Manma Mata Temple is a holy and an ancient shrine dedicated to Mata Rani and is one of the important places of Hindu shrines in Kalakote tehsil. This shrine of Manma
Mata is situated inside a natural cave and has lot of religious significance. It attracts thousands of devotees every year especially during the festival of Navrataras.
Surrounded by many scenic places, lush green terraces and scenic Himalayan mountains covered with snow, Manma Mata shrine is situated at village Khargala, which is about 6 kms south of Kalakote tehsil on the Jammu-Rajouri road via Kalakote route in Rajouri District.
Over the last few years, a beautifully painted temple has also been built by the devotees of Manma Mata on the roadside near this shrine. Besides private vehicles, every passengers’ bus, tempo travel, sumo and other commercial vehicles stop here for a while to pay obeisance to Manma Mata and get blessings of Mataji in the form of parsad. This holy temple and shrine is greatly revered because of its spiritual powers as a result of thousands of devotees from different parts of Jammu region particularly the twin border districts of Rajouri and Poonch visiting it every year just to get blessings of Manma Mata Ji while paying offerings to the deity in the form of flowers, coconuts, vermilion, sweets and incense sticks.
Manma Mata shrine provides testimony to the cultural and historical past of Rajouri district. This region finds prominence in Mahabharata and is said to have been visited by Pandava brothers during their exile, who stayed for a long period at Panjnara village, which is an another historical place situated about 8 kms from this cave. It is believed that Pandavas worshiped and meditated here for a while to pay obeisance to Lord Shiva and Manma Mata. Moreover, other evidences can be found in the writings of Yuan Chawang – a Chinese traveller and writer, who has briefly mentioned Poonch and Rajouri in his writings along with the temples built there. He also mentioned the reign of Kambojas in 7th century.
According to the local folklore and legends, Lord Shiva had visited this scenic terrain through a cave which is located near the shrine. This cave is later believed to have been used by Lord Shiva for travelling to Kashmir.
An another legend says that Manma Mata herself came to this place and then meditated here for long time in the peaceful environment of this place thereby confining herself for many years in the cave.
A Local myth also says that once a bull fell off from the high mound where the cave is situated, but didn’t receive any injury and remained protected due to spiritual powers of Manma Devi. Ever since, this cave has been revered and worshipped by the natives of this region.
While interacting with Pandit ji, it has been revealed that there are several sanctum sanctorum in the form of “natural pindies”, dedicated to Goddess Shakti and her different incarnations such as Vaishno Devi, Manma Devi and Kali Mata are present inside the cave.
He also said, according to the legendary tales, Goddess Manma Mata alights on Earth from her heavenly abode and stays in her maternal abode in the mountains during “Navratras”. Since that period, traditional offerings and religious prayers are held which begins in lunar month of Ashvin with dates of various important rituals being determined in accordance to the Hindu Lunar Calendar.
This temple complex is best visited during the months of Navratri (April/September) when devotees from far and nearby come all the way to seek blessings of powerful goddess.
While Chaitra Navratri held in April ends with Ram Navami, celebrations of Sharad Navratri culminates with Dusshera and Durga Puja. Devotees of Manma Mata prefer to observe a fast during this period and refrain from alcohol, non-vegetarian food and other material pleasures.
A big Yagya is being held at this shrine every year on the eve of Navratras which is a major source of attraction. This festival of Navarati is quite famous in the region where thousands of devotees from far- flung villages and nearby places take part. The environs echoes with loud musical chants in praise of Manma Mata during this period and the ambience is totally electrifying and highly spiritual.
Moreover, it is a place of joyous festivities and celebrations during Navratri. With passion, devotion, faith and festivity in the air, devotees strive to seek blessings of the Goddess Manma Mata for knowledge, wealth, prosperity and other potent powers to face problems and hurdles in their life.
Devotees visiting Manma Mata Temple also like to go around and have mesmerizing experiences of its captivating lakes and beautiful hills. This region is appropriately known as the “Vale of Lakes”.
Moreover, the hot water spring, located about 5 km from this religious place is another major source of attraction for locals and tourists in Kalakote tehsil. It is not only famous among the locals and other parts of Jammu and Kashmir region but the tourists from Punjab and Himachal Pradesh also visit this place in huge numbers to get relief from the vaious orthopaedic ailments, which they believe to get rid of by taking a bath in the pool of natural hot water springs present over there.
How to reach
Devotees, visitors and tourists wishing to experience the spiritual enchantments of Manma Mata shrine can do so by availing regular bus services to the Rajouri district by Kalakote route from Jammu bus stand or from Srinagar to Kalakote by a special service of JKSRTC via Mughal Road. They can also hire taxies, tempo traveller or sumo which brings them to this beautiful hillside location.