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Kali Paltan Mandir of Meerut

A Temple Steeped in History

By Sandeep Rai

The Kali Paltan Mandir at Meerut, India
The temple of Augarnath at Meerut in the Northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh is a little-known place of worship but of great historical importance. It is significant not only for its religious significance but also for its distinctive role in India’s freedom struggle.

No one knows exactly when this temple was built. It is said the ‘shiv linga’ present in this temple emerged on its own – a miracle that has been attracting the followers of Lord Shiva ever since its inception. According to local priests, the great Maratha rulers used to worship here and seek blessings before proceeding with their victory processions.

A Favorite Place for the Army
During the British rule, the Indian army was called ‘Kali Paltan’ (black army). Since the temple is located close to the army barrack, it is also know by the name ‘Kali Paltan mandir’ (not to be confused with Goddess Kali). Its close proximity to the Indian army camps offered a safe haven for freedom fighters, who used to visit and stay here for their secret meetings with the officers of ‘Kali Paltan’.

The Revolt of 1857
There was also a well inside the temple complex that the soldiers use to frequent to quench their thirst. In 1856, the Government introduced new cartridges for their guns, and soldiers were supposed to remove its seal using their teeth. Since the seal was made of cow fat (cow is sacred in Hinduism), the priest disallowed them to use the well. In 1857, this triggered off a revolt against the British establishment by the Indian army that spread throughout Northern India and jolted the very roots of British rule in the country.

The New Avatar
Until 1944 this huge complex consisted only of a small temple and the nearby well. All this was surrounded by huge cluster of trees. In 1968, a new temple with modern architecture (with the old shivlinga very much there) replaced the old temple. In 1987, a huge hexagonal hall was built for the purpose of religious ceremonies and ‘bhajans’. In May 2001, a 4.5 kg gold plated ‘kalash’ (pitcher) was installed at the spire of the temple.

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