Shakti Peethas in India are considered as the most sacred places of Hindu pilgrimage. Hindus from different parts of the country and various other parts of the world visit these Shakti peethas to worship the Goddess. The Shakti peethas are also considered to be the holy places of cosmic power where the main deity is the Goddess Sati, prominent deity of the Shakta sect. Goddess Sati is also worshipped in the forms of Goddess Gowri or Parvati. Parvati is regarded as the goddess of marital felicity, harmony and longevity, Goddess Durga is regarded as the Goddess of valour and strength while the Goddess Mahakali is associated with the demolition of the evil forces.
There is a legend behind the different Shakti peethas in the Indian sub-continent. During the Satya Yuga or era, Daksha carried out a yagna with a hidden desire in his mind to take revenge on the Lord Shiva. The reason behind the anger of Daksha towards Lord Shiva
is that his daughter Sati had married the yogi God Shiva which he never liked. Thus, Daksha gave invitation to all the Gods and Goddesses to attain the yagna except Goddess Sati and Lord Shiva. Even if Daksha did not invite Shiva and Sati to attain the Yagna, Sati still wanted to attain the yagna arranged by her father. Lord Shiva advised Sati not to attain the yagna, but she did not agree. At last, Lord Shiva allowed Sati to go to attain the Yagna organised by her father along with his ganas or followers. Since Sati was not invited to the Yagna, she was not given any importance at the gathering. Daksha also insulted Shiva in front of Sati. Thus, unable to bear the humiliation, Sati invoked her yogic powers and sacrificed herself. Infuriated by the injury and insult, Shiva demolished the sacrifice of Daksha and cut of his head. Again he replaced the head of Daksha with that of a goat and restored life to his body. After all this, the lord still was not satisfied and out of grief he took the body of Sati over his shoulder and danced the rudra tandava or the dance of destruction. To prevent Lord Shiva from destroying the universe, Lord Vishnu
cut the corpse of Sati into pieces by his Sudarshana Chakra or disk. The various parts of Sati`s body fell at different places throughout the Indian subcontinent and were established as the Shakti peethas.
One will get to find in all the Shakti peethas that the Goddess Shakti is attended by Lord Bhairava who is regarded as the demonstration of Lord Shiva. In all, there are 51 Shakti peethas which are spread from the present day Pakistan to Sri Lanka, India and Bangladesh. The 51 Shakti peethas are the sacred religious places which are visited by a large number of Hindus every year.
Hinglaj is one of the major Shakti peethas in India where the brain or mind of Devi Sati fell and the idols worshipped here are Devi as Kotari or Goddess Durga
and Lord Shiva as Bhimlochan or the third eyed or terrible eyed. It is situated close to Karachi, in a cave on the western regions of Pakistan. Jwalamukhi is the Shakti peetha where the tongue of Sati fell and the idols here are Devi as Ambika or the mother and Lord Shiva as Unmatta or the furious one. This place of pilgrimage is situated close to Jullundher in the state of Punjab
, in India. Shivaharkaray or Karavipur is a spot where the three eyes of the Devi fell and at this Shakti peetha the idols worshipped are Devi in the form of Mahishmardini or Durga; the destroyer of Mahishashur and Lord Shiva as Krodhish or the angry one. This peetha is situated close to Karachi in Pakistan. The nearest railway station to this Hindu pilgrimage is Parkai. Sugandha is the Shakti peetha where it is believed that the nose of Sati fell and the idols worshipped here are Devi as Sunanada or the pleasing one and the Lord Shiva as Traimbak or Rudra. This Shakti peetha is situated in the state of West Bengal
, close to Barishal in Shivahri Karpur village the temple of Devi is situated and the temple of Lord Shiva is placed in Ponabalia village. The railway station close to this peetha is Jhalkati.
