The Navratri which is celebrated post monsoons in also known as Sharad Navratri. An important and integral part of the Hindu faith, Goddess Durga is worshipped in her different forms across the country. Throughout the nine days, nine incarnations or Avatars of Goddess Durga are worshipped and prayers are sought. Across the country several temples of the Goddess can be seen and amongst them are some that have more value than the others. Here is the list of some of the most popular Durga temples in India.
1. Vaishno Devi Temple, Jammu & Kashmir
Vaishno Devi is a manifestation of the Hindu Mother Goddess, Devi. The words “Maa” and “Mata” are commonly used in India for mother, and thus are often heavily used in connection with Vaishno Devi. Vaishnavi was formed from the combined energies of Kali, Lakshmi, and Saraswati. Mata Vaishno Devi Cave Temple is situated in the Trikuta Hills in Katra, Jammu & Kashmir. Hindu devotees from all over the world visit this famed religious site where the Mother Goddess or Mata Vaishno Devi is said to fulfill their wishes. At Mata Vaishno Devi Cave, the goddess is in the form of a five and a half feet tall rock which has three heads or the Pindies. The holy cave of Mata Vaishno Devi is said to have been discovered by Pandit Sridhar, a Hindu priest. Goddess Vaishnavi appeared in the dream of the priest and instructed him on how to find here abode on Trikuta Hills. The priest following her instruction heads out for the journey after the dream and found the cave as instructed earlier.
How to Reach: A 13-km trek from Katra town in Jammu Region leads to Mata Vaishno Devi pilgrimage site where the goddess manifests herself in the natural rock formation (holy pindies) in the sanctum sanctorum (cave). A tunnel was used by the devotees to reach the sanctum sanctorum of this holy site in Jammu.
2. Mansa Devi Temple, Uttarakhand
Mansa Devi Temple, Haridwar is a Hindu temple dedicated to goddess Mansa Devi in the holy city of Haridwar in the Uttarakhand state of India. The temple is located atop the Bilwa Parvat on the Sivalik Hills, the southernmost mountain chain of the Himalayas. The temple is known for being the holy abode of Manasa, a form of Shakti and is said to have emerged from the mind of the sage (Rishi) Kashyapa. Mansa is regarded as the sister of the Naga (Viper) Vasuki. The term Mansa means wish and it is believed that the goddess fulfils all the wishes of a sincere devotee. Devotees who want their wishes to be fulfilled by Mansa tie threads to the branches of a tree located in the temple. Once their wishes are fulfilled, people come back again to the temple to untie the thread from the tree. Mansa is also offered coconuts, fruits, garlands and incense sticks in order to appease her. Mansa Devi Temple can be reached in two ways: on foot or by cable car. Walking requires a one and a half kilometer hike uphill.
How To Reach: The nearest railway station Haridwar Railway station. Haridwar is well connected by railway networks with major destinations of India.
3. Chamunda Devi Temple, Himachal Pradesh
Shri Chamunda Devi Mandir also known as Chamunda Nandikeshwar Dham is the temple located at just 19 km away from Palampur town in Kangra, Himachal Pradesh. This is one of the most prominent temples in Himachal Pradesh and one of the most popular temples in all over India. It is also counted as one of the 51 Shakti Peethas and is situated at a distance of 10 km to the west of Palampur. Known for its serene surroundings, the temple is dedicated to the wrathful form of Goddess Durga i.e. Chamunda Devi. The walls of the temple are decorated and painted with scenes from the Mahabharata and Ramayana. The Chamunda Devi Temple happens to be one of the major tourist attraction when you travel to the quaint hill town of Palampur in Himachal Pradesh. While the location of the temple is undoubtedly beautiful for it is a hilltop temple, the legends attached to this temple are also amazing and thus attracts a lot of travellers to this place. Besides, it is also considered to be one of the holiest temples in the region, and is thus frequented by the locals as well. As far as the Chamunda Devi Temple timings are concerned, it totally depends on the season. During summers, the temple is open from 5 am to 12 pm and from 1 pm to 10 pm. On the other hand, during winters, the temple is open from 6 am to 12 pm and from 1 pm to 9 pm.
How to reach: The nearest airport is Gaggal, which is connected through Indian Airlines flight with New Delhi and Chandigarh. The nearest railway station for narrow-gauge tracks is Palampur, and for broad gauge lines, the nearest railway head is Pathankot.
4. Kamakhya Temple, Assam
The Kamakhya Temple is a Sakta temple dedicated to the mother goddess Kamakhya. It is one of the oldest of the 51 Shakti Pithas. There is no idol of the Goddess inside the temple rather an image of the yoni of the deity is being worshipped here. The pilgrims who visit the temple have to queue up at the entrance gate and then they enter the dark sanctum to offer their prayers to the Goddess. Kamakhya Devi is well known as the bleeding Goddess as it is said that womb of the deity had been installed in this temple. An amazing view of the Nilachal hills and the surrounding spiritual atmosphere of the temple imparts peace to one’s soul and mind. The temple appears very beautiful during the evening aarti. An annual festival being celebrated here is the Ambubachi Mela. A huge number of devotees is also seen here during the Manasha Puja which is considered to be very holy for the Hindus. During Navaratri the temple is decorated very beautifully and several visitors from all corners of the world visit the temple to take part in the festival. Therefore, an ideal thing to do here is to attend the aarti. One must also visit the nearby Bhuvaneshwari Devi Temple.
How to Reach: The tourists can easily travel to Guwahati via the airways or railways from any part of the country.
5. Amba Mata Temple, Gujarat
Ambaji is a census town in Banaskantha district in the state of Gujarat, India. It is known for its historical connections with sites of cultural heritage. In the holy temple of “Arasuri Ambaji”, there is no image or statue of goddess the holy “Shree Visa Yantra” is worshiped as the main deity. No one can see the Yantra with naked eye. The photography of the Yantra is prohibited. The original seat of Ambaji mata is on Gabbar hilltop in the town. A large number of devotees visit the temple every year specially on Purnima days. A large mela on Bhadarvi poornima (full moon day) is held. Every Year from all over the country people come here walking all over from their native place just to worship MAA AMBE in September. The whole Ambaji town is lit up as the nation celebrates the festive time of Diwali.
How to Reach: The nearest Railway station is at Abu Road which comes under the administrative control of North Western Railway zone of the Indian Railways. It has direct rail links on the broad gauge to the cities of Ajmer Chennai, Thiruvananthapuram, Mysore, Bangalore, Pune, Mumbai, Jaipur, Jodhpur, Delhi, Dehradun, Muzaffarpur, Bareilly and Jammu. The nearest International Airport is Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport, Ahemdabad which is 179 km far from Ambaji Temple Town.