Rankini Temple (Temple of Rankini Mata) is situated on the Hata-Musabani state highway about three kilometers ahead of the mining town of Jaduguda in Jharkhand.
Rankini Mata is worshiped as a form of Devi Durga. This is one of the ancient and important pilgrimage sites of the East Singhbhum district of Jharkhand. However I found very little information about the history and origin of this temple. There is another temple of Rankini Mata at the nearby town of Ghatshila. It is believed that King of Dhalbhumgarh, Raja Jagannath Dhal had founded the temple of Rankini Mata. I am not sure if this is the same Raja Jagannath Dhal, who came to throne after the reigning king of the same family was attacked & defeated by the British Army led by John Fergusson in 1767, and finally estranged to Midnapore in West Bengal. Jagannath Dhal was also removed from throne later as he was unable to pay Rs.55,000/- yearly to British. Probably during this fiasco, the temple was shifted to Ghatshila town but the old temple at Jaduguda still remains.
Another story says that in ancient times the deity was founded by a local tribal man when he apparently noticed a bejeweled little girl disappearing in the forest. The same night Devi appeared in his dreams and directed him to set up the temple and start worshiping. There are tells but I did not find any concrete reference to establish as to when this temple was set up and by whom.
The current temple that stands is about 60 years old built around 1950 or later. The trust managing the temple was formed in 1954. Since it is fairly modern structure, no intricate stone curving or any other work of architectural or design excellence can be found. It’s a fairly simple structure and I could only see the gross cement bass relief work done in gaudy colours of various idols, with prominence of Durga on the main temple and the shikhara. Right over the main entrance there is a large bass relief work of Devi Durga with her four children in Mahishasura slaying avatar as is commonly seen at the pandals in Bengal during the Puja. On top of this, a panel depicts the various avatars of lord Shiva, as is the custom. The door pillars at both sides are adorned with ten avatars (Dashavatara) of Vishnu. Inside the sanctum there is no deity but a black stone that is worshiped as Devi Durga. The priests traditionally are all from Bhumij cast from nearby village of Sahada.
The main entrance of Rankini Temple
I would tend to believe the stone deity was originally worshiped by the local tribes, but later, through the passage of time transformed into Hindu Goddess Durga, probably when the Kings of Dhalbhumgarh took over. There is also this story that human sacrifices were once offered regularly on a stone slab, which was believed to be sacred and the seat of the deity. It is also said that the British intervened sometime during the year 1865 and stopped the ritual.
The whole day the temple is abuzz with devotees. People queue up to offer Puja right since morning from 6 PM when the temple gate opens up. The temple is right on the highway, the superstructure rising almost from the shoulder of the road leaving no space between the road and the temple. The devotees queue up on the narrow single lane highway. Being a mining area this road sees heavy movement of truck traffic. There is a huge queue everyday in midst of this and adding to the chaos people freely wander around and crowed up to buy puja items from makeshift shops on the other side of the road. I found the whole situation pretty precarious and a mishap is waiting to happen any time. I wonder if the authorities have any plans to make the place safer by at least widening and barricading the road.
The highway in front. Vehicles passing dangerously close to people in front of the temple
Ladies adorned in brightly coloured sarees wait their turn to offer puja
I am not a religious person by any means but what I liked is the abundant scenic beauty of the place. The hills, forests and the undulating landscape makes up the typical beauty, Jharkhand is famous for. There is a small hillock on the opposite side of the Rankini temple, housing a small Hanuman temple on the top. The hilltop offers a breathtaking panoramic view of the surrounding landscape.
A drive along the highway offers beautiful scenic beauty of the surrounding Dalma hill range. Just keep driving along the highway and you will see the undulating countryside and the blue hills on the horizon.
Scenic beauty along the highway near Rankini Temple
The temple is only about 30 KMs away from steel city of Jamshedpur and 12 kilometers from Galudih on the Howah Tatanagar railway. This place can easily be covered in a day trip from both these places. Public transport is scarce so you need to hire a car if you are coming from Jamshedpur. From Galudih you will get autorickshaws as well.
There is no place to eat near the temple. You need to visit nearest town Jaduguda for eateries. Choice will be limited though.