When Sati, the daughter of Daksha Prajapati - the son of Lord Brahma - got married to Lord Shiva, Daksha was none too happy about it; never mind the fact that Sati was the reincarnation of Goddess Shakti and was meant to be united with Lord Shiva, her soulmate.
Owing to a past altercation between Lord Brahma and Lord Shiva which ended up with Shiva beheading Brahma's fifth head, Daksha developed a hatred towards the ascetic God, which only intensified when Sati married Shiva despite her father's vehement objection.
Sometime after the marriage, Daksha conducted a yagna and invited all the deities and his dear ones - except for Sati and Lord Shiva. However, this did not deter Sati and despite Shiva's objection, she came to the yagna, alone.
Daksha, vain and conceited, hurled various insults at Shiva, causing the anguished Sati to curse Daksha and to commit self-immolation. At this juncture, Shiva was enraged beyond belief; from his fury and a lock of his hair, Veerbhadra was created, who avenged Sati by beheading Daksha.
However, consumed by grief, Shiva held Sati’s corpse in his arms and began performing the Tandav, the dance of destruction. With each step, all the living beings became lifeless like his dead consort.
The deities rushed to the Ultimate Preserver, Lord Vishnu. As a remedy, Vishnu used the Sudarshana Chakra on Sati's corpse, dividing it into 51 pieces to be scattered over the earth. Today, these places are revered as Shakti Peeth, religious places visited by believers of Shiva and Shakti.
Each Shakti Peeth has a presiding goddess, a manifestation of Shakti, as well as a form of Bhairav- the fiery manifestation of Shiva- to protect the goddess as well as the Shakti Peeth. Below is a list of the 51 Shakti Peeth where the Goddess is worshipped:
1. Shankari Temple
The Shankari Temple, housed in the Koneswaram Temple complex located in Trincomalee, Sri Lanka is said to be the place where the heart of Sati fell. The goddess is worshipped as Tirukkamakottam Devi/ Shankari/ Ambal/ Uma Devi and the Bhairava is Konanatha Swami. The Shakti Peeth holds great significance and is believed to fulfil all prayers.
2. Dhakeshwari Mata Temple
The Dhakeshwari Mata Temple, located in Kumartuli, West Bengal, houses the original idol from the Dhakeshwari Temple in Bangladesh, since 1947. Owing to the strife of partition, caretakers of the Temple shifted the idol from Bangladesh to West Bengal and ever since the idol has stayed here.
The gem of Sati’s crown is said to have fallen at this Shakti Peeth and Lord Shiva himself is the Bhairava to the presiding goddess Dhakeshwari.
3. Kamakshi Amman Temple
The Kamakshi Amman Temple is unique as it does not have a distinct shrine for Shiva to recognize him as the Bhairava. The Goddess here is recognized as Parabrahma Swaroopini i.e. on par with Brahman itself. The Temple is situated in Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu and is said to be the site where the navel part of Sati’s body fell.
4. Jwalamukhi Temple
Located in Kangra, Himachal Pradesh, the manifestation of the goddess is a divine paradox in itself- she appears as tiny blue flames in the fissures of age-old rock amidst the sub-Himalayan region of the state. It is said that the tongue of Sati fell here. This religious place worships the Goddess as Siddhida/Ambika Devi along with the deity Unmatta Bhairava.
5. Bhramaramba Mallikarjuna Temple
Located in Srisailam, Andhra Pradesh, the presiding Goddess is worshipped as Bhramaramba Devi and the presiding Bhairava is Lord Mallikarjuna. This religious place is visited by countless individuals, due to its speciality as being a Shakti Peeth as well as a Jyotirlinga in the form of the deity Mallikarjuna. It is said that the neck of Sati fell at this site.
6. Mahalaxmi Temple
Located in Kolhapur, Maharashtra; the goddess is revered as Mahalaxmi/ Laxmi Durga/ Ambabai and is said that Sati’s eyes fell here. Defying tradition, the four-handed goddess faces westwards. The unique placing of the idol, as well as the architecture, allows the rays of the setting sun to fall on the deity for three days in a year and this event is celebrated as Kirnotsav.
7. Hinglaj Temple
Located in Pakistan, one of the focal and unifying points for Hindus residing in that region is this Temple, where the goddess is revered as Kottari or Kotavi. Lord Bhairava is worshipped in this religious place in the form of Bhimlochan.
The idol of the goddess is a shapeless stone adorned with vermillion. It is said that a part of Sati’s head, specifically the Brahmarandhra or the crevice in the crown of the head, fell here. This Temple is not only popular among the Hindus but also among the communities of Zikri Muslims and Sufi Muslims, fondly called by them as ‘Nani ka Ghar’ (Maternal Grandmother’s house ).
