Baishnodevi temple in Balangir

Written by: Himanshu Guru, Kalinga TV

Balangir: Nature has bestowed Odisha with ample treasures. The serene landscape of western Orissa deserves a special mention. While Bolangir has a couple of well-known tourist spots, there are a few others that are relatively unexplored. Due to lack of proper promotion these sites hardly receive footfalls, although they have the potential to emerge as popular tourist hubs. The Vaishno Devi temple atop Matkhai hill on the outskirts of Bolangir is a little-known tourist destination; but those who have visited the place have been bewitched by its serene and divine environment.

If you feel like visiting a peaceful place couched amid verdant valleys and lush greenery and soaked in a divine essence, the shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi atop Matkhai hill is a place that can more than fulfill your desire. The picturesque landscape and the divine essence will offer you interminable bliss.


Matkhai Budha is the deity of Matkhai hills, the biggest landmark near Bolangir town. Even Matkhai Mahotsav, the national level drama competition named after the hill, is organised every year here by Bhumika, the leading theatre group of the town. The idol of God Matkhai (an incarnation of Lord Shiva) was there even before the temple was built. Legend has it that a rich man built the temple there after the God appeared in his dream. Yet the Vaishno Devi temple was built by the Mahanta of Narshing temple, Sri Brajakishore Sarandevji Maharaj in Bolangir. Later, while a Shanidev temple and a Vishwakarma temple were built adjacent to the Matkhai temple on the road point, a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva (worshipped as Jameshwar Mahadev) was also erected adjacent to the Vaishno Devi temple on the hilltop.


This place can be viewed as a replica of the famous shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi in Jammu. While there devotees travel 14 km to reach Bhawan, the main shrine, here you have to climb only 300 metres up the hill to reach the temple. Devotees love to utter the divine and popular slogan ‘Jay Mata Di’ to get rid of the pain during the journey. Three idols of Mahalakshmi, Mahasaraswati and Mahakali are there in the shrine while the Shivalinga in the other temple is a magnetic piece of work. Interestingly, you can have a bird’s eye of view of a major part of Bolangir town from the temple top and the scene leaves the onlooker awestruck.


Located on NH 201, the destination is around seven km from Bolangir town. Since the place is right on the road point, a well-built road leads you to the place, which is accessible throughout the year. Bolangir is the nearest town and cabs to the shrine are available from the town. Regular bus facility is an added plus for tourists. The nearest railway station is Bolangir. The nearest aerodrome is Tushra which lies at a distance of 30 km from here, although only private copters land here.

What to see

The priests of these temples live in the vicinity and so you can fix your time of visit to the shrine according to your convenience. You can drop in in the mornings as well as in the evenings and you can be sure to find a priest. But because this is a relatively unexplored spiritual destination, a small market from where you can buy stuff to offer the Gods is yet to start. So, be equipped before entering the shrine.


Blessed with natural beauty the isolated place is serene and heart-touching, not least because it is calm and quiet and the entire landscape is picturesque to say the least. But definitely it is not a picnic spot and no water course runs along the area. Though there is a tube well right beside the temple, the water is not safe for use. If you are heading towards the south on road, take a break here to refresh your mind.

If you are keen for a precious ‘darshan’ of the Mother Goddess and also want to enjoy the rich natural scenes, it is the right place to visit. Go and get blessed from Vaishno Devi Maa.


Kshetrabasi Dash, Priest of Vaishnodevi temple 

I hail from Shankara village near Binika and working as the priest of Vaishno Devi Maa temple (Matkhai) since its establishment in 2007. During Shivaratri, Kartika Purnima, Yama Dwitiya and all shankaranti days a number of devotees come here for darshan. I also take care of the worship in the Jameshwar Mahadev temple and the newly built Ganesh temple here. Scarcity of drinking water is the major problem over here.

 Mohan Pandey, Priest of Matkhai temple 

I have been a priest of the Matkhai and Banadurga temples as well as the Shani Dev and Vishwakarma temples for the last 10 years. I am originally from Bihar and live here with my family. Matkhai means Lord Shiva and in this temple Shiva and Shakti (Matkhai and Banadurga) are worshipped together as per mythological rituals.

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