The holy trail – Chamunda Mata, Sri Baijnath, Brajeshwari Temple and Sri Harmandar Sahib

The temple of Chamunda Mata
In the afternoon, at around 4.30 pm on 29th September 2015, we reached the temple of Chamunda Mata. The temple is situated only 15 km from Dharamshala beside river Baner or Banganga. Too many shops / hutments were near the entrance. Once those were crossed, the long corridor started towards the temple.

Shri Chamunda Mataji Temple

Welcome to Shri Chamunda Mataji Temple

The name Chamunda is a combination of Chanda and Munda – two demons, who were killed by the goddess. She is also known as Chamundi, Chamundeswari, Charchika etc. and identified with goddess Chandi or Durga. She is one of the 64 Yoginis. When we reached there, only few pilgrims were seen. So there was no rush or mob. We visited the entire temple premises elaborately without being obstructed by anybody. Only problem was that, we were not allowed to take any photo within the main temple. After crossing the long corridor we got into the main temple.

The entrance

The entrance to the core area of Shri Chamunda mataji temple

The idol was wrapped with red cloth. The main shrine was adored by idols of Bhairab and Hanuman on its sides. The temple is also considered as residing place of Shiva and Shakti. Hence it is also known as “Chamunda Nandikeswar Dham”. The temple depicts various scenes from Ramayan and Mahabharat on its walls. The back of the temple is like a cave, wherein rests a linga under a boulder, which represents Nandikeswar.

Baner River

The park and Baner river beside the temple

There is a park and a bathing ghat adjoining the temple, where many idols of God and Goddess were there. An arch type cemented small pool was there to help the pilgrims cross the river. After visiting Chamunda mata temple, we moved to Palampur.

Palampur
As per local language, palum means water. Innumerable streams came down from mountains to justify name of the place. The combination of greenery and water gives a unique look. In the backdrop of the town there is the great Dhauladhar range.The town is considered as the tea capital of North-West India. We saw the tea garden, visited the town in the twilight of dusk and proceeded to Baijnath temple.

....... Kuch Dil Ne Kaha ....... Kuch Bhi Nahi .......

……. Kuch Dil Ne Kaha ……. Kuch Bhi Nahi …….

Tea garden at Palampur

Tea garden at Palampur

Baijnath Temple
When we reached Baijnath temple, it was already 7 pm and absolutely dark. Originally known as Kiragrama, the town lies on Pathankot-Manali highway (National Highway No. 20) 16 km from Palampur, almost midway between Kangra and Mandi. The present name Baijnath became popular after the name of the temple. The linga enshrined in its sanctum is one of the 12 Jyotirlingas in the country. The temple premises, means the temple and adjoining parks were nearly deserted by the time we got inside. We visited the temple in a hassle free manner. Directed westwards, the temple encompasses astonishing structural designs that resemble the Jagannath Temple at Puri, Odhisha. Mandapa and its pyramidal roof of the temple are the other alluring attractions. The architecture of the temple is of the ‘Nagara’ style, which has been imbibed from Odhisha’s traditional style. The whole temple is enclosed by a high wall with entrances in the south and north. The walls have the characteristic niches and the top has an amalaka and enshrine images of goddess Chamunda, Surya the Sun God, god Kartikeya, son of lord Shiva. Nandi, the robust bull, carrier of lord Shiva stands at the entrance.

Nandi bull, Baijnath temple

The Nandi bull, greets the visitors while entering Baijnath temple

This temple is an ancient one. We learnt that the temple foundation was laid down by two local merchants in the 9th century. The date of inscription is itself given in two eras – Saptarshi and Saka. The Saka year 1126, which corresponds to 1204 AD is generally accepted. Renovation work in the temple was carried out by Raja Sansar Chand in the 19th century. Many embossed stone images of Gods and goddesses are portrayed on the surface of the temple. In the darkness I took some photographs, but not to my level of satisfaction. Images of Goddess Kali mata and Durga mata have been furnished in this travelogue. After visiting this temple we proceeded towards Brajeswari temple.

Kali

Embossed stone image Goddess Kali Mata

Durga

Embossed stone image Goddess Durga Mata

Brajeshwari Temple
Brajeswari temple is a white coloured elegant big sized temple situated in Nagarkot town of Kangra district. Being another ancient temple, it is considered one of the 51 shakti piths. One of the breasts of Sati mata fell into this area, who is worshipped here as mata Brajeswari. The temple is placed within a very congested market area. A narrow lane through thousands of shops goes towards the entrance of the temple. But once you get inside the temple area, it is a different divine world. Perhaps, it’s the specialty of the holy Shakti Pith.

