Dumka is famed as the land of Adivasis (aboriginals), primarily the Santhals. It is the headquarter of the Santhal Pargana division in Jharkhand. It was originally an administrative district formed by the Britishers which was known as Damin-e-koh, a Persian word meaning the skirts of the hills.

Road to Dumka

Since the Coronavirus started infecting a large cross-section of people resulting in massive lockdowns, we restricted ourselves to our homes. Now that the lockdown has been relaxed, we are fully vaccinated, the new cases have fallen down, we planned to the other corner of Jharkhand state.

We opted for Dumka, the sub-capital of Jharkhand. It’s around 275 km from Ranchi, the state capital of Jharkhand. We planned to visit the ancient terracotta temples of Maluti and Massanjore Dam on the Mayurakshi river. The rain god had a different plan. We reached Dumka from Ranchi at around 4 PM. Soon after it started raining and it rained in the night and the next morning too. We just spent our time sleeping and eating inside our hotel room.

Plan Changed

Goddess Tara had a plan, which we were unaware of. Out of the blue came the idea of visiting Tarapith and we packed, checked out and started driving to Tarapith around 75 km from Dumka. It was an impromptu plan as if Mother Goddess called us to her.

It was raining intermittently. NH114A was quite good in the Jharkhand state until a few kilometres before the Jharkhand-West Bengal state border, and it turned into a driving nightmare as we entered the West Bengal state as there were huge craters on the highway — muddy and full of rainwater. This area is famous for stone crushers and mines. We managed to reach Rampurhat slowly. The road from the Rampurhat town to Tarapith was nice and we reached our hotel at around 8 PM.

We just drove into the hotel “Sonar Bangla”, it looked nice and we had earlier stayed at their property in Lataguri. The room was available and we checked in. Coincidentally, it was another impromptu trip to Gorumara and Lataguri when we stayed in Sonar Bangla.

Tarapith Temple

Tarapith is a small temple located on the banks of the Dwarka River that flows in the Birbhum district. The temple is ancient and is considered to be extremely auspicious by the Hindu community. The regal temple, one of the 51 Shakti Peeths in India, is one of the most important places where tantric rituals are followed even today.

Legends

As per legends, one eyeball of Sati fell here at Tarapith, when Lord Shiva roamed the universe mourning her loss. In view of this believed event, the name of the village was changed from Chandipur to Tarapith since the Bengali word for eyeball is Tara. The temple is thus dedicated to Ma Tara.

As per the Hindu traditions, Ma Tara is believed to be the second out of the ten goddesses of great wisdom (Dasa-Mahavidya). The 10 Mahavidyas are Kali, Tara, Tripura Sundari (Shodoshi), Bhuvaneshvari, Tripura Bhairavi, Chhinnamasta, Dhumavati, Bagalamukhi, Matangi and Kamala.

Goddess Tara. (Image from internet) I don’t take photographs inside the garbha griha.

Tarapith is one of the most important places of pilgrimage and is not only one of the 51 Shakti Pithas but also a Mahapitha. Today’s Tarapith is yesteryear’s Chandipur located on the eastern banks of the Dwaraka river.

Legend has it that sage Vashishta, one of the oldest and most revered Vedic rishis or sages, attained to Nirvana while meditating on the “Panchamundi Asana” in the cremation ground on the banks of the Dwaraka river.

Tarapith continues to flourish as a Hindu pilgrimage centre where some of the great spiritual giants of erstwhile Bengal like – Kamalakanta, Raja Ramakrishna, Bishekshypa, Anandanath, Mokshadananda, Kailashpati Baba, Shankar Baba, Bamakhyapa and others of their elk, all attained spiritual fulfilment in this blessed “peeth”.

At the Temple

We were told that the temple opens at 6:00 AM. The next day, we woke up in the early morning and reached the temple by 5:50 AM. We bought Puja dali and stood in the queue. The gate of the garbha griha or the sanctum sanctorum opened a few minutes after 6:00 AM. We got the first divine view in the morning. We prayed and paid our obeisance.

Dwaraka river

After coming out of the temple, we walked down to the bank of the Dwaraka river and Mahashmashan, the cremation ground where so many yogis and saints attained nirvana. On our return, we had tea with a few sadhus (monks), who were sitting there. It was a nice moment.

Surprisingly, it did not rain until we return to our hotel room.

Return to Home

We had our breakfast and then started our return home. It was a pleasant drive through paddy fields, but again the roads turned bad as we approached Dubrajpur.

We crossed two mighty rivers: Mayurakshi and Ajoy river on our way.

Tilpara Barrage on Mayurakshi river
Ajoy river at Pandaveswar

The roads in the West Bengal side are in very poor condition at many places making the drive difficult at some places. Seriously, West Bengal needs to maintain her roads and highways. The roads became smooth after we reached NH2 and even better when we entered Jharkhand.

As I am writing this post, I am wondering was it Her call or it was just an impromptu travel plan, Jai Tara!

সকলি তোমারি ইচ্ছা,
ইচ্ছাময়ী তারা তুমি
তোমার কর্ম তুমি করো মা
লোকে বলে করি আমি
সকলি তোমারি ইচ্ছা।

A Shyama sangeet by Hemanga Biswas

11 comments

  1. I went to Tarapith once in early 90s. It was an early morning train journey from Hawrah station. Returned sam day, so could not see much. This post reminded me of that journey.

    Liked by 2 people

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