Rankini Devi is believed to be an incarnate of Goddess Kali. It is widely believed that during ancient times, people travelling through the dense forest used to worship at the Rankini Devi temple, located near the Jadugora town in East Singhbhum district of Jharkhand, for their protection and well being.
We visited this temple a couple of times earlier, when I was posted at Jamshedpur.
I had to visit the Head Office of the Uranium Corporation of India Ltd. (UCIL) in Jadugora when I was posted in Jamshedpur, as our bank was one of their bankers. I came to know of this temple during one of my visits to UCIL. The name “Jadugora” or “Jadugoda” has been derived from the word “Jadugoda”, which means ‘land of elephants’ in a local tribal language. It is said that there was a time when this was home to many Asian elephants. But with time as many mines and factories were established, they moved to denser forests due to loss of habitat. Jadugora is a small township of UCIL. This was the first mines where Uranium was produced in India on a reasonable scale.
Yesterday, we decided to visit the Rankini temple. From NH-33, we took a turn near Galudih. Initially, it was an unpaved road through a forest until we reached a metalled road leading to the famous Galudih barrage on the river Subarnarekha.
Galudih barrage was built on Subarnarekha river mainly to facilitate irrigation in the Medinipur districts of West Bengal and some parts of Odisha. It’s a beautiful scenic place. It has become a famous tourist attractions for people in Jharkhand and West Bengal.
We crossed the barrage and started driving towards Jadugora, crossing Rakha mines. Rakha mines are copper mines. The first industrial copper mining started at Rakha Mines by a British firm in 1900. After crossing Jadugora, we drove another 4-5 kms to reach the Rankini Devi temple.
According to a legend, a local man found a tribal girl taking the form of Devi and killing a demon. The tribal man tried to follow the girl but the girl disappeared into the forest. In the night Devi appeared in the dreams, she advised him to construct a temple of her. The belief amongst the tribes ran that the Goddess herself killed the victims.
The priests during those days were from the tribal Bhumij community. Even today, the priests in the shrine are from that tribe. The term “Bhumij” denotes one who is born from the soil. They are believed to be a branch of the Munda tribe. The Bhumijs profess their autonomous animistic tribal religion which has certain elements of Hinduism. As the hearsay goes, the temple had even witnessed the human sacrifices (Narabali) in the past, till about 1865, which was eventually stopped by the British.
Sometimes when there is no rational explanation behind certain happenings, we call them supernatural. There might actually be some justification, but they elude our sense of logic.Bibhutibhushan Bandopaddhyay, Rankini Debir Khadga
The famous Bengali writer Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay (1895-1950) has mentioned Rankini Devi in his Bengali story named “Rankini Debir Khadga”. Incidentally, he was from a village near Basirhat, our ancestral town. Bandyopadhyay spent his last days in Ghatshila. He wrote and published the famous novel “Pather Panchali” while staying at Ghatshila.
Years ago a group of barbaric people lived in Maanbhoom. Rankini devi was their deity. Later on, when the Hindus came, she became theirs too. But she is not like the other Hindu gods — they used to sacrifice humans there, you know. Even sixty years ago, such was the practice. Some believe that if the goddess Rankini gets angry, she would cause death and famine. There is a saying that the bloodied machete of the goddess would be found before any such disaster. I heard all these tales about forty years ago when I first came to this place.Bibhutibhushan Bandopaddhyay, Rankini Debir Khadga
Although the stone deity was originally worshiped by the local tribes, but later, through the passage of time transformed into Hindu Goddess Durga, probably when the Kings of Dhalbhumgarh took over. Dhalbhum was first written about when the British Army attacked the Dhalbhum and Ghatsila region in 1767 jointly with Raja of Midnapore, after a previous abortive attempt in 1765.
The current temple that stands is about 70 years old, built around 1950. The trust managing the temple was formed in 1954. Since it is fairly modern structure, no intricate stone curving or any other work of architectural or design excellence can be found. It’s a fairly simple structure and I could only see the gross cement bass relief work done in gaudy colours of various idols, with prominence of Durga on the main temple and the shikhara. Right over the main entrance there is a large bass relief work of Devi Durga with her four children in Mahishashura slaying avatar.
The main temple is flanked by a temple dedicated to Lord Ganesha and a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, on both sides.
This temple is now widely popular in Jharkhand, West Bengal and Odisha and is visited by many devotees daily. In our previous visits, we have found this place quite crowded. Yesterday, we were surprised when we reached there, as it was almost empty. It may be due to COVID-19 movement restrictions.
I like the surrounding of the temple. It’s inside a forest in between two hills of Dalma range.
There is a Hari Mandir built recently near the Rankini temple dedicated to Radha-Gobinda. The temple was closed when we reached there.
We paid our obeisance to Maa Rankini and returned to Ranchi via Jamshedpur.
Jai Maa Rankini! Jai Maa Kali!