Sri Devi Kup Bhadrakali Temple in Kurukshetra

      Bhadrakali Temple in Kurukshetra is also known as Sri Devi Kup Bhadrakali Mandir. It is considered to be one of the 18 Shakti Peethas. This temple has a very good parking lot but it is a long walk from the parking lot to the temple. As I walked towards the temple, I saw shops on either side of the road, selling flowers, coconuts, and small toy horses.

      Toy horses? That's right. Toy horses! I was quite fascinated. What were these toy horses doing in front of a temple?

      I thought to myself, maybe the toy horses are kept for the kids who visit the temple. I continued on my walk towards the temple.

      The temple looked very bright and resplendent in red. Numerous red flags, both inside and outside the temple, added to the vibrancy of the place. I was told that red is liberally used in most Devi temples, this one being no exception.

      When I entered the temple, I found myself in a huge courtyard. At the centre of the courtyard, was an idol of a 'tight foot'. The foot was protected by a silver umbrella on top. This foot rested on a lotus, made of concrete. I was astonished. What was a foot doing here, kept as an idol and worshipped by the devotees?

      It is believed that Lord Shiva had married Sati, much against the wishes of Her father, Daksha. Once, Daksha performed a Yajna (sacrifice) to which he invited all the Gods and important sages. However, he did not invite his own Son-in-law, Lord Shiva. Though Sati was not invited by her father, she decided to visit him to participate in the Yajna. Shiva was against Her visiting Her father, but He could not stop Her.

      During the Yajna, Daksha made disparaging remarks about Lord Shiva. Sati could not bear this humiliation so she committed suicide by jumping into a pyre. When this news reached Lord Shiva, He was furious. He arrived at Daksha's house and disrupted the Yajna. Next, he chopped off Daksha's head and killed him. However, all the Gods requested him to restore Daksha's life. Lord Shiva placed a goat's head and brought back Daksha to life. He was still filled with grief so He lifted Sati's body and danced with it throughout the cosmos. All the planets and other heavenly bodies trembled because of the fury of Lord Shiva. The Gods requested Him to stop but He did not relent. Finally, the Gods prayed to Lord Vishnu to save the cosmos from Lord Shiva's fury. Lord Vishnu realised that Shiva would remain infuriated as long as He had Sati's body with Him since it reminded Him of Her suicide. He decided to dismember Her body to make Lord Shiva forget His woes. He hurled His Sudarshana Chakra (Discus) which cut Sati's body into 51 pieces. These pieces fell at 51 different places in and around India and each one of them is worshipped as a sacred Shakthi Peetha. It is believed that Sati's 'right foot' fell at this spot; hence it is worshipped like an idol.

      As I went closer, I noticed that the 'foot' was kept on top of a well. I had another surprise! Toy horses, similar to the ones being sold outside, were neatly lined up near the entrance of the well. I was astounded! What were these horses doing here? I felt as if I had heard the sound of hooves! Was I seeing and hearing things?

      Once the priest finished narrating the story, I understood the significance of the toy horses. The priest told me, "Many devotees pray to the Goddess, seeking for favours. If their wishes are fulfilled, they visit this temple. They buy one of the toy horses sold near the temple premises and keep it near the well. This is similar to what Lord Krishna had advised the Pandavas to do when their prayers were answered. Since this well is of great importance, this temple is known as Sri Devi Kup Bhadrakali Temple."

      After hearing this fascinating story, I decided to proceed further. There were steps to my left which led me to the first floor. On my left was a Shiva Linga. To the right, I saw an idol of Goddess Durga, sitting on a lion. Next to this idol was a corridor. As I walked ahead, I came out of an exit, which is shaped like a lion's head. I took the stairs and reached the ground floor once more. The sanctum sanctorum was in front of the sacred well. It had a black idol of Goddess Bhadrakali. As I performed the Parikrama, on my left I saw idols of Hanuman and Mahalakshmi. As I proceeded further, on my right, I saw an idol of Saraswati, playing Her divine musical instrument, the Veena. To the right of sanctum sanctorum were idols of Ganesha and Krishna, showing His Viraat Swaroop.

      It is also believed that the mundan (hair removal) ceremony of Lord Krishna and Lord Balarama was performed here.

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