This goddess is often associated both with Gowrī/Parvati, the benevolent goddess of harmony, marital felicity and longevity, with Durga, goddess of strength and valour, and with Mahakali, goddess of destruction of the evil.
History :- There was a great king called Daksha Prajapati who was son of Lord Brahma. He had 27 daughters and Sati devi is one among them. Sati devi got married to Lord Shiva. When Dashka entered the arena of a yaga performed by Agni, every one except Lord Shiva stood up as a mark of respect. Daksha felt insulted by Lord Shiva’s behaviour. Later when Daksha conducted a yaga him self , he did not invite his daughter and his son in law.Though Sati felt bad because of the non invitation, she wanted to attend the yaga against the wish of Lord Shiva.When Sati, attended the yaga no body has cared for her and she felt insulted by the actions of her sisters and parents. Then when her father started abusing her husband she could not control her feelings and scarified herself at the place of yagna by creating agni from earth with her right thumb of her foot.Knowing this Lord Shiva removed one bunch of Jhatha from his head and hit it on the earth. From that Lord Veerabhadra has born and rushed to yaga spot and killed Daksha by cutting his head. Later Shiva went to the spot and taken the body of sati from the fire and started dancing with it. The world was terrorized from this Tandava Nritya and to stop this Nritya, Vishnu used his Sudarshan chakra and completely cut the Sati’s body in to pieces. These body parts have fallen at various places in India and Srilanka. Where ever these parts have fallen the places are called Shaktipeethas. There are 18 such places and they are called Ashta(8) Dasa (10) Shaktipeethas.
But some people say there are 51 shakti peethas and some say there are 108 shakti peethas. But this blog is designed based on the above shloka of Adi shankaracharya.
This list of Ashtadasa Shakti peethas ( 18 Shakti Temples / Temples of Mother Goddess). It is a clear representation of Aadi Shankaracharya’s Astadasha Shakti peeta Stotram:
|Sr. No.||Place||Part of the body fallen||Name of Shakti|
|1||Trincomalee (Sri lanka)||Groin||Shankari devi|
|2||Kanchi (Tamil nadu)||Back part||Kamakshi Devi|
|3||Praddyumnam (West Bengal)||Stomach part||Sri Srunkhala devi|
|4||Mysore (Karnataka)||Hair||Chamundeshwari devi|
|5||Alampur (Andhra Pradesh)||Upper teeth||Jogulamba devi|
|6||Srisailam (Andhra Pradesh)||Neck part||Bhramaramba devi|
|7||Kolhapur (Maharastra)||Eyes||Mahalakshmi devi|
|8||Nanded (Maharastra)||Right hand||Eka Veerika devi|
|9||Ujjain (Madhya Pradesh)||Upper lip||Mahakali devi|
|10||Pithapuram (Andhra Pradesh)||Left hand||Puruhutika devi|
|11||Jajpur (Odisha)||Navel||Biraja devi|
|12||Draksharamam (Andhra Pradesh)||Left cheek||Manikyamba devi|
|13||Guwahati (Assam)||Vulva||Kamarupa devi|
|14||Prayaga (Uttar Pradesh)||Fingers||Madhaveswari devi|
|15||Jwala (Himachal Pradesh)||Head part||Vaishnavi devi|
|16||Gaya (Bihar)||Breast part||Sarvamangala devi|
|17||Varanasi (Uttar Pradesh)||Wrist||Vishalakshi devi|
|18||Dantewada (Chattisgarh)||Tooth||Danteswari devi|
|19||Kashmir||Right hand||Saraswathi devi|
Aadi Shankaracharya’s Stotram :-
Lankayam Shankari devi, Kamakshi Kanchika pure /
Pradyumne Shrinkhala devi, Chamunda Krouncha pattane //
Alampure Jogulamba, Sri shaile Bhramarambika /
Kolha pure Maha lakshmi, Mahurye Ekaveerika //
Ujjainyam Maha kali, Peethikayam Puruhutika /
Odhyane Girija devi, Manikya Daksha vatike //
Hari kshetre Kama rupi, Prayage Madhaveshwari /
Jwalayam Vishnavi devi, Gaya Mangalya gourika //
Varanasyam Vishalakshi, Kashmire tu Saraswati /
Ashtadasha Shakti peethani, Yoginamapi durlabham //
Sayamkale pathennityam, Sarva shatri vinashanam /
Sarva roga haram divyam, Sarva sampatkaram shubham //
Goddess Shankari in Sri lanka, Kamakshi in Kanchipuram,
Goddess Shrinkhala in Pradyumna and Chamunda in Mysore
Goddess Jogulamba in Alampur, Goddess Brhamarabika in Sri Shailam,
Goddess Maha Lakshmi in Kolhapur and Goddess Eka veera in Mahur
Goddess Maha Kali in Ujjain Purhuthika in Peethika,
Goddess Girija in Odhyana and goddess Manikya in the house of Daksha,
Goddess Kama rupi in the temple of Vishnu, Goddess Madhevaswari in Allahabad,
The flame giving Goddess in Jwala muki and Mangala Gouri in Gaya.
Goddess Visalakshi in Varanasi, Goddess Saraswathi in Kashmir,
Are the 18 houses of Shakthi, which are rare even to devas.
Among these, the Shakti Peethas at Kamkhya, Gaya and Ujjain are regarded as most sacred as they symbolize three most important aspects of mother Goddess viz. Creation (Kamarupa Devi), Nourishment (Sarvamangala Devi/Mangalagauri) and Annihilation (Mahakali Devi). When observed carefully one can see that they lie in a perfect straight line from Kamakhya to Ujjain via Gaya symbolizing that every creation in this universe will annihilate one day without fail. Together with Kanchi Kamakshi, Madurai Meenakshi, and Kashi Vishalakshi we have the most potent Shat Sakthi Peethams.
1.SHANKARI DEVI, Trincomalee (Sri lanka)
Aadi Shankaracharya’s Stotram starts with Shankari Devi Shakthi Peeth. Here Devi Sati’s groin had fallen. Sati Devi is worshipped as Shankari Devi and Lord Shiva as Trikoneshwara.
The temple is located in Trimkomali, or Trincomalee on the eastern coast of Sri Lanka. The place Trinconmalee means a triangular shaped hill (Tri- cona- malee or malai). The temple is well connected by roads. There is also a Kali temple which people visit enroute to Shankari Devi temple.
But almost nobody in Sri Lanka knew of any famous Devi Temple in the country. Even on Internet, not much authentic information was available. The temple is said to be in the famed town of Trincomalee on the eastern coast.
The Temple of Sri Shankari Devi according to the priest’s in Trincomalee, say that the Portuguese who invaded the island in the 17th century completely cannon balled from their ship and demolished the cliff top Devi temple. In its site stands a lone pillar, as a mute spectator.
The present Shiva temple which is quite well known locally than the Shankari Temple was a recent construction. The Shiva is called as TRIKONESHVARA (Probably because it is in Trincomalee which is truly TRI CONA MALAI- meaning triangle shaped hill). There is a small Devi Shrine built adjacent the Shiva temple. The famed Bilva tree which is perched right on the edge of the hill some hundred meters above the Indian ocean. It is a exhilarating and spectacular sight to behold. All round, silence reflects which is needed most in this war torn nation rightfully called as a paradise. There is also a more famous Kali temple in the heart of the town to which devotees can make a visit en-route from the Shankari Temple.
- According to one Puranic reference, Parvati Devi requested Lord Shiva to build a palace for her. But Shiva, used to living in Mount Kailash did not heed to her request. After several requests from Parvati, Lord Shiva finally relented and asked Vishwakarma to build a palace. Vishwakarma built a beautiful palace in Lanka Dweep for Parvati Devi. Lord Shiva and Parvati came to Lanka to perform the Griha Pravesh of their palace. Ravana was doing a rigorous penance to get the blessings of Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva and Parvati Devi were pleased with the penance of Ravana and Lord Shiva blessed Ravana with boons. Ravana, a Brahmin by birth and master of all the four Vedas was a great devotee of Lord Shiva. Pleased by his penance, Parvati Devi asked Ravana to perform the rituals associated with the Griha Pravesh of their palace. Parvati Devi was impressed with Ravana who did the Griha Pravesh rituals and wanted to bless him with a boon. She asked Ravana to ask for a boon, and he asked for the Lanka palace. Parvati Devi, though saddened initially by the wish of Ravana granted the boon and gave away the palace as Dakshina. However, Ravana requested Parvati Devi to stay at the palace. Parvati Devi agreed to stay at the palace as Shankari Devi with the condition that she would stay at the palace, as long as Ravana pays heed to her words. After some time, when Ravana brought Sita Devi from Ayodhya, Parvati asked Ravana to return her to Lord Rama. When Ravana refused to return Sita Devi, Shankari Devi left the Lanka Palace for Kailash.
- Another reference is that Lord Rama also visited Trikoneshwara temple to get rid of the Brahma hatya Dosham.
- Another reference is when Vayu, the Wind God and Adishesha, the serpent on which Lord Vishnu rests, had a bitter fight about their individual strengths. Vayu sneered at Adishesha’s strength as he could be easily caught by Garuda, the bird. Adishesha then coiled himself around Mount Kailash and challenged Vayu to attack Mount Kailash. Vayu turned into a hurricane and attacked Mount Kailash. All the gods and goddesses prayed to Lord Shiva to save them. Lord Shiva asked Brahma to create another Kailash in the South and came to reside at Lanka, also known as Dakshina Kashi. Adishesha lifted his three hoods out of 1000 hoods to listen to Lord Shiva, during which time, Vayu blew over three peaks of Mount Kailash. These three pieces fell in Thondai Naadu (Thiru kalahasti), Chozha Naadu, (Thiruchirupalli) and in Eezha Naadu, Trinkomalee, also Thirukonnamalai in Sri Lanka. The third hill is known as Thirukkonamalai and it lies along the same longitude as Kailash.
- Another Puranic reference is that the asura, Kethu swallowed nectar during the Samudra Manthan or churning of the ocean in a fight between the asuras and devas. He attained immortality as he swallowed the nectar. Lord Vishnu who came to know about this beheaded Kethu and he was wandering headless, till such time Lord Brahma took pity on him and made Kethu a Lunar Node along with “Rahu”. Kethu came to Ketheeswaram, prayed to Lord Shiva and obtained Moksha. Thus the place is known as Tiru Kethu esswaram.
2.KAMAKSHI DEVI, Kanchi (Tamil nadu)
The town of Kanchi was the capital of the ancient Pallavas. The Kailasanathar temple here is one of the grand Pallava monuments. The Kamakshi Amman temple at Kanchipuram is an ancient one and is associated with Aadi Sankaracharya of the 1st millennium CE. The Tamil saying Kanchi Kamakshi, Madurai Meenakshi and Kaasi Visalakshi illustrates the importance of the Shakthi shrine that it is.
Ekambreswarar temple, the Kamakshiamman Temple and the Kumara Kottam temple and the Ulagalanda Perumaal Temple are the primary shrines in Periya Kanchipuram. The first three mentioned above are located in a manner as to suggest the Somaskanda manifestation of Shiva, Uma and Skanda in the town of Kanchi. There are no shrines to Ambal, in any of the shrines to Shiva in Kanchi. Kamakshi is considered to be wholly present in Kanchipuram, as the only Ambal shrine.
The temple covers an area of about 5 acres, and the sanctum is crowned with a gold plated vimanam. Kamakshi is enshrined in a seated posture in the sanctum – and is referred to as the Parabhrama Swarupini, seated with Bhrama Vishnu Rudra Eswara and Sadasiva. A Sri Chakram has been installed in front of the image and worship is offered to it.
It is believed that Kamakshi was originally a Ugra Swaroopini, and that Aadi Sankaracharya, upon establishing the Sri Chakra, personified her as the Shanta Swaroopini (see also Akhilandeswari at Tiruvanaikkaval). It is believed that during the days of Adi Sankara, the presence of the Ugra Swaroopini was felt outside the temple precincts, and that Sankaracharya had requested her not to leave the temple complex. Symbolic of this, the festival image of Kamakshi, takes leave from Sankaracharya, at his shrine in the inner prakaram, each time she is taken out in procession.
The layout of the temple is rather complicated. The outer prakaram houses the temple tank, and several mandapams such as the 100 pillared hall, the dwajaarohana mandapam etc. Imposing views of the golden vimanam can be had from the outer prakaram, which is pierced with four entrances on all four sides. Images to Vishnu (Ninraan, Irundaan, Kidandaan) are seen near the temple tank.
