Chamunda is a little station on the Pathankot-Jogindernagar narrow gauge railway track. Theres the Chamunda Devi Temple here, right on the banks of the Baner River it is approximately 15 km from the town of Dharamsala. It is also a pretty picnic spot with a good view of the mountains, the Baner Khad (khad means hillside) and the Pathiar and Lahla forests.
The temple is dedicated to goddess Kali (a form of Shakti or power,
also goddess of war) in her wrathful avatar (form) of Chamunda. As with
so many temples in India, this one too has a legend to it. It has to do
with the two demons, Chanda and Munda, trying to harass the goddess
Ambika. The duo, followers of the notorious demon king, Shumbh Nishumbh,
once set out for the Himalayas with their chaturangini army. Upon
reaching here, they saw the devi (goddess) sitting high up on a peak,
smiling to herself. Chanda and Munda then flew their arrows at her.
Furious at this, Ambika knitted her brows and lo! From their folds
emerged this terrifying form of Kali, decked up in a cheetah skin sari
(long piece of cloth cleverly draped by Indian women) and a garland of
skulls. Kali fought all the demons singlehandedly and killed Chanda and
Munda. Pleased, Ambika declared that Kali would now be worshipped here
as Chamunda a compound of Chanda and Munda. That is how the
temple is supposed to have come up.
The Chamunda Devi Temple is said to be more than 700 years old. It is a
pretty big complex with even a kund (tank) where devotees take a dip.
The idol in the main temple is considered so sacred that even the eyes
of devotees are not allowed to touch upon it; it is kept completely
concealed beneath a red cloth. At the back of the temple is a cave-like
scoop where a stone lingam (phallic symbol of Shiva) under a boulder
represents Nandi Keshwar (Shiva). There are several brightly painted
figures of gods and goddesses around the place.