Exploring the Sui Mata Temple – Relics of Chamba
Chamba is as much known for its unique art forms as for its numerous temples, each of which has some immortal tale associated with it. One such temple is the legendary Sui Mata Temple, in the serenity of which lies the history of Chamba.
The summer sun was shining bright when I decided to climb up to the famous Suhi Mata temple in Chamba – much visible from the lower edges of Chamba, a beautiful town in an extreme corner of Himachal Pradesh. I had been visiting the town often. And yet, each time I missed out on visiting this historic temple which was built in memory of the queen of Raja Sahil Varma, the famous ruler of Chamba. A young boy, Rajeev, who had come up to the temple alongside me seemed to be the only knowledgeable person around to guide me. I promptly latched on!
Architecture of Sui Temple
Rajeev willingly engaged and told me all about the Suhi Mata Temple. The main temple, divided into three parts, stood on a hill named Shah Madar. After climbing a series of steps, one can reach a small marquee that lies on the Saho Road. Once up at the marquee, another flight of steps takes one to a small stream, which further leads to the Sarota stream.
It is at this stream that the legend of the establishment of Chamba lies. It was but appropriate for me to be there and know more on the historic legacy of this town, which completed a thousand years of its establishment in 2004.
The Legacy of Chamba Town
During the course of discussion, Rajeev narrated that when Raja Sahil Varma established the town, he built a canal to meet the water requirements of the area. However, to his astonishment, he noticed that the water from the Sarota stream did not flow through the canal. Queen Sui was buried alive in a grave – and water started flowing in the canal! It is at this place that a small temple was erected in honor of the generous Queen Sui.The royal priests advised the king to sacrifice either his son or his wife, Queen Sui, in order to please the gods. According to another tale, the King had a dream in which he was asked to sacrifice either his son or his wife so that the much needed water could flow through the canal. When the king told his queen about the dream, she pleaded to be sacrificed so the life of her dear son would be spared. Queen Sui was buried alive in a grave – and water started flowing in the canal!
It is at this place that a small temple was erected in honor of the generous Queen Sui. The Sui Mata ka Mela is celebrated during the month of April – from the 15th of chaitra to the 1st of baisakh. It’s an occasion exclusively for the ladies, spanning four days of singing and dancing to honor the brave Queen Sui, who gave up her life for her subjects.The temple stands in the village Saho of the Chamba district. A fair is held every year at the temple to pay obedience to the queen who sacrificed her life for the sake of her people. The fair by the name Sui Mata ka Mela is extremely popular in the region and is celebrated during the month of April – from the 15th of Chaitra to the 1st of Baisakh. It’s an occasion exclusively for the ladies, spanning four days of singing and dancing to honor the brave Queen Sui, who gave up her life for her subjects.
A land of fairs and fairy tales, Chamba has many such offerings for those who can spare some time from their hectic schedules and enjoy the serenity that this devbhoomi offers.
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