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Tarapith Mandir, or Tarapith Temple, is a small temple on the River Dwaraka's bank that flows through Tarapith, Birbhum district, West Bengal. This old temple is one of the 51 Shakti Peeths. The earlier name of the village was Chandipur. Tarapith Mandir is well-known for Tantric practices, and it has been a haven for learners of Tantrism. The presiding deity is Maa Tara, a terrifying Tantric incarnation of Maa Kali. As the right eye of Sati had fallen in this place, the place earned the name Tarapith Mandir. Pilgrims can see a cremation (Maha Smasan) ground next to the temple, where Tantric rituals are performed.
Sati's (Maa Parvati) father, King Daksha, conducted a Yagna by inviting all Devas and Ganas. But, he purposely neglected his daughter and son-in-law, Shiva, as she married Shiva against his wishes. To humiliate them, he conducted the Yagna without inviting them. Sati came to the spot sans an invitation. Daksha insulted Shiva in front of the assembled gathering, which included all the other gods, sages, kings, etc. So, she asked him to apologize. Since he refused, Sati was enraged, jumped into the Yagna, and immolated herself.
Knowing this, Shiva came there and destroyed the Yagna and killed Daksha. He carried Sati's corpse and started his Rudra Tandava. The entire Universe froze. All requested Vishnu to stop the dance of Shiva. Vishnu cut Sati's body into many pieces using his Sudarshana Chakra. Her body parts were scattered on the earth. The place where Sati's right eye, the Tara, fell became Tarapith, one of the Shakti Peeths in Bengal.
Another legend explains that a dangerous poison came out during the Churning of the Milky Ocean (Samudra Manthan). Shiva drank the poison and held it in his throat to save the Universe. Sati, in the form of Tara, had fed Shiva her breast milk to relieve his throat, which was burning due to the effect of the poison.
The old Tarapith Mandir was minimally damaged. In 1225, Jagannath Ray from Mallarpur village built the present temple with eight roofs. Tarapith Mandir has thick-base, thick walls composed of red bricks. The temple features typical Bengal architecture.
A terracotta structure adorns the façade of the temple. Episodes from various Indian epics embellish it. Durga slaying the demon Mahishasura is depicted in the center of the façade. The temple has many passages and a Shikhara.
The sanctum sanctorum is a four-sided, marble block structure sealed by a curved roof. It houses two idols of Maa Tara.
One is the mother form of Maa Tara, and the second is a fearsome form of Maa Kali. A black stone idol is a mother form, and Shiva is seen in the form of a child on the lap of Maa Tara, who is suckling him. Her idol has two arms, garlanded with snakes and adorned with sacred threads.
Another idol is a metal likeness of Maa Kali, with skull garlands and a protruding red tongue. A silver crown adorns her head, and she has flowing hair. Red vermilion is applied to her forehead. The Tarapith Mandir has a water tank where the devotees take a bath before entering the temple. The pond is believed to have healing powers.
The priests offer homage with great reverence. While it follows the peculiar Tantric method of worshipping the deity, the Tarapith Mandir also offers animal sacrifices. The temple has a unique tradition of offering the deity liquor, sweets, and flowers.
The temple conducts Sankranti Mela on Sankranti day. The Tarapith Mandir celebrates Tarapith Amavasya Annual Festival every August. It is an important and familiar festival.
Dola Purnima in February/March, Gamha Purnima in July/August, Basantika Parba in Chaitra (March/April), Chaitra Parba on every Tuesday of Chaitra, Kali Pooja, Navratri, and Diwali are the other festivals celebrated at the temple.
Devotees believe that worshipping Maa Tara at Tarapith Mandir protects them from negative forces, evil eyes, and other dangers. She blesses her followers with good health, wealth, and prosperity. Chanting her Mantra can give great relief from Pitru dosha.
The Tarapith Mandir, a well-known spot for Tantric practices, is believed to bring spiritual enlightenment and fulfillment of desires.
Tarapith Bus stand is the nearest bus stop from the temple, less than 1 km away.
Rampurhat Railway Station is the nearest railway station to the Tarapith Mandir. It is at a 7 km distance.
Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport, Kolkata, is the nearest airport which lies 196 km away from the temple.
The Tarapith Mandir remains open from 6.00 am to 9.00 pm.
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