Not far from Dharamsala
is the famous temple of Chamunda Devi. It is an enchanting spot with
glorious views of the mountains, the Baner Khud, Pathiar and Lahla
forests. 15-km from Dharamshala a tiny village of Dadh on
Palampur road is the famous temple dedicated
to Goddess Chamunda Devi. On reaching the temple a glorious view of Dhoula
Dhar on three sides and 'Baner Khud' flowing alongside the temple. The
temple has artistic carvings on its lintel, pillars and the ceiling.
Behind the main temple is a small shrine of Lord Shiva in the Shikhara style. There is another platform in front of this temple where two very old peepul trees provide shelter to the visitors. From this platform a bird's eye view of most of the land marks in the town including Chaugan, Circuit House, most of the temples and river Ravi can be had. The temple is being looked after by Archaeological Survey of India.
There is a Shiva 'lingam' under the rock where the temple of Chamunda is sited. There are no legends about the lingam. The idol is called Nandikeswar. So the sacred site is called 'Chamunda Nandikeshwar'.
THE LEGEND OF CHAMUNDA DEVI
In Jallandar Mahatmya, Chapter VI reference is made to 'Chamunda Nandikeshwar' and people believe the reference is to these two deities 'Chamunda' and 'Nandikeshwar'. The legend associated is well known. In 'Satya Yuga' two 'Daityas' (demons), 'Shumbh' and 'Nishumbh' engaged themselves in deep meditation and were blessed by Lord Brahma with immense power.
The Daityas deified 'Indra' and other Gods. The Gods were terrified of the Daityas and resorted to Jadrangal village and propitiated 'Jagadamba Devi'. The Devi was pleased and promised to rescue them from the Daityas.
She created a Devi out of her body, a beautiful person 'Kaushika'. Kaushika was given the assignment of destroying Shumbh and Nishumbh. The two Daityas heard of her beauty and wanted to bring her to them. They failed to persuade her to come to them through a 'doot' (messenger) who was scornfully sent away. Kaushika sent word through the messenger that she could only be won by a war.
A dreadful war started. Kaushika Devi created 'Kalika' Shakti from her forehead and Kalika cut off the heads of 'Chund' and 'Mund', two brave and fearless commanders of the two Daityas. The destruction of the Daityas followed and the three worlds were relieved of the Daityas. Kaushika Devi blessed Kalika Shakti and asked her to be seated at Jadrangal village and be known as Chamunda. She would fulfil the desires of the needy persons.
This mythological story is based on Devi Bhagwati, Markandey Puran and Durga Saptsati.
There is another story about the siting of Chamunda. She was seated first on a higher mountain near a fort built by Raja Chandra Bhann of Kangra. A blind devotee of Chamunda pleaded with the Devi to shift to a lower place where he could go more easily. The Devi agreed and came down to the present lower site. The Chamunda Devi was installed in a cave.
It is said the temple was built about 700 years back. The great earthquake of 1905, which had created havoc in this area, did not cause any damage to the temple.
The snow line starts at Illaqa. Those who want to do a return trip in one day are advised to start very early in the morning. There is a Forest Rest House.