Famous for being a temple that doesn’t house any idol, the Jwalamukhi Temple is among the 51 total Shakti Peethas in India. The temple is situated 35 km south of Kangra valley in the town of Jwalamukhi in Himachal Pradesh. The temple is dedicated to Jwalamukhi- the Goddess of Light, also known as the Flaming Goddess or ‘She of the Flaming Mouth’.
The temple is situated overlooking the Dhauladhar range and set amidst undulating hills. According to Hindu mythology, when Lord Vishnu cut through the corpse of Sati, her tongue fell off the corpse at this site. Even the Pandavas are regarded to have visited this sacred place.
The temple consists of a copper pipe which emanates natural gas which is lit by the temple’s priest to form a flawless blue flame. The flame is worshiped as the manifestation of the goddess Jwalamukhi. Some also believe that Jwalamukhi represents the flaming mouth of Jalandhara, the demon who was crushed to death by Lord Shiva. The flames are believed to come from his mouth. Nine flames have been named after the goddesses - Mahakali, Annapurna, Chandi, Hinglaj, Vidhya, Basni, Maha Lakshmi, Saraswati, Ambika and Anji Devi which burn continuously.
It is believed that Raja Bhumi Chand Katoch of Kangra, who was a great devotee of Goddess Durga, dreamt of the sacred place and set people to trace its whereabouts. After discovering the site, the Raja erected the temple at that very location. The temple was built in a modern design. Its dome is made from gold and the temple possesses a beautiful folding door made out of silver plates.
A small platform is attached at the front before entering a large mandap (hall) where a huge brass bell hangs. The bell was gifted by the King of Nepal and beautifully adorns the hall. Endlessly burning, the main flame is positioned in a square central pit of hollowed stone. A musical fountain is also situated near this temple.
Legend has it that Akbar, the great Mughal Emperor, visited the temple to test its originality after he was made aware of the legend. Akbar tried to douse the flames with a stream of water, but to his surprise, the great power of the Goddess still kept the flames burning.
Acknowledging the power of Jwala Devi, Akbar took his army to the temple and offered a gold umbrella (Chatra) for the Goddess, but soon after offering the dome, the umbrella turned into copper suggesting that the Goddess declined his offering. Akbar became a devotee of the Goddess with utmost humility. Today, the stream of water drips into a tank within the temple premises.
Where to stay
There are no accommodation options in the temple complex. There are many budget and mid-range accommodation options in Kangra.
Where to eat
Food options are limited in the town of Jwalamukhi. It is advisable to carry food hampers and water during your visit. A variety of cuisines are available in Chintpurni and Kangra ranging from south Indian snacks to Punjabi cuisine.
Best time to visit
The temple can be visited throughout the year but the best time to visit the temple is between the months of September and October when colourful fairs are held during the Navratri celebration.