Saturday, October 17, 2015

Celebrating Shakti: Nine Ancient Devi Mata Temples In India!

So Ganesh Chaturthi is now over but the festival season in India continues, now with Navratri, the nine nights of celebration of nine manifestations of Shakti, or The Great Divine Mother. The festival is widely celebrated all across India with different people celebrating it differently coloring it with the regional traditions stemming from respective cultures and backgrounds.

Shakti, literally meaning, Power or Empowerment, is a very deep concept but I will write it as I very simply understand it:

It is a very pure cosmic feminine energy responsible for creation,
the one that is most magical beyond the material plane --
working around our thoughts, feelings and emotions --
within our own self.
When we allow it to sort our inner world, trusting its ways,
it empowers us to create something beautiful...
which we then act out through our interactions with the world.

A Devi Mata Deity at Nashik, Tapovan, Maharashtra
At Tapovan in Nashik, Maharashtra.

All the nine forms of Shakti come alive as divine qualities in the many Goddesses (Devi or Mata in Hindi) through stories and local legends worshipped all across the lengths and breadths of India which in turn inspire us on our journey to become One with the Master again.

Below is a compilation of some very ancient Shakti Temples that I have been to, in the recent years of my yatra. (Please note that in case of temples, where photography is prohibited inside the main temple - the pictures you see attached are clicked while wandering in the temple complex as specified in their respective captions). If you are travelling through any of these states or cities during this Navratri, I definitely recommend these temples for you to visit. The deities in here are really really old, many a times in numbers that cannot be easily gauged, not even by eminent historians. These breathe... not in stone but in the faith of thousands and millions who have thronged to get a glimpse of their beloved mother.

So, come along and engage in a sweet communion, with an open heart and an open mind...

To bow your head in them is often not only an act of reverence or a customized ritual
but it is also to seek Mother’s blessings
to empower us and give us strength,
to help us become 'whole' -
Her child again.

1. Bhagyalakshmi Mata Temple, Hyderabad.

This sacred temple is a small structure situated adjacent to the city's iconic landmark Charminar where the main deity BhagyaLakshmi is visible from the road. Though the shrine has been in the middle of a few communal tensions in the city, owing to its position in a Muslim centric area, it's existence also comes across as a great message of harmony and the rich composite culture of Hyderabad.

Bhagyalaxmi Mata Temple, Hyderabad, India
Mata Bhagyalakshmi, Hyderabad.

Goddess of: 'Luck' or things that happen to us, out of our control.
How to reach: Charminar, Ghansi Bazaar, Hyderabad, Telangana 500002.

2. Sri Ujjaini Mahakali Temple, Secunderabad, Telangana.

Ujjaini Mahakali Temple is an ornately decorated temple right from the word go. You can get an insight into the various deities of Hindu Goddesses as you walk through the main entrance gate to the temple hall. A major striking feature of the temple hall are the numerous threads of intertwined bangles in red and green that hang from the ceiling.

Sri Ujjaini Mahakali Mata, Secundarabad, Telangana
A colourful mural depicting the Goddess at the entrance of the temple.

Goddess of: Time and Death.
How to reach: Mahankali St, General Bazaar,
Kalasiguda, Secunderabad, Telangana 500003.
Phone: 040 - 27814744 / 040 - 66174744.

3. Jeen Mata Temple, Sikar district, Rajasthan.

Nestled in the laps of mountains, is the ancient temple dedicated to the Goddess of Power, Jeen Mata. A few steps lead you to the main temple hall. On the walls are adorned photographs of Hindu Goddesses all around. The main room was dark as we entered it and the Mata was draped in yellow saree - the emanating aura was immense. There is also an ancient Shiva temple, a small lake (not well maintained) and a Dhuni (continuously burning fire) in the premises.

Jeenmata, Rajasthan
One of the deities of Devi in the temple complex.

Goddess of: Power.
How to reach: Jeen Mata Temple, Danta Ramgarh tehsil, Sikar district.
Phone: 91-1576-227346.

4. Anjani Mata Temple, Salasar, Rajasthan.

Situated just 2 kms. away from the prominent Salasar Balaji temple is the quaint yet significant Anjani Mata Temple dedicated to the Mother of Salasar Balaji or Hanumanji. A huge banyan tree at the entrance wrapped in a cover of coconuts offered by married women devotees as prayers for the prosperity and well being of their family is particularly eye catching. It is said that the visit to Salasar dham is incomplete without paying a visit to this holy place.

Anjani Mata Temple, Salasar, Rajasthan
The sacred banyan tree wrapped in coconuts offered by married women.

Goddess of: Protection and nourishment.
How to reach: Balaji Temple Road, Salasar, Rajasthan.

5. Jeev Dani Mata Mandir, Mumbai.

Cocooned in the mighty Satpura mountain ranges in the Virar region of Mumbai is this highly renowned temple of JeevDani Mata. It's picturesque location atop the hills elevated 1500 steps from the land makes it even more enchanting. The climb to the temple is laden with steep steps which leaves you weary. But it vanishes as soon as you are rewarded with the glimpse of the divine Goddess Jeevdani - what a blessing indeed!

Jeev Dani Mata Temple, Mumbai
Pictures of Goddess Shakti painted on glass overlooking the temple.

