At first, Chitai Golu Devta Temple may seem unassuming to you. But as you dig deeper, the miracles, mysteries, and reverence associated with this small temple in Almora, Uttarakhand might inspire a sense of awe and intrigue. The ordinary exterior of the temple belies the profound stories and great spiritual experiences that have unfolded within its sacred walls in the course of several centuries.
Crafted from stone and timber, the temple’s simplicity and elegance blend seamlessly with its natural surroundings. This unpretentious shrine has a way of drawing you in and exploring the hidden wonders that make it one of the most popular temples in Almora. Just step inside, and let the deity’s divine grace envelop you in a transformative journey of faith and spiritual awakening.
The locals will narrate you stories of miraculous healings, inexplicable phenomena, and answered prayers. The power of belief, the potency of faith, and the divine presence of Golu Devta come alive in the accounts of those who have experienced the temple’s grace. These anecdotes intertwine with the threads of devotion to keep devotees coming back to the temple, time and again.
Let’s delve deeper into the history, rituals, and legends associated with Chitai Golu Devta Temple. The information is authentic, based on the author’s firsthand accounts of his Almora journey.
Chitai Golu Devta Temple: An Overview
Chitai Golu Devta Temple is perhaps the second most important religious and cultural landmark in Almora, after the Nanda Devi temple. Nestled in the Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary, the temple celebrates and acknowledges the namesake deity, Golu Devta, the deity of justice. The deity is an incarnation of Lord Shiva who manifested as Gaur Bhairav. While you might find several Golu Devta temples in and around Almora, Chitai Golu Devta Temple attracts more devotees and pilgrims than them all.
- Affiliation: Hinduism
- Deity: Golu Devata
- District: Almora
- State: Uttarakhand
- Country: India
- Phone: 9012149175
As you inch closer to the Chitai Golu Devta Temple, the bells dangling from the ceiling of the temple’s verandah might surprise you. Well, devotees tie them as an acknowledgment when their wish is granted. Offering cloth, pagari, and shawl is also a custom. Interestingly, all these offerings need to be white in color because white represents purity. Another interesting custom related to the Chitai Golu Devta Temple is petitions written by devotees asking for divine help. Just step inside the Garbagriha, and the Golu Devta’s idol makes its presence felt riding a horse and holding a bow.
Golu Devata is the most revered Ista/Kula deity in the Kumaon and Garhwal regions. In Chamoli and surrounding areas, they call him Goreel Devta. According to the temple priest, a special 9-day pooja is arranged every year on the temple premises to honor the deity and seek his blessings. Attended by locals and tourists in large numbers, the pooja includes Paaths, Hawna, and Bhoj, with Halwa, Poori, and Pakauri offered as offerings. Think of Golu Devta as the Lord Ganesha of the region. Every public or personal ceremony in this entire region doesn’t get started before seeking his blessings.
Where is Chitai Golu Devta Temple? (How to Reach?)
You need to travel to Chitai village situated within the Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary to get to the Chitai Golu Devta Temple. If you start your journey from Lala Bazaar, as I did, you will be covering 9 km (2.5 mi) on State Highway-37 to be in the presence of Golu Devta. Chitai is a sleepy village surrounded by the lush Chir and Mimosa forests. You are free to hire a taxi from Almora if comfort is a priority. However, shared taxis and bus services are also available. The road is good all year round.
The Chitai Golu Devta Temple premises treat you to some ravishing views of the Himalayan ranges and a serene environment. You can spend a few hours here soaking in the views and exploring the village. Speaking of the local folks, they are simple, warm, welcoming, and ready to help. Just talk to them, and they’ll narrate stories of Golu Devta’s benevolence with great emotions. You can either bring offerings like bells, cloth, and pagri from Almora or buy them from a shop near the temple.