One enters the four pillared hall then the inner prakaram, and climbs a series of steps, and reaches the sanctum. Immediately surrounding the sanctum are small shrines to Ardhanareeswarar, Soundaryalakshmi, Kallar (who has been mentioned in the hymns of Tirumangaialwar) and Varaahi. In this prakaram are shrines to Bangaru Kamakshi, Maha Saraswathi and Aadi Sankaracharya.
About Goddess Kamakshi: The Padmasana posture is said to resemble a lotus. In the Yogic practice this resembles the form of meditation. The Goddess holds a Sugarcane bow on her left upper arm and Lotus, Parrot in her right upper arm. The Goddess also has divine chakras called Pasa and Angusa in her arms.
The Goddess also has a Chandraperai (a shape of moon like structure) in her forehead. The Goddess Kamakshi is situated in the middle of temple premises.
History reveals that Goddess Kamakshi was praying under a mango tree with a Shiva lingam made of sand to marry the great Lord Shiva. After a long duration of dedicated and devoted meditation to Lord Shiva, Lord Shiva appeared before her and married the Goddess Kamakshi, a divine form of Parvati. There are no traditional Parvati or Shakti shrines in the city of Kanchipuram, apart from this temple, which adds even more legend to this temple.
Festivals: Four worship services are offered each day. The jewels adorning the image of the deity are of great beauty. The annual festival is celebrated in the month of Maasi. The silver chariot festival falls on the 7th day. Other festivals include Navaratri, Aadi and Aippasi Pooram, Sankara Jayanthi and Vasanta Utsavam in Vaikasi.
How to reach: By Air: Nearest airport is at Chennai, 75 km away from Kanchipuram.
By Bus: Regular buses are available from Chennai to Kanchipuram. State owned public transport buses connect Kanchipuram to many cities in and around Chennai.
Best Time to Go: September – Feb
Places near Kanchipuram
Sri Kanchi Kamakshi Ambal Devasthanam
KANCHI KAMAKSHI AMBAL DEVASTHANAM
3. SHRINKALA DEVI Praddyumnam (West Bengal)
Shrinkala devi was supposed to be in West bengal, hoogly district.But as such there is no temple also.A story says that Sage Rishya Shringala has brought to her to shringeri in karnataka
At present there is no temple in the place, a minar was built there by muslim invaders and at present the place is under the protection of Archaeological society of India, the door was locked and when we enquired the way inside we came to know that entry was banned into the temple (the so called minar) because of security reasons, but there were clear cut and significantly distinguishable features at the main door of the construction showing that it was once the main entrance of a Hindu temple probably of Shrinkhala Devi. There were ruins of temple infront of minar.
Another supportive evidence about the temple was obtained when we enquired local residents, Every year during magha maasa (Around February) a festival by name MELA TAALA of about 30 days duration is celebrated in the premises of the minar which is attended by local hindu and muslim communities in large numbers (More than 1 lakh). It is one of the important celebration of that place.
Another interesting fact is that near to Pandua there is a temple of Hanseswari mata which is regarded as Shakti peetha.
Taking into consideration all the above facts observed and collected it could be a possibility that it was the place where there was Shrinkhala devi temple.
Regarding the story of Rushya srunga it is said that he was grown up by his father from his child hood without exposure to the external world away from everyone except his father himself in the forest.This sage was pure at heart that he had a soul of an infant who does not get into the wordy joy. This made him a devotee of Shrinkhala devi.
There is also a contest in great epic of hindus ”The Ramayana” about this sage that he was the one who conducted the Putrakaameshti yaaga for king Dasaradha.
King Romapada a friend of Dasradha adopted Santha devi who was the sister of Sri Rama. He requested this sage to conduct a yagna to get relief of very long famine which was relieved after the yagna.On the request of the king this sage married Santha devi and conducted the above metioned Yagna .
After some time this great sage as was a great devotee of Shrinkhala devi brought her in the sense his mother to Sringeri and distributed the energy around the Srunga parvatha and there he constructed temples to the deity. These places are also regarded as Shakti peethas.
4. CHAMUNDESHWARI DEVI, Mysore (Karnataka)
Mysore was ruled by the demon-king Mahishasura, he was a buffalo-headed monster. For this reason, came the name of this place – Mahishuru, the town of demon Mahisha. Hearing to the prayers of Gods and Goddess to save them from the monster, Goddess Parvathi, (consort of Lord Siva), took birth as Chamundeshwari and killed the monster. After killing the demon, the Goddess resided atop the Chamundi Hills, where she is worshiped with reverence and devotion. The goddess is also called Mahishasura Mardini meaning She who slew Mahishasura.
About the Temple : The Chamundi temple has always been patronised by the rulers of Mysore. In 1659 Dodda Devaraja Wodeyar built 1,000 steps and big Nandi, Lord Shiva’s Bull. This gigantic Nandi is likely one of the largest within India, 16 ft. (4.8 meters) tall in the front and 25 ft. (7.5 meters) in length. The magnificent pendent bells around its neckline are exquisite. Nandi as well as the temple beside it can be found at the 700th step of the Chamundi Hill.
Krishnaraja Wodeyar III repaired the holy place in 1827 and built the current attractive forty-meter and seven storied Gopura (tower at the doorway) with gold finials, and set up statues of his and his 3 queens. In 1827, Krishnaraja Wodeyar III made arrangements for festivals and processions and gifted Simhavahana in 1843.
There are two other temples dedicated near to Chamundi temple, Lakshmi Narayana Swamy and Mahabaleswara temple. Sri Mahabaleswara temple – devoted to Lord Shiva in the shape of Linga, is a oldest temple at the hill. It was built prior to the beginning of the Hoysala rule. Epigraphical evidences point to this area as Mabhala or Mabbala theertha and states that Hoysala King Vishnuvardhana has given donations to the temple in 1128 A.D.
The Mahishasura Statue – built in 1659 by Dodda Devaraja Wodeyar and Rajendra Vilas palace – was once a popular hotel earlier are few other attractions on the Chamundi hill.
A panoramic view of the city is viewed from the top of the Chamundi hills. Among other landmarks, you are able to see the race course, the Lalitha Mahal palace, Mysore Palace, Karanji and Kukkarahalli lakes. At dusk, the view of the city is very beautiful, and on Sunday evenings and during the Dasara festival, the illuminated Mysore Palace glitters resembling gold!
By Air: Mysore has a small domestic airport which is connected to Bangalore. Bangalore is also the nearest international airport which is at a distance of 140 km away from Mysore. There are regular flights to Bangalore from all the major cities in India. Bangalore is connected to many international cities as well. Taxi services are available from Bangalore to Mysore which costs about Rs 3000.
By Bus: There is an excellent bus service provided by Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation. Vanities of tourist buses are available from Bangalore to Mysore and fare is about Rs 4 to 5 per km.
By Train: Mysore railway station is connected to Bangalore, which is 140 km away. Bangalore is well connected to all the other cities in India.
5. JOGULAMBA DEVI, Alampur(Andhra Pradesh)
Jogulamba Devi temple at Alampur, one of the 18 Sakti peethams in Indian sub-continent, including Sankari Devi temple in Sri Lanka, has been reconstructed after 615 years. According to historical sources, the temple was razed to the ground during Muslim invasion in 1390 AD. The local people put up a fierce resistance and killed the invaders and moved the main idol to the nearby Balabrahmeswara temple. Since then, the idol had been worshipped in the secluded place in the temple.
The Chalukyas of Badami, mainly by the initiative of Pulakesin-II put up a number of temples in and around Alampur in the 7th and 8th centuries.
The Jogulamba temple was reconstructed at the same place where it stood. The temple was rebuilt in the same way it was described in the `Rasaratnakaram’ of Nityanatha Sidha of 12th century AD. Sankaracharya was believed to have installed `Sri Chakra’ at Jogulamba temple, which is not available now. Since the Alampur temple complex was declared a heritage site, the supporters of Jogulamba temple had a difficult time to convince the Archaeological Survey of India and the State Government to revive the temple. Fund mobilisation The temple was designed to match the Chalukyan architecture so that the new temple would fit into the group of temples. The Endowments Department, led by the former Commissioner, Ajay Kallam, took initiative to raise funds for reconstruction of the temple.
The temples across the country donated money for the temple while Srisailam Devastanam adopted it to ensure uninterrupted rituals. Giving the reasons for failure to revive the temple in the last 600 years, Sanskrit scholar, historian and epigraphist, Gadiyaram Ramakrishna Sarma, has analysed that political uncertainty prevailed during the medieval age delayed the reconstruction of the temple.
Alampur is in Mahbubnagar district, in the state of Andhra Pradesh, India. It is located at about 90 KM from Mahabubnagar, 27 km From Kurnool and 200 km from Hyderabad.
Alampur is the meeting point of the sacred rivers Tungabhadra and Krishna and is referred to as Dakshina Kashi(also known as Navabrahmeshwara Theertha) and the Western Gateway of Srisailam, the famous Shaivite (Shaivism) pilgrim centre. The principal deities at Alampur are Brahmeshwara and Jogulamba. It is surrounded by the Nallamalai hills. Alampur is situated on the left bank of the Tungabhadra river.
History of Alampur
Alampur was under the rule of Shatavahana Ishvakus of Nagarjunakonda, Badami Chalukyas, Rashtrakutas, Kalyani Chalukyas, Kakatiyas, Vijayanagara Empire and Qutb Shahis of Golconda. Alampur was previously Known as Halampuram, Hamalapuram And Alampuram. Name of this place as Hatampura, mentioned in the inscription dated AD 1101 belongs to Western Chalukya, Tribhuvanamalla Vikramaditya VI. There are Navabhrama Temples, these impressive temples should be visited on tour to Andhra Pradesh not only because they are historically important but also because they reflect remarkable architectural skills.
Temples in Alampur
Navabhramma temples in Alampur:
Alampur is the home of very ancient Navabhramma temples dating back to the 7th century CE.
The Nava Bhramma temples were built by the Badami Chalukyas, who ruled for about 200 years from the middle of the sixth century onwards. The Badami Chalukyas built several temples in Karnataka, and the Alampur temples in Andhra Pradesh.The Alampur site preserves archeological remains in the form of temples exhibiting a hybrid style of architecture – dating back to the 6th-7th centuries CE. Some of the images from this site are also housed in a museum nearby.
The Nava Bhramma temples are Taraka Bhramma, Swarga Bhramma, Padma Bhramma, Bala Bhramma, Garuda Bhramma, Kumara Bhramma, Arka Bhramma, Vira Bhramma and the Vishwa Bhramma. These temples are all enclosed in a courtyard on the left bank of the river Tungabhadra.
The Bala Bhramma temple is the principal shrine of worship. It dates back to the year 702 CE – per the inscriptions seen here. Shivaratri is celebrated in great splendour here.
The Taraka Bhramma temple is partly in ruins, and it has no image in the sanctum. It bears telugu inscriptions from the 6th-7th century CE. The Swarga Bhramma temple with an imposing tower is considered to be among the finest in Alampur, and is an excellent specimen of Chalukyan architecture and sculpture. It contains several sculptures in bas relief, and it dates back to the end of the 8th century.
Padma Bhramma temple : The Padma Bhramma temple partly in ruins, contains a Shivalingam of clear stone with mirror like finish. The Viswa Bhramma temple is among the most artistic of the Nava Bhramma temples. The sculptural work here depicts scenes from the epics.
Suryanarayana temple: Also in the enclosed courtyard is located the Suryanarayana temple, dating back to the 9th century. This temple has bas reliefs representing the incarnations of Vishnu. There is also a Narasimha temple with inscriptions from the period of Krishna Deva Raya of the Vijayanagar Empire.
Near Alampur, is Papanasam with a cluster of over 20 temples of varying sizes and styles. The most important of these is the Papanaseswara temple.
How to reach:- Alampur has a railway station, which is nearly 8 km far from the town and is situated on the main line of Hyderabad – Kurnool. Also, a small halt station called “BBS Jogulamba Halt” is situated near Alampur station, and only a few trains connecting Hyderabad and Kurnool halt at these stations. The nearest major railway station is at Kurnool which is at just 27 km from Alampur and all major trains halt here. Alternatively, driving down or hiring a taxi would be an ideal option to reach the place easily.