When we were approaching the temple through the market area, the clock was touching 9 pm. We were asked to get into temple very fast, as it normally gets shut at that time. In the darkness, we could see the vastness of the temple premises. Apart from the main Sati mata temple, many other temples were there. Even in one of the temples it was written that, that particular shire absolved the wrath of the famous 1905 earthquake of Himachal. Let us have a quick mythological and historical reference of the shrine.

As per Hindu mythology, the original temple was built by the Pandavas. Subsequently, modern structure came up. Since it was beautifully decorated with gold, silver, diamond and other valuable stones, this has been a favourite ransacking place for many invaders from the West. Mahmud of Ghazni looted the temple 5 times. Later, Feroz Shah Tughlak plundered the place. It was Akbar the great, who with Toder Mal restored the temple and helped to regain dignity. However, the earthquake of 1905 damaged the old temple extensively. So a new temple was built, what we see now-a-days. Mata Brajeswari is existing here in the form of Pindi. Apart from many other temples of various sizes, there is also a temple of Bhairav. Visit to this shrine took away my fatigue and recharged energy. Unfortunately, I could not take any photograph because of restriction. After the darshan, we returned to our hotel. We made a plan to check out from the hotel in the next morning to go to Amritsar and Attari border.

Now in Punjab
As per our plan, we started our journey in the fresh morning of 30th. September 2015. On way we crossed the famous single lane Kotla bridge at Dehar Khud. Built in 1901, it has now bacome a weak bridge which carry thousands of vehicles and loaded trucks everyday. But the beauty of the steel truss-girders in arch type architectural design still attracts people.

The Kotla bridge

The Kotla bridge

After reaching Pathankot, we went straight to Patel Chowk and had the famous Kulcha. It was the same Kulcha by taste, at the same restaurant, where we had Kulcha the day when we started our journey. After the refreshment, we moved towards Amritsar.

The highway from Pathankot to Amritsar was virtually a glass topped one. We reached Amritsar by covering approximately 130 km of distance without any kind of exhaustion. We parked our vehicle in the multi layered parking lot and headed to the famous golden temple.

Shri Harmandar Sahib – The Golden Temple
The Golden Temple, or the Harimandar sahib, or the Darbar sahib is the most sacred shrine of the Sikhs. It may be mentioned here that meaning of the word Amritsar is tank of nectar (amrit) and that of Harimandar sahib is house of God. Guru Arjan Sahib, the Fifth Nanak, conceived the idea of creating a central place of worship for the Sikhs and he himself designed the architecture of Sri Harimandar Sahib. Earlier the planning to excavate the holy tank was chalked out by Guru Amardas Sahib, the Third Nanak, but it was executed by Guru Ramdas Sahib under the supervision of Baba Budha ji. Therefore, the construction work of the Sarovar (the tank) and the town started simultaneously in 1570. Guru Arjan Sahib got its foundation laid by a muslim saint Hazrat Mian Mir ji of Lahore on 1st of Magh, 1645 Bikrmi Samvat (December, 1588). The construction work was directly supervised by Guru Arjan Sahib himself and he was assisted by the prominent Sikh personalities like Baba Budha ji, Bhai Gurdas ji, Bhai Sahlo ji and many other devoted Sikhs. The shrine gained its present appearance during the reign of Maharaja Ranjit Singh.The present-day gurdwara was rebuilt in 1764 by Jassa Singh Ahluwalia with the help of others. In the early nineteenth century, Maharaja Ranjit Singh secured the Punjab region from outside attack and covered the upper floors of the gurdwara with gold, which gives a distinctive appearance and its English name. The Harimandar Sahib complex also houses the Akal Takht (the throne of the timeless one), built by the sixth Sikh Guru, Guru Hargobind as an authority for administering justice and consideration of temporal issues.

Unlike erecting the structure at a higher level, what we see in almost all Hindu temples, Guru Arjan Sahib got it built at lower level and unlike Hindu Temples having only one gate for the entrance and exit, Guru Sahib got it open from four sides. Thus he created a symbol of new faith, Sikhism. Guru Sahib made it accessible to every person without any distinction of caste, creed, sex and religion. Its architecture represents a unique harmony between the Muslims and the Hindus. This is considered one of the best architectural specimens of the world.

The Golden Temple

Welcome Clock Tower gate of the Harimandar sahib, The Golden temple

The Golden Temple

The supreme place of worship for the Sikhs : Harimandar Ssahib, The Golden Temple

After entering the shrine through the clock tower entrance, the body and soul immediately got cooled down. Unbelievable peace and tranquility prevailed everywhere. We stood in the queue for payment, got halwa from a separate spot and then entered the shrine by crossing the long bridge over the sarovar. We were told that the huge sarovar is fed by water of river Ravi. We visited all the three floors of the shrine and paid obeisance. I closely looked at all the domes and surface of walls which had golden finishing. This is in fact the main point of attraction of people around the world. Thousands of pilgrims were seen everywhere, but discipline and respectfulness must have tuned everybody. Not a single untoward incident was noticed. All along our chauffeur cum guide Deepak accompanied us, explained the existing system and narrated the history of the shrine.

