A famous temple, dedicated to the Goddess is located atop a hill in Virar, a suburb of Mumbai. The name Virar is derived from Eka-Veera. There was a huge temple for Ekveera devi which is now totally in ruins due to various invasions during the Mughal and Portuguese rule. Previously, this temple was only visited by local people, but nowadays its popularity has increased. This place is located on the banks of the Vaitarna river and is surrounded by the Satpura range of mountains.
Main deity - The Goddess here is call Jivdani Mata, which means Jiv = life, dani= giver, maata = mother. She is considered the Goddess of life. The Goddess here is an incarnation of Adi Shakti.
Temple Legend and Specialties- According to historical stories, it is said that the Pandavas during their life in the forest, prayed to Ekveera Devi in these mountains. They also carved out a cave and installed the idol of devi in it. They called her "Bhagwati Jeevdani". The pandavas have also been credited for creating a "Pandav Dongri" which is about a mile away for residence of sages, hermits and yogis. Even today many saints and yogis stay here during their visit to the temple.
Another story is of a Mahar (a scheduled tribe considered untouchable during earlier times) who was grazing his cattle at the foot of the hills. He saw a cow grazing along with his flock whose owner he did not know. He tried to find the owner and followed the cow to the top of the hill. At the top a divine lady appeared and wanted to pay the Mahar was grazing her cow. The Mahar recognized the lady as the Goddess and said "do not touch be mother I am untouchable, give me something that cannot be spoilt by touch or smell or words". The divine mother was so happy with him that she granted him Moksha (emancipation or release) which is the real wealth of human life. She explained to him that the cow was Kamdhenu (revered cow). This incident was being watched by a lady who had come to pray for childbirth. She too asked the Goddess to bless all women who cannot conceive to be blessed. Hence, the Goddess said, in Kali Yuga, I will stay in this cave and all women who pray to me with purity in their hearts and offer me a beetlenut would be blessed with children.
In previous times, it was believed that the Goddess would fulfill your wishes if you offer a sacrifice. Hence, people used to bring a hen or goat to the sacrificial pier. This pier was in an open area, and the blood and smell would be uncomfortable for many devotees. In recent times, the temple has stopped the "sacrifice" ritual.
Temple Location and Architecture - The Jivdani fort on the hill is said to be created during the 17th century. Inside the forts, there are many water tanks and caves. Most of these water tanks have now dried up. To reach the temple one has to climb around 1300 steps to reach the actual temple. It is a great exercise and the overall climb is not to difficult as the area is always breezy. In earlier times, the temple was very small and the climb was narrow and steep. The temple foundation has constructed wider and better steps that make the climb convenient. From atop the hill, the view of Virar and nearby areas is picturesque. These days a ropeway is made available to people who cannot climb up.
The viewing platform (Darshan area) was enlarge and the queue arrangements have been improved for the benefit of the devotees. The idol of the Goddess is made out of white marble. There is also a fort near the temple. Another temple dedicated to Lord Krishna is also present in these surroundings.
The view of sunset is beautiful. From the back of the temple, we can see the Vaitarna river and other small neighboring villages. At the far end of the temple, one can view the Arabian sea.
Accommodation for Visitors - The Jivdani Foundation works very hard for the convenience of devotees. Food is available at a very affordable price at the restaurants that are at the top of the hill. For people who have climbed up the stairs and are tired to come down, one can take the rope way for this one-way climb at a reduced rate. Most hotels in Virar have overnight stay options.
Festivals and Prayers - The 9 days of Navratri and Dussehra are the main festival that is celebrated here. People light candles on every step, offer sweets, bangles and coconut to the Devi. In order t get their wishes fulfilled, devotees are seen walking up the steps bare feet. The belief that the deity would fulfill their wishes is the most unique thing about this temple.
Sunday is considered a special Puja day for Jivdani mata. Hence, the temple sees huge crowds on this day.
The best time to climb to the mountains is early in the morning.
How to reach - The Jivdani temple is located 4 km from Virar, 47 km from Thane, 50 km from Mumbai, 197 km from Pune, 304 km from Satara.
By Railway - Virar railways station is the last station on the Mumbai western railway Churchgate-Virar route.
By Air - Chhatrapati Shivaji International airport (Santacruz).
By Road - There are share rickshaws available from Virar. Also, one may hire private vehicles.
Website - www.jivdanimaa.blogspot.com
Nearby Places to visit - A small fort of Shivaji Maharaj and Papadkhandi Dam. Arnala beach is also a famous recreational spot in Virar.
Image courtesy: www.jivdanimaa.blogspot.com
Content by Ananya