The Temple of Shri Naina Devi Ji is located in the Bilaspur District of Himachal Pradesh, India, on a hilltop that overlooks the Gobind Sagar lake created by the Bhakra-Nangal Dam. The temple can be reached via a road that curves around the hill up to a certain point, followed by concrete steps that lead to the top. Alternatively, a cable car facility is available that transports pilgrims from the base of the hill to the top. The base of the hill also contains the samadhi of Bhagat Jeona Morh, who passed away in the 12th century.
The temple is associated with several stories. According to one legend, Goddess Sati burned herself alive in a Yagna, causing Lord Shiva to become distraught. He picked up her body and began his Tandava dance, which frightened all the deities in heaven, as it could lead to a holocaust. To prevent this, Lord Vishnu unleashed his Chakra, which cut Sati’s body into 51 pieces. Shri Naina Devi Temple is said to be the spot where her eyes fell.
Another story involves a Gujjar Boy who observed a white cow showering milk from her udders onto a stone while grazing his cattle. He saw this happen for several days and then dreamed of the Goddess, who told him that the stone was her pindi. The boy shared his story and dream with Raja Bir Chand, who saw it happen in reality and subsequently built a temple on that spot, naming it after the boy’s name.
The temple is also known as Mahishapeeth because of the legend of the defeat of the demon Mahishasur by the Goddess. Mahishasur was a powerful demon who had been blessed with the boon of immortality by Lord Brahma, but he could only be defeated by an unmarried woman. Mahishasur began spreading terror on Earth and among the gods. To combat him, all the gods combined their powers and created a Devi to defeat him. The Devi was gifted different weapons by each of the gods, and during the ensuing battle, she defeated the demon and removed both of his eyes. The gods applauded “Jai Naina” in celebration, and the temple was named accordingly.
Shri Naina Devi Ji is a significant religious site, and as such, there are several fairs and festivals held throughout the year to celebrate the temple and its deities.
One of the most important festivals is the Nanda Ashtami Mela, which is celebrated in the months of August or September. This festival honors the temple’s main deity, Shri Naina Devi, and draws thousands of devotees from across the region. During the festival, pilgrims perform a holy dip in the Gobind Sagar lake, offer prayers at the temple, and participate in cultural programs and fairs held at the temple’s base.
Another significant festival is the Navratri Mela, which is celebrated in the months of March or April. This festival is dedicated to Goddess Durga, and pilgrims come to the temple to seek blessings and offer prayers to the deity. The fair held during this festival is known for its colorful stalls selling local handicrafts, food, and souvenirs.
Apart from these two festivals, there are several other fairs and festivals that take place at Shri Naina Devi Ji throughout the year. These include the Chaitra and Ashwin Navratras, Diwali, and Holi. Each festival has its unique rituals, cultural programs, and fairs, which draw in large crowds of devotees and tourists.
Overall, the fairs and festivals at Shri Naina Devi Ji are a significant part of the temple’s religious and cultural heritage, and they provide a unique opportunity for visitors to experience the region’s rich traditions and customs.
There are several things to do in and around Shri Naina Devi Ji Temple that are worth exploring for visitors.
Aside from the temple, visitors can also enjoy the scenic beauty of the surrounding mountains and deodar trees by taking a leisurely hike up to the temple. Along the way, there are several viewpoints that offer breathtaking panoramic views of Shimla and its surroundings.
For those seeking a unique experience, the Jakhu Ropeway is an aerial lift that provides a bird’s eye view of Shimla as it links a point near the center of the city to the temple. Visitors can also enjoy shopping at the nearby Lakkar Bazaar, which is famous for its wooden handicrafts and souvenirs.
Overall, Jakhoo Temple offers a wide range of experiences that cater to all types of travelers, making it a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to Shimla.
The best time to visit Shri Naina Devi Ji Temple is during the months of March to June and September to November, which is considered the peak season for tourism in Himachal Pradesh.
During these months, the weather is pleasant, and the temperature ranges from 10°C to 30°C, making it suitable for outdoor activities and sightseeing. The monsoon season (July-August) should be avoided as the region receives heavy rainfall, which can lead to landslides and roadblocks.
The temple also hosts several festivals and fairs during the peak season, such as the Nanda Ashtami Mela and Navratri Mela, which attract many devotees and tourists.
However, it’s worth noting that the temple can get crowded during the peak season, and visitors may have to wait in long queues to offer prayers. So, it’s recommended to visit the temple during weekdays or early mornings to avoid the rush.
Overall, the best time to visit Shri Naina Devi Ji Temple is during the peak season when the weather is pleasant, and the temple hosts several festivals and fairs
There are several ways to reach Shri Naina Devi Ji Temple. Here are some of the most popular modes of transportation:
Shri Naina Devi Ji Temple is well-connected by road. Visitors can take a taxi, bus or drive their own vehicle from nearby cities like Chandigarh, Bilaspur, and Una. National Highway No. 21 connects the temple with major cities in North India.
The nearest railway station to Shri Naina Devi Ji Temple is Anandpur Sahib, which is around 30 km away. Visitors can take a taxi or a local bus to reach the temple from the railway station.
The nearest airport to Shri Naina Devi Ji Temple is Chandigarh International Airport, which is around 90 km away. Visitors can take a taxi or a bus to reach the temple from the airport.
Visitors can choose the mode of transportation that suits them the best based on their budget, time, and convenience.