I had always wanted to take my parents and grandparents on a Hindu pilgrimage but could not think of an ideal destination. After consulting friends and other family members, we decided to venture on a trip to Vindhyachal, a destination which was certain to please my parents and grandparents on this much-awaited trip.
Located in the Mirzapur District of Uttar Pradesh, Vindhyachal is where the famous Vindhyavasini temple is housed at making it a Shakti Peeth. The river Ganga flowing through this mesmerising city, and the internatonal date line which determines the Indian Standard Time (IST) line passes through Vindhyachal railway station. The Ashtabuja Devi temple, Sita Kund, Gerua Talab, and Kalikoh temple are a few of the main attractions of Vindhyachal.
Travel to Vindhyachal
There are many flights connecting Lucknow to most major Indian cities. Although there are trains available from Lucknow to Vindhyachal, I wanted this journey to be a comfortable and pleasant one for my family. Hence, I planned to get a car on rent in Lucknow with an experienced driver who was familiar with the routes. This indeed proved to be very convenient as we could decide on the time of departure and our itinerary. The driver was friendly and quite accommodating to our needs as we had a senior citizen on board. To accommodate all the family members, my father had to book a cab from Lucknow as we wanted to meet my uncle’s family and get them on board for the pilgrimage. After a small interlude, we booked cabs to Vindhyachal. The drive was amazing, and upon reaching, we checked into our already booked rooms. Completing the Parikrama of the temples surrounding the main temple was the first task on our agenda.
There are no direct flights to Vindhyachal, and the nearest airport is in Varanasi, which is about 42 km away. Vindhachal tops the list of ideal weekend getaways near Allahabad.
Overview and daily activities
The popular trikona parikrama includes visiting three temples. These are the Maa Vindhyavasini temple or the Goddess Durga temple followed by a visit to the Kali Khoh temple, an ancient cave which is about 6 km from the first temple and is believed to hae been built to mark the spot where the Hindu Goddess Durga killed the demon Raktabeejasur. The last temple is the Ashtabhuja Devi temple located at about 8 km from the Vindhyavasini temple.
Apart from the three main temples, the other major attractions include the Kankali Devi Temple signifying the skeleton form of Goddess Kali. The Shivashive Samooh Awadhoot Ashram near Gerua Talab represents the Bindu or the center point of the Sri Chakra.
Sita Kund was yet another must-visit place in Vindhyachal which the locals connect to the story of Goddess Sita returning from exile. Legend has it that when Sita was thirsty, Lord Lakshman shot an arrow to the ground, to create a spring. This spot is referred to as the Sita Kund today.
About 2 km from Vindhyachal is Ramgaya Ghat. The locals believe that it is where Lord Ram prayed after the demise of his father, King Dasharath. We visited all these places in two days and had a good time. My grandparents stayed back at the hotel while the rest of us visited the Ramgaya Ghat where people offered prayers by taking a dip in the River Ganga. The holy dip is believed to be a good omen and attracts hordes of pilgrims all year round.
Planning the visit and booking hotels for the night stay in advance is recommended. The place is overly crowded during the festivals, but one can visit any time of the year as the temples are open on all the days. Whenever you decide to visit, do enquire about the right time to start the parikrama. The locals are friendly and helped us with the exact time when the main temples remain open during the day.
How to reach Vindhyachal – cabs from Lucknow
There are many cabs available from Allahabad to Vindhyachal, and it takes approximately 2 hours to reach the destination via road. As Lucknow is the other place closer to Vindhyachal and is frequented by flights from the major cities, always book a reliable and affordable cab from Lucknow to Allahabad. Commuting from one temple to the other gets comfortable with a rental car along with an experienced driver, and it is especially helpful when one is travelling with a senior citizen. There are direct trains available to Vindhyachal but opting for cabs or rental cars will make the journey comfortable as the temples are few kilometers away from one another.
Distance and time taken
Distance from Lucknow to Vindhyachal is approximately 287 km, which takes about five and a half hours, while a drive from Allahabad to Vindhyachal takes close to two hours. The town is 8 kilometres from the city of Allahabad, and there are many local buses and cabs available. One can reach Vindhyachal directly from Allahabad or travel from Lucknow via Allahabad.