6. BHRAMARAMBHA DEVI, Srisailam (Andhra Pradesh)
Shaila Mallikarjuna’s holy place is located on the banks of River Krishna. Here River Krishna is in the form of Patalaganga (underground spring). Lakhs of devotees take a holy dip here and then go for the Darshan of the JyotirLinga.
About The Main Temple
The shrine of Lord Mallikarjuna picturesquely situated on a flat top of Nallamalai Hills, Srisailam is reputed to be one of the most ancient kshetras in India. It is on the right side of the River Krishna in Kurnool District of Andhra Pradesh. This celebrated mountain is also named as Siridhan, Srigiri, Sirigiri, Sriparvatha and Srinagam. It has been a popular centre of Saivite pilgrimage for centuries.
The prominence of this Divya Kshetram is highlighted by the fact that while performing our daily household rituals we specify place of location of our existence with reference to Srisailam.
The presiding Deities of this kshetram Lord Mallikarjuna Swamy is one of the twelve Jyothirlingas and Goddess Bhramaramba Devi is one of the eighteen Mahasakthis and both are self-manifested. The unique feature of this kshetram is the combination of Jyothirlingam and Mahasakthi in one campus, which is very rare and only one of its kind.
There is a common belief in vogue that this Holy Kshetram exists from times immemorial. The antiquity and origin of God Mallikarjuna Swamy and Goddess Bhramaramba Devi is not known.
The Mallikarjuna Linga is accessible to each and every devotee and anybody can go into the sanctum sanctorum of Mallikarjuna, touch him and perform Abhishekam and Archana himself to recitation of Mantras by Archakas without caste or creed or religion. This clearly reveals that socialistic pattern of society started from this place and it is still in existence.
History of Srisailam : Srisailam was famous in the 4th century A.D, according to Nasik inscription in this inscription mountain was divided into 3 parts. One of them was sirithan. Later it was called as Nallamala. Nasik inscription was carved by pulomavi belongs to satavahana dynasty. He ruled Deccan from 102 to 130 A.D. thus; about Srisailam primarily we can see in this inscription only.
Satavahanas: Thomis was the oldest dynasty, which ruled Andhra. Their rule was ended in 3rd century. Ikshavakas came to powers that were Samanthas to satavahanas. Ikshavakus were also known as Sriparvatiyas. They built Vijayapuri near Nagarjunakonda and ruled part of East Deccan.
Later this East Deccan was ruled by Vasishta putrakanthamala defeated by Pugeeya, Hiranyaka and Dhanaka. This was spread in between Srisaila hill to Gunjdlakamma up to Bay of Bengal. Hiranyaka Brahmin ruler fought to brought up Brahminism. Srisailam flourished during his period because he was devotee of Lord Shiva.
Srimukhavarma of Pallavas, Subedar of Satavahana princess of Kotanaga family and occupied the kingdom. Later he defeated purushadatta king of Ikshavaka and occupied. Thus Srisailam also came under control of Pallavas in 3rd century.
Pallavas: Trilochana Pallava deforests the Srisailam area and makes it for shelter to Brahmins. Later he was defeated by Karikala Chols and became king of this kingdom.
Vishnukundinas: 2nd Rudrasena of Vakata dynasity belongs to latter period of 4th century. He was married Prabhavathi, daughter of 2nd Chandra Gupta of Magadha. Prjbhavathi ruled this dynasty with her 3 sons after demise of second Rudrasena. During this period Srisailam was under them. Srisailam was developed by both dynasties that is Vakatakas and Magadhas.
Kakatiyas: This is one 1370 A.D of the dynasty which. ruled Deccan. They were the followers of Chalukyas. After death of VI Vikramaditya, Kakatikyas dethrone the Chalukyas and occupied the throne. They combine all the Telugu people areas and make a big kingdom. 2nd Prolaya ruled between 1110-1150A.D., defeated Chalukya and brought Telangana under his kingdom. Rudramadevi ruled between 1262-1296 A.D. Prataparudra became king. He defeated the opponents and established peace in this region. He made some habitation by destroying the forest area. It was handed over to his chieftain Patytasahni. Prataparudra and his wife worshipped Srisaila Mallikarjuna and offered Tulabhara. It means with their physical weight they given offerings to God.
Peketi Kommaiah given as dana some of his kingdom to lord Mallikarjuna for performing noontime Pujas
Reddy rajus of Kondaveedu: after decline of Kakatiya dynasty, two dynasties of Reddyrajus founded by Prolaya Vemareddy and Vijayanagara kingdom. Prolaya Vemareddy occupied Srisailam and he paved the steps path to Patalaganga. He also constructed steps to Ahobilam. Anavema redddy occupied Srisailam and Tripurantakam from Vijayanagara kings and constructed Veerasiromandapam in 1370A.D. Vijayanagaras occupied Srisailam in 1422A.D. by defeating Reddy rajus.
Vijayanagara kings: 2nd Harihararaya devotee of Srisaila Mallikarjuna constructed entry face (Mukhamandapa) shrine to Lord Mallikarjuna temple. Vithalamba wife of 2nd Harihara also constructed steps to Patalaganga and there she founded Vithaleswara statue. Saluva Tirumalaiah given many danas (offerings) to Srisailam temple. Saluva dynasty people given many offering god. They offered lands gardens and constructions to the temple.
Srikrishna devaraya divided Srisailam and makes it as a separate state. During this period Srisailam got fame and due importance was given to the temple. Parvathanayaka, follower of Srikrishnadevaraya coated copper layer to Garbhalaya and golden layer to Mukhamandapa in 1513 A.D. In1529 Chandrasekharamatya, minister was constructed kalyanamandapa and chinnagudi. Sagalamarri village was also built near by. Salakaraju constructed yagnasala.
Rulers of Andhra viz Satavahanas, Ikshawakas, Vishnukundinas, Kadambas, Pallavas, Cholas, Rashtrakutas, Chalukyas, Kakatiyas, Reddyrajus, Vijayanagaras, Maharashtras worshipped Srisailam Mallikarjuna as their Chief God. Of the above dynasities, Kakatiyas paid greater attention towards the construction of temple. Ganapathi deva spent every year 12 thousand golden coins for the development of Srisailam. Mailamahadevi sister of Ganapathi deva constructed temple for Mallikarjuna swamy.
It is said that ruling period of Reddy rajus was the golden age of Srisailam. During this age they make Srisailam become popular visiting place to devotees with the effort of construction of steps to reach Srisailam. They also constructed Mandapam in the temple premises. It was said that devotees offered their body parts viz tongue, hands, legs, and head to god in this Virasiro Mandapam.
Another important dynasty that struggle for the development of Srisailam was Vijayanagara rulers. 2nd Harihararaya was constructed south facing shrine. Srikrishna Devaraya declared Srisailam as a separate state. He was took up constructions for temple Rajagopuram, rest shelters for pilgrims on both sides to chariot street. Srikrishna Devaraya carved a wall around the temple with rich sculpture.
Ruler of Maharashtra, Chatrapathi Sivaji was also served for the development of Srisailam. He took up the works like construction of North shrine to the temple and allotted some money for the maintenance of temple and allotted separate army force for the protection of the temple.
Place of Srisailam in Literature:
These oldest centuries Srisailam mentioned in all Puranas. It is mentioned in 20th chapter of Padmapuranam uttarakhanda 11th chapter of Markandeya puranam, 6th chapter of Shivapurana Rudrasamhita, Adityapuranam, and Mahabharatha Vanaparvam, 80th chapter of Bhaghvatha Dasamaskandam, 40th chapter of sheshadarmam of Harivamsam. Skandapuranm, one of the 18 Puranas, 64th chapter of Srisailakandam describe the complete features of Srisailam.
Adisankar’s ‘Shivanandhalahari’, Someswara’s ‘Kathasarithsagarm’, Siddhanadhuni’s Rasaratnakaram, Bhavabhuthi Malathimadhvam Bhanabhathu’s Kadhambari, Sriharsha’s ‘Ratnavali’, Nannaya Bharatam, Jakkannas Vikramarka charitra, Palkuriki Samantha’s Baswapuranam
Beside these there are many book in Tamil, Telugu, Kannada.Marathi described about Srisailam. The foreign travelers like Hueyanthsang, Ithsinghansinikicthen etc had written about the Srisailam in there books.
The Legend of Mallikarjuna Temple
When Kumar Kartikeya returned to Kailash after completing his trip around the earth, he heard about Ganesha’s marriage from Narada. This angered him. In spite of being restrained by his parents, he touched their feet in obeisance and left for Krounch Mountain. Parvati was very distraught at having to be away from her son, implored Lord Shiva to look for their son. Together, they went to Kumara. But, Kumara went away a further three Yojanas, after learning about his parents coming after him to Krouncha Mountain. Before embarking on a further search for their son on each mountain, they decided to leave a light on every mountain they visited.
From that day, that place came to be known as JyotirLinga Mallikarjuna. It is believed that Shiva and Parvati visit this palce on Amavasya (No moon day) and (full Moon day) Pournami, respectively. Visiting this JyotirLinag not only blesses one with innumerable wealth, but also name and fame and fulfils all the desires.
Once, a princess named Chandravati decided to go to the Jungles to do penance and meditation. She chose Kadali Vana for this purpose. One day, she witnessed a miracle. A Kapila cow was standing under a Bilwa tree and milk was flowing from all of its four udders, sinking into the ground. The cow kept doing this as a routine chore everyday. Chandravati dug up that area and was dumb founded at what she saw.
There was a self-raising Swyambhu SivaLinga. It was bright and shining like the sun rays, and looked like it was burning, throwing flames in all directions. Chandravati prayed to Siva in this JyotirLinga. She built a huge Shiva Temple there. Lord Shankara was very pleased with her. Chandravati went to Kailash wind borne. She received salvation and Mukti. On one of the stone-inscriptions of the temple, Chandravati’s story can be seen carved out.
A number of legends have grown round Srisailam and its principal deities. Among them the most significant one is that Parvatha, son of Silada Maharshi is said to have performed penance, pleased Siva and made him agree to live on his body. This Parvatha assumed the shape of big Hill “Sriparvatha” and Siva lived on it’s top as Mallikarjuna Swamy.
According to one story Chandravathi the ruler of Chandraguptha Patana situated near Srisailam on the opposite bank of the river Krishna ran away from her father who made amorous advances to her went up the hill and settled down there with few servants. One day she found that one of her cows standing above a natural rock formation resembling the Sivalinga and shedding its milk over it. The princess in dream was informed that the piece of the stone was a self-manifested Linga of God Mallikarjuna and took to worshipping it. This story is mentioned in the Skanda Purana. Two sculptures of the Prakara Wall of the temple also represent this story.
According to another story “Sri” the daughter of a Rishi did penance, pleased Siva and got her name associated with the name of the Hill( Sailam ) which thereafter came to be known as Srisailam.
Places of Intrest :
Srisailam is the spiritual station which contains 8 gateways in side & corners of Srisailam. Every inch of Srisailam surroundings is having its unique and sacredness. It clearly revealed in Puranas, inscriptions and other sources available in this area. It is very vast circumference, which contains thousands of temples, streams(Teerthas), portraits of Gods/ goddesses were stationed here. of all these some are dilapidated condition, some are demised and some are existed in these centuries course of time. Srisailam is in thick and dence forest of Nallamalla. Even today , most of the places are not able to reach due to not knowing of their where abouts and no formations of roads. Because of that devotees of lord Shiva are not able to visit these places.
In this vast Kshetra , besides the main temple of Sri Mallikarjuna swamy temple and Sri Bramaramba temple, every step land on here gives sanctity feeling to the devotees. Even though thousands of places are here to see, a few places are being brought before you. It is our intention to explain about Srisailam accessories as one of devotee of lord Shiva.
Mallikarjuna Swamy temple:
1.Vrudhamallikarjuna Swamy: This lingam is said to be oldest than the present Mallikarjuna swamy Lingam. There is no Nandi(Bull , vechicle of Lord) infront of it. Ihe Lingam is uneven on its outer face which indicates the old age of Lord Shiva which was prayed by Chandravathi. Hence it is called Vrudhamallikarjuna swamy
2. Ardhanareeswar: This idol is in northern side of the main temple.this is the oldest idol. Detail and period of the idol is unknown.
3.Lingas incarnated by Pandavas: Five temple are situated besides Arthanareseswara temple. These were incarnated by Pandavas according to sources.
