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West Bengal has always been noted for housing some of the most interesting hotspots whether it’s of cultural interest or of religious. The easternmost state of India, West Bengal proudly enshrines thirteen of the fifty-one Shaktipeeths that were formed across the Indian subcontinent, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Pakistan.
Let’s take a quick look at the background of the formation of Shaktipeeth which means the seat of Devi Adi Shakti, the divine consort of Lord Shiva. People belong from the Shakta sect worships the Goddess who is believed to be seated on these pious pilgrimages.
A Brief History of the formation of the 51 Satipeeths—
Back to the ancient times, once Prajapati Daksha, the son of Lord Brahma, the Creator among the Holy Hindu Trinity- meditated to Goddess Adi Shakti and wanted the divine mother as his daughter. Pleased by his Tapasya and dedication, the Goddess agreed to his wish and promised to take Her next birth as the daughter of Prajapati Daksha but She was destined to be united to Lord Shiva. The Prajapati agreed to Her wish and in some time the divine mother was born in his castle as the daughter of King Dakshaya as Sati.
But in the meantime, the King had a tiff with Lord Shiva- the Destroyer of the Hindu Trinity as the angry Mahakal cut off the fourth head of Lord Brahma that was reciting the sacred Vedas incorrectly by throwing His Trishul. The agonized Daksha promised that He will never allow Sati to unite with Mahadev as He has dishonored Lord Brahma. But his wish was not fulfilled. As predestined, Sati met Lord Shiva in the forests and fell in love with Her divine consort of ages and married Him against the wishes of Her mortal father Prajapati Daksha. The King never forgave his youngest daughter and secluded Her from all their family celebrations and affairs.
Once, the Prajapati arranged a grand yajna and invited all the Gods, Goddesses, celebrated personalities, kings and affluent people from the Trilok but intentionally didn’t invited Sati and Her husband Lord Shiva. When Sati became aware of the grand yajna, She decided to participate in the function uninvited, neither the Holy Mother listened to Mahakal who never wanted Her to visit the Daksha Yajna without the proper invitation.
After Devi Sati stepped into the yajna sabha, King Daksha rebuked Her and Lord Shiva vehemently which She couldn’t bear and sacrificed Herself immediately. The moment Lord Shiva came across with the news of Sati’s demise the world started trembling with sudden storms and thunderbolts. The Mahakal reached the place and cut off Dakshya’s head immediately, though later that was replaced by an animal’s head on request of his wife.
Lord Shiva lifted the lifeless body of Devi Sati and mourned terribly. He did Tandav, the dance of destruction. After seeing the crises, the Gods visited Lord Vishnu- the Preserver of the Trinity to save the world from the destruction. Then, Lord Vishnu released His Sudarshan Chakra that cut off the body of Devi Sati into 51 pieces. Wherever the body parts of Devi Sati have fallen, a Shaktipeeth has been formed. It is believed by the Shaktas that Goddess Adi Shakti resides in these Shaktipeeths and listens to the prayers of Her followers if they worship Her with complete dedication and surrender.
The Thirteen Shaktipeeths of West Bengal
Located in the heart of the city of Kolkata, Kalighat Kali temple is a must-visit attraction for the Kolkata travelers. According to many, the city was named after the Kalighat Temple. Though the first temple was a hut with thatched roof and mud base built by King Manasingha, but later the present edifice of the Bengali aatchala architecture of the temple was built in 1809 by zamindar Santosh Roy Choudhury of the famous Sabarna family.
It is said that the toe of the Goddess was dropped here. Inside the sanctum sanctorum, the image of Goddess Kali which is placed is half seen from above as the rest of the portion is kept underground. This image of Goddess Kali is black in color with large red eyes. The huge tongue is recently replaced with a gold one. The deity is worshiped by the Halder family since inception and they are known as the Shebaits.
By the banks of the Dwarka River at Rampurhat in Birbhum District, the temple of Tarapith is located. Decorated by the terracotta motifs inscribing the ancient tales of the Puranas, the Do-chala temple architecture of Bengal entices pilgrims arriving daily from the distant places. The third eye of Mata Sati fell at this place, thus known as “Tara” pith.
