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07/Oct/2022

Location

Temple of Fourteen Gods – Chauddo/ Chaturdas Devta Mandir is situated at Old Agartala, Tripura. The area adjacent to the temple was also named Matabari.

 

The Chaturdas Devta Mandir

 

The fourteen gods or chauddo debota are the Kuldevtas or Kuldevtas of the royal family of Tripura. The Tipera Kingdom (Sanskrit: Tripura, English: Tipera) was one of the largest historical kingdoms of the Twipra people in north-eastern India.

 

According to the Chronicles of Rajamala in Bengali poetry composed during the 15th century, the kings of Tripura trace their ancestry to the mythical Chandra dynasty or Chandravansh. The religion of the Twipra tribe had 14 deities known as “Chibravi Mwatai” (in Kokborok language) and worshiped in a temple in Old Agartala, built by Twipra priests known as Chontai/Ochai. who oversee the festivals of Kharchi in accordance with the traditions.

The temple of 14 deities originally located at Rangamati, the capital of the state, which later renamed Udaipur after a king. When King Krishna Manikya Debbarma ascended the throne in 1760, he moved the capital to the old Agartala. The temple of 14 deities also shifted by making a temple at the present place.

 

The native Kak-Baroque language has the original names of 14 deities: Katar, Katar-ma, Burachha, Meloma, Khuloma, Subrai Raja, Lampra, Toi Bubgra, Sangrama, Harung Bubgra, Nangkhatai Bubgra, Bachhua Bubgra, Thunirok and Banirok, each of Prakriti represent one aspect of Around the 13th century when the kings adopted Hinduism and the title of Manikya, the deities assimilated into the Hindu pantheon.

Read More: Tripura Sundari Temple, Tripura

 

Today the fourteen deities called Prithvi (Earth), Uma (Parvati), Har (Shiva), Hari (Vishnu), Kumar (Kartikeya), Ma (Lakshmi), Bani (Saraswati), Ganesha, Brahma (the creator), Kamadeva (God of love), Samudra (the ocean god), Ganga, Agni (fire), and Himalaya (god of the mountains). The deities worshiped in the form of a head without a torso. For daily worship, three deities worshiped each day.

Chaturdas Devta Mandir

Significance of Chaturdas Devta Mandir

 

A unique feature is that only the heads of the idols worshipped, indicating tribal influence. All the deities  made of bronze except Lord Shiva, who is made of silver. The crescent symbolized behind the heads of the fourteen deities. The crescent moon, the symbol of the kings of Tripura.

Interestingly, the eleven deities brought out only during Kharchi Puja. The rest of the year they live behind closed doors. All the deities can be seen together only when the head is placed on a ceremonial seat during Kharchi Puja.

Chaturdas Devta Mandir

Although there are many legends behind the 14 heads, Kharchi Puja seems to be ritual worship of Mother Earth, which is reminiscent of its tribal origins. It  celebrated every year on the day of Sukalashtami in the month of June-July and lasts for seven days.

 

Interestingly, Kharchi puja occurs fifteen days after Ambubachi which is the menstrual period of the earth. This puja was a ritual of the purification of Mother Earth which was to be performed after menstruation.

 

Mythological Stories of Chaturdas Devta Mandir

 

Some general things are prevalent in relation to the establishment of the idol of the goddess. It learned that Maharaja Blessed Manikya decided to bring the Shivalinga or the symbol of Shiva’s linga (Swayambhuing or Swayambhunath) to his kingdom from the pilgrimage place Chandranath in Chittagong when he came to know about its divine grace and power.

 

Excavation began in full swing, but ultimately unsuccessful attempts made to remove it. One night the Maharaja saw a divine message in his dream that the Shivling cannot be removed from its place, instead, the idol of Tripura Sundari can be moved if he so desires. But there was a condition that the idol could be taken anywhere as far as possible till the next night and after dawn, it could not be moved in any way.

As per the divine message, the Maharaja arranged for the transfer of the idol of Tripura Sundari. The servants loyal to the king worked hard to bring the idol, but as the day progressed to a standstill, they forced to stop on the way. Maharaja Dhanya Manikya built a temple at that place and installed an idol in it. Later this place named Matabari.

 

Another story is that the present image of the deity actually found submerged in the water of Brahmachara near Matabari, the Maharaja saw a divine message in his dreams to save the goddess. After this, he built the temple, Chaturdas Devta Mandir.

Chaturdas Devta Mandir

History of Chaturdas Devta Mandir

Malabari is located about 3 km south of Udaipur city. Chaturdas Devta Mandir is built on a relatively small hill that is of convex shape, almost like a tortoise (thus also known as Kurmapith). The temple was constructed on the top of a tortoise-shaped hill. It is popular among the people of Tripura as the temple of Tripura Sundari, Tripura Sundari, or Matabari. Later the area adjacent to the temple also named Matabari. Currently, Block also supports the name Matabari.

 

Read More: Tripura Sundari Temple, Tripura

 

There is a big pond ‘Kalyansagar’ in the east of the Chaturdas Devta Mandir. This pond dates back to the period of Maharaja Kalyan Manikya (1625-1660 AD), that is, it dug at least 124 years after the establishment of the temple. It said that there was another large pond, to the north of the temple, stone-inscription specialist Chandrodaya Vidyabinod saw the signs and remains of the pond in 1903 AD.

Look It yet to be assessed as to when exactly (and by whom) the pond dug. But due to its proximity to the temple, it believed that the pond dug after the temple was erected and probably dedicated to the goddess Throwing light on this) Chandrodaya Vidyabinod quotes in his book ‘Silalipi Sangrah’, ‘It  believed that Maharaja Dhanya Manikya, the founder of the temple himself arranged for the excavation of the pond.’ To the north and east of the pond is ‘Sukhsagar’. Another pond to the west of the temple and ‘Sukhsagar Jola’ further west mentioned in the ‘Shilpi Sangrah’.

A replica of the 14 heads can be seen in the Tripura State Museum at Ujjayanta Palace in Agartala.

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