Tara Tarini temple is the most revered temple in the whole of South Odisha. Tara Tarini temple is one of the four Adi Shakti Peetha’s of the country. The temple is located approximately 55 KM from Rambha. If you are travelling from Rambha – take the NH5 and proceed towards Berhampore, take a right turn from Huma and head straight for Purushottampur.
The temple is located on a hilltop – a climb of 3 KM on well maintained motorable hill roads. The temple gives a picturesque view of the Ganjam landscape with the Rushikulya River meandering along the foot hills of the Tara Tarini hill. One can take the ropeway to the temple and enjoy the scenery further (Rs.50/person for to and fro).
Shakti Peetha are ancient shrine’s sacred to Hindu’s .The legend of Shakti Peetha goes that- Shiva had sacrificed Adi Shakti -his consort- for the welfare of the Universe created by Lord Brahma. Lord Brahma had decided that as a favour he would return Adi Shakti to Shiva. He ordered his son Daksha who was a powerful king of the universe to pray to Adi Shakti and ask her to bless him by taking birth as his daughter and to marry her off to Lord Shiva when she grew older.
King Daksha and his wife Prasuti gave up their worldly life and prayed to goddess Adi Shakti. Pleased with their penance, Goddess Adishakti’s appeared before Daksha and Prasuti and granted their wish. However she said that, if Daksha ever insulted his daughter i.e. Adi Shakti herself- unnecessarily, she would immolate herself and there will be chaos and destruction in the world.
True to Goddess Adishakti’s blessings, Prasuti and Daksha were blessed with a daughter, whom they named Sati, she was also called Dakshayni. Sati was the 23rd daughter born to Prasuti and Daksha out of 27 daughters that the couple had.
Sati grew up hearing inspiring stories of lord Shiva and the later’s legend grew on her , so much so that she fell in love with Lord Shiva. In the meantime Lord Brahma and Shiva fell out of favour with each other. Lord Shiva cut off Lord Brahma’s fifth head. Daksha being son of Brahma took it as an offence and began to hate Shiva. The hatred grew when Daksha felt insulted by Lord Shiva’s disposition towards him at a social gathering. However through a series of incidents Lord Shiva fell in love with Sati and decided to marry her. Much against Daksha’s wishes, the marriage was solemnized.
Sometime later, Daksha organised a grand yagna to which everyone was invited except Sati and Lord Shiva. Sati coerced Lord Shiva to let her go and attend her father’s yagna. On seeing his daughter Sati at the gate of the yagna, an enraged Daksha started insulting her and abusing Lord Shiva. True to Goddess Adishakti’s words, Sati self immolated herself. An enraged Lord Shiva brought about mass destruction and chaos in the world. On being consoled by Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma and other god’s and goddesses Bholenath as he is known Lord Shiva forgave Daksha and brought him back to life and stopped the carnage and restored the world.
However grief stricken at the death of his beloved wife, he carried her body and started wondering aimlessly throughout the universe. Lord Brahma and others approached Lord Vishnu and deliberated as how to make Lord Shiva come out of his grief. Lord Vishnu unleashed his Sudarshan Chakra, which cut the dead body of Sati into 52 pieces.
Shakti Peetha’s are shrines which are believed to have emerged wherever the body pieces of Sati fell. Odisha has three such sites. Tara Tarini (it’s said that the breast of Sati fell at the site of Tara Tarini), Bimala Devi temple inside Jagannath Temple Puri (it’s said that the a feet of Sati fell at this place) are the Adi Shakti Peetha’s and Biraja Devi Temple at Jajpur (it’s said that navel of Sati fell at this place) is the Maha Shakti Peetha.
The Tara Tarini temple is also associated with the Buddhist sect- It is believed to have been an important tantric seat for the Mahayana sect- who worshipped Tara. The small image of Lord Buddha in a meditating posture, inside the sanctum sanctorum of the main temple and the Rock Edit of Ashoka found at Samapa (modern Jaugada) at a distance of 4 KM from Tara Tarini Hill addressing his officials to follow the path of Buddha while discharging their duties proves the point further.