Attahas is one of the Shakti peethas where the lower lips of the Devi fell. The idols of the Devi worshipped here is by the name of Fullara or Blooming and the God Shiva as Bhairabhvishesya or the Lord of the universe. This religious spot is situated close to Birbhum in Bengal. This is one of the most prominent places of Hindu pilgrimage. The upper lips of Goddess Sati fell on the Bhairabha Mountain which is in close proximity to Avanti. The deity worshipped here is called Avanti or modest and Lord Shiva as Lambakarna or the one having long ears. This religious place is situated close to Ujjain
. Yanasthana is one of the Shakti peethas where it is believed that the chin of Sati fell and the idols worshipped here are Bhramari or attendant of Durga or female Bumble bee and Lord Shiva as Vikrakatakkha or the one who possesses a crooked look or eyes. The other name of the Devi worshipped here is Chibuka or the one with a chin and the Lord Shiva as Sarvasiddhish or the one who fulfils all the desires of the devotees. Prabhas is another Shakti peetha where it is believed that the stomach of Devi fell. Here the idols worshipped are Devi as Chandrabhaga or the moon`s throne and Lord Shiva as Bakratunda or the one who possesses a bent staff. This peetha is located close to the city of Mumbai
. Gandaki is one of the Shakti peethas where the right cheek of the Sati fell and the idols at this spot are Gandakichandi or the one who is capable of overcoming all obstacles and Lord Shiva in the form of Chakrapani or the one who holds discus. Godavari is the famous Shakti peetha where it is said that the left cheek of Sati fell and the idols worshipped at this religious place are Viswamatuka or the mother of the whole world and Lord Shiva as Dandapani or the one holding a staff.
The upper teeth of Sati feel at a place which has become one of the Shakti peethas know as Suchidesha. Here, the idol of Devi is worshipped in the form of Narayani or Narayan`s wife and Lord Shiva as Sanghar. Another Shakti peetha is called Panchasagar where the lower teeth of Devi fell and people worship the Devi as Barahi and Lord Shiva as Maharudra at this place. Shriparvata or Shri Mountain is one of the 51 Shakti peethas where the right seat of Devi fell. The deities worshipped here are Shri Sunadari or beautiful and Shiva in the form of Sundaranand or the one who is handsome. Karnat is the Shakti peetha where the two ears of Sati fell. Here the idols worshipped are Jai Durga or the victorious Durga and Lord Shiva as Avirooka. Bhavanipur or Karota is the spot where the left seat or the clothing of Devi fell and here people worship Devi in the form of Aparna or the one who did not eat and Lord Shiva as Bhairabha or the demolisher of fear. The Nator king used to meditate here and also his grandson the Maharajah Ramakrishna meditated at this place. The seat and five skulls along with the yognakunda are still to be seen at this place. In the Baisakha month of the Bengali calendar, a huge mela or fete is arranged to celebrate the grand occasion of Ramanavami or Deepanbita. Vrindavana is another major Shakti peetha where the hair of Sati fell and here the idol of Shiva is worshipped as Bhootesh or who provides all desires and the Devi as Uma. This spot is considered to be the playground of the gopis and Lord Krishna
. The garden or Vana or forest is the place where the young Krishna spent his childhood days in the home of cow herd`s wife, Yasoda. The Lord was able to achieve amazing feats and he thus saved the life of the villagers from many perils like that of the Kaliya Naga and the furious Indra by holding the Gobardhan Mountain above the village. Lord Krishna utilized most of his time with the gorgeous cow girls or the gopis with whom the Lord had affairs. The theme of illicit love is the cornerstone of one of the aspects of philosophy in which an individual entertains a secret love towards the almighty which he is not able to expose before others.
