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Yogmaya Temple

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Yogmaya Temple

Yogmaya Temple
Main chamber (garbha griha) of the temple
Main chamber (garbha griha) of the temple
Yogmaya Temple is located in Delhi
Yogmaya Temple
Yogmaya Temple
Location in Delhi
Proper name: Yogmaya Temple
Country: India
Location: Mehrauli, New Delhi
Architecture and culture
Primary deity: Yogmaya
Architectural styles: Hindu temple architecture

Yogmaya Temple also known as Jogmaya temple, is an ancient Hindu temple dedicated to Goddess Yogmaya, the sister of Krishna, and situated in Mehrauli, New Delhi, close to the Qutb complex. It is widely believed to be one of the five surviving temples from the Mahabharata period in Delhi.[1] According to local priests this is one of those 27 temples destroyed by Ghazni and later by Mamluks and it is the only surviving temple belonging to pre-sultanate period which is still in use. Rajput King Hemu reconstructed the temple and brought back the temple from ruins. During Aurangzeb's reign a rectangular hall was added to the temple which is a witness of a failed attempt by Mughals to convert this ancient temple into a mosque which was later turned into a store room for Devi's vastra.Though its original(200-300B.C.) architecture could never be reformed after its deconstruction but its reconstruction had been carried out repetitively by the locals. Yogmaya or Jogmaya is considered, an aspect of Maya, the illusionary power of God.[2][3] The temple is also venue of a large congregation of devotees during the Navratri celebrations.

The present temple was built in early 19th century and is a descendant of a much older Devi shrine.[4] Adjacent to the temple lies, a water body, johad, known as 'Anangtal', after King Anangpal, and covered by trees from all sides[5] The temple is also an integral part of an important inter-faith festival of Delhi, the annual Phool Walon Ki Sair.[6][7]


Entrance gate from outside the Yogmaya temple

In 12th-century Jain scriptures, Mehrauli place is also mentioned as Yoginipura, after the temple. The temple is believed to be built by the Pandavas, at the end of Mahabharata war.[8] Mehrauli is one of the seven ancient cities that make up the present state of Delhi. The temple was first renovated during the rule of Mughal Emperor Akbar II (1806–37) by Lala Sethmal.

The temple lies within the Lal Kot walls, the first fortress citadel of Delhi, constructed by the Gurjar Tanwar chief Anangpal I around AD 731 and expanded by AnangPal II in the 11th century, who shifted his capital to Lal Kot from Kannauj.


Entry into the temple precincts

The temple built in 1827 is a simple but contemporary structure with an entrance hall and a sanctum sanctorum that houses the main Idol of Yogmaya made of black stone placed in a marble well of 2 ft (0.6 m) width and 1 ft (0.3 m) depth. The sanctum is 17 ft (5.2 m) square with a flat roof over which a truncated shikara (tower) is built. Apart from this tower, a dome is the other feature seen in the temple (pictured). The idol is covered in sequins and cloth. Two small pankhas (fans) of the same materials are seen suspended over the Idol from the roof. The walled enclosure around the temple is 400 ft (121.9 m) square, with towers at the four corners. Twenty two towers were built within the precincts of the temple at the orders of the Sood Mal, the builder. The floor of the temple was originally made of red stone but since then has been replaced by marble. The main tower above the sanctum is 42 ft (12.8 m) high and has copper plated shikara or pinnacle.[9][10][11]

The flowers and sweet meats offered by the Devotees to the goddess are placed over a marble table of 18 inches square and 9 inches height set in front of the idol in the sanctum floor. Bells, otherwise a part of Hindu temples, are not tolled during the worship of the goddess. Wine and meat are forbidden to be offered at the temple and goddess Yoga Maya is stated to be austere and exacting. An interesting display at the temple premises in the past (but now in an open wall panel) was an iron cage of 8 ft (2.4 m) square and10 ft (3.0 m) in height in which two stone tigers are exhibited. A passage, between the temple and the wall panel has flat roof which is covered with the planks overlaid by bricks and mortar and fixed with bells.[11]


