Jagrata and I went to Dumka town in the Santhal Paragana of Jharkhand. We planned to visit the Tarapith temple from there, which is around 70 km away. This time we planned for darshan and worship in the morning followed by offering bhog to Maa Tara. Since it would be afternoon, we planned not to travel back to Ranchi after that due to rain and it’s over 8-hour journey.
After the bhog, we had some time. I decided to visit another Shakti Peetha Nalateshwari Temple in the afternoon. It is around 25 km from Tarapith. It’s a rare opportunity to visit and pay obeisance at two Shakti peeths on a single day and I didn’t want to miss it.
The Nalateshwari Temple is situated in the Nalhati town of Birbhum district in West Bengal. The town Nalhati is named after Nalateshwari temple, one of the 51 Sakti Peeths. The Shakti Peeth (Sanskrit: शक्ति पीठ) are significant shrines and pilgrimage destinations in Shaktism, the goddess-focused Hindu tradition. There are 51 Shakti peeths.
It’s a nice small temple. You can find inner peace at this temple. The temple is believed to be erected at the spot where the ‘Nala’, (Vocal chord with part of the tracheae), the throat of Goddess Sati (Sakti) had fallen. In Bengali, the larynx is known as ‘Nala’. This is the source from which the deity is known as Maa Nalateswari and the place is also named Nalhati, for the shrine. The Goddess is worshipped here in the form of Kalika and hence it’s also called Kalika Shati Peetha.
The Garva Griha (sanctum sanctorum) of this temple is crowned with a raised pinnacle where the deity of Maa Nalateswri is worshipped. The feeling of positive energy (that helps to destroy the evils of life) rises within as you look at the deity of Maa. With the large Trinayan and golden-red tongue of the deity below this lays the “Nala” or throat of the divine Sati.
The foundation history of the Nalateshwari Shakti Peeth is allied with the Dakshya Yajna and on the very day when Devi Sati self-immolate Herself without bearing the pain of Her Lord Shiva’s insult by Her outrageous father Dakshya. To pacify the angry Shiva, performing Tandava with the corpse of Sati on His shoulder, Lord Vishnu let His Sudarshan Chakra mutilate the lifeless body of the Devi so that Lord Shiva can find solace.
According to the legends and stories, in the 252nd Bengali year or Bongabdo, Kamdev, the Hindu god of love and desire, who had dreamt about its existence discovered the larynx of Maa Sati at this Nalahati forest.
Rani Bhavani had built a small temple over the Peeth of Devi Parvati, later on, or about the year 1890 Maharaja Ranajit Singha of Nashipur built the temple and Dharamshala as we see it today. The main temple of the town is that of Maa Nalateshwari’s temple. She is believed to be present in big mounted rock, dipped with vermillion, She is adorned with a gold crown and three golden eyes. She has a beautiful silver arch on her crown with the images of Maa Durga, Maa Kali and lord Shiva.
Many other different legends are associated with this ancient temple of Birbhum, Bengal. According to many, it was Ram Sharam Devsharma who found the larynx of the Devi and started worshipping Maa Nalateswari. It is said that there is a Nala under the throat of Devi’s idol and how much water is poured, it never gets overflowed. In fact, the sound of gulping the water is heard as humans do while drinking water or any liquid.
I prayed at the temple and sat there for a while. After paying obeisance, I returned to our hotel at Tarapith driving through the narrow streets of Nalhati, managing through the two- and three-wheelers, crossing by the Nalhati Junction. At the end, it was a very satisfying, holy trip.
Jai Maa Nalateshwari! Jai Maa Kalike!