About the Temple
Maa Katak Chandi is the Ista Devi of the millennium city. Maa Chandi as she is known locally is worshipped as Bhubaneswari Mahavidya (Queen of the Universe) by the people of the city and is revered by the locals cutting across all religions. “Chandi Rana” ( Meaning- I swear by Goddess Chandi) is a common phrase that one comes across when interacting with a Cuttackite. The temple was built by Late Hans Panda a priest with the erstwhile King of Kanika, as of date the fifth generation priests (Sevayat’s) of Late Hans Panda’s family does the daily rituals of the Goddess. Like most of the temples of Odisha, the idol predates the Temple. In 2015, the temple trust in association with INTACH (Indian National Trust for Art & Cultural Heritage) made a blue print to renovate the temple and give it a face lift.
The temple’s popularity rose further when the grandson of Late Hans Panda, Late Dayanidhi Panda took over as the Head Sevayat. The present day temple was built in the year 1946 and the temple administration is managed by a management board comprising of eminent personalities of the city under the decree by the Honourable High court of Odisha. The descendants of the erstwhile King of Kanika, Raja Shriman Shailendra narayan Bhanjadeo was declared as the hereditary trustee and the descendants of late Hans Panda are the Sevayats of the Goddess by the Honourable High Court of Odisha during the same decree.
The legend of the origin of the temple goes something like this. One day Hans Panda- the priest with the erstwhile King of Kanika, was grazing his cattle at a barren stretch of land and he felt a strange sensation run though his body. Unnerved by the reactions within his body, Hans Panda nervously returned home and retired for the day. That night Goddess Chandi appeared in his dream asking him to dig her out of the land. It is believed that Maa Chandi was the presiding deity of the Gajapati Kings, who shifted base to Puri when Odisha and particularly Cuttack, the then capital of Kalinga was under constant attack from the invaders during the 16th Century. While shifting base, they had buried the goddess for fear of desecration at the hands of the invaders.
The next day he went to the King and narrated his story, the King gave him permission to dig the barren stretch of land, it is said that forty bullock carts of vermilion was excavated before the Idol of the Goddess, whom we worship as Maa Katak Chandi appeared. Subsequently , Hans Panda built the present day Maa Katak Chandi Temple and consecrated the Goddess, where she is worshipped to this day.
Durga Puja – is one of the main festival of the temple and during the Sandhi Puja on the day of Astami (Eight day of the sixteen day long Durga Puja Festival), Walking Catfish (locally known as Magura Macha) is sacrificed and offered to the Goddess as prasad. During the Sandhi Puja – The Goddess wears just jewellery sans any clothes in tune with the legend when Goddess Durga assumes the form of Goddess Kali. That’s the only time of the year when the Goddess when animal is sacrificed and offered to Goddess. The entire stretch of the sixteen day Durga Puja, Maa Katak Chandi changes her costumes and looks as per the rituals associated with the festival and devotees throng the temple to seek her blessings.
Kali Puja – Another Festival which is celebrated with much fanfare in the temple.