Kankaleshwari Shakti peeta- Kankalitala, Bolpur, Bhirbhum, West Bengal

Kankalitala temple is situated about
9 kms. from Bolpur. It is located on Bolpur- Labhpur road, on the banks of
river Kopai, in Birbhum district of west Bengal. 

Sati devi’s waist is believed to have fallen in a pond adjacent to the temple.
Hence the main temple has no idol but has a photograph of Maa Kankaleshwari.
Hence all the devotees worship the pond 

The temple is amidst agricultural fields and has a serene atmosphere. 


Kali Temple- Kalighat, Kolkata, West Bengal

Kali temple at Kalighat, Kolkata is
situated on the bank of river Adi Ganga. The name Kolkata is believed to have
come from Kalighat. Kalighat was a ghat or a landing point for a boat to the
sacred temple of Kali. In the course of time, the river has moved away and the
present temple is on the bank of a small canal called Adi Ganga, which was the
original course of Hooghly River (Ganga). Hence the name of the river is Adi
Ganga.

Kalighat Kali temple is the place
where Sati Devi’s toes of right foot had fallen. Originally the temple was just
a hut, but in 16th century, King Manasingha built a small temple. The present
temple was built in 1809 by Sabarna Roy Chowdhary’s family.

The idol of Goddess Kali is made of
touch stone by two saints – Brahmananda Giri and Atmaram Giri. It has three
huge eyes, a long protruding tongue and four arms all covered with gold. The
Idol carries a scimitar in one hand and a severed head of demon king Shumba on
the other. The scimitar signifies knowledge and severed head signifies
ignorance. Third hand has abhaya mudra and the fourth varada mudra.

Temple is crowded most of the time.
The entry to darshan is from the rear side of the temple which is
inconspicuous. So people normally try to enter the temple from front which is
not only crowded but also guarded by pandas, who fleece money from innocent
devotees who line up for darshan. As a matter of fact, entry from rear end has
railings which lead us to devi’s sanctum straight, but one has to come in
queue. But this is not advised by local pandas at all. 

Overall temple is old and idol of Kali is enchanting.


Kalabhairava Temple Devaramane, Mudigere, Chikkamagalur District, Karnataka

Devaramane is a tiny village, located
in Mudigere taluk, Chickamagalur district, Karnataka. It is about 20 kms from
Mudigere town.

The road is motor able up to temple.
About a kilometer before the temple, on the left side of the road, there is a
small cattle path for about 200 meters, which leads to a wonderful view point,
overlooking a valley. The valley is covered with clouds most of the time. But
one has to wait for 10 to 20 minutes for the clouds to clear, to witness a
breath taking view of the valley.

The temple of Devaramane is dedicated to Kalabhairava. It is a very old temple dating back to 11th century AD.

As per the legend, Lord Shiva sent
Nandi to help people on earth and it is believed that Nandi came to this place
first and was followed by Shiva himself as Kala bhairava.

There is small but beautiful pond in front of the temple and a small shrine for Naga Devata on the left side of the temple.

Devaramane is beautiful, serene and worth visiting for people who love
nature.


Kaal Bhairav Temple - Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh

Bhairav or Kaal Bhairav is an
important deity of Hindus, Jains and Buddhists. It is a fierce attribute of
Shiva associated with destruction. As per Shiva Purana, Brahma arrogantly asks
Vishnu to worship him as he is the supreme creator. This angers Shiva and he
thereby severs Brahma’s fifth head. Thereafter Brahma had only four heads. So
Shiva in the form of Kaal Bhairav is depicted as carrying Brahma’s fifth head.
To ward off his sin of Brahmahathya dosha (killing a Brahman), Shiva wanders as
a sanyasi (seer) carrying Brahma’s skull as a begging bowl for 12 years. Kaal
Bhairav also guards the Shakti peethas and most of the Dwadasha linga temples
have the deity Kaal bhairav. 
Kaal Bhairav is worshipped by Kapalikas and Aghori sects of Shaivism and has
Dog (shvana) as his vahana or vehicle. His consort is Bhairavi, an attribute of
Kali. Kaal Bhairav is adorned with serpents as anklets, yajnopavitha (sacred
thread), bracelet and ear rings. He wears tiger skin and has human skulls as
ritual apron. The great guru Adi Shankaracharya has written Bhairavaashtakam on
Kaal Bhairav. 
Kaal Bhairav is considered as the guru of planet Shani (Saturn). In Tamilnadu
he is considered as the grama devatha or guardian of village, who protects them
from all the eight directions. 

