Rajrappa Mandir – A Spiritual Abode

Rajrappa Temple

In Jharkhand, located around 28km away from Ramgarh, is one of India’s oldest and most revered temples, the Rajrappa Mandir, or the Chinnamasta Temple. It is said to be over 6000 years old and still attracts thousands of visitors every day. A site of both religious and historical importance, this temple attracts pilgrims and devotees from all over India and abroad; to awe at the beautiful tantric architecture and the rituals conducted on a daily and weekly basis. There are also several Hindu festivals celebrated at the temple.

The deity to whom the temple is dedicated, Maa Chinmastikey, one of the Mahavidya Goddesses, is highly revered in Hindu culture, especially in North India. She is most often depicted as being severed by the head, holding her decapitated head in her hand; and the blood spurting out of her neck being drunk by her head and two attendants. 

This ferocious and gory image symbolizes what she stands for— a life-giver as well as a life taker. She represents life as well as death, at the same time. She also represents sexual self-control, the frailty of life itself as well as several topics that would be easily considered taboo in modern culture. She is known for herself sacrificing nature, and her destructive fury, as is expected of a goddess of the Shakti.

Prayer to this Hindu goddess is believed to protect the worshipper from “instance of misfortune, difficulty and misguided mind”. The temple is not only for the visitors to enjoy the architecture and receive the deity’s blessings, but also is a site for many other sacred pujas. Apart from the religious significance, the Rajrappa Mandir is also a place for vehicle poojas, marriages and any number of ritualistic traditions that require the blessing of the goddess. 

In Hindu culture, it is a practice for children to be shaved bald before the age of two; this practice is called the mundan and most families choose to do their children’s mundan at a temple. The Rajrappa Mandir happens to be an important site for the mundan, with hundreds of young children getting their heads shaved in this temple.

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The legend of this deity varies from place to place, but the general myth says that the goddess cut her head off to calm her raging fury after having killed many havoc-wreaking demons. The goddess thus is a symbol of good conquering evil as well as the holy act of sacrificing oneself for the good of the many. Other legends say that after killing all the demons, the goddess’ attendants, or sahyagonis were not satisfied and wanted more blood— thus, the goddess cut off her head to quench her attendant’s thirst. Another legend says that Lord Shiva, one of the three central gods of Hinduism, danced his Rudra Thandava, or his dance of destruction, whilst carrying the burnt body of his wife Goddess Sati, who had self-immolated herself. 

Goddess Sati was deeply loved by Lord Shiva and her death caused Him great pain and suffering, thus causing him to collapse into a dance of anger and destruction at the circumstances that caused the Goddess’ death. To stop Lord Shiva from destroying the universe with his dance of destruction, Lord Vishnu, another one of the central gods, flung his Sudarshan Chakra at the god, who sliced Goddess Sati’s body into 52 parts; each of the parts falling to different locations in India— places where the Adi Sakti temples were built to honor the goddess. The head of the Goddess Sati is said to have fallen at the place where the Rajrappa Temple is located today.

The Rajrappa Mandir requires that its visitors wear “modest and conservative clothing”, as a sign of respect to the goddess and the devotees who come to pray. The dress code includes traditional Indian clothing, like churidar, Kurti, sari or lehengas for women and dhoti, kurta, etc for men. The dress code is compulsory for all visitors, regardless of nationality, gender, and religious preferences.

Significance of Rajrappa Temple

Rajrappa Temple

This temple is, as a result of its history, highly significant in Hindu culture, especially in the Shakti sect of the religion. It is a very old temple, having been constructed well before the time of the Vedas and Upanishads— it is mentioned in the Puranas and various Hindu scriptures which are said to have been penned thousands and thousands of years ago. 

Due to this, the temple receives many foreign visitors, who come to enjoy and absorb the historic site. This is also one of the few temples in India where animal sacrifice is still practiced— animals are sacrificed every Tuesday and Saturday, as well as during Kali Puja. During the Puja, the animals brought in by the tribal groups who live nearby are sacrificed first, before the other animals. Animal sacrifice is a common ritual in Shakti sects, where the sacrificed animals are offered to the goddess to appease her hunger and fury.

