Dashain, the biggest festival of Nepal, has begun with the revellers establishing a holy vessel and beginning the worship of Navadurga on the day of Ghatasthapana. During the Navaratri (first nine days of the festival), people also visit temples of Navadurga, which are culturally called Shakti peeths.
Shakti peeths are holy momentous pilgrimage sites dedicated particularly to Goddess Sati or Durga or Shakti. There are some people who have strict definitions of a Shakti peeth, but in general, devotees consider all the temples of Devi or Durga or Bhagawati as Shakti peeths.
And, the city of temples, being true to its names, the Kathmandu valley accommodates many Shakti peeths. Here are nine major of them.
The Guhyeshwari temple is one of the revered temples in Nepal dedicated to Adi Shakti (the original power). This temple is not only a pilgrimage site for Hindus but also an equally holy destination for Buddhists. This temple, which lies on the eastern bank of the holy Bagmati river, around one kilometre northeast of the Pashupatinath temple, is recognised as one of the major Shakti peeths in the country. A body part of Sati Devi is believed to have fallen after her immolation at the exact spot where the temple is located now. This temple was supposedly built by King Pratap Malla in the 17th century.
The Dakshinkali temple is located at a distance of about 17 km south of Kathmandu. This temple is surrounded by the lush forest at the confluence of two streams. Thousands of devotees visit this temple to worship Goddess Kali with the hope that their wishes will be fulfilled by the goddess, especially on Saturdays, and Tuesdays. A special fair is also held here during the Dashain festival. During the Navaratri, many devotees sacrifice ducks, chickens, and goats.
One of the significant Shakti peeths located in Kathmandu is the Naradevi temple, also recognised by Nyata Maru Ajima by the Newa community. This temple, located between Chhetrapati and Kathmandu Durbar Square, is dedicated to Goddess Swetakaali. Every day, devotees come to worship the goddess and during the Navaratri, the temple is crowded by devotees. And, on the tenth day of the Dashain, Khadga Jatra is also celebrated at this temple.
Maitidevi is one of the famous Shakti peeths of the Kathmandu valley. This temple which lies between Dilli Bazaar and Gyaneshwar has been taken care of by the Vajracharayas for a long time. Though the temple is believed to be established during the time of Amshuvarma, the present Maitidevi temple was built only in 1711. Many devotees come to worship here, especially on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays with a belief that their desire will be fulfilled by Goddess Maitidevi. On the ninth day of Dashain every year, a fair is organised here. Animal sacrifices are also given on that day.
The Bagalamukhi temple is a holy shrine located in Patan. It is dedicated to Goddess Bagalamukhi, a form of Durga. There is a legend that people started worshipping Goddess Bagalamukhi after the goddess rescued the people living in the place who were tortured by a demon named Bagala. Any Thursday is taken as the day of Goddess Bhagawati. Therefore, most devotees visit this temple on Thursdays as well as during the time of Dashain as well.
6. Shobha Bhagawati
The Shobha Bhagawati temple is a significant Shakti peeth devoted to Goddess Durga in the Kathmandu valley. This temple is located on the bank of the Bishnumati. It is believed that worshipping Shobha Bhagawati will shower devotees with fortune. This temple is visited by many devotees during Dashain and Chaite Dashain.
7. Taleju Bhawani
The Taleju Bhavani temple is located in central Kathmandu, adjoining the Kathmandu Durbar Square. The temple is believed to have been built by then King Mahendra Malla in 1564. There is also a legend that Taleju Bhawani, a goddess with four heads and ten arms was originally a goddess from southern India, however later became the clan goddess of the Malla Kings, followed by the Shah dynasty. This temple only opens once a year on the ninth day of Dashain.
The Bhadrakali temple is a holy shrine of Goddess Shree Lumadhi Bhadrakali having three eyes and four to eighteen hands carrying a number of weapons. This temple is located on the eastern side of Tundikhel, near the Sahid Gate. This temple is also one of the most famous Shakti peeths in Kathmandu and is visited by numerous devotees every day and during the Navaratri.
Many devotees come to this temple to worship new vehicles as well.
The Bajrabarahi temple is one of the four Barahi temples located in the Kathmandu valley, dedicated to the boar-headed goddess on a human body or Matrika. This temple, located in the forest in Chapagaun village of Lalitpur, is a religious destination for both Hindus and Buddhists. This temple is believed to be constructed by King Shree Niwas Malla of Patan in the late 16th century.