4. Mallika Gundam: (Mallika water point): According to mythology , yhis Gundam was part and parces of Saraswathi river, which flows in inner of the Krishna river. This Saraswathi river is called ‘Antaarvahine’ which means it is flowing along with other river i.e. Krishna. Many devotees used this Mallika Gundam water to heal their diseases. Another important thing in shrine of Mallikarjunas temple shade is being reflected in this ‘Gundam’.
5.Veerabhadra Swamy Temple: This idol is intemple and having North face. He is guarding the Lord Mallikarjuna swamy always.
6. Sanagalabasavanna: It is situated infront of the Verasiro mandapam. it is known as “nandi mandapam”. This Nandi is called Nandeeswara(Baswanna).Kannadigulu calls this as ‘Chennu kallu Baswanna”.
7.Addala(Mirror) Mandapam: Place for Swamy where he takes rest in the nights called as pavalinpu seva.
8.Tri fruit tree(Triphala uruksham): Juvvi( ),Ravi( ),and Medi( ) plants together become grown as one tree. It was said that Acharya Nagarjuna and others were done deeksha under this tree. One superstition was there, that couples who haveno children, simply they do pradakshins(walking round the tree) will get children(santanam) in coming years.
9. Nityakalyana mandapam(marriage hall): This in the south west side of temple where daily Kalyanam(Marriage) of the Mallikarjuna Swamy and Bramaramkika ammawaru is done here in the evening times.
10.Sri Rama and Sita Devi’s sahasralingams: Shahasra meang thousand. Sahasra linga means 1000 lingas carved in one linga. Srirama’ linga is situated in swamy temple where Sitadevis is in Ammavari temple. These are incarnated by Srirama and Sitadevi.
The main temple of Bramarambha devi , first of Asthadasa maha sakthi peethas is with well sculptures. You can hear butterfly’s sound(Bhrama means butterfly) in the back side of the main temple. Devotes are not allowed inside the temple where as in the Mallikarjuna swamy temple.
1.Lopa mudra: Lopa mura shapes of Agasya Maharshi wife are only seen in Srisailam. We can see them in sala mandapam of devi temple.
Places of interest in Srisailam and surroundings
2.Vitalesvara temple: in 14 cenyury AD ,Vitalamba wife of Harihararaya II lied steps to Patalaganga. In that way this temple was built. This temple is rich in sculpture. The deity residing here is called Vitalesvara Swamy.
3.Shivaji spurthi kendram: once Chatrapathi Shivaji has visited the Srisailam and reside here for some time. He had built uttaram side gopuram . infront of it he builted a small mandapa and used to live there. Now it has been collapsed . besides that well degined modern building has constructd with the name of Shivajispurthi kendram.there is life size idiol of shivaji in the building which inspires us.
4.Hatakeswaram: it is about 5 km from Srisailam.Hataka means gold. Lord Shiva killed Tripurasura by making Meruparvatham as bow and arrow. Here Shiva has been worshipped in golden Lingam shape. Hence it is being called as Hatakkeswaram. Infront of the temple 150 ft area water pond exits there. It is called Hatekeswara teertham. It is believed that devotees who dip here (bath) and drink water in paladhara-Panchadhara, fulfill their desires.
5.Paladhara-Panchadhara: It is about 200 meters from Hatakeswaram. Paladhara-Water steams floes continuosly. It originates and flows 6 metres and demise there itself. It exits througt out the year irrespective of seasons. It is called Paladhara because this was believed that this was originated from the forehead of Lord Shiva. Panchadhara- it is originated from 5 faces of Lord Shiva viz Satyojatha, vamadeva,Aghora,Tatpursha and Esana. Water is medical . devotees take water for curing their diseases. Sanctity of there dharas: by doing bath in Hatakeswaram and drinking water in Paladhara and Panchadhara, devotees of desire will be fulfull. The book Shivanandalahari is written here only.
6.Sikhareswaram: it is the hightest peak of Srisailam moutain range above to 2830 feet to MSL. It is about 8 km from main temple. Lord Veerasankara being called as Sikhareswara. In the cenyuries back, devotees were going to Srisailam on foot in the dense forest. They were tired. They were not able to move further even a step also. In such conditions, devotees felt that alleast, going to up to that hightest peak to see. From there they might have come back. According to Puranas “Srisaila Sikharam drustya punarjanma navidyate….” By seeing this Sikharam It is said that by merely seeing the tip of mountain one emancipated from all sins. The persons becomes free from the vicious cycle of life and death.
7.Ishakameswari Devi: It is about 21 km from main temple, situated in dence forest of Srisailam hill. This temple belongs to 8th –10th centuries. Ishtakameswari is another name of Parvathi devi. There is no word like Ishtakameswari in the puranas and earlies literature except Kameswari. In the present day also it is difficult to reach there . pravite vechicle or not allowed and can reach by hire vechiles. There is a speciality in the idiol that if you touch the forehead u can feel like a human skin. If you visit the place once ,you will think of visiting the same place again.
8. Pathaganga: it is 1 km from main temple has to take a 500 steps to down to river Krishna which flows and called as Pathalganga. Now rope way to this was contructed to reach there before where people used to go by steps.
9.Akkamahadevi caves: It is about 10 km from Pathalaanga.Akkamahadevi was strong believer of Lord Mallikarjunaswamy. She was belongs to 12th centuary. She was born in ‘Udutadi’ village in Shimoga dt of Karnataka. Her parentsSumathi and Nirmala Setty, who were veerashiva devotees. due to not intrest in marriage with the king Koushikudu she came to Srisailam to immerse in Lord Mallikarjuna and reached caves, now being called Akkamahadevi caves. She performed siddi(Tapasu) for some time in these caves later gone to Kandhalivanalu. She has been worshipped as prime Sivasaran in ‘Veerashiva’ tradition. Thase caves are Naturally formed, very attractive and station of nature beauty.
The timings of the temple : 04:30 AM to 10:00PM
How to get there :
By Road: Road distances from Srisailam are Atmakur (113 km), Anantapur (325 km), Bangalore (538 km), Mumbai (971 km), Calcutta (1491 km), Delhi (1685 km), Dornal (49 km), Hyderabad (232 km), kurnool (180 km), chennai (568 km), Nagarjuna sagar (180 km), Nandyal (158 km), Tirupathi (436 km), Vijayawada (248 km), Visakhapatnam (614 km)
By Rail: Nearest railhead is Markapur on Guntur-Hubli line. Hyderabad, Vijayawada, Kurnool, Nandyal are also convenient railheads.
By Air: The nearest airport is at Hyderabad(232 km) which is air linked with Bangalore, Bhuvaneswar, Mumbai, Chennai, Delhi, Nagpur, culcutta and other major cities. Continental Aviation also connects with Hyderabad.
Srisailam is well connected with APSRTC and AP tourism buses from kurnool, Hyderabab, Mahaboobnagar, Nalgonda, Devarakonda, Guntur, Vijayawada, Ongole, Mahanandi, Mantralayam, Anantapur etc. some Karnataka state buses have daily trips from Hubli, Mysore, Raichur, Dharwad, Sholapur Etc.
Local Attractions: Alampur (207 km), Dindi Reservoir (64 km), Nagarjunasagar (180 km), Sangameswar (18 km), Mahanandi, Belum Caves.
The Devasthanam is having 25 individual cottages, Pathaleswra Sadan with 23 Deluxe Suites, Sivasadanam guest house with 100 rooms, T.T.D Guest House with 10 rooms,Chandeswara Sadanam with 22 rooms and a dormitory Choultry consisting of 7 Halls.
Devasthanam has also constructed a modern complex with 112 suites named as Gangasadan and Gowrisadan. At present this complex is leased out to Tourism Department.
Besides this there are 40 private choultries consisting of about 1200 rooms and they are also providing accommodation to the pilgrim.
The Department of Tourism is maintaining Punnami Guest Houses consisting above 50 suites.
7. MAHALAKSHMI DEVI Kolhapur (Maharastra)
Kolhapur is located in Kolhapur district and is well connected with Pune, 240 km north. It is on the national highway between Bangalore and Pune. It is situated on the banks of the Panchganga river and is full of ancient temples and shrines. Goddess Mahalakshmi resides in Kolhapur, and is been a famous holy place right from ancient times pilgrims from far and near have continued to flock here in their thousands year after year. So great was indeed its repute that it was known as ’Dakshin Kashi,’ the Kashi of the south.
The four Shakti Peethas of Maharashtra are Tuljapur enshrining Bhavani, Kolhapur enshrining Mahalakshmi, Mahur enshrining Mahamaya Renukaand Saptshringi enshrining Jagadamba.
Legend: Long ago Lord Brahma created three ‘manasputras’, namely Gaya, Lavana and Kolha. All the three were extremely powerful and became practically invincible after performing severe penance of Lord Shiva. Both Gaya and Lavana enraged Indra and Yama, and creeated lot of problems to Gods. Vishnu with the assistance of other gods killed both of them. However, the gods consented to turn the spots on which they had fallen into tirths, thus we have the Vishnugaya tirth.
Kolha, the monarch of Kolhapur, and the youngest brother decided to seek revenge of the deaths but did not want to wage a war and create bloodshed instead wanted to dethrone Indra and other Gods from their positions with the power of his penance. Determined he went to Kolhagiri hills and followed a severe penance, days passed and so did his strength. Kolhasur soon received the blessings of Brahmadeva, and returned to his capital to see that it was over taken by a demon Sukeshi. Kolhasur attacked Sukeshi and slew him after a ferocious struggle.
Kolhasur entrusted the administration to Karvir, his eldest son. His natural inclination towards aggression and bloodshed burst into flames of hatred when he learnt that the Deva’s were responsible for the death of his two uncle’s. He took upon himself the task of seeking revenge and started slaughtering sages and demolishing shrines. When the devotees rushed seeking refuge, Devas waged a war against Karvir the battle that ensued was severe. Karvir’s 3 brother’s lost their lives and Lord Shiva slew Karvir in the end and in accordance with a promise given to him before his death named the city ‘Karvirnagar’.
Kolhasur, was furious to learn of the fate of his sons. He decided that since Mahalakshmi was the source of all the power and inspiration of the Deva’s, she should somehow be won over first. So he again took up a severe penance, as a result to his prayers the devi appeared before him. He requested her to quit Kolhapur for a hundred years so that he could take his revenge against the Deva’s, Devi agreeded to his request and proceeded to the Himalayas. As a result Kolhapur suffered. He destroyed towns and cities distressed Deva’s approached the Trimurthi for rescue, who in turn adviced to seek relief through the Great Goddess. Devi, though was extremely angry from hearing accounts of the atrocities of Kolhasur, could do anything as she had granted the boon to him that she would stay away for a period of hundred years.
As years rolled and the 100 year period was coming to an end, an angry Devi proceeded towards Kolhapur accompanied by a large army of Deva’s, amongst whom counted Ranka Bhairav, Kal-Vetal, Siddha-Batukeshvar and her Chamundi. Devi assumed an eighteen armed form, mounted on her lion and set against Kolhasur.
Kolhasur though an Asura, had some good values in him and was repentant of his deeds. He prayed for forgiveness and when Devi offered him her blessings, he quickly asked for 3 boons. First the spot where he would die should become a “Thirth Sthala”. Second Devi should reside in her original abode as before and the place should be known as Kolhapur after him. Thirdly every year the fruit ‘Kohala’ should be cut ceremonially in his honour. Goddess pleased by his devotion said ‘tathastu’ and gave him ‘mukti,’ .
The temple dates back to Circa 600 to 700 A.D. constructed during Chalukya reign. Though the temple was built by the Chalukya ruler, Karandev, it was the Shilahara Yadava who extended and beautified it. The Mahadwara – main entrance of the temple is the in the west with lots of small shops selling items for worship of the Devi. Walking further down the Mahadwara one is confronted with several deepa maala’s on either side, then comes a large open hall of timber construction.
The huge square pillars and foliated arches in wood are characteristic of Maratha temple architecture. This Mandap is called as Garuda-mandap and was constructed during the eighteenth century. An image of Garuda, the vahana of Vishnu, is housed in this mandap so as to face the sanctum. Adjoining it towards the east is a small mandap of stone construction. It is built on a raised plinth. An image of Ganesh nearly four feet in height stands in the centre facing the sanctum. In the central shrine, facing the west, stands the Ambabai. The northern shrine is occupied by Mahakali, the southern by Mahasaraswati.
