After a long time, all three of us are at home this time. We thought of visiting the ancient solahbhuji (sixteen-armed) Durga temple at village Deori, near Tamar, around 60 km from Ranchi, on the Jamshedpur-Ranchi Highway (NH-33) to pay our obeisance to Maa Deori – the sixteen-armed goddess Durga and the resident deity of Tamar’s Deori Mandir.
I have been visiting this temple from the time it was in its original shape – a small, ancient structure housing the stone idol of Goddess Durga inside a dark chamber with a big lamp providing light inside the sanctum sanctorum. I came to Ranchi for the first time from New Delhi on my promotion in the middle of 1997. My bank colleagues in Ranchi told me about this temple and we started visiting this temple often.
Durga is a warrior goddess, and she is depicted to express her martial skills. Her iconography typically resonates with these attributes, where she rides a lion or a tiger, has between eight and eighteen hands, each holding a weapon to destroy and create. The main attraction is that the idol is having sixteen hands, normally goddess Durga is seen with eight or ten hands.
There are many legends related to this temple. According to some local beliefs, this Solahbhuji Devi Prachin Durga Mandir is in existence since the Mahabharata times. The Pandavas are believed to have prayed here during their period of ‘Agyatvaas’ (secluded exile). It is also believed by many here that Emperor Ashoka (Reigned circa 268 – circa 232 BCE) and his army worshipped and invoked Maa Durga’s blessing for victory at Kalinga War (circa 260 BCE) at this temple while marching en route Kalinga region.
The original temple is made up of big stone placed one over another without using any cementing material in between, like many ancient constructions. Inside the sanctum sanctorum, an ancient idol of Goddess Durga with sixteen hands is consecrated along with Lord Shiva. In the Mundari language, the word deori means stone. The idol and the temple both are made of stone.
According to folklore, a king of Tamar, believed to be in the 18th century, once saw a dream. The goddess told him that there was a temple in Deori, where she must be worshipped. Villagers, as directed by the king, cleared a forested patch to find a small temple with a stone statue of Durga. Ever since the deity is worshipped here.
Legend has it that whoever has tried to alter the structure of the temple has had to face the wrath of the gods and suffer consequences. Therefore, new construction is being done from outside keeping the original temple intact.
I still find peace in the temple and so I love visiting Deori Mandir. Whenever I am in Ranchi, I try to visit the temple once.
सर्वमङ्गलमाङ्गल्ये शिवे सर्वार्थसाधिके ।
शरण्ये त्र्यम्बके गौरि नारायणि नमोऽस्तु ते ॥
ॐ जयंती मंगला काली भद्रकाली कपालिनी ।
दुर्गा क्षमा शिवा धात्री स्वाहा स्वधा नमोऽस्तुते ॥