12 August 2009
SHAKTHI STHALAMS - GAYA - MANGALA GOWRI
Significance: This is a shrine dedicated to Shakti or the mother Goddess in the predominantly Vaishnavite pilgrimage center of Gaya. Mangalagowri is worshipped 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. It is a well visited temple where Shakti is worshipped in the form of a breast symbol, a symbol of nourishment.
The other well known temples in Gaya are the Vishnupaada Temple, the Dakshinaarka Temple and the Prapitaamaheshwara Temple.
Antiquity: Mangalagowri in Gaya 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.
Architecture: This is a small brick temple facing east, built on top of the Mangalagowri 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 homa.
Other shrines in the temple: There are two minor shrines dedicated to Shiva and images of Mahishasura Mardini Durga and Dakshina Kaali.
Other Shakti shrines in Gaya: The Falgu-chandi, Smaasaanaakshi, Mundaprishta, Sankata and Kaamaakshya temples deserve mention.
Other points of interest in the temple : This temple is associated with tantric worship Animal sacrifices have been offered here.