Also seen in this temple is a rich display of sculpture of figurines in dancing poses, musicians, Gods and Goddesses. The three sancta have rather simple shikharas of brick and mortar dating back to the 19th century. An extremely unusual position is occupied by a Shiva ling. Immediately above the garbhagriha of the Mahalakshmi shrine is a second storey. Here a Shiva ling and a nandi are placed, it is still a mystery as to when and by whom it was placed.
The image of the Goddess has an extremely pleasant appearance. It is carved in black stone, is about three feet in height and has four arms and crowned Goddess made of gemstone and weighs about 40 kilograms. It contains mater mixed with Hirak bits.. The typical ayudhas of the devi are as follows. In the lower right hand is the matulinga, a fruit not unlike the ordinary lemon, but much larger in size. In the upper right hand is a large mace, kaumodaks, and its head touching the ground. The upper left hand holds the shield or khetaka, the lower one holding a bowl i.e. panpatra.
There is a natural “Padma-Ragini” (Lotus). On the ’crown of the devi are a cobra-hood and a Shiva-ling with a yoni around it. Standing behind the devi is her vahana-a lion. The iconographical descriptions of the Goddess, going back to the thirteenth century or even earlier according to some authorities, resemble most of the lakshanas of the present image. The earliest mention comes from the Vishvakarmashastra as quoted by Hemadri in his Chaturvargachintamani. It refers specifically to the Karvirvasini Mahalakshmi.
Unlike most Hindu sacred images, which face north or east, the image of this deity looks west (Pashchim). There is a small open window on the western wall, through which the setting sun rays falls on the face of the idol for three days around the 21st of each March and September.
How to reach: KARVIR, the modern Kolhapur, is well connected by rail and road with the major cities of India.Trains ply between Kolhapur and Mumbai, Bangalore, New Delhi and other important cities of Maharashtra like Pune,Sangli, Miraj. The city is also well connected by a road network.
The MTDC Tourist Office (226-52935), Kedar Complex, Station Rd, a five-minute walk from the railway station, operates a guided tour of Kolhapur and Panhala (Rs 60, approx). Hours: 10 am to 5:30pm
By Air: Mumbai and Pune are well connected by domestic & international airlines. One can either take a train or bus to reach Kohlapur from Mumbai and Pune.
By Rail: Kolhapur is nearest Railway Station (5 km away), there are regular trains from Mumbai to Kolhapur.
By Road: Kolhapur is nearly 400 km from Mumbai, 240 km from Pune. Kolhapur lies on the NH 4 between Bangalore and Pune.
Temple Address & Contact Information:
Shree Karveer Nivasini Mahalakshmi Temple, Kolhapur-416012, Maharashtra.
Phone : 0231- 2626147.
Manager : Dhanaji Jadhav -254779.
Mahalaxmi Bhakt Mandal Dharmashala
Near Kapiltirth Market
Tarabai Road, Kolhapur Maharashtra India.
8. EKA VEERIKA DEVI Nanded (Maharastra)
Ekaveerika devi temple is in Mahur , Maharashtra. The deity here is called Ekaveerika mata. The temple is in Yavatmal district in Maharashtra. It is 50 km from Kinwat and 126 km from Nanded. Nagpur is 210 km by road from Mahur. Sati’s Right shoulder has fallen here.
There was a great king called Daksha Prajapati who was son of Lord Brahma. He had 27 daughters and Sati devi is one among them. Sati devi got married to Lord Shiva. When Dashka entered the arena of a yaga performed by Agni, every one except Lord Shiva stood up as a mark of respect. Daksha felt insulted by Lord Shiva’s behaviour. Later when Daksha conducted a yaga him self , he did not invite his daughter and his son in law.Though Sati felt bad because of the non invitation, she wanted to attend the yaga against the wish of Lord Shiva.When Sati, attended the yaga no body has cared for her and she felt insulted by the actions of her sisters and parents. Then when her father started abusing her husband she could not control her feelings and scarified herself at the place of yagna by creating agni from earth with her right thumb of her foot.Knowing this Lord Shiva removed one bunch of Jhatha from his head and hit it on the earth. From that Lord Veerabhadra has born and rushed to yaga spot and killed Daksha by cutting his head. Later Shiva went to the spot and taken the body of sati from the fire and started dancing with it. The world was terrorized from this Tandava Nritya and to stop this Nritya, Vishnu used his Sudarshan chakra and completely cut the Sati’s body in to pieces. These body parts have fallen at various places in India and Srilanka. Where ever these parts have fallen the places are called Shaktipeethas. There are 18 such places and they are called Ashta (8) Dasa(10) Shakti peethas.
Mahur is famous for Renuka Devi temple and very few people are knowing about Ekaveerika devi temple and mostly they call Renuka devi temple as shakti peeth. We find more rush at Renuka devi temple than Ekaveerika mata temple. It is said that Ekaveerika Devi is the elder sister of Renukadevi. Renuka devi temple is 800 years old.
Prasad being grinded : Here pan patta and supari are grinded as paste and offered as prasad.
There are many important temples and sightseeing places on the top of hill, and in the deep forest.
Ekaveera mata temple : It is present on the bank of Pen Ganga river (Pancha Ganga river). It is about 30 to 40 minutes distance from Mahur. The temple is present in the fields of near by Village. The temple is very small. We will see only the head of Goddess here.
Renuka mata temple : Renuka mata temple is present on the top of Hill near Mahur. Renuka mata is the mother of Lord Parasurama. Jamadagni Maharshi, husband of Renuka mata is also present in the form of Shiva linga. The temple is present in deep forest and we can see Peacocks in the journey.
Parasurama temple : Lord Parasurama (incarnation of Lord Vishnu) temple is also present on the same hill. There is a holy pond here, called Parasurama kund.
Dattatreya Swami temple : Jagadguru Dattareya swami temple is present on another hill.
Anasuya mata temple : Anasuya mata is the mother of Dattatreya swami. Her temple is present on the third hill.
Atri Maharshi temple : Atri maharshi is the father of Dattatreya swamy. This temple is also present beside Anasuya mata temple.
Matru tirtha : Matru tirha is a very holy pond described in Guru Charitra. Lord Parsurama did ceremony of his father, Jamadagni, in this place. People will take a holy dip in this pond and get rid off their sins.
Devdeveshwar mandir : This is the sleeping place of Dattatreya swami. Daily Guru Dattatreya swami will take bath at Varanasi in Ganga river, Bhiksha (Lunch) in Kolhapur and sleep in Mahur. This temple is present in Mahur town.
9. MAHAKALI DEVI, Ujjain (Madhya Pradesh)
According to another popular legend related to Mahakal Temple, a demon by name, Dushana tormented the residents of Avanti. Shiva appeared from the ground and vanquished the demon. Then, upon the request of the inhabitants of Avanti, Shiva took up a permanent abode here as Mahakaleshwara Jyotirlinga.
Legend Behind Mahakal Temple
Architecture of Mahakal Temple
Significance of Mahakaleshwara Temple
Pithapuram is formerly called as Pithikapuram / Pushkara kshetram in Puranas and Tantras.
The temple of Puruhutika devi is located within the temple campus of Kukkuteswara swamy.
Kukkuteswara swamy temple is present in the outskirts of the Pithapuram village towards Kakinada. It is a big temple. Just entering in to the temple we’ll see a pond which is called as Padagaya sarovaram (Pada Gaya Sarovar). Pilgrims will take holy bath in this pond. Main temple of Kukkuteswara swamy is present towards the right side of the pond. Puruhutika devi temple is present in the North-East corner of the Kukkuteswara swamy temple. It is constructed facing South. Puruhutha temple is small but looks very nice with the carvings of Ashtadasa Shakti peethas on it’s walls.
Idol of Puruhutika devi
The idol of Puruhuthika devi has four hands. They contain bag of seeds (Beeja), axe (Parashu), lotus (Kamala) and a dish (Madhu patra) from lower-right to lower-left in order.
Previously there were two sects of Upasakas in Pithapuram worshiping Puruhootika devi. The first one calling her as Puruhootha Lakshmi (Meditating on Kamala and Madhu patra) and worshiping in Samayachara and the second one calling her Puruhoothamba (Meditating on Parashu and Beeja) and worshiping in Vamachara. There is also a tale that the original statue of Puruhutika devi was buried under the temple which was worshiped by them.
History: Once Indra has cheated Ahalya (wife of Gautama maharshi) in the form of Gautama and was cursed by the Maharshi. Indra lost his testes and got the symbols of Yoni all over his body. He felt very sad and prąyed Gautama a lot. Finally the Rishi accepted and told that the Yoni symbols will look like eyes, so that Indra will be called as Sahasraksha there after. But Indra lost his testes. He wanted to regain them. He left his kingdome, came to Piithika puri and did Tapasya for Jaganmata. After a long time Jaganmata appeared before him and blessed him with wealth and testes. Indra was very happy and prąyed her as Puruhutika devi (One who was worshiped by Indra).
After a very long time Jagadguru Sripada vallabha took birth in Pithapuram. He too worshiped Puruhutika devi and realized his self. He is an incarnation of Dattatreya.
11. BIRAJA DEVI, Jajpur(Odisha)
The Durga idol has two hands (dwibhuja), spearing the chest of Mahishasura with one hand and pulling his tail with the other. One of her feet is on a lion, and the other is on Mahishasura’s chest. Mahishasura is depicted as a water buffalo. The idol’s crown features Ganesha, a crescent moon and a lingam. The temple covers a large area, and has several shrines to Shiva and other deities. According to the Skanda Purana it cleanses pilgrims, and it is called the Viraja or the Biraja kshetra. Jajpur is believed to have about one crore of Shiva lingams.
The Brahmayamala Tantra has a hymn, “Aadya Stotra”, dedicated to Shakti. In the hymn, Vimala is the goddess of Puri and Viraja (Girija) is the goddess worshipped in the Utkala Kingdom, which became Odisha.
According to the Tantra Chudamani, Sati’s navel fell in the Utkala Kingdom, also known as “Viraja kshetra”. Adi Shankara, in his Ashtadasha Shakti Peetha Stuti describes the goddess as Girija. In Tantra literature, the Oddiyana Peetha (Devnagari:ओड़्याण पीठ) is located in eastern India near the Vaitarani River (an Oddiyana is an ornament worn by a woman around her navel).
12. MANIKYAMBA DEVI, Draksharamam (Andhra Pradesh)
There are two stories related to Pancharama temples. One story related to Pancharama temples is in Bheemeshwara Puranam written by Shree Nathudu. The Story goes like this…
Devatas and Asuras (Rakshasas) stirr the sea to get nectar (Amrit). After getting the Amrit, Devatas meet Lord Vishnu to avoid distributing the nectar to Asuras as it may lead to problems. Lord Vishnu takes the birth as Mohini and distributes Amruth only to Devtas. Asuras get angry and worship Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva gets satisfied by their worship and blesses Asuras with lot of powers.
With these powers Asuras start torturing people and Devtas. Again Devtas worship Lord Shiva to avoid this. Lord Shiva gets angry and starts punishing Asuras. During this war, a Shivalingam worshipped by Thripurasura (Tripurasura) remains un damaged even though all Asuras die. Lord Shiva (Mahadeva) makes this Lingam into five pieces and makes this installed in five different places. These five places (Prathishtapana) are now famous as Pancharama.
The second story begins from Hiranya Kashipu and his son Simuchi. The son of Simuchi, Tharakasura worships Lord Shiva and gets his Atma Linga. Then, Tharakasura starts troubling people and Devatas. As per blessings, Tharakasura dies only by a boy. Devatas go to Lord Shiva to find solution for finding a solution to punish Tharakasura. Lord Kumara Swamy Avtar thus happens and and boy kills Tharakasura. After when Tharakasura dies, the Athmalinga gets divided into five. Each one gets installed by Devatas in five different places. These places are called Pancharama Kshetras.
Below are the details of Pancharama Kshetras and the five faces of Lord Shiva
The temple of Lord Amareswara located on the banks of river Krishna, is rich in Dravidian and Buddist architectures. The Lingam is 15 feet high, carved out of marble. The city was named Amaravati after Indra’s capital here. Tradition says that Indra and Devas had worshipped the Lord here. Goddess Shakthi is worshipped as Bala Chamundika Devi.
