Getting off at Chhatarpur metro station, it is not immediately clear where I have to go for the Chhatarpur temple complex. As soon as I turn into the Chhatarpur main road, this becomes obvious: next to the top of what must be an enormous statue, I see a dome. When I continue down the road, I see temples and shrines on both sides of the road. Most of them behind high fences and closed gates, no one to be seen inside, and I start to wonder if I have come on a wrong day. When I reach Shri Aadya Katyayani Shakti Peetham, I see an open gate. After looking up at the facade of the temple, I leave my shoes across the street with a shoe-keeper, and enter. Right at the entrance, I find an old tree behind a small fence, which is covered almost completely in red-and-gold ribbons, some with small notes. The devotees hope to get their wishes fulfilled this way.
After watching people come to the fence where they tie ribbons or pose for pictures, I continue to a section of the temple that is covered by a roof on bamboo poles. I find a small shrine, with a statue of a black cow and a silver cobra, and through a half-open door, I see two statues of deities, covered in garlands of flowers. A man watches me with a serious look as I walk around the small marble structure. I then come to a two-story building, in which I find several rooms with shrines for several Hindu deities. The more I see now, the more I realize how little I know about this third-largest religion in the world. Yes, I recognise the Ganesh statue, also covered in flowers, but there are many more deities in the spotlights in small niches in the temple complex that I have no idea about. What look like explanations are only in Hindi though. One of the men in what turns out to be Katyayani, the goddess to which this temple is dedicated, gives white sweets to devotees, and eventually hands a few to me, too.
When I am at ground level again, I come to a large prayer hall, and behind a statue of Hanuman, the monkey-god, flanked by statues of humans and lions, I come to another, smaller prayer hall. After a while, a man enters the hall, and immediately falls on his knees in veneration of the gods on both sides and at the far end of the hall. He lays down for a while, until he rises and walks towards the other side. Back to the prayer hall, I get wet feet when I walk the tiled floor, as they are cleaning it with water. It is time to cross the street and enter the much bigger section of Chhatarpur mandir. I find the entrance, walk past a statue of what looks like an angel with a golden robe and shawl to the Gauri Nageshwara temple. Two statues of elephants stand as guardians. I will see more animals here: lions and giraffe. I walk past a large prayer hall, several temples and shrines, until I finally see the enormous Hanuman statue rise before me. I remove my shoes once again, and walk towards the monkey god. I feel smaller every step, just as the red god grows as I approach it. From behind the statue, I see the domes and towers of the temples and shrines, which gives me the best idea yet of just how big this complex is. In fact, until the opening of Akshardham temple further northeast in the city, Chhatarpur was the biggest in India and the second biggest in the world. I walk past youngsters playing cricket, back to the street, past pyramidal Laxmi Vinayaka temple for a last glance on the white and golden towers of Katyayani, before I walk back to Chhatarpur station.
Around the World in 80 Clicks
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Chhatarpur Mandir (India). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Chhatarpur Mandir. Read more about this site.