Nestled in the Naxal-affected Latehar district of Jharkhand, Chandwa stands as the headquarters, exuding an air of spirituality and ancient charm. Located just ten kilometers away on the Ranchi-Chatra Road, an ancient temple adorns the path, known as the Ugratara Nagar Temple by the locals. This temple, with its centuries-old history, holds numerous tales that set it apart from others. Perched atop the Mandagiri hill, the Ugratara Nagar Temple commands unwavering faith from every visitor. It is often referred to as a Shakti Peeth and is revered especially during the 16-day Navratri celebrations – a tradition unique to this sacred space.
First Distinctive Feature: Devotees from Six States Converge
During Navratri, the Ugratara Nagar Temple witnesses a remarkable influx of devotees, not just from Jharkhand but also from neighboring states like West Bengal, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, and even Madhya Pradesh. The Navratri festivities commence from the second day of Jitiya Parva. On the first day of Navratri, after the Kalash Sthapana, devotees perform the puja of Ashtabhuji Mata. Chandwa holds a special place in the hearts of devotees; even the Chief Minister of Jharkhand, Hemant Soren, visited here last year to seek the blessings of the Goddess. The tradition of offering red flowers is prevalent here.
Second Distinctive Feature: Immersive Visarjan Rituals
The Ugratara Nagar Temple in Jharkhand follows a unique ritual during Durga Visarjan. After the 16-day-long puja, devotees offer betel leaves to the Goddess. The moment the leaves fall from the hands into the water, it’s believed to signify the Goddess’s permission for immersion. Special prayers and aarti are conducted every two hours. If the betel leaves do not fall, the immersion is postponed until the next day.
Third Distinctive Feature: Historical Significance and Royal Connection
Legend has it that this ancient temple dates back several centuries. Once, a king roamed the jungles of the then Mankeiri Jungle, which now falls in Latehar. Thirsty and tired, he stopped near a pond to quench his thirst. To his astonishment, a deity’s idol appeared in his hands. Confused, he placed the idol near the pond and continued his journey. That night, the Goddess appeared in his dream, instructing him to establish her in his palace, leading to the construction of the temple. In those days, staff members were appointed for temple activities.
Fourth Distinctive Feature: Daily Offerings for Devotees
One of the temple’s unique traditions is offering rice and lentils as prasad every single day of the year, ensuring devotees experience the divine grace of the Goddess throughout. Devotees are served with this prasad, a testament to the temple’s hospitality and spirituality.
Fifth Distinctive Feature: Revered by Royalty
An intriguing tale from history revolves around Queen Ahilyabai Holkar of Indore. While on a journey to Bengal, she discovered this ancient temple and was deeply amazed. Inspired, she decided to perform a grand puja here. The villagers proudly recount this story, a testament to the temple’s timeless allure.
Conclusion: A Divine Sojourn Awaits
As Navratri approaches, the Ugratara Nagar Temple in Chandwa beckons devotees and travelers alike. Its unique traditions, coupled with the divine aura, create an unforgettable experience, making it a must-visit destination for spiritual seekers during this auspicious time of the year. Come