- Location: Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary
- Coordinate: 29.6170253754, 79.7012405396
- Address: Chitai, SH 37, Almora, Uttarakhand 263601
- Engagement Duration: 2 to 3 hours
- Distance from the Main Market Almora: 9 km (6.2 mi)
- Distance from the Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary Main Gate: 4 km (2.5 mi)
Chitai Golu Devta Temple: History & Legend
I failed to come across any documented history of the temple. And, when history is missing, legends and folklore kick in. Passed through generations, these tales strengthen faith, impart wisdom, and add mystique to the legend. An elderly, Pandit Shyam Prasad Sharma from Almora narrated to me one such folklore that links the temple’s origin to Golu Devta or Goljyu, as locals lovingly call him.
As the folklore goes, a king ventured into the woods on a hunting expedition when thirst struck him. When searching for water, his servants came across a beautiful young lady praying in seclusion. At the king’s behest, the servants disturbed the lady. Irked, she challenged the king to separate the two bulls who were at each other. But before the king proceeded, she separated them herself.
Impressed, the king married the lady and brought her to the palace. Everything was going smoothly until she bore a boy. In a fit of jealousy, the other queens had the boy tossed into the river who was later rescued by a fisherman. Strangely enough, the queens succeeded in convincing the king that the lady bore a stone, not a child. As the child grew up, he came to know about his royal ancestry.
The child decided to claim his rightful position in the royal household. So, he came up with an ingenious plan to this end. When the king was out in the woods hunting, he spotted the boy forcing a wooden horse to drink water. Upon enquiring, the boy flatly stated, “If a woman can bear a stone, then why can’t a wooden horse drink water?” Realizing his folly, the king embraced the boy, made him the king, and punished the evil queens. The boy was the Golu Devta, the beloved local deity.
Chitai Golu Devta Temple: Religious & Cultural Significance
The Chitai Golu Devta Temple is more than just a temple. I, rather, found it as a place where culture and faith come alive. So, here’s why this unassuming temple attracts devotees from far and wide.
1. Golu Devta: The Deity of Justice
As Pandit Shyam Prasad Sharma tells us, Golu Devta is the incarnation of Lord Shiva who resides here as Gaur Bhairav. Golu Devta answers prayers and delivers speedy justice as the region’s Ista and Kula deity. In the days gone by, the deity even resolved disputes whenever disputing parties approached him. Also, seeking his blessings in advance ensures that ceremonies go smoothly.
2. Belief in Miracles
While you can dismiss them as dogma, the locals firmly believe in the miracles of Chitai Golu Devta. For them, miracles aren’t just possible but inevitable here. Take, for instance, Seema Devi who came here in anticipation of a child after 15 years of marriage. Whether it’s about health, relationships, business, or personal struggles, the deity can offer divine intervention in every aspect of life. And, don’t be surprised if you hear stories of cancers being cured and mental health being restored.
3. Strange Offerings
One of the unique aspects of Chitai Golu Devta Temple is the tradition of offering bells to the deity. Whether you want a wish or your wish has been fulfilled, you can hang a bell here in either case, as an expression of your devotion or gratitude. If that doesn’t sound strange, then the petitions will. Devotees write down their wishes on paper (sometimes even on stamp paper) and hand over the paper to the temple authorities. As per the locals, Chitai Golu Devta often answers their prayers.
4. Festivals and Celebrations
The temple is a focal point for festivals and celebrations in the region. The temple hosts the “Golu Devta Mela,” an annual event that attracts devotees and culturists from the entire Kumaon and Garhwal regions, and beyond. Besides offering prayers, cloth, pagari, and shawl, they partake in processions and cultural performances. At this time of the year, traditions and customs come alive.
5. Cultural Identity and Community Bonding
For centuries, Chitai Golu Devta Temple has shaped the cultural identity of the region. Even today, it continues to do the same. I found it to be a unifying force, bringing the community together in times of joy, sorrow, and celebrations. The temple acts as a focal point for social interactions, fostering a sense of community, and strengthening the bond among the people. That’s the power of faith.
Best Time to Visit Chitai Golu Devta Temple: Weather
The weather in Chitai Golu Devta Temple is comfortable for most of the year, except for the wet season. So, you are better off visiting the temple from mid-April to June-end and from mid-September to early November. Here’s the yearly weather breakdown to help plan your vacation.
