Nestled near Bhinmal town in the Jalore district of Rajasthan, the Kshemkari Mata Temple, also known as Khimaj Mata in the local dialect, stands as a testament to the rich tapestry of history, spirituality, and folklore. This article explores the enchanting tales and significance of this revered temple.
The Origin of Kshemkari Mata
In the heart of Bhinmal, there once stood a temple dedicated to Goddess Mahalakshmi atop the Kshemkari hill. Mahalakshmi Mata was the family deity of the Shrimaal community. The community held grand feasts in her honor, lighting ghee lamps to worship her. Over time, she not only became the family deity of the Brahmins but also found her place in the hearts of the Pratihara rulers of Bhinmal.
The Transformation of Mahalakshmi to Kshemkari Mata
Legend has it that the Pratihara rulers of Kashmir were plagued by a severe skin disease. Seeking a cure, they brought the Shrimaal Patan idol on a pilgrimage. It was during their rest in the garden of Naga Baba, located south of Shrimaal Patan, that a fortuitous event occurred. A dog stirred up a commotion, causing wet mud to fall on the king's feet. To their astonishment, wherever the mud touched, the king's skin ailment vanished, and his body turned golden. Kshemkari Mata became the family deity of the Pratiharas, thanks to this miraculous transformation.
King Jag and the Pratihara Connection
King Jag, inspired by the newfound deity, undertook various significant projects in Bhinmal. He ordered the construction of a grand lake, a formidable fort, and fortifications, leaving an indelible mark on the city. However, the 12th century witnessed the Chauhan rulers triumph over the Pratiharas in Bhinmal, leaving only the Chauhan dynasty to reign.
Historical Significance of Kshemkari Mata
Kshemkari Devi goes by various names locally, including Kshemaj, Khimaj, and Khinwaj. Her ancient temple, situated approximately three kilometers from Bhinmal on the Bhinmal-Khara road, continues to be a beacon of faith and devotion.
Local Names and Legends Associated with Kshemkari Mata
The region once suffered under the reign of a demon named Uttamauja who terrorized the people at night. Desperate for respite, the residents, along with Brahmins, sought the aid of Rishi Gautam. In response, the sage invoked Goddess Kshemkari through a sacrificial fire. She emerged from the flames and lifted the hill to imprison Uttamauja beneath it, as he was invulnerable to conventional weapons. The goddess's temple was established at this location, ensuring the demon remained buried.
The Replacement of the Ancient Idol
In 1935, the ancient idol of the goddess was replaced with a new one. This idol boasts four arms, each bearing a unique symbol: the eternal flame, a chakra, a trishul, and a sword. The temple's entrance is adorned with magnificent medieval architecture, and heavy bells grace its threshold.
Other Deities in the Temple
Besides Kshemkari Mata, the temple is also home to idols of Kala Bhairav, Lord Ganesha, and, on the left side, Gora Bhairav and Ambaji. The central platform hosts an idol of Lord Surya, while rest houses stand nearby to accommodate visitors.
Temples Dedicated to Khimaj Mata in Different Locations
Approximately 33 kilometers from Deedwana in Nagaur district, the village of Kathauti houses another temple dedicated to Khimaj Mata. Furthermore, in Basantgarh, another temple dedicated to Khimaj Mata, known as Khimel Mata, continues to be a place of reverence.
In conclusion, the Kshemkari Mata Temple in Bhinmal serves as a testament to the interweaving of history, legends, and spirituality. The temple's significance has evolved over the centuries, and its story continues to inspire and mystify. Whether you seek spiritual solace, historical insight, or simply a journey through the annals of time, a visit to this sacred abode is a worthwhile experience.