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"Mata No Madh" : the temple of Ashapura Devi - the goddess who fulfils all your hopes

Dr. A K Chatterjee is a seasoned writer with more than 330 blogs in English and Bengali and 10 books mostly on travel, trekking and temples.

"Mata No Madh"

Reaching "Mata No Madh

Reaching "Mata No Madh

Ashapura Devi : Who is she?

The name "Ashapura" literally means "who fulfils the hopes" (Asha = hope; Pura = fulfil).

Ashapura Devi or Ashapura Mata (Mother) is the goddess who fulfils all the hopes of the devotees.

Goddess Ashapura is generally believed to be one of the several forms of Goddess Durga, the divine consort of Lord Shiva. Specifically, Ashapura Mata is often considered as an Avatar of Goddess Annapurna (again a form of Goddess Durga).

Though Ashapura Mata is the considered as the Guardian Deity of the Kutchch region of the state of Gujarat and is the most important Goddess in Kutchch, She is very popular and worshipped all over the western India including the states of Gujarat, Rajasthan, Maharashtra and beyond.

Ashapura Mata : Influence in Kutchch

Ashapura Mata is the "Kula Devi" (i.e. the Family Goddess) of a large number of Brahmin, Rajput (including the Jadeja Rajputs, the erstwhile ruling dynasty of Kutchch) and Vaishya families of Kutchch region. This list also includes some Sindhi families of Kutchch.

Ashapura Mata : Temples

Temples of Ashapura Mata are found mainly in Gujarat specially in Kutchch region, but are also present in Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Madhyapradesh and beyond.

One important temple dedicated to Ashapura Mata is situated in the island of Omkareswar, a famous pilgrimage town in Madhyapradesh.

Though the oldest temple of Ashapura Mata is situated at Ghumli (established in 1313 CE), the most important of these temples is situated at "Mata No Madh", a pilgrimage site in the village with the same name in the Lakhpat Taluka of Kutchch district in Gujarat.

"Mata No Madh" : the principal temple of Ashapura Mata

The road from Bhuj to "Mata No Madh"

The road from Bhuj to "Mata No Madh"

The gate towards the temple

The gate towards the temple

Shops along the path to the temple

Shops along the path to the temple

The "TORANA" or the main gate of the temple

The "TORANA" or the main gate of the temple

The temple at "Mata No Madh"

The temple at "Mata No Madh"

"Mata No Madh" : the principal temple of Ashapura Mata

"Mata No Madh" is a village situated about 105 km from Bhuj, the headquarters of Kutchch district. The road connecting the two is an excellent State Highway.

The temple of Ashapura Mata is obviously the principal attraction here.
Once you reach "Mata No Madh", take the path leading to the temple.
On the way to the temple you'll encounter the familiar scene as found in all major temples in India. A narrow lane leads to the temple. There are a large number of small shops selling a varieties of merchandise including things required for worshipping like flowers, fruits, different types of locally available sweets, yellow and red coloured sacred cloths and similar coloured threads for tying as a band in wrists etc.
Besides these, there are other things too for sale --toys, memorabilia like photos of Ashapura Mata and other gods and goddesses, dresses and dress materials and especially bangles of different designs and hues.
A large number of people, the majority of whom are ladies in colourful dresses are jostling at the shops.

The path soon leads to a big decorated gate or "Torana".
Once inside the gate, there is a sprawling enclosed area with a number of big buildings on either side. The temple of Ashapura Mata is straight ahead.

"Mata No Madh" : A touch of History

It is said that this temple was first constructed in the 14th century CE by two "Karad Bania"-s named "Aajo" and "Anagar". The temple was destroyed in a devastating earthquake in 1819 CE. The temple was reconstructed in 1823 CE by Sundarji Shivji and Mehta Vallabhaji, two rich men belonging to Brahma Kshatriya community.

The temple was again damaged in another major earthquake in 2001 CE, and was repaired again.

Mata No Madh : the temple

Temple of Ashapura Mata; "Mata No Madh"

Temple of Ashapura Mata; "Mata No Madh"

Decoration of the ceiling; "Mata No Madh" temple

Decoration of the ceiling; "Mata No Madh" temple

The Sanctum; "Mata No Madh" temple

The Sanctum; "Mata No Madh" temple

"Mata No Madh": the temple proper

The stone-built temple is fairly big (58 feet by 32 feet), and is constructed in Nagara style - the Antrum and the Mandapa (hall) with pyramidal roof in front and the sanctum with a 52 feet tall Shikhara (spire) behind. Pillars, walls and especially the inside of the roof are richly decorated.

The frames of the entrance door of the sanctum is golden colored with fine decorations. The door proper is silver plated, that too with exquisite decorations.

Ashapura Mata : the "Murti" or idol

A commercial photo of Goddess Ashapura Mata of "Mata No Madh"

A commercial photo of Goddess Ashapura Mata of "Mata No Madh"

Ashapura Mata : the "Murti" or idol

The idol of Ashapura Mata is "Swayambhu", i.e. Self-manifested. Actually it is a 6 feet tall triangular piece of rock, said to be found in Jashod in Marwar, Rajasthan. The base of this rock is 6 feet wide, and the upper portion gradually narrows down to a pointed apex.

The base of the triangle is the "feet" and the apex is the "head" of the goddess.
The "idol" is draped in a piece of red coloured cloth. The front of the top is the "face" of Ashapura Mata. There are 7 pairs of eyes, which is the special feature of the goddess. On closer look, it can be noticed that of the 7 pairs, the top 2 pairs of eyes are normal looking with white sclera and black iris, and the lower 5 pairs are opaque golden and without the black iris portion.
The idol is decorated with a number of golden necklaces around the "neck" and a huge golden crown at the top.

Though the self-manifested idol of Ashapura Mata in this temple is like this, in other temples the man-made idols of Ashapura Mata are different. There the idol is that of a standard Hindu goddess, 4 armed abd riding a lion. The upper two hands hold sword and trident, and the lower two are displayed in blessing (ASHIRBAD) and "Do not fear" (VARAABHOY) posture.

"Mata No Madh" : legends and myths

There ae several legends and myths associated with the temple of Ashapura Mata at "Mata No Madh".

In one of them, it is said that in 1762 CE during the attack by the Muslim ruler of Sindh Mian Ghulam Shah Kalharo on this temple, suddenly each and every soldier of Ghulam Shah turned blind. Ghulam Shah was totally at a loss, and on the advice of some of his generals he abandoned the attack and promised to donate a big bell to the temple.
It is said that immediately after this pledge by Ghulam Shah, all his soldiers got back their vision. In gratitude Ghulam Shah donated a big brass bell to the temple.

Another legend says that here in this temple Ashapura Mata appears before selected lucky few in the form of Goddess Kali, or in the form of a black cow.

The devotees believe that any person who even once visits this temple gets the blessing of Ashapura Mata and She takes care of all the requirements of the devotee.

Conclusion

"Mata No Madh" is a beautiful place for all, devotee or not. Moreover, if someone visits "Mata No Madh", one should also visit the "Jagora Ashapura Mata" in a cave in a small hill at a place called Jagora which is about 2 km from the village of "Mata No Madh".

© 2021 Dr A K Chatterjee

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