Shaktipītha, literally meaning – the seat of power, in Indian subcontinent stand testament to the essence of this civilization, the civilization which put mother over God, this civilization where the mortal remains of a woman have been enshrined for ages, to remind every woman that within her lies a goddess too. The Shaktipīthas take us to a time that is beyond our comprehension; on the walls of each shaktipītha temple stories from every age are etched; and on its sacred earth sādhakas fulfill their Sādhanā till date. Shaktipīthas unify our country and diversify our culture. They’ve contributed immensely to the society that has bloomed around them and the propagation and perpetuation of different branches of philosophy within Hinduism. Shāktism has subsequently, through these Shaktipīthas, contributed immensely to the emancipation and upliftment of women.
According to Hindu Purānas, the 51 Shaktipīthas were consecrated around the mortal remains of Sati, Shiva’s wife. According to oral traditions and written lore, Sati was the daughter of Daksha Prajāpati, who considered Shiva his rival. Sati being an incarnation of Ādi Shakti, despite Her father’s disagreement, married Shiva. To spite Shiva, Daksha organized a grand yajña, and invited all devatas, Brahma, Vishnu and other celestial beings, deliberately leaving out the invitations to His daughter and Shiva. Sati, being wilful and affectionate of Her father, insisted on attending the yajña, despite Shiva’s urging to not go. The result, as anticipated, was disastrous: Daksha Prajāpati, drunk on his arrogance, humiliated Sati in front of all present, by viciously insulting Shiva and disowning Sati. Sati’s indignant and enraged response to this grave offence was the sacrifice of Her own mortal coil by self immolating through Her yogic powers; what followed was the unleashing of Mahādeva’s rage: a dance of terror which spared none in its path. Shiva danced the terrible tandav, holding Sati’s charred body in his arms, which caused great cosmic chaos and forced Vishnu to intervene by blowing a discus into her body, and severing it into 51 pieces. Wherever a part of her body fell, the land became blessed and sacred. And Shiva retreated into the icy caves of his abode, awaiting the return of his beloved.
The Shāradā temple aka Shāradā Pītha (literally meaning – the seat of Sarasvatī, goddess of knowledge). The temple dates back to at least the Kushan period at the beginning of the first century. The temple was built in several stages withthe foundations and central structure built during the Kushan period, and later additions to the infrastructure throughout the centuries till the mighty king Lalitāditya Muktapīda of Karkota Dynasty. It was also a great centre of learning – an ancient University where students came from foreign lands to study various subjects. The temple was a prominent site for Kashmiri Pandits. The whole area was destroyed by the barbarian muslim invaders in Kashmiri valley. Sikandar Butshikan burnt down the university, killed thousands of Hindus – pujaris, Teachers and students alike. The temple never rose after its destruction at the hands of iconoclast monotheistic tribals.