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Naina Devi temple is a popular Indian shrine located in Bilaspur district in Himachal Pradesh. It is built on a cliff, near the highway and is one of the 51 Siddha peethas of India. The hills overlook the Gobind Sagar Lake, which was created by the construction of the Bhakra-Nangal Dam. The site is sacred since it is believed that this is the place where the eyes of Sati, the consort of Lord Shiva , fell on Earth, hence the name, Naina Devi. It is also known as Mahishpeetha to celebrate the Devi’s victory over the demon Mahishasura at this very place. The shrine is a major pilgrim site for Hindus and Sikhs, drawing scores of devotees from India and abroad, especially during Navratras.
The temple has ancient origins and it is said that it existed even during the Vedic times. It is believed to have been constructed in the 15th century and the idols were installed in 1842 by a devotee, Moti Ram Shah. Destroyed in a landslide in 1880, it was later reconstructed in 1883 with the structure replicating the original in all its glory.
When Goddess Sati burnt herself alive in the sacrificial fire, Lord Shiva was enraged and placing the body of Sati on his shoulder, he commenced the Tandava dance. This terrified all the deities in Heaven and they urged Lord Vishnu to intervene. Using his discus, Vishnu cut Sati’s body into several pieces and the pieces fell to Earth. The place where Sati’s eyes fell is believed to be the site where the Naina Devi temple is currently located.
The temple is situated in the middle of a 1567 yard long, 167 yard wide area which is set atop a 93 foot deep lake. The main gate leads to the shrines of Lord Ganesh and Lord Hanuman, where devotees offer Pujas to the two deities before entering the main shrine. Two statues of Lions keep vigil at the main entrance and guard it against evil forces. The main deities are Maa Kali, the two eyes of Naina Devi and Lord Ganesha. Many walk a distance of around 2 km to reach the shrine and then spend time lingering in the premises to soak in the spirituality.
All round the year, visitors throng the temple just to have a glimpse of the revered deity. Special fairs are organized during Chaitra, Shravan and Ashwin Navratri. These festivities draw large crowds, sometimes numbering into the millions, from various parts of the country. Every year, since 1918, a grand immersion ceremony is held on Bhadrapad Shukla Ashtami which is witnessed by devotees from neighboring states and also from the length and breadth of the country.
It is said that Naina Devi never disappoints her devotees and whoever gets her Darshan is granted the fruition of their desires almost immediately. She is renowned for wish fulfillment and keeps her worshippers happy at all times. Her power and effulgence are unlimited and people throng her temples throughout the year.
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The temple is built on a cliff and connected with NH-21. It is situated about 70 km from Bilaspur, 108 Km from Chandigarh, 10Km from Bhakra and approximately 20 Km from Anandpur Sahib.
By Flight: The nearest Airport linking the Naina Devi shrine is Chandigarh and Bhuntar, approximately 131 and 135 km from Bilaspur.
By Rail: The nearest broad gauge railway station is Kiratpur Sahib and the nearest narrow gauge railway station is Shimla.
By Bus: The temple is situated on National Highway No. 21. It is easily accessible by bus from Chandigarh to Bilaspur via Kiratpur.
People can reach the temple through the stairs from the bus terminus and cable car facility is also available from the terminal. An alternate route for light vehicles and cars is also provided and this is about 1.5 km from the main temple.