The nape of Devi fell at a place which became famous as Shrihatta. At this place the Goddess is worshipped as Mahalakchmi or the wife of Mahavishnu and the goddess of prosperity and Lord Shiva as Sarvananda or the Lord who gives happiness to all. The temple of Devi is close to Shrihatta town and the temple of Lord Shiva is in close proximity to Jainpur. The two major festivals of Ashokashtami and Shivaratri are celebrated with lots of glory by the arrangement of a huge carnival or mela. Kirit is one of the Shakti peethas where the crown or headdress of the Devi is believed to have fallen and at this place the Devi is prayed as Vimala or the pure one and the Shiva as Sangbarta. One can get to this temple by boarding a train to Ajimganj. The temples of the God and Goddess are on the shore of the river Ganges which is close to Batnagar in Bangladesh. Nalhati is the spot where the vocal pipe of Sati fell and at this place the deity of Shiva is worshipped as Yogesh and the Devi as Kalika or Durga. Ratnabali is one of the Shakti peethas where it is believed that the right shoulder of the Devi fell. The idols prayed here are Devi in the form of Kumari or Durga and Lord Shiva in the form of Bhairabha or the one who removes fear. Kashmir is the place where the neck of Devi fell and it became one of the famous Shakti peethas. At this Shakti peetha the Devi is worshipped as Mahamaya or the great Illusion and the Lord Shiva in the form of Trisandhyasvar. The pilgrimage spot is known as Amarnath. Here one can see a glacial ice Shiva linga which contracts and expands with the change of seasons. Chattagram is also one of the Shakti peethas where the right arm of Devi fell. Here people worship the Devi as Bhavani or the devil and the Lord Shiva as Chandrashekhar or the one who holds the Moon as his crown. There is a belief that Mahadeva pronounced himself that he will regularly visit Chandrashekhar Mountain in the Kali Yuga. This Shakti peetha is in Bangladesh.
The left shoulder of Sati fell in Mithila and it thus became of the 51 Shakti peethas. Here the Lord Shiva is prayed as Mahodara or the one having a big belly and the Goddess Sati as Mahadevi. This spot is close to the Janakpur railway station. Ujjaini is also one of the renowned Shakti peethas where the elbows of the Devi are supposed to have fallen and here the Goddess worshipped is in the name of Mangalchandi or Durga and the Lord Shiva by the name of Kapilambar or the one clad with brown clothes. Manav Kschetra is a place where right hand or palm of the Sati fell. At this place the Goddess worshipped is known as Dakhchayani or Durga and the Lord Shiva is worshipped in the form of Amar or the one who is immortal.
Manibandha is where the middle of the palms of the Devi fell and people here worship The Sati as Gayatri or Saraswati and the Lord Shiva as Sarvananda or one who gives happiness to all. Prayag is the confluence of three rivers and at this place it is believed that the ten fingers of Devi fell. Here the Goddess worshipped is called Lalita or the one who is beautiful and the God worshipped is called Bhava. Another name of the Goddess worshipped here is called Alopi. The right breast of Sati fell in Jullendhar and the idol prayed here is famous bay the name of Tripurmalini or Durga and the Lord Shiva in the form of Bhisan or the one who is gruesome. The nearest place of pilgrimage to this spot is Jwalamukhi and train from Delhi is available for Jullendhar. Chitrakoot Mountain or Ramgiri is where the left breast of Sati fell. It is also believed that the Jaghanasti or Nala of the Sati fell here. Here people worship Shibani or Shiva`s wife and Chanda. Bahula is another Shakti peetha where it is believed that the left arm of the Devi fell. The idols worshipped here are that of Bahula or abundance and Bhiruk.
