May 5, 2015

A triad of Goddess- Vindhyavasini, Kali and Ashtabhuja in Vindhyachal


River Ganga and the sandy riverbed on the way to Vindhyachal
River Ganga and the sandy riverbed on the way to Vindhyachal

As I had mentioned in my earlier post the my journey this time ended up as a classic pilgrimage. The places I visited were temple towns and each temple there has a interesting legend associated with it. One such triad of goddesses is Vindhyachal. 70KM from the religious city of Varanasi, Vindhyachal is another sacred place for the believers of Goddess Durga. The presiding deity Vindhyavasini (The Goddess who lives on Vindhyachal) is instant bestower of benediction.

It is one of the important shaktipeethas where the back of Divi Sati fell. It is a place where Devi Parvati did tapas to impress Lord Shiiva and accept her as his wife.  It is important because three women powers of Hindu mythology- Devi Mahalakshmi (Goddess of wealth and prosperity), Devi Sarswati (Goddess of knowledge) and Devi Mahakali (Goddess of power and strength) reside here. Also believed that Shiva presented the Sudarshana Chakra to Vishnu right here in this place!

From Varanasi I took a bus to Vindhyachal and took a shared autorikshaw to the temple. After climbing few steps observing the inviting shopkeepers I reached the temple complex. A panda offered me to jump the lines which I declined. There were hardly ten people ahead of me! In most of the important temples in northern india this happens. A relay of pandas can take you jumping the long lines for a very fat extorted donation. It also happens in south India in the form of very ordered special 'paid' lines. More expensive is the ticket shorter the line for darshan. Very convenient if you like it! But for people who do not have much money it becomes frustrating to stand in the line forever watching rich people going past them. I always stand in the long lines- not to save money, but I believe there is no shortcut to see God! Well, I don't even know that god still lives in temples! 

The idol of Goddess is decorated with huge silver eyes, silk saree, lots of kumkum and tons of flowers. The sanctum is filled with dhup (incense). Here the goddess is worshipped as Devi Mahalakshmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity. After the brief darshan of devi I left to visit the other two shrines. I hired an autorikshaw to go around 6KM. Kalikoh is a cave temple 2KM from the Vindhyavasini temple is dedicated to Devi Mahakali. Even though located in a very secluded wooded area it attracts many devotees. It is very popular among the tantriks and you happen to see few of them lingering around the Bhairava shrine. 

Ashtabhuja temple on a hillock 3KM from Vindhyavasini temple is dedicated to Devi Saraswati. Legend says that when Lord Krishna was born in the jail his father Vasudeva carried him in a cane basket from Mathura to Vrindavan crossing the river Yamuna. The infant then was replaced with a girl child in Mathura. When King Kansa tried to kill the girl infant, it just flew into the air and took the appearance of the Goddess Ashtabhuja Devi, then established herself on a hillock of Vindhya range. The temple is in a wooded area and one has to climb few steps to reach. 

All three of these are cave temples where additional 20th century structures are erected all around. Visitors here are mostly devotees of Goddesses as there is nothing else to see. Ashtabhuja and Kalikoh temples are located in considerably wooded areas. Be prepared to get harassed by pandas at every step. One panda tried to sell Devi ka khazana for Rs. 500 to me at Kalikoh. For me, blessing of goddess itself is the wealth which I cannot buy paying Rs.500.

For more excursions from Varanasi CLICK HERE.
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Related articles-
Varanasi- As I Saw, A Photo tour
Seven days of my Kashi Yatra
Backpacking India III- Classic Pilgrimage!
Backpacking India Part II- A Parallel Journey
Stories from Backpacking India

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Scrapbook- A Travel Blog by Kusum Sanu is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

4 comments:

  1. Stunning images,very informative and interesting Article.

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    1. Thanks Viswa. Glad you find it informative.

      Delete
  2. ur images are stunning all over... its really a cool blog .. esp when it comers to travel blogs from solo travlers

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    Replies
    1. Thank you Nischal. Hope it was informative as well.

      Delete

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