Temple Circuit Kangra Valley

The prominent temples that the Kangra valley, in Himachal Pradesh, is famous for are Jwalamukhi, Brajeshwari, Chintpurni and Naina Devi. There is a major rush of pilgrims throughout the year, especially during the Navratra festival in April and October.

There are fascinating legends associated with these shrines, the most popular of them being that of King Daksh. The story goes that the arrogant king did not invite Lord Shiva, his son-in-law to a 'yagna', and consequently his daughter Sati, utterly humiliated, plunged into the sacrificial fire. Shiva arrived on hearing this, only to find his beloved half burnt. Enraged he carried her charred body and broke into the 'tandava nritya', the awesome dance of death. Her charred remains - tongue, breasts, feet and eyes fell at four places to form the four pilgrimage sites of Jwalamukhi, Brajeshwari, Chintpurni and Naina Devi. This temple circuit is one of the most popular ones in North India.  

The Jwalamukhi temple is perched on a ridge called Kali dhar. The shrine has a gilt dome and soaring pinnacles. Inside is a square pit, three feet deep with a pathway all around. The rock in the middle has a crack, through which a gas is emitted, and on lighting it the gas bursts out into a huge flame, the priest keeps applying the flame to the gas - which is seen as a blessing of the deity. The shrine has no idol as such, the emanation of the gas is believed to be a manifestation of the goddess Jwalaji. The nine flames have been named after goddesses - Mahakali, Unpurna, Chandi, Hinglaj, Bindhya Basni, Maha Lakshmi, Saraswati, Ambika and Anji Devi. Jwalamukhi is said to be the spot where the half-burnt tongue of Sati fell, hence the burning flames or 'tongues' of fire. During the Mughal period, a fervent devotee from Delhi, Dhianu Bhagat visited the temple, alongwith several others. Emperor Akbar, his curiousity aroused at such an exodus from his capital, followed Bhagat. He tried to put the flames out but failed. Later Akbar visited the temple with Jodha Bai and presented a solid gold umbrella to the shrine, which can be seen even to this day. The King of Nepal presented a magnificent bell, which adorns the front hall. Milk and water is offered to the flames, the 'puja' going on for the whole day.

The Brajeshwari Devi temple, located in the old Kangra township, is said to have been built over the charred breasts of Sati. This shrine, once renown for its great wealth, has been plundered relentlessly over the ages. The first of the plunderers was Mahmud of Ghazni, who looted it in 1009. A mosque was built on the ruins and a garrison was left behind. 35 years later, the local king regained its possession. The shrine was repaired and a replica of the idol was enshrined. The temple was filled with gold, silver and diamonds only to be ransacked again in 1360 by Firoz Tughlaq. Later Emperor Akbar visited the shrine with his dewan, Todar Mal and restored it to its former grandeur. The temple was razed to the ground by an earthquake in 1905, but a new one came up the very same year, thanks to the Kangra Restoration Committee.

The Naina Devi temple is located atop a hill, commanding an awesome view of the Punjab plains on one side and the Gobind Sagar lake on the other. This is the spot where Sati's eyes - nain - are believed to have fallen. Some devotees cover the last few miles of the climb up crawling, this method is called 'sashtang dandvata'. The puja is performed by thirty priests. The temple is also frequented by Sikhs. Guru Gobind Singh is believed to have spent some days here.

The Chintpurni temple stands on the spot where the charred feet of Sati fell. The 'Pindi' or the stone hall symbolises her feet. The Chintpurni 'mantra' is very popular with devotees. In recent years the temple has been renovated with the help of major donations from devotees all over the country. 

Some of the most exhilarating Pilgrimage in India include 
Ajmer Sharief (Rajasthan)
Badrinath (Uttar Pradesh)
Rishikesh (Uttar Pradesh)
Haridwar (Uttar Pradesh)
Kanchipuram (Tamil Nadu)
Kanyakumari (Tamil Nadu)
Trichy (Tamil Nadu)
Mahabalipuram (Tamil Nadu)
Velangani (Tamil Nadu)
Konark (Orissa)
Amarnath (Jammu & Kashmir)
Tabo (Himachal Pradesh)
Kangra Valley (Himachal Pradesh)
Pawapuri (Bihar)
Sikh shrines (Amritsar)
The Modhera Sun Temple (Gujarat)
Pushkar (Rajasthan)
Allahabad (Uttar Pradesh)
Kedarnath (Uttar Pradesh) 
Varanasi (Uttar Pradesh) 
Rameswaram (Tamil Nadu) 
Tanjavur (Tamil Nadu)
Basilica of Bom Jesus (Goa)
Bhubaneshwar (Orissa)
Puri (Orissa)
Vaishno Devi (Jammu & Kashmir)
Buddhist sites (Himachal Pradesh)
Bodhgaya (Bihar)
Tirupati (Andhra Pradesh)
Shirdi (Maharashtra)
Madurai(Tamil Nadu)