Chamunda Devi Temple
Apart from scenic beauty, Kangra has many other places that attract a large number of tourists. This place has a very beautiful temple known as Chamunda Devi Temple. Chamunda Devi Temple is a temple of a Hindu Goddess, the supreme mother goddess. The name Chamunda is derived from two words, Chanda and Munda. Chanda and Munda were two monsters who were killed by Devi.
Chamunda Devi Temple is situated in the Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh. Chamunda is also known as Chamundi, Chamundeshwari, and Charchika. Goddess Chamunda 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. 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 Devi 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.
The famous Chamunda Devi is an abode of Shiva Shakti since the saga of Puranas. According to a legend, the Goddess Chamunda was enshrined as chief Goddess with the title of Rudra in the battle between demon Jalandhra and Lord Shiva which made this place famous as ‘Rudra Chamunda’. Another legend has it that ‘Savarni Manamantra’ battle between the gods and demons, Chamunda emerged as Chandika from an eyebrow of Goddess “Kaushiki” and was assigned the task of eliminating the demons “Chand” and “Mund”. Chandika fought a fierce battle with these two demons and, at last, killed them. Goddess Chandika took the slain heads of the two demons “Chand” and “Mund” to the Goddess “Kaushiki” who being immensely pleased, blessed Chandika and bestowed upon her the title of “Chamunda,” the name which is famous all around the world.
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.
Lord Shiva is said to be one of the complex Gods of the Hindu pantheon since he is the destroyer as well as the restorer. Here, Lord Shiva is believed to have been present in the form of death, destruction, and dead bodies. One can also observe ancestral worship near the banks of Ban Ganga River. In the vicinity of this temple, there is a cremation ground that serves to 22 villages of the nearby areas.In the temple complex, there is a huge pond with images of Lords and people can take bath here. There is the sculpture of Goddess, in which, she is garlanded with serpents, scorpions, and skulls. During the time of Navratras, the temple is crowded by a large number of people. Pilgrims from far and near come to visit this temple of the great legacy and religious importance. Chamunda Devi blesses all her true devotees. The temple is situated in the picturesque beauty of lush green mountains. Many saints can be seen here involved in penance and meditation. In the past days, the image of the Goddess was situated on the hill above the present site of the temple. The site was found to be in a remote area, where it was not possible for everyone to reach and moreover, it was quite risky. There is a story behind the establishment of this temple.
History of Chamunda Devi Temple
- Legends says that originally Chamunda was worshipped by the Munda people living in the Vindhya range of Central India. It is believed that these people offer animals as well as humans as offerings. They even offer liquor to Chamunda.
- This goddess has a fierce nature because of her association with Vedic Rudra. She is even identified as fir god Agni at times.
- The story behind this temple is that around some 400 years ago, the king and a Brahmin priest prayed to Devi for the permission to move the temple to some easily accessible location.
- Devi appeared to the priest in a dream giving her instructions. She directed him to dig in a certain spot and an ancient idol would be found and that idol should be installed in the temple and worshipped as Her form.
- The king sent out men to bring the idol. Although they were able to locate it but were not able to lift it. Again Devi appeared to the priest in a dream. She explained that the men could not lift the holy relic because they considered it an ordinary stone.
- She instructed him to get up early in the morning, take a bath, wear fresh clothes and go to the place in a respectful manner. He did as he was told and found that he could easily lift what a large group of men could not. He told the people that it was the power of the Goddess that brought the idol to the temple.
Significance of Chamunda Devi Temple
- The idol of Chamunda is made up of black and red coloured stone. In the idol, she is wearing a garland of several heads or skulls.
- It is said she has four, eight, ten or twelve arms, holding a Damaru, trishula, sword, a snake, skull-mace, thunderbolt, a severed head and panapatra or skull-cup, filled with blood.
- She has been described as having a skeletal body with three eyes, a terrifying face, drooping breasts, protruding teeth, long nails and a sunken belly. She is standing on a corpse of a man or seated on a defeated demon or corpse.
- There is a scorpion sitting on her navel like a decoration. Chamunda is depicted adorned by ornaments of bones, skulls, serpents and scorpions, symbols of disease and death.
- She also wears a Yajnopavita of skulls. Yajnopavita is worn by Hindu male priests. 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 which 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.
