Ode To Mother India – Bharat Mata Temples Across India

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Bharat Mata Temples are very few and fairly new in India. However, they have deep roots in the Indian historical and cultural context.

The earliest reference of word Bharti comes in Apri-Suktas of Rigveda where she is mentioned as Vakdevi or the Goddess of speech. Along with this, it mentions a clan named Bharata whose king was Bharata.

Mahabharata mentions the land as Bharatvarsha.

There was a Kuru king, a Chandravanshi, who was called Bharata.

Vishnu Puran mentions the extent of Bharat as the north of seas and south of Himalayas and as the land where the progeny of Bharata lives.

The Contemporary Emergence of Bharat Mata

She came into vogue during the Indian independence movement. We see it mentioned in the ‘Vande Mataram’ song by Bankim Chandra Chatterjee. It became a part of his famous 1882 CE novel Anand Math that was based on the backdrop of Bengal famine. The story too had strong imagery of her.

Bharat Mata by Abanindranath Tagore
Bharat Mata by Abanindranath Tagore

Visually, Abanindranath Tagore, the artist nephew of Rabindranath Tagore created the first painting of Bharat Mata in 1905 CE. She is depicted wearing a saffron sari with four hands like most goddesses in India are. In her upper hands, she holds the scriptures and a piece of white cloth. In lower hands, she has a sheave of paddy and an Akshmala. Her hands hold the essentials of human life – Shiksha-Diksha-Anna-Vastra i.e. education, initiation, food, and clothing.

Remember this was also the time when Bengal was partitioned by the British. And there was a response by artists like Tagore against the partition. Many nationalists interpreted as the mother who is asking her sons to liberate her. Sister Nivedita was so impressed by this painting that she wanted to have it printed in millions and distributed across every home from Kedarnath to Kanyakumari.

Many versions of this painting were subsequently made. The original is now on display at the Victoria Memorial Hall Museum in Kolkata.

Bharat Mata Temple at Varanasi

Her temple at Varanasi on the campus of Mahatma Gandhi Kashi Vidyapeeth is unique in many ways. It is not a temple in the traditional sense of a temple which is typically dedicated to a deity.

Bharat Mata Temple - Varanasi
Temple at Varanasi

The temple celebrates the ‘Akhand Bharat’ as it is described in our ancient scriptures. Politically, it would include the present-day countries like Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, and Sri Lanka. It celebrates the very land that is called Bharat. The land that has been personified as Ma Bharti.

Map of India on Marble
Map of India on Marble

Map of Bharat

A detailed map of India or Bharat is created using the marble from Makrana. The topography is clearly mapped to the scale in ratio of 1 Inch:6.4 Miles. So, when you see different mountain ranges, you see them in the same proportion as they exist on earth. Overall, there are more than 450 peaks depicted on the map, along with water bodies, rivers, oceans, plateaus, and the vast plains. Smallest of islands on the oceans can be seen just like the highest peaks of Sagarmatha and K2. What you would find missing is anything manmade on the map, be it political boundaries or be it any structures.

Board explaining the map
Board explaining the map

I was told that the water bodies are duly filled with water and the map decorated with flowers on Independence Day and Republic Day. The map is surrounded by a pillared corridor that allows you to walk around and appreciate it closely.

Inspiration

Topographic Map of Bharatvarsh
Topographic Map of Bharatvarsh, Image – Manish Kahttry

From a note by Babu Shiva Prasad Gupta, board at the temple tells us that he was inspired to create this temple when he saw a similar map made on the floor at a Vidhwa Ashram or widow home in Pune. The resolve to create a detailed map in stone took place. It was further strengthened when Gupta Ji visited London and saw elaborate maps in the British Museum there. Upon his return, he discussed his dream to create such a temple with many people and identified Durga Prasad Khatri Ji for this job. 24 Lakh chants of the Gayatri Mantra were done at the temple before it was opened to the public.

