My son, Judhajit, and I were travelling to Prayagraj from Ranchi by road to attend the Vatsarik Shraddha of my father-in-law, who expired last year. The vatsarik shraddha is performed on the first death anniversary, as per the Hindu calendar on the same tithi. My wife had travelled to Prayagraj by train earlier. We preferred to travel by road as it was a short, one-day stay at Prayagraj for the occasion. My wife will stay there for a longer period.
We have driven from Ranchi to Prayagraj many times and passed by Sasaram on NH 19 (erstwhile, NH 2 or the Grand Trunk Road). I knew that there is a Shaktipith in Sasaram, but I was not aware of the actual location and so I had never visited the temple.
This time we stopped for our lunch at a roadside Dhaba on NH 19, named Ashirvad Punjabi Dhaba. The signboard mentioned that it’s near the Tara Chandi Dham. After our lunch, I asked about the place: Tara Chandi Dham. They told me it’s just 200 m down the road towards Prayagraj. We drove carefully not to miss the place. Yes, it was around 200 m, we found the portal on the left side of the road. We stopped our car and went inside the temple.
Maa Tara Chandi Temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to Maa Shakti or Maa Durga. Maa Tara Chandi Shakti Peetha is the oldest and one of the most sacred temples of Sasaram. It is regarded as one of the 51 Siddha Shakti Pithas in India. The temple is very ancient. The mention of this temple can be found in ancient manuscripts.
According to Pauranic legends, the “right eye” (Netra) of the corpse of Sati had fallen here when it was chopped off by Lord Vishnu with his “Sudarshan Chakra”. The ancient temple, originally called Maa Sati, is believed to be the abode of the goddess Durga Maa Tara Chandi.
According to some old myths, the name of the temple can also be found in the time of the Gautam Buddha. It is said that after attaining enlightenment Siddhartha once visited Maa Tara Chandi Temple. He was looking for the deity when she appeared in the very temple in front of him as a kid. She also blessed Buddha who later started his journey to teach the world about values, principles, and dharma.
There is another story linked to this famous temple. It is said that ancient king Sasasrabahu was a great devotee of Maa Tara Chandi. It is said that Lord Parashuram defeated Sahasrabahu at this place and then worshipped the Goddess Tara here. Sahasrabahu was a legendary warrior in Indian history. According to legend, he was a contemporary of Ravana. He fought many fights and won all of them except one with Parashuram who killed all the Kshatriya Kings to take revenge of his parents’ death to save the Brahmin society from exploitation of Kshatriyas.
There is an inscription of a 12th-century Khayaravala dynasty king called Pratapdhavala on the rock close to the temple. The Khayaravala dynasty ruled parts of the present-day Indian states of Bihar and Jharkhand, during the 11th and 12th centuries.
Before entering the temple, we bought some Puja material, Coconut, and Pedhas for Prasad. It was afternoon and there was not much crowd at the temple. Some weddings were being solemnized at the temple premises. A huge railing barricade set-up is a testimony to the popularity of the temple and the large number of pilgrims visiting this temple.
We walked into the garbha griha (sanctum sanctorum). It’s a cave temple with black rocks covering the garbha griha. Ma Tara Chandi is depicted in balika swaroopa (as a girl child) here.
It’s believed that the Goddess appeared here in the form of a little girl and the demon Chand was killed here and hence this place is called Chandi. The deity or the idol of the Maa Tara Chandi is hypnotizing. The beautifully crafted idol of the Goddess is the main attraction of the temple. There is a divine peace in the temple.
We prayed at the temple and walked out to continue with our journey towards Prayagraj.