Situated right on top of a hill near River Rusikuliya, Tara Tarini is one of the most important religious sites of Odisha. Out of the 51 shakti peethas, the Tara Tarini Temple is one among the 4 Adi Shakti Peethas. The temple is located around 25km from Berhampur of Odisha, the temple is one of the major religious centres of the state.
Goddesses Tara-Tarini have been regarded as the presiding deity(Ista-Devi)in almost every house in South Orissa. This important and famous Shakta Pitha is situated on a hill top at a distance of 30 Kms towards north of Brahmapur on the south bank of river Rushikulya. The height of the hill is approximately 708ft. and the total area spreading over 180 Acres of land. The hill is popularly known as Tara Tarini Hill(Parvata) and is surrounded by natural beauty .
The tale states that after the death of Lady Sati, Lord Shiva enraged in loss, danced with Sati’s corpse, resulting in scattering of the body parts in 51 spots across India. Each of these spots became a source of pure primal energy known as 51 Shakti Peeths and among them places where tantric power is greatest is referred as Adi Shakti Peeths according to the Shaktism cult.
Tara Tarini Temple is where her breasts fell, and the shrine here is also known as the Breast shrine. The twin goddesses Tara and Tarini are worshipped here. This shakti peeth is also known as Kalyani Dham. Another legend states that this temple is connected to a learned Brahmin Vasu Praharaja, who was a devotee of the Goddess. The two sisters Tara and Tarini who stayed with him for a few years, go missing one day. It is believed that the two sisters went up the Taratarini hill and disappeared from there. Praharaja couldn’t find them anywhere and was left in despair. That night he dreamed the sisters, who informed him that they are incarnations of Adi Shakti Tara and Tarini, and they also asked him to renovate the temple and worship the dieties.
In Mahabharata, the temple is a place where Lord Krishna and Warrior Arjun prayed to Bhadrkali for strength. The story around the temple and its origination goes back to as old as 250 BCE during the reign of Mauryan King Ashoka. The Kalingas worshipped Adi Shakti being Hindu and after getting defeated in the war with Ashoka spread Budhhism in this part of the kingdom. The temple has two deities one of gold and one of silver, Devi Tara and Tarini respectively with brass heads. The temple is built with ancient Indian Hindu architecture.
Worship at this important centre of Shakta cult has been continuing since time immemorial . The temple is built using Rekha style of architecture, and Goddess Taratarini was the principle deity of the rulers of Kalinga kingdom.
Shakti is the mother of Universe the highest primal power transferred to powerful Goddess representing the creative force, Matrika, later developed to Shakti or Prakriti under various names of Sati or Devi.