Banni Mata Temple
Banni Mata Temple, also known variously as the Mahakali Banni Mata Temple, is located in Chamba District, a hill station in the State of Himachal Pradesh in north India. This temple is situated at a height of 8,500 feet, right at the base of beautiful Pir Pranjal Range in the Chamba Valley.
It is an ancient temple dedicated to Devi Kali, a goddess figure in Hinduism.
The temple is surrounded by deep forests at the foot of the Himalayas.
This is a pilgrimage place which hold a rich inclusion of flora and natural beauty.
Temple is famous as Shakti Devi Temple too.
It is near to Tundah village and just opposite to Mani Mahesh Peak.
The temple is named as Banni because this place has a lot of Ban trees or Oak trees.
The legend behind Banni Mata Temple dates farther back to the Mahabharata.
It is said that all the 5 Pandava brothers, having ruled their kingdom departed for the Himalayas.
While roaming in the Himalayas in search of Swarg, they reached somewhere near the Pir Panjal range.
Spring was setting in and they decided it was time to go a little higher and start farming for food.
So, they headed towards Charola.
While on their way up, they encountered multiple obstacles.
The mountains were difficult to walk on, snow was all over, there were treacherous slopes and crevices.
Suddenly, it started snowing.
One after another, four of the Pandavas and Draupadi succumbed to the weather and terrain.
As each one started dying, the others found a reason for his/her death in his karma during that incarnation.
All but Yudhishthira, who was known for his righteousness, did not died on the way and he reached Swarg.
When 4 of the brothers and Draupadi had died and Yudhishthira had reached Swarg, Draupadi, whose mortal flesh is believed to have been inhabited by Goddess Kali at times, appeared in the incarnation of goddess Kali.
It is believed a huge rock in high Pir Panjals at Charola split vertically to reveal 3 Trishuls, which can still be seen there.
After this, the goddess found her next home at Lyundi, at the base of the Pir Panjals and finally settled in the village of Banni.
Since then, there has been a temple dedicated to Banni Mata at this village.