Tarapiṭh is a small temple town near Rampurhat in Birbhum district of the Indian state of West Bengal, known for its Tantric temple and its adjoining cremation (Maha Samshan) grounds where sādhanā(tantric rituals)are performed. The Tantric Hindu temple is dedicated to the goddess Tara, a fearsome Tantric aspect of the Devi, the chief temples of Shaktism. Tarapith derives its name from its association as the most important centre of Tara worship and her cult.
Tarapith is also famous for Sadhak Bamakhepa, known as the “avadhuta” or mad saint, who worshipped in the temple and resided in the cremation grounds as a mendicant and practised and perfected yoga and the tantric arts under the tutelage of another famous saint, the Kailashpathi Baba. Bamakhepa dedicated his entire life to the worship of Tara Maa. His ashram is also located close to the temple.
Tarapith is a small village on the banks of the Dwarka River in West Bengal. It is located in the flood plains amidst green paddy fields. It is a typical village of Bengal with thatched roof huts and fish ponds. The town is located 6 km from Rampurhat Sub-Division in the Birbhum district. Rampurhat & ‘Tarapith Road’ in Chakpara is the nearest Railway Station from Asansol. Agriculture is the main source of the economy. Business related to the religious offering and hotel and guest houses around the temple area are also an important source of income for the locals. The climate is dry and extreme. During summer, the temperature can shoot well above 40 °C and in winters, it can drop to around 10 °C.
History: There are several legends narrated on the origin and importance of this place, all related to the goddess Tara deified in the Tarapith temple. A well-known legend relates to the Shakti Piths. Sati, the consort of Shiva, felt insulted when her father Daksha did not invite Shiva to the great yajna “fire sacrifice” he organised. Unable to bear this humiliation, Sati gave up her life by jumping into the yajna fire. Infuriated by this tragic turn of events, Shiva went wild. Then, Vishnu, in order to pacify Shiva, decimated the body of Sati with his chakram. Sati’s body part fell all over the Indian subcontinent. The places where the body parts fell have become centres of worship of the Goddess in different manifestations. Vashistha had seen this form and worshipped the goddess Sati in the form of Tara.
Another legend narrates Shiva had drunk the poison that had emerged by the churning of the cosmic oceans, to save the universe. To relieve the intense burning in his throat, Sati – in the form of Tara – breast fed Shiva to relieve him of the effect of poison in his throat. Another local narration is that Vasishtha chose this place for the worship of Sati as it was already known as a Tarapith. Among piths, Tarapith is a siddha pith, which grants enlightenment, wisdom, happiness and siddhis (“supernatural powers”).
Another oral legend about the temple states that sage Vashishtha practised austerities to Tara, but was unsuccessful, so on the advice of a divine voice, he went to meet the Buddha – an avatar of Vishnu according to some schools ofHinduism – in Tibet. The Buddha instructed Vasishtha to worship Tara through the practices of vamachara. During this time, Buddha had a vision of Tarapith as an ideal location for enshrining the image of Tara in a temple there. Buddha advised Vasishtha to go to Tarapith, the abode of Tara. At Tarapith, Vasishtha did penance by reciting Tara mantra 300,000 times. Tara was pleased with Vasishtha’s penance and appeared before him. Vasishtha appealed to Tara to appear before him in the form of a mother suckling Shiva on her breast, the form that Buddha had seen in his divine vision. Tara then incarnated herself in that form before Vasishtha and turned into a stone image. Since then Tara is worshipped in the Tarapith temple in the form of a mother suckling Shiva on her breast.
*(All the above information are from Wikipedia.)
Airport: The nearest airport is Kolkata Airport which is located approximately 230kms from Tarapith.
Rail: Rampurhat Station 6 km from Tarapith is well connected Howrah Station and Sealdah Station through multiple Expresses as well as Local Trains.
Road: The Panagarh-Morgram State Highway runs through the Burbhum district and connects all the towns and villages within.
Local: Man Pulled Rickshaws, Auto Rickshaws, Taxis and State and Private operated buses are available for local transport.
Tourist Interest: Other places of interest near Tarapith are, Bolpur-Santiniketan, Bakreswar, Kankalitala, Labhpur, Nanoor, Joydev-Kenduli, Dubrajpur, Nalhati, Patharchapuri, Rajnagar, Hetampur, Kaleswar Shiv Mandir.
Hotels: Numerous hotels and Dharamshalas are available here. Some of them are Amantara Hotel, Sonar Bangla Hotel, Chakra Nayan Tara, Comfort Inn, Hotel Samrat, Hotel Binapani, Mukherjee lodge, Hotel Vaishist, Hotel Ma Tara Residency and many more. Tariff changes on a seasonal basis.