The temple spring complex is affectionately known as Kheer Bhawani because of the thousands of devottees who have offered milk and 'Kheer' to the sacred spring, which magically changes colour, turning black which warns of disaster.
The temple of Kheer Bhawani is situated at a distance of 14 miles east of Srinagar against the background of natural sight near the village of Tula Mula. This temple, is located in the middle of a spring, around which there is a vast area whose floor has been covered with smooth and beautiful stones. In it exist large and old chinar trees beneath which the pilgrims sit or sleep on mats of grass. The colour of the spring goes on changing. While most of the colours do not have any particular significance, the colour black is taken as an indication for inauspicious times for Kashmir.
The legend associated with the temple goes that Lord Rama worshipped Ragnya Devi during his exile. After the exile period got over, Rama asked Lord Hanuman to shift the seat of the goddess. The seat of the goddess was brought by Lord Hanuman first to Shadipora and later shifted to the site where the temple now stands.
It is believed that it was the wish of Mother Ragnya that her seat be place at Khir Bhavani Mandir in Kashmir, India. And this wish was conveyed in dream to a pandit, Rugnath Gadroo. The temple of Ragnya Devi is called "Kheer Bhawani" because numerous devotees offer milk and kheer (Indian sweet dish) to the sacred spring. It is believed that milk and kheer turn to black color to warn of any impending disaster. Maharaja Pratap Singh got the temple constructed in 1912. Later, Maharaja Hari Singh undertook the repair and restoration work on the temple.
The eighth day of the full moon in May holds great significance for the devotees of Ragnya Devi. They fast on this particular day and gather at the temple in huge numbers.
It is believed that on this day, the goddess changes the color of the spring's waters. The Kheer Bhavani temple serves as the venue for an annual festival held in May-June, on the occasion of Jesht Ashtami. During this festival, a large number of Hindus visit the temple to seek blessings of the goddess. Another occasion on which the Kheer Bhavani temple gains special importance is Shukla Paksh Ashtami. On this day, havans/yagnas are performed to please the goddess.
The mention of Kheer Bhawani is found in Kalhana's Rajtarangini. Kalhana writes that the sacred spring ofTula Mula is situated in a marshy ground. The name of the spring is Mata Ragini Kund.
Maharagini is the form of Durga Bhagvati. The Brahmins of Kashmir worship this spring and pilgrims from every comer of the country visit to have the darshan of the place.
In Rajtarangini Tula Mula is considered very sacred and the Brahmins of Tula Mula were very great and powerful. The spring of Maharagya was very sacred. Thousands of years ago many floods occurred in Kashmir and the sacred spring of Tula Mula also was inundated under its sway and the holy place could nowhere be traced. All around was water. At last Kashmir's Yogi Krishna Pandit had a dream in which the goddess appeared to him and ordered that she would swim in the form of a snake at the proper place and that he should stick large poles and when the water subsided there the holy spot was discovered. This event happened during the Samvat 4041.
The mention of this temple is also found in Abu-i-Fazal's book Aini-Akbariin which is written that the area of Tula Mula extended over the area of hundred bighas of land, which got sunk in the summer season and formed into a marsh.
Swami Rama Tirtha and Swami Vivekananda also visited here to have the darshan of the place.
With the pouring of milk and throwing of sugar candy in the spring by the pilgrims, a thick and solid layer was formed at its bottom. When it was cleared, the ruins of an old temple and shrine slabs engraved with figures were discovered. Here many images were also found but nobody rebuilt the temple till the Samvat 1969 when Maharaja Pratap Singh who was the disciple and worshipped this goddess, got a marvellous temple of marble made in the midst of the spring which shines like a pearl in a shell.
Some people are of the opinion that there was a mulberry tree near holy spot of Kheer Bhawani which, in Kashmiri, is called Tul Mul. But Tul Mul is also derived from the Sanskrit phrase-Tul Muli-that is of great value. This means that all other pilgrim centres are of lesser value than this one. It is said that after Ravana finished the worship of the goddess he offered the kheer (rice pudding) to the goddess which she accepted and since then it is called Kheer Bhawani.
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