What could have been better than starting your Monday Morning with Seher Program with Bhajan Samraat Anoop Jalota on 92.7 BIG FM? I just do this every day from last many years; probably I am addicted to it. I am more particular about it during this time of the year when we Hindus celebrate Navratri where we pray Maa Durga for our health, prosperity and happiness. Why? This is when BIG FM shares stories associated with Maa Durga and how she is worshipped in different avatars all over the country.
Today Jalotaji shared the story of Jwala Devi temple in Kangra which fascinated me no end. It made my childhood memories of the bhente vividly sung soulfully by Shri Narendra Chanchal. So the story goes like this: The flame which burns round the clock, across all weathers from hundreds of years, made Mughal Emperor Akbar curious and he went ahead to dig the reality of the flame. He tried to extinguish the flames by covering them with an iron disk and even channelizing water to them. But the flames blasted all these efforts. Akbar then presented a golden parasol (Chattra) at the shrine. However, his cynicism at the power of Devi caused the gold to debase into another metal. His belief in the deity was all the more strengthened after this incident. Thousands of pilgrims visit the shrine round the year to satisfy their spiritual urge. Jawalamukhi has since times immemorial turned out to be a great pilgrimage centre.
Jawala Ji has a unique characteristic of perpetual lights emanating from the rock at temple site being considered the manifestation of goddess. Jawala Ji as a center of faith is unparalleled and unique. There is no deity or idol that is worshiped, nor there a magnificent temple building to be admired. It has the series of jets of inflammable natural lighting since times immemorial believed to be the symbol of Goddess. Aartis are essential rituals in all the temples in the country. However, the Shayan Aarti performed at Jawala Ji before bed time is unique. The bed of Goddess is decked up with rich dresses and ornaments during Aarti.
Jwalaji (flame) or Jwala Mukhi (flame mouth) is probably the most ancient temple besides Vaishno Devi. It is mentioned in the Mahabharata and other scriptures. There is a natural cave where eternal flames continue to burn. Some say there are seven or nine flames for the seven divine sisters or the nine Durgas. It is here that Sati’s tongue fell which can now be seen in the form of the flame.
How to reach Jwalaji temple?
It is located only about an hour distance from the famous tourist resort of Dharamshala in Kangra Valley on Dharamshala-Shimla Road. Because of various historical factors associated with the temple, it has become a source of attraction to students and scholars. Besides, general tourists visiting Dharamshala do also not miss to see this place. As such it has acquired a vast dimension, as both pilgrims and general tourists visit the shrine.
After reaching the Jwalaji area/ bus stand, there is one main path to this temple, though other small distributaries can also be found from down the road. You have a main security check at the beginning of the temple compound. The main staircase is around 20 ft wide with Prasad Shops on both sides leading you to the main gate of the temple compound.
Route to Maa Jwala ji Dham is 32 Kilometers from Maa Chintpurni Devi hence the route from Delhi to Maa Jwalaji is very much the same to Maa Chintpurni Ji. On the way from Delhi to Jwala ji, the famous temples that you will find on the way are, Maa Mansa Devi in Chandigarh, Shri Anandpur Sahib, Maa Naina Devi Dham, Maa Chintpurni Devi.
After Bharwain you take right towards Dera Gopipur to Maa Jwala ji, world famous place. Mata Bajreshwari Devi is just 35 kms. If you choose to come from Jammu, Pathankot or other upper India regions, it is easier to reach the main Kangra city and then move to Jwalaji. The closest train station to Mata Jwala Devi is Ranital which is 18 km away. However from Delhi, it is better to take a train till Amb Andaura, Una and then travel by road.
If you are visiting Maa Jwalaji after Maa Chintpurni Devi, it is instructed by the pandits that you do not carry the Halwa prasad from Maa Chintpurni Devi to Maa Jwala Devi.
There is more to it, my daughter Tanyaa is planning a trip to Jwala Devi temple in May, and she is very excited about it. This made me dig further about this religious abode in north Indian state – Himachal Pradesh in Kangra for my readers who too should include this in their itinery.
More update on this once Tanyaa returns from her pilgrimage!
Jai Maata di bhakton!