Goddess of: The treasure of life.
How to reach: Jeevdani road, Virar East, Virar, Maharashtra 401303.
Phone: 040-2781 4744.

6. Shree Vajreshwari Yogini Devi Mandir, Mumbai.

Situated in the Vajreshwari town, on the banks of the Tansai river, the highly venerated Shree Vajreshwari Yogini Devi temple is a fort-like temple built in stone sitting atop the Mandagiri hillock. One has to ascend around 50 steps to reach the main entrance. At the base of the steps is a gold gilded tortoise, an incarnation of Vishnu. Entering in, there is a spacious compound housing the local nagarkhana, the main temple and a few other shrines. In the main temple is the two handed Mata holding a mace and a sword as symbolic weapons of courage that conquers any evil and leads to victory. Another great attraction of the town are the numerous hot springs that are believed to have medicinal powers.

Vajreshwari Devi Temple, Mumbai
Steps leading to the Vajreshwari Yogini Devi temple in Virar.

Goddess of: Courage.
How to reach: Virar or Nalasopara is the nearest railway station
on the Western Railway for Vajreshwari Devi Temple.

7. Chamunda Devi Temple, Kangra District, Himachal Pradesh.

Situated on the banks of the BanGanga River, the Chamunda Devi temple houses one of the guardian deities of the Kangra valley in Himachal Pradesh. The enchanting deity in the temple, Chamunda Devi, is a fierce form of Ma Durga reputed to have killed the demons 'Chand and Munda' in the Puranas. The temple structure is serenely draped in white with a clean water pool in the premises housing the deities of Lord Shiva and Mother Saraswati. As it the abode of both Shiva and Shakti, the temple is also known as Chamunda Nandikeshwar Dham. This is a picture I captured while wandering in the temple compounds after the darshan.

Shakti SwaroopaLittle girls blessing a devotee.

Chamunda Devi Temple, Kangra District, Himachal Pradesh
God Bless You!

Goddess of: War and disasters.
How to reach: 10 kms to the west of Palampur, Kangra, Himachal Pradesh.

8. Brajeshwari Devi Temple, Kangra, Himachal Pradesh.

Another fascinating temple in the old Kangra township of the Himachal valley is the Brajeshwari Devi Temple which is also among the 51 Shakti Peeths of India. It is said that the left breast of Goddess Sati had fallen here. The original temple structure dates back to the Mahabharta period which was unfortunately taken down by the Muslim invaders. The present structure is modern rebuilt in the 19th century by the Government of India. The Goddess Brajeshwari is manifested as a pindi or as an image in a sacred stone. Similar such stone pindis can be seen all around the premises in the temple (see picture). Right across the temple is an image of Dhyanu Bhakt, the great devout who had offered His head to the Goddess and has today become immortal in the sands of time.

Brajeshwari Devi Temple, Kangra, Himachal Pradesh
A Devi worshipped in the form of pindi under an old tree in the temple complex.

Goddess of: Courage.
How to reach: Mandir Rd, New Kangra, Kangra, Himachal Pradesh 176001.

9. Jwalamukhi Devi Temple, Shaktipeeth in Himchal Pradesh.

Jwalamukhi temple is another significantly unique Shaktipeeth in the Kangra valley on the Himachal-Shimla road - the sacred site where burning tongue of Sati is believed to have fallen. 'Burning flames erupting from the crevices in the rocks' is how the deity is worshipped here - in the form of fire or Jwala that has been burning since centuries. The queues for the darshan can get really huge during the festival days of Navratri (in all of the above listed temples as well) but the sight that awaits at last is truly magical for the senses!

Jwalamukhi Devi Temple, Shaktipeeth in Himchal Pradesh
A deity somewhere in the temple complex.

Goddess of: Light and wisdom.
How to reach: Jwalamukhi, District Kangra, Himachal Pradesh, Dharamsala 176031, India.

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Which of these temples have you visited?
Are there any temples that you'd like to be added to this list?
If yes, shoot me an e-mail (mentioning a small blurb on the temple and a few pictures)
to and I'll take care of the rest!

|| Jai Mata Di ||

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  1. Arti, Great post. Thank for sharing. Beautiful photos.
    Jai Mata Di _()_

  2. Jai Maa Ambe. Happy to have Darshan of Maa from ancient temples during this Navaratri. Thanks Arti.:)

  3. You are an excellent guide showing the antiquity and beauty of India's temples, Arti. Thank you for taking me along.

  4. Lovely pics and I love the words even more. That divine comic power that enables the creation process!

  5. Thanks for sharing this wonderful journey and I like your photos even more..

  6. That's s beautiful compilation Arti... Thanks for sharing 😊

  7. Thanks For sharing it..I like your all pics. I know you enjoyed so much during this trip..This puja temples are very famous and important thing is explained nine temple's story very well and easily.

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  9. Wow!! You have been to many shakti temples... i think i have been to only 1 or 2.

  10. I have visited Chamunda Devi temple at Kangra.I know most of the temples listed in your post since Devi Shakti Maa Durga is my one and only truth. Wish to visit them all some day. Jai Mata Di :)

  11. I had visited Jwalamukhi temple as well. The year was 2003 if I remember right. Jai Maa Jothawali Jagadambe!


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