Built by King Ratna Dev of the Kalachuri Dynasty, the Mahamaya Temple is one of the famous sacred pilgrimage centers of Hindus in Chhattisgarh state, India. Dedicated to the dual Goddesses Lakshmi & Saraswati, the temple is located in Ratanpur and is one of the 52 Shakti Peethas. Shri Mahamaya Devi Mandir is one of the most religiously-celebrated, architecturally superb and culturally rich temple of south-east India. From many decades since, the temple and the town of Ratanpur have attracted the attention of scores of historians and archeologists. Surrounded by lush green hills and housing more than 150 ponds, the town is flocked – twice a year – by hundreds of thousands of devotees, who visit here in Navrataras to get darshan of the awe-inspiring dual-statue of their beloved Goddess: Mahamaya Devi. Situated at 25 km away from the city of Bilaspur (Chhattisgarh) on the Bilaspur-Ambikapur state highway, the Mandir and the relics of scores of smaller temples, domes, palaces and forts seem to tell a story. Once the capital of the Kalchuri kings, Ratanpur – then, Ratnapur – has almost a millennium of history.
It is believed that the first Puja and Abhishek of Devi was performed at this place by Kalinga Ratna Dev in 1050 AD, when he shifted his capital from Tuman to Ratnapur. There is a nice legend on why Ratna Dev shifted his capital. Once Ratna Dev reached Ratanpur by evening during a hunt. Instead of going back to Tuman at night, he decided to spend the night under a tree nearby Mahamaya Temple. His sleep was disturbed by strong light in the middle of the night. He woke up and found the court of the Goddess Mahamaya in progress where she was present with her attendants. He was quite surprised but went back to Tuman next morning. Later in the night he had a dream where the goddess asked him to move his capital to Ratanpur which will result in his fame and glory.
Dual statue of Mahamaya Devi
Inside the main temple campus, facing the famous Kanthi Dewal temple and the Temple main pond is the splendid dual statues of Mahamaya: the front one is called the Mahishasur Mardini and the hind statue is believed to be that of Goddess Saraswati. However, by a casual viewer the rear statue can often be overlooked. In the Navratras, devotees come from all corners of the country and the world to get a glimpse of the celebrated Devi and pay their respects.
The nine days of Navratras
Navratras are the major festive occasions for Shri Mahamaya Devi Mandir. Navratras are observed twice every year, a period of nine days each. Grand celebrations, special Pujas and Abhishek of Devi are organised at these times. Devotees observe fasts on all the nine days. Thousands of people travel miles on foot to have a darshan of Devi.The Kalashas are kept “alive” for the whole nine days of Navratras. This is why they are also called Akhand Manokaamna Navratra Jyoti Kalashas. It is believed that Devi fulfills all your wishes if you follow proper fasting, Puja and Archana of Devi.