There was a time when the only way to seek blessings from Taradevi Mata was to trek through her jungle. With the road access now, search very few people actually walk up to this renowned temple on the outskirts of Shimla.
Many locals have an extreme fondness for this deity, and strongly believe that she protects her subjects, come what may. I happen to be her humble worshipper too and have been going to seek her blessings since childhood.
This Sunday, after more than a decade my husband and I decided to trek to the temple. The mere thought managed to arouse so much nostalgia and so many old memories. When you reach the base of the mountain, you will realize that the world might have taken a leap of ten years, but the trees and the jungle still stand just the same. They stand tall, proud, looking down on all of us.
A word of caution this trek is advisable for only those who are fit and definitely not for elderly and children below 8. The total distance of the trek is 4 kms and most of it is uphill, and through a jungle trail. This trek can be undertaken around the year. Just be careful of the running streams in monsoon and the snowy trails in winter.
There is no designated parking at the base so leave the car parked on the side of the highway at your own risk. And there are no shops whatsoever on the way so carry water, juice and a snack with you.
We started the trek at noon and the weather Gods were at their best behavior. On the whole trail we just met a handful of people otherwise it was the jungle and us. Not a soul around and almost pin drop silence. The first stretch of half an hour or so is a gradual slope that circles the mountain. Before you reach the half way mark the trail becomes more steeper, and a little tiresome. We took a breather at the half way mark, where the remains of a rain shelter with a broken hand pump could be seen. Surprisingly, there were four walking paths that diverged from here and no direction sign on any. All this while we were walking parallel to the Shimla Kalka highway, on the same side of the mountain.
We now started walking behind the mountain and the views started changing. The deodars were getting replaced by pine at same places and there were deep valleys and gorges below. Shimla looked like a beauty from here. By now it was getting tiring and the path seemed never ending.
Soon we reached the point from where one road bifurcates to the old Shiv temple and the other goes on towards the temple. Again no sign, just previous experience and memories to rely on. The jungle in this last stretch is mesmerizing, there are pockets which get very little sun and have huge ferns, in deep greens growing here.
We soon reached the point which most of you will be able to identify, the four mobile towers on the top of the mountain. The view from that point seems to transport you to a different world, forget your worries and let go of your fears.
But we had to move on, as the last and most treacherous part was still to be covered. Finally we reached the top and emerged from the old monkey reserve gate near the new Shiv temple.Took a breather and went to the new Shiv temple to pay our respects, and then walked towards the esteemed Taradevi temple. The energy of this seat of worship can be felt instantly. In a poetic verse, it seems as if you are being called into your mothers loving embrace. We did darshan and sought her blessings, and just marveled at the simplicity of the temple, and the humongous power of truth and divinity in front of us.
Every Sunday and on important occasion’s langar is organized here for devotees. The food is always delicious here and served with so much love, that it leaves you humbled.
At three we proceeded to walk towards the old Shiva temple and it was a first for me. It’s quite a distance and completely downhill. People will tell you stories of a babaji who used to meditate here almost two decades ago. And even in the deepest of winters he could be found only in a langot with ash smeared all over him. He was believed to be from South India, and a qualified engineer from Merchant Navy.
The temple has been renovated and the first thing you sense is the extreme peace and quiet in its proximity. It has the Samadhi of another saint who meditated right at this place. He was held in great regards by the local people, hence the small temple that they have constructed in his memory. You will also see an old cottage here in which a log burns continuously. It is believed that the babaji is in mediation here, and the ash from the log is supposed to be prasad for his followers.
After darshan the only thought that came to my mind was, the humanly effort it must have taken to take refuge in this jungle, when there was not even a path in sight. We started the descent at three fifteen sharp and the icy winds were telling us to hurry. On our way down we wondered about the jungle, Taramata and the day which was well spent. Four o’clock we touched base.
The trek to Taradevi temple was a magical experience for me, of devotion, faith and will power.