About 39 KMs from our cottages is the small town of Devi-Dhura. It is famous for its cave temple dedicated to Maa Barahi and the famous fair held during the festival of Raksha-Bandhan. The route to the temple is through some beautiful forests and orchards.
The temple is situated between a few huge rocks. To reach the temple, one has to slide through the thin openings between these rocks. Some of the walls have been painted roughly indicating where exactly to go.
The temple itself is an ancient structure built between these rocks. However some reinforcement of the rocks has been done using modern construction methods.
Maa Barahi is very revered in the region. She is considered one of the Matrikas, a group of seven mother goddesses. She is the shakti (feminine energy) of Baraha, the boar avatar of the Lord Vishnu.
No one is allowed to look at the Goddess’s statue with bare eyes. Doing so is believed to make the person blind. Hence, the Goddess is covered with a red cloth. The cloth is removed and the Goddess is ‘viewed’ by putting a black band on one’s eye during annual festivals. Do visit the new temple too.
Some people say that the Goddess herself was present here initially but later she established her presence in the form of the deities, which were placed here by Chand dynasty kings.
Now the area is undergoing extensive construction work and modernization. To us, it feels like it is taking a toll at the natural beauty of the place.
It is believed that the Bhim, one of the Pandavas used the giant boulders present at the temple’s premises as balls and had thrown them around. There’s a large rock, just a little distance away from the temple which is also said to have been split by Bhim in one sword strike.
The famous author and hunter, Jim Corbett’s tale ‘Temple Tiger’ is associated with the Devidhura temples.
Devidhura itself is situated after a forest of tall deodar and oak trees surrounded by beautiful native flora and fauna. This is a wonderful place for trekking and being one with the mountains. However the ‘modernization’ and construction activities in the region have spoilt the beauty of the place. Once this was a place that could be visited all the year round but now we recommend only during the famous Bagwal Mela, where a holi played with pebbles/flowers is quite famous.
Story of Bagwal Mela
According to folklore, every year, a chosen man would be sacrificed on the alter of the goddess to please her. The person was chosen from a group consisting of four clans – Garhwal, Lamgariya, Chamyal and Valik. On one particular occasion, it was the turn for a young man who as the only support for her old grandmother. The old lady accepted the fate with heavy heart. The goddess was happy by her devotion and granted her grandson life. In exchange the same amount of blood was to be offered from a group of people. Thus the tradition of the snow-pelting was born. Every year on the day of Raksha-Bandhan, people pelt stones on each other and blood flows on the grounds of the temple. The wounds heal the very next day. The villagers support their representatives with music and drums. Wooden umbrellas called ferra are used as shields. Now a days, the stones/pebbles are being replaced by flowers and fruits and still some amount of blood does drip from the wounds.