Friday 8 March 2013

The deity of Flames

There is neither any deity here nor any image. Yet, it is one of the holiest of the temples in India and it has a long and hoary history behind it.
This is one of the Shakti Stalas and perhaps the only on without an image. The rock within a three feet square pit is believed to be the mouth of a Goddess and it constantly emits a blue flame.
There are none other points from which flames have been coming out for hundreds of years and they all represent different Goddesses. The flames thus are the deities here and not any idols or images. 
The Mughal emperor first disbelieved the tale of the eternal flames. He decided to test the legend and he asked hundreds of workmen to construct a canal near the flames so that it could be extinguished.
The flames could not be put out even though the canal was full of water. Even to this day, the canal is running near the temple and it of full of water. Coming back to the story of Akbar and the canal, a repentant Emperor accepted that the flames were divine in origin  
And became an ardent devotee.
He then placed his gold crown at the rock where flames were coming out. The gold quickly turned to copper and left Akbar shaken. The local women sing a beautiful song telling the legend of gold turned to copper.
Apart from Akbar, the greatest Sikh ruler, Maharaja Ranjit Singh and his successor, Kharak Singh were devotes of the this deity. Lord Hardinge, Viceroy of India from 1910-1916, was so impressed by the beauty of the temple doors that he got a replica of them made for his personal collection.      
This is very sacred as it is believed to the very place where the tongue of Sati fell on earth. This is the temple of  Jwalamukhi in Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh.
It is located around 35 km south of the Kangra valley in the lap of the magnificent Shivalik ranges and it is dedicated to Goddess Jwalamukhi, the deity of  flaming mouth.
Sati manifests herself  as ten different flames that burn through the fissures through an old rock. Interestingly, there is no idol to worship here or image to pray to. However, there is a constantly burning blue flame that seems to be coming out from the rocks. Therefore, it is also known as a temple of the Goddess of Light.
Jwalamukhi is also known as the Flaming Goddess or the Goddess of flaming mouth.
The temple has a gilt dome and a silver plated folding doors. Inside the temple is a three feet square pit with pathway all around. In the centre, there is a hollowed rock which is believed to be the mouth of  Mahakali.
Flames come out from several other points in the pit and they are all named after different deities. They are: Saraswati, Annapurna, Chandi, Hing Laj, Vindhya Vasini, Mahalakshmi, Mahakali, Ambika and Anjana.
Two lions guard the entrance to the temple. The doors of the temple are made of pure silver and they are a beautiful sight to behold. Their beauty struck Lord Harding and he ordered a replica of the doors to be made.
The canal constructed by Akbar channels the spring waters which come from a different source around the back of the temple. Later Akbar’s son Jahangir invaded the Kangra valley and visited this temple.
After seeing the Jwalamukhi,  he wrote about it in his memories. He has also related the legend of Shiva and Parvati and other stories connected with Jwalamukhi.The Pandavas are supposed to have come here and prayed to Mahakali. They also renovated the temple. Another legend states that Shiva killed Jalandhara, demon and buried him under the  mountains. The flames are believed to come out from his mouth.
Jwalamukhi temple is easily accessible. The closest airport is Gaggal, which is 50 kms away. Chandigarh airport is 200 kms away. The nearest narrow gauge railway link is Ranital, 20 km away. The nearest broad gauge railway station is Pathankot, which is more than 100 kms away.
The temple is also well connected by road network. There are frequent buses from cities of  Punjab and Haryana and Himachal Pradesh. Taxis are also there to take you to the Jwalamukhi temple.
The temple engages 102 pujaris to perform the rituals on a daily rotation basis. Forty per cent of the temple’s daily collection goes to the pujari on duty on that particular day. The remaining is spent by the Government on improving and developing facilities for pilgrims.
Mahakali is offered Bhog of Rabri or thickened milk, Misri or candy, seasonal fruits, milk. There is a mystic Yantar or diagram of the goddess in the temple premises. This is covered with shawls and ornaments and mantras are recited. The puja has different phases and goes on practically the whole day. Arti is done five times in the day and  Homa is performed once a day

No comments:

Post a Comment