Mom and I came to Allahabad at my maternal uncle’s house on the occasion of Diwali and Kali Puja. Yesterday we planned to visit Maihar today for pilgrimage. Maihar is around 200 km from Allahabad. Maihar is known for the temple of revered mother goddess Sharda (ca. 502 CE), situated on Trikuta hill of Maihar. It is in Satna district of Madhya Pradesh. This temple is known for the 1063 steps to the top.
According to the local legends, when Prithviraj Chauhan defeated king Parmal then in anger Aalha took out his sword to kill all the army of Prihviraj Chauhan but goddess Sharda caught his hands and stopped him. The warriors Alha and Udal, who had war with Prithvi Raj Chauhan, were very strong followers of Sharda Devi. It is said that they are the first ones to visit the goddess in this remote forest. They called the mother goddess by the name ‘Sharda Mai’, and henceforth she became popular as ‘Mata Sharda Mai’. Alha worshiped for 12 years and got the amaratva with the blessings of Sharda Devi. It’s believed that their souls visit the temple in early hours to pay their respect to the Mother. The temple remains closed during that time.
The legend that is supposed to be the reason for the existence of the temple starts with the Devi Sati and Lords Shiva who got married despite the objection of father of the Goddess – Daksha. Dejected by the marriage, Daksha planned a great Yagna to bring insult to Lord Shiva by not inviting Him. The act infuriated the Goddess who sacrificed herself in the holy fire. Upon getting the news of Her death, Lord Shiva brought His anger upon the world destroying anything and everything He met meanwhile carrying dead body of the Goddess on his back. To stop Him, Lord Vishnu cut the body into 52 pieces that fell at different parts of India where 52 Shakti Peethas (shrines) could now be found. Maihar is none of those 52 shrines but is revered as one the necklace (known as ‘har’ in Hindi) of the Goddess (‘Mai’ means Mother) fell here. Sharda is just another of Her many names.
We started early in the morning as the road condition is bad. Yes, the road is very bad and it took us over six hours to reach Maihar. Some renovation work is going on. We stopped for tea at one place and didn’t want to waste time before we reach the temple city.
We reached the gateway to the temple at the base of the Trikuta hill. There is a ropeway for pilgrims who cannot walk up over 1000 steps. But, we found that the ropeway was closed for maintenance. There’s a road also that goes up the hill. We hired a Maruti van to take us up. The temple remains closed from 1.00 pm to 2.00 pm, so we waited near the main gate at the foothill.
There is a nice park near the gate as a part of beautification of the place. Today being Dhanteras, there is not much crowd at the temple.
Many people bring their new vehicles at the temple for “vahan puja” here at the Sharda Devi temple and this is the area where the temple priests perform the puja of the vehicles.
We started for going up in a Maruti Van at 2.00 pm. It’s a small 5 minute drive up the hill.
We reached the temple at the top of the hill and prayed to the goddess Sharda Devi. Statues of Sri Kalbhairav, Bhagwan Narsingh, Hanuman ji, Goddess Mother Kali, Durga, Sri Gauri Shankar, Sheshnag, Phoolmati Mata, Bramhdev & Jalappadevi are also installed in Sharda Devi temple campus.
The famous historian A. Cunningham has done a detailed Study of this temple. He dates the stone inscription to 9th or 10th century CE.
Behind the temple and downhill is Alha Pond. At a distance of 2 km from this pond is situated an ‘akhara’ (wrestling ring) where Alha and Udal used to practice kushti (wrestling). The people of Maihar believe that Alha is still alive and comes at 4 am in the morning to worship the Goddess Sharda.
There is nice narrow wandering stream flowing below the temple hill. The hills nearby are surprisingly having flat, barren top!
After our worship at the temple, we had our lunch at a restaurant in the market near the temple.
After lunch, we returned home.
Maihar is one of the most prominent gharanas of the 20th century; much of the fame of Hindustani classical music in the west stems from this gharana. The Maihar gharana is a gharana or school of Hindustani classical music, a style of Indian classical music originating in the princely state of Maihar. The school was formed by Allaudin Khan.
Prominent musicians belonging to the Maihar gharana include prominent sitar players Ravi Shankar, Nikhil Banerjee, Allauddin Khan’s son sarod player Ali Akbar Khan, daughter Annapurna Devi and grandson Aashish Khan. Pt. Ravi Shankar married Annapurna Devi.