According to the ancient scriptures when Lord Shiva was burning from the effect of the poison He consumed from the samudramanthan, it was Devi Tara who appeared and saved His life by breastfeeding Lord Mahakal. She is also a form of Goddess Kali- Adi Shakti- His divine consort.
Tarapith of West Bengal has been famous for Sadhok Bamakhyapa- a blessed worshiper of the Goddess and Her messenger on Earth.
It is believed that the larynx of the Goddess fell at the place named Nalhati. In Bengali, the larynx is known as “nala”, thus the pilgrimage is known as Maa Nalateshwai Temple of Nalhati, a small hamlet in the Birbhum district of West Bengal. According to the legend, it was Lord Kamdev, who first noticed the larynx of Devi Sati at the nearby woods and from then onwards the place became famous as a Shaktipeeth.
This holy seat of Goddess Adi Shakti is again located in the Birbhum district of West Bengal on the banks of Kopai River. The right waist of the Holy Mother dropped at this place after the Sudarshan Chakra of Lord Vishnu mutilated the lifeless body of Sati from the arms of Mahadev. From the Bengali word “Kankal”, which means Skeleton, the name of the Shaktipeeth has been given. Though, the temple architecture has nothing important to mention, still the ancient effloresce of the faith of the pilgrims have made the shrine popular among the Shaktipeeths of Bengal.
Attahas Fullora Devi
At this holy shrine of Attahas Fullora Devi, the lower lip of Devi Sati dropped. The word Attahas means a loud laughter. At a remote village of Birbhum, by the banks of River Ishani, the Shaktipeeth enshrines the holy lip of Sati for centuries. The exact date and background are still unknown. It is believed that Lord Hanuman collected Blue lotuses for Shri Ram from the temple pond at this Shaktipeeth when he was about to worship Devi Durga before the combat with Ravan.
The legend of the famous Rishi Ashtavakraya is associated with this shrine of Bakreshwar. Situated by the banks of River Paaphra, in Birbhum district of West Bengal, this Shaktipeeth is said to be enshrining the eyebrow and the mind of Devi Sati. It is believed that Ashtavakraya Muni requested Lord Vishwakarma to design and build the temple for him. Though, the current edifice was built by Darpanarayan in 1761 AD.
At the Kireetkona village of Murshidabad district in West Bengal, the shrine of Kirateshwari is located. Here the crown of the Devi fell. Per chronicles, the charan amrita from the temple was taken for Mir Jafar during his last days as he was suffering from severe leprosy. The person is known for his historic treachery towards Siraj-Ud- Daula, the Nawab of Bengal. The present temple was built by King King Darpanarayana Roy during the 19th century.
The right shoulder of Goddess Sati dropped at this place located in the Hooghly district of West Bengal. By the banks of River Ratnakar, the shrine is situated.
Here at Nandikeshwari, goddess Shakti is known as Nandini as She is worshiped by Nandi, the holy bull of Lord Shiva. The necklace of Mata Sati fell at this place of Shainthia, a small town in the Birbhum district of West Bengal.
At Ujaani Village of Ghuskara in Burdwan district, the Shaktipeeth is situated. The right wrist of the Goddess fell at this place. Here, the divine mother is worshiped as Mangala Chandika or Mangal Chandi and Her Vairabh is named as Kapilambar.
Vibhas, Bargabhima temple
The left ankle of the Goddess dropped at the East Midnapur district of West Bengal, by the banks of River Roopnarayan. Around 1150 years ago, the Bhimakali temple was built by a maharaja of the Mayur Dynasty.
On the banks of River Teesta in Jalpaiguri district of West Bengal, the Trisrota or the temple of Bhramari Devi is situated. This Shaktipeeth enshrines the left leg of Sati that fell here.
At Khirgram of Burdwan district, the Jogaadya Shaktipeeth is situated that enshrines and worship the Great Toe of Goddess Sati. The deity is worshiped along with Her Bhairav Kheer Khandak at this holy seat of Shakti.
So, these are the thirteen celebrated Shaktipeeths situated in West Bengal. From the Capital city Kolkata, the shrines can be reached via the roadways and railways. Affordable guest houses and Dharamshala’s are available on reaching these places but it is suggested to pre-book the tour package in peak seasons, especially, winter.