Rajrappa Mahotsav, which is a celebration of the temple and is held every year— in 2018, it was held for two days in February in the C.C.L Ground, Ramgarh and was inaugurated by the Hon’ble Chief Minister of Jharkhand, ShriRaghuvar Das. The festival saw many esteemed singers and dancers grace the occasion to celebrate the beauty and significance of the temple. The festival acts as a magnet for tourists and boosts the economy of the surrounding places, which rely mostly on tourism for their livelihood.

Indian culture is something that most people around the world look at in awe— it remains one of the very few heritages that have lasted through the years and still holds strong today; being practiced in millions of households almost four thousand years after its establishment. It is for this reason that this temple is of major significance to the world; it shines a light on not only the ways of the ancients but also how those ways have lasted and will continue to last for the coming years.

Temple Architecture

Rajrappa Temple

The architecture of the Rajrappa Mandir is in its signature Tantric style, a form of architecture that abides by the sacred laws of the Hindu religion, as well as the various traditions, techniques, and practices that come along with the practice of Hinduism. As seen in the RajrappaMandir, Tantric architecture is special for the idols carved into the walls; the elaborate engravings on the walls and the high, intricate rooftops. The style is easily differentiated and is said to be thousands and thousands of years old— one of the oldest styles of architecture in the world.

Temple Maintenance and Facilities

Rajrappa Temple

The Rajrappa Temple is maintained and managed by the Maa Chhinnamastika Rajrappa Trust, to ensure free langar or free food for all its pilgrims as well as upkeep and beautification of the temple premises and surroundings. All donations offered by the devotees as well as the members of the Trust go towards maintaining the temple. The temple constructed first on the premises thousands of years ago was destroyed in a war, and was re-constructed to preserve the heritage of the location.

Due to the peace and solitude of the temple after sunset, the temple became the setting for author Satyajit Ray’s Feluda novel Chinnomastar Abhishap— a mystery novel set in the Rajrappa Mandir. A few visitors to the Rajrappa Mandir complain about the government’s lack of attention to the area, causing the temple to be unable to accommodate the crowds— parking of cars is a struggle, and it remains to be nearly impossible to find a place to stay overnight; but if you have even the slightest interest in religion and history, the Rajrappa Temple is a must-visit.

Temple Timings and Best Time to Visit

Rajrappa Temple

The Temple is best visited during the winter season when the weather is not searing hot and the visitors can enjoy the cool breeze and the peace of the temple premises. The Rajrappa Mandir is located in a picnic-worthy spot and is often visited by nearby families and couples as an evening getaway spot. Located on the banks of the rivers Damodar and Bhera, one can enjoy the riverside view best in the evenings while the sun is setting. However, visitors must also keep in mind the crowds— due to this being one of the more important Shaktipeetha temples; this particular temple is often crowded and bustling. Thus, it is best to visit the temple around 4:00 p.m., after the morning devotees leave and before the evening crowd enters.

The temple offers the sacred darshan from 5:30 A.M. to 9:30 P.M. in the winters; and 4:00 A.M. to 10:00 P.M. in the summers. Aarti darshan happens at 6:00 A.M. and 8:00 P.M. Aarti is an important puja where a holy flame or fire is offered to the goddess for her blessing and then is distributed amongst the devotees so they can receive the blessing.

How to Reach Rajarappa Temple?

Reaching the temple is relatively easy; a few decades ago it was very hard to reach the temple due to it being located in the middle of dense forestation, but as of today, due to industrialization and urbanization, it has become easier to drive down to the temple from nearby cities and towns. The 70 km drive from Ranchi is said to be very scenic and pleasant and can be a fun road-trip journey for youngsters and families.

Best Places to Visit Nearby

Rajrappa Temple

Apart from the main Chinnamasta Temple, many temples are surrounding the area that is smaller but of equal importance. It is located at the point of convergence of the two rivers that surround it, and thus enjoys the riverside flora and fauna that come as a result of its geographic location. The water of the Bhairaviriver is said to be as pure as the rivers in Varanasi and Haridwar, but the tourists who come to the temple and the inability of the government to maintain the river have caused a lot of trash and plastic waste to pollute the once sweet waters.

It is a clear fact that the Rajrappa Temple is an absolute bucket list item for anybody who wishes to witness culture and heritage. Why not visit it once!

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