Chamba :: Chamunda Devi Temple Chamba
Chamunda Devi is the wrathful form of the Goddess Durga and the temple dedicated to her in Chamba is on Shah Madar Hill overlooking the town of Chamba. The temple is very elaborately decorated complete with intricate carvings of flowers and other deities. Youll find these all over the ceiling, pillars and the lintel of the temple. Just behind the temple is a small shrine to Lord Shiva designed in the Shikhara style - a curved cylindrical structure with five to nine striations ending in a bell shape.
Standing sentinel in front of the temple are two very old peepul trees that are also worshipped by devotees and provide shelter to travellers, devotees and tourists. These grow from a platform in front of the temple and if you stand here, you get a birds eye view many of the monuments in Chamba like Chaugan the grassy promenade which is considered the centre of town, Circuit House, the temples and River Ravi.
If youd like to get a workout, take the local route which is the flight of stairs leading to the temple from Sapri. They were built by Raja Raj Singh so are a landmark in themselves! Or drive there from Chamba. Its just about 3 km and a pleasant drive. In fact, you can approach the temple easily even during the harshest of winters and this also makes it a popular picnic spot for locals and tourists because of the view and the pleasant surroundings. Today, Chamunda Devi Temple is cared for by the Archaeological Survey of India and is quite well maintained and worth spending a few minutes at.
In Jallandar Mahatmya, Chapter VI reference is made to 'Chamunda Nandikeshwar' and people believe the reference is to these two deities 'Chamunda' and 'Nandikeshwar'. The legend associated is well known. In 'Satya Yuga' two 'Daityas' (demons), 'Shumbh' and 'Nishumbh' engaged themselves in deep meditation and were blessed by Lord Brahma with immense power.
The Daityas deified 'Indra' and other Gods. The Gods were terrified of the Daityas and resorted to Jadrangal village and propitiated 'Jagadamba Devi'. The Devi was pleased and promised to rescue them from the Daityas. She created a Devi out of her body, a beautiful person 'Kaushika'. Kaushika was given the assignment of destroying Shumbh and Nishumbh. The two Daityas heard of her beauty and wanted to bring her to them. They failed to persuade her to come to them through a 'doot' (messenger) who was scornfully sent away. Kaushika sent word through the messenger that she could only be won by a war. A dreadful war started. Kaushika Devi created 'Kalika' Shakti from her forehead and Kalika cut off the heads of 'Chund' and 'Mund', two brave and fearless commanders of the two Daityas. The destruction of the Daityas followed and the three worlds were relieved of the Daityas. Kaushika Devi blessed Kalika Shakti and asked her to be seated at Jadrangal village and be known as Chamunda. She would fulfil the desires of the needy persons. This mythological story is based on Devi Bhagwati, Markandey Puran and Durga Saptsati. There is another story about the siting of Chamunda. She was seated first on a higher mountain near a fort built by Raja Chandra Bhann of Kangra. A blind devotee of Chamunda pleaded with the Devi to shift to a lower place where he could go more easily. The Devi agreed and came down to the present lower site. The Chamunda Devi was installed in a cave. It is said the temple was built about 700 years back. The great earthquake of 1905, which had created havoc in this area, did not cause any damage to the temple. The snow line starts at Illaqa. Those who want to do a return trip in one day are advised to start very early in the morning. There is a Forest Rest House.