In October 2016, Sunaina and I decided to visit Mount Abu, a very popular hill station of Rajasthan. This place is famous for many extraordinary places such as:
1. Dilwara Jain temples, the finest Jain temples known the world over for their extraordinary architecture and marvelous marble stone carvings.
2. Adhar Devi Temple, dedicated to Goddess Durga. It is situated in a cave on the hill top inside a rocky cleave.
3. Gaumukh Temple, dedicated to Saint Vashisht. It is situated in a wild valley and is reached by going down over 700 steps into the forest.
4. AchalGarh Fort, where Achleshwar Shiv Temple is located. It was built in the 9th century..
The information available on the internet did not mention the MahaKali temple located on the hill top in the Achalgarh fort in Mount Abu. We stumbled upon this beautiful place and I am sharing our pilgrimage to this lesser known but very powerful MahaKali temple.
On the 3rd day of our stay in Mount Abu, we decided to visit Achalgarh Fort. I hired a motorcycle and we drove to the fort in the cool mountain breeze. Soon we reached the foothills of the mountain where the Achalgarh Fort was supposed to be located but we did not find any fort structure there. The owner of the sweet shop, where we had the delicious dal batti churma, informed us that nothing was left of the fort over the years and just a temple of MahaKali remained at the top of the hill.
I was intrigued to hear about the temple of MahaKali. I requested this person to share more details of this temple. He informed me that it is a temple in a small cave, precariously hanging over the side of the cliff. Other than the locals, tourists don't visit this place. I looked at Sunaina. She was ready for the adventure and we began to climb the stairs up the hill top. We did not meet anyone on our way up, except the numerous scary baboons.
After climbing more than 400 steps through thick forest, we reached the hill top and came to a small pond. We met a hermit there who happily greeted us and offered us hot tea prepared by him. He first took us to the small Ma Chamunda temple and we had darshan of the dark goddess in all her finery. Then he guided us to the side of the cliff.
We had to go down the hill, which was overlooking the valley and it was not even a proper track. One miss and we could end up taking the aerial route to the shop where two hours back we had the dal bhatti churma. Suddenly, the whole idea of coming up here did not seem to be a very sensible one. As if this treacherous fall was not enough, our guide, the hermit also left us at this point. But there was no turning back for us and we resolved to reach the temple.
Helping each other, we carefully went down the track and finally entered the cave where a huge idol of MahaKali was installed. We were mesmerized by the powerful form of the divine mother. It was much beyond our expectation. We lit the diya and sat down and recited the mantra of MahaKali 108 times and meditated for a while. As we sat there, the tranquility of the place empowered us. We could feel the presence of divine mother and felt blessed to be spending some exclusive time with her.
We wanted to stay there for some more time, but the descending sun and the thought of the walk back through the jungle brought us back to our worldly life. We bowed to Ma Kali, thanked her for bringing us there and we returned from an unexpected pilgrimage.