Shri Bhima Kali Temple in Sarahan (The gate way of Kinnaur) is dedicated to the mother goddess Bhimakali, presiding deity of the rulers of former Bushahr State, now part of Shimla District known as Rampur Bushahr about 180 km from Shimla. The temple is one of 51 Shakti Peethass. Sarahan is identified with the then Sonitpur mentioned in Puranas.
Little about Temple Architecture
Most of the temples in the region are built on empirical Kath-khuni technique. Layered treatment is the same as that of old houses in the region but they often appear as standlike sentinels in the landscape. The temples vary from a single storey to a tower with seven storeys. The walls are constructed with alternate courses of dry masonry and wood without cementing mortar. This types of wall construction involves laying two wooden wall beams longitudinally parallel to each other with a gap in-between. The space between the two members is filled with rubble stone. Windows are provided in walls with solid plank shutters on all four sides and are usually very small. The same window has rhythmic floral carvings on the outer face with a small opening.Projected wooden balconies are very typical in this structure. The roof structure is constructed out of wooden beams followed by purlins and rafters, topped with slates or wooden shingles.
Sarahan in mythology
This was where Banasura of the leg-end ruled. One night his beautiful daughter, Usha, had a dream. She saw a prince more handsome and far stronger than any man. And when she woke, Usha pined for that prince and told her friend, Chitralekha, about him. Based on Usha's vivid description, Chitralekha made his portrait. Partially consoled, Usha kept that picture close to her. Then Chitralekha vowed she would search the world over for that prince and bring him to Usha.
For a long time, Chitralekha wandered till one day she saw Aniruddha, Lord Krishna's son. Here was the prince of Usha's dream! As Aniruddha slept, Chitralekha picked up the bed and brought him to Usha. But the moment Lord Krishna heard of his son's abduction, he marched with his army against Usha' s father. Banasura who hadn't a clue what the battle was all about was defeated. And then the story of the dream was told. Magnanimous as ever, Lord Krishna married his son to Usha and as dowry gave back the defeated Banasura his kingdom of Shonitpur, which is regarded to be the present day Sarahan.
Legend Of Bhimakali
Between the legend of Banasura and the present day, comes the presence of Bhimakali - which is what Sarahan is all about. Again in legend, there was a time when demons lorded over the Himalayas and harassed the Gods and the Rishis (saints). After a long sequence, led by Lord Vishnu, the Gods breathed fire and poured their strength to a focus. A huge flame rose and as the clouds of smoke dispersed, they saw that a young girl had taken birth. She was the first Shakti - "Adhishakti".
Hemkunt gave her a white tiger to ride on, Kuber gave her a crown, Varun gave her clothes and water. The other Gods gave her the Lotus, Garlands, a Conch, the Chakra and other powerful Devi, was to repeatedly take birth and destroy the demons. As Bhimakali, she appeared at Sarahan - the place is one of the major Shaktipeeths or Shaktipeethas or 'Places of Strength', where the Devi or Goddess appeared. While it was the local Pundits who spent hours with us narrating the legends, many are recorded in the ancient texts of the "Markandey Purana" and the "Durgaq Shaptshatti"
The temple complex has another three temples dedicated to Lord Raghunathji, Narsinghji and Patal Bhairva Ji (Lankra Veer) - the guardian deity.