Ringing Bells Dancing Letters | Chitai Golu Devta Temple | Almora Uttarakhand

The people of the mountains live in extreme conditions, be it climatic or otherwise. Life in the villages perched on mountainous slopes, as dreamy and wishful as it might seem to city-dwellers like us, though simple but is not really easy. 

Then how do they overcome the many challenges of their environment?

One of the ways is through the power derived by pinning their hopes and faith in their local Gods and deities.

And, pinning their wishes and prayers in the temples dedicated to these Lord Gods. Sometimes, quite literally.

Chitai Golu Devta Temple, Almora

Temple of bells and letters - Chitai Golu Devta Temple Almora Uttarakhand
Ringing bells and dancing letters!

One such very famous temple residing in the shadows of the mountain folds in Uttarakhand is the Chitai Golu Devta Temple in Almora.

Entire Kumaon region of Uttarakhand comes under His jurisdiction, Goljyu Dev as he is fondly called.

The popularity and the trust placed by the people in Golu Devta who is also their Kul devta or Ishta devta (the chief deity) can be gauged from the fact that there are umpteen temples in the whole Uttarakhand region dedicated to him. Our driver informed us about more significant temples in the adjoining areas like Ghorakhal, Champavat and Chamarkhan.

Main entrance of the temple.

The main entrance of the Chitai Golu Devta temple is small – there is nothing decorative or elaborate about the construction of the building. However, there is one thing very distinct about it that strikes you even before you can enter the temple inside and that is the many temple bells hanging right at the entrance of the temple!

Main entrance to the Chitai Golu Devta Temple Almora Uttarakhand

Enter inside and there are more temple bells, in the passage along the way, on the roof above, lining the temple boundary... here, there and everywhere your eyes can see!

Way to the Chitai Golu Devta Temple, Almora Uttarakhand

The bells, tied with red chunris faded over many years, multi colored ribbons, threads, sarees and other such clothings, make for a pretty interesting sight.

Welcomed with bells - Chitai Golu Devta Temple Almora Uttarakhand
A sea of temple bells inside the Chitai Golu Devta temple

Bells of all sizes at Chitai Golu Devta Temple Almora Uttarakhand
Countless bells of many different sizes


Ringing bells and dancing letters.

Along with the bells, there is one more thing very unique to the temple – Letters! Once you come near the main temple housing the deity, the handwritten letters start increasing in numbers indicating how busy the Lords must be!

Adorned with letters - Chitai Golu Devta Temple Almora Uttarakhand
Petition cases in the form of letters for Golu Devta

Golu Devta is the chief judge who presides over his subjects in Uttarakhand and looks into the concerns and cases put forth by his people through what else, letters!

Letter stacks at Chitai Golu Devta Temple Almora Uttarakhand
Bells and letters along the circumabulation path!

Strung loosely on railings, pillars and wall fence, the letters are so many that there is barely any breathing room between them and most of them are overlapping on top of the other.

Tempted, I look closer to read more into some of these notes:

Handwritten letters at Chitai Golu Devta Temple Almora Uttarakhand

Take care of my husband and protect him from bad company.
Pass me with good marks in the exams.
Take care of my family and children.
Keep them in good health.

The prayers are many and in varied forms – job cards, report cards, legal documents, stamp papers, or simply a piece of paper with a paragraph scribbled on it - some of these are in the local language, garhwali, some of them are in hindi while others are in English language. But one thing is common amongst them all – all of them are tied in reverence, threaded in faith, in bhakti, in devotion and embody the utmost bond they share with their Goljyu Devta.

Legend and Story of Golu Devta.

The deity of Golu Devta is built in white stone. It is seen sitting on his vehicle, a white horse on which he travels whenever he wishes to meet His subjects.

Looking back in history, Golu Devta was the valiant son and a general of Katyuri king, Jhal Rai and Kalinka. Even His mother Kalinka is regarded as the sister of two other local deities Harishchand Devjyun and Sem Devjyun which makes them an interconnected family of deities.

Another story that goes in Chitai is that the present temple was erected in the honor of the fearless General Golu Maharaj who died while fighting a heroic battle for the Chand king, Baz Bahadur.

Compound of Chitai Golu Devta Temple Almora Uttarakhand
For each letter answered, each wish fulfilled, there is a belief of tying a bell in the temple.

