jain pantheon too. Though in Jainism, the rites of her worship include vegetarian offerings, and not the meat and liquor offerings.
Ramakrishna Gopal Bhandarkar says that Chamunda was originally an indigenous goddess worshipped by the Munda peoples of the Vindhya range of central India. These tribes were known to offer goddesses animal as well as human sacrifices along with ritual offerings of liquor. These methods of worship were retained in Tantric worship of Chamunda, after assimilation in Hinduism. He proposes the fierce nature of this goddess is due of her association with Vedic Rudra (identified as Shiva in modern Hinduism), identified with fire god Agni at times. Wangu also backs the theory of the tribal origins of the goddess.
A new Chamunda Kali mandir was established near Shyamalibazar, Hrishyamukh, South Tripura District. This temple broadcast in the year October- 2014. Huge people were gathered in this place. 10 days gajya puja held in this mandir before KaliPuja. I think it is a very alive temple. so visit South Tripura District (Chamunda Temple) in Hrishyamukh near Shyamalibazar, State- Tripura, India
The black or red coloured Chamunda is described as wearing a garland of severed heads or skulls (Mundamala). She is described as having four, eight, ten or twelve arms, holding a Damaru (drum), trishula (trident), sword, a snake, skull-mace (khatvanga), thunderbolt, a severed head and panapatra (drinking vessel, wine cup) or skull-cup (kapala), filled with blood. Standing on a corpse of a man (shava or preta) or seated on a defeated demon or corpse (pretasana), she is described as having a skeletal body with three eyes, a terrifying face, drooping breasts, protruding teeth, long nails and a sunken belly. Chamunda is depicted adorned by ornaments of bones, skulls, serpents and scorpions, symbols of disease and death. She also wears a Yajnopavita (a sacred thread worn by mostly Hindu male priests) of skulls. She wears a jata mukuta, that is, headdress formed of piled, matted hair tied with snakes or skull ornaments. Sometimes, a crescent moon is seen on her head. Her socket eyes are described as burning the world with flames. She is accompanied by fiends and goblins. She is also shown surrounded by skeletons or ghosts and beasts like jackals, who are shown eating the flesh of the corpse, the goddess sits or stands on. The jackals and her fearsome companions are sometimes depicted as drinking blood from the skull-cup or blood dripping from the severed head, implying that Chamunda drinks the blood of the defeated enemies. This quality of drinking blood is a usual characteristic of all Matrikas, and Chamunda in particular. At times, she is depicted seated on an owl, her vahana (mount or vehicle). Her banner figures an eagle.
The Goddess Ambika (here identified with: Durga or Chandi) Leading the Eight Matrikas in Battle Against the Demon Raktabija, Folio from a Devi Mahatmya - (top row, from the left) Narashmi, Vaishnavi, Kumari, Maheshvari, Brahmi. (bottom row, from left) Varahi, Aindri and Chamunda, drinking the blood of demons (on right) arising from Raktabija's blood and Ambika.
In Hindu scripture Devi Mahatmya, Chamunda emerged as Chandika Jayasundara from an eyebrow of goddess Kaushiki, a goddess created from "sheath" of Durga and was assigned the task of eliminating the demons Chanda and Munda, generals of demon kings Shumbha-Nishumbha. She fought a fierce battle with the demons, ultimately killing them. Goddess Chandika Jayasundara took the slain heads of the two demons to goddess Kaushiki, who became immensely pleased. Kaushiki blessed Chandika Jayasundara and bestowed upon her the title of “Chamunda", to commemorate the latter's victory over the demons.
According to a later episode of Devi Mahatmya, Durga created Matrikas from herself and with their help slaughtered the demon army of Shumbha-Nisumha. In this version, Kali is described as a Matrika who sucked all the blood of the demon Raktabija. Kali is given the epithet Chamunda in the text. Thus, the Devi Mahatmya identifies Chamunda with Kali.
In Varaha Purana, the story of Raktabija is retold, but here each of Matrikas appears from the body of another Matrika. Chamunda appears from the foot of the lion-headed goddess Narshmi. Here, Chamunda is considered a representation of the vice of tale-telling (pasunya). The Varaha Purana text clearly mentions two separate goddesses Chamunda and Kali, unlike Devi Mahatmya.
According to another legend, Chamunda appeared from the frown of the benign goddess Parvati to kill demons Chanda and Munda. Here, Chamunda is viewed as a form of Parvati.
Matsya Purana tells a different story of Chamunda's origins. She with other matrikas was created by Shiva to help him kill the demon Andhakasura, who has an ability - like Raktabija - to generate from his dripping blood. Chamunda with the other matrikas drinks the blood of the demon ultimately helping Shiva kill him. Ratnakara, in his text Haravijaya, also describes this feat of Chamunda, but solely credits Chamunda, not the other matrikas of sipping the blood of Andhaka. Having drunk the blood, Chamunda's complexion changed to blood-red. The text further says that Chamunda does a dance of destruction, playing a musical instrument whose shaft is Mount Meru, the spring is the cosmic snake Shesha and gourd is the crescent moon. She plays the instrument during the deluge that drowns the world.
Chamunda is included in the Saptamatrika (seven Matrikas or mothers) lists in the Hindu texts like Mahabharata (Chapter 'Vana-parva'), Devi Purana and Vishnudharmottara Purana. She is often depicted in the Saptamatrika group in sculptures, examples of which are Ellora and Elephanta caves. Though she is always portrayed last (rightmost) in the group, she is sometimes referred to as the leader of the group. While other Matrikas are considered as Shaktis (powers) of male divinities and resemble them in their appearance, Chamunda is the only Matrika who is a Shakti of the great Goddess Devi rather than a male god. She is also the only Matrika who enjoys independent worship of her own; all other Matrikas are always worshipped together.
