Jwalamukhi Temple Kangra, Himachal Pradesh
One amongst the 51 Shaktipeetha of the country, the Jwalamukhi Temple in Himachal is considered extremely sacred for the Hindus. It is located around 30 km south of the Kangra valley in the lap of Shivalik range and is dedicated to Goddess Jwalamukhi, the deity of Flaming Mouth.
The Legend of Jwalamukhi Temple
The legend of the Jwalamukhi Temple relates to Sati, who was born
when gods concentrated their individual energy on the ground. These
gods were looking for a respite from the atrocities of the demons.
This girl was Adishakti or the first shakti (Sati or Parvati).
She was brought up in the house of Prajapati Daksha and married Lord Shiva later. It is believed that Prajapati Daksha once organised a yajna and invited everyone barring Lord Shiva. Sati felt immensely humiliated at this act of her father and immolated herself in the fire of the havankund. On hearing this, Lord Shiva became so furious that he carried Sati's burnt body and moved around the three world. The gods could foresee a calamity approaching so they assembled before Lord Vishnu and asked him to do something to diffuse the anger of lord Shiva. Lord Vishnu cut apart Sati's body into several pieces with his Sudharshan Chakra. Wherever on earth the pieces of Sati's body fell, a shaktipeeth came up. These are the spot that are regarded as the power centre of the goddess.
The Jwalamukhi temple is the place where the tongue of Sati fell. Here the goddess is manifested as tiny flames that burn through the fissures in the age old rock. The temple is supposed to be first built by a king who, on the complain of a cowherd, tried to find out the place where from where a female emerged and drank the milk of the cow. Since, the king was aware of the legend of Sati, he continued his search for the place and finally succeeded. He constructed a temple there and employed priest to perform pujas. Later, Pandavas came and carried out some renovation work in the temple.
The History of Jwalamukhi Temple
The history of the Jwalamukhi Temple states that the great Mughal
emperor Akbar visited it and tried to douse of the flame of the
temple. However, when unsuccessful, he willingly submitted to the
power of the goddess. He presented a gold chhatri (umbrella) for the
goddess which is said to have turned into copper when he turned around
to have a look at it before leaving. Maharaja Ranjit Sigh also paid a
visit to the temple in the year 1809. His son, Kharak Singh gifted a
pair of silver plated folding doors to the temple while Ranjit Singh
himself gave the gilt roof.
The history of the temple also states that there were a number of beautiful dancing girls in this temple at one point of time. However, there is nothing of the sort today. Moreover, in the princely era, the work of the temple was managed by the raja of Naduan. He himself appointed the temple priest. After independence, things changed a lot. The pujaris is now appointed and paid by by the government. A part of the money collected by the temple is used to improve the facilities for the visiting pilgrims.
The Jwalamukhi Temple Itself
The temple of Jwalamukhi is not an architectural delight. Moreover, there is no idol to worship too. The building has a gilt dome and a silver plated folding doors. Inside, there is a 3 feet square pit with pathway all around. In the centre, there is a hollowed rock over a primary fissure of flame. This one is regarded as the mouth of the Mahakali. Flames emit out from several other point in the pit. They are nine in total and represent the different form of the goddess - Saraswati, Annapurna, Chandi, Hing Laj, Vindhya Vasini, Mahalakshmi, Mahakali, Ambika and Anjana. There are two lions in front of the temple.
Puja In the Jwalamukhi Temple
During the entire day, there are in total five aartis conducted in
the temple. The first aarti is performed early in the morning at
around 5 am and is known as the Mangal aarti. The next aarti is
carried out at the time of sunrise and is called Panjupchaar Pujan. At
around midnoon, it is time for yet another aarti, Bhog Ki Aarti. The
evening aarti at around 7 pm is simply called aarti while the last one
at around 10 pm is known as the Shaiyan ki aarti.
The last aarti at the Jwalamukhi Temple is particularly unique since it is only here that such an aarti is conducted. During the aarti, the bed of the goddess is decorated with beautiful dresses and jewelleries. The aarti is performed in two parts. The first one is in the main temple while the second one is performed in the sejabhavan. Slokas from 'Sondarya Lahri' by Shri Shakracharya are recited throughout the aarti.
Havan is also performed once a day and parts of Durga Saptarshi are recited during it. Offerings made before the goddess in puja include bhog of rabri or thickened milk, misri or candy, seasonal fruits and milk.
For tourists desirous of visiting the temple, the closest airport is
at Gaggal which is around 50 km away. The nearest railhead is a narrow
gauge one at Ranital, 20 km away. Chandigarh airport and railway
station is at a distance of around 200 km. The temple is also well
connected by road. State transport buses from cities of Punjab and
Haryana are available. Taxis are also there to take you to the
Devotees can either buy prashad from any of the nearby shops of the temple or bring in their own prasad from home. Usually, the prasad that is offered to the deity include pan, supari, dhawaza, narela, loung and elaichi.