Goddess Durga is considered to be the root cause of creation and preservation. She is also identified as Amba, Parvati, Bhavani, Adi Parashakti and by numerous other names. She is manifested as the protector of the universe. The mother goddess is revered after spring and autumn harvests, especially during the festival of Navratri. She is worshipped in different forms across the country. From North to South India, there are numerous temples dedicated to her. Some of the temples are popular for the architecture while some for the legends behind it. Here are 10 Durga temples in India that are a must visit.
Kamakhya Temple, Assam
The Kamakhya temple is located in Guwahati. According to a legend, Sati, Lord Shiva’s wife, jumped into the fire after her father insulted her husband. Carrying her corpse, Shiva performed Tandav Nritya. The place where the parts of her body fell were formed in ‘Shakti Peeths’. Kamakhya Temple was formed where the goddess’ womb and genitals fell. The annual Ambubachi Mela also known as ‘Mahakumbh of the East’ draws lakhs of devotees – tourists, sadhus, and tantrics – from all over the world. The four-day festival begins on the fourth days after the goddess undergoes her annual periods. The temple remains shut during those three days and once it reopens devotees visit the temple to receive the goddess’ blessings.
Vaishno Devi Temple, Jammu & Kashmir
Located in Trikuta Mountains in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, Vaishno Devi Temple has three deities – Goddess Saraswati, Goddess Kali, and Goddess Lakshmi. The temple is accessible throughout the year, whereas during winter due to snowfall it becomes a little difficult. As per legends, Vaishno Devi was a devotee of Lord Vishnu. However, Bhairo Nath, a tantric, chased her and in order to save herself, she ran into the caves. She stayed in the caves for nine months. Later she assumed the form of Goddess Kali and cut off his head. The cave where Vaishno Devi hid is now known as ‘Garbha Joon’.
Dakshineswar Kali Mandir, Kolkata
Dakshineswar Kali Mandir is situated on the bank of Hooghly River. The presiding deity of the temple is Bhavatarini, an aspect of Kali. The temple was built in 1855 by Rani Rashmoni, a devotee of Goddess Kali. The temple is built in the nine spires style of Bengal architecture. The temple is popular for its association with Ramakrishna who is said to achieved spiritual vision here.
Karni Mata Temple, Rajasthan
Also known as ‘Temple of Rats’, the Karni Mata Temple is popular for housing over 20,000 rats. The temple is dedicated to Goddess Karni, who is believed to be the incarnation of Goddess Durga, the goddess of power. According to a legend, Karni Mata’s son Laxman was accidentally drowned in a pond in Kolyat tehsil while he was drinking water. Karni Mata requested Yama, the god of death, to revive him. Yama agreed with a condition that Karni Mata and her children be reincarnated as rats.
Chamundeshwari Temple, Karnataka
Located in the city of Mysore, the temple is considered as a Shakti Peetha and one among the 18 Maha Shakti Peethas. It is said that the hair of the Goddess Sati fell here. The Goddess Chamundeshwari is called by the people as ‘Naada Devathe’ meaning state goddess.
Kanaka Durga, Andhra Pradesh
Located in Indrakeeladri hill, on the banks of Krishna River. The Goddess Kanaka Durga is also mentioned in the sacred texts – Kaalika Purana and Durga Sapthashati. The deity is regarded as self-manifested and hence is considered powerful and sacred. It is also said that Adi Shankara visited the temple and installed the Sri Chakra here. Special pujas and activities are performed during Dussehra, every year.
Durga Temple, Varanasi
Also known as ‘Monkey Temple’, Durga Mandir in Varanasi was constructed in the 18th century by the Queen of Bengal. According to a legend, King of Varanasi Kashi Naresh once called for a swayamvar for his daughter Sashikala. Later, the king learned that his daughter is in love with Vanvasi Prince Sudarshan. So he got his daughter married to the prince. When the other kings learned about the marriage they went on a war with Kashi Naresh. Prince Sudarshan prayed to Goddess Durga, who fought for Kashi Naresh and Sudarshan. After the war, Kashi Naresh requested the goddess to stay back and protect Varanasi and the belief that she stayed thereafter the temple was built.
Mahalaxmi Temple, Maharashtra
The temple is one of the 108 Shakti Peethas and is listed in various Hindu Puranas. The idol of the goddess is made of precious black stone and weighs over 40 kgs. Kirnotsav is one of the famous celebrations when the sun rays touch the feet of the deity. It is believed that Lord Vishnu and Goddess Lakshmi reside here.
Ambaji Temple, Gujarat
Ambaji temple is one of the 51 Shakti Peethas and is visited by millions of visitors every year. It is believed that the heart of Sati Devi fell here. The temple is located near the Gujarat and Rajasthan border. There is no idol or image of the goddess, instead, the holy ‘Shree Visa Yantra’ is worshipped.
Chamunda Devi Temple, Himachal Pradesh
The temple is built in 1762 by Raja Umed Singh. There are idols of Hanuma and Demon God Bhairo on either side of the goddess. The deity is considered extremely sacred and is covered in red cloth. The temple also houses paintings of other gods and goddesses.