As rightly quoted, “The way you feel in a temple is a pattern for how you always want to feel in your life. “In a country like temples and other places of worship hold a special place in our hearts, it is a place where one’s soul meets the supreme soul. Amongst all these exotic wonders, is a beautiful pilgrimage temple known as the Jwala Ji temple or the Jwalamukhi temple, Himachal Pradesh.
Jwalamukhi temple is located around 35 kilometres south of the Kangra Valley and is a part of the Jwalamukhi town of Himachal Pradesh. The exact geographic coordinates of the town are 31.87561° north and 76.32435° east. The average elevation here is 2001 feet. The temple lies in the lap of the Dhauladhar mountain range and characterizes the sub-Himalayan Himachal. Being in Himachal Pradesh, this place usually experiences compactly cold weather, and the daytime temperature gets to 20°celsius while it drops till 8°celsius in the night. The uniqueness of the Jwala Ji temple is restrained in the fact that no idol is worshipped here, goddess Jwala in the form of flames arising from the fissures of the rock is to whom this temple is dedicated.
The temple has an engrossing history related to it. Firstly, it is believed that Raja Chand Katoch of Kangra was a substantial devotee of goddess Durga. He dreamt of such a place and also set men to find out about such a location. When proper information of such a place could be unearthed, Raja Chand Katoch built the temple of goddess Durga here. The Jwalaji temple mystery goes on as follows, it is considered that Sati Devi’s tongue fell here and it is characterized by the holy flame that is burning here today. The Jyoti (series of native flames) is considered to be the holy Jwala Mata. The Jwala Ji temple is believed to be as antique as the Vishnu Devi Mandir in Jammu and Kashmir. The flame is believed to illustrate the 9 different forms (roops) of Durga.
The Jwala Ji temple is included in the 51 Shaktipeeths of the world. Now, the question arises, ‘What are 51 Shaktipeeths?’, well the answer to that Is very simple. It is believed that Shaktipeeths are the various holy places where different parts of Mata Sati’s corpse fell off. The various body parts of goddess Sati were and are considered to be the symbol of the Aadi-shakti.
A good read to another Shakti Peet- Vaishno Devi
As mentioned earlier, this Jyoti is a series of 9 natural flames burning here, mascots of the 9 different forms of Durga Maa, namely, the main flame that burns in the silver passage–‘Mahakali’, the one who provides bhakti and mukti. The second flame represents ‘Mahamaya Annapurna’ which provides the devotees in enormous amounts. On the other hand, is the annihilator of shatrus (enemies),’ goddess Chandi’, the ‘Hingalaja Bhavani’ Is said to be the one who demolishes the miseries of everyone, the flame of ‘Vidhvashini’ disposes of all the unhappiness of the devotees, the sixth flame of ‘Mahalakshmi’ which is situated in the Jyoti kund is the giver of treasury and opulence, the flame of ‘Saraswati’ which is also situated in the Kund is considered being the one providing wisdom and knowledge, the eighth flame represents ‘Goddess Ambika’ which is known as the bestower of children and the last flame symbolizes ‘Goddess Anjana’ who is the giver of age and exhilaration.
You might also be interested to read about Bijli Mahadev Temple which is 200 km farther
The structure of the Jwalaji temple is of the Indo-Sikh style. The dome of the Mandir is of gold, gilt, and pinnacles, it also has an alluring folding door made out of silver plates, this architecture was given out by the Sikh ruler, Kharak Singh. Another significant detail that adds to the magnificence of the temple is that there is a giant brass bell present in front of the main shrine, and it is believed that it was a gift from the King of Nepal.
Ancient rulers have innumerable tales bridged with the Jwalamukhi temple; the most renowned ones include the tales of the Mughal emperor Akbar, Maharaja Ranjit Singh, and many more. It believes that emperor Akbar formerly tried to douse the holy flames by putting an iron disc on them and also by releasing water over the flames, but his efforts went futile and the eternal flames kept burning. Akbar also bestowed a Golden Chattar or canopy at the temple, but due to his scepticism towards the potential of goddess Jwala, his Golden Chhatri degraded into another metal that is still unknown to the human race. After this colossal incident, Akbar’s belief in the divinity of God was even more invigorated, and he became a great devotee of the shrine. The King of Punjab, Maharaja Ranjit Singh always appealed to the Devi and took her blessings before going into any battle. He was also the one who installed the Golden Dome of the temple in 1815. The Jwalaji temple with its tales of glory also has some tales which are related to the bitter past of our country. Questions like ‘who attacked Jwalaji Temple?’ or ‘who destroyed Jwalamukhi temple?’ are still asked and can never be neglected. The divine temple of Jwalamukhi was attacked by the Muhammad of Ghazni in 1020 AD/BC. With some other shrines like the Brijeshwari and the Chintapurni, he also looted the Jwala Ji Mandir. The Muslim ruler who governed the sultanate of Delhi from 1351 to 1388 i.e. Firoz Shah Tughlaq was the one to destroy the Jwalamukhi temple, he had become biased and prejudiced Towards the latter part of his reign and went on several expeditions to destroy various Hindu temples, therefore, he destroyed the Jwalamukhi temple of Kangra on his expedition to Nagarkot.
