Situated near Ramnagar in Uttarakhand, the Garjiya Devi Temple is considered a sacred shrine that is believed to have been formed by the mud and clay that came along during a flood, years ago. Surrounded by the Kosi River tributary, the temple holds a rich, religious significance and the locals have a book full of stories associated with its formation and existence.
The alley preceding the gateway of Garjiya Devi Temple is a long narrow passage where the locals sell flowers, garlands, chimes, incense sticks, sculptures of various deities, plastic toys and traditional accessories, amongst various other items.
Upon entering the temple that is naturally surrounded by the Kosi River, all you will see around are shops selling flowers and other essentials for worshipping the gods, and a lot of locals as well as tourists, queued up on the narrow stairs – waiting for their turn to climb up to the temple.
As you proceed forward, through a small bridge that connects the two sides of the temple, one can witness the view of the gleaming waters of the Kosi River and the locals who are either bathing in the water or just sitting beside it, enjoying the cool breeze.
Located in the Garjiya village near Ramnagar in Uttarakhand, on the outskirts of the Corbett National Park, Garjiya Devi Temple is a noted sacred shrine where goddess Garjiya is the presiding deity, with idols of goddess Saraswati, lord Ganesha and Girija devi, standing at a height of 4.5 feet.
The temple that is situated over a large rock in the Kosi River, was not known by many till 1940 but in recent years, it has been protected and reconstructed many times by the temple management and pulls a crowd that increases every year.
However, the temple, which is over 150 years old, is not only a hotspot for devotees but also an attraction for bird watchers who visit the area to spot some rare species including the Himalayan kingfisher.
Of beliefs and formation
People in Garjiya village are deeply associated with the temple and consider it auspicious. Both the temple and the river tributary in this area stand as major tourist attractions and the locals and priests passionately narrate tales about the formation and importance of the temple and the surrounding holy water.
“One night before a flood that hit this area 150-200 years ago, a saint saw a dream that something along with water will come flowing in this region and he has to stop it. The next day, the area was hit with the flood and the saint saw a big mountain of clay and mud that was constantly getting collected in one place with the flow of water. He then meditated to stop the mountain on that place itself. Since then, the mountain is standing there at 100 metre tall, where people established effigies of idols – that later came to be known as the Garjiya temple,” explains Puran Pradhan, a resident of Nainital district in Uttarakhand.
Interestingly, according to the locals, ‘Girija’ is another name for goddess Paarvati (daughter of king of mountains – the Himalayas) and the power that created the Garjiya Devi Temple is the avatar of goddess Paarvati.
To add to the unending interesting history of the temple, some locals say that in order to control the over flooded river Kosi, a devotee of lord Shiva asked Garjiya – his sister, to marry Kosi and reside there itself to control the anger of the river. Obeying his order, his sister Girjya married Kosi and started residing in the rock located in the Kosi River. Girjya, being one of the avatars of Goddess Paarvati, blessed the entire place with her presence and it is believed that after she resided at the rock, river Kosi never flooded again.