Mahatma Gandhi formally inaugurated it in 1936 CE by giving the Purnahuti or the final offering in the Yagna performed at the temple. Verses from all Vedas were chanted as the doors of the temples were opened for the public.

Entrance of Bharat Mata Temple at Varanasi
The entrance of her temple at Varanasi
Babu Shiv Prasad Gupta

It was totally funded by the industrialist and freedom fighter Babu Shiv Prasad Gupta. His family still continues to take care of the temple. Gupta Ji was also the one who set up the Kashi Vidyapeeth among many of his other philanthropic projects. Names of chief architect Durga Prasad and his team are rightfully inscribed on the temple walls.

When I visited the temple a few years ago, there was hardly anyone there. As far as I could see there are no real rituals that are followed here. You can walk around and see India as the land that nurtures us.

Of course, there is a Murti of the Mata inspired by the famous painting of Abanindranath Tagore.

Poem

Famous Hindi poet, Rashtra Kavi Maithilisharan Gupt wrote a song for this temple –

भारत माता का मंदिर यह
समता का संवाद जहाँ,
सबका शिव कल्याण यहाँ है
पावें सभी प्रसाद यहाँ ।

The poem can be seen at the temple premises & you can read here.

This temple is also unique as it was built between 1918 and 1924 CE, before the Indian independence. And before the unfortunate partition.

Bharat Mata Temple at Haridwar

Unlike the Varanasi temple, the one at Haridwar is a frequently visited temple. Often on the itinerary of most pilgrims to the city.

Bharat Mata Mandir - Haridwar

Built-in 1983 by Swami Satyamitranand Giri and inaugurated by Indira Gandhi, this 8 story temple may be the tallest in the city. It provides a great vantage point to look at the different arms of Ganga flowing through this ancient city also called Gangadwar. You can see the ranges of Rajaji National Park from here surrounding the Ganga.

8 Floors of temple

Each of the 8 floors is dedicated to a different theme. The ground floor is dedicated to the Mata and has an imposing Murti of her. I slowly moved past it as the massive queue slowly crawled through the room.

Inside Haridwar's Bharat Mata Temple
Haridwar
  • First Floor or Shoor Mandir is dedicated to heroes of India and that includes many freedom fighters.
  • The second floor or Matri Mandir is dedicated to women’s power and has women warriors and saints like Meerabai and Lakshmibai.
  • The third floor or Sant Mandir is dedicated to the saints of India.
  • The fourth floor is dedicated to different religions that co-exist in India.
  • The fifth floor is dedicated to Shakti or Devi – the divine feminine in India.
  • The sixth floor is dedicated to Vishnu and his various Avatars are depicted.
  • The seventh floor has Shiva in the form of a presiding deity of the temple.

In essence, it starts with Bharat Mata and takes you to Shiva through a ramp that automatically takes you up and down.

Concept

I loved the concept of the temple that brings together various aspects of a nation. Like its religious backbone, its warriors, its saints, its religions, its women. However, I would have wanted a much better execution of the Murtis and dioramas there. What you desperately miss is our diverse art forms, be it classical or folk. How interesting it would be to see the blank walls filled with stories of the people depicted.

Nonetheless, visit it for the concept. And for the awesome views, you get from the top of the temple building.

Bharat Mata Temple at Kanyakumari

Remember we mentioned Vivekananda Kendra in our post – Places to see in Kanyakumari. Her temple is also located on the same premises.

The temple has a Murti of Swami Vivekananda surrounded by 5 mother figures:

  • Parvati – the mother of Kartik and Ganesh
  • Shakuntala – The mother of Bharat
  • Jijabai – The mother of Shivaji Maharaj
  • Sharada Devi – the Guru Ma of Vivekananda
  • Mata Amritanandamayi – the current saint who also inaugurated this temple in 2017.

There is a 12 feet tall golden Murti of her holding a flag in her left hand with a right hand in Abhay mudra. A golden lion matching her radiance stands just behind her telling us she is the incarnation of Durga.

