The Durgiana Mandir or Durgiana Temple is a Hindu temple that is dedicated to Goddess Durga, one of the many Hindu Goddesses. It is also called the Laxmi Narayan Temple. Locals often refer to it as the ‘Seetla Mandir’ because there are temples dedicated to Sita Mata (another name for Goddess Durga). Constructed by Harsahai Mal Kapoor, the temple is based on the overall layout of the Golden Temple in Amritsar. Some people also call it the silver temple due to the carved silver doors that adorn each sanctum sanctorum in the temple complex. The main temple is comprised of the Durga temple that is set amidst a tank of water. Around the tank there is a walking path called the ‘parikrama’. This temple is also famous for smaller temples of Lord Krishna, Lord Vishnu, Hanuman and Goddess Sita. The religious significance of the site is also based on the belief that Luv and Kush, the sons of Lord Ram (an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, the protector) spent their early childhood with their banished mother Goddess Sita in the Ashram of Bhagwan Maharishi Balmiki Ji in Amritsar.
- Main Temple– The main temple of the Durgiana Mandir is located in the middle of the water tank. This can be reached via a bridge. The main gate of the temple is made from solid silver. It is about 12 feet high and 12 feet wide. On one side of the Darshni Deori (entrance platform for the temple) is an idol of Lord Ganesha, the elephant god and on the other one can see Goddess Durga. Towards the left of the temple is the Ram Darbar (a gather of Lord Ram) and on the right side, Radha-Krishan. Towards the rear of this central temple is what is called the ‘Har ki Pauri’ or the ‘step of the Lord’. There are a few steps that go down into the pond from where people can touch the holy waters. Here an idol of Lord Shiva sits in a divine and calm position. Flanking the sides are Krishna and Balram and Ved Vyas. This part of the temple is particularly well lit during the night making the entire experience a dazzling and mesmerizing one.
- Sarovar and Parikrama – The water tank (sarovar) in the middle of which lies the main temple is 542 feet by 528 feet. It is between 18 and 20 feet in depth. The sarovar is surrounded by a marble pathway that is about 7 yards in width. This is used by the devotees to take a round of the sacred main temple and to visit the various smaller shrines and idols that have been created alongside. There is also a bathing ghat for ladies.
- Bara Hanuman Mandir (Large Hanuman Temple) – This temple is located on the north side of the main temple. The temple is located in Amritsar since it was believed that Lord Hanuman visited this temple regularly. This was also the location where the leftover Amrit (water of life) was dumped into the soil after it was used to revive the brothers of Lord Ram when they were defeated by their Nephews Luv and Kush in the battle that ensued post the Aswamegh Yagya. It is said that someone who visits this temple daily will have all his or her desires fulfilled. The Hanuman idol in this temple is very large and showcases the viraat (larger than life) image of the God. There is a large room for recitation of the Ramayana (a holy book of the Hindus). Large flocks of people visit this temple during the 9 religious days called Navratras. Children are dressed up as Hanuman (called langoor) and paraded in the city roads and the procession with drums and songs ends at this temple.
- Mata Sitla Mandir – The temple dedicated to Goddess Sitla is more than 600 years old. It has the idol of Mata Sitla, also called Sitla Mata, a lion in brass and the ling of Lord Shiva. Towards the rear of this temple is an old beri tree that remains green through the year and is therefore worshipped by the devotees. This temple has been renovated by the Durgiana Committee in the last few years.
- Sat Narain Mandir – The idols of Sat Narain and Radha Krishna have been established in this temple. This is the first temple that you will come across if you enter the temple through the city side or the Lohgarh Gate. Here you can see the viraat (larger than life) avatar of Lord Krishna. There are 10 idols in this temple that depict the various great deeds of the Gods. These are the Tulya Dan of Rukmini and Satyabhama, Laxmi and Narayan on a snake bed in the ocean, Shiva narrating the technique to get salvation to Parvati, Chaitanya Prabhu reciting the Almighty, Dhruv getting to see Lord Vishnu, the salwation of Ahilya, the Narsimha Avatar of Lord Vishnu, the four sons of Brahma, Sabri giving a fruit to lord Ram when he was in exile and Maharishi Balmiki teaching Luv and Kush. This temple is also used to recite the story of Sat Narain on every full moon night.
