Goddess Vindhyavasini Devi, as the name suggests, is the patron goddess of Vindhyachal, a town in Mirzapur district in Uttar Pradesh. According to scriptures, she is the incarnation of Goddess Durga. Her aasan or seat is regarded as one of the most revered Shakti Peethas amongst the Hindu devotees.
Vindhyavasini Devi is also popularly known as Kajala Devi amongst the locals and is regarded as an incarnation of love and compassion.
Vindhyavasini Devi Temple is a huge building and is located in the middle of the busy bazaar of Vindhyachal city. The shrine boasts of the idol of the goddess sitting on the back of a lion. The idol is carved in black stone.
The temple complex also houses other shrines dedicated to Dhamdhwaja Devi, Bhuja Devi and Mahakali besides several Shivalingas. A canopy called Saptashsti Madip bears the inscriptions from Durga Saptashati, a sacred text that contains prayers to Goddess Durga.
The temple draws huge crowds of devotees during Navratri, Chaitra month in April and Ashwin month in October.
Ashtabhuja Devi Temple, as the name suggests, is dedicated to the goddess Ashtbhuja, who was the daughter of Yashoda, the foster mother of Lord Krishna.
As the legends say, she escaped miraculously from the heinous clutches of the demon king, Kans, of Mathura and landed upon a hilltop in Vindhyachal mountains.
The majestic temple is nestled atop the Vindhyachal mountain. Ashtabhuja Devi Temple was built to commemorate the event. It is located three kilometres from the other important temple dedicated to Vindhyavasini Devi.
The temple is situated against the backdrop of the majestic mountain range and is a great attraction for tourists as well as devotees because of its serene and picturesque surroundings.
In the days of yore, the venue was a favourite destination of the kings who would visit it to perform secret poojas, yagyas and rituals with the help of the tantriks for scoring victories over their rivals and for the fulfillment of their desires.
One of the important pilgrim and tourist destinations in Northern India, Kalikoh Temple is located in a cave atop a hillock, about 2 kilometres from Vindhyavasini Devi Temple in the Vindhya mountain ranges.
This ancient shrine is dedicated to Goddess Kali and houses its idol. It is located amidst pristine streams in the thick woods that lend it a unique charm. Its unique location against the backdrop of majestic hills draws hordes of devotees round the year.
The temple is also home to a number of tantriks, who perform several rituals for the fulfillment of the desires of the devotees and to cure them of diseases.
Two other important shrines dedicated to Ashtbhuja and Vindhyavasini are located near the temple. The three temples together constitute a triloka – three worlds – or troika, and the devotees consider it an act of great religious merit to walk around them. The auspicious ritual is called Triloka Parikrama.
Sita Kund or spring is situated on a small hillock close to Vidya Kund and Mani Parvat in Munger in Vindhyachal. Its origin dates back to the period of Ramayana, when Ram, Sita and Laksman were returning after their victory in Lanka. Sita felt thirsty and since there was no water nearby, Lakshman shot an arrow into the earth, and a stream of water gushed out of the spot.
Sita Kund is a perennial spring. It is an important pilgrimage destination both for the devout locals and the tourists because of its association with Sita.
Situated against the backdrop of majestic hills, the kund is regarded as a sacred spot by the devotees who come here to collect the holy water. You have to climb a steep flight of 48 steps to reach the spring. Three other temples dedicated to Hanuman, Ram Janki and Durga Devi are located on a hill close by. Devotees throng to the temple in large numbers during the celebrations of Chaurasi Parikrama, Shravan and Rama Navami festivals.
Rameshwar Mahadev Temple is located on Ram Gaya Ghat in Vindhyachal, approximately one kilometre from Vindyavasini Devi Temple and eight kilometres from Mirzapur. The temple derives its name from the puja or shradh performed by Lord Ram in reverence to Lord Shiva to propitiate his ancestors. It is believed that Lord Ram performed the ceremony on the directions of his guru, Vashishta. He also installed a Shivaling in the shrine in their memory.
The temple is situated in the middle of two other temples dedicated to Vindhyavasini Devi and Ashtabhuja Devi. The three temples together constitute what is called a mahatrikone—the great triangle.
The devotees consider it an auspicious act to walk around the three temples as part of a ritual that is called Triloka Parikrama. According to folklore, Lord Ram also went to the temple of Goddess Vindhyavasini Devi to pay his homage after performing the shradhs or puja of the ancestors. Following the example of Ram, his brother Lakshman also established Laxmaneshwar Mahadev Temple, which is situated close by.
Vindhyavasini Jayanti Samaaroh is held to commemorate the day of the birth of Vindhyavasini, the patron goddess of Vindhyachal and to celebrate the social, cultural and religious heritage of the region.
The festival was started by the government of Uttar Pradesh in 1971 and is a great draw amongst the locals as well as the outsiders.
The festival also commemorates the life of Kajali, the daughter of King Kantit Naresh. It is believed that the princess was separated from her husband whom she loved very much. She spent her remaining life singing songs in his memory.
The festival attracts popular vocal artists and folk singers from the state. They sing, dance and present other performances in reverence to the goddess and draw appreciative applause from the huge audience. It is also believed that the Kajri form of music that was popularised by Begum Akhtar and other classical singers originated from this region.