Weather :

Timings : 5:00 AM to 6:00 PM

Time Required : 1-2 hours

Entry Fee : Free

Dunagiri Temple , Ranikhet Overview

Dunagiri Temple is a famous shrine dedicated to Maa Dunagiri or Maa Durga and is located in Almora district of Dwarahat, Uttarakhand.  Perched at a height of 8000 feet above sea level, this temple is also known as Shakti Temple and Dunagiri Temple is not only an important religious site for locals but also offers a good view of the Himalayan ranges to national and international tourists alike. 

People often visit this temple during the Chaitra and Ashwin months of Navratri. It is believed that when Lord Hanuman was carrying the mountain with “Sanjeevani Buti” for Lord Laxman, a piece of it fell on this location and since then, it has been called “Doonagiri” where “Giri” refers to fell. Known as the Mangalikhan amongst locals, visitors need to climb a total of 365 steps to reach the temple premises. Dunagiri temple is one of the two Vaishnavi Shakti Peeths, the other one being Vaishno Devi temple in Jammu and Kashmir. Located in the heart of the lush green forests of Dwarahat, one can have a great experience at this temple during any month except July when the rains make it difficult to enjoy the events here.

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Entry Details

There is no entry fee for Dunagiri Temple and visitors can enter for free. The timings are as follows: 
  • Summer: 5:00 AM to 6:00 PM 
  • Winter: 5:00 AM to 4:00 PM 

History

According to the legend, this temple was the site where the Pandavas took shelter during their exile. Pandukholi is the place where they took shelter for a very long time. Another legend says that when Lord Hanuman was carrying the mountain with “Sanjeevani Buti”, a piece of it fell, making this place auspicious. What’s more, devotees believe that the Pandavas Guru Dronacharya did Tapasya or devout austerity here. It is believed that the bronze plate placed inside this temple dates back to 1181 AD. till date, this temple is considered to be one of the oldest as well as most famous religious spots for Hindus in Uttarakhand.

Architecture

Dunagiri Temple, situated around 8000 feet above sea level, is one of the oldest temples in Uttarakhand. It is situated on the hilltop of Kumaon Hills and offers a great panoramic view of Gogas valley as well as of Himlayan peaks like Chaukhamba, Trishul and many more. Even though visitors need to climb 365 steps to reach the premises of this temple, they need to climb a total of 500 steps to see it in entirety. Inside the temple, there is a bronze plate that dates back to 1181 AD.

Special Festivals

There are a number of festivals that are celebrated in this temple. Firstly, this place receives a number of pilgrims during Navratri, especially during the Ashwin and Chaitra months of this festival. Each Navratri night is dedicated to one avatar of Maa Durga. During Chaitra month, Phooldei Chhamma Chhei is a common ritual where young women distribute jaggery, coconut, green leaves, etc to villagers as a way of giving them good wishes and get money and present in return. As for the month of Ashwin, Kahtarua is conducted where multi-hued flags and light bonfires are displayed by children. Apart from these festivals, Maha Shivratri, Karthik Purnima, Ganga Dussehra, Makar Sankranti, Basant Panchmi are famous festivals celebrated here. What’s more, Nanda-Devi Mela is the most famous celebration here where the festival is commenced on the day of Devi’s visit to her maiti or her parent’s home which culminates with her return to her husband’s home. One common aspect between the festivals celebrated here is their emphasis on folk songs.

How To Reach Dunagiri Temple

Dunagiri Temple is 14 kilometres away from Dwarahat. Once visitors reach Dwarahat, they can take a taxi, cab or bus which will take them around 30 minutes to reach Dunagiri Temple. The closest railway station to this attraction is Kathgodam station (KGM) which is around 122 kilometres away and it would take a little over 4 hours via NH109. Alternatively, the closest airport is Pantnagar Airport (PGH) which is 156 kilometres away and it would take a little over 5 hours to reach Dunagiri Temple via NH109. Buses, taxis and cabs are available from the airport as well as the railway station.

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