Lying at a small distance northwards from the very popular Naina Lake and located atop the Naina Hill, Naina Devi Temple is one of the most revered Hindu temples in India. The word ‘Naina’ in Hindi means eye and the temple is dedicated to Goddess Naina Devi that is represented by two large eyes on the face of Ma’s idol. The temple is also extremely popular amid the followers of Hinduism as it is one of the 64 Shaktipeeths.
It is probably the most popular temple of Nainital. The temple is visited by devotees in huge numbers as they believe that Ma Naina Devi fulfills all the desires of her followers. The surroundings around the temple are serene and enchanting.
It is believed that the temple was originally built during the 15th century that was probably destroyed during a major landslide and was re-built in the year 1883, when there was again a landslide in 1880. In 1842 also Moti Ram Shah had installed the idol of the temple’s residing deity along with the other ones. On the left side of the entrance of the Naina Devi Temple, there is a huge old Peepal tree and on the right, there are idols of Lord Ganesha and Lord Hanumana. Inside the main temple, there are 3 idols including Ma Kali, Lord Ganesha and Ma Nanina Devi.
At the back of the temple, there is a lake also, 93 feet deep and 167 yards wide. Since year 1918-19, the ritual of statue-immersion, same as it takes place in West Bengal, is organized here every year.
The legends state the first wife of Lord Shiva, Sati was the daughter of King Daksha. She had married the Lord against the wishes of her father. After sometime of their marriage, King Daksha organized a large-scale Yagna. He invited all but Shiva and Sati. Uninvited Sati landed at the event and had a word with her father. Unable to bear her husband’s insult, Sati self-immersed herself in the Yagna’s fire.
When Lord Shiva came to know of his beloved wife’s death, he was devastated. Broken-hearted, he carried Sati’s body in his arms and began to speedily walk all around the three worlds. To pacify his anger and save the earth from any destruction, Lord Vishnu unleashed his Chakra. Sati’s body was cut into 51 pieces that fell at different places on the earth’s landscape. The place where her eyes fell, we see Naina Devi Temple today.