Uttarakhand is popularly known as Devbhoomi, the land of gods and the state is dotted with temples. Devotees believe that the land is blessed with the presence of Lord Shiva and His divine consort, Goddess Shakti. There are several revered temples dedicated to Her. The following are a few that worship Goddess Shakti in her various divine incarnations. Pilgrims throng these temples throughout the year, especially during Navratri.
Mansa Devi Temple
The Mansa Devi temple is among the five pilgrimage spots or panch-tirthas in Haridwar. It is said to be the home of Goddess Mansa, a form of Goddess Shakti. It is said that Mansa originated from the mind of Lord Shiva and this temple, perched on the Bilwa parvat, is one of the 51 shakti peeths. According to Hindu mythology, Lord Shiva, enraged and bereaved at the death of Goddess Shakti, had danced the Tandav with Her dead body on his shoulder. Lord Vishnu, trying to stop Lord Shiva's destructive dance, cut Her body into 51 pieces, which fell on Earth. Each site, where these pieces fell, is marked as a shakti peeth. Uttarakhand is home to several of these shakti peeth.
Chandi Devi Temple
Chandi Devi Temple is said to have been the resting place of Goddess Shakti. It is located on the Neel Parvat hill in Haridwar, close to the Mansa Devi Temple. A beautiful location, with River Ganga flowing by, legend has it that Goddess Shakti rested here after killing the demons Shumbha and Nishumbha, in the avatar of Chandi.
Sati Kund is a holy well located in Haridwar, where Goddess Parvati is worshipped. Legend has it that in her previous birth, Goddess Parvati was Sati. It is said that she married Lord Shiva against the wishes of her father, Daksha. Once when Daksha organised a yagya (traditional fire ritual) in his kingdom, he did not invite Shiva. Offended and infuriated, Sati immolated herself in the yagya fire.
The Chandrabadni Temple lies in Tehri Garhwal. It is one of the shakti peetha dedicated to Goddess Sati. It is said that the torso of Sati fell where this temple is located.
Kalimath is a prominent shakti peeth that lies en route to Kedarnath in Rudraprayag. It is the only place where Goddess Kali is revered along with her sisters, Goddess Lakshmi and Goddess Saraswati. The temple of Goddess Kali is visited by devotees throughout the year, especially during the days of Navratri.
Naina Devi Temple
Located by the stunning Naini Lake in Nainital stands the revered Naina Devi Temple, which is one of the shakti peeths. Legend says that Goddess Sati’s eyes (nayan) fell at this place. The temple is one of the most prominent tourism sites in Nainital.
This temple is located on the northern banks of Naini lake in Mallital area. The temple is named after Goddess Sati’s eyes (nayan/nain) that fell at this place when Lord Shiva was carrying her burning body while performing the dance of cosmic destruction. It is one of the most revered temples of Goddess Durga and is guarded by the lofty Mt Nanda Devi.
There is an old peepal tree at the temple’s premises that guards the main temple. A large standing idol of Lord Hanumana is also present that showers blessings on the devotees while guarding the goddess. The sanctum sanctorum of the temple has two ‘nayan’ (eyes) of the Goddess with Maa Kali and Lord Ganesha seated on her left and right side.
The temple can be reached by a bus that is available from Nainital city bus stand, about three km away. One can also walk the distance or take an auto to reach the place.
Kasar Devi Temple
Located in the scenic destination of Almora, stands the popular Kasar Devi Temple, where it is said Goddess Durga had appeared Herself to bless devotees.
Haatkalika Temple, Gangolihaat
Haatkalika temple is located in Gangolihaat town of Pithoragarh. This temple is dedicated to Goddess Mahakali and people have a lot of faith and belief in it. The temple is located amidst dense deodar trees and is said to have been established by Guru Adi Shankaracharya more than a 1,000 years ago. A continuous sacred fire has been burning at the temple for ages and is said to have the power of Goddess Kali.
According to a popular belief, Maa Kali rests here. A bed is placed near the Shakti Peeth. Every morning, there are folds on the bed, which indicates that someone has rested on it. It is said that whoever offers prayers towards the feet of Goddess Kali, gets rid of any kind of illness or disease, grief and poverty as a blessing from the Goddess.