- Goswami Tulsidas Mandir – At the extreme rear end of the parikrama is the temple of Tulsidas. A hand written copy of the holy book of Ramayana sits here too.
- Ved Katha Bhawan – This is a large hall with a stage. It has the seating capacity of about a thousand people. On festivals and special occasions, the stage is set and various mythological stories are depicted by devotees.
- Langar Bhawan – About 250 pilgrims and devotees can partake from the free meals that are served in the langar bhawan. The temple committee bears the entire cost of the food and maintenance of this place.
Free! Access inside the Durgiana Mandir is free of cost. The food at the langar or community kitchen is also served gratis to all the devotees and tourists.
- Best time to visit – The best time to visit the temple is between 7:30am and 9:30am in the morning or between 6:30pm and 8:30 in the evening. These are the times when soothing devotional songs are sung in the temple. In terms of the time of the year, the best time to visit is between October and March. October and November are also the months when festivities around the temple increase due to various Hindu festivals like Dusshera and Diwali. It is best to avoid a visit to the Durgiana Temple during the monsoon season (June to August). The marble flooring can get dirty and muddy with large number of people visiting everyday.
- Langoor festival – The langoor festival is another one that should not be missed. This is a time when children are dressed as langoors or miniature forms of Lord Hanuman and paraded in the streets. The procession culminates at the Durgiana Mandir at the Hanuman Temple.
- Food – There is free food available at all times at the langar in the Durgiana Temple. In addition to that, you can also purchase the most delicious dishes at the halwai (maker of indian sweets) inside the premises of the temple. The poori and the kara are not to be missed.
- Vendors – The path that leads to the temple has a line of shops. Here you can find various shops that sell artifacts related to the gods. You can purchase idols, religious books and devotional CD’s and DVD’s. Since the temple is a community place, there are also shops that sell local made toys for kids too.
- Crowds – The Durgiana Temple can get extremely crowded on festival nights. Hordes of devotees come to worship and pay their respects to the gods. It may be best to avoid the most crowded of all times.
- Footwear – Similar to the Golden Temple, footwear is not allowed inside. There is a designated area where you can leave your shoes. A token will help you get these back once you have visited the temple.
- Beggars – You are likely to be accosted by street urchins and beggars trying to palm off a few rupees from you. If you are not in a charitable mood, try and ignore them completely. If you do give into one, be prepared for a larger group to follow and pester you.
- Approach – There are two main approach options to the Durgiana Temple. The older and narrower one is the approach from Lohgarh Gate. While this was the main entrance at some point in the past, the Haathi Gate entrance has been renovated and is much wider and cleaner. Choose the Haathi Gate entrance for better comfort. It is also more hygienic.
- Tuk-tuk – The best way to reach the Durgiana Mandir is by tuk-tuk. You can hail one from the road and each one of the drivers is likely to know how to get to the Durgiana Mandir. The fare should not be more than INR 100 if you are staying in the central part of Amritsar.
- Rickshaw – A manned three wheeled cycle is a unique mode of transport in this small town. It will be a cheaper option but time consuming in comparison to the tuk-tuk.
- Private cab – If you are not on a budget and want to visit the temple in complete comfort, a private cab is the option to take. You can ask the hotel help desk to call on for you. These cabs will also wait at the temple gates and take you back to the hotel if you choose a round trip. There will be a waiting charge though, that you will need to negotiate.
The idea of creating the Durgiana Temple was conceived by Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya in 1920, The Hindu reformer and philosopher was instrumental in collecting funds for the project along with Harsahai Mal Kapoor and Nathu Mal Rang Wale.
- The Durgiana Mandir was built based on a design similar to that of the Golden temple because a hindu temple that was situated along the parikrama of the Golden temple was raised to the ground in order to build the entire Golden Temple Complex.
- Cows are considered to be holy by the Hindus. Don’t be surprised if you find stray cows roaming the streets when you are approaching the temple. Closer to the temple, you may actually find some people feeding the cows as a matter of worship.