It took me almost 15 weeks to pen this travelogue; the mesmerization of this beautiful siddhapitha craves more in the heart. Yes to all the readers and travelers to religious places I must urge that one must visit the Tara Temple for a soulful enrichment. Infact most of the temples of devi are satipiths or shaktipeeths,but this temple and place of Tarapith is fewer places of Goddess Shakti manifested as one of Dasha mahavidya or Goddess of grand wisdom mentioned in scriptures. The Ten Mahavidyas are as follows :
- Kali 2.Tara 3.Shodashi 4.Bhuvaneswari 5.Bhairavi 6.Chinnamasta 7.Dhumavati 8.Bagalamukhi 9.Matangi 10.Kamala all are the consort of Lord shiva. These mahavidyas are considered to be Tantric in nature and worshipped as per Shakta tradition.
Let me tell you that in the Eastern side people are of Shakta Tradition and therefore even the mantras pujas are same but the bhoga tradition is bit different. Often I have been asked by my friends that why the Bengali community have Non-Veg during Durga Puja so the answer is simple, The eastern side of india is considered to be a shakta tradition and many tantra peeths are there including the most holiest Kamakhya which is a major hub of Shakta Sadhana, therefore consumption of non-veg is not prohibited, ironically its very interesting that Pujaris/Brahmins are also non-veg in most of the cases. Case apart we should move to the travel section now.
It happened when I was planning a trip to Kolkata in June 2017 during upcoming summer vacations that time my mother in law gave me a call and said she saw a vision of my daughter sitting beside the temple of Tara Devi henceforth she requested me if I can make a day or two free and plan a trip to Tarapith. I was overjoyed that indeed this is a sudden call of Maa Tara herself, without wasting any opportunity I booked my tickets for this tour.
We reached Kolkata and after resting for 3 days the time came and we packed our things and started our journey. My Train was from Howrah in the morning at 0600 hours and as I had a prebooked Ola, the fun had just begun. The train started and most of the AC coaches consisted of passengers who are going to visit the pilgrimage and others were to get down for a picnic rest at Shantiniketan.
The a/c chair-car coaches were quite impressive as the air-conditioning worked properly and the push-back seats provided sufficient leg space. Our journey was entertained by motley hawkers selling indigenous products and food items like: varieties of mouth- fresheners, cotton towels, jhal-muri(puffed rice with mixture) etc.
Just to let you know when you board this train do have these two items from the The clay glass tea (Kulhad waali Chai) and Ghoogni. They are just amazing.
The route to Tarapith is surrounded by beautiful small ponds, big broad paddy fields, the broad Palm and Coconut trees and beautiful flora all the way. It rightly say its inner meaning “ The Green Bengal”. As the train moved and we were moving towards our destination the greenery reminded me the couplet of Kaviguru Ravindranath Tagore from a Bengali poem
“Nomo Nomo Nomo Sundari Mamo!!!! Jononi Bongo Bhoomi !
Gongar Tir Snigdho Somir !!! Jeevon Jurale Tumi !
Book Bhora Modhu Bonger Bodhu Jol Loi Jai Ghore, Maa Bolite Praan Kore aanchan
Choke asshe Jol Bhore !!!!
(The poet presents the mindset of a traveler coming back to Bengal after a decade, where he says “Salutations o beautiful motherland of bengal, the banks of ganges and its soulful air which soothes life, full of honey filled love the maidens of Bengal carry pitchers of water to home and my heart cries to utter the word “Maa” in these long lonely years).
In next 30 mins we were at Rampurhat station, for going to Tarapith one needs to take means of transport from here only. There are numerous mode of transport starting from e-rickshaws, Van-rickshaws, Autos and maruti omni.We hired an Auto rickshaw for INR 300 and dumping our luggage we sat in bliss and waiting to reach our destination as soon as possible. The entire way towards Tarapith is now becoming commercialized day by day due to increasing number of devotees and mostly its now a weekend getaway as it serves both spiritual and fun peaceful sojourn for travelers.
It took us around 30 mins to reach Tarapith main bazaar and from there we walked till our hotel. Ours was a 2 star property named Hotel Bam-Tara, its centrally located with all sorts of amenties, but you can find all sort of budget hotels in Tarapith and that’s the best part of the town. We reached at 12 PM so we just took some rest and what I liked was from my balcony I can see the beautiful porch of the legendary Tarapith Temple.
So after freshening ourselves we decide to venture for lunch, In Tarapith a lunch is always a bliss because of the Thali systems here three/four types of Thali is served in Lunch time in maximum of hotels. The Veg Thali, Chicken Thali, Egg Thali , Fish Thali and Mutton Thali. As previously discussed due to Shaivism and Sakthi Kendra there is no prohibition of non veg and in the bhog itself non veg is offered as prasadam, also it is widely said that you can offer puja after having your food as Ma cannot bear to see their sons/daughters to stay empty stomach and offer puja.
