Tarapith Temple - The Abode Of Maa Tara

Tarapith, one of the 51 Shakti Piths, is a Hindu tantric temple dedicated to Goddess Tara. It's located in the Rampurhat subdivision of Birbhum district in West Bengal. According to mythology, one of the eyeballs of Sati fell here. As the Bengali word for eyeball is Tara, the temple becomes dedicated to Goddess Tara.

Tarapith Temple
Tarapith Temple

Tarapith attracts thousands of devotees from different parts of the country every day. This place is also considered a haven for the practitioners of Tantrism. People believe that it is pretty easy to attain accomplishment by worshiping here.

Such is the glory of this Siddha Pith that village Chandipur where the temple stands is changed to Tarapur or Tarapith. The religious and historical relevance of the temple makes it special. There is an aura of supreme energy on the premises. The sacred rituals, the hymns sung here also contribute to make this temple special.

The Goddess Tara is a form of Kali. Goddess Tara grants enlightenment, wisdom, happiness, and siddhis (supernatural powers) to its devotees.

Sadhak Bamakhepa 

Tarapith is also famous for Sadhak Bamakhepa(mad saint), who dedicated his entire life to worship Goddess Tara. The mad saint is held in great reverence in Tarapith.

Bama Khepa((1837 – 1911) lived near the temple and meditated in the cremation grounds. He attended his Tantric spirituality by Sadhana at Tarapith and became the head of the temple. He used to offer his worship with the left hand, and his spirituality made him act unnaturally. Thus he got the name Bama Khepa which means left-handed (Bama) mad(Khepa) saint.

He did not follow the set rules of the temple and because of his unusual behavior, temple priests disliked him. Once, he ate the food meant for the Goddess. As a result, temple priests assaulted him. Legend has it that the Goddess appeared in the dream of Queen of Natore- Rani Annadasundari Devi and told her to feed the saint first as he was her son. After this incident, Bamakhepa was fed first in the temple before the deity, and nobody obstructed him.
People started coming to seek blessings or cures for their illness, in distress, or just to meet him.

His birthplace Atlagram is located close to the temple and is open for pilgrims. The Samadhi of Bama Khepa lies near the cremation ground where people offer prayers and offerings.

Mahasamshan Of Tarapith

The cremation ground adjoining the temple is also considered integral to the Shakti pith. Here, ash smeared tantric perform sadhana(tantric rituals). Situated on the banks of a river Dwarka, the mysterious cremation ground covered by trees and forests gives you goosebumps.

The cremation ground has numerous huts and hermitages of Tantric. They have decorated them with snake skins, human and animal skulls like those of jackals and vultures that have been deemed unfit for Tantric rites. 

Bamakhepa used to reside in the cremation grounds and practiced tantric arts here. Goddess Tara had given a vision to Bamakhepa in the cremation grounds in her ferocious form before taking him to her breast.

It is believed that Goddess Tara wanders here and drinks fresh blood of goats, which are sacrificed every day at her altar to satiate her anger and seek favors.

Tarapith Mandir

The old temple of Goddess Tara has been damaged a great deal. The temple had been renovated many times by different eminent devotees of Tara Ma.

The main temple is a small structure built of marble and terra cotta. It has a curved roof called the Dochala and the base is made up of red brick. All the giant doors falling in the way to the main shrine have carved and are made up of engraved metal with intricate designs of various religious symbols carved on them.

The work of terracotta at the front of the temple is unique and depicts the story of the Ramayana and the Mahabharata.

Within the courtyard, there is a temple of Shiva, known as Chandrachur Shiva Temple. Ganapati temple, Vishnu temple, Garura temple, and Hanumanji temple are also there. Throughout the year, the temple hosts different festivals.

Tarapith Temple Story

Mythology states that to save the universe, Lord Shiva had drunk the poison that emerged from the churning of the cosmic oceans(Samudra Manthan). To relieve the intense burning in his throat, Sati, in the form of Tara, had breastfed Shiva to relieve him of the effect of poison in his throat.

The legend about the temple states that the holy sage Vashishtha worshipped Goddess Tara day and night to get her vision but was unsuccessful. So, on the advice of a divine voice, he went to meet the Buddha. During this time, Buddha also had a vision of Tarapith as an ideal location for a temple of Goddess Tara. Buddha advised Vasishtha to go to Tarapith and worship the Goddess.

At Tarapith, Vasishtha meditate on the Goddess at the cremation ground. Tara was pleased with the penance of Vasishtha and appeared before him.

Maa Tara incarnated herself before Vashistha in the form of a mother suckling Shiva on her breast. Then, she turned into a stone image in that form so that she could be worshipped by all and sundry. Since then, in this form devotees, worship Goddess Tara in the Tarapith temple.

Tarapith Maa Kali Idol

There are two Tara images in the sanctum. The original stone image of Tara, depicted as a mother suckling Shiva is camouflaged by a three feet metal image, that the devotee normally sees. The stone image represents Tara in her fiery form with four arms, flowing hair, a protruding tongue, adorning a garland of skulls. The outer metal image is wrapped in a silk sari and decked in marigold garlands with a silver umbrella over its head.

It is only after the evening Aarti that devotees get a glimpse of the original stone idol.

The unusual fact about this temple that devotees can offer bottles of whisky to the deity. The blood sacrifice of goats is the daily norm in the temple. A small quantity of the goat blood is then collected in a vessel and offered to the Maa Tara.

The devotees take a holy bath at the sacred tank adjacent to the temple.

Tarapith Mandir Opening Time

The darshan timing for devotees in Tarapith Temple is from 6:00 AM to 9:00 PM. Every day at 4 AM, melodic Shehnai is played in the temple premises to wake the Goddess up. Then the group of priests wash her feet, clean her room, and remake her bed. Priests bath the idol in pure water. Then, they adorn the deity with a saree, vermillion, a garland of skulls, post which the mangal aarti begins.

In the afternoon, priests offer rice to the deity as a part of the pooja rituals. The Anna Bhog consists of rice, the meat of the sacrificed goat, rice pudding, fried fish, etc. After the Bhog, the temple shuts down for a few hours to allow the deity to relax. In the evening, after the Sandhya Aarti, Goddess is made to sleep.

The best time to visit the temple is in winter. Summers are hot and humid in West Bengal. So, it would be difficult for you to brave the heat and temple queue in extreme weather. The temple host many grand festivals.

How To Reach Tarapith

It is situated around at a distance of 264 km from Kolkata. Rampurhat and Tarapith Road are the nearest Railway stations.

Direct trains from Kolkata to Rampurhat are available. Taxi services ply from the railway station to Tarapith.

Tarapith has numerous hotels to suit every budget. They are either close to the temple or within 5 minutes' walking distance.

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