The Indian system of beliefs refers to the female aspect of
divinity as Shakti - or the manifestation of energy. Parvati -
the consort of Shiva or Lakshmi the consort of Vishnu are
enshrined in temples and all over India. Some of these shrines
are referred to as Shakti Peethams, (or the sites where the parts
of Sati's body fell as in the legend of Daksha's yagna).
Others are ancient shrines closely tied to local legends and
Shakti, the mother Goddess, also known as Ambaa (mother), or
Devi (Goddess) is considered to be the personification of Cosmic
Energy in its dynamic form. It is believed that Shakti is the
power and energy with which the Universe is created, preserved,
destroyed and recreated (by the trinity of Hinduism Bhrahma,
Vishnu and Shiva).
Shakti is worshipped in several forms. As Rajarajeswari or
Kamakshi, she is the Universal mother. As Uma or Parvati, she is
the gentle consort of Shiva. As Meenakshi - she is the queen of
Shiva. As Durga, she rides the tiger, and bears weaponry. In the
angry and terrifying form of Kaali, she destroys and devours all
forms of evil. As Kaali, she is also the personification of time,
her dark form being symbolic of future which is beyond our
knowledge. Shakti is the mother of Skanda and Ganesha.
Shakthi Peethams are centers of Shakti worship, representing
sites related to the legend of Daksha Yagna, Shiva and Sati his
consort. Belief has it that Shiva performed the rudra tandava
dance, carrying the dead body of his consort Sati. The Universe
unable to bear the fury of the dance requested Vishnu to
intervene, and Vishnu used is chakra to tear the body into
several pieces, and bring down the fury of Shiva's tandavam.
The severed pieces of Sati's body are believed to have landed
in several spots across the region, and these are referred to as
Belief in Shakti or the feminine aspect of Divinity is an
integral (and popular) element of the religious fabric of the
entire subcontinent. Female guardian deities are revered in all
parts of India. The Shakta Agama deals with the worship protocol
adhered to in Devi temples. There is a shrine to Shakti, or the
consort of Shiva in virtually all Saivite temples throughout the
Tantric practices involving chants, gestures and yantras
(geometric shapes) also govern the worship of Shakti. Local forms
of Shakti, not conforming to Agamic or Tantric rules are also
widely prevalent throughout the length and breadth of the
In the Tamil speaking region, Ambaal - Amman temples and
shrines in Saivite temples as well as Maariamman temples are
highly prevalent, as are the Bhagawati temples in Kerala. Kaali
and Durga are popular deities in the state of Bengal. Kaali is
also revered as an exponent of dance, defeated in the art only by
Shiva at Tiruvaalangaadu (and in another legend at
The Kamakhya Devi temple in Assam as well as the Ambaji temple
in Gujarat have been popular centers of Shakti worship. The
Vaishnao Devi temple in the northernmost state of Jammu and
Kashmir as well as the Kanyakumari temple in the southernmost tip
of the Indian subcontinent have both been centers of Shakti
worship for centuries.
The Kalighat Kali temple in Calcutta in Bengal, is one of the
most visited temples in Eastern India, and is regarded as one of
the Shakti Peethams of the Indian subcontinent.
The Bhagawati temple at Kodungallur in Kerala is an ancient
one, enshrining Kali - also believed to be a manifestation of
Kannagi of the celebrated Tamil epic Silappadikaram.
Chamundeswari Temple built at Chamundi hills near Mysore
enshrines Chamundeswari the tutelary deity of the Maharajahs of
Mysore. The Kamakshiamman shrine at Maangaadu near Chennai is an
ancient temple and a popularly visited one. Here is a collection
of Shiva temples in Tamilnadu where the Amman (Ambaal or Devi)
shrine is of significance.
The Maariamman shrine at Samayapuram near Tiruchirappalli in
Tamilnadu is an ancient one, attracting thousands of pilgrims
from all over the state.
Mangala Gowri temple at Gaya This Upa Shakti Peetha temple
enshrining Devi at Gaya is a center of tantric worship.
Mookambika - Kollur: Rich in legend and tradition, this temple at
Kollur is closely associated with Adi Sankaracharya. Harashat
mata Temple at Abhaneri: In the village of Abhaneri near Udaipur
are several archeological remains from the yesteryears.