Kaal Bhairav has eight attributes called Ashta bhairav: 

1. Ruru Bhairav
2. Chanda Bhairav
3. Krodha Bhairav
4. Unmatha Bhairav
5. Kapala Bhairav.
6. Bheeshana Bhairav
7. Samhara Bhairav.
8. Asitanga Bhairav.

Kaal Bhairav temple in Ujjain was built by King Bhadrasen, on the banks of river Shipra, mentioned in the Avanti khanda of Skanda Purana. Since it was mainly worshipped by Aghori and Kapalika sects, the traditional practice of offering liquor to Kaal Bhairav is still continued here. To the right of Kaal Bhairav temple is Ekamukh Dattatreya shrine. 
Paatal Bhairav temple is located to the left of Kaal Bhairav shrine. It is believed that King Vikramaditya got betal siddi here. The temple is very inconspicuous and likely to miss unless we make specific inquiry. There is a small opening smaller than a window and one has to crawl to enter the cave temple. 
Viraat Bhairav temple which is on the bank of river Shipra is about a kilometer away from Kaal Bhairav. One has to pass through the cremation ground to reach this temple. 
Kaal Bhairav temple is situated about 10 kms away from Ujjain town. Ujjain is well connected by train. Nearest airport is Indore, which is about 60 kms from Ujjain. 
There are plenty of lodges in Ujjain town. Auto Rickshaws can be used for local transport, which are reasonably cheaper.


Jhula Devi Temple - Ranikhet, Uttarkhand

Jhula devi temple is located near
Chaubatia gardens, Ranikhet, and is about 7 kms from town. The main temple is
about 700 years old but the present temple was renovated in 1935.

It is believed that, 700 years ago,
Chaubatia was a dense forest and wild animals like Tigers and Leopards could be
seen. They used to attack people and devour their livestock.

So people prayed to Maa Durga for
protection. Then the goddess appeared in a shepherd’s dream and asked him to
dig up a particular place, where he would find her idol and told him to build a
temple. So the villagers dug up that particular place, found the idol and built
a temple. From that day villagers were freed from the menace of wild animals.

The original idol is kept on a window, which is on the left side of sanctu. The belief is after some years Maa Durga appeared in someone’s dream and asked for a swing. So people thereafter placed the idol on a wooden swing inside the sanctum. Since then Maa Durga is called Jhula Devi.

She is known to bless people with
whatever they wished and after getting their wishes fulfilled, people would tie
a bell. Hence one can see plenty of bells all around the temple.

The temple is in serene place and is
believed to fulfill the wishes of devotees even to this day.


Hole Anjaneya Temple, Maddur, Mandya District, Karnataka

Hole Anjaneya temple located on the banks of river Shimsha, in Maddur town of Mandya district, Karnataka. Maddur is about 80 kms from Bangalore. While driving from Bangalore, one has to take a left deviation from the highway. This road goes to Maddur town. Just 10 meters from this deviation, take a left turn. There is a sign board showing way to Hole Anjaneya temple. Taking a left turn there, and driving for 3 kms, the temple is seen. 
The huge idol of lord Anjaneya was installed by Sripadarajaru and Sri Vadirajaru about 550 years ago. Two fingers of the idol are very long and they hold Sougandika flower. Anjaneya’s head is adorned with sun and moon and the tail has bells. It is believed that the idol grows half an inch every year. 
There is also a shrine for lord Srinivasa called Sri Varaprada Srinivasa installed with with Sridevi and Bhudevi. 

Lord Anjaneya the other name of
Hanuman is believed to fulfill the wishes of his devotees effortlessly. All
that one has to do is to hold a rupee and 25 paise coin in their hand and pray
him to grant their wishes and keep the coin on the lord’s feet. In a short
period, the devotee’s wishes would be fulfilled. 
Steps are provided to reach the river Shimsha, from the temple complex. A small
idol of Hanuman is placed under a big tree in front of the temple before the
steps. 
The temple is in serene surrounding and is worth a visit. 
Coordinates: 12°35’29” N 77°3’30” E 


Thiruvannamalai Temple Thiruvannamalai District, Tamil Nadu

Thiruvannamalai Temple is located in
Thiruvannamallai district of Tamilnadu. It is about 185 kms from Chennai and
210 kms from Bangalore. The town is situated to the east of Eastern ghats and
the temple located on the base of Annamalai hills.

