Chamunda Devi Temple is located at a distance of 15 km from Dharamsala in Himachal Pradesh. Dedicated to goddesses Durga or Chamunda (Hindu deity), the surroundings of the temple provide an excellent venue for meditation prayers and spiritual attainments. The Chamunda Devi Temple is said to be more than 700 years old. It is a big temple complex with a large pond where devotees take a dip. The temple is dedicated to Chamunda Devi, who is a form of Durga / Shakti. Chamunda Devi Mandir is believed to be the abode of 'Shiva and Shakti'. Due to this reason, it is also known as 'Chamunda Nandikeshwar Dham'.
Chamunda Devi is considered as the wrathful form of Durga, but at the same time, the Goddess is kind to her true devotees. The term 'Chamunda' has been derived from two words, 'Chanda' and 'Munda'. As per the mythological legends, Durga made a goddess with her power, to slay the demons, Chanda and Munda. With her immense power, the Goddess killed the demons. Goddess Durga became happy with the slaughter and blessed the goddess that she would be known and worshipped as Chamunda.
There is nothing extra-ordinary about the architecture of this temple, but the divine aura spell bounds the devotees with its spiritual appeal. In the temple, the main image is visible from the main entrance. The main shrine is adored by the images of Lord Bhairav and Lord Hanuman on its sides. Actually, these lords are considered as the guards of the Goddess. The main image of the Goddess is visible draped in rich clothes.
Chamunda Devi is worshipped daily while the sermons include 'Aartis' at intervals. Reciting the hymn of 'Shat Chandi' with devoted heart at this temple is considered auspicious. In the corner of the temple, one can see small footsteps of the Goddess on a stone. Besides the main shrine, there is a marble staircase that takes down to the cave of Lord Shiva. This is a cave-like scoop where Shiva Lingam is placed. People visit this cave and worship Lord Shiva with great devotion.
Lord Shiva is said to be one of the complex Gods of the Hindu pantheon, since he is the destroyer as well as the restorer. Here, Lord Shiva is believed to have been present in the form of death, destruction and dead bodies. One can also observe ancestral worship near the banks of Ban Ganga River. In the vicinity of this temple, there is a cremation ground that serves to 22 villages of the nearby areas.
In the temple complex, there is a huge pond with images of Lords and people can take bath here. There is sculpture of Goddess, in which, she is garlanded with serpents, scorpions, and skulls. During the time of Navratras, the temple is crowded by large number of people. Pilgrims from far and near come to visit this temple of great legacy and religious importance. Chamunda Devi blesses all her true devotees.
The temple is situated in the picturesque beauty of lush green mountains. Many saints can be seen here involved in penance and meditation. In the past days, the image of the Goddess was situated on the hill above the present site of the temple. The site was found to be in a remote area, where it was not possible for everyone to reach and moreover, it was quite risky. There is a story behind the establishment of this temple.
Legend behind the relocation of the Temple
Around 400 years ago, a King and a Brahmin priest prayed to Chamunda Devi asking her consent to shift the image to an accessible location. Chamunda Devi appeared in a dream to the priest granting him the permission. She asked him to dig a certain area and subsequently, they will find an ancient idol. They can brought the idol in the temple and worship her. The priest told about the dream to the King and sent his men to bring the idol. The men got the idol, but they could not lift it.
Again, the Goddess appeared and asked the priest that the men could not lift the idol because they took it as an ordinary stone. She told the priest to get up early in the morning and take a bath. After wearing fresh clothes, he should go to the place in a devoted manner. The priest did the same what was told to him. He found that he could lift the idol easily. He placed the idol in its present location and from that time, the Goddess is worshipped by people.