Ancient legends speak of a time when demons lorded over the Himalaya mountains and harassed the gods. Led by Lord Vishnu, the gods decided to destroy them. They focused their strengths and huge flames rose from the ground. From that fire, a young girl took birth. She is regarded as Adishakti-the first 'shakti'.
Known as Sati or Parvati, she grew up in the house of Prajapati Daksha and later, became the consort of Lord Shiva. Once her father insulted Lord Shiva and unable to accept this, she killed herself. When Lord Shiva heard of his wife's death his rage knew no bounds and holding Sati's body he began stalking the three worlds. The other gods trembled before his wrath and appealed to Lord Vishnu for help. Lord Vishnu let fly a volley of arrows which struck Sati's body and severed it to pieces. At the places where the pieces fell, the fifty-one sacred 'shaktipeeths' came into being.
Sati's tongue fell at Jwalaji (610 m) and the goddess is manifest as tiny flames that burn flawless blue through fissures in the age-old rock. Even the Pandavas are believed to have visited this sacred place.
How To Get There
The airport at Gaggal is 46 km from Jwalamukhi. The closest broadguage railhead is at Pathankot, 123 km away. Taxis and buses are available at both places. From Delhi the road distance is 473 km and from Shimla this is 212 km.
In winter, the climate is cold but pleasant when woollens are required. During summer the temperature is hot and cottons are recommended.
More on Himachal
At a glance
About 350 m from the shrine of Jwalaji and 100 m from the bus stand, Himachal Tourism runs the Hotel Jwalaji at Jwalamukhi.
Places of interest in and around Jwalamukhi
Jwala Shrine: There are nine diffierent flames within the temple and each signifies something different. It is said that centuries ago, a cowherd saw tha flames for the first time and Raja Bhumi Chandra, the ruler of the area had the original temple built. The Mughal emperor Akbar installed a gold parasol and Maharaja Ranjit Singh had the dome guilded. Just above the Devi's temple is the shrine of Baba Gorakhnath and across the courtyard is her 'bed-chamber'.
Nagini Mata (4.5 km): The site of a fair held in July/August, this is located on the hill above Jwalaji.
Shri Raghunathji Temple (5 km): Popularly known as 'Tera' mandir, it stands at a tilt after the earthquake of 1905. Rama, Laxman, and Sita are said to have stayed here and the first temple is supposed to have been built by the Pandavas.
Ashtabhuja Temple (1 km): This ancient temple has a stone image of the eight-armed goddess. Other smaller shrines adjoin this.
Nadaun (12 km): Closely connected with the glory of Kangra's erstwhile rulers, there are numerous old temples and the remains of a couple of old palaces here.
Chaumukha (22 km via Nadaun): There is a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva with a huge four-faced image.
Panj Teerthi and Mahakaleshwar (9km or 28 km via Nadaun): By the banks of the river Beas and closely associated with the exile of the Pandavas are these two sacred places. They are within a few hundred metres of each other.
Bankhandi (36 km): Here, at the Banglamata temple there is a stone image of the goddess. At the nearby Shiv temple is a 'linga' said to have been placed by the Pandavas.
Haripur (45 km): There are numerous attractive temple and an old fort.
Mangarh (37 km): On top a hill is this octagonal fort named after Raja Man Chand.
Sati's feet fell at Chintapurni (940 m) and the devout come here to leave their worries and pray for boons. The legend goes that the temple came into being after the goddess revealed herself to Mayidaas, an ardent devotee. The temple is built around the Devi's 'pind'. Her image depicts her without a head - for it is said that she cut it off to assuage the blood thirst of her companions. And hence the name, 'Chinmastika Devi' 'The goddess without a head'
How to get there
The closest railhead is at Hoshiarpur in Punjab - 42 km away. From Jwalamukhi, the distances 35 km. Taxis and buses are available at both places.
In winter, the climate is cold when woollens are required. It is hot it summer and cottons are recommended.
Only 2 km from the shrine of Chintapurni. Himachal Tourism runs an efficiently functional Yatri Niwas. It has a magnificent view, the bright lights of the temple bazar are just ahead-and past the wooded slopes are th shimmering waters of the Gobind Sagar.
Chronicled in the Durga Sapt-Shati, the story goes that on the orders of Shamb and Ni-Shamb, two demons tried to harass the goddess Ambika Enraged, Ambika knitted her brows and from their folds a horrifying from of Kali emerged. After a great battle, the goddess Kali slew the two demons, Chanda and Munda. Delighted by Kali's achievement, Ambika declared that she would now be worshipped here as 'Chamunda' - combination of the demons' names. Chamunda Devi is at a heigh of 100 m.
How to get there
The closest airport is at Gaggal, 28 km away. The nearest railhead on the narrow guage line is at Moranda near Palampur, 30 km away. Taxis and buses are available at both places. By road, Chamunda Devi is 16 km from Dharmsala and 55 km from Jwalamukhi.
In winter, the temperature can get quite cold when woolens are required. It is hot in summer and cottons are recommended.
Barely 300 m from the temple of Chamunda Devi Himachal Tourism runs a neat and clean Yatri Niwas. This rests on the same spur as the shrine which is clearly visible from it. The waters of the Bander (Banganga) rivulet flow just below the Yatri Niwas. On the facing hill, the Durga temple is visible.
Editor: Romola Butalia   (c) India Travelogue. All rights reserved.