The Golden Temple

Long bridge over the Sarovar towards the main shrine area

The overhead chandelier graced the walkway

The overhead chandelier graced the walkway

Colourful fishes playing in the Sarovar

Colourful fishes playing in the Sarovar

There was a museum within the premises. Swaraj, my colleague, went on to see it. But I preferred to sit in peace by the side of the sarovar. Red and yellow fishes were swimming near the bank, which fascinated us. There were many buildings encircling the pond. Ramgarhia Banga was on the eastern side. Shri Guru Ramdas niwas, Mata Ganga ji niwas, Guru Arjun Dev niwas, Shri Guru Hargovind niwas etc. are all dedicated to accommodate pilgrims, who come in Lakh in numbers every day. We also visited Dukhbhanjani Beri tree near the eastern side of the sarovar.

Ornamental art work covering the holy tree attracts pilgrims

Ornamental art work covering the holy tree attracts pilgrims

A close look of the walls of the golden temple

A close look of the walls of the golden temple

The domes on the roof top

The domes on the roof top

A group photo inside the temple premises. From left : mother of Swaraj, Deepak, father of Swaraj and myself

A group photo inside the temple premises. From left : mother of Swaraj, Deepak, father of Swaraj and myself

I wanted to spare more minutes in this shrine, but our programmed schedule pulled my body out of this place and pushed towards the Jallian Wala Bagh, keeping my soul here, beside the Beri tree.

Shri Chamunda Mataji Temple

Welcome to Shri Chamunda Mataji Temple

Next part of my travelogue narrates my visit to Jallian Wala Bagh and Attari border, which is coming up shortly.

12 Comments

  • Arun Singh says:

    Superb post Sir…really!

  • Nice post Sir.Keep it up. We visited Chamunda devi, Baijnath in Dec15 .

    • SANTANU says:

      Thank you Naresh ji. I saw pictures posted by you about your trip to Chamunda mata temple, Baijnath temple etc. Please post your detailed travelogue here at Ghumakkar.
      Regards.

  • ladyfi says:

    What a gorgeous place! And fabulous shots too.

  • Visited Vaidnath at Deograh and also Chamunda devi at Chamnunda hill, Mysore. These are two other places where one can visit these Mandirs.
    We were told, while we were doing the 12 Jyotir lingum yatra that this Deograh Vaidnath is the real Jyotir lingum place where Rawan depoited the Lingum and could not carry same to Lanka.
    Yiour above description of these places give us an urge to visit same as it is so inspiring. Keep it up and give us more of the holi trail.
    By the way, have been to the Ramayan trail in Sri LANKA, We visit India yearly and will this time do the Ramayan trail. Some tips will be welcome.

  • Nandan Jha says:

    And you continue to scale new heights, literally. Making the most of the remaining day at Himchal and then topping the next day with a detailed, comprehensive tour of Harmandir Saheb. Wow.

    If I am not mistaken, there is another Baijnath temple near Kausani too, a very old one. And interestingly there is a confusion between Deoghar and Baijnath on which one is really a Jyotirling. Both temple trust folks claim that they are the one. For pilgrims, I guess its one more opportunity to exercise their faith.

    Thank you Santanu for taking us on your marathon travel. :-) Keep going strong.

  • SANTANU says:

    Dear Nandan,

    Thanks for your analytic and contributing comments, oxidised by everflowing motivation. India being a vast country with diversity, similar name has been given to many places of worship, creating apparent confusion in the minds of the pilgrims. There are several Jaipur, several Raghunathpur and so on. Similarly, there are many Baijnath as properly mentioned by you. But in case of Deoghar, “Baidyanath Dham” has been reduced to “Baijnath Dham”, possibly. I believe that God is omnipresent. So I pay respect to all places of worship, whether it is a Dham or Pith or Sthal or not. I do visit Hindu temples, Jain temples, mosques, churches with same spirit of respect.

    I do have one doubt about the name of golden temple : whether it is Harimandar (this spelling I read in a book purchased from a shop inside the temple premises) sahib or Harmandir sahib (as mentioned by you). I will be happy if I am clarified with theoretical reference.

    Thanks again Nandan for your appreciation.

    Warm regards
    Santanu

  • Nandan Jha says:

    Dear Santanu – Thank you for your effusive praise, I definitely do not deserve it.

    Well, as for Harmandir or Harimandir, I guess it is more of a language nuance. More like the name of famous actress which could be ‘Kajol’ or ‘Kajal’, depending on where the naming ceremony was done.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.