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Notable Temples of Varansi

Sankatha Devi Temple

Rana P.B. Singh

The temple of Sankatha Devi (“Goddess of Remedy”), called Sankatha-Ji lies in Garhwasi tola of Siddheshvara area; for she is the one who vanquishes dangers for her devotees. She was originally an ancient folk mother-goddess who was later on mythologised as Shiva’s consort, and prayers eulogised her as the demon slayer. She is believed to be one of the manifestations of goddess Chandi and also a sister of Vaishno Devi. The temple was constructed in 18th century by King of Baroda, at the same time when Sankatha Ghat was built up. Her temple icon confirms this identity with the Great Goddess: She is shown with her foot on the vanquished demon, his bull’s head severed from his body. Entering the compound of Sankatha Devi one finds a large courtyard in the centre of which is an old holy-fig tree, with a number of tiny shrines tangled in its mass of roots. Inside the sanctum sanctorum is worshipped a 1.5-metre-tall idol of Sankatha Devi which manifested itself long time back. The idols of Lord Hanuman and Lord Bhairav flank the silver-plated idol of the goddess on both sides. A huge Shivlingam, Lord Ganesha, the shrine of nine planets and a holy Banyan tree are also worshiped inside the premises of Sankatha Devi Temple. There is a statue of a lion guarding at the temple gates. In the far corner of the compound is the entrance to the sanctuary of the goddess. Close by the gate are the lingams of Sagareshvara and Sankateshvara. The great door is flanked by the sacred cosmogram of Shri Yantra. The sanctuary is dark, lit only by oil lamps on the altar. Inside the temple premises there exists a huge statue of a Lion. There are three recesses on the altar: the first one of divine gatekeepers (dvarapalas), the last one of Hanuman, and the central one occupied by the silver-masked image of goddess Sankatha Devi. Worshippers are allowed to touch the feet of the goddess, which is not common in other goddess temples.  Also, there are even nine temples of nine planets nearby to this Sankatha temple.  As per the local lore, the heroic Pandava brothers of Mahabharata had worshiped the presiding goddess of this temple during their exile into the forest.


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