The white Linga is quite unique and the priests have to ascend the steps for offering abhishekam. As the name Amaravati implies, legend has it that Amaravati was once the abode of the Gods – the Devas, the yakshas and the kinnaras, who performed penances to Shiva to request him to rid the earth of the mighty demon Tarakasura.
Legend has it that Shiva’s son Subramanya vanquished the demon. It is believed that the Shivalingam that shattered Into five pieces was a huge one, and the biggest of the five pieces is a fifteen foot long column of white marble which is worshipped as Amareswara at the Amaravati temple (this is very similar to the Shivalingam at the Draksharama temple). Legend has it that it was installed by Indra the king of the Devas, Brihaspati the guru of the Devas and Sukra the preceptor of the Asuras.
The Amaravati temple is located on a small hillock referred to as Krouncha Shaila, alongside the river Krishna which flows for a short distance in a North-Southerly direction, although for the most part, the river heads eastwards towards the ocean. The river Krishna is held in reverence at this pilgrimage site, and a ritual dip in this river here is considered to be meritorious.
The temple has ancient origins, however the structural foundations as seen today, seem to date back to the 11th century CE. The Vijayanagar kings did provide grants to maintain the temple. However it was the local kings of the 18th century CE that provided vast endowments to this temple. The temple is decorated with four lofty gopurams in its outer circumlocutory path.
How to reach Amaravati:
Amaravati is at 35kms distance from Guntur. There are so many non-stop buses from Guntur. It takes about 45 minutes journey. Buses will leave us at temple. In Karthika masam APSRTC maintains special Pancharamas tour buses to cover them all in a single day.
2. Draksharama – Draksharamam (Sri Bhimeswara Swamy)
The Bhimeswara temple at Draksharama has two prakaras. The inscriptions here suggest that the temple was built by Bhima, the Eastern Chalukyan King of Vengi(9th -10th centuries), when his kingdom was under attack by the Rashtrakootas. The temple art thus shows the influence of a blend of sculptural traditions of Chalukya and Chola styles.
The temple has four entrances in the outer prakara each marked with a gopuram, facing the four cardinal directions. On the south is the entrance to the inner prakara, which is lined by a pillared two-storeyed verandah.
The main temple is twin storeyed. Two flights of stairs lead us into the upper level of the sanctum. This has a pillared pradakshina on three sides and a Garbhagriha. Bhimeswara is enshrined in the form of a ten feet high Shivalingam in this Garbhagriha. Another feature of the temple is the narrow mantapam that is seen in the premises. Shiva’s consort here is Manikyamba. The temple walls and pillars are decoratively carved with mythological figures.
Legend has it that the Saptamaharishis (Seven Sages) to achieve the ends of their penance divided the akhanda (unbranched) Godavari river into seven different streams at Draskharama. Bharadhwaja, Viswamitra and Jamadagni streams known as Antarvahinies, were believed to have gone under ground. There is Sapta Godavari Kundam (Seven river pond) near the temple where the devotees bathe. Sivarathri attracts huge crowds of pilgrims.
Once Daksha Prajapathi decided to perform a Yaga. In pursuance of the same, he had been to Kailasa to invite Gods and Goddesses to sanctify his ‘Yazna’ and accept his hospitality. But when he had been there, Lord Siva was in his Court immersed in his spiritual splendour. But Daksha Prajapathi out of his ego of being the father-in-law of Lord Siva, mistook the Lord’s trance as indifference towards him. So, being put out at the difference of his Son-in-law he came back without inviting the Lord and the Lady to his sacrifice.
Sati in her womanish nature requested Siva to permit her to attend, the sacrifice at her parental home, even uninvited and have the pleasure of the performance and the association of her kith and kin. But Siva explained her the tragic implications that she might have to face at her parental house and let her to at her own wish. But, when she actually stepped into her parental home, none greeted her or even just asked her a mutual exchange of her well-being. Then Sathi was put out with the humiliation she had to face amidst her own blood and then and there, decided to give up her body instead of facing her beloved husband with a fallen face. So, she gave up her body then and there and fell down dead. Siva having come to know of the tragic end, sent his son ‘Veerabhadra’ to boot down the ego of Daksha.
Siva in his pangs of separation with Sati came down to her dead body and shoultered the corpse over his shoulders and danced in ‘Pralaya Thandava’. At this juncture, the Lord Vishnu, the presenting, force of Universe, sent his ‘Chakra’ to cut down the body of Sathi and redeem the grief of Lord Siva. The Chakra came and cut the body of Sati into eighteen pieces feel in eighteen parts of this ‘Punyabhoomi’ of ours and came to be known as ‘Ashta Dasa Peethas’ and out of these eighteen Sri Manikyamba of Draksharama is the Twelfth.
It is said that Kartikeya, the son of Lord Shiva has killed the demon Tarakasura, on the request of the gods. The Shivalinga in the throat of this ardent devotee of Shiva, Tarakasura, is said to have fell in five different places that became the “Panchaarama Kshetras”. They are Draksharama, Komararama, Ksheerarama, Bheemarama and Amararama. It is also said that the linga here was later installed by Vedavyasa.
Another legend says that the three demons Taarakaaksha, Kamalaaksha and Vidyunmaali, who were the children of Tarakasura, have obtained the boon of death by the arrow that could set afire their three cities at once. Finally after the Tripura Samharam, when they were killed by Lord Shiva, all that is said to remain was the Panchaarama lingas.
Famous Telugu poet Srinatha is said to have written Prabandha Kavya Bhimakhanda about this sacred place.
Samalkot is located at a distance of 12 km from Kakinada, 52 Km from Rajahmundry in East Godavari District of Andhra Pradesh, which now forms part of Samalkot town, is known as Bhimavara Kshetram with its famous temple of Kumararama – Bhimesvara. The village was known in the past as Chalukya Bhimavaram according to the inscriptions found in the temple.
The temple known as Kumararama at Bhimavaram in Samalkot is one among the five important and popular ‘Pancharama’ temples of Andhra. The other four temples dedicated to Siva are Amararama at Amaravati (Dist. Guntur), Daksharama at Daksharama (Dist. East Godavari), Kshirarama at Palakollu and Somarama at Gunupudi – Bhimavaram (both in Dist. West Godavari). There is an episode on the origin of these ‘Pancharamas’ which is also found in ‘Bhimesvarapurana’ written by Srinatha (AD 14th – 15th Century).
According to it, Lord Vishnu, in his charming and fascinating incarnation of Mohini started distributing the nectar (amrita) obtained after the hazardous churning of the ocean to both the demons (asuras) and divined (devas) Dissatisfied with the injustice meted out to them in the manner of distribution of nectar, the asuras lead by the lords of Tripuras resorted to severe penance on the advice of the celestial sage Narada and were blessed with boons by Lord Siva. Thus with the power newly acquired through the boons, they inflicted atrocities on the devas, who sought refuge with Lord Siva.
According to the inscription at Pithapuram, it is very clear that the temple of Kumaram Chalukya Bhimesvara was constructed by the famous Eastern Chalukya king Chalukya Bhima-I towards the end of the 9th century AD and the presiding god Siva, in the form of tall Sivalinga, was named after the monarch as Chalukya Bhimesvara. The inscription states that Chalukya Bhima, the son of Vikramaditya having been victorious in three hundred and sixty battles ruled the earth for thirty years.
The Bhimesvara temple at Samalkot is similar in architecture to that of the Bhimesvara temple at Daksharama. The temple is surrounded by two prakara walls built of dressed sand stones. The outer prakara wall is pierced by gopura – entrance on all the four sides. The four gopura – dvaras have ardha – mandapas on either side. The inner enclosure wall is divided horizontally into two sections separated by a cornice. It has a two storeyed pillared mandapa running all the inner side.
Bhimavaram is located 107 Kms from Vijayawada & 270 Kms from Visakhapatanam. Bhimavaram is famous for the Gunupudi Someswara (Somarama) temple, which is considered to be one of the holy Pancharamas. Built during the 3rd century A.D., the Shivalinga in the temple is believed to assume a black-cum-brown colour on no-moon day and a kind of white on full-moon day.
Another unique feature here, is that the temple of Goddess Annapurna was built on top of the Shiva temple, something that cannot be seen anywhere in the country. Surprisingly, the Goddess has the sacred thread around her neck and a baby near her feet.
This temple is an old temple but looks like new one because of colored paintings on the walls and sculptures. In front of the temple there is a pond called
Chandrakundam. It is fully covered with lotus flowers. There is a bigGopuram as the entrance of temple. In the left side of temple there is a big hall in which temples of Lord Srirama and Hanuma are present. In the right side of temple there is an open hall above the temple office. When crowd is present, pujaris / Pandits conduct puja here for individuals. The temple has so many sculptures which are giving a nice look. In the hall of temple there is a big statue of Nandi. After crossing hall there is a room in front of sanctum. In that room there is a temple of Annapurna mata. In the sanctum we can see Lord Shiva in the form of a beautiful Shivaling. Shivaling in this temple is small unlike in other Pancharamas. There is a speciality in this temple ie. Shivaling will change its color according to Lunar aspect. At the time of Pournami (Full Moon nights) shivaling will be in white color and in Amavasya days (Dark nights) it’s color shades black.
Lord Someswara swamy was first worshipped by Moon god here after Tarakasura vadha. Hence in the name of Moon god, came the names Somaramam and Someswara swamy.
5. Ksheerarama – Paalakollu (Sri Ksheera ramalingeswara swamy)
Ksheeraramam, also known as Paalakollu is located near Narasapuram in the West Godavari belt of Andhra Pradesh. It is considered to be one of the five pancharama Shiva shrines of Andhra Pradesh. the five pancharama temples are Draksharama, Kumararama, Ksheerarama and Bheemarama and Amararama.
Legend has it that Upamanyu, the son of Kaushika muni requested Shiva that he be granted the desired quantity of milk for the performance of his daily rituals and that Shiva caused the Ksheera Pushkarini tank to overflow with milk from the mythical Ksheera Saagaram (the milky ocean). Hence the names Paalakollu, Dugdapovanam and Ksheeraramam.
Legend has it that Shiva was worshiped by Rama at this shrine as in Rameswaram.
The white marble Shivalingam worshiped in the sanctum is referred to as Ramalingeswara Swami as well as Ksheeraraameswaraswamy. Built during the 10th-llth centuries A.D. by the Chalukyas, it represents the south Indian style and has a 9-storey gopuram that soars 125 feet, one of the tallest in Andhra Pradesh. Colourful images and sculptures of various deities are engraved on the walls and can also be seen inside the temple complex.
20 Kms from Palakollu is the Natta Rameshwaram temple, where the Lingam is made of shells & conchs is worth a visit.
The shrine of the goddess Kamakhya is situated about three miles from the present town of Gauhati and about fifty miles from the range of hills inhabited by two aboriginal matriarchal tribes, the Khasis and the Garos, the former belonging to the Austro-Asiatic and the latter to the Mongolian stock.
The name of the hillock where the shrine stands is Nilachala (blue mountain). According to the K.P. the genital organ of Sati fell here when her dead body was carried hither and thither in frantic sorrow by her husband Siva. The mountain represented the body of Siva and when Sati’s genital organ fell on it, the mountain turned blue. The goddess herself is called Kamakhya, because she came there secretly to satisfy her amour (kama) with him. Thus the derivations of the K.P. make the mountain both a graveyard and a scene of the secret love-tryst of the goddess.
Variety of Names
Other variants of the name are Kama, Kamada, etc. The element-akhya often appears as a phonastic derivative after other less known names of the goddess, e.g. Sivakhya, Nadakhya, Brahmakhya, etc.–(Kurma Purana). Thus the goddess might be called either Kama or Kamakhya.
The temple is unique among the temples of the Devi in different parts of India, in that it enshrines no image of the goddess. Within the temple there is a cave, in a corner of which stands a block of stone on which the symbol of Yoni has been sculptured. The stone is kept moist from the oozings of a natural spring within the cave. The offerings of flowers and leaves are made to the Yoni. In other respects the daily rites and ceremonies are those of the goddess Kali with sacrifices of various animals. Ordinarily, the females of all animals are exempted from sacrifice.
If the K.P. gives an amorous interpretation of the origin of the Yoni-goddess, the Y. T. takes no notice of the myth and gives a different account, stressing the creative symbolism of the Yoni. In answer to a query by the Devi as to who Kamakhya was, Siva replies that Kamakhya is the same as Kali, the eternal in the form of Brahma. Then Siva tells the story about the origin of Kamakhya.
