When and who built this ancient Kot Bhramari Devi temple remains a mystery till date. Famous poets, litterateurs and writers have extolled the divine radiance and presence of Bhramari Devi in Bageshwar many a time. Jaishankar Prasad in his renowned drama ‘Dhruv Swamini’ has spoken of the great Chandragupta Maurya’s stay in this region with his army contingent pegging down the date at approximately 300 BCE or even earlier.
Locals say that the Katyuri dynasty that ruled somewhere from the first century BCE used to call this place as Ranchulakot and had built a fort here. This beautiful temple is located on a hill about 3 km from the famous Bajinath temple complex in Bageshwar district of Kumaon division in Dev Bhoomi Uttarakhand.
There are many interesting stories about the manifestation of Bhramari Mata here. There is even a mention of this in Markandeya Purana as well as in the Durga Saptashathi. It is said that at one time when the Katyur valley was flooded, the Anaam village near Garuda also went into water. A daitya named Aruna had made his kingdom in water and began terrorizing the devathas. The devathas prayed fervently to the Supreme Energy and Goddess Bhramari emerged from that Light. There is a spot called Chhina in the mountain where a place called Chakravartaveshwar was made as the capital near two mountain peaks. On Indra’s request, Bhramari Devi broke the Harchhina mountain making way for the water to flow and when all the water had drained from the land, Aruna emerged from his kingdom and met his death. This Devi has been worshipped as Kot ki Bhramari since then.
Another story is that in the great kingdom of Kayturi was a daitya named Aruna. At that time the kings, Aasanti Dev and Baasanti Dev wanted to make Katyur as the capital of their kingdom. The people of the kingdom were being harassed by this Aruna and seeing their plight the kings decided to fight him. A fierce war raged on but to no avail. Realizing that the daitya possessed immense power and strength, the kings prayed to Divine Mother seeking Her blessings. Divine Mother became pleased with their devotion and emanated as a vortex killing the daitya. Since then, Bhramari Devi has been worshipped here as a Force and not in the deity form.
Jagadguru Adi Shankaracharya was an honoured guest at the court of the Katyuri kings and paid obeisance at the Bajinath temple complex and instilled life (pranaprathishta) to the Bhramari Devi deity here and commenced all pujas and rituals. She was called as Kot ki Maayi after that.
This temple was again venerated by the Chand kings. Legend has it that when the Chand rulers were bringing Nanda Devi from Garhwal to Almora, they rested overnight at Jhalimali village. When they decided to continue their journey the next morning, they found that they were unable to lift the deity. The Brahmins who had accompanied them realized that this was the chosen spot by Devi and asked them to establish a temple here. This temple built in Jhalimali village draws huge crowds each year and is below the hill of Kot Bhramari.
Nanda Devi was later installed beside Bhramari Devi and worshipped as Nandabhramari. Special festivals are held during Navaratri in the months of Chaitra and Bhadrapada. A fascinating story is spelt out by the locals who say that Nanda Devi is worshipped here as a banana tree! The reason is that when She took on a fiery form to kill Mahishasura, She chose to hide in the banana plantation in Mawai village to tire the asura.
Locals regale you with stories of this sacred shrine. This place has a stunning view of the valley below and the resplendence of Devi is felt from the moment one begins their journey from Bajinath. There is also a lovely sculpture of Lord Vishnu here.
It is indeed an extremely blissful experience to pray to Devi here as the Supreme Force in this scenic location and immerse oneself in Her bosom.
Written by Lakshmi Subramanian
* Photos are only symbolic (Taken from public domain/internet and any copyright infringement is unintentional and regrettable)