Goddess Kali Temples
The Chamunda Devi Temple in Himachal Pradesh is located 10 km west of Palampur in the Kangra area of the state. It stands on the banks of the famous Ban Ganga River, the temple is housed with extremely sacred idol of Chamunda Devi, and as such the idol is wrapped by a red cloth. The location of this sacred temple is also significant since it is believed to be the same spot where the Mata or the Maa Kali assassinated the demon kings Shumbh and Nisumbh. The two generals were namely Chanda and Munda. It is their name that gave Goddess Kali, a new name called Chamunda.
Earlier the temple was located at a remote place which was difficult to access. However, with the permission and will of Goddess Kali, a new temple could be built at the current location. Inside the temple of Chamunda Devi, it is accompanied by the images of Hanuman and Bhairo. There are inscription to be seen from the Devi Mahatmya, Ramayan and Mahabharata. The surroundings of the Chamunda Devi temple are considered just perfect for those who are interested to meditate and pray.
The temple’s divine aura spell bounds the devotees with its spiritual appeal. In the temple, the main image is visible from the main entrance and the shrine is adored by the images of Lord Bhairav and Lord Hanuman on its sides who are considered as the guards of the Goddess. The main image of the Goddess is visible draped in rich clothes.
The mythology of Maa Chamunda Devi has been chronicled in "Durga Sapt-Shati'. The Story goes like this- the two great demons namely the Chand and Mund led a huge army with weaponary on being ordered by their king 'Shumb' and 'Ni-Shumb'. Both saw goddess sitting on a peak of Himalaya and the goddess was smiling, as the goddess was unarmed, the two demons tried to catch hold of her. Then the whole army took up their arms and encircled goddess. The goddess got enraged and furious and it seems that her whole body became black with anger and eyebrows raised on forehead. Then with the Maa Amba’s austerity immediately, 'Kali-Devi' appeared with a sword in her hand and roared violently. Maa Kali was covered with a garland of human heads which was gracing her neck and while the body was covered by tiger-skin. Maa Kali’s skin looked dry and her shape ferocious. And the most important expression was that she had eyes drawn deep and mouth wide open and tongue brandishing violently.
Temple is the place where the two great demons 'Chand' and 'Mund' came to fight with goddess, while goddess appeared in the form of Kali and killed both the demons. When 'Kalika' defeated the two demons with presenting the heads of 'Chand' and 'Mund' to the goddess Amba, from whose prowess Kalika was created, then the goddess became happy. Later the Goddess Amba gave a boon to Kalika that she will be remembered and worshipped as Chamunda.
Maa Kali’s roar trembled the skies and attacked the demon army swiftly killing the demons mercilessly and ate them. Whosoever came in her path was killed and swallowed by her even the bodyguards, elephants, soldiers along with their weapons. In similar fashion Maa Kali put in her mouth, chariots along with horses and drivers and chewed them making a horrifying noise. At some point of time she would grab people by neck and somewhere she would catch hold of hair. She would swallow the arrows and other weapons thrown on her by the demons. In this way the goddess Kali put an end of the demoniac army, by killing and devouring them.
Significance of the temple
Chamunda Devi is worshipped daily while the sermons include ‘Aartis’ at intervals. Reciting the hymn of 'Shat Chandi’ with devoted heart at this temple is considered auspicious. In the corner of the temple, one can see small footsteps of the Goddess on a stone. Besides the main shrine, there is a marble staircase that takes down to the cave of Lord Shiva. This is a cave-like scoop where Shiva Lingam is placed. People visit this cave and worship Lord Shiva with great devotion.
Lord Shiva is believed to be one of the complex Gods of the Hindu pantheon, as Lord Shiva is the destroyer as well as the restorer. Here, Lord Shiva is believed to have been present in the strange form of death, destruction and dead bodies. The find observation is that the ancestral worship near the banks of Ban Ganga River. In the vicinity of the Chamunda Devi temple, there is a cremation ground that serves to 22 villages of the nearby areas.
In the temple surroundings there is a huge pond with images of Lords and people can take bath here. There is sculpture of Goddess where she is garlanded with serpents, scorpions, and skulls. During the time of Navratras, the Chamunda Devi temple is crowded by large number of people. Pilgrims from far and near of the country come to visit this temple of great legacy and religious importance. Chamunda Devi blesses all her true devotees. The temple is so very auspicious that it is situated in the picturesque beauty of lush green mountains. Many saints can be seen here involved in penance and meditation.
The Chamunda Devi Temple is 700 years old and is a big area of worship with even a kund (tank) where devotees take a dip. The idol in the main temple is considered so sacred that even the eyes of devotees who come for dashing are not allowed to touch upon it; it is kept completely concealed beneath a red cloth. At the back of the temple is a cave-like scoop where a stone lingam (phallic symbol of Shiva) under a boulder represents Nandi Keshwar (Shiva).
Time to Visit
In winter, the temperature can get quite cold; it may even fall up to normal weather degree when woollens are required. It is hot in summer and cottons are recommended. Good time to visit Chamunda Devi is Mid June to Late October.
How to Reach
Tourists have the option to hire private taxis from Palampur or Dharamsala to reach the temple. Besides, the state transport bus services are also available to reach this place.
By Air: Nearest Airport is Gaggal which is connected with New Delhi and Chandigarh by Indian Airlines Flight.
The nearest railhead on the narrow guage line is at Moranda near Palampur, 30 km. The nearest railway station to the temple is Pathankot for broad gauge trains and there is also a narrow gauge train in Kangra district for which the railway station is Nagrota Bagwan.
Chamunda Devi is 15 km from Dharamsala and 55 km from Jwalamukhi.Chamunda is situated 10 km west of Palampu. Regular Bus and Taxi services are available from Delhi and Chandigarh.
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