Tara Tarini Temple
Tara Tarini temple is one of the four Adi Shakti Peethas of the country and the most revered temple in the whole of South Odisha.
The image of Lord Buddha inside the sanctum sanctorum of the temple points to the fact that the temple may have been a seat of Mahayana Sect of Buddhism i.e tantric Buddhism.
According to folklore it was Adi Shankaracharya who after a prolonged effort established the Adi Shakti Peetha as a Hindu temple.
The temple is approximately 35 KM from Berhampur and 55 KM from Rambha. If you are travelling from Rambha – take the NH and proceed towards Berhampur and just the vice versa when travelling from Berhampur, at the Huma junction turn towards Purushottampur.
The temple is located on a hilltop – a climb of 3 KM on well maintained motorable hill roads. The temple gives a picturesque view of the Ganjam landscape with the Rushikulya River meandering along the foothills of the Tara Tarini hill.
One can take the ropeway to the temple and enjoy the scenery further (Rs.58/person for to and fro).
Chaitra Parba - is the most important festival of the temple and observed during each Tuesday of the month of Chaitra ( Month of March/April)
Where to Stay
Though one has the option of staying at either Berhampur or Rambha or Barkul, Tara Tarini does have a decent option should one want to stay near the temple.
The Tara Tarini temple is also associated with the Buddhist sect- It is believed to have been an important tantric seat for the Mahayana sect- who worshipped Tara.
The small image of Lord Buddha in a meditating posture, inside the sanctum sanctorum of the main temple and the Rock Edit of Ashoka found at Samapa (modern Jaugada) at a distance of 4 KM from Tara Tarini Hill addressing his officials to follow the path of Buddha while discharging their duties proves the point further.
The Mahavastu composed during the reign of Kanishka mentions the rise of a new unorthodox sect Mahayana or Tantric Buddhism. Mahayana emerged in the scene during the 1st Century B.C. and accepted into its fold all the prevalent practices and belief of both Buddhism and Hinduism.
Thus, Tantric Buddhism in its historical philosophical and social aspects, in its thought and resultant practices accepted and incorporated Hindu Tantra relating to Shakti worship.
Hence , the probability of worship of Tara , the primordial deity of the Mahayana Buddhist sect at Tara Tarini Hill and Tara Tarini as a famous Buddhist Tantra Pitha since time immemorial can be established on the basis of this hypothesis.
Near Tara Tarini Temple are two of the most unknown yet significant destinations which might not have much for a tourist but from the state's historical point of view are very significant.
Jagannath Temple- Marada
The other one is the Ashokan Rock Edicts at Jaugada ( latitude 19.31 N and Longitude 84.45 E) is located 5 KM from Tara Tarini Temple. Like the other Rock edicts, here the edicts were mainly about administration and general code of conduct of the Governing officials of the Mauryan Empire under Ashoka.
The Archaeology Survey of India under the supervision of Mrs. Debala Mitra had carried out the excavation in the 1970's , the excavation revealed the existence of an ancient square shaped fort with a moat, some earthen wares and coins along with other valuable artefacts were also recovered.
Jaugada contains eleven out of the fourteen well known rock edicts of Ashoka. It's believed that the thirteenth edict has been deliberately omitted as it describes Ashoka's conquest of Kalinga. Instead its replaced by two special edicts which are more of a conciliatory gesture towards the people of Kalinga.