Shakti Peethas are dedicated to the various forms of Adi Shakti. In the Shakti Peetha there are Adi Shakti Peetha, Maha Shakti Peetha and Shakti Peetha as per Sankara Samhita of Sri Skanda Purana. In this article you will learn about the Shankari Devi Temple which is one of the 18 Maha Shakti Peetha.
Shankari Devi Temple
Shankari Devi is one of the four most important temples dedicated to Lord Shiva in Sri Lanka. It is one of the 18 Maha Shakti Peetha. The deity was being worshiped here more than 2500 years ago even before one of the first Kings, Prince Vijay, landed in Sri Lanka in 300 BC. It is believed that this temple was established by Ravana himself. He worshiped Goddess Parvati in the form of Shankara Devi.
It was one of the wealthiest temples in the South and had a large structure on the rock. Archaeological information states that there were three temples on the hilltop. The tallest Gopuram with the Indian Ocean in its backdrop had the statue of the main deity. The temple was a massive structure with around 1000 pillars and small mandaps.
Legends of the Temple
There is an interesting legend associated with Shankari Temple.The legend is from Tretayuga.
During Treta Yuga, Goddess Parvati got a desire to have a big and beautiful home.
She approached Shiva with shyness visible on her face and told him about her desire. Shiva responded in a very humble manner.
Shiva told Parvati he was Yogi of the Yogis, and had total control over his wishes and desire. For him, there was no difference between luxury and ordinary. Shiva decided to grant Parvati’s wish.
Shiva waved his hands and asked Vishwakarma for his help. Shiva wanted him to build the most luxurious palace ever seen to fulfill Parvati’s wish. Vishwakarma chose a beautiful location in Lanka and set up a magnificent palace, filled with gems and jewels, and cooled by water fountains.
Parvati wanted to do the Grihapravesh and flew to Lanka with Shiva to find a suitable Brahmin for the ceremony. They heard Ravana’s chant of Om Namah Shivaya, and Shiva was very pleased with Ravan and blessed him to achieve everything he desired.
Shiva selected Ravana to perform the Grihaparvesh ceremony. Ravana accepted the role and set a date for the ceremony.
Ravana performed the duties on the decided date and used all the correct shlokas and mantras. Parvati was very pleased with everything, and as Dakshina, she offered Ravana a boon. Ravana smiled at the offer and asked for the Palace as Dakshina because he had fallen in love with the palace. Parvati granted him his wish, but Ravana was very ashamed for asking for the palace. He immediately apologized to Parvati and asked her to live here and shower the region with her blessings.
Ravana built a giant temple here with intricate architecture solely devoted to Shankari Devi. The natural beauty around the temple was immense. The kingdom prospered with the blessings of the Goddess.
The trouble started when Ravana kidnapped Sita and brought her here. Shankari Devi became very angry and asked Ravana to return Sita to Lord Rama. Ravana did not accept this, and as a result, Shankari Devi left the island because of disappointment.
Later on, when Rama defeated Ravana, Vibheeshan was crowned as the ruler of Lanka. He prayed for Shankari Devi to return to the kingdom, live there, and bring glory again to Lanka.