Jayanti Devi Temple
The story of the temple of Mata Jayanti Devi is the story of such a precious gift. The story goes back about 550 years, when the Mughals were ruling the country. At that time, a small estate called Hathnaur was situated at the north of present-day Chandigarh. The king of the estate had 22 brothers. One of the brother was married to the daughter of the king of Kangra in Himachal Pradesh. The girl was a great devotee of Mata Jayanti Devi — the mother goddess of the clan — since her childhood. Every morning she first used to worship the goddess and only after that she would perform other activities.
When her marriage was fixed she was very anxious because it meant going far away from her deity and not being able to have darshan of the goddess. She prayed hard and conveyed her grief and remorse to the goddess. Mata Jayanti Devi was moved by the deep devotion of the girl. She appeared in her dreams and promised to accompany her wherever she went.
When the marriage party started back from Hathnaur with the bride’s doli, a miracle happened. Suddenly the doli turned very heavy. Neither the traditional kahars nor the king’s men could move it. At this, the bride told her father about her dream. The king, then, bowing to the desire of the divine arranged for another doli, kept the idol in it and sent the goddess with his daughter. The pujari and his family followed the goddess.
The king of Hathnaur, established a temple for the Devi on a hillock in his estate. First, the girl, and later succeeding generations of the family, worshipped the deity for 200 years.
At that time, a robber called Garibu or Garibdas extended his influence on this part of the region, including Mullanpur (now in Ropar). Gradually, Garibu captured the Hathnaur estate and started his reign. However, Garibu was a friend of the poor and a great devotee of Mata. He renovated the temple and extended the premises to the present state.
Presently, the temple is located 15 km from Chandigarh in Ropar district of Punjab, on a hillock in the Shivalik ranges. At the foothill lies the village Jayanti Majri that owes its existence and name to the temple, on the left bank of a seasonal stream Jayanti Rao.
The metalled road leading to the temple is lined with wheat or rice fields, keekar, peepal and mango groves. As far as the vision goes, one can see numerous hues of green, the characteristic feature of the fertile lands of Punjab, small and large ponds with clear water reflecting the blue sky and tiny hamlets with agriculture-based life style. The undulating topography and hump-like hillocks give the place a mysterious character that is absent in the flat planes of Chandigarh.
The entrance to the temple is through a huge gate at the base of the hillock. From here about 100 or so easy steps lead up to the temple premises. As one climbs up, the first thing one encounters is a very large water tank, a traditional feature of Indian temples.
This tank was earlier in use. It is a concrete construction and steps lead down to it from two sides. The other two sides are bound by the rocky wall of the hillock. There are a few shops along the steps selling nicknacks — coconut, red net chunnies, fancy jewellery, cassettes of devotional songs, toys, photos of the idol etc. The temple is at the highest point of the hillock supported by massive pillars. This point gives a wide view of the lush green surroundings, the serpentine Jayanti Rao and the settlements beyond. Inside the sanctum sanctorum lies the stone idol of the goddess. In the niches outside there are idols of Shiva, Ganesha, Laxmi and local deities Lokda Dev and Balasundari in folk forms.
The temple attracts visitors during a grand fair held here on full moon day in February and a small fair in August. At that time approximately 1.5 lakh people visit the temple from far and near places.
Devotees also visit it during Navratras, other auspicious days and on Sundays. Two committees run the management of the temple. One of them comprises the priest’s family and villagers of Jayanti Majri. It looks after construction work and expansion projects of the temple. The other committee consists of residents of Mullanpur. Both the committees hold langar every Sunday and also during the fair. There is no government-aid to the temple and the only source of income is contribution by the devotees. At present, there is a provision of night stay at the premises for a limited number of devotees. The committee has started work on the construction of a dharamshala for pilgrims who visit the temple from far-off places. The 11th generation of the pujari, who came originally from Kangra with the idol, now performs the sacred duties of the temple. The residence of the pujari is also within the premises.
There is only a single bus service from Chandigarh to Jayanti Majri. That too is erratic. Though the Chandigarh Administration arranges for buses during the February fair, for the convenience of the village residents and for visitors, a regular bus service is needed, especially on Sundays and holidays.
When the new Chandigarh project was conceived, Jayanti Majri was among the villages to be included in it because it lies at the periphery of Chandigarh. The Punjab Soil and Water Conservation Department has constructed a small dam — Jayanti Dam — in this area, that supports a reservoir for rain water collection. The water is then used for irrigation of fields. The place can be developed as a beautiful tourist-cum-religious spot and visitors to Chandigarh can be guided to visit the temple.
Jayanti Majri is just a 10-minute drive from Chandigarh but it’s an altogether different world. Silence prevails here. The only sounds that reach the ears are the rustling of leaves, the humming bees, fluttering wings of a butterfly and occasional clinking of a temple bell.
As more and more sacred places all over India fall prey to materialistic ways, it is a relief to find that this temple still retains a pious aura around it. Consumerism has still not been able to touch this sacred place with its polluting tentacles.
Jayanti Devi is considered to be a very sensitive and benevolent goddess who listens to the prayers of her devotees. She is one of the seven sisters, the seven goddesses of the Kangra valley — Naina Devi, Jwalaji, Chintpurni, Mansa Devi, Brajeshwari, Chamunda Devi and Jayanti Devi. As a sign of reverence to Mata Jayanti Devi, the villagers of Jayanti Majri restrict the construction of their houses to only a single storey. An ancient well at the base of the temple provides sweet water throughout the year.
Temple has a large complex with park and Jayanti Archeological Museum.
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