Narayani Temple is a Shakti Peetha (Śakti Pīṭha) in Khallikote village in the Ganjam district of Odisha. A Shakti Peetha is the dwelling place of any of the manifestations of Goddess Shakti, in this case, Narayani. The temple is located near Chilika and Balugaon in the eastern part of Odisha. It is a famous picnic spot in Orissa with the deity enshrined on the Vallery mountain and surrounded by lush green forest.
If you are headed towards Chilika or Balugaon then Narayani is an ideal tourist spot to enjoy nature. Here is how the Vallery mountain looks like from a distance.
Highlights of Narayani near Chilika
- Picturesque drive/ride on hillside country roads.
- Pilgrimage destination and holy shrines on top of the hill.
- The origin point of a natural spring on the hilltop.
- A bathing pool of spring water.
- Jungle walk/trek, with a hidden temple inside the jungle.
- Several other tourist points nearby.
From the Chilika highway, you have to make a side turn and do a 4 km uphill ride to reach the destination. This drive/ride is a scenic one with trees covering the sides and the top of the road. Several hills would gaze at you from within the treetops. Also, you’ll hardly notice any traffic. Take a look. (Sorry about the shaky low res video, trying to improve)
After reaching the destination, you will notice a stretch of religious shops, and staircases to reach the shrine. There is a calm demeanor about the place, less crowd on most days without any hustle & bustle. There is pool filled with natural spring water that flows from the top of the hill. If you have spare clothes with you, you can take a nice cold bath here.
Many devotees believe Narayani is the ten-armed manifestation of Goddess Parvati and the sister of Lord Narayana. But this Quora post does a good job of explaining that it is an Origin term for all Hindu Goddesses. “Narayani” is the Adyashakti manifesting into numerous Goddess forms, the female counterpart of Lord Narayana.
Here is Narayani temple on the outside.
Hidden Temple of Banadurga
This destination also features another hidden temple of the Goddess Banadurga, located a bit higher up of Narayani temple. Banadurga is yet another ten-handed form of the deity Durga.
A 12-year-old Hindu priest-in-making led us there. You have to take this 2-minute brisk walk to Banadurga in the midst of the hilltop jungle. I took a moment here and captured the beauty of the Banadurga Jungle.
Banadurga literally means the manifestation of ‘Goddess Durga inside a dense forest’. And indeed, dense bushes and trees encompass the temple from all sides. The soothing sound of the fountain leaves busting in the breeze, and chirping of the birds surrounds the temple all over. It’s a treat to sit in the temple courtyard and let nature sink inside you. Take a look.
Adjacent to the Banadurga temple, there lies the local origin point of the fountain. The locals pride themselves with the notion that no one knows where this fountain originates on the Vallery, and this is as far as one can figure out. Take a look.
Narayani Temple near Balugaon is a beautiful place to spend a few hours of calm tranquility away from the city. During the winter months spanning from October to February, (especially during the Durga Puja), hoards of travelers visit here as a famous picnic spot near Chilika. It remains mostly uncrowded during the other months of the year, so you can plan your visit accordingly. It is advisable to club your visit to Narayani with several other Shakti Peethas and tourist attractions near Ganjam, Odisha, to make it a full-day tour. Also, you can have your lunch at the nearly Chilika Dhaba which is a famous seafood restaurant in Odisha.
While you are at Narayani or any similar Shakti Peetha in Odisha, support the local economy by buying something from the religious shops, perform a puja (sermon), donate any small amount to the temple, etc. It might cost you less than a hundred Rupees, but that is the locals’ significant source of livelihood.
How to reach Narayani
Narayani is extremely well connected via road and rail. The nearest airport is in Bhubaneswar, and the nearest railway station is Balugaon. If you are visiting from the city of Bhubaneswar, then you can take a 61 km drive or ride towards Chilika Lake on the National Highway-16, then you can head towards Narayani which is only 7 km away from Chilika on the same highway. It has a large entryway on the main road so it’s hard to miss.
When near Narayani, you can visit the other notable tourist places in Gajam as well, all located within a 20 km radius from each other. I’ll make a separate post about it soon.