Hinglaj ( ) is an important
Hindu pilgrimage place in Balochistan, Pakistan and Kuldevi
of Kshatriya Bhavsar Community. It is situated in
Balochistan province about 250 km north-west of Karachi.
When Lord Vishnu cut up the body of Sati into 51 pieces so that
Lord Shiva would calm down and stop his Tandava
, the pieces were scattered over various
places in the Indian subcontinent. It is said that the head of Sati
fell at Hingula or Hinglaj and is thus considered the most
important of the 51 Shakti Peeths. At each of the Peeths, Bhairaba
( a manifestation of Shiva) accompanies the relics. The Bhariaba at
Hinglaj is called Bhimalochana. The Sanskrit texts mention the part
as 'Brahmadreya' or vital essence.
In the Ramayana
, after slaying Ravana
, Lord Ram
Hinglaj to atone for his sin of 'Brahmhatya' (killing a Brahmin).
Ravana was a Brahmin
and a great devotee of
. Lord Ram meditated at Hinglaj as it was a very
The mantra or incantation for Devi Hinglaj is attributed to Saint
Dadhichi, an important saint in Hindu mythology. The mantra is
OM HINGULE PARAM HINGULE AMRUTRUPINI TANU SHAKTIMANAH
SHIVE SHREE HINGULAI NAMAH SWAHA
Translation : "Oh Hingula Devi, she who holds nectar in her self
and is power incarnate. She who is one with Lord Shiva, to her we
pay our respects and make this offering (swaha)"
Hinglaj is situated in the Balochistan province of Pakistan. It is
near the peak of one of the mountains of the Makran range. It is
approximately 120 km from the Indus River Delta and 20 km
from the Arabian Sea. The area is extremely arid and the pilgrimage
also called 'Nani ki Haj' by local Muslims takes place before
summer. The pilgrimage starts at a place near the Hao river which
is 10 km from Karachi.
signboard on M.C.H
The name of Hinglaj lends itself to the Hingol river, the largest
in Balochistan and the Hingol
which at 6,200 square kilometers is the largest
Since it is located in a desert which is called Maru in Sanskrit
, the shrine is referred in holy texts as
"Marutirtha Hinglaj" which means Hinglaj, the Shrine of the
The Makran Coastal Highway linking Quetta and Gwadar passes through
Balochistan. It was built by FWO and follows the same path which
Alexander took when he ended his campaign. The highway has made the
pilgrimage and visiting the shrine very convenient.
Despite the partition and the increasing Islamic stance of the
Pakistani Government and society, Hinglaj has survived and is in
fact revered by local Muslims who call it 'Nani ki Mandir'. Muslims
offer red or saffron clothes, incense, candles and a sweet
preparation called 'Sirini' to the deity . The Muslims protected
sites like Hinglaj which are the last vestiges of the Hindu society
which once straddled the area.
Hingula means cinnabar
Sulphide). It was used in ancient India to cure snakebite and other
poisonings and is still employed in traditional medicine. The
Goddess Hingula is thus believed to possess powers which can cure
poisoning and other diseases. The Muslim name 'Nani' is an
abbreviation of the name of the ancient Goddess "Nanaia", whose
Persian name is "Anahita".
Although the road linking the port of Gwadar on the Arabian Sea
with the interior has shortened the pilgrimage a lot, the ancient
path followed for millennia through the Baluch desert is endowed
with a unique importance. The very journey on foot is considered a
penance to purify oneself before approaching the deity. An account
of such a journey is given below.
The pilgrims are led by priests or caretakers of the shrine through
the desert. They hold a wooden trident in their hands. The trident
or Trishul is the weapon of Lord Shiva and hence is associated with
the Sati too. Since they hold the trident during the trip, they are
called 'Charidaars' (Those who hold the stick or Chadi). The Chadi
is draped with saffron, red or pink coloured fabrics.
The priests give a saffron cloth to every pilgrim and an oath is
taken that each would help the other. However they are warned not
to share their personal stores of water. This act is deemed to be a
sort of fast and penance necessary for the journey.
On the path to the shrine are situated wells which are guarded by
the local tribesmen. Feuds over water, a scarce commodity, is
common in the area. The tribesmen are offered food consisting
primarily of Roti (circular flat disks of baked flour) in lieu of
An important stop during the pilgrimage is the mud volcano called
'Chandrakup' (literally 'Moon Well'). It is considered holy and is
addressed as 'Baba Chandrakup' The volcano is filled with mud,
instead of magma, hence the term "mud volcano". It is considered to
be the abode of Babhaknath. It is one of the few sites of active
volcanic activity in the Asian mainland. The mud is semi fluid and
sometimes it spills over and aggregates and cools into hillocks
which surround the site. There are altogether 18 mud volcanoes in
Pilgrims stay up all night at the base of the volcano making Rotis
which are offered to the volcano. The activity is considered to be
very holy. The ingredients, flour, ghee (clarified butter),
jaggery, sugar are mixed on a cloth which is held at all times at
four corners by pilgrims. This is done to ensure that it never
touches the ground. The prepared Rotis are covered with wood.
At daybreak, the Rotis are carried by the pilgrims and priests to
the mouth of the crater. A Chadi or Wooden Trident is planted near
the edge of the crater and offerings of incense and cannabis are
made along with recitation of 'mantras'. The rotis are then tore up
and cast into the crater.
After this ritual every pilgrim is asked to confess his sins and
ask for forgiveness. Anyone who refuses or hesitates to confess to
his or her sins is ostracised and abandoned by the party. After the
confession, the party proceeds with the permission of 'Baba
Reaching the Shrine
The pilgrimage continues for another four to five days after
leaving Chandrakup. The final stop is a small village with wooden
houses. It is home to the caretakers of the shrine and Baluch
tribesmen who revere the deity even though they are Muslims. Before
entering the shrine, the pilgrims bathe in the Hingol (also called
the Aghore) river. The shrine is situated on the mountain on the
other bank of the river. The pilgrims bathe and visit the shrine in
their wet clothes.
The Shrine's Mark
The shrine is recognised by a mark which resembles the sun and the
moon. This mark is upon a giant boulder at the top of the hill
containing the cave. It is believed that Lord Ram created this mark
with the strike of his arrow after his penance ended.
The shrine is called 'Mahal', a word of Sanskrit
origin which means palace. The natural
beauty of the shrine has spawned folklore that it was constructed
by demigods called 'Yakshas'. The walls and roof of the cave are
encrusted with colourful stones and semi-precious veins. The floor
is also multi hued.
The entrance to the cave is around 50 feet in height. At the end of
the cave is the sanctum sanctorum , which houses the holy relic. It
is covered by red clothes and vermilion. There are two entrances to
the sanctum. One has to crawl into the sanctum, take the 'darshan'
and leave through the other opening. Prasad is distributed to the
pilgrims and they return after seeing the Milky Way atnight.
Hingula Pithas in the Subcontinent
Although the Hingula shrine in Balochistan is considered to be a
true Shakti Peetha, other shrines dedicated to the goddess exist in
India and Sri Lanka. One important shrine is located 14 km
from Talcher in the state
of Orissa in
King Nala of the Vidarbha region of Western India was
an ardent devotee of Devi Hingula. He was approached by the King of
Puri for help. In order to start cooking 'Mahaprasada' for Lord
he had to procure Devi Hingula
as fire for the temple kitchen. The Goddess agreed and moved to
Puri as fire.