Mythological significance of Tarapith Temple
Tarapith is popularly known as the most important centre of worship for the people of Tara cult. Among its distinctive features this place is also known for Bamakhepa - the most well known tantric saint who used to worship in this temple and used to reside in the adjoining cremation ground as a mendicant. He used to perform and practice strange yogas and tantric art under the tutelage of another saint called Kailashpati Baba. Bamakhepa dedicated his entire life to Maa Tara with his kuthir located near the temple.
Legends of Tarapith Temple
Tarapith is one of most legendary temples in west Bengal. The temple often attracts its visitors with a number of stories which centre on Goddess Shakti. Popularly it was believed that when Goddess Parvati's Father Raja Daksh did not invite Lord Shiva in the divine yagna which he performed, Goddess Parvati decided to sacrifice her life. On this Lord Shiva went wild and danced with the body of Sati. On this Lord Vishnu decided to deciminate the body of Sati to pacify Lord Shiva. With his Chakra he divided the body into pieces ant in the process the third eye or 'the tara' fell at tarapith which was later on worshipped as Tarapith, one of the Shakti Peethas in Bengal.
The temple is dedicated to Ma Tara, who is believed to be the second out of the ten goddesses of great wisdom. She is also called Kalika, Bhadra-Kali, and Mahakali. Along with there exist some more legends according to which Rishi Vashisht was the first to worship this place as tarapith which already existed in its original form. Also it was believed that Rishi Vashisht was the first to found the third eye of Sati hat fell at Tarapith and began to worship it as a form of Sati.
Architecture of Tarapith Temple
Built in typical terracotta style of architecture, this is one of the best decorated temples in West Bengal. The main temple is built with marble and its four sides are covered with a curved roof called the Dochala. The architecture of the temple includes a temples base with thick walls, built of red bricks; the superstructure includes a number of passages with a pinnacle known as a shikhara.
Idol of Tarapith Temple
The temple includes two images of the goddess. The image of Tara Maa includes a fierce structure of goddess kali with four hands wear in a garland of skulls and a protruding tongue. Crowned with a silver crown and flowing hair the image represents one of the fearful look. The temple is popularly known for one of the most fearful way of performing rituals. The priests offer homage with great reverence. While it follows the peculiar tantric method of worshiping the goddess, it also offers sacrifices of goat and other animals to the god which is considered to be one of the most fearful methods of worshiping the goddess.
Rituals of Tarapith Temple
Every day at dawn melodious Shehnai is played in the temple premises to wake the Goddess up. Then the door of the Garbha Griba is opened by a group of priests who wash her feet, clean her room, and remake her bed. Before bathing the idol in the pure water of Jivitkund, the devotees apply ghee and honey to it. Then they adorn the idol with a saree, vermillion, a garland of skulls, post which the mangal aarti begins.
Another Pooja takes place in the afternoon where rice is offered to the deity as a part of the Tantric rituals. The Anna Bhog that is served after this Puja consists of rice, the meat of the sacrificed goat, rice pudding, fried fish, and five kinds of dishes. After the Anna Bhog, the temple shuts down for a few hours to allow the deity to relax. In the evening, the Sandhya Aarti begins post which it is time to make deity’s bed.
Festivals at Tarapith Temple
The Tarapith Temple attracts tourists during the auspicious occasion of Kali Puja. Another occasion to visit the temple is during the magical festival of Durga Puja. The temple shines in its full glory during the festival. Other festivals, besides the Durga Puja, that are celebrated here include Sankranti Mela, that is held on every Sankranti day of the Hindu month coinciding with 14-15 January on the Gregorian calendar, Dol Purnima, which is organized during February/March, Basantika Parba held during the month of Chaitra (March/April), Gamha Purnima, which is celebrated in July/August, and Chaitra Parba, which is organized every Tuesday of the month of Chaitra.
The Temple is situated in a small village of Tarapur in rural West Bengal. It is at a distance of 264 km from Kolkata. Panagarh, in West Bengal, is the nearest bus stand to this temple. It is situated at a distance of 81 kilometers from the temple. Durgapur is 82 kilometers away. To reach the temple by train, a direct train can be taken from Kolkata and alight at Rampurhat railway station. The Tarapur village, where the shrine is located, is just a few kilometers from Rampurhat. Also many trains from Howrah Junction are available directly to Rampurhat.