Bells at the entry door

It is believed that the main idol in the temple was that of Yogmaya or Pure goddess, sister of god Krishna (according to Bhagavata Purana), an incarnation of god Vishnu. Kansa, cousin of Devaki (mother of Krishna) and uncle of Yogmaya and Kansa attempted to kill Yogmaya on Krishna Janmastami day when Krishna was born. But Yogmaya, who was cleverly substituted for Krishna, vanished after predicting Kansa’s death at the hands of her brother Krishna.[9][10][11] Another folk legend is that of Mughal Emperor Akbar II's association with the temple. His wife was distraught at the incarceration and exile of her son Mirza Jehangir who had fired from a Red Fort window at the then British Resident that had resulted in killing of the resident’s bodyguard. Yogmaya had appeared in her dream and after that the Queen praying for her son’s safe return had vowed to place pankhas made of flowers at the Yogmaya temple and in the nearby Muslim shrine of Qutbuddin Bhaktiar Khaki. This practice set since then is continued to this day in the name of Phool Walon Ki Sair, a festival held for three days during October every year.[9][10]

Another important fact about this ancient temple is that for more than 5000 years {i.e. the times when the said temple was built}, the people who live around this ancient temple have been taking care of the yogmaya temple. It is said and believed that all these people who are now more than 200 in number had one common ancestor at point in time who, hundreds of years ago started the practice of taking care of the temple by offering prayers to the goddess which includes doing the shingar of the goddess yogmaya twice a day, cleaning the temple, making and distributing prasad to the devotees visiting the temple and other related things. These 200 odd people who now take care of the temple carrying forward the customs and traditions of their forefathers do it voluntarily and amicably. This rich taste of colour and following of customs and tradition and the devotion seen in these people for the goddess Yogmaya is commendable.

Phoolwalon-ki-sair Festival

One of two punkah suspended in the sanctum above the idol of Yogmaya: one inscribed Delhi and the other inscribed Haryana, during Phool Walon Ki Sair, a syncretic festival of Hindus and Muslims held in October every year in Mehrauli

The annual Phoolwalon-ki-sair Festival (Festival of flower-sellers), which commences from the dargah of Sufi saint, Qutbuddin Bakhtiar Kaki also in Mehrauli, every autumn (Oct-Nov). First started in 1812, the festival has today, become an important inter-faith festivals of Delhi, and includes offering a floral punkah to the deity at the Yogmaya temple.[5][12][13]

Other Yogmaya temples

View of the garbhagriha


  1. ^ Yogaya near Qutb Minar Hanuman's tale: the messages of a divine monkey, by Philip Lutgendorf. Oxford University Press US, 2007. ISBN 0-19-530921-9. Page 253.
  2. ^ Jog Maya Temple Pilgrimage Centers of India, by Brajesh Kumar. Published by Diamond Pocket Books (P) Ltd., 2003. ISBN 81-7182-185-5. Page 67 .
  3. ^ Yogmaya Temple
  4. ^ Ancient Delhi, by Upinder Singh. Oxford University Press, 1999. ISBN 0-19-564919-2. Page 104.
  5. ^ a b DDA fails, HC gives private body a chance Indian Express, May 11, 2009.
  6. ^ a b Jogmaya Temple at Mehrauli Glossary of the Tribes and Castes of the Punjab and North West Frontier Province, by H.A. Rose, IBBETSON, Denzil Ibbetson Sir, Maclagan. Published by Asian Educational Services, 1996. ISBN 81-206-0505-5. Page 323."Based On The Census Report For The Punjab, 1883, By The Late Sir Denzil Lbbetson And The Census Report For The Punjab, 1892, By Sir Edward Maclagan And Complied By H.A. Rose."
  7. ^ Phool Walon Ki Sair India: A Splendour in Cultural Diversity, by Paulias Matane. Published by Anmol Publications, 2004. ISBN 81-261-1837-7. Page 129.
  8. ^ Yogmaya Temple
  9. ^ a b c R.V.Smith (2005). The Delhi that no-one knows. yoginis (Orient Blackswan). pp. 19–23.  
  10. ^ a b c "Phoolwalon Ki Sair". Retrieved 2009-05-05. 
  11. ^ a b c S.R.Bakshi (1995). Delhi Through Ages. Anmol Publications PVT. LTD.  
  12. ^ 'Phoolwalon Ki Sair' begins in Delhi The Times of India, November 2, 2006.
  13. ^ ...Indian secularism The Times of India, September 28, 2008.

External links

  • Historical places - Jogmaya temple
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