Located high above the Kumari Hills near River Rushikulya (a tributary of Mahanadi), around 160km south of Bhubaneswar in the Ganjam district of Odisha, is the temple of Taratarini. The renovated temple hides within it stories of an ancient past, going back thousands of years.
Goddess Taratarini, once the patron of seafarers and merchants of ancient Kalinga, was prayed to as the goddess before embarking on their voyages to distant lands.
The power of the goddess lives on. As per the scriptures of Hindu Purana and Tantra Shastra,the Taratarini temple is one of the most important “Shakti Peethas” or shrines dedicated to the powerful mother goddess or “Shakti” in India.
Thousands throng here for darshan and to worship the two stones that represent the goddess – Tara and Tarini together referred to as Taratarini.
The Legend Behind Tara Tarini Temple
After the self immolation of Goddess Sati, wife of Lord Shiva, He started performing the Rudra Tandava, the dance of destruction, holding the half burnt corpse of his beloved wife. To put a stop to the fierce dance, Lord Vishnu threw his Sudarshana chakra on Sati’s body, which then got dismembered, falling at different places in India. The sites where her limbs fell are worshipped as Shakti Peethas.
Tara Tarini Temple is where her breasts fell, and the shrine here is also known as the Breast shrine. Tara and Tarini the twin goddesses are worshipped here. This shakti peeth is also known as Kalyani Dham.
A puranic reference of this temple is connected to a learned Brahmin Vasu Praharaja, who was an ardent devotee of the Goddess. The two sisters Tara and Tarini who stayed with him for a few years, went missing one day. It is believed that the two sisters went up the Taratarini hill and disappeared there. Praharaj was left in despair, not being able to find them anywhere. That night he dreamed of the sisters, who informed him that they are incarnations of Adi Shakti Tara and Tarini, and they also asked him to renovate the temple and worship the deities
About Tara Tarini Temple
Built in the 17th century, this ancient temple is located atop Taratarini hill or Purnagiri hill & one has to climb exactly 999 steps to reach the temple. The holy river Rushikalyani, believed to be the elder sister of river Ganga, flows at the foothills of the temple.
The temple is built using the Rekha style of architecture, and Goddess Taratarini was the principal deity of the rulers of Kalinga kingdom.
The Temple Deities
The deities Tara and Tarini have human faces. These idols are made of stone and are adorned with gold and silver jewels and precious stones. Goddess Taratarini is the presiding deity of most of the households of Southern Odisha.
Chaitra Parba, also referred to as Chaitra mela or Chaitra Yatra, is one of the major festivals celebrated in the Taratarini Temple. It is held on each Tuesday in the month of Chaitra, which falls in April-May as per the English calendar attracting anywhere between 6-7 lakhs of pilgrims. Despite the constant clamoring of the shopkeepers urging every visitor to shop for ghee and lamp for puja, the cacophony of the over enthusiastic pilgrims and the cramped temple corridors, the temple complex somehow manifests an unusual calm and tranquility. This place also offers spectacular views of the meandering river and the adjoining landscape.