It is often argued that human belief knows no bound. It is an extension of devotion that makes miracles happen. The people of Kumaon have taken devotion to a next level. Here, in the Chitai temple, Golu devta – the god of justice, is bound legally to listen to the wishes of their devotees; provided it is made with a clear conscience.
Around 9 km away from the town of Almora, exists the most celebrated temple of Golu devta, known as Chitai Temple. Golu devta is the legendary mythological and historical God of the Kumaon region of Uttarakhand. Golu Devta is believed to be the incarnation of Lord Shiva. Cars and taxis with ‘Jai Golu Devta’ written on their windshield is a definite sign that you are in Kumaon. But just to make sure, you can also check the signboards or nameplates of the shops and houses. Every other sign board will read the name of Golu devta in one way or another.
Chitai Temple – Where devotees come with legal stamp papers!
The minute I walked in the temple, I was greeted with thousands of bells, stamp papers, and monkeys. This temple is an important religious attraction of the region. The shops outside display bells of various shapes and sizes. They also sell baskets of various offerings as a veneration to Golu devta. These baskets filled with puffed rice, milk, ghee and white cloth are always under laser spot of the monkeys in the temple premises, looking for food. A small walkway leads to the main temple complex where I saw an advocate offering his prayers.
At the entrance, I met Chandravalabh Tiwari, priest of the temple for last 20 years. He greeted me with a smile and put a ‘tilak’ on my forehead. I was very intrigued by all the bells and stamp papers and letters hanging over the temple premises. Upon asking, Chandravalabh Ji told me that Golu devta is regarded as the god of justice. Devotees worship the deity and ask for the justice on behalf of the injustice have been done to them. People who can’t afford the expenses of the court and legal affair, come to this temple in hope of justice.
The temple walls are covered with court stamp papers which are petitions from devotees who have not got justice from the court. People write letters to Golu devta and attach all the legal papers with it and tie it on the temple walls. When their prayers are answered, they offer a bell in propitiation to Golu devta’s mercy. I saw stacks of letters pinned to the walls and tied on the bells. From people asking for divine intervention in matters of land, houses and even in criminal cases; to government jobs. From scholars asking to pass the exam to a sister asking for her brother’s return from the US. I found these letters cute, innocent & funny. And some were beautiful enough to leave me in awe. I saw all the shades of helplessness, devotion, and faith wrapped in words and hanging over the wall as letters.
There is no historic evidence on the construction of the main building. It is believed that the temple belongs to the Chand dynasty of the 12th century. I couldn’t get a specific answer to exactly how old the temple is. All I got was this interesting mythological tale of the origin of this place, courtesy Chandravalabh Ji.
Golu Devta – The God of Justice
As the legend goes, once a king was hunting into the forest. He became thirsty and sent his servants to fetch water for him. In turn, the servants disturbed a lady deep in meditation. The lady was very beautiful and fierce. She confronted the king. The king became fond of the lady and married her. As the other queens of the king became jealous of the new queen, they stole the newborn child of the queen and replaced it with a stone. The kid was thrown into a lake where a fisherman found him.
Later, when the boy realized his true identity, he decided to seek on the injustice done to his mother. He goes to the lake with a wooden horse and tries to make the horse drink water from the lake. Seeing this the king asked the boy how can he make the wooden horse drink water at which the kid asked the king if a woman can give birth to a stone then the horse can also drink water. The king realized his mistake and accepted him as his son. The boy became popular for his justice and was regarded as Golu devta.
On completing his story, Chandravalabh Ji handed me a sheet of paper. Now, my secret desire of travelling the whole world rests safely within the walls of Chitai temple. The monkeys are my witness!
How to reach Chitai temple
Chitai temple is situated at a distance of 9 km from Almora. Regular taxis and buses are available from Almora to Chitai temple. Duration of the visit is approximately 2 hrs.
Almora, Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary, and Jageshwar are the nearby tourist attractions from Chitai temple.