From May to June, the sky is mostly sunny with the mercury hovering around 25 degrees Celsius. Therefore, this is the best time to visit Chitai Golu Devta Temple and indulge in sightseeing, trekking, camping, and other activities in and around Almora. However, hotel prices shoot up during this time.
From July to August, the area receives 3000 mm of rainfall and the temperature hits 15 degrees Celsius. Even though there’s greenery all around, I advise strongly against planning your trip during monsoons. That’s because the risk of landslides and flash floods runs high in this region.
You can consider planning your Chitai Golu Devta Temple trip in the months of September and October. The temperature is pretty bearable, the sky is mostly cloudless, and crowds are fewer. Since this is the off-season, you can expect some great deals on stays and air travel.
The December, January, and February months are harsh, with the mercury dipping as low as -3 degrees Celcius. You should consider winter if you enjoy snowfall but can withstand brutal climates.
- *Temperature: In Celsius Degree, **Clear: In Percentage, ***Rainfall: In Inches
Chitai Golu Devta Temple: Things to Do
Chitai Golu Devta Temple is in close vicinity to Almora City, one of the most picturesque hill stations in Uttarakhand. The town offers a variety of activities and attractions for all ages and preferences. Here are the best things to do in Almora for an unforgetful trip, alone of with family or friends.
1. Explore The Local Heritage
You can take a stroll through the narrow, winding lanes of Almora’s old town to get up close and personal with its rich heritage. Historical landmarks, such as Kasar Devi Temple, Jageshwar Dham, Gananath Mandir, and Gobind Vallabh Pant Museum might take you into the realms of history while also treating you to the region’s architectural legacy.
2. Visit Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary
The very reserve that houses the Chitai Golu Devta Temple, Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary is worth exploring. Offering a tranquil escape into nature, the secluded sanctuary is home to 25 types of trees, 24 types of bushes, 7 varieties of grasses, and animal species like leopard, Himalayan goral, chital, musk deer, jungle cat, wild boar, and more. You can also scale the Zero Point viewpoint for panoramic vistas of Kedarnath, Chaukhamba, Trisul, Nanda Devi, Nanda Kot, and Panchachuli peaks.
3. Enjoy Nature’s Beauty
Almora is surrounded by breathtaking natural beauty. Take a drive to nearby viewpoints like Bright End Corner or Martola to witness panoramic views of the Himalayan peaks and the Kumaon Valley. Spend serene moments amidst lush forests and blooming gardens, rejuvenating your senses.
4. Shopping in Almora Bazaar
Explore the bustling Almora Bazaar and indulge in some retail therapy. The market offers a range of local handicrafts, woolens, rugs, and traditional Kumaoni products. Don’t miss the opportunity to savor local delicacies and traditional sweets.
5. Trekking and Adventure
Almora is a gateway to various trekking trails and adventure activities. Embark on treks to nearby destinations like Jageshwar, Binsar, and Kausani to explore scenic landscapes and experience the thrill of the outdoors.
6. Indulge in Local Cuisine
Delight your taste buds with authentic Kumaoni cuisine. Sample local dishes like Bhatt ki Churkani, Singori, and Bal Mithai, which offer a unique blend of flavors and culinary traditions.
7. Yoga and Meditation
Almora’s serene environment and spiritual ambiance make it an ideal destination for yoga and meditation retreats. Join a yoga class or retreat to rejuvenate your mind, body, and soul amidst the tranquil Himalayan surroundings.
Hotels to Stay
There is a considerable shape of cushy stay options to choose from in advance so that you can avail yourself of first-rate discounts and offers that you could now not get within the route of offline bookings. For a snug experience, advanced bookings artwork is a boon for you. And there are hundreds of options to choose from nearby temple, including the Shikhar Hotel, Binsar Eco Resort, and Savoy Hotel.
which offers cushy rooms, large and spacious bathrooms, nicely managed property, an exquisite staff, WIFI facilities, a private parking area, and a cute view that ensures that your every single time spent becomes acute memory.
The place welcomes you to enjoy the essence of divine love within the air of the place. The 2nd you enter the place, you will enter a first-rate realm providing your body, soul, and mind eternal bliss. Welcome to the place of Justice!
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