In primeval times, Brahma after having created the universe arrogated to himself the supreme creative force. The goddess noticed this arrogance of Brahma and created out of her own body a demon named Kesi. As soon as born, the demon rushed towards Brahma to swallow him up. Brahma fled in terror in the company of Vishnu. The demon then built a city called Kesipura and began to harass the three worlds. There was all around the echo of a sound, “Kill Brahma”. Brahma cast aside his vanity and in the company of Vishnu offered a hymn of propitiation to Kali for the relief of the worlds from the tyranny of Kesi. The goddess was satisfied and confessed that the demon was her creation for the punishment of Brahma for his arrogant ignorance. She then uttered the syllable of destruction (hum) and burnt up the demon to ashes. Then she gave directions to Brahma for his deliverance from the sin of arrogance and ignorance. Brahma was to create a mountain out of the ashes of the burnt demon. The mountain should not be too high nor too low. It should be covered over with edible grasses for cattle. Brahma’s sin would be diminished in proportion to the quantity of grasses consumed by the cattle. She went on further to say that on the Spot wherefrom they had offered her prayers for the destruction of the demon there was springing up, in their very presence, a Yoni circle out of her own creative energy and it should be regarded as the source and origin of all things. In future Brahma should create after having contemplated the Yoni. But just then Brahma was debarred from seeing the Yoni until, by his penance and purification, he had brought down a luminous light from the sky and placed it on the Yoni circle. For his good as well as for the good of the world, she had created the Yoni circle and placed it in Kamarupa. Brahma accordingly created a mountain by sprinkling holy water from his jug and called it Govardhana (cattle nourisher) and also planted a Tulasi grove and called it Vrinda-Vana according to goddess Kali’s direction (Y. T.).
The noticeable points in this myth are: (a) Kamakhya was a new goddess, unknown to the Devi herself. Siva established the identity of Kali and Kamakhya in the symbol of a Yoni; (b) the supreme creative force of Brahma is challenged. He could thenceforth create only with the blessings of the Yoni as the sole creative principle; (c) in both the accounts of the K.P. and the Y.T. there is mention of a burial or cremation ground.
Thus the two scriptures put divergent interpretations about the Yoni circle as a symbol of sex and as a symbol of creation. These may embody the views of two different sets of people in different periods of time.
The K. P. harmonises the amorous conception of the goddess with the dread goddess Kali by presenting the picture of a goddess in three-fold aspects which she assumed in different moods. In her amorous mood, the goddess holds a yellow garland in her hand and stands on a red lotus placed on a white corpse. When her amour is gone, she takes up the sword and stands on a bare white corpse. In her mood of benevolence (Kamada), she mounts upon a lion. So she assumes one form or another according to her whims (Kamarupini).
The original Kamakhya temple was destroyed during the Moslem invasion early in the sixteenth century, and the present temple was rebuilt in 1565 A.D. by King Naranarayana of Cooch Behar and fitted with all the paraphernalia of a medieval Hindu temple. What the original forms and features of the temple worship were, it is difficult to say. There is a tradition amongst the local priesthood, who were imported from abroad by the Koch king, that the former worshippers of the goddess were Garos, and pigs were offered as sacrifice.
When Naraka, an adventurer from Mithila, founded a kingdom in ancient Assam (prior to the fifth century), he established himself as a custodian of this Yoni-goddess, and perhaps in conformity to her name he changed the name of the kingdom from Prag.Jyotishapura to Kamarupa. The people whom he conquered were Kiratas–strong, ferocious, ignorant and addicted to meat and drink. They had shaven heads and their skin was yellow as gold (K.P.). As they were the original inhabitants, the goddess might have been in their keeping or belonged to some sub-tribe amongst them.
According to the K.P. a cosmopolitan mode of worship prevailed in Kamakhya. Foreigners could worship the goddess according to the practices current in their own localities. In other countries, conformity to local customs was compulsory, but in Kamarupa foreigners were exempted from conformity to local rites and ceremonies in worshipping the goddess (K.P.). The Y.T. raises the Yoni-symbol to the height of something like a pantheistic conception in describing all temples and places of worship in Assam as so many Yonis. It characterises Kamarupa as a land of nine Yonis which include vithi (avenue); upa-vithi (sub-avenue); Pitha (holy site), etc., etc.
The Y. T. has also recorded certain local customs prevalent in different parts of ancient Assam. It characterises the local religion as being of Kirata origin. It prohibits asceticism, celibacy and protracted vows, and enjoins fish and flesh eating, free association with women and sexual contact after puberty. The teeth of the women are not white, and they are constantly addicted to betel-nut chewing. In a place called Saumara in the east of Assam, people eat everything and sell everything. Women are well cantented. In another place called Kolvapitha further east, people follow laws determined by their own tribesmen (Y.T.).
In the myth of the Y. T. there is nothing to show that the Yoni circle or Kamakhya had any connection with Durga or Parvati. The etymology of K.P. refers to a later fable based on imported ideas.
Goddesses Kamakhya and Durga
Competent authorities have held that the existence of an independent powerful goddess has been recognised first in the Mahabharata and the Hari vansa. In the Virata Parva (6) a powerful goddess, Durga, receives a pray of supplication from Yudhisthira and in the Bhishma Parva (23) from Arjuna. She was addressed as the killer of the buffalo-demon, a dweller in the forest and as a permanent resident in the Vindhya mountains. She was fond wine, flesh and beasts. She was the favourite of Narayana and sister of Vasudeva. She was born to Yasoda, was dashed against a stone by Kansa, and went to heaven. In the Harivansa she is referred to as having been worshipped by barbarians, Sabaras and Pulindas. All these scattered references seem to have been gathered up first in the Markandeya Purana which builds up a complete myth about the origin of the goddess and her fight with the buffalo-demon and other demons. The seven centuries about Durga (Durga Saptasati) form the basis of the worship of the goddess amongst her followers.
Once her existence was recognised and her worship formulated, all local and independent female deities began to be identified with her as her local manifestations. Thus Uma, Kali, Karala, Chamundi, originally independent goddesses, came to be regarded as manifestations of Durga in different circumstances. The process of assimilation went on until, in the Devi Bhagavtai, it came to be declared that all village goddesses should be regarded as partial manifestations of the Devi (9). Thus the concept of the Mother Goddess assumed a cosmic proportion and all unconnected and independent loc nomena were affiliated to her. The myth about the carrying of Sati’s dead body was an attempt in this direction. But the story differs in different documents in point of details. Places that came into prominence later in point of time have been left out of reference in the story of Sati’s dead body. Thus the Devi Bhagavata refers to Kamakhya as a place dear to the goddess. No part of her body is said to have fallen there. When Kamakhya rose to importance, the Kalika Purana rehandles the myth and makes the sex-organ of the goddess fall here. Since then Kamakhya came to be looked upon as a vital organ of the Devi’s body.
It has now been held as almost conclusive that the cult of the Mother goddess was introduced into India by Aryans, who seem to have adopted it from the Babylonians when they still inhabited the countries in the neighbourhood of Mesopotamia. In Babylon she was known as Ishtar. She is called the gracious mother of creation and the mother of the gods and mankind. She became also terrible in her wrath and struck down the people with wasting diseases. Her sacred mount was the lion and her most favourite sacrificial animal was the buffalo. In other respects also, the resemblance between Ishtar and Durga is so striking that it cannot be disregarded as superficial (Dr. Venkataramanayya: Rudra-Siva). The Kurma Purana gives Sinivali as one of the thousand names of the Devi. It has now been shown that the word is connected with Babylonian Sinn, the moon god.
As the innumerable names of the goddess are mostly names of local goddesses, both Aryan and non-Aryan, it may be suspected that the formation Kama in Kamakhya is of extra-Aryan origin. There is a strong suggestion of its correspondence to Austric formations like the following: Kamoi, demon; Kamoit, devil; Kamin, grave; Kamet, corpse (Khasi); Kamru, a god of the Santals. By analogy the name of the kingdom Kamarupa may be equated to Kamru pau, a hill.
The formations in the Kamoi category suggest varied associations with the grave and its spirits. The Kama goddess might have been originally a spirit of the graveyard and represent ancestor spirit in the form of an Ancestral Mother. Whether Kama has any relationship, both in sound and meaning, with Japanese Shinto gods called Kami cannot be determined for want of sufficient information. Shinto Kami is a wide term and includes nature-gods, godmen, ancestors.
In connection with the Kami-gods, another noteworthy point is that simple Shinto temples contain no images but only symbols like a mirror, symbolic of the shining of the sun-goddess. The Kamakhya temple also contains no image, but a symbol, a Yoni, representing the procreative force of the Mother Goddess. The Yoni-symbol is regarded as a source of potent magic influence in Japan. “The richly attired Japanese make a point of Placing cowry-shells with their clothes, when they put them away, for luck. If a cowry-shell happens to be unobtainable, a pornographic picture representing the female genital organ serves as a substitute.” (Briffault: The Mothers). Again, “near Yeddo in Japan is a grotto in which there is a colossal but realistic sculpture of a Yoni to which pilgrims pay attention now as they have done for ages past. (Wall: Sex and Sex Worship). Further, “the Japanese believe that the spirits of mothers look from the other world after the welfare of the children.” (Briffault).
Another common custom is the blackening of teeth by women. The non-white teeth of Assamese women have been referred to above. It has to be added that Assamese women even now blacken their teeth in the countryside. In Japan the fashion of blackening the teeth is still common in some parts among peasant women and was practised by the Emperor himself until recently. This is a mark of the decidedly matriarchal legend of the origin of the Imperial family traced back to goddess Amaterasu (Ehrenfels: The Mother-Right in India). In the Malay Archipelago also women blacken their teeth. (Westermarck: The History of Human Marriage).
In this connection reference may also be made to the legends and facts of female predominance. There is a belief amongst the Naga tribes of Assam that a village in the north-east is entirely peopled by women who are visited by traders from surrounding tribes and thus enabled to keep up their numbers. (The Imperial Gazetteer of India: Provincial Series: Eastern Bengal and Assam). With reference to Japan it has been said that it is a remarkable and unexampled fact that a very large and important part of the best literature produced by Japan was written by women…feminine chieftains are frequently mentioned in the old histories and several even of the Mikado were women. Indeed the Chinese seemed to have thought that the monstrous regime of women was the rule in Japan at this time. At least they styled it–“The Queen Country” (Aston: Japanese Literature).
In connection with the ethnic affiliations of the Japanese people, The Encyclopaedia Britannica (14th edition) has the following: “Recent discussions tend to emphasise the importance of a Malayo-Polynesian element in the Japanese language and customs. Malayan types also are found amongst the people.”
On the basis then of similarities in mere sound and sense in the formations, Skt. Kama, Austric Kamoi, Shinto Kami, and also on the basis of correspondence of certain rites and customs, it may be tentatively assumed that the Yoni-goddess sprang up amongst peoples with leanings towards ancestor worship and believing in the protective powers of an Ancestral Mother, and that she migrated into Assam and elsewhere with the migrations of the Austric peoples. There are two contradictory theories about the migrations of the Austric peoples, from the East to the West and from the West to the East. But from whichever direction they might have migrated, linguistic evidences show that Indo-China was one of their strongholds in North-East Asia, with their representatives in the Khasis within about fifty miles of the temple of Kamakhya.
To sum up: the features that are associated with the Worship of the goddess are the absence of an image, worship in a symbol, and freedom about the mode of worship to foreigners. The religion of the land has been frankly admitted to be of Kirata origin. Fish and flesh eating has been canonically enjoined, and celibacy and connected vows prohibited. The goddess was of purely local origin, but later on she was identified with goddess Durga and the rites and ceremonies of Durga worship were fastened on her. There was a further attempt to affiliate her to Tripura Bala, the eternal feminine, the symbol of beauty and sex. The Worship of Tripura Bala is highly sensual, involving the worship of the sex organ of a virgin girl. This cult did not originate in Kamarupa but was imported from outside. Because goddess Kamakhya was worshipped in the symbol of a Yoni, the Tripura cult found a congenial soil here.
