India has no shortage of gods and goddesses – there’s somebody you can pray to for anything. Basic requests for luck, prosperity, success, and love are so passé; you can get blessings for the health of your cattle, the granting of a foreign visa, or extra mental prowess for an exam!
And then there are the gods and goddesses who have really specialized powers. There’s Sitla Devi who cures and protects from the pox; Golfa Devi, who sadly does nothing for your handicap or drive on the golf course, but provides definitive yes or no answers to any question. And then there’s the Kutiya Maharani, the doggess deity, who grants boons, especially where compassion and patience are concerned, like getting a loan or having a baby.
Off the highway in Jhansi district of Uttar Pradesh, between the two villages of Rewan and Kakwara is a unique shrine with an even more unique back story.
Rewan and Kakwara are two villages just off NH75, about 55 kilometres from Jhansi. They are separated by about 14 kilometres of road between them, but it’s shorter as the crow flies.
The story goes that there were many stray dogs in the area and they survived on foraging and the kindness of strangers. They were also smart and knew that when there was a daawat or celebration feast for a marriage or function in the villages, there would be plenty of scraps to scrounge through.
Back in 1997, this doggie, who lived between the two villages heard the festival drums beating from Rewan and ran to get her share of scraps. But, she was too late; the other dogs had already had them all; At that time, she heard the drums go off in Kakwara, and raced all the way to the other village. Alas, the feast was well and truly over by the time she got there, too. Tired and hungry, she started to head back to the first village, but halfway there, she collapsed from exhaustion.
Compassionate villagers buried here where they found her, but miraculously, they found that the next day a mound of rocks had appeared over the dirt of her grave. They cleared it, but it reappeared the next day; every time they took it apart, it got rebuilt. Eventually, they hailed it as a sign and offerings started to show up there. Soon, the villagers were asking for not only blessings but also boons. As these started to be fulfilled, news of the deified doggess started to spread and a shrine was built.
The shrine is very basic. A raised plinth of white washed stone has the legend written in Devnagri script pronouncing that the Maharani Doggess died here in 1997. On the platform is a headstone with an atavistic sculpture of a black doggie with tongue hanging out. Above it the text reads “Jai Kutiya Maharani Ma” roughly translated as Long Live the Queen Doggess Mother. On both sides of the headstone, you are told you have definitely reached “Revan Kakwara ki Kutiya”.
People come and ask for blessings daily; local women perform poojas and leave offerings religiously.
The canine is said to have died around Dussehra so commemorations and prayers are more plentiful in those days around Diwali, locals have said.
But you can stop off any time of the year, the deity is purported to be a symbol of patience, compassion, and hope.
The area has a handful of other more standard shrines, but this is certainly the largest draw. There are other temples to dogs, famously in Punjab and Karnataka, but they are more generally worshipful of dogs as guardians and protectors. This shrine, we believe, is the only one dedicated to a specific dog who really lived and died.
There are road signs to the shrine on NH 75 in Jhansi district. You should map
Take the road off NH7 toward Revan and Kakvara villages in Jhansi district. Once you find it, feel free to ask for whatever your heart desires.
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