Chausathi Yogini Temple – A Place of Wondrous Occult

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The Chausathi Yogini Temple at Hirapur located at a distance of 20 km southeast of Odisha capital Bhubaneswar, is mystery for visitors. Situated in the middle of paddy fields, this 9th Century temple is considered the famous witchcraft (tantric) place.


A circular wall, hardly 2 metres in height, containing 64 niches within its inner circumference encompass this hypaethral yogini shrine. One significant feature of this shrine is that it is hypaethral (no roof). It assumes an important place in the cultural history since it is the second of its kind in Odisha and one of such four temples in India.The temple belongs to a genre of architecture, which is completely different from the major Odissi School.


The temple has 64 niches, one for each image of the yogini. Markandeya Purana gives an interesting account of the origin of the great Goddess and Yoginis. Lord Shiva created several divine mothers or Yoginis who helped Goddess Durga in her war against Raktabija, a demon king who would multiply from each drop of his bloodshed on the ground. The demon was killed with the yoginis as directed by Maa Durga drank the blood drops before they could touch the ground.


The Mahabhagavata Purana records that Mahadeva delineates the residence of Kali as a vast city with a wall having four gates facing the four directions. Seated in the middle on a lion-throne is the Goddess, attended by 64 yoginis and Bhairavas are entrusted with the protection of the city.


However, most exciting is the account presented in Matsya Purana. Andhaka, an asura, was terrorising the whole universe. Once he attacked Kailasa in an attempt to capture Umadevi. Siva countered with his Pasupata Astra. But due to a boon (Raktabija) innumerable demons of sprang up from the blood pouring from his wounds. But this led to a new problem. The mothers went on rampage and Siva sought the help of Narasimha, who created 32 mothers, more formidable.


The number of Yoginis differs from one source to another but 64 appear to have generally accepted. According to the myths the principal yoginis, known as Mother-Goddesses, are Brahmani, Maheswari, Vaishnavi, Kaumari, Varahi, Indrani and Chamunda were created to the drink blood of demons. All except one of these contain an image of a yogini goddess. Some of them are delineated with voluptuous bodies, some with horrific shrunken features, still others with animal heads.


Active between 9th and 13th centuries, yoginis were worshipped in expectation of the direct acquisition of supernatural powers. Worship seems to have centred on the repetition of the names of the goddesses. Later, when active use of the shrines ceased, worshippers transferred their devotions to mystical paper diagrams.


How to reach there:

There are two approach roads to the temple, both converging some 500 mtrs away from the temple on a semi-tarred road.


a) Road 1:Bhubaneswar – Puri Road. Once you see Dhauli Stupa, keep an eye on the left side. There is a distinct board showing the road directions.


b) Road 2: This is a more convenient route. Take the Tankapani Road from Ravi -Talkies Square. Keep going straight to Gangua (also called Bhargavi by some accounts) river (This would come after you have crossed Rajarani Temple on the right-600 mtrs from RTS, Bhaskareshwar Temple on the left-3 or 4 Kms from RTS on the left, Megheshwar Temple-5 Kms from RTS on left, Sai Temple-7 Kms from RTS on left and another 2 to 3 Kms through the fields). Cross the bridge over the river and take the immediate right. Keep following the road signs or ask locally for the temple.


Best time to visit:

Go around 0900 hours IST. This is the time when the morning Pujas would be over and the people would be there to guide you. Non-monsoon time of the year is good. Avoid the monsoons. There is a pond nearby which gets flooded during the monsoons. Even the Gangua River gets flooded during the monsoons if the downpour is heavy. Durga Puja time would be crowded.