– Dr A Pranesh
Sri Vajreshwari Devi temple is in Nagarkot town, Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh and is 20 kms from Dharamshala. This deity is also called Kangra devi by locals. This temple dating back to 11th century is an example for Shikara type of architecture.
In ancient times a rakshas (demon) named Kalikala or Kalikut was tormenting humans and saints in the region of Vadavali. He also waged war on gods. Unable to bear his torment, Gods and sages headed by sage Vashista, performed Chandi yajna to please goddess Parvati. During the Yajna, offering or ahuti was not given to Indra. So Indra was enraged and hurled his Vajra Ayudha or thunderbolt weapon at the yajna. Gods and sages were terrified and prayed to goddess. Devi appeared in all her glory, swallowed Vajra- Indra’s weapon and also killed the demon. From then she was called Vajreshwari Devi and the people requested her to stay back and protect them. A temple was built for goddess Vajreshwari Devi.
Another legend says that Indra and other goddesses went to Devi Paravti and requested her to slay demon. She told them to wage a war on the demon and she would come to help them on right time. So Indra waged a war and during battle, Kalikala, destroyed all the weapons of gods and finally Indra hurled his Vajra ayudha at him. He broke that into pieces, and from those pieces Vajra Devi appeared and killed the demon. Hence this name Vajreshwari Devi.
Another legend says that Sati Devi, who got insulted in her father Daksha’s yajna, self immolated in the Yajna fire. So Shiva destroyed Daksha yajna and in grief carried Sati’s corpse on his shoulders and traveled across the universe. Then Lord Vishnu dismembered Sati’s body into 51 pieces. Where ever parts of her body fell, it became Shakti Peeth. In this place left breast of Sati fell thus making this place as Shakti peeth.
The original temple was built by Pandavas during Mahabharata. The legend says Devi appeared to Pandavas in their dream and told them that she was located in Nagarkot and asked them to build a temple for her. So the legend says that Pandavas built this temple.
This temple was looted for five times by Mohammed Ghazni. This temple was very rich and had tons of gold and silver. In 1905 this temple was destroyed by a powerful earth quake, and was subsequently rebuilt.
The temple has a stone wall all around like a fort. Vajreshwari Devi is in the form of Pindi. There is a small shrine of Bhairav. An idol of Dhayanu Bhagat, who had offered his head to goddess during the days of Amber is there in front. The temple compound has three tombs, which is unique by itself.