Navratri has already begun and this is the time of the year when people from worldwide are all set to put on their dancing shoes and dress up for 9 days of fun and frolic. It is one such Hindu festival that is celebrated with full enthusiasm. Navratri is one of the most celebrated festivals that involves dancing and offering prayers to Goddess Durga, pandal hopping and above all attending Garba and Dandiya nights. This is also the time when devotees in large numbers visit Shakti Peethas that are dispersed throughout India. So, if you love history and architecture, you must visit these places during Navratri this year and enjoy this auspicious occasion.
Kamakhya Temple, Assam
The Kamakhya Temple located in Guwahati is one of the famous Shakti Peethas where Sati’s vagina fell. Residing in the Nilachal Hills, the temple is one of the best Durga temples of the country that celebrates the Navratri festival with full enthusiasm. The supreme seat of Maha Shakti is linked with spirituality and attracts thousands of devotees every year. Ambubachi Mela is an annual festival when menstruation of the Goddess is observed. It is said that deity Kamakhya starts menstruating from mid -June and it continues for three long days during which no homage is offered to the deity.
Chamundeshwari Temple, Mysore
Chamunda Devi is well-known to be the angriest incarnation of Goddess Durga. She gets her name from her act of killing two demons, Munda and Chanda. Perched on the Chamundi Hills in Mysore, the Chamundeshwari Temple was built by Hoysala rulers in the name of Goddess. This elegant architectural marvel attracts people in large numbers to seek the blessings of the Goddess. The calm and picturesque place is said to be blessed with the hair of Sati. In Chamundeshwari temple, Chamunda Devi is worshipped as Ashtabhuja seated on a lotus flower. The first Friday of the Hindu Ashad month is an ideal time for visiting this temple. Dussehra is one of the wonderfully celebrated festivals here.
Danteshwari Temple, Chhattisgarh
The Danteshwari Temple located in Dantewada town is a center of belief, hope and dependency for the non-tribal and tribal people living in the area. Dedicated to Goddess Danteshwari, the temple is said to be the site where Goddess Sati’s tooth fell. Lying at the convergence of the holy rivers Dhankini and Shankini, the temple is blessed with the diverse colours of water. The Danteshwari’s idol is taken around the whole city during Dusshera festival and thousands of tribes from the nearby villages and jungles gather to pay homage to the Goddess. The Jyoti Kalashas is also lit up during Navratri and that’s the sight which is worth watching.
Tripura Sundari Temple, Tripura
Also known as Matabari, Tripureshwari Sundari Temple is located in the state of Tripura. Lying at a distance of 51 km from Agartala, the temple is constructed on the site where Sati’s right foot fell. It is located in the serene environment away from the clamour of the city life. The sound of the bells, the noise of the shopkeepers and chanting of the hymns by the priests invites numerous devotees to buy things for Pooja. Devotees pray to Maa Kali who is worshipped in the form of Soroshi. The temple is built in the shape of a square resembling a normal Bengali hut. A huge pond behind the temple has a variety of fish species.
Mangala Gauri Temple, Bihar
A mystically kindled place packed with the disciples throughout the year, the Mangla Gauri Temple in Gaya is an abode of Goddess Shakti, another prime Shakti Peetha in India. Hindus from across the world visit this place to seek blessings from the Goddess. It is believed that Sati’s breast fell here and hence the temple does not have any idol. One can see a lit brass lamp in the shape of a rock shaped breast. The temple’s premises also has shrines of Lord Ganesha, Shiva and Kali. One must visit this temple during Navratri if you wish to be a part of the grand celebrations here.
Maha Kali Devi Temple, Ujjain
Well-known as Hara Sidhi Mata Temple, the Maha Kali Devi Temple lies on a small hill in Ujjain. Maha Kali, one of the most spirited manifestations of Aadi Shakti is worshipped here. The deity known as Garh Kalika; Saraswati and Mahalakshmi are also worshipped along with her. According to the Hindu mythology, Sati’s upper lip fell here and the deity is worshipped in her violent form. Madira is presented to the deity during daily offerings. Ashwin Navratri and Chaitra Navratri are the two main festivals celebrated here.
Mahalaxmi Devi Temple, Kolhapur
This is one of the 51 Shakti Peethas located in the city of Kolhapur in the state of Maharashtra. Well-known as Shree Pitham, the temple is significant for many reasons. Carved out of precious black stone, the idol present inside the temple weighs 40 kg and is 3 feet high. Having four hands holding a Kaumudoki, Mhalunga, Panpatra and a Khetaka, the statue is different from that of the commonly known Lakshmi idol. One of the most famous celebrations here is the Kirnotsav festival which is there for 6 days each year. It’s the time when the sun rays directly touch the feet of the deity at the time of sunset on the 21st of March and September.
Kalighat Temple, Kolkata
Located on the banks of Adi Ganga, Kalighat is one of the major attractions and the most prominent place to visit during Navratri. The place is known for its magnificent Durga Puja celebrations. It is said that toes of the right foot of Goddess Sati fell here. Here the idol of goddess Kali is different from that of other temples. Instead of a huge idol of the deity, her image is made out of black stone with three huge eyes, four golden hands and a long protruding golden tongue. The priests cover their eyes with a cloth while giving her a holy bath on the day of Snanaytara. Saturday, Tuesday and Ashtami are the special days for worshipping.
Jwala Devi Temple, Himachal Pradesh
Center of admiration, purity and unending beliefs, Jwala Devi Temple is around 40 km south of Kangra Valley. An abode of goddess Ambika (Siddhida), the temple is one of the most beautiful Indian holiday destinations. It is one of the most visited temples in India where nine forms of the deity are worshipped. One amongst the 51 Shakti Peethas, Jwala Devi Temple doesn’t have any idol present instead flames are worshipped as the expression of the deity. The flames can be seen burning off from the sides of a rock and they burn constantly without any fuel. It is believed that tongue of Sati fell here. This divine home of Shakti is present amidst refreshing greenery thus offering the beautiful natural views that rejuvenate your soul.
In India, the spiritual tourism is an integral part of travelling since olden days. Moreover, the temples of Shakti have always remained a major center of attraction because of the holiness linked to it. A visit to the above mentioned Shakti Peethas is the holiest and the most fruitful temples as they portray the major aspects of the feminine deity.