(Last Updated on : 10/10/2011)
Chhatrari Devi Temple is located at Chitrari in Himachal Pradesh
. Chitrari is a village in Piu area that lies on a fertile upland. The Chitrari temple is regarded as one of the most holy sanctuaries of the hills. The temple has been designed artistically with intricate designs. According to tradition the foundation to Mushuna is attributed to the legendary ancestor of the old Brahmaur dynasty. However, the inscription on the idol mentions Meru Varman as the founder of Brahmaur. Another tradition depicts that the temple was the last work of Gugga, the master-artisan of Meru Varman.
Architecture of Shakti Devi Temple
The original shrine Shakti Devi temple is surrounded by a gallery supported by twelve heavy pillars of deodar wood. The entrance to the sanctum is decorated with a double row of standing figures on each side. The outermost wall painting projects to the right and left at the top corners, enclosing two sitting lions. The next frame consists of two jambs alternately decorated with three standing deities and three smaller crouching ganas. Of the latter two are ox-headed; two lion-headed, one has elephant ears and one a face on his belly. Among the deities Kartikeya
is seen with six faces and a peacock, Lord Indra
with his vajra and the elephant Airavata
. Lord Brahma
can also be seen with a rosary and vessel in his hand, accompanied by two hansas, on the right. Over the entrance one can also see a row of flying figures four on each side. Beneath these there is a row of thirteen cross-legged figures, of which nine represent the navagrahas, i.e. the sun, the moon, the five planets-Mars, Mercury
, the eclipse-demon Rahu
and the comet Ketu.
On the left side of the temple one can see images of Lord Vishnu with the side faces being a lion's and a boar's and Goddess Durga
slaying the buffalo-demon Mahishasura
. The two lowermost figures are of Ganga
, the personifications of the sacred rivers of India.
There is no separate mandapa, but only one large shrine which however, seems later to have been subdivided into a cella and a mandapa. This nucleus is surrounded by an open gallery, i.e. a pradakshina-patha supported by twelve massive wooden columns. However the interstices between the columns have later been filled in with whitewashed rude masonry of rubble blocks and clay strengthened by a number of horizontal beams. Instead, new wooden galleries have been constructed in front and on the right side. And the whole (thirty by twenty-nine feet) is covered by an almost flat pyramidal roof of well-cut slates.
The idol of Shakti Devi in the sanctum is a fine brass statue. The goddess stands on a big lotus, with reverted over-ripe petals. The idol of the goddess is elegantly covered with a transparent skirt falling down to the ankles and forming some folds between the legs, held by a rich belt with strings of pearls. On her head she wears a high diadem, consisting of a golden circle decorated with two jeweled flowers above each ear, from which bands flow down, and a pile of five jewels above the forehead from which plummets emerge to the right, left and top. In her two right hands Shakti Devi holds a lance and a lotus and in her left hands a bell and a snake.
Apart from the main idol of the deity another old idol believed to represent Shakti Devi also exists in the temple. The idol made of brass represents a male deity. It is seen holding a lotus and a rosary in its hands. It wears a high mukuta of piled up hair, while long ringlets float down on the shoulders; a diadem is placed on the forehead, ending above the ears in two small flowers and rising above the temples in two high pinnacles. The eyes are inlaid with silver.