Devidhura Mela – A Unique Festival in Uttarakhand

Devidhura Mela

The Devidhura Mela is a vibrant and unique festival that captivates locals and tourists alike. This annual event, held in the small town of Devidhura in the Champawat district, is not only a celebration of cultural heritage but also a fascinating spectacle of traditional practices that have been passed down through generations.

A Glimpse into the History

The Devidhura Mela is deeply rooted in mythology and tradition. It is primarily associated with the Varahi Devi Temple, which is dedicated to Varahi Devi, an incarnation of Goddess Durga. Legend has it that the temple and the festival date back to the time of the Pandavas from the Mahabharata. According to folklore, the festival began as a ritual to appease the goddess and seek her blessings for a bountiful harvest and protection from evil forces.

Map of Devidhura

How to Reach Devidhura

Devidhura is well-connected by road, making it accessible from various parts of Uttarakhand and beyond. Here are some common routes:

  • By Air: The nearest airport is Pantnagar Airport, approximately 180 kilometers away. From the airport, you can hire a taxi or take a bus to reach Devidhura.
  • By Train: The nearest railway station is Kathgodam, about 150 kilometers away. From Kathgodam, you can hire a taxi or take a bus to Devidhura.
  • By Road: Devidhura is connected by road to major cities in Uttarakhand. Regular bus services and taxis are available from places like Haldwani, Nainital, Almora, and Champawat.

The Abode of Maa Barahi Devi

Devidhura’s very name translates to “Abode of the Divine Door.” The village is famed for its ancient Maa Barahi Devi Temple, dedicated to a powerful manifestation of the goddess Durga. Believed to be built in the 11th century, the temple’s architecture is a testament to the region’s rich heritage. The legend associated with the temple claims that the Pandavas, the heroes of the Hindu epic Mahabharata, once used the giant stones scattered around the temple complex for a game.

A Celebration Unlike Any Other

Forget flower garlands and devotional chants. The Devidhura Mela, held on the auspicious day of Raksha Bandhan (festival of bonds), is a display of unwavering faith expressed through a playful (and sometimes vigorous) exchange of…stones! Yes, you read that right.

Two groups from different clans engage in a mock battle, hurling stones at each other while protecting themselves with large wooden shields. This age-old practice, known as Bagwal, is believed to appease the Maa Barahi Devi, the presiding deity of the Devidhura temple.

Witnessing the Thrill

The Devidhura Mela is a sight to behold. The air crackles with excitement as participants, fueled by devotion and camaraderie, engage in the playful battle. The rhythmic chants and the vibrant energy create a truly unique atmosphere.

Beyond the Stones

Devidhura is more than just the Mela. The village itself boasts the ancient Maa Barahi Devi Temple, a beautiful example of Kumaoni architecture. Surrounded by lush forests and breathtaking mountain vistas, Devidhura offers a serene escape for those seeking tranquility.

Is it Safe and Ethical?

The Devidhura Mela’s unique stone-pelting tradition can spark curiosity but also raise questions about safety and ethics. Here’s a deeper look at these aspects

Safety Measures

Traditionally, the stones used were quite large, raising concerns about injuries. Thankfully, the practice has evolved. In 2013, the Uttarakhand High Court intervened, advocating for the replacement of stones with softer alternatives like fruits. This significantly reduced the risk of injuries while preserving the essence of the ritual.

Ethical Considerations

The tradition has its share of critics who question the glorification of violence, even if symbolic. However, supporters argue that the Mela is a deeply ingrained part of the local culture and a demonstration of unwavering faith. Participants view the “injuries” as blessings from the goddess.

Finding the Balance

The Devidhura Mela is a complex tradition, that balances cultural heritage with safety concerns. The shift to using fruits is a positive step, demonstrating the ability to adapt while respecting tradition.

Making an Informed Decision

If you’re considering attending the Devidhura Mela, familiarize yourself with the festival’s customs and the recent changes implemented. Remember, it’s a cultural experience, not a competition.

Ultimately, the decision to participate as a spectator or avoid the Mela altogether rests with you.

Planning Your Visit

Devidhura is located approximately 45 kilometers from Lohaghat in the Champawat district. While basic accommodation is available near the temple, plan your visit keeping the specific dates of the Mela in mind, which usually coincides with Raksha Bandhan.

So, if you’re looking for an offbeat travel experience that blends cultural immersion, historical intrigue, and a touch of adrenaline, the Devidhura Mela in Uttarakhand is an adventure waiting to be explored.

Nearby Attractions

Abbott Mount

Abbott Mount quaint hill station near Lohaghat offers panoramic views of the Himalayan peaks and lush green landscapes.

Mayawati Ashram

Mayawati Ashram Located near Champawat, this spiritual retreat is associated with Swami Vivekananda and provides a peaceful environment for meditation.

Banasur Ka Kila

Banasur Ka Kila historic fort near Lohaghat offers insights into the region’s history and breathtaking views of the surrounding hills.


The Devidhura Mela is more than just a festival; it is a cultural and spiritual journey that offers a profound connection to the traditions and heritage of Uttarakhand. Whether you are drawn by the unique Bagwal ritual, the vibrant cultural displays, or the serene beauty of the region, this festival promises an experience that will stay with you long after you leave. So, mark your calendar, plan your visit, and immerse yourself in the enchanting world of Devidhura Mela.

FAQs About Devidhura Mela

1. What is the Devidhura Mela?

The Devidhura Mela is an annual festival held in Devidhura, a town in the Champawat district of Uttarakhand, India. The festival is primarily associated with the Varahi Devi Temple and is known for its unique ritual called Bagwal, where participants engage in a traditional stone-pelting event.

2. When is the Devidhura Mela held?

The Devidhura Mela is held in August on the day of Raksha Bandhan. The exact date varies each year based on the Hindu lunar calendar.

3. What is the Bagwal ritual?

Bagwal is a traditional stone-pelting ritual that takes place during the Devidhura Mela. Two groups of participants throw stones at each other in the temple courtyard as a symbolic act of sacrifice to the goddess Varahi Devi. The participants use wooden shields for protection during this ritual.

4. Is the Bagwal ritual safe to watch?

While the Bagwal ritual is a significant part of the festival, it can be intense and potentially dangerous for those too close. It is advisable to observe the ritual from a safe distance and follow any instructions from local authorities.

5. How can I best prepare for my visit to the Devidhura Mela?

  • Arrive Early: To secure a good spot and fully enjoy the festivities.
  • Stay Safe: Observe the Bagwal ritual from a safe distance.
  • Respect Customs: Show respect for local traditions and practices.
  • Stay Hydrated: Carry water and stay hydrated, especially if spending a lot of time outdoors.
  • Plan Ahead: Make accommodation and travel arrangements in advance due to the high number of visitors during the festival.

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