Prof. (Dr.) R. D. Gupta
Kheer Bhawani is a temple dedicated to the Goddess Kheer Bhawani (originally just Bhawani), constructed over a sacred spring. The worship of Kheer Bhawani is universal among the Hindus especially of Kashmir. The temple is situated at a distance of about 23km east of Srinagar city adjacent to the village of Tula Mula. The term Kheer Bhawani refers to rice pudding that is offered in the spring to propitiate the Goddess which became a part of the name of the temple. As is the custom with Hindu deities, she has many other names such as Maharagya devi, Ragnya devi, Rajni Ragnya Bhagwati and so on.
Kheer Bhawani is the most famous and important temple for the followers of historical Vedic religion in Kashmir, known as Kashmiri pandits. A unique septagonal spring dedicated to Goddess Khir Bhawani flows from west (Sheer or head section) to the east (padh or feel). The holy spring is known to change the colour of its water with various hues of red, pink, orange, green, blue, white etc. which was noted by Swami Vivekanand also. A black shade of the water of Kheer Bhawani spring is believed to be inauspicious for Kashmir. In 1886, Walter Lawrance, the then British Settlement Commissioner for land, during his visit to the spring, reported the colour of the water of the spring to have a violet tinge.
In Rajta Rangini, Tula Mula and the spring of Kheer Bhawani have been considered very sacred and the Brahmins of Tula Mula are regarded notable for their spiritual power. It is believed that thousand of year ago, a large number of floods used to occur in Kashmir and the sacred spring of Tula Mula was inundated under its sway and the holy place could nowhere be traced. At last, Kashmir saint named Krishna pandit had a dream in which the goddess appealed to him and exhorted that she would swim in the form of a snake at the proper place and that he should stick large pole to demarcate the holy spot in the marsh land. Subsequently when the water subsided there, the holy spot was discovered.
Abul Fazal in his book “Ainiakbari” mentions the area of Tula Mula extending over a region of hundred bhigas (unit of land area i.e. two kanals one tenth of an hectare), used to sink in the marshy lands during the summer season. Swami Rami Tirtha and Swami Vivekanand also visited here to have the Darshan of the place.
Ruins of old temple
In the past ,with increasing offerings of milk and sugar candy in the spring by the pilgrims, a thick layer of offering had accumulated at its base. When it was cleaned, the ruins of the old temple and shrine slabs engraved with figures were discovered. Here many images were also found but nobody rebuild the temple till the Bikrami Era (Sambat) 1969 (Hindu lunar date) when Maharaja Pratap Singh who was the disciple of the goddess, got a temple of marble built in the middle of the spring which still shines like a pearl in a shell. The marble temple was completed in 1920s. Some people are of the opinion that there was a mulberry tree near holy spot of Kheer Bhawani which is locally known as Tul Mul. But Tul Mul is also derived from the Sanskrit word Atulya Mulya meaning great value. It is believed that Ravana, a great warrior and king of demons of Srilanka after his worship of the goddess offered her Kheer (rice pudding with milk) which she accepted and since then it is known as Kheer Bhawani.
Mentioning of Kheer Bhawani in Rajtarangni: The mention of Kheer Bhawani has been made in Rajtarangni by Kalhana .He writes that the sacred spring of Tula Mula is situated in a marshy ground. The name of the spring is the mother Ragini Kund (Mata Ragini’s pond). She is in the form of Durga Bhagwati. The Brahmins of Kashmir worship the spring and the pilgrims come here from every corner of the country.
Devotion of king Ravana to Mata Kheer Bhawani: It is believed that Maharagya was very much pleased with the devotion of Ravana and appeared before him and Ravana got an image of the goddess and installed it in Srilanka. However, the goddess became displeased with vicious and licentious life of Ravana and as such she did not want to stay in Srilanka. Therefore, she is believed to have instructed Lord Hanuman to get the image from Srilanka and install it at the holy spot of Tula Mula.
Area around the temple is covered with beautiful smooth stones. There are large old grown chinar trees and mats of grasses. While most of the colour do not have any particular significance, the colour of the spring water alters occasionally. When it became black /darkish, it is believed to be an indication of an inauspicious time for Kashmir.
Prof. (Dr.) R. D. Gupta