14. MADHAVESHWARI DEVI
Prayaga Madhaveswari is one of the 18 Shaktippethas. She is also called as Alopi mata / Lalita
Sthala Purana of Prayaga : Prayaga means Prakrishta Yaga, that means it is the place where Lord Brahma did a very great Yaga. Hence its name became Prayaga. Prayaga is considered as one of the Sapta mokshapuras. This place is also called as Theertharaj, that means king of all theerthas. Another important point is, this is the place of Triveni Sangamam. Generally we consider the confluence of two water flows as a holy place. But, here we can see the confluence of three holy rivers, Ganges, Yamuna and Saraswati. All the three rivers have their importance individually. Hence the confluence became very very holy place. One should take a holy bath here when visited this place. Here Kumbhmela will be conducted for every 12 years.
Sthala Purana of Alopi Shaktippeth:
There are mainly three stories about the word Alopi. They are,
1)Alopi means the one who disappeared. After Sati dahana and Dhaksha Yagna destruction, Lord Siva disturbed mentally and lifted Satidevi’s body and roaming without any destination. Lord Vishnu cut Sati devi body parts by using Sudarshana Chakra. Every place, where Satidevi’s body part fell, became a Shaktipeeth. Prayaga is the last place, where last part of Sati devi’s body fell on ground. Here Sati devi body became disappeared, hence the name Alopi.
2)There are some other stories about Alopi mata. In every temple, at least one idol or one symbol will be there for worshipping the goddess. But here, there is no idol or symbol. We have to imagine the goddess present on a wooden jhula. Hence the name Alopi.
3)According to a local story, Alopi mata is a newly married bride. She disappeared from pallaki, when robbers attącked the marriage troop. As the bride disappeared as a miracle, she is worshipped as Alopi mata.
Swami Brahmananda(Rakhal), first president of Ramakrishna math, spiritual son and one of the best student of Sri Ramakrishna paramahamsa, saw the goddess here as a small child with three Jatas. Trijata.
How to reach the Prayaga: Prayaga is well connected by Road, Railway and Air routes.
It is about 130 km distance from Varanasi. So many Buses, Taxis are available to travel from Varanasi to Prayaga(Allahabad) or from Prayaga(Allahabad) to Varanasi.
Allahabad is very big railway junction which is at 6 km distance from Alopi temple:
Important places to visit in Prayaga:
4)Veni madhav one of the Pancha madhava temples is another temple to see in Prayaga.
15. VAISHNAVI DEVI
Dedicated to Goddess Jwala Devi epitome of Shakti or Immense Power. Located at a distance of 34 kilometers to the south of Kangra in Himachal Pradesh. The temple was built by Raja Bhumi Chand Katoch. Jwala Devi is also referred to as the Flaming Goddess or the Jwalamukhi Devi
About Jwala Devi: The Jwala Devi is one of the most popular Hindu temples. It is situated on a small branch line on the Shimla to Dharamashala road and at a distance of twenty kilometers from the Jwalamukhi road. . The temple is in a town known as Jwalamukhi in Kangra district. This temple is visited by lakhs of devotees every year. Many curious people also visit this place to view the nine jwalas or flames that have been burning for centuries without any fuel. This temple also has a copper pipe through which natural gas is pushed out continuously.
The Jwala Devi Temple is one of the fifty one Shaktipeeths in India. The beautiful temple is set against a cliff. The dome of temple is aureate is of gold and has pinnacles. It also has a picturesque folding doorway of silver plate which was gifted by Sikh Raja Kharak Singh. The temple has an Indo-Sikh feel to it.
The Legend: There was once a time when devils dwelled over Himalayas and hassled the gods. Lord Vishnu and other gods decided to defeat and destroy them once and for all. The gods transformed their energy into huge flames of fire. The devils were destroyed but a girl was born from the fire. The girl came to be known as Goddess Parvati or Sati. After death the pieces of Sati’s body fell in 51 places. Her tongue fell at Jwalaji and the deity manifested itself as tiny flames that burn blue through cracks in the ancient rocks. The Pandavas have been known to visit the holy shrine on their voyage.
The aarti sessions at the temples are so beautiful and serene that it takes ones bredth away. The Aartis are essential rituals in all the temples in the country. Five Aartis are performed by Pujaris in worship of Goddess.One aarti is performed in early morning, one at sun rise, one at mid noon, one in the evening and one at the bed time of the Goddess. The names of the aartis are as under :-
1. Mangal Aarti ( Morning 5.00 A.M)
2. Panjupchaar Pujan (After Aarti )
3. Bhog Ki Aarti ( 12.00 A.M)
4. Aarti (Evening 7.00 P.M)
5. Shaiyan Ki Aarti (Evening 10.00 P.M)
However, the Shaiyan Aarti performed at Jawala Ji before bed time is unique. The bed of Goddess is decked up with rich dresses and ornaments during aarti. First part of it is done in the main temple of Goddess and the second part is done in the ‘Sejabhavan’ Salokas from ‘Sondarya Lahri’ by Shri Shakracharya are recited.
There is no idol in the temple. The goddess is believed to be present in the fire flames. The temple has 9 incessant fire flames that are known as Mahakali, Annapurna, Chandi, Hinglaj, Vindhya Vasini, Mahalakshmi, Saraswati, Ambika and Anji Devi.
The festival at Jwala Devi: During the festival of Navratra thousands of devotees visit the temple to make offerings and receive blessings. Many colorful and joy filled fairs are organized during Navaratri in the months of March-April and September-October.
How to reach: The nearest airport from Jwala Devi temple is at a distance of fifty kilometers at Gaggal. The next closest airport is at Chandigarh at a distance of two hundred kilometers.
The closest railroad track terminal is at Jawalaji road Ranital situated at a distance of twenty kilometers from the temple. One can easily reach Jwala Devi Temple from Kangra by road. Frequent buses or cabs can be hired. The way from Kangra to the shrine is flanked by beautiful hills on both sides.
16. SARVAMANGALA DEVI
The Mangalagauri temple in Gaya (Bihar) has been mentioned in Padma Purana, Vayu Purana and Agni Purana and in other scriptures and tantric works. The present temple dates back to 1459 AD. The shrine is dedicated to Shakti or the mother Goddess in the predominantly Vaishnavite pilgrimage center of Gaya. Mangalagauri is worshiped as the Goddess of benevolence. This temple constitutes an Upa-Shakti Pitha – where it is believed that a part of the body of Shakti fell – according to mythology. Here Shakti is worshiped in the form of a breast symbol, a symbol of nourishment.The temple is facing east, and is built on top of the Mangalagauri hill. A flight of steps and a motorable road lead to the temple. The sanctum houses the symbol of the Goddess and it also has some finely carved ancient relief sculptures. A small hall or mandap stands in front of the temple. The courtyard also houses a fire pit for the home. There are also two minor shrines dedicated to Shiva and images of Mahishasura MardiniGaya is one of the most famous spiritual destinations in India. Gaya is located in Bihar and stands on the bank of Falgu River. Gaya in India is held holy and pious by both Hindu and Buddhists. The narrow by lanes with age old buildings, beautiful natural surroundings with rocky hills on the three sides and river flowing by the city on the western side makes the city look beautiful and elates the spiritual atmosphere of the place.
The city derived its name from the demon, Gayasur who is said to have resided in this area. It is said that Lord Vishnu killed the demon by crushing him under his feet. On his being crushed, the demon got transformed into numerous rocky hills that form the topography of the city today. Then the deities decided to sit over the dead demon and that is the reason why one can find numerous temples over these surrounding rocky hills. It is said that any one who touched him or looked at him were fred of all sins. Mangla Gauri, Rama Shila, Brahmayoni and Shringa Sthan are the places where one can find temples on the hill tops and which comprise of the pilgrimage circuit of the city.
The Mangla Gauri shrine in Gaya, one of the most holy sites has two rounded stones which symbolizes the breasts of the Goddess Sati, who is regarded as the first wife of Lord Shiva.
Vishnu pad Temple is marked by a footprint of Vishnu. This footprint is the significance of the act of Lord Vishnu crushing Gayasur under his foot. The temple that stands today was rebuilt by Devi Ahilya Bai Holkar in the 18th century. As per the Buddhist tradition and culture, this footstep mark is regarded that of Lord Buddha who is said to be the avatar of Vishnu.
The temples and the Ghats that are present by the River Falgu are also of great spiritual significance. Some trees are also held sacred by the Hindus and in Gaya one would find Pipal trees, Akshayavat and the undying Banyan which are also offered prayers and offerings in huge numbers by the pilgrims coming into the city.
Gaya is held as an important spiritual center by Hindus as a site which offers salvation to the souls. Buddhists hold Gaya as an important pilgrimage center because of the presence of the Brahmayoni or the Gayasia hill where Buddha preached the Fire Sermon or the Adittapariyaya Sutta.
History: Sati killed herself by self-immolation after her father insulted her husband, Lord Shiva. arrived a little too late upon hearing the news, after his wife’s body was already burning. He took the body from the fire and started his dance of cosmic destruction. The other gods wanted to stop his dance and they requested Lord Vishnu to convince him. Lord Vishnu with the help of his sudarshan chakra cut Sati’s body into 51 pieces and made Siva stop the dance. It is said in Gaya Sati’s breast fell, and hence here Sati is worshiped in the form of a breast symbol, a symbol of nourishment.
17. VISHALAKSHI DEVI
The Karna kundala(Ear ring) of Devi fell here. Hence Devi Maa here is also known as Manikarni or Manikarnika. The Puranas say that this city exists even after the Pralaya. The famous place ‘Manikarnika’ is located here and named so because the earring of Goddess Sati was like a pearl (Mani). Goddess worshiped here as Maa Vishalakshi & Lord Shiva as Kala or Kaal Bhairva.
Some pundits feel that karna kundala is merely an ornament and not part of the body. Therefore this place can at best be considered as a upapeetha, a minor or sub-centre. Another version says that this is a shakti peetha only because one of the three eyes (Akshi) fell here. As the divine eye can perceive the entire universe, Mother here is called Vishalakshi, the vast-eyed. Vishalakshi Devi temple is a powerful Shakti Peeth and any pooja, charity, recitation of devi mantras performed in this premises is considered to yield very high results. Unmarried girls worshiping Vishalakshi Devi are sure to get married, childless couple will certainly be blessed with a child, even the most unfortunate ladies will find all fortunes coming their way.
Sthala purana: The word Visalakshi means the one who has big eyes.She is described as the one who rules the world.Tantras tell that she will be in the form of Mahakali. She will break the Karma bandhas after the death. Lord Vishwanath, in the form of Mahakala will give Moksha.
Nearest Bus station: Varanasi(Benaras).
Nearest Railway station: Varanasi(Benaras).
Nearest Air port: Varanasi(Benaras).
The temple of Visalakshi is present near the temple of Annapurna.
18. DANTESHWARI DEVI
Danteshwari Temple is temple dedicated to Goddess Danteshwari, and is one of the 18 Maha Shakti Peethas, shrines of Shakti, the divine feminine, spread across India. The temple built in 14th century by the Chalukyas of the South, is situated in Dantewada, a town situated 80 km from Jagdalpur Tehsil, Chattisgarh. Dantewada is named after the Goddess Danteshwari, the presiding deity of the earlier Kakatiya rulers. Traditionally she is the Kuldevi (family goddess) of Bastar state,
The temple is as according legends, the spot where the Daanth or Tooth of Sati fell, during the episode when all the Shakti shrines were created in the Satya Yuga.
Every year during Dusshera thousands of tribals from surrounding villages and jungles gather here to pay homage to the goddess, when her idol was taken out of that ancient Danteshwari temple and then taken around the city in an elaborate procession, now a popular tourist attraction part of the ‘Bastar Dussehra’ festival.
19. SARASWATHI DEVI
Through centuries the temple had remained the object of worship and devotion of lakhs of pilgrims from all over the country. Though in ruins now, the entire temple complex inspires grandeur and awe. The temple had a massive library attached to it which had priceless works on art, science, literature, architecture, music, humanities, medicine, astrology, astronomy, philosophy, law and jurisprudence and sanskrit etc. The library was used by scholars from even neighbouring countries.
Kashmir was also called “Shardapeeth” (the base of Sharda), the name being derived from the temple. We can take this to be an allegory of all the struggles Shankara had to face in his life. Ascending the seat of Sarvajna situated in Kashmir of the North is a symbol.
The meaning of it is that Shankara reached the peak of spirituality. We can get an idea of his greatness from the fact that a person of just thirty had ascended the throne of all knowledge. As it is not possible to visit this shakti peetha, one can visit the famous Saraswathi temple in Basara in Nizamabad district of Andhra Pradesh. Basara is 200 km from Hyderabad.