The gates of the temple stay open for all days of the week. The visiting hours of the temple are from 5:00 AM to 8:00 PM. The Poojas performed here are subdivided into various phases and practically go on for an entire day. ‘Havan’ is performed once and segments of ‘Durga Saptasati’ are enchanted. Aartis take place 5 times a day where every Aarti has its own timings and significance.
The first Aarti takes place usually before dawn around 5:00 in the morning. It is known as the ‘Mangal Aarti.’ The consequent Aarti is performed at the time of the sunrise and is called the ‘Panjupchaar Poojan.’ The ‘Bhog Ki Aarti’ is conducted after this where the Gods and Goddesses are laved with milk and fruits By the bhaktas(devotees) as a gesture of thankfulness towards the deities, following this is an Aarti which is performed around 7:00 PM and has no particular name. The last Aarti takes place around 10:00 in the night and is called the ‘Saiyaan ki Aarti’ where Devi’s bed is magnificently decorated with various flowers and adornments. This Aarti is subdivided into two phases- the first phase takes place inside the shrine while the second phase takes place inside the Sejabhavan.
There is a cabbalistic diagram of the goddess which is completely covered by numerous ornaments, shawls, etc. The goddess is offered the bhog of thickened milk (Rabri), sweet candy (misri), and some milk and fruits. Oblations (ahutis) are offered to the holy Jyoti burning in the pit as a symbol of respect and admiration of the almighty. Various festivals are also celebrated with immense joy and euphoria at this temple. The Jwalamukhi fair is conducted twice a year – once during the Navratri of Chaitra and the other during the Ashwin period. The followers of the Lord go around the ‘Jwala Kund’ and make their benefactions towards the goddess. At this time of the year, a lot of activities like folk dances, plays, wrestling competitions, songs and other co-curricular can be seen at the temple. The people who believe that the perpetual flames arising from the crevices are actually the symbol of the sacred goddess Jwala often visit the temple during April and October. Various clans wearing red silk flags (dhwaja) come to address the divinity of the goddess Jwala Ji.
Some other attractions of this place include the Gorakh Dibbi, which is a small kund where the water always appears to boil but it keeps cool by the grace of the Mata Jwala. A small flame that is continuously burning on a small kund appears to be very enormous in the water. This is called the Rudra Kund. It is believed that Guru Gorakhnath did expiation (Tapasya) at this place and he left his dibbi with his follower, Siddha Nagarjun, and went to get khichdi but never returned. Another such distinguishing feature is the Shayan Kaksha- setting where the Devi takes rest. A bed completely made of marble is placed in the middle of the main hall. After the final Aarti of the day, clothes and other equipment are placed in this room for the goddess. The room also contains the idols of several other goddesses like Mahadevi, Mahakali and Mahasaraswati, etc.
The transport facilities to the temple are well developed. All known modes of transport are easily available to the Jwalamukhi town. The closest airport to the temple is the Gaggal airport of Dharamsala, which is 46 kilometres from the temple. The airport connects 3 major cities namely Delhi, Kullu, and Chandigarh. The Kangra railway station is the nearest railway station from the temple and the broad gauge railhead near the temple is at Pathankot, with a distance of 123 kilometres from it. Travelling by road is also a convenient option, various bus services can be easily found from the neighbouring places like Kangra, Pathankot, Delhi, and Chandigarh, etc.
Along with some other picturesque and fascinating nearby attractions like the ‘Shri Raghunath temple’, the princely state of ‘Nadaun’, the ‘Chaumukha temple’, ‘Mangarh’ or the ‘Panj Teertham’ and ‘Mahakaleshwar’, the Jwalaji Temple is a great spot for tourism. People across the globe come here to see the unparalleled divinity and distinctiveness of this place. If ever, one wants to visit a place where immense joy, peace of mind, and tranquillity are to be found along with a great heritage and culture, there is no place supreme than the Jwala Ji temple of Himachal Pradesh.