8. Shakambari Temple
Located in Saharanpur, Uttar Pradesh, Shakambari Temple is also an important Shakti Peeth. The goddess is revered as Shakambari Devi, and Lord Bhairava as Bhuradev. It is said that a part of Sati’s head fell here.
The goddess’ name bears the meaning ‘She who bears the vegetables’. It is believed that the goddess nourished the humans who were dying in hordes due to a seemingly never-ending famine, by providing vegetables, fruits, grains etc. Hence the name.
9. Kamakhya Temple
Located in Guwahati, Assam; the Temple is a prominent Temple rooted in the Shakta tradition, surrounded by shrines, each dedicated to the Dasa Mahavidyas. It is said that the genitals of Sati (yoni) fell here. The idol itself is a representation of it- the inner sanctum (garbhagriha) is below ground level and has a rock fissure forming a vulva shaped depression, which is around 10 inches deep.
This depression is always filled with water from an underground spring and this formation is worshipped as Kamakhya Devi. The idols in the other shrines have a similar formation. Lord Bhairava is worshipped as Umananda or Bhayananda.
10. Attahasa Temple
Located in Katwa, West Bengal; the presiding deity is worshipped as Phullara Devi and Bhairava is revered as Lord Vishvesh. The name of the Temple is derived from Sanskrit, meaning loud laughter, which is apt as it is said that the goddess’ lips fell here.
11. Mangala Gauri Temple
Located in Gaya, Bihar; the Temple dates back to several centuries and is even mentioned in Padma Purana, Agni Purana, Vayu Purana, Shri Devi Bhagavata Purana, Markandeya Purana and in many tantric scriptures as well. It is said that the breast of Sati fell here.
Lord Shiva is worshipped along with Goddess Kali, Lord Ganesh, Lord Hanuman, Durga and Mahishasura Mardini.
12. Jogulamba Temple
Located in Alampur, Telangana; the manifestation of the deity is quite bizarre but nevertheless awe-inspiring for a believer- the goddess Jogulamba is seated on a corpse, with a scorpion, frog and a lizard adorning her as a headgear.
The name ‘Jogulamba’ is derived from the term Yogulamba in Telugu meaning the mother of Yogis. Lord Shiva is worshipped as Balabrahmeshwara. It is said that the teeth of Sati fell here.
13. Ekaveerika Temple
Located in Mahur, Maharashtra; this Temple is largely unknown by masses, with most of them mistaking the shrine of Renuka Devi in Mahur to be a Shakti Peeth. However, this shrine is mentioned in Ashtadasha Shakti Peetha Stotram, which describes this religious place as a Maha Shakti Peeth. It is said that the left hand of the goddess fell here.
14. Chamundeshwari Temple
Located in Mysore, Karnataka; the deity is considered widely as ‘Naada Devathe’ or the goddess of the entire state of Karnataka. She is the KulDevi of the Wodeyar Dynasty who used to rule the constituency of Mysore and the festivities of Dasara celebration are world-famous and the festival is recognized as a State festival.
Several statues of Nandi are erected in honour of Lord Shiva whose Temple is at a short distance from the main temple of the goddess Chamundeshwari Devi, which sits atop the Chamundi hill. It is said that the hair of Sati fell here.
15. Puruhutika Temple
Located in Pithapuram, Andhra Pradesh; this religious place is visited by many to get a glimpse of the goddess as well as the deity, Lord Kukkuteswara Swamy who is the manifestation of Lord Shiva appearing in the form of Spatika lingam (lingam made of white marble) which is in the shape of a cock and hence the name, as Kukkuta means cock in Telugu. It is said that the back of Sati fell here.
16. Biraja Temple
Located in Jajpur, Odisha; the deity known as Biraja Devi is depicted as killing the demon Mahishasura- in the form of water buffalo - with a spear. Lord Bhairava is worshipped here as Baraha/Varaha. It is said that the navel part of Sati fell here.
17. Bhimeshwar Temple
Located in Draksharamam, Andhra Pradesh; the site of this Temple is said to be the place where the Daksha yagna was held which subsequently ended with the beheading and resurrection of Daksha by Shiva.
Today, this religious place is visited by many and apart from being the Shakti Peeth, it is revered as a Pancharama kshetra- which are sacred to Shiva, revered as Lord Bhimeshvara at this site. It is said that the left cheek of Sati fell here. The goddess is worshipped as Manikyamba Devi.
18. Alopi Devi Mandir
Located in Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh; the goddess is revered as Alopi/Lalita Devi and Bhairav is worshipped as Lord Bhava Bhairava. The strange aspect of the Temple is that there is no idol of the goddess, but in its place is a wooden palanquin.
It is claimed that the fingers of Sati fell here and they were the last part of Sati’s corpse to fall on earth, concluding the macabre chapter of Sati’s death and thus holiest of all Shakti Peeth.
