The trek to Kunjapuri Temple is famous because it is a major pilgrimage site, plus it provides the opportunity to see the beautiful nature of the Himalayas. Shiva Priya Yoga Ashram is located at the top of the same mountain as this temple. There are many amazing trekking areas near us besides Kunjapuri Temple as well, making this ashram the premier destination for trekking and spirituality.
Many yoga schools in Rishikesh trek to Kunjapuri Temple for a sunrise yoga practice. They come to practice 108 sun salutations, which is a deeply spiritual and difficult practice. The students arrive at around 5am to begin their practice of sun salutations and to complete 108 rounds it can take more than 1 hour!
Research has shown that trekking in nature is very positive for the mind and soul. Being in nature can quickly clear your mind from any negative thoughts and bring you in harmony with yourself. People were meant to live in nature but these days people are mostly living in large cities and they have lost their connection with the environment. That is why it is so important to find that connection with nature again.
Trekking can also help you to become healthier because it is a great form of exercise. Compared to the busy city of Rishikesh, there is a lot more fresh air up in the mountains and this is the best place to practice pranayama (breathing exercises). Many traditional yogis used to go up into the Himalayan mountains for this exact reason.
Why is Kunjapuri Temple famous?
Kunjapuri Temple is one of thirteen Shakti Peethas (Power Centers) in the Shivalik Range of the Himalayas. There are only 3 Shakti Peethas in the Tehri district and these 3 Shakti Peethas, Kunjapuri, Surkanda Devi, and Chandrabadni, form a holy triangle. These temples are all significant places of pilgrimage for Shaktism, which is the goddess centered Hindu tradition. Kunjapuri Temple is dedicated to the worship of the Goddess Durga.
The Ancient Story of Kunjapuri Temple
The Short Version:
A burnt piece of the Goddess Sati’s chest fell at the location of Kunjapuri Temple, making it a holy and auspicious location.
The Long Version:
Goddess Sati married Lord Shiva but her father, King Daksha, was not happy about their relationship. Out of spite, the King organized a yajna, which is a gathering in which offerings are made to the fire god Agni, but did not invite Sati or Lord Shiva. When Sati realized this, she was very angry and decided to go to the yajna and confront her father. Lord Shiva tried to convince her not to go but she persisted.
When Sati arrived there and confronted her father, he publicly humiliated her husband Lord Shiva and out of humiliation Sati jumped into the fire and ended her life. Lord Shiva was so distraught by this that he destroyed the yajna and carried the remains of Sati’s body on his shoulder. Lord Shiva then began to perform the dance of destruction which had the potential to eventually destroy the universe.
Lord Brahma, who is the creator of the universe, felt that Sati’s body needed to receive proper cremation according to the Hindu Shastra otherwise she could not be reborn as the Goddess Parvati. Lord Vishnu was also concerned that Lord Shiva’s grief would destroy the entire universe. So, to protect the world and allow Sati to be reborn, Lord Vishnu took his Sudarshan Chakra (disc) and cut Sati’s body into small pieces. Lord Shiva continued to travel with Sati’s torn-apart body and the pieces began to fall in different locations. The final funeral rites were then performed by the gods to ensure Goddess Parvati’s reincarnation.
Sati’s chest is the piece that fell on the location of where Kunjapuri Temple stands today, which led to the great auspiciousness of this location.
Coming from Rishikesh
If you want to trek to Kunjapuri Temple from Rishikesh, most people take a taxi up the mountain and then trek down because otherwise it is a very difficult journey. The trek back down from Kunjapuri Temple to Rishikesh (Tapovan) is around 28km round trip and takes around 7 hours. Along the way you can see the beauty of the Himalayan Mountains and even visit Neer Garh waterfall!
Coming from Shiva Priya Yoga Ashram
At Shiva Priya Yoga Ashram you have the wonderful opportunity to live within the forests and to easily trek to beautiful locations nearby, like Kunjapuri Temple or Neer Garh waterfall. Shiva Priya Yoga Ashram is located around 10km from Kunjapuri Temple and it takes around 3 hours to trek to Kunjapuri Temple. This trek is much easier than coming from Rishikesh because the ashram is already almost at the top of the mountain, so most of the trek to Kunjapuri is flat or on a gentle incline. You can also take a taxi to the temple and then trek back for an easier journey, but it is not difficult to trek the full journey because of the location of Shiva Priya Yoga Ashram.
So, if you are interested in trekking to Kunjapuri Temple, try spending the night at Shiva Priya Yoga Ashram for a much more relaxing journey! You can also participate in the traditional yoga classes and eat some delicious yogic food, it really is the best option.