Golu Devta is the deity of justice or Nyay in the Kumaon region of Uttarakhand state.
India is full of deities for all kinds of reasons and seasons. You have a deity for every kind of request you have for them. Remember the Visa God of Hyderabad, who grants your wish to get a visa of the desired country. Or, Khatu Shyam in Rajasthan, who is the God of the defeated. We have Karni Mata temple near Bikaner, where rats rule as her clan.
In the same series, come with me to Almora in the Kumaon hills of Uttarakhand. A few kilometers from Almora town towards Pithoragarh, there is a small but very important temple. This is the temple of Golu Devta. We visited it on our way to Jageshwar Dham. Almost everyone in Almora told us to pay a visit to the Devta. It is their insistence that first conveyed to me the importance the deity holds in this region.
Who is Golu Devta?
Golu Devta is considered an avatar of Shiva as Gaur Bhairav. He rides a white horse and is considered the one who always does justice. They say, if you ask with a clear conscience, he fulfills every wish. He is the Isht Devta of the region and also Kul Devta of many people here. You could also see him as the presiding deity of the Kumaon hills.
There are many legends associated with the origin of the deity of justice.
Legends of Deity of Justice
One legend connects him to Katyuri Kings who ruled Kumaon or Kurmanchal as it was then known from 7th-12th CE. He was either a son or a general or maybe both of one of the Katyuri Kings.
Another legend connects him to the Chand dynasty that ruled after the Katyuris dynasty sometime in 12th CE. In this story, he is the brave warrior who dies fighting a battle.
Most popular stories of the origin of the deity of justice say that his mother Kalinka was the queen of the king Jhal Rai. When he was born, her co-wives exchanged him with stone and left him in the river nearby. He was saved by a fisherman and at the age of eight returned riding a wooden horse. He took the horse to the pond where the 7 queens of the king were taking bath and made it drink the water. When the queens laughed at him, he said – if a woman can give birth to a stone, he can ride a wooden horse. King came to know of scheming by his wives and punished them and made Golu the king. In time, the boy came to be known for his justice and became popular as Golu Devta.
Temple at Chittai
The temple at Chittai near Almora is a small temple with a big reputation. As I walked towards the temple, surrounded by the thick forest of Chir Pines, I was warned about the monkeys. I knew this temple must be special, for all popular temples I have visited including ram Janmabhumi temple at Ayodhya are surrounded by monkeys.
A wide-covered passage leading to the temple was full of brass bells of all sizes. They were hung by a red Chunri or a small red cloth with a golden border. Here and there I could see some handwritten notes also hanging. There was a huge bell hanging from an arch that was also full of bells.
As I walked closer to the temple, I saw more bells. However, the number of written and printed pages increased. Once under the roof of the temple, it was full of written applications. I could also see many stamp papers hanging on and around the walls of the temple. I decided to pay my respect to the deity and then read a few of them.
The small sanctum is painted in bright yellow and orange color. People with offerings in their hands stood in a queue that moved slowly to the sanctum.
Inside the sanctum, the Lord sits on his white horse holding a bow and arrow in his hands. It is a small Murti that reinforces the iconography of the deity. People bow to him, tell him their problems, ask him to fulfill their wishes, or thank him for doing all that.
It is here at the sanctum that I learned that all the bells in the temple are actually fulfilled wishes. Every time a wish is fulfilled, people come and tie a new bell for their deity.
Wish List in Golu Devta Temple
Out of the sanctum, I was curious to read a few wishes. I had tears in my eyes after reading just a few. This was the communication in the simplest of words by the common people to their deity. Their belief that the Devta will take care of their problems is apparent in their words.
What do the devotees seek from God
Most people write to the deity just like they would write to their best friend. They tell him what is working in their lives and what is not, what they are working for and seeking his blessings for. For example, an IAS aspirant writes about the preparations he is doing. He does not ask the deity to make him clear the exams. But he asks for the strength to keep away from all distractions.
Another one simply asks for the family to stay happy and healthy.
A lady writes about the illness of her husband. She says doctors say terrible things about his disease. But then goes on to say, doctors are common human beings like me. You are the biggest doctor in the world. Please release my husband from illness. She then talks about her children and how they need their father. It was a heart-wrenching letter.
Do read – Splendour of the Himalayas at Binsar
Wishes on stamp papers were seeking justice from the deity of justice. People believe that leaving their dispute papers to him will get them justice.
There are many temples of the deity in Kumaon but this one is the most popular one.
Temple at Chittai
Visiting this temple at Chittai is like an introduction to the faith of the hills. People come to him for every big and small problem, to get justice. They come back to thank him when their wishes come true or their problems get solved. Most of the time, they just come to seek his blessings.