19. Vishalakshi Temple
Located in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh; the goddess is revered as Vishalakshi - the wide eyed one. This religious place is visited by an endless stream of people, who recognize the deity as the presiding goddess of the city. Lord Kalabhairava is worshipped with utmost devotion in this city.
Located in Birbhum, West Bengal; the goddess is revered as Tara Devi and the Temple is famous as a Tantric Temple with adjoining cremation grounds to serve as a perfect spot for Tantric rituals or Sadhanas. It is said that the third eye of Sati fell here. The deity, Bhairava is revered as Chandrachur Bhairava.
21. Shri Shail
Located in Bangladesh; the deity is worshipped as Mahalaxmi Devi, while Bhairava is worshipped as Lord Sambaranand. It is believed that the neck of Sati fell here.
22. Ambaji Mata Temple
Located in Ambaji, Gujarat; the name of the town is derived from the goddess who is worshipped in the form of Shri Visa Yantra, which cannot be looked by the naked eye. The worshippers have to be blindfolded before the worship of this yantra.
Lord Bhairava is revered as Batuk Bhairav at this place, which claims to be the site where Sati’s heart fell.
23. Marundeeswarar Temple
Located in Chengalpattu, Tamil Nadu; the goddess is worshipped as Anjanakshi in this Temple which is mainly dedicated to Lord Marundeeswarar or Oushadheeshwar, a form of Bhairava, who is worshipped as a healer and the one who imparts the knowledge of healing. It is believed that the skin of Sati fell here.
24. Taratarini Temple
Located in Ganjam, Odisha; twin deities are worshipped as Tara and Tarini. This site is also revered as a Tantra Peeth - which is sacred to Tantrics. It is believed that the breast of Sati fell here. Bhairava is worshipped as Lord Tumbeshwar.
It is believed that the worship of the Goddess Tara in Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism was inspired foremost by this shrine.
25. Nalhateshwari Temple
Located in Birbhum, West Bengal; the goddess is worshipped as Nalhateshwari Devi. The name of the goddess is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘Nala’, which means a throat; as a correlation to the claim that the throat of Sati fell here. Lord Bhairava is worshipped as Jogesh.
26. Jayanti Maha Shakti Peeth
Located in Alipurduar, West Bengal; the goddess is worshipped as Jayanti Devi. It is claimed that the left shank of Sati fell here. Bhairava is worshipped as Kramadhishwar.
27. Danteshwari Temple
Located in Dantewada, Chattisgarh; the name of the site itself is lent by the presiding goddess, Danteshwari Devi. It is a famous religious place to be visited in Chhattisgarh. Traditionally, she was the kulDevi of the erstwhile royals of the Kakatiya dynasty.
The name of the goddess is derived from the claim that the teeth of Sati fell here, and the Sanskrit term for teeth is ‘Danth’. Lord Bhairava is worshipped here as Kapala Bhairava.
28. Jogadya Temple
Located in Purba Bardhaman, West Bengal; the religious place is said to be the site where Sati’s great toe fell. The goddess, Jogadya Devi, has many followers, especially amongst the Ugra Kshatriyas who are native to that region. Lord Bhairava is worshipped as Ksheer Kantak.
29. Baidyanath Dham
Located in Deoghar, Jharkhand; this religious place is visited by a huge number of individuals as this place, apart from being a Shakti Peeth, is also widely recognized as one of the Jyotirlingas. It is said that the demon Ravana did a harsh penance to attain Shiva and in the process, ended up sacrificing each of his ten heads, one by one.
This forced Shiva to bless him and even act as a healer to him, hence the name Baidyanath - which literally means the great doctor. The goddess is revered as Jaya Durga. It is claimed that Sati's heart fell here.
30. Bargabhima Temple
Located in Purba Medinipur, West Bengal; the goddess is revered by a number of names as Kapalini, Bhimrupi and Bargabhima. The Temple itself is more than a thousand years old and is considered as a heritage site by the state. It is said that the left ankle of Sati fell here. This famous temple has a shrine for Bhairava, who is known as Sarvanand.
31. Katyayani ShaktiPeeth
Located in Vrindavan, Mathura; the goddess is revered as Katyayani or Uma Devi and Bhairav is worshipped as Lord Bhutesh. It is claimed that the ringlets of Sati's hair fell at this site.
32. Ambika Temple
Located in Alwar, Rajasthan; the goddess is revered as Ambika Devi and Bhairav is worshipped as Lord Amrithaksh. It is claimed that the fingers of the left leg fell at this site.
33. Devi Talab Mandir
Located in Jalandhar, Punjab; the goddess is worshipped as Tripurmalini along with Lord Bhishana Bhairava. It is claimed that the left breast of Sati fell at this place.
34. Mangal Chandika Temple
Located in Purba Bardhaman, West Bengal; the goddess is revered as Mangal Chandika, while Lord Bhairava is worshipped as Kapilambar. It is claimed that the right wrist of Sati fell here.
