Imagine looking into the eyes of the Goddess and feeling her love and grace. Imagine being in a place where her power and energy are palpable and profound. Imagine being in a place where her story and glory are alive and inspiring. That place is the Sri Naina Devi Ji Temple in Bilaspur, Himachal Pradesh.
Sri Naina Devi Ji Temple is one of the two temples named Naina Devi in India, the other being in Nainital, Uttarakhand. Both temples are among the 51 or 52 Shakti Peeths of Sati, where her body parts fell after being cut by Lord Vishnu’s Sudarshan Chakra to calm down Lord Shiva’s tandava dance.
In this article, we will focus on the Sri Naina Devi Ji Temple in Bilaspur, which is also one of the nine Maha Shakti Peeths or supreme seats of cosmic power. We will take you on a journey to the eye of the Goddess and explore its history, legend, significance, architecture, festivals and how to reach this holy site that attracts millions of devotees and tourists every year.
Whether you are a spiritual seeker or a cultural enthusiast, you will find something to marvel at and cherish at this temple. So, let’s begin our journey to the eye of the Goddess.
The Story Behind the Eye: History and Legend of Sri Naina Devi Ji Temple
The history and legend of the Sri Naina Devi Ji Temple in Bilaspur are intertwined with the story of Sati and Shiva, one of the most tragic and romantic tales in Hindu mythology.
Sati was the daughter of King Daksha, who despised Shiva for his unconventional and ascetic lifestyle. He arranged a grand yajna (fire sacrifice) and invited all the gods and goddesses except Shiva. Sati felt humiliated and decided to attend the yajna anyway, hoping to persuade her father to respect her husband.
However, Daksha insulted Shiva in front of everyone and refused to acknowledge him as a god. Sati could not bear this and immolated herself in the fire. When Shiva heard this news, he was enraged and carried Sati’s corpse on his shoulder and started dancing wildly across the universe. This dance threatened to destroy the cosmic balance and create chaos.
To stop Shiva’s dance, Lord Vishnu used his Sudarshan Chakra (discus weapon) and cut Sati’s body into 51 or 52 pieces that fell on different places on earth. These places became known as Shakti Peeths or places of power where Sati’s energy is still present.
According to one version of the legend, Sati’s eyes (naina) fell on a hilltop in Bilaspur, where the Sri Naina Devi Ji Temple was built by Raja Bir Chand in the 8th century AD. According to another version, Sati’s eyes fell on a lake in Nainital, where the Naina Devi Temple was built by Moti Ram Shah in the 15th century AD.
The Sri Naina Devi Ji Temple in Bilaspur is also associated with another legend of a devotee named Naina who prayed to Goddess Durga for saving her village from a tyrant named Raja Tunga. The goddess appeared in her dream and told her to dig a pit on a hilltop where she would find an eye-shaped stone that would grant her wish. Naina followed the instructions and found the stone that turned out to be Sati’s eye. She built a temple around it and named it after herself as Naina Devi.
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The Eye of Power: Significance and Architecture of Sri Naina Devi Ji Temple
The Sri Naina Devi Ji Temple in Bilaspur is one of the most revered Shakti Peeths of Sati and a popular pilgrimage site for Hindus. It is also considered as one of the nine Maha Shakti Peeths or supreme seats of cosmic power where the goddess manifests herself in full glory.
The temple houses three idols of Goddesses: Maa Kali (the presiding deity), Maa Naina Devi (the manifestation of Sati’s eyes) and Maa Saraswati (the goddess of wisdom). The idols are adorned with beautiful clothes and jewelry and are worshipped with devotion and reverence by the priests and the devotees.
The temple also has a shrine dedicated to Lord Ganesha (the elephant-headed god) and a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva (the destroyer). These two gods are considered as the sons of Sati and Shiva and are revered as the remover of obstacles and the lord of auspiciousness respectively.
The temple has a unique dome-shaped structure with intricate carvings and paintings that depict various scenes from Hindu mythology and history. The temple also has a magnificent view of the Gobind Sagar Lake and the Bhakra Dam, which are among the largest man-made reservoirs and dams in India.
The Eye of Celebration: Festivals and How to Reach Sri Naina Devi Ji Temple
The Sri Naina Devi Ji Temple in Bilaspur celebrates various festivals throughout the year, such as Navratri, Shravan Ashtami, Chaitra Mela, etc. These festivals attract thousands of devotees who offer prayers, perform rituals and witness cultural programs at the temple premises.
Navratri is a nine-day festival that honors the nine forms of Goddess Durga. It is celebrated twice a year, once in March-April (Chaitra Navratri) and once in September-October (Ashwin Navratri). During this festival, the temple is decorated with lights and flowers and special ceremonies are conducted to invoke the goddess’s blessings.
Shravan Ashtami is a festival that commemorates the day when Sati’s eyes fell on the hilltop. It is celebrated on the eighth day of the lunar month of Shravan (July-August). On this day, devotees take a holy dip in the Gobind Sagar Lake and climb up the hill to offer water, milk and flowers to the goddess.
Chaitra Mela is a fair that is held every year in March-April at the temple complex. It is a colorful and vibrant event that showcases the local culture, cuisine, handicrafts and entertainment. It also attracts pilgrims from neighboring states like Punjab, Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir, etc.
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How to reach
The Sri Naina Devi Ji Temple in Bilaspur can be reached by road from major cities like Delhi or Chandigarh or by train from nearby stations like Anandpur Sahib or Kiratpur Sahib. The temple is about 60 km from Anandpur Sahib and 30 km from Kiratpur Sahib. There are buses and taxis available from these places to reach the temple.
The temple can also be reached by ropeway or palki from the base of the hill, which offer scenic views of the lake and the dam. The ropeway is about 500 meters long and can carry 12 passengers at a time. The fare is Rs. 100 per person for a round trip. The palki is a palanquin carried by four men that can accommodate one passenger at a time. The fare is Rs. 300 per person for a round trip.
The visiting timings of the temple are from 5 am to 10 pm every day. The temple remains open throughout the year, except during heavy snowfall or landslides.
You should also follow the dress code and the etiquette of the temple and respect the sentiments of the locals.
We hope you enjoyed reading this article about the Sri Naina Devi Ji Temple in Bilaspur, Himachal Pradesh. This temple is a divine journey to the eye of the Goddess, where you can experience her grace and power.
If you are planning to visit this temple, we suggest you to go during the festivals or during the winter season when the weather is pleasant and the views are spectacular.