Our driver told us one more story about how he came to be known as the God of Justice. Once, a local king had gone hunting. On the way, he encountered two bulls that were fighting. To separate them, he sent his servants towards them. Unknowingly, the servants disturbed a woman who was praying. This angered the woman and she mocked the king that he could not do a job as simple as handling two bulls and proceeded to do so herself. Impressed, the king married the strong lady. Later, this queen gave birth to a son, which made the other queens envious of her. They replaced the child with a stone and left the child in the river. The child was found and adopted by a fisherman.

Shops selling bells at Chitai Golu Devta Temple Almora Uttarakhand
Golu Devta is an Avtar (incarnation) of Lord Shiva in the form of Gaur Bhairav.

When the boy grew up, he took a wooden horse to the river. The envious queens laughed on this act to which the boy questioned them back: if a woman can give birth to stone child then why can’t wooden horses also drink water?

When the king heard about this incident, light dawned on him and he punished the queens. Justice was met at last; the same boy went on to be known as Golu devta, the dispenser of justice.

Goljyu Devta ki Jai!

Inside the sanctum sanctorum, a local singer sings praises to the Lord in a loud voice. Outside, pilgrims jostle for space to get a glimpse and blessings of their dear God.

Deity of Goljyu Devta in white at Chitai Golu Devta Temple Almora Uttarakhand
Jai Nyay Devta Goljyu Tumar Jai ho. Sabuk lije dain haije".
Translation: Hail the God of justice: Goljyu! Blessings for everyone!

As I close my eyes and bow my head, in a flash of a second, I realize that this is my moment to file a petition as well. But, I have brought no bells, nor written any letter. In fact, there is nothing substantial I have with me to offer. My mind returns a blank slate and just like that, my time with the Lord is up!

A unique temple - Chitai Golu Devta Temple Almora Uttarakhand
A very unique temple of India - Chitai Golu Devta Temple Almora

But maybe, just may be... he shall know. Still know. Despite me not following the rules. All that’s written in my heart (and yours), and he’ll attend to the sentiment, in his own time and in his own way, and take care of all that is me and all that is mine.

Goljyu Devta ki Jai!

How to reach Chitai Golu Devta Temple Almora Uttarakhand?

The temple is 8 kms from Almora, and a few kms. from Bhowali. It is well connected by road so you can easily reach there by either your own private vehicle or shared taxi cabs are also available from Bhowali stand. It is on the Jageshwar Dham Road and can be combined with Jageshwar Dham visit. Nearest railway station is Kathgodam. 

Opening and Closing timings of the Chitai Golu Devta temple:

6 AM to & 7 PM. Defers slightly based on the seasons. Entry is free.

Festivals of Chitai Golu Devta Temple in Uttarakhand.

Devotees indulge in three days of worship or 9 days worship of Lord Golu Devta also known as Goreel Devta in Chamoli District. During this time, Golu Devta is offered Ghee, Milk, Curd, Halwa, Poori, Pakauri and the festivities are celebrated with much fervor and enthusiasm.

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Check out my complete Uttarakhand Yatra (Dhanachuli, Kasar Devi, Jageshwar Shiva Temple, Katarmal Sun Temple, Almora, Jim Corbett) by clicking the link here:

My Uttarakhand Yatra Diary

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Chitai Golu Devta Almora Uttarakhand Pinterest Graphic


Comments

  1. From temple bells to witch bells by way of sanctus bells; the different/similar uses to which different people, cultures and belief systems the world over use bells has always fascinated me. Thank you for such an enlightening post.

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  2. I have enjoyed this post. I like learning about new traditions/religions.

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  3. What a lovely post! It reflects your calm attitude and the wonderful person you are. The fact that you just write anything and say whatever you want to write, amazed me! You will definitely get some travel inspiration… keep writing and inspire all your readers! Good luck

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  4. Long time, no see, Arti. I have watched TV news about the COVID state of India holding my breath. I thought of you, and on reading the post, I was impressed by your calm and collected attitude. Hope you and your family are all well. Be safe, and take care.

    Yoko

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  5. Such a blissful post to come across. There is always something attractive about simple living… This post is a perfect example. Chitai Golu Devta Temple in Almora, Uttarakhand has so much to cherish with it’s rich history, legendary stories and the devotion of its subjects. The Petition in the form of letters is quite enticing to watch. Loved the post.

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  6. This was such an amazing post. The way you have described every little detail makes it even more intriguing. Keep sharing such stories.

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  7. I like learning about new traditions/religions. thanks for sharing with us

    ReplyDelete

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