35. Sugandha Shakti Peeth
Located in Bangladesh; the goddess is worshipped as Sunanda/ Sugandha and Bhairava is worshipped as Lord Trayambak. It is claimed that Sati’s nose fell here.
36. Tripura Sundari Temple
Located in Udaipur, Tripura; the goddess, Tripura Sundari is worshipped in this religious place visited by many alongside the goddess Chandi and Lord Bhairav- who is better known as Tripuresh here. It is claimed that the little finger of Sati’s left leg fell here.
37. Shondesh Temple
Located at Amarkantak, Madhya Pradesh; the goddess is revered as Narmada and Lord Bhairava as Bhadrasen. This Temple is located at the source of the river Narmada. It is said that a portion of Sati’s back fell here.
38. Naina Devi Temple
Located in Bilaspur, Himachal Pradesh; this religious place is visited by many. The goddess, Naina Devi is worshipped along with Lord Bhairava as Krodhish. It is said that Sati’s eyes fell here, hence the name of the presiding goddess. It is also said that the goddess, in her form as Mahishamardini, killed the demon Mahishasura and gouged his eyes as well at this site, which is another parable behind the name.
39. Nandikeshwari Temple
Located in Birbhum, West Bengal; the goddess, addressed as Nandikeshwari or Nandini is worshipped along with Lord Bhairava - known as Nandikeshwar. It is said that Sati’s necklace fell here.
40. Kotilingeshwara Ghat Temple
Located in Rajahmundry, Andhra Pradesh; the goddess is revered as Rakini or Vishweshwari Devi. Lord Bhairava is worshipped as Vatsnabh or Dandapani. It is said that Sati’s cheeks fell here.
41. Sharada Peeth
Located in Maihar, Madhya Pradesh; the goddess, Shivani is worshipped along with Lord Chanda Bhairava. It is claimed that Sati’s necklace fell here.
42. Chandranath Temple
Located in Bangladesh; the goddess sits atop the Chandranath Hill, revered as Bhawani Devi with Lord Bhairava worshipped as Chandrashekhar. It is said that Sati’s right arm fell here.
Located near Tanakpur, Uttar Pradesh; the goddess, Varahi, is worshipped along with Lord Bhairava who is addressed as Maharudra. It is claimed that Sati’s teeth fell here.
Located near Junagadh, Gujarat; the goddess Chandrabhaga is worshipped along with the deity Vakratund who is revered as a form of Bhairava. It is claimed that a portion of Sati’s stomach fell here.
45. Guhyeshwari Temple
Located In Nepal; this religious place is visited by an endless number of individuals to worship the presiding goddess Mahashira and the deity Kapali Bhairava. It is said that Sati’s knees fell here. The goddess is manifested in the form of a kalasha, covered with a layer of silver and gold and is placed over a stone base - which in turn covers a natural underground spring.
Located in Nepal; the goddess Uma Devi is worshipped alongside the deity Mahodar - who is a manifestation of Lord Bhairava. It is said that the left shoulder of Sati fell here.
47. Kiriteshwari Temple
Located in Murshidabad, West Bengal; the goddess Kiriteshwari is worshipped along with Lord Sanwarth Bhairava. It is said that Sati’s crown fell here.
Located in Tibet, at the foot of Mount Kailash; the goddess, revered as Dakshayani, is worshipped along with Lord Bhairava as Amar. It is said that Sati’s right hand fell at this site.
49. Kali Peeth
Located in Kolkata, West Bengal; the goddess Kalika Devi is revered by many, along with the deity Nakuleshwar, a manifestation of Lord Bhairava. It is said that Sati’s right toes fell here.
50. Muktinath Temple
Located in Nepal; the Temple is primarily dedicated to Lord Vishnu, revered as Muktinath. The Gandaki river flowing nearby houses the sacred Shaligram stones. The goddess is revered as Gandaki Chandi and Lord Bhairava as Chakrapani. It is said that Sati’s Temple on forehead fell here.
51. Jeshoreshwari Kali Temple
Located in Bangladesh; the goddess Jeshoreshwari is worshipped along with the deity Chanda Bhairava. It is said that the palms of hands and soles of the feet of Sati fell here.
These were the 51 Shakti Peeth in India, which are important religious places to visit. In Asia, there are a total of 64 sites claiming to be Shakti Peeth. Out of them, eighteen are considered as genuine as well as Maha Shakthi peethas by various Puranas and tantric scriptures.
The Ashta Dasa Shakthi peetha stotram lists them as well, out of which, two Shakthi peethas do not have a shrine due to unfortunate circumstances. The Shakti Peethas are a testimony to the strength of feminine energy and the celebration of womanhood under the cover of rituals. It is up to the devotee to imbibe the message of strength preached by the Goddess.
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