Navaratri, a festive occasion, exalts the nine manifestations of Goddess Durga, revered as the ultimate matriarch in Hindu mythology. Every day of this festival is devoted to one of the goddess's incarnations, symbolising distinct facets of strength, knowledge, elegance, and kindness. Observers venerate the goddess through practices like abstinence, recitations, ceremonial acts, and pilgrimages to temples. Here, we uncover a selection of India's most renowned and unique temples, each dedicated to one of the nine avatars of Durga.
Shailputri, which translates to "daughter of the mountain," is a name associated with Goddess Parvati, who took birth as the daughter of King Himalaya. She is also recognised as Lord Shiva's consort and the mother of Lord Ganesha and Lord Kartikeya. Mounted upon a bull, she bears a trident and a lotus in her hands, representing her divine attributes. She is revered as the goddess, symbolising nature and purity. The Shailputri Temple, situated along the banks of the Ganga river at Marhia Ghat in Varanasi, is a prominent site of devotion to this revered deity.
Address: 82P9+RF7 Mandir, Shailputri, Jalalipura, Varanasi
Brahmacharini, a name signifying "one who practices austerity," represents the unmarried manifestation of Goddess Parvati. In her pursuit of Lord Shiva as her husband, she embarked on rigorous penance that spanned thousands of years. This form of the goddess is depicted as a young, enchanting woman attired in white garments, holding a rosary and a water pot. She embodies wisdom and devotion, making her a revered deity. The Brahmacharini Temple, also called Maa Brahmeshwar Temple, is situated at Balaji Ghat near Dashashwamedh Ghat in Varanasi. It is believed to possess great spiritual potency.
Address: 8289+C6M, Panchganga Ghat, Ghasi Tola, Varanasi
Chandraghanta, which translates to "one who has a crescent moon on her forehead," symbolises the married aspect of Goddess Parvati. After her union with Lord Shiva, she proudly donned a half-moon on her brow, signifying her equal partnership in all his endeavours. This form of the goddess is depicted as a fierce and courageous woman, mounted upon a tiger and brandishing various weapons in her ten hands. She embodies the duality of being a goddess of both war and peace. The Chandraghanta Temple, situated near the Vishwanath Temple in Jaitpura, Varanasi, is a place of reverence dedicated to this formidable deity.
Address: 8276+FJQ, Thatheri Bazar, Ghasi Tola, Varanasi
Kushmanda, which means "one who created the universe with her smile," signifies the cosmic aspect of Goddess Parvati. It is believed that she emerged from the void and used her divine radiance to fashion the world. She is portrayed as a glorious figure seated on a lion, with eight hands holding a lotus, a rosary, a pot of nectar, and a discus. She represents the goddess of creation and happiness. The Kushmanda Temple, alternatively known as Devi Patan Temple, is located in Ghatampur town, approximately 65 kilometres from Kanpur. This temple holds significant antiquity and is among the oldest temples in Uttar Pradesh.
Address: Ghatampur, Kanpur
Skandamata, the name signifying "mother of Skanda," represents the maternal aspect of Goddess Parvati. She is the mother of Skanda, also known as Kartikeya, who assumed leadership of the gods' army and defeated the demon Tarakasura. In depictions, she is a loving mother cradling her son Skanda in her lap, seated upon a lotus, and adorned with four arms and three eyes. Skandamata symbolises motherhood and compassion. The Skandamata Temple, situated in Jaitpura near the Chandraghanta Temple in Varanasi, is a place of devotion dedicated to this nurturing deity.
Address: J 7/2,, Digiya Rd, Jaitpura, Varanasi
Katyayani, derived from "one who was born from sage Katyayan," represents the warrior aspect of Goddess Parvati. She emerged from the combined energy of all gods to vanquish the invincible demon Mahishasura, who had instilled fear across the three worlds. In her depictions, she is portrayed as a dark-skinned woman, mounted on a lion and wielding a sword, a shield, a lotus, and an abhaya mudra in her four hands. Katyayani embodies the goddess of triumph and courage.
Address: Sakkalbert, Karnataka
Kalaratri, signifying "the night of death," portrays the most fearsome aspect of Goddess Parvati. She adopted this form to obliterate the defiant demons, Shumbha and Nishumbha, who had questioned her sovereignty and might. In her depictions, Kalaratri is depicted as a dark and formidable figure, astride a donkey and wielding a sword, a trident, a noose, and a thunderbolt in her four hands. She embodies the goddess of both destruction and protection.
Address: 8256+8CH, Bangali Tola, Varanasi
Mahagauri, which translates to "the great white one," represents the purified form of Goddess Parvati. She assumed this form after undertaking rigorous penance in the Himalayas to win the love of Lord Shiva. Her body had turned dark due to the harsh climate and dust, but Lord Shiva cleansed her with the waters of the Ganga, restoring her original beauty. Mahagauri is portrayed as a fair and elegant woman seated upon a bull, holding a trident and a damaru in her hands. She embodies the goddess of purity and auspiciousness. The Mahagauri Temple in Pushkar, Rajasthan, stands as one of the most sacred and visually stunning temples dedicated to this manifestation of Durga.
Address: VV8C+79F, Shimlapuri Rd, Chimney Rd, Shimlapuri, Ludhiana
Siddhidatri, denoting "the giver of siddhis," represents the ultimate form of Goddess Parvati. She is the origin of all the extraordinary powers and abilities yogis and sages attain. In her depictions, she appears as a radiant woman seated on a lotus, holding a lotus, a mace, a discus, and a conch in her four hands. Siddhidatri embodies the goddess of perfection and enlightenment. The Siddhidatri Temple in Datia, Madhya Pradesh, stands as one of the most magnificent temples dedicated to this manifestation of Durga.
Address: 7C28+Q3W, Chiklod Rd, Pratap Nagar, Jahangirabad, Bhopal