Learning through travel · Uncategorized

When mata calls, she ensures!

Next on our way after Chintpurni and Jwalaji was Brajeshwari mandir, Kangra. It was already dark by the time we reached the temple and kids were really tired after two temple visits and travelling the mountain roads for over five hours. Also they were well aware of what awaited them if they got out of the car, so they decided to stay in the car while we went up to the temple.

Brajeshwari temple is also a shaktipeeth, which is the place where Mata Sati’s breasts fell. It is a very beautiful temple, white in color. This temple has withstood several adversities over centuries. It had been looted twice and was subject to an earthquake but still remains one of the wealthiest shrines in India.2

We could hear the drums from the temple as we got out of the car and walked the narrow path up to the temple. The evening aarti was going on and the main temple door was closed for the public. And as we reached the compound I was not surprised to see the long queue to have the darshan. My hubby and I were in the understanding that if there is a long queue, we will not wait to have the darshan but fold our hands from outside, pray for the mata’s grace and leave.

It would seem mata had some other plans for us!

The ‘ aarti thali’ was being circulated at the time we entered the compound, so we had the blessing. Thankful that we could participate in the evening aarti, bowing to mata in our mind, we walked a bit around the temple. But mata had decided that we would not leave without a darshan! In her infinite grace, she allowed us to step into the sanctum santorum for darshan. It happened quite unexpectedly, as we stood by the small door on the side of the sanctum santorum (which I think is usually the exit) where a police person was on guard but some individuals were going in. Though I didn’t know whether I would be stopped, I ventured in and lo! I was in the sanctum santorum. I stood in front of mata with bowed hands, heart full of gratitude and eyes filled with tears. She, in abundant kindness, allowed me (and my hubby who went in after me) to be there as long as we desired.

Totally unexpected and spiritually elevating experience!

Similar was my experience in Chamunda Devi temple.

The diety is mata Chamunda, slayer of demons chand and mund. More interesting than the story of the mata being the slayer of chand and mund is the story how the temple was established. A king and a priest prayed to the Mother that they be allowed to move a temple to a more accessible place to which She consented. As per Her instructions, the king sent out men to dig out the idol but they were not able to lift it. The Mother again appeared in a dream and explained how the men considered the idol to be just an ordinary stone and hence were not able to lift it. She instructed him to get up in the morning, take bath, go to the place in a respectful manner which when he did, he was able to lift the idol which several men couldn’t do. A story of faith!


Since we had reached the place in the night, we were at the doors of mata early in the morning. We offered our obeisance to the mata and sat under the tree in the compound, eyes closed, listening to the river gushing by and lost in the adoration of the Divine!

The true feeling of being in a temple!




Learning through travel · Uncategorized

Jwalaji temple: A sight even for non-believers!

As soon as we came out of Chintpurni temple, my kids declared in unison that they are not getting out of the car to visit another temple! These kids who have never stood in queue for two hours in hot humid weather or had to face an overly rowdy crowd couldn’t bear the thought of going through the same experience twice in a day, where as I had apprised them in the morning only that we are off to visit six powerful temples!

Entry to the temple

But I again coaxed them to get out of the car, walk up hill for half a kilometer, stand in queue over an hour and bear the humid weather as we had reached the doors of Jwalaji temple in Kangra.

View of main temple from a distance

Jwalaji /Jwalamukhi temple is also a shaktipeeth, where the tongue of Mata Sati had fallen and Her power is palpable in the flame. The temple is famous for the nine blue flames which have been burning for centuries out of rock. It is been said that the temple was built after a shepherd saw the flame burning out of cracks in the rock. The temple later had a golden dome built by Maharaja Ranjit Singh. There is also the famous story of Akbar in relation to the temple. Akbar did not believe the power of the Goddess and tried to test it by cutting the head of the horse of Her devotee Dhyanu Bhagat. Dhyanu reached the temple and invoked the Mata but She did not appear. After several days, Dhyanu cut his own head when the Goddess appeared and reunite both Dhyanu’s as well as the horse’s heads. Akbar was not convinced even after this miracle and tried to douse the flames by pouring metal over them failing which directing a stream over it but the flame burned through the water as well. Akbar became convinced and offered a golden ‘chatri’ to the Goddess. The Goddess was not appeased and the gold changed into a metal still unknown to men. The chatri is kept on display in a hall adjacent to the main temple.

Even my kids later agreed that I was right to persuade them to come out of the car or they would have missed such a miracle! Well, I must also say they were also less pestered by having to wait for their turn because in contrast to the crowd in Chintpurni, the queue was more orderly here and in a while, some one would spontaneously say “sab log bolo” with the chorus of “Jai Mata Di”. Even police personnel were present only within the cave / sanctum santorum urging people to move ahead and not linger around admiring the flames. I cannot blame the police for doing so, otherwise people would keep standing in awe gaping at the power of the Goddess/nature!

Purna Brahma jyoti Image courtesy: http://www.3marg.info

After the darshan at Chintpurni where I was saddened about not getting even a glimpse of the Deity, I was keen on having the darshan of at least the main jyoti, before offering the Prasad and mesmerized by the jyoti I even moved out of the queue to sneak a view of another one of the flames (leading to the police man talking sternly shooing me out of the sanctum santorum, I must say!)

2I was enthralled by the darshan (even now I can only think fondly of the visit to the temple) despite the long wait and the rush and slight disappointment of being unable to spend more time admiring the power tangible in the place but a child-emergency forced us to pay a quick visit to see ‘Akbar’s Chatri ‘ and hurry out of temple compound.

In addition to the cave where the jyotis are present, there is also Gorak Dibbi, a jal kund where if you light a match, flame appears for a second. The water here keeps bubbling as if it is boiling, but cold to touch. There is an interesting story behind this place as well, which I might have to share in another post. We unfortunately could not visit Gorak Dibbi (due to the above mentioned child-emergency) and left the temple in a hastily.

A much contrary experience to the one in Chintpurni!

Given a chance I would visit Jwalaji again…