The town Thiruvannamalai is named
after Annamalaiyar, the principal deity of the temple.

During full moon days in November and
December, Kartika Deepam festival is celebrated. Huge quantities of camphor are
lit on the top of Annamalai hills during those days. It attracts about three
million people from different parts of India.

According to the myths, once Parvathi
closed her husband Shiva’s eyes playfully for a moment. Although it was just a
moment for gods but the whole universe was plunged into darkness for several
years. Alarmed by darkness, Parvati performed penances along with other devotees.
Pleased by their penance, Lord Shiva appeared as a huge column of fire on
Annamalai hills, thereby returning light to universe. In Tamil, Arunam means
red (fire) and Asalam means hills, hence the name Arunachalam.

The whole hill is considered as lingam. At the base of the hills a huge temple dedicated to Shiva is located and is popularly known as Arunachaleshwara temple. As the whole hill is considered as a Shiva lingam, people usually go for circumambulation of hills starting from the eastern entrance of the temple.

According to another legend, once Brahma and Vishnu contested for superiority, then Shiva appeared as a huge flame and asked them to explore its beginning and its end. Then Vishnu took Varaha (boar) form and went down to find its base but was unable to find. Brahma went up but could not find its peak. He came back and lied to Shiva that he found the apex. Shiva came to know about Brahma’s lie and as a punishment ordained that Brahma would never have temple for worship on earth.

Thiruvannamalai was ruled by
Pallavas, Cholas, Hoysalas, Vijaynagar rulers and Tipu Sultan. Hoysala Kings
made Thiruvannamalai as their capital in 1328 AD.

Arunachala temple at Thiruvannamalai
is huge and amazingly beautiful. The whole temple has a wonderful spiritual
aura and makes pilgrims spell bound both through its beauty and spirituality.

There are plenty of lodges around the
temple and Ramana ashram. Thiruvannamalai is well connected by road from both
Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.


Ghats of Varanasi - Part 1

Varanasi or Kasi is
an ancient town mentioned in Rig Veda. The etymology of the word Kasi is from
the Sanskrit verbal root kas means to shine- Kasi as the city of light or a
luminous city of knowledge and learning.

The town Varanasi
is located in between the river Varuna at the Northern side and River Assi on
the Southern side. These two rivers, Varuna and Assi meet in river Ganga at Raj
Ghat and Assi ghat respectively. Hence the city is named Varanasi - meaning the
town between Varuna and Assi.

Ghats of Varanasi
is one of the most popular destinations for tourists and pilgrims. Ghats are
located on the western bank of river Ganga and have steps to reach from the
road. There are more than 80 Ghats in Varanasi and most of them are very old.
Ghats were built after 17th century AD by Marathas, Sindhias, Holkars, Bhonsles
and Peshawas.

Ghats are used for
mostly bathing, to perform rituals and ceremonies, worshiping, boating and also
for washing clothes.

Some of the ghats
have ancient and popular temples which can be accessed easily through the ghats
rather than roads as roads are narrow and confusing.

One probably needs
more than a day to see all the ghats and temples located in the vicinity of
ghats. The ghats start from the base of Mogul Sarai bridge known as Raja ghat
and ends at Assi Ghat.


Dunagiri Devi Temple Dunagiri, Dwarahat, Almora, Uttarkhand

Dunagiri is about 50 kms. from Nainital and 15 kms. from Dwarahat. It is situated on an altitude of 8000 feet. Dunagiri Devi temple is quite popular in Kumao Himalayas and is considered as one of the powerful Shakti pithas. 
The temple is located on a small hillock and there are about 500 steps to reach the temple. The stairway has a well protected roof and has huge bells all along its way up to temple. 
About few meters below the main temple, there is a small shrine for Hanuman and little below that is a shrine for Bhairav. 

As per the legend, Pandavas took
shelter in Dunagiri and Guru Dronacharya is also believed to have done Tapasya
here. 
It is said that Mahavatar Babaji had done Tapasya here, and even to this day
the tree is preserved and a platform is built with a small sign board
mentioning Babaji’s place of Tapasya. 
It is a wonderful and peaceful place and is worth visiting.


