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Dunagiri

Dunagiri is a historic area in Almora district in the state of Uttarakhand in India at . Approximately from Delhi, a cluster of six small villages forms the place that is variously known as Dunagiri, Drongiri and Doonagiri. 116 such villages combine to form the Development Block of Dwarahat, which falls under the District of Almora. Ancient forests and pristine landscapes define the area which has been a favorite haunt of mystics, writers, philosophers and poets over the millennia. Located at a height of 8,000 feet (2,400 meters) above sea level, Dunagiri is famous within Kumaon for its temple of Shakti known here as Dunagiri Devi.

Dunagiri also has a distinctive importance in cultural history of India. Ancient history and folk-lore related to Dunagiri tells us it has been regularly visited by Rishi-Munis of India who established their ashrams here in the midst of nature[1]. Ashram of Garg Muni was at Dunagiri after whom river Gagas is said to have been named. Sukhdev Muni s ashram (son of sage Ved Vyasa) was also here, at a place now known as Sukh Devi . In the epic Ramayan, during Treta Yuga (prior to 3100 BC), when Lakshman was hit by the arrow of Indrajit, Hanuman saved his life by bringing divine herb sanjivani from this mountain which was then known as Drongiri or Dronagiri. During their period of anonymous travel, the Pandavas of Mahabharata took shelter at Dunagiri. Pandukholi is said to be the place near Dunagiri where they stayed for a period of time. Pandav s Guru Dronacharya also did tapasya (devout austerity) at Dunagiri. Dunagiri is mentioned in Manas khand of Skanda Purana. Dunagiri Devi is described as Mahamaya Harpriya (Manaskhand, 36.17-18).

In Creation, one can wonder if the element of Shakti is primary or that of Shiva? Is it right to emphasize Prakriti or should it be Purusha? Is it to be known as feminine or masculine? Questions of such nature are answered in Shwetashwet upanishad in the context of Dunagiri s twin peak-heads. In fact, this Upanishad is believed to have been inspired/composed at Dunagiri itself. The fourth chapter of Shwetashwet upanishad, pondering on divinity, takes inspiration from Dunagiri s twin natural peaks (one can see the twin rock pieces inside Dunagiri temple as well). Hence Manaskhand of Skandpuran bestows Dunagiri with the title of Brahm-parvat (Divine Mountain). Among all the Shakti temples of Kumaon, Dunagiri is counted amid the most ancient Sidh Shaktipeeth , as a primary ugra (intense) peeths - called Ugra Peeth . This shaktipeeth in its essence has been influenced over time by Shaiva, Vaishnav and Shakt practices.

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