The temple is located in Gangolihaat and is about 23 km from Berinag and 13 km from Patal Bhuvaneshwar. It can be reached by taxi from Kathgodam railway station.
Purnagiri Temple, Tanakpur
Maa Puranagiri temple is located near Tanakpur town of Champawat district. The temple is situated at a height of 3,000 mt above sea level and is distance 20 km from Tanakpur. One can reach this temple by road from Tankapaur to Thulligard, from where a three km trek through stairs will bring you to this place.
It is said that when Sati, the daughter of Daksha Prajapati, married Adi Yogi Lord Shiva against her father’s wish, Daksha decided to humiliate the lord by conducting religious yagna in which he invited all other gods and goddesses except his daughter and son-in-law. Devi Sati decided to attend the yagna where she was not well attended to. Instead, her father insulted Lord Shiva which hurt her sentiments and she jumped into the yagna fire and sacrificed her life.
At his beloved wife's demise, Lord Shiva was filled with rage and destroyed the yagna. He then carried her burning body over his shoulder and performed ‘tandav’, the dance of cosmic destruction. It is said that her Naabhi (naval) fell at the spot where today’s Purnagiri Temple is located. Thousands of tourists and devotees visit this temple every year from March to April, to fulfill their wishes
Varahi Devi Temple, Devidhura
This temple is at a distance of 60 km from Lohaghat. It is located in Devidhura at a height of 1850 m above sea level and is considered as one of the 52 Shakti Peeths of Goddess Durga.
The temple is famous for Bagwal fest where people from four tribes, namely Gahadwal, Chamyal, Walik and Lamgadiya make two groups and fight a mock war with stones and flowers.
Close to the temple is a place called Gagori that has caves with two huge rocks. It is said that the goddess entered her planet by passing between these two rocks. A small place is located between these two rocks where Goddess Varahi used to sit but later she left her idol in its place. No one is allowed to see the idol with bare eyes. Those who do so lose their eye sight.
The place is located about 45 km from Lohaghat and can be reached by cab or taxi.
Garjiya Devi Temple, Nainital
This temple is placed over a rock that is located amidst river Kosi. It is one of the renowned Shakti Peeths of Uttarakhand that is dedicated to Garjiya Devi, a version of Goddess Parwati, daughter of Giriraj, the King of mountains. The temple is located in Garjiya village near Ramnagar, and is visited by local as well as devotees from all over Uttarakhand.
Visitors can reach the temple by crossing a bridge that is built over Kosi River, followed by climbing 60 steps. Devotees worship Goddess Garjiya Devi, and after offering prayers, they bathe in the clear waters of river Kosi. Puffed rice along with piece of red cloth (chunari) are offered to the Goddess & the later one is tied to a grill that surrounds the temple. It is said that wishes of those who do so, get fulfilled.
The temple is 13 km from Ramnagar and 75 km from Nainital. It can be reached by bus or taxi from Ramnagar.
Kotgadi (Kokila) Devi Temple, Pithoragarh
This temple is located at the base of Kalinag hill in Pankhu village in the hills of Kumaon. Kokila Devi is a divine version of Goddess Durga. The temple is surrounded by pine, oak and cedar trees that provide a scenic beauty to the visitors.
It is said that Kotgadi was a Brahmin village & once Goddess Kotgadi lived here as a human, and used to give justice in disputes among people. Since then, the people started worshipping her. All those who don’t get justice from the courts & are disillusioned, come to this temple & request Goddess Kotgadi for justice. Letters are written & hung on the temple’s wall. The Goddess does justice & punishes those who are found guilty. Due to this this reason, the she is also known as ‘Goddess of Justice’.
The main temple is divided into three parts. The outer part is for devotees who can sit or stand offer prayers, the central part is for those who conduct special prayer with the help of priest; while the inner-most part is not open for people. Only the head priest goes in, offers prayer & offering to the Goddess, and returns.
The temple is 17 km from Kotmanya road near Chaukodi, a well-known tourist destination from Pithoragarh. It can be reached by car or taxi.