Dasha Maha Vidya Temples- Kamakya, Guwahati, Assam

Kamakya temple at Guwahati is a
unique temple by itself. It is located on a hillock called Nilachal hill, on
the southern bank of river Brahmaputra. Kamakya temple is on peak of the hill,
which hosts three of the ten deities of Dasha Mahavidya.

The main Kamakya temple has three chambers. The western chamber is large and rectangular and has the deity Kamala, the middle chamber is a square and has the deity of Matangi, all the worship is done to this deity only. The last chamber garbha griha without any deity but only with water is a triangular opening in the rock. It symbolizes yoni. It is to be noted that the yoni of Mata Sati had fallen here. She is also called Shodashi/ Tripurasundari.

Perhaps only at Kamakya, all the
Dasha Mahavidya deities enjoy independent temples for themselves located in one
place. At rest of the places, we find one or two temples of Dasha Mahavidyas.
In many temples of Durga, Dasha Mahavidyas are painted on the walls of temple.
At west Bengal, Tara has a temple in cremation grounds. In south India, we find
temples of Tripurasundari, Rajarajeshwari, Lakshmi etc. Only at Kamakya temple,
Guwahati we can find all ten Dasha Mahavidya temples. Peculiarly all these
temples are located in caves and are in Pindi form.

The main Kamakya temple has three of the Dasha Mahavidyas- Kamala, Matangi and Shodashi. The remaining five out of seven temples of Dasha Mahavidyas are in close vicinity of main Kamakya temple. But they are quite inconspicuous, as there are no proper boards or a map to show their location. One should specifically ask the priests about the locations, so that they can visit those temples.

After entering the main Kamakya
temple, on the left of main sanctum, there is a small shrine for Sheethala
devi, and at her back, on a small platform, coconuts are broken. Just left to
that spot, there is a small opening, which leads to steps. Descending around 15
to 20 steps, we find the temple of Dhumavati.

Dhumavathi, whose nature is smoke, is depicted as black, ugly and fierce. She is not known outside Tantric cult. She is depicted as old, black and ugly widow on a crow. Although she is known for dejection, desperation and death, she actually grants the wishes of renunciation and true knowledge of world. 
Continuing further down in a very serene place we find the temple of Tripura Bhairavi located in front of a small pond.

Bhairavi or Tripura Bhairavi, is a
multifaceted goddess, having benign and terrible form. She is believed to be
creator, maintainer and destroyer. She is the kundalini Shakti and also the
feminine aspect in Ardhanarishwara. Bhairavi in her younger form known as
Baala, a beautiful virgin and in her older form is known as Tripurasundari, who
bestows all wishes.

The temple of Tara is on the left
side enroute to Kamakya main temple. Maa Tara also has both benign and terrible
form. The benign form is considered as the power of speech or Saraswati. She is
believed to tide people over samsara sagara. She is also worshipped in Buddhism
and Jainism. In her terrible form known as Ugra Tara, she resembles Kali.

Walking back on the same road from main Kamakya temple, to the left, after Maa Tara temple, we can find Maa Kali temple easily.

Maa Chinnamasta or Prachanda Chandika
is perhaps the most terrible and ghastly depiction of Mahavidya. She is
depicted to be holding her own severed head with three streams of blood gushing
out of severed neck. One stream of blood flowing into her mouth of severed
head. Remaining two streams flow into the mouth of two deities standing on
either side. She signifies discarding all egos and identities on the road to
spirituality.

After returning from Chinnamasta temple, we will come to a small car parking area, and also steps for an over bridge. From that point, one has to take right turn and walk for about 500 meters to reach Bagalamukhi temple.

Bagalamukhi is not known outside
Dasha Mahavidya cult. She is considered as a stopping force. She is also known
as Sthambhini, as she has powers to immobilize and transfix the opponents. She
is known for stopping speech of the opponent. She is also called Pitambari devi
as she wears yellow attire.

Further uphill for about 3 kms on a
motor able road, we will find the temple of Bhuvaneshwari.

Bhuvaneshwari is fondly called
Bhuvaneshi. Bhuvana not only include earth but also space. She is also
considered as Mahamaya. As space Bhuvaneshwari co-ordinates with the dimension
of time represented by Kali. It is to be deduced that Kali creates events in
time and Bhuvaneshwari creates objects in space.

A visit to Kamakya temple at
Guwahati, Assam, will provide an opportunity to visit all the Dasha Mahavidya
temples around Kamakya.

Jai Maa Kamakya