- Sometimes she is depicted seated on an owl, her vahana. Her banner figures an eagle.
Timings of Chamunda Devi Temple
Darshan in Chamunda Devi Temple starts from 6am to 12pm and then 1pm to 9pm. The temple trust gives Naivedyam to the Goddess from 12pm to 1pm. During this time, the devotees are not allowed to enter the temple. During summer, Arti begins from 8am to 6pm whereas during the winter season it begins from 8am to 8pm.
How to reach- Road, Rail, and Air
- By Road– The temple is situated around 10 km west of Palampur, on the Baner River and can be reached by bus or taxi.
- By Road– The nearest railhead on the narrow gauge line is at Moranda near Palampur, 30 km.
- By Air– The nearest airport is Kangra airport at Gaggal near Dharamshala. It is 28 Km from Chamunda Devi Temple.
Hotels in Kangra
There is various dharamshala facility provided fo the devotees. The Temple Trust has themselves made dharamshalas for the devotees as well as tourists. Apart from dharamashalas, there are many hotels as well as private organizations that provide dwelling facilities to the people. The hotels have nominal charge keeping the need and budget of the devotees and the tourists. The hotels provide clean and hygiene environment to the tourists as well has good and hygienic food. Many hotels provide wifi facilities to the tourists so that they keep themselves connected to the whole world.
Place to eat in Kangra
Chamunda Temple provides food to its devotees. They are free of cost and all the expenses incurred are borne by the Trustees. Once the daily Puja is over, devotees are allowed to move for food. These food are made in a very hygienic condition maintaining the dignity of the Temple. The food includes three main courses and is given in plenty. All the expenses incurred are borne by the temple trust. Apart from the prasad provided in the temple, one can also have food from hotels outside the campus. These hotels provide clean and hygienic food. There are various other places to eat food. There are many hotels and cafe which provide food keeping the taste and needs of the devotees. They cost very nominal keeping the needs and budget of the tourists.
There are a lot of dishes which are given to the devotees. There are one-time free prasads served to the devotees. There are many other dishes that are served to the devotees for which they need to spend money. The food is prepared in a very hygienic conditions. All the eatables are taken good care while preparing food. Foods are prepared in a very hygienic atmosphere.
Apart from the food we get in the temple, there are many other hotels and places where one can have food. In Delhi, we can find food stalls everywhere. There are hotels and cafes like Cafe Coffee Day, Pind Balluchi, The First Floor Restaurant and many more. There are many other hotels which have nominal charges keeping the taste of the consumer in mind. They prepare food in a very clean and hygienic environment.
Nearby places to visit
- Kangra Fort– The Kangra Fort are located on a strategic height overlooking the Manjhi River and Ban Ganga River. The remains of the Kangra fort are still a dominating feature of the Kangra Valley. Mohammed Ghazni occupied the Kangra Fort in 1009 AD and at that time, the place was called Bhima Nagar, after the name of Bhima, one of the Pandavas. Muhammed Tuglaq also conquered the fort in 1337, but could not occupy it for long. Feroz Tuglaq also plundered the fort in 1365 AD. This is known as Nagarkot, located 42 km from Palampur. There are two entrance, it is currently preserved by an archaeological department. It has very beautiful entrance and very amazing.
- Jwalamukhi Temple– Located at a distance of around 30 km from Kangra, the temple of Goddess Jawalamukhi is also famously called “Flaming Goddess” or “She of the flaming mouth.” Nestled in the valley of Beas, the temple of Jawalamukhi is built over some natural jets of combustible gas. It is on of shakti peeth temple, it is 35 km from Kangra dedicated to goddess light, this temple is very famous to north Indians. There are all types of facility available like hotels, restaurants etc.
- Kangra Art Gallery– The Kangra Valley Art Gallery showcases artefacts that can be traced back to the 5th century. It encompasses a gallery of Kangra’s renowned miniature painting and a representative collection of pottery, sculptures, and anthropological items.
- Bhagsunath– The ancient temple of Bhagsunath is located 3 km east of McLeodganj and 11 km from Dharamshala in Himachal Pradesh. The annual fair held at the place in September is quite popular. With the forests and hilly ranges, there is also a waterfall located nearby.