Coming to the point now we ordered 4 thalis A veg for myself followed by a Fish,chicken and egg. The accompaniments were simple, A Rice followed by Daal, Alu Posto(Aloo in khas khas) , A fried pakora(Beguni), A shukto(Bengali Mix veg) and A sabji (in my case its Dhoka or fried chana daal pakoda in curry) all for INR 80 only. The Rice ,daal and sabji is unlimited.
After the hearty meal we went back and started our preparation for temple visit as we had booked the slot at 4 PM.
About Tarapith Temple and Deity
Maa Tara the motherly image of the Goddess Shakti is worshipped. There are several myths behind the piety of this place. One of them is —- when Lord Shiva in his furious state of tandav was carrying the corpse of Devi Sati, Lord Naraya sent his Sudarshan Chakra in order to cut away the body parts of the dead devi so that Lord Shiva could be appeased. It is assumed that the eyeballs of devi fell here. As eyes are also called tara in local language, the place got its name: Tara pith.
Another oral legend states that Sage Vashishtha was practicing austerities in order to evoke Ma Shakti, but he was failing to do so.He saw Ma Shakti feeding breast milk to Lord Neel Kanth at Tara pith. Lord Shiva had got this name because he drank a pitcher full of poison that was churned out of sea when the surs and asurs were fighting over their claims during samudra manthan. Ma Tara took up the role of the mother, to sooth Shiva’s parched throat.
My last visit and puja was done by Mr.Naba Kumar Banerjee and sons where Pintu Banerjee had performed the puja and they were very very helpful and helps in booking your slots for darshan, offering the puja and getting the bhog Prasad. This time we were fortunate to get Sh.Naba Kumar Banerjee himself at shop no. 10. We took a pujo dala worth 251/- where hibiscus garland which is called Rakht Jaba, sweets(Peda), Alta (Red Dye), Sindoor(Red Vermilion), chunni , red bangles and agarbatti were there.
The main entrance gate was closed till 5 pm so Mr.Naba Kumar took us through central gate without any crowd and lo what a scene just eyes cant believe, the silvery armoured figure of Maa Tara is just in front of us in smiling mudra and her silver Lotus feet were at the entrance I was just itching to touch Maa and her lotus feet. Let me tell you that this silvery armour or abaran is the masked one over the actual fossil which is stone shaped and out there in the stone the statue line of maa tara breast feeding shiva is diminishly appearing, that silver aadi moorti is opened to public from 10 PM and 4 AM only and on special occasions of Amabasya.
My mother in law has made a vow during her last visit and she offered a pair of silver anklets to Maa Tara’s Feet and it was just divine, before us there were 2 families and once they were done we moved at the sanctum sanctorum the feel was divine I touched maa and embraced her like anything so my family members to behold my little daughter was so happy to touch maa that she started chuckling her heart out. Mr Nabakumar did all the poojan for our family members their in 10 mins and we shunted out through the exit gate.
Now in the meanwhile we started to visit the other places inside the Tarapith Temple. The first one we visited was Jibit Kund (Pond of Life).
It is said Maa Tara does not want to reveal her aadi moorti/image to everbody so a Raaj besh(A silvery armour depicting Maa’s portrait) is being adorned on the shila. So here we get the story how Maa Tara became known to outer world. The Bhairav or Shiva here is known as Chandrachoor. After the darshan of chandrachoor shiva we moved to Garud and Radha Krishna temple.The Temple was crafted beautifully in old medieval style, with belbootas and terracotta paintings which are eye soothing.
After this we went to pay our Pooja to Mahasamsaan of Tarapith, here is the holy place which is known for its siddhi and austerities performed by many holymen, its always advisable that once you are done with your Pooja in temple you should always visit the cremation ground, there you need to offer an offering or just pay your homage at the feet of Maa Tara, the place is now being made a small temple the significance of this is place is it’s the place where Maa Tara appeared before bhakta Bama Khyapa during his panchamundi Sadhaana and Maa revealed herself in Tara form as in “Dasha Mahavidya” or the 10 great wisdom. The temple has only footprints.
Generally the poojan is offered in form of Alta (Red Dye), Sindoor(Red Vermilion),incense sticks and flower. You need to self purchase the same and apply the same at Maa Tara’s foot also you can see the panchamundi Asana where the austerity is performed. So its been a soulful darshana of the day.
In the evening we travelled to market for sweets and the famous sweet is a sweetmeat similar to long gulabjamuns of North India, but here its called Langchha. Tarapith is famous for its huge size of these sweets, almost one of the same I called Bahubali Langcha due to its size. The cost is INR 50. You get these starting from INR 5,10,15,20,30 and 50 depending on size, but the medium ones are more good.