Tara Tarini (Sthana Khanda) is the Shakthi Peeth where Devi Sati’s breasts fell. Here the twin goddesses are worshipped as Tara and Tarini. According to Shiva Purana, Devi Bhagvatha and Kalika Purnana there are four Adi Shakthi Peethas. Tara Tarini is one among them, the other three being, Bimala Khanda, in Jagannath, Puri, Orissa, Yoni Khanda, Kamakhya, Assam, and Mukha Khanda, Dakshina Kalika, Kolkotta, West Bengal. Tara Tarini Shakthi Peeth is also known as Kalyani Dham.
Tara Tarini Shakthi Peeth is located on the Taratarini hill (purnagiri) at 30 kms from Berhampur in Orissa. The temple is sanctified with the flowing of the River Rushikulya or Rushikalyani, believed to be the elder sister of the holy River Ganga at the foothills of the temple. Berhampur or Brahmapur station is the nearest railway station. Modernised ropeway to the hill shrine is being constructed for easy access to the devotees. There are also pucca roads leading to the temple. Tara Tarini hill is about 22 kms from Jagannathpur on NH5. The NH5 connects Kolkotta to Chennai. Bhuvaneshwar airport located at a distance of 165 kms is the nearest airport. Private vehicles such as taxis, autos are easily available from Berhampur to reach the Tara Tarini shrine. There is good frequency of deluxe buses to reach the temple.
The Temple and Deities
Tara tarini Shakthi peeth is an ancient temple. The temple built in 17th century has 999 steps leading to the temple. The deities at the temple are made of stone and adorned with gold and silver ornaments. The deities are shaped as human faces. In between these deities are placed the utsav murthis (chalanti Pratima) used during rath yatra made of brass. Goddess Taratarini is the presiding deity of most of the households in Southern Orissa. Goddess Taratarini was the presiding deity of the rulers of Kalinga kingdom. The temple has been built in the Rekha style of architecture.
According to one reference, Vasu Praharaja, a learned Brahmin of Kharida Vira, Jagannathpur Sasan near Purushotampur was a great devotee of Mother Goddess. He was childless. The two sisters, Tara and Tarini stayed at Vasu Praharaja’s house for some years. But one day, both the sisters disappeared from Vasu Praharaja’s house. It is believed that the sisters went upto Tarini Parvat and disappeared there. Vasu Praharaja went about searching for the girls but in vain. He was distraught with grief. That night he saw a dream in which Tara and Tarini informed him that they were not his daughters but were the incarnations of Adi Shakti- Tara and Tarini. The goddess instructed Vasu Praharaja to renovate the temple on the hill top and consecrate the deities.
According to another puranic reference, Lord Sri Krishna had advised Arjuna to pray to the Shridevi Kupa or Bhadrakali and seek the Devi’s blessings for victory before the commencement of the Mahabharath war. Bhadrakali had emerged from the limbs of Devi Sati like the other four Adi Shakthi peethas.
Another reference is that Sri Adi Sankaracharya toured the country around 8th Century and discovered the shrine. Adi Shankarcharya released the temple from the clutches of Buddhists and handed it over to Hindus.
Rituals and Festivals and Fairs
a) Chaitra Parba: This is the most important festival of the temple. Tuesdays of Chaitra masa (april) is auspicious for the worship of the Devi. The temple is open from 5.00 am to 11.00 pm. Priests perform Snana, Majana and Maha Arati of the goddess Tara Tarini at midnight of Monday and open the temple for the devotees. Devotees congregate at the foothills of the temple and on the hill top from Monday night itself. Phada (day time rest of the deities) is only in the night during Chaitra Parba. The second and third Tuesday of Chaitra masa is considered to be the most auspicious. Thus devotees in large numbers (nearly 5-7 lakshs) offer their offerings to the Utsav Murthi (Chalanti Pratima) placed on the Bije Pithastal at the entrance of the temple. Devotees are allowed to have a darshan of the main deities in the sanctum. Special Khechedi Bhogh is offered to the devotees during Chaitra Parbha. Devotees offer hair to the goddess on Chaitra Parba.
b) Sankranti Mela: This is celebrated every month on the Sankranti day according to the Hindu calendar. This is an auspicious festival for Tantra Sadhkas. The temple is open from 5.00 am to 10.00 pm on these days without Pahada. Prayers and offerings to the main deities in the sanctum are not allowed on such occasions. Devotees are allowed to offer prayer to the utsav murthi (Chalanti Pratima) which are placed on the Bije Pithastal near the entrance. Chandipatha, Megha Snana and Homa are some of the special activities conducted by the temple priests in the sanctum on Sankranti Mela day. Khechudi Bhogh is distributed as Prasad to the devotees.
c) Dola Poornima is celebrated during February- March (Phalgun masa)
d) Basantika Parba is celebrated during Chaitra masa (March- April)
e) Chitalagi Amavasya during July- August
f) Gamha Poornima during Badrapadha masa (September)
g) Saptapuri Amavasya during Badrapadha masa (September)
h) Saradiya Parba during Ashwija Mula ashtami to Vijaydashmi during September- October.
i) Deepavali and Amavasya during Karthik masa (October- November)
Navaratri is celebrated with great fervour. During Navaratri, devi is worshipped in different forms such as, Shailputri, Bhramcharini, Chandraghanta, Kushmanda, Skandmata, Kaatyayani, Kaalratri, Mahagauri and Siddhiratri during nine days. The tenth day is celebrated as Vijayadashmi. Durga pooja at Tara Tarini temple is celebrated for 16 days from Bhadrapada Krishna paksha Ashtami to Ashvija Shukla Paksha navami (Sep- Oct). This is also known as Shodasha Dinatmaka Upachara. Shodasha Puja begins with the Chandi Path (pat) and Chandi Yagna along with chanting of religious hymns. The temple during Navaratri is open round the clock to facilitate devotees to have darshan of the devi.