History of Sri Naina Devi Temple Festivals celebrated at the Naina Devi Temple

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Naina Devi Temple, Nainital Overview

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 presiding deity of the Naina Devi Temple is Maa Naina Devi or Mata Sati. According to Hindu mythology, the temple is built on the exact spot where Goddess Sati's eyes fell on the Earth after Lord Shiva carried her charred body after taking it out from the fire of the yagna that was performed by Sati's father- Daksha. Inside the Naina Devi Temple, you will find the two eyes on the roof, depicting Goddess Naina Devi, placed in the centre; with the statues of Goddess Kali and Lord Ganesha surrounding it. It would be interesting to note that the city of Nainital got its name from the temple of Naina Devi only. As you climb the hill to reach the temple, various shops selling prasad and other essential puja items will greet you on the way. Considered to be extremely pristine and sacred by the devotees, the venerated Naina Devi Temple is a must visit on your next trip to Nainital.

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Legend of Naina Devi Temple

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.

Architecture of Naina Devi Temple

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.

Festivals and Celebrations

Ever since 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 fervour at the temple.

Best Time to Visit

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.

How To Reach Naina Devi Temple

The Naina Devi 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.

Another way of reaching the temple is the ropeway which transports tourists from the bottom of the hill to the temple, for easier access. The Palkis which are used for the purpose are quite comfortable to ride in. Most pilgrims might also prefer to reach the top of the hill on foot while chanting Jai Mata Di. The distance is quite comfortable and can be covered within half an hour.

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