Mandir at Ujjain

Built by Madhav Seva Nyas, this is the latest Bharat Mata Mandir inaugurated in 2018. Located close to the Mahakaleshwar temple in Ujjain, this 3 story temple has a 16 feet tall Murti of her in stone. She is surrounded by Navadurga images. The temple premises include an auditorium, a library, a meditation, and yoga center, and an assembly hall.

Temple in Deogiri or Daulatabad Fort

Bharat Mata in Deogiri
The goddess in Deogiri

11th CE Deogiri Fort built by Yadava Kings near the present-day city of Aurangabad in Maharashtra has seen so many changes of hands over time. Today, in its premises, in the place of an ancient temple is a Bharat Mata temple. It is difficult to guess the date of this temple. The temple is very old as the pillars around it tell us. The Murti of Bharat Mata must have been installed much later.

Wall Murals in Shekhawati

Bharat Mata on a later Shekawati Haveli
Her Wall Mural

One Shekhawati Haveli in Mandawa has a large mural of her on its walls.

If you know of any other temples dedicated to her in India or anywhere in the world, do let us know about them in the comments.

We would also like to know if you have visited any of these temples?

9 COMMENTS

  1. I wish more people could get to read this.This article provides specific information across several different regions .This makes it easier for the reader to understand

  2. This travel blog have complete knowledge and information for India to understand briefly about Bharat mata . Before reading this blog I don’t have that kind of knowledge . which I got later on most of people do not know about Bharat mata temple .so this blog will help everyone to enhance there knowledge towards Bharat mata and their temple and also help to visit temple at least once in a life.

  3. The travel blog of ancient Bhima Devi temple which is situated near pinjore garden which is full of knowledge .The temple is made up of panchayatan style ,and the 5 temples which are dedicated to 5 deties.This knowledge is enough to travel to this place . Before reading this blog i dont have enough knowledge about this place .But this blog will help the people to travel to this place .I also tell to toursim department to take the care of the ancient temple and it should be open for all tourist,because the temple is ruing day by day ,i wish i could visit this temple once in a life.

  4. A very good summary of the various Bharat Mata temples of India including the one at my hometown Varanasi. I was not aware of so many temples to Bharat Mata all over India. I have been to the fort at Deogiri but do not recollect seeing the Bharat Mata temple. It is probably because the guide was not aware of it. Prof. Makarand Paranjape has given a very interesting lecture on how and why the worship of Bharat Mata came into being in India and a moving force during the Indian independence struggle at a lecture to the Vande Mataram group at IIT-Madras:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_lXlg2wkxCI

  5. I sincerely thank you for mentioning the Bharat Mata Mandir at Varanasi built by our forefather Babu Shiv Prasad Gupt Ji. 🙏

    • Namaste Mayank Ji – Glad to connect with you. I actually wanted to connect when I was writing but had no way to reach you. If there is anything you would like to add, I will be happy to update the post.

  6. A very good summary and details of Bharat Mata temples. We hardly knew about them. Thank you for capturing them so vividly and sharing with us.

  7. A very good informative write up. I would also like to mention, there is a small Bharat Mata temple which is part of the ‘Chattrapati Shivaji museum of Indian history’ which was founded in 2010 by renowned journalist and writer Francois Gautier. This museum is in Pune and the temple is right at the entrance of the museum site. The founding organization is FACT (Foundation for Advancement of Cultural Ties). FACT was formed by Francois Gautier using the prize money he receivedby winning the ‘Nachiketa’ award of excellence in journalism. In this temple, the murti of Bharat Mata is shown as gifting a sword to Shivaji Maharaj who is considered as a ‘vibhuti’ who saved Bharatavarsha from the clutches of oppressive rule of Mughals and played a vital role in liberating our land. The museum is also quite interesting as it displays various facts and true events of our history.

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