The reputation of the Nilgiris as a sacred mountain has been recorded in history. According to legend in the 18th century one glance at the Nilgiris hills would suffice to cleanse a man of all his sins. It was said to be the belief of the people in the surrounding plains that the hills were the abode of Gods and no one who went up would return alive.
For the indigenous people of Nilgiris mountains and peaks continue to be sacred and objects of worship.
Similarly, the 10 day Durga Puja underway at Kolkata has an interesting mythological connection with the Nilgiris which not many are aware.
According to the book, ‘The Constant and Changing Faces of the Goddess: Goddess Traditions of Asia’, one legend links the beginning of the Kalighat temple, where the Durga Puja is held, with a devotee named Brahmananda Giri who was meditating to Goddess Kali, alone in the Nilgiri hills. As the Goddess would not appear to him he decided to commit suicide at which point the Goddess appeared to him with an assurance that she would never leave him unless he asked her to go. Later another devotee is believed to have joined him and Goddess Kali decided to take them to the site of her future temple.
She gave them a stone to hold and close their eyes and next moment they found themselves at Kalishetra. Following the instruction of the goddess, they travelled north and installed the stone at the present Kalighat and started worshiping her giving rise to the widespread Kali worship.
Later, the devotee Brahmananda Giri is believed to have lost Goddess Kali’s presence when he did not recognize her in her disguise as a beggar girl and told her to go away.
Nilgiri Documentation Centre