Jaisalmer is known for its golden fort, haunted villages, and sand dunes. Devi Temples of Jaisalmer form the spiritual base of the region.
Shakti has manifested herself in various figures, forms, and swaroops in this universe. So much so, that one cannot fathom but recognize and revel in her glory and grace. The geography of India has been replete with Shakti Upasana by people of all backgrounds. You can see these 50 cities that are named after Devi, there are Shakti Peethas and Gram Devis.
Devi Temples of Jaisalmer to visit
Two such temples that are known for their distinct identities are – Tanot Rai or Tanot Mata Mandir and Kaale Dungar Mata Mandir.
Located on the distant outskirts of the city of Jaisalmer, the Golden City, and a well-known tourist destination both temples are in different directions and unique.
Kaale Dungar Devi Temple
It is around 40-45 km from Jaisalmer City and should take you about an hour’s time to reach. You can hire a local taxi. Almost all of them know about the temple owing to its name and fame.
Years back the road used to be a bit bumpy, but now it’s better. Also, the area all around the way used to be arid, dusty, and sandy. However, the floods in 2006 gave a totally different form to the landscape. Now one can witness green fields, trees, and ponds around. I remember noticing the change after visiting Jaisalmer after a year or so.
After almost 50% of the distance is covered, one can notice black pebbles and stones across the region. The temple gets its name Kaale Dungar from these black stones and pebbles whereby Kaala means black and Dungar means stone. Hence, Kaale Dungar Devi.
As you close in, you notice the temple on the hilltop. Interestingly, most of the shrines dedicated to Devi are on hills, mountains, or jungles. Once you reach the foot of the hilltop, you can park your vehicle and walk up the hill.
The place is never too crowded on most days. Very few people are around the temple to manage the daily routine. It is a very small temple per se. The pundit and caretaker are from the village nearby.
Over a period of time, the temple has been renovated and given a facelift, though it is still quite small in size and does not cover a huge area. Local marble also called Jaisalmer yellow stone has been used for renovation. Now the Kaale Dungar temple looks a bit bigger compared to its small, compact size until a few years back.
There is a vast open area outside. As it is on the hilltop you will meet with gushes of wind every now and then. Be ready to get a 360-degree view of the desert all around and the road that led you to the shrine.
As you walk in the main sanctum sanctorum, you will have Devi’s darshan. There are no other deities but only Devi living in her hill abode. The vigraha or murti is in the form of a panel consisting of 7 female figurines and 1 male. The females represent Devi in 7 Shakti forms. These are the Sapta Matrikas that helped the Devi fight the armies of Shumbh and Nishumbh. The Male figure is that of Bhairav. As per local tales, these 7 females are sisters and the male is the sole brother. However, it is highly possible that since the male is Bhairav, the females as Sapta Matrikas would not really be sisters of Bhairav, on the basis of Vedic lore and traditions.
Read More – Understanding Saptamatrikas
As per local stories, the Vigraha was found in a pond nearby and gradually a temple was built in her honor. It is not completely clear as to who exactly found the Murti.
It is said that as per Devi’s command, one cannot take back the stones or the prasad with them back home. I couldn’t believe it in the first place, only to be met with strong personal stories of some relatives and local people who did experience some issue or the other as soon as they brought the prasad or even a single stone from in and around the temple.
Read More – Walking Around The Jaisalmer Fort Or Golden Fort
If we have to look at it, this doesn’t mean that the Devi is possessive. I think it’s her way of teaching us to live in the present moment, honor what we have been given, and cultivate the sense of letting go and becoming free of possessiveness. It also indicates respecting the bio-diversity of a place by not picking up anything from there.
Shri Maateshwari Tanot Rai Mandir – Devi Temples of Jaisalmer
This shrine is located quite far away from Jaisalmer city. It is a little more than 100 Km, close to the India-Pakistan border near Longewala. The unique factor is that the temple is built and maintained largely by Army Jawans.
There is a wondrous story behind the shrine. During the 1965 war between India and Pakistan, a number of bombs were thrown around the area where the temple stands today but none of them exploded. Further, it is said that during the ongoing war, Devi appeared in a vision to the distraught soldiers and assured them of victory and protection.
Faith in divine Mata Tanot Rai
Putting their faith in the divine Mother, the brave soldiers fought a tough battle and emerged victorious without any harm from the bombs dropped. The diffused bombs are kept here today as memorabilia inside a small museum built by the army in memory of the 1965 and 1971 wars with Pakistan.
To reach the temple, one can book a local taxi. As one traverses outside the city of Jaisalmer, towards the Tanot Temple, you can easily see the vast spread of the desert. It would take you about 1.5 hours to reach the temple. Outside the temple, there is a pillar yet again made as a war memorial of victory and is called the Vijay Stambh.
The temple architecture is simple yet pretty. The temple is not very big in size and area per se. As one enters the Mandir, the Vigraha of Bhavani can be seen right in front with all its beatitude. The very look on her face brings a sense of peace. All the aartis during the day are done by Army Jawans.
Another version of the story says that when the Devi appeared to the jawans in their dream to assure them of protection and victory, she also asked them to apply Mehandi or henna on her hands as she “would hold the bombs in her hands and diffuse them”. Till today, the Mehandi is offered and applied on her hands on a regular basis.
Whenever you plan to visit Jaisalmer, do visit these Shakti Sthalas or Devi Temples of Jaisalmer to absorb the energy and vibe all around them.
This is a guest post by Kashish Vyas under the IndiTales Internship Program