17 November 2010

Tantra Temples in India - Jwala Mukhi Temple, Himachal Pradesh

The JwalaMukhi Temple
30 kms south of Kangra valley in the lap of Shivalik range and 56 kms from Dharamshala, is the Jwalamukhi temple, dedicated to the "GODDESS OF LIGHT" or  "GODDESS OF FLAME".  

Positioned besides a cliff, Jwalamukhi Mandir is built on a wooden platform in the Indo-Sikh style of architecture. The structural design of the temple is simple, but the religious aura makes it undoubtedly divine. The dome and spire of this temple are covered with Gold. The main door of the shrine is plated with silver. In front of the main shrine, there is a huge brass bell that was presented by the King of Nepal. 

One of the Tantra Temples, it is a note worthy fact that there is no idol in it. An eternally burning and shining blue flame emanating from a rock sanctum is only worshipped here as a manifestation of the goddess. Dedicated to the deity of Flaming Mouth or goddess Jwalamukhi, the temple is one of the 51 power spots or Shaktipeethas of India. One of the most revered temples of the Hindus, the temple possesses a golden dome, gifted by Mughal Emperor Akbar. The temple is at its best during Navratri festival in early April and mid October. 

Inner Portion of the Temple
History of Jwalamukhi Temple[Kangra]-Himachal Pradesh

Dating back to the origin of Adishakti or Sati, the temple basks in a glorious past. It was to get respite from the unending atrocities of the demons that the gods concentrated their individual energies at one point, thus giving birth to Sati. Brought up in the house of Prajapati Daksha, Sati got married to Lord Shiva later. 

Once Prajapati Daksha organized a yajna and invited al the gods and goddesses to it barring Lord Shiva. Sati wanted to partake in this grand affair so she reached the place of the Yajna uninvited. All her sisters were welcomed by her father there except her. Daksha did not even dedicate the sacred portion of the Yajna Prasad to Lord Shiva. This made Sati feel immensely humiliated. Therefore, she immolated herself in the fire of the Yajna. 

Sati's end disturbed the Lord Shiva immensely. He sliced Daksha's head. On his reparation, the Lord affixed the head of a male goat to him. Unable to restore his mental peace even then, He roamed in the entire universe carrying Sati's burnt body. Foreseeing a calamity approaching, the gods requested Lord Vishnu to diffuse the anger of Shiva. At this, Lord Vishnu cut apart Sati's body into several pieces with his Sudharshan Chakra. Wherever those pieces of sati's body fell on earth, a shaktipeetha or the power centre of the goddess came up. 

The Jwalamukhi temple is the place where Sati's tongue fell. The goddess therefore is manifested as tiny flames here that burn through the fissures in an age old rock. There are nine flames at the temple that have been burning here without any oil or cotton since ages. 

A Temple with a Strong Historical Background
The temple also has a great historical significance dating back to the reign of Mughal emperor Akbar. Amazed at the continuity of these flames, he tried to extinguish these. He tried a lot of methods for this but in vain. Finally, he submitted to the power of the goddess. He went to the shrine bare footed and presented a golden umbrella to the goddess. But the goddess denied this offering and the Chhatra turned into a colossal metal. Maharaja Ranjit Singh of Punjab also paid a visit to the temple in the year 1809. The building of the temple has a gilt dome gifted by Maharaja Ranjit Singh and silver plated folding doors. 

Pathway Around the Temple

Inside the temple, there is a 3 feet square pit with pathway all around. In the centre of which is a hollowed rock over a primary fissure of flame. This one is regarded as the mouth of Mahakali. Nine flames in total emanate from different points in the pit and represent Saraswati, Annapurna, Chandi, Hing Laj, Vindhya Vasini, Mahalakshmi, Mahakali, Ambika and Anjana - the forms of goddess. Thousand of devotees flock the temple round the year to pay homage to the goddess and to get their wishes fulfilled.

View of the Jwala Mukhi Temple
Being an important pilgrimage of the Hindus, devotees come to this temple in large numbers. During the days of Navaratri, the temple is thronged by countless number of devotees. Colorful fairs are also organized for the period of Navaratri in March-April and Sep-October. Earlier, this temple was administered by the descendants of Raja. After Independence, this temple was declared as the site of Cultural Heritage and that time onwards, it is under the management of the Government. There are not less than 102 priests to look after the sermons of the temple and even these priests are paid by the Government. 

Legend behind the Temple

Jwalamukhi refers to the deity with flaming mouth. As per the legends, the mouth of Sati fell here at the time of self-sacrifice. Ever since, the Goddess occupied the place and she manifested in nine flames. After years, one day Raja Bhumi Chand Katoch, a resident of Kangra and a great devotee of Goddess Durga, dreamt of the holy place.

The JwalaMukhi Temple Dome
He sent his men to locate the place. With the grace of the Goddess, the site was found and Raja started constructing a temple. It is believed that Pandavas also contributed in the erection of this temple. However, the construction of this temple was completed in the 19th century, when Maharaja Ranjit Singh and his son, Kharak Singh, gave the Gold and Silver for the dome and door respectively. 

Legend about Akbar, the Mughal Emperor

During the ruling period of Akbar, he learned about the legends of Jwalamukhi. In a fit of anger, he tried to douse the flames with a stream of water. The great power of the Goddess, still kept the flames burning. Realizing the power of Jwala Devi, Akbar came with his army to this temple. He brought a Gold umbrella [Chatra] for the Goddess, but on offering, the umbrella turned into an unknown metal suggesting that the Goddess didn't accept his offering.

The Towering peak of Jwala Mukhi Temple
The Jwalamukhi Temple lies on the ridge west of Kathmandu. This is as a "short & sweet" trek.It is an excellent opportunity to see Nepali lifestyle, culture and tradition. Trekkers should have superb views of towering peaks: Manaslu, Ganesh Himal range, Annapurna range, Himalchuli, Buddha Himal,Larkya La peak, along with the twin waterfalls of Ganga Jamuna, and the Bhudhi Gandaki valley. This is a land of ancient temples. Trekkers with visit Gorakhnath, Gorakhkali and Jwalamukhi; the goddess temple. The palace of late king Phrithvi Narayan Shah; who unifies present Nepal is another major attraction of the route. In short; the treks presents pristine natural beauty, abundante, and the opportunity for cultural encounter. 

Airial View of the Temple of JwalaMukhi

How to get to the Temple:

By Air - The nearest airport at Gaggal in Himachal Pradesh is 50 km from Jwalaji.Chandigarh Airport is about 200 Kms .Airport at Shimla is about 160 Kms. The distance from Kullu airport in Himachal Pradesh is about 250 Kms. National & International Airport is at the national capital Delhi is about 480 Kms.

By Rail - The nearest narrow gauge railhead is Jawalaji road Ranital at a distance of 20 km from the shrine.The nearest broadgauge railhead is Pathankot at a distance of 120kms.Chandigarh Rly Station is at a Distance of 200 Kms. 

By Road - Motorable roads connect this Shrine from Delhi, Chandigarh & Dharamshala. Taxis can be hired from these places.This all is hilly area with a beautiful scenic view all along the valley. Frequent state transport bus service is available from all important cities of Punjab, Haryana, New Delhi and J & K. The shrine is well connected by road. Frequent bus and taxi services are available.

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