Saharsa: A temple dedicated to Goddes Ugra Tara

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Saharsa was formed on 1 April 1954 which earlier had no autonomous status and remained as a part of the old districts of Munger & Bhagalpur. A major part of the district in the past was subjected to annual floods and inundation by many rivers having their origin in the Himalayas.

Ugra Tara Sthan:

Mahishi, situated 15 km away from the district headquarters of Saharsa, is famous for its ancient temple dedicated to Goddes Ugra Tara.

Locals wrship the deity as Bashishtharadhita Tara, who was worshipped by saint Bashishtha, there by associating the place with the Ramayana period.

Ugra Tara Sthan is also believed to be a Shakti Peetha as , according to legends, the right eye of Goddess Sati had fallen here.

Some historians, however, claim the image is that of a Buddhist deity dating back to the Pala period. There are a large number of Lord Buddha images lying scattered on the temple premises and worshipped by locals as various Hindu gods and goddesses.

The temple, having the main entrance point on the wetern side and a small opening on the eastern side of the sanctum sanctorum, was built by Rani Padmavati, the spouse of Madhubani King Narendra Deo Singh some 500 years ago.

Some ancient walls are still visible near the temple site. Statues of Buddha, recovered from this place on different occasions, are preserved in the Patna Museum.

The village is a pre-eminently Buddhist site which, historians say, was known as Aapan Nigam during the Buddha period. A rare image of Lord Buddha’s Mahaparinirvana is also available in the temple.

The Tara Temple, famous for the Tanrik cult of worshipping, draws ewvotees from different parts of the country and Nepal. A ten-day festival here during the Shardiya Navratra draws an estimated ten lakh devots.

Mandan Dham:

Situated on the southwestern flank of Tara temple, there is a huge mound which is known as the birthplace of the 8th certury legendary philosopher, Mandan Mishra, and his scholar wife Bharti.
The place is famous as an erstwhile seat of learning in the field of philosophy, more particularly the Advait Vedanta, a sect popular in ancient Mithila.

According to various Sanskrit texts, including Shankar Digvijay by Madhavacharya, Mandan Mishra’s fame had attracted saints and scholars from the far south. The most famous of them all, Adi Shankaracharya, was mesmerised to find the working class womenfolk of the village well versed in Sanskrit. Even the parrots, he found, could debate complex issues of philosophy!

The most popular legend speaks of the Adi Shankaracharya’s prolonged scholarly debate on philosophical issues with Mandan Mishra. Mandan’s spouse Bharti was appointed to judge the debate between the two philosopher giants. As many as six books were composed by Mandan Mishra and they are supposed to be the treasure of Indian philosophy.

Sun Temple:

The Sun Temple at Kandaha, some 12 km west to Saharsa, is one of the three most important temples of Sun God after Konark (Orissa) and Deo (Aurangabad district of Bihar) temples. It is visited by thousands of tourists every year.

Although the temple seems to be a new structure as the original temple was ravaged by the Kosi river, it assumes significance because of the high mound on which it is situated and the inscritions on the threshold of the sanctum sanctorum.

The inscriptions, deciphered by experts indicate that this temple was built by Mithila King, Raja Narsingh Deo, in 1431. The image in the sanctum sanctorum is made of black stone. There are two wells, Chandrakoop within the temple precincts and it is said that the sacred water of these wells cures many skin diseases.

A number of other statues are scattered all around and are worshipped by locals under different names. The remains of an ancient boundary wall are still visible.

Baba Karu Khirhari Temple:

This temple of Baba Karu Khirhari, a folk god revered by the people of entire Mithilanchal and Nepal is situated three km away from Mahishi village.

Poeple of the adjoining offer the first milk of their cows and buffaloes to Baba Karu sho, they believe, protects their animals and crops.

Although situated well within the eastern Kosi embankment this temple has temained undamaged by the vagaries of the rapacious Kosi river. On the day of Saptami, the seventh day of Shardiya Navratra, Lakhs of people visit the temple and offer milk to the deity.

Chandi Sthan:

The Chandi Sthan temple, situated on a high mound at Biratpur village under Sonbarasa block of Saharsa kistrict, is associated with the Mahabharata period and is believed to be the first temple st the main gate of King Birat’s palace. The Pandavas are believed to have spent their exile period in this area.

This temple forms an equi-distance triangle with the Tara temple at Mahishi and the Katyayini Temple in Khagaria district.

A large number of statues, said to be dating back to c. 7th-8th century CE, are scattered on the temple premises. But the main deity is Goddess Chandi.

There is a stone pillar in the temple on which an inscription of 11th century is available. The inscription suggests that the temple was repaired by king Kumud Nandan Chandra.

Amritagarh, Jalseema, Patagrhat and Golma are some of the neighbouring villages associated with the Mahabharata anecdotes.

Lakshmi Nath Gosai Kuti:

Situated 8 km away from Saharsa, Bangaon village is famous as the divine seat of the 18th century saint and religious poet Baba Lakshmi Nath Gosai. Popular known as Babaji, his cottage in the village is revered as a temple.

Babaji was a yogi commanding divine powers. Many stories of Babaji’s miracles are heard and believed in the area. But what makes him special is his secular appeal. Although an orthodox Hindu saint, Babaji believed in religious tolerance.

One of his favourite disciples was John Saheb, a Christian landlord of Bariahi Kothi. Another famous pupil of Babaji was Mohammad Gaus Khan, an orthodox Muslim. He equally loved his disciple, Raghubar Jha, a Brahmin by birth. In fact, Babaji, was truly a saint of humanity and not of any particular faith. Hundreds of his lyrics are sung in Bangaon and adjoining villages.

Katyayani Temple Maharas:

The temple near Dhamaraghaat railaway station in Khagaria district is widely acknowledge as the Katyayani Temple. But Maharas, a sleepy hamlet under Banma Itahri block of Simri Bakhtiyarpur subdivision in Saharsa district, is also famous for a Katyayani Temple in which an ancient Durga image of black stone is installed.

Although the structure of the temple is not old enough, the huge mound of land speaks volumes of its antiquity. The image, carved out on a single black stone tablet, is seated on alion and is shown battling with demon Mahikhasur. It is an ashtabhuji Durga image, but two of the limbs are broken. One limb is lying in the temple itself whereas the other is missing. The dei;ty is an impressive specimen of Pala sculpture.

The most salient feature of this Durga temple is that no sacrifices are offered on this temple. Villagers claim that the temple was built by landlord of Banaili estate and that structures of several temples are present under the ground. A number of ancient arms like swords and ancient bricks were recovered by locals from the adjoin fields.