Regarded and revered as one of the fifty-one Shakti Peeths that are located all across India, the Naina Devi Temple is a holy site that is situated on the northern shore of Naini Lake, in the Nainital district of Uttarakhand, India. This temple is one of the most renowned places of Hindu worship all over the country. Dedicated to Devi Sati's eyes, devotees from all parts of India flock to this region in huge numbers all year round.
The Naina Devi Temple was initially constructed in the 15th Century A.D. during the Kushan dynasty reign. Regrettably, the temple got thrashed post a landslide which took place in this region in 1880. It is widely believed that the present day structure replaces this original 15th-century temple. Some people believe that this religious site of worship was first rebuilt in 1842 by Moti Ram Shah, a devotee of Maa Naini. He also placed an idol of Naina Devi inside the temple. And it was after this reconstruction that yet another landslide took place in 1880, which led to the abolishment of the temple and it was reconstructed again in 1883.
No matter what the exact past and history of the temple are one fact about the temple, about which there are no contradicting schools of thought, is that the temple was undoubtedly reconstructed in 1883. The present temple is spread over 1,567 yards and comprises of a lake which has a width of 167 yards and depth of 93 feet.
There is a fascinating mythological tale that is attached to the history of the Naina Devi Temple. It is widely believed that in the ancient past, King Daksha, the father of Sati, had organised a huge yajna ceremony. He, however, did not invite his daughter, Sati and his son-in-law, Lord Shiva to the religious ceremony. Grieved by this episode and deeply insulted, Sati burnt herself to death. When Lord Shiva was returning to their abode with the burnt body in his arms, Sati's body parts fell all over the Earth in various places. The temple of Naina Devi is believed to have been built at the spot where the eyes or 'naina' of the Goddess are assumed to have fallen when Lord Shiva was carrying her body.
The Naina Devi Temple boasts of a large and remarkably well-built complex. The gate to enter the temple is marked by a majestic Peepal tree to the left. On the right, one can find idols of Lord Hanuman and Lord Ganesha. There are three idols of different deities inside the temple. The two eyes on the roof of the temple are depictive of Maa Naina Devi, who is shown accompanied by Lord Ganesha, who is the God of Wisdom, and Kali Maa, who is known to be the Goddess of Death and Destruction. Two statues of lions also surround the main shrine of Maa Naina Devi inside the temple.
Ever since the year 1918, a grand statue immersion ceremony has been taking place at the Nanda Devi Temple, on the day of Bhadrapad Shukla Ashtami. A vibrant eight-day Nanda Ashtami festival also takes place here, which is attended by a large and overwhelming crowd of religious people from all over the country. A large fair is also organized at the time of this festival. On the last day of this celebration, a statue of the Goddess Nanda Devi is immersed in the holy water, along with an idol of her sister Naina Devi. Other holy occasions like Navratri and Chaitra Fair are also celebrated with great zeal and fervor at the temple.
The Naina Devi Temple is open on all days from 6:00 AM to 10:00 PM for the general public.
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The best time to visit the Naina Devi Temple is during the Navratri in September to October, Shravani Mela in July to August and Chaitra Mela in March to April.
The temple is located at the top of the Naina hillock, near the Naini Lake. The place is just a few metres walk away from the Nainital bus station. From other locations within the city, you can easily hire a cab or take an auto to reach the Naina Devi Temple.
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