The Mahavastu composed during the reign of Kanishka mention’s the rise of a new unorthodox sect Mahayana or Tantric Buddhism. Mahayana emerged in the scene during the 1st Century B.C. and accepted into its fold all the prevalent practices and belief of both Buddhism and Hinduism . Thus, Tantric Buddhism in its historical philosophical and social aspects, in its thought and resultant practices accepted and incorporated Hindu Tantra relating to Shakti worship.
Hence , the probability of worship of Tara , the primordial deity of the Mahayana Buddhist sect at Tara Tarini Hill and Tara Tarini as a famous Buddhist Tantra Pitha since time immemorial can be established on the basis of this hypothesis.
According to folklore it was Adi Shankaracharya who after a prolonged effort established the Adi Shakti Peetha as a Hindu temple.
Around Tara Tarini
Marada- Located around 17KM from Purushottampur along the Budhamba- Polsara road, this hamlet served as a hiding place for Lord Jagannath from 1735-1737. After Aurangzeb’s death in 1707 the Mughal hold began to weaken and instability seeped in. Taqi Khan became the governor of Odisha in 1727 and repeatedly attacked Hindu places of worship in the state. The then King of Puri Gajapati Ramchandra Dev II was in no position to take on the marauding Taqi Khan, he instead planned a spectacular escape for Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Goddess Subhadra to Marada in Ganjam, thereby saving the Jagannath Temple from desecration at hands of the invaders. He was aided by the then king of Athagarh, King Jagannath Harichandan Jagdev in this endeavour.
The Marada temple, which was home to the lord for around three years, is a conspicuous piece of Kalinga Architecture. The temple located at Hatibari forest resembled a stone mound from a distance. It had a false ceiling where the deities were hidden. The annual rath yatra was suspended during this period and the lord was worshipped in complete anonymity. The place is called Sharan Srikshetra – the deities were shifted back to Puri when normalcy returned after the death of Taqi Khan in 1734.
Till this day the Marada temple doesn’t observe the rath yatra and there are no deities in the temple. The three circular stone pedestal on which Lord Jagannath and his siblings were placed are worshipped. It’s perhaps the only surviving hiding places of Lord Jagannath during the tumultuous period of 1568AD to 1735AD.
The significance of Marada is sadly lost in the pages of history and the town attracts very few tourists. Currently efforts are on by the Government, district administration and the Puri temple authorities to mark the place as an important religious tourist destination.
The normally sleepy 5KM stretch from Purunabandha to Gokharakuda along the confluence of Rushikulya river and Bay of Bengal see’s a flurry of nature’s activities from mid February to first week of March every year, when the critically endangered Olive Ridley Turtles come for nesting. The normally secluded village hamlets see’s tourists flocking at late night and early morning to catch a glimpse of nature’s miracle. Rushikulya stretch is touted as the second largest hatchery for these turtles after Gahirmatha located in Kendrapada district of Odisha.
The nearest town is Khalikote and it’s advisable to book your own taxi or take your own vehicle to witness this natural phenomenon.
If you are planning a night stay take permission from Forest Ranger Office at Khalikote. Take your own tent’s for the purpose or you can get in touch with the villagers and request for an overnight home stay.
Be sensitive to the animals- remember the egg laying process is a stressful time for the turtles akin to a human delivery and being on land they are most vulnerable, so please don’t cause them discomfort.
During your stay be sensitive and do your bit to preserve the environment so that our future generations can also witness this miracle.
Where to Stay:-
Normally people stay either in Barkul, Rambha or Berhampore and visit the temple, but in case you want there is accommodation available. Nirupama Hotels located on the Tara Tarini hill; just a couple of kilometers from the temple and 1KM from the ropeway offer a decent and comfortable option.
Check out time – 9 AM
Website – www.nirupamagroup.com