Devi Purana describe a pentad of Matrikas who help Ganesha to kill demons. Further, sage Mandavya is described as worshipping the Māṭrpaňcaka (the five mothers), Chamunda being one of them. The mothers are described as established by creator god Brahma for saving king Harishchandra from calamities. Apart from usual meaning of Chamunda as slayer of demons Chanda and Munda, Devi Purana gives a different explanation: Chanda means terrible while Munda stands for Brahma's head or lord or husband.
Renuka Devi Lake
Renuka lake is in the Sirmaur district of Himachal Pradesh in India and it is 672 m above the sea level. It is the largest lake in Himachal Pradesh, with a circumference of about 3214 m. This lake was named after the goddess Renuka. It is well connected by the road. Boating is available on the lake. A lion safari and a zoo are there at Renuka. It is the site of an annual fair held in November.
On the eve of Prabodhini Ekadashi, the Five day long state level Shri Renuka Ji fair begins with the arrival of son Lord Parshuram at Shri Renuka Ji the Lake in Himachal, the home of his divine mother Shri Renuka Ji. During five day fair several lakhs of devotees from all over the country arrive here to witness the holy occasion of divine meeting of Lord Parshum &his mother Renuka Ji .
According to Purans the Renuka Tirth is considered as birthplace of Lord Parshuram, the sixth incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Maharish Jamdagni and his wife Bhagwati Renuka Ji had meditated for long time at a hillock known as Tape Ka Tiba near Renuka lake. With the blessings of Lord Shiva, Lord Vishnu fulfilled divine promise and took birth as their son. Sixth incarnation of Lord Vishnu and son of Renuka Ji pleased Lord Shiva with the performation of Tapa [high intensity mediation] got a new name Parshuram after getting divine weapon Parshu from Lord Shiva. He has been referred everywhere in the Shashtras with the popular name Parshuram and not his childhood name Ram [as per Brahmand Puran], which he got from his parents.
He always supported the cause of good governance where worries of every citizen are addressed judiciously by the rulers. To get people rid of atrocities of cruel rulers Lord Parshuram eliminated 21 times, cruel and atrocious rulers from the earth. He also killed King Sahastrabahu and his Army as King had attacked Tape ka Tiba Ashram in his absence, to get the Kamdhenu cow from Maharishi. After Maharishi pleaded that the Kamdhenu Cow was given him by Lord Indra in trust and he cannot breach the trust by passing it to someone else. Shastrabahu killed Maharishi Jamdagni. Lord Parshuram's mother Bhagwati Renuka Ji jumped in the Ram Sarovar and took Jal Samadhi. Purans narrates that Ram Sarovar immediately took the shape of a lady and since then it is known as Renuka Ji Lake.
After eliminating Sahashtrabahu in fierce battle he gave a new life to his father with his divine powers and came on the bank of the Lake and prayed his mother to come out of the Lake. Mother responded to his prayers and lord vowed in her feet. She said that she will permanently live in the Lake, but on the request of Lord Parshuram she promised that she will come out of the Lake on the occasion of Devprabodhini Ekadashi every year to meet her son. Bhagwati also promised that people gracing this pious occasion of mothers affection and sons devotion, would be showered with divine blessings.
One day advance, on Dashmi the palanquin of Lord Parshuram is brought to Renuka Ji from the ancient temple in Jamu Koti village in traditional procession known a ‘Shobha Yatra’, attended by lakhs of devotees.
Saints from every part of country come at Renuka Ji to witness holy and divine assembly of mother and son. The administration has made all the necessary arrangements for peaceful holding the fair. Elaborate security arrangements are made keeping view on terrorist activities.
The sanctuary is situated in Sirmour district in Himachal Pradesh. The sanctuary is well connected by the network of motorable roads. The total area of the sanctuary is about 4.028 km². The entire sanctuary consists of Renuka Reserve Forest and has been declared as Abhayaranya. An area of roughly about 3 km² that lies outside the sanctuary has been declared as a buffer belt.
The sanctuary falls in the biogeographical zone IV and biogeographical province IV as per the classification done by the Wildlife Institute of India (WII). According to forest types classification, the area falls under group 5B/C2, i.e., dry mixed deciduous forest and group 5/051, i.e., dry sal forest.
The lake is threatened by continuously shrinking size. The silt which is being deposited in the lake is causing a worry to the locals and the administration. The main cause of this is the soil being deposited on the banks, with the rain water and landslides in the nearby mountains. Also the waste of construction material is being dumped into the lake for years, which is a big threat to the environment. Administration and Renuka Vikas Smiti is trying its best to protect the lake. Plastic bags are banned in the entire region.
If correct steps are not taken to save the lake timely, it will affect environment and also the business of the locals, which depends upon tourism, attracted by the lake.
In the lap of a hill, about 10 km far from Kullu, Bhakhali is a small village of Brahmins. But, on foot it is only 4 km. It is the adobe of Jagannathi mata, also called as Bhuweneshawari, sister of Lord Narayana. The temple is 1500 years old. A fine sample of local art of sculpture, a full sized lion of stone stands in lawn of the temple. Walls have the painting of Durga in various actions.
According to old said, a boy of Palsara family went to graze cattle. He was a good flute player. Once playing on the flute he saw two girls dancing on the his music. But their feet were not touching the earth, they were floating in the air. He caught one of those girls. The girl disclosed her identity and agreed to stay in the village. Then Narayana vacated the temple for the goddess. Three fairs, in APRIL, JUNE and on first day of Kullu Dussehra held here at Bhakhali. On Dussehra day gur-khel is worth to seeing. After the sunset the goddess is taken out on a chariot. The place gives a very beautiful view at a height of 1833 mts.