Vaishno Devi Temple, Kashmir
Hinduism has asserted the existence of Vaishno Devi, who is also referred to as 'Vaishnavi' or 'Mata Rani', another form of Goddess Durga. This holy shrine is visited by several pilgrims throughout the year, though snowfall is a major hurdle for pilgrims during winter. Located near Katra town of Jammu and Kashmir, Vaishno Devi temple is situated at an altitude of 5300 feet, and nearly 12 km away from Katra. There is a mythological belief which states that when Goddess Vaishno Devi 'Calls' her worshippers, they immediately start for the journey for the 'darshan' of Vaishno Devi, wherever they are. The temple contains the images of Goddess Mahakali, Goddess Saraswati and Goddess Mahalakhsmi, three other Hindu deities. Devotees, while traversing the rocky landscapes of the mountains, chant the hymns of 'Jai Mata Di' which grants them divine strength to continue with the difficult journey.
Karni Mata Temple, Rajasthan
Karni Mata temple is a 600-year-old temple, dedicated to Karni Mata, an incarnation of Goddess Durga. Situated at Deshnoke, it is almost 30 km away from Bikaner. The construction of this temple was completed by Maharaja Ganga Singh in the 20th century, and its architecture was inspired by Mughal style. Ganga Singh donated beautiful marble carvings and silver gates to the temple, which heightened its beauty. In 1999, Kundanlal Verma of Karni Jewellers (based in Hyderabad) made further modifications to the temple structure. This temple is renowned for its vast quantity of black rats, which are as many 20,000 black rats. It is said that the rats should be treated with respect and if one of the rats are killed, the killer would have to redeem it by gifting a rat made of pure gold. Hindus believe that if one eats the food on which rats have nibbled, it would grant a high honour to him.
Kamakhya Temple, Assam
Kamakhya Temple in the western area of Guwahati, in the state of Assam is one of the oldest temples of the 51 shakti peethas in India. It is located on Nilachal hills and is dedicated to the various 'Mahavidyas' or divine aspects of Mother Goddess, or Goddess Kali. They are 'Bagalamukhi', 'Dhumavati', 'Chinnamasta', 'Tripura Sundari', 'Bhairavi', 'Bhubaneshwari', 'Kali', 'Kamala', 'Matangi' and 'Tara'. Several Hindu devotees and 'Tantric' followers pay a visit to Kamakhya Temple every year. There is a natural cave, along with a spring in the temple premises. If one descends down the steps, he will discover himself inside a dark chamber, which contains the 'matra yoni', enveloped in a silk saree and flowers.
A legendary tale asserts that Kamakhya was created when the 'yoni' or female genitalia fell down to the ground, from the corpse of 'Sati', the wife of Lord Shiva, while he was carrying it. The temple was built on the exact spot where the female organ had fallen, as per the legend. Devotees celebrate an annual festival called 'Ambubachi Mela' and 'Manasa Puja'.
Ambaji Temple, Gujarat
Ambaji Mata Temple is a significant Durga temple in India which attracts numerous pilgrims. It is an important Shakti Peetha. The temple is 45 km from Mount Abu and 50 km from Kadiyadra, which is close to the border of Rajasthan and Gujarat. The location of Ambaji Temple is Banaskantha district, in Junagadh area of Gujarat. The temple does not contain any image of the goddess. The main deity of the temple is the 'Shree Visa Yantra', which is worshipped and is invisible to the naked eye. Devotees are not permitted to perform photography of the holy yantra. During 'Purnima' or full moon days, thousands of devotees visit the temple. On a full-moon day, or 'Bhadarvi Purnima', a large 'mela' is organized. Generally, devotees throng the temple in July. During 'Diwali', the entire temple of Ambaji is illuminated with lights. The temple is located at the summit of the Girnar Mountain. Hindu couples who are newly married visit the temple for the blessings of Ambaji and to be granted a blessed eternal conjugal life by the Goddess.
Shri Durgaparameshwari Temple, Karnataka
Located in the holy town of Kateel in Kannada district, Karnataka, Parameshwari temple is situated in the middle of River Nandhini. Kateel is about 29 km from Mangalore. The left side of the temple has the image of Goddess Rakteshwari, who is symbolized as a large rock. Devotees offer coconuts to the Goddess during 'Sankramana'. The temple compounds also comprise a shrine of Goddess Chamundi, who is another divine avatar of Goddess Durga. Worshippers are offered free meals every night and every noon. Hindu mythology says that since Goddess Parameshwari is fond of dance and music, a team is arranged for the cultural programs of a folk play called 'Yakshagana'. Their plays portray the power of Goddess Parameshwari. This temple also possesses idols of other gods like Ganesha, 'Sashtara' or 'Ayappa', and Brahma.
The true expression of the supreme energy that runs the universe, the Ma Durga, is worshipped in the Durga temples in India. The Durga temples help the Hindu culture, religion and philosophy to flourish further. In addition to that, these also help the Hindu community to display and learn a number of characters possessed by Ma Durga by participating in customs, rituals and a variety of other activities, organised in the temples. Other Durga temples in India are Kanyakumari, Kalikambal, Mahalakshmi temple, Lakha Mandal Temple in Dehradun and Srisailam Temple in Kurnool amongst numerous other temples scattered in the different states, cities and districts of India.