Vaidyanath is Bihar
is one of the 51 Shakti peethas in the Indian subcontinent where the heart of Sati fell. Here the Devi is worshipped as Jaidurga or the victorious Durga and the Lord Shiva in the form of Vaidyanath. Kanchidesh is the place where the skeleton of Sati fell and here people worship Sati in the form of Devagarbha and Lord Shiva as Ruru. Utkal is where the navel of Devi fell and the people of this place worship Lord Shiva as Jagannath or the one who rules the world and the Devi as Vimala or the one who is pure. It is close to the Lord Jagannath
temple of Puri
. Kalmadhava is one of the Shakti peethas where the right hips of Sati fell. At this religious place the Lord Shiva is prayed as Asitananda and the Sati is worshipped in the form of Kali who is another form of Goddess Durga. Sone is a place which is close to Sone River and it is said that the left hips of Devi fell here. The idols worshipped here are Shiva as Vadrasen and Devi as Narmada. Two knees of Sati fell in Nepal and here the idols worshipped by the devotees are Mahashira and Kapali. In Magadha the right thigh of Devi fell and people at this place worship the Devi in the form of Sarvanandari and the Lord Shiva in the form of Bomkesha. Close to the base of the Kahshia Mountain at Jayantipargana, inside Shrihatta, the legs of the Devi are kept. Kamroop or Kamakhya is the Shakti peetha where the yoni of Sati fell and the worshipped idols at this place are Kamakhya or the incarnation of love and Umananda. This peetha is close to Guwahati
. This temple is located on the top of Nilachal Hill. This religious place is famous among women looking for love or fertility. It is assumed that this temple is constructed by the God of love, Kamdev. The Umananda temple or the Shiva temple is very close to this temple which possesses a number of pet monkeys.
The right foot of Devi fell in Tripura
and the Devi is known as Tripurasundari and Lord Shiva is worshipped as Tripuresh. It is believed that the Tripurasundari is grants all wishes or Sarvavishta pradyani. Jayanti is where the left thigh of the Devi fell and at this place the Devi is prayed in the form of Jayanti and Lord Shiva is worshipped as Kramadiswar. Khirgram is said to be the spot where the right toe of the Devi fell. At Khirgram Goddess Sati is worshipped in the form of Yogadaya and Lord Shiva is prayed as Khirakantha. Kurukchetra is believed to hold the right ankle of Sati where people worship the Goddess as Savitri or Sthanu and the Lord Shiva in the form of Aswanath. Kalighat in Kolkata is the place where the four small toes from the right foot of Sati fell. Here devotees worship the Goddess as Kali and the Lord Shiva as Nakuleswar or Nakulish. Jessore is believed to be the place where the centres of the hands of the Devi fell and at this place people worship Jashoreswari and Chanda or the one holding the Moon. Bakreswar is where the mind or the centre of the brows of the Devi fell. Devotees here worship the Goddess in the form of Mahishamardini or the one who splayed Mahishasur and the Lord Shiva in the form of Bakranath. Nandipur is one of the 51 Shakti peethas where the necklace of Sati fell. At this peetha, the Devi is worshipped as Nandini and the Lord Shiva in the form of Nandikishore. At Trisnota the left feet of Devi fell and it, thus, became one of the Shakti peethas where the Goddess worshipped is Vramari or the Bumblebee and the God as Iswar. This Shakti peetha is located in the banks of the River Tista. It lies in Jalpaiguri district of West Bengal and exactly located in the village Shalbari. Kalikashram or Kanashram is where the back of Sati fell. At this place the Lord is worshipped as Nimisha and the Devi as Sharvani. The feet bells or nupur of Sati fell in Sri Lanka where the deities worshipped are Indrakschi and Rakchaseswara. It is believed that Indrakschi worshipped and formed by Indra personally. Virat is a place where the small toes of the feet of Devi fell. Here people worship the Goddess called Ambika and the God by the name of Amrita or the nectar of immortality. Varanasi or Benaras is where the earrings or kundal of Sati fell and at this place people worship the Devi in the form of VishwaLakshmi or the one who provides everyone with wealth and the Lord Shiva in the form of Kala or the end of time or time itself. The left ankle of Devi fell in Bivasa and it thus became one of the Shakti peethas. Here devotees worship Bhimarupa and Sarvananda.
The fifty one Shakti peethas in the Indian subcontinent are the major attractions of Hindu pilgrimage. Thousands of people visit these places of religious importance throughout the year. The legends behind the formation of the Shakti peethas are the major factor of drawing a large number of tourists. There are various beliefs associated with different Shakti peethas and devotees visit these places to get the divine blessings of the Devi Shakti in different forms.