When I got spooked by Kali !

The door to the Amter Mata Temple opens noiselessly and I hesitate before stepping into a large courtyard. It is three in the afternoon on a windy day in December last year and the temple, which is in Vadnagar (Gujarat), is officially closed at that time. But the shopkeeper outside the temple urges me to go in saying that nobody would mind.

There is no one to be seen inside; I am not really surprised for it is siesta and relaxation time before the evening worship begins. As I look around, I feel an uneasy prickling sensation at the back of my neck — the kind when you feel that someone’s watching you. I look around but cannot see anyone or detect any movement.

I call out once and then again, but get no response. It appears that I’m alone in the temple. Or am I? The sensation of being watched grows and I feel that the gaze is hostile, angry, even malevolent.

I don’t scare easily, but I must confess that I’m feeling quite spooked. As I wonder if I should leave, I spot a large sculpture placed against the wall behind the main shrine at the far end of the temple. I can’t make out what the sculpture is, but something about it gives me the shivers. I decide to explore further and as I walk towards the sculpture I feel waves of anger wash over me.

Kali idol, Amter Mata Temple, Vadnagar, Travel, Tantric
The courtyard of the Amter Mata Temple. The sculpture can be seen placed against the wall between the main shrine in the centre of the picture and the smaller shrine on the right.

Kali idol, Amter Mata Temple, Vadnagar, Travel, Tantric
A closer look now at the sculpture. A trident is visible and also that it is a female form.
Kali idol, Amter Mata Temple, Vadnagar, Travel, Tantric
An even more closer look. The trident, the sagging breasts, the garland of skulls… all indicate that this is a sculpture of Kali.

The sculpture is unmistakably that of Kali. The trident, the sagging breasts, the garland of skulls, and the angry expression on the mutilated face… all indicate this. The sculpture is an ancient one, and though I can’t pinpoint on the age, I can guess that it must be more than a few centuries old. How it reached this mutilated form is anybody’s guess — the hands are chopped off and the face has been smashed in. In spite of this, the expression of rage on Kali’s face is unmistakable.

In its original form, the sculpture / idol must have been quite a sight, perhaps striking fear in the hearts of Her worshippers. She has certainly spooked me for I’m certain that it was Her gaze that I felt when I entered the temple ! Up close, I can feel Her anger and rage and I keep a ‘safe’ distance. I don’t stay for long and after quick walk around the temple with Kali’s eyes boring into me all along, I leave.


Over the months that have passed since my visit, I can’t help wondering about my experience there. I admit that I do have an active imagination, but what I experienced at the Amter Mata Temple was not a figment of my imagination. Also, during my visits to various religious and spiritual places, I have felt peace, contentment and on occasion been overwhelmed, but this is the first time I have felt hostility and anger. Even as I write this, I have this inexplicable urge to look over my shoulder.

I don’t know why some people ‘feel’ or get vibes about a place and others don’t. I do not seek an explanation here for I know that there isn’t any — at least no rational, scientific explanation for what I experienced. But still …

PS: I would, however, be glad to hear your thoughts on this.

18 thoughts on “When I got spooked by Kali !

  1. I have no explanation except what would be called a ‘superstitious’ one, so I won’t say it 🙂 But I can understand how you must have felt and still feel remembering the experience. Suffice to say even Kali is a mother and would never harm her children.

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  2. that was an interesting post Sudha… and the Kali does indeed look angry! I wonder what she would have looked like originally… there are only two occasions when i have experienced something similar… one was at the kal bhairav temple in varanasi, where my mom and me were the only visitors, and i was completely spooked the moment i entered. that of course, might have been due to the pot smoking sadhus sitting around. and of course, that was years back, and on a more recent visit, that effect was missing. coming to the second experience, that was in a temple near tanjore… vazhuvoor temple where the bronze idol of gaja samhara moorthy felt so real… it felt like he would step out of the pedestal any moment…and yes,he was angry too, and parvati, who was also part of the sculpture, looked like she would run away! that was another unforgettable experience.

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    1. I have heard about your visit to the Vazhuvoor temple and the Gaja Samhara Moorthy. But wasn’t aware that it felt so real. Wow ! I must visit this temple. As for the Kala Bhairav Temple at Varanasi, I’m pretty sure it was because of the pot-smoking sadhus.

      I have also found the Andhakasura vadha panel at Elephanta to be pretty fearsome, while I loved the Kalayasundaramurti panel at Elephanta. It is so beautiful and pretty romantic too 🙂

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  3. I have only seen paintings of Kali and to be honest, they always looked like scary caricature. This 3d Kali is scary indeed !

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    1. Like you, I had always seen only pictures or artwork of Kali. I wouldn’t call them caricatures, but She never appeared to be as frightening as literature makes her out to be. Till I saw this sculpture of hers.

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  4. The picture on your blog does convey a lot of the things that you say you experienced. There is something primal and fearsome about that sculpture, and definitely does trigger a response which am not able to intellectually reason about.

    I was curious enough to open a book that I have called the “Yogini cult and temples”, by Vidya Dehejia. I felt this image may be linked to that cult. Not that I came across facts to substantiate that.
    Talking about getting spooked – I, for one, am easily spooked.

    This book on Yogini temples itself was sufficient to induce some form of fear in me; but intrigues me sufficiently too. I do have it in my list of things to see / visit / experience.

    Keep traveling; keep writing. Liked your style of writing, and the experiences that you share.

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    1. Hello Kiran. Thank you so much for stopping by and commenting. I really appreciate it. Sorry for the delay in responding to your comment.

      Its quite a coincidence that you are talking about the Yogini Temples. I received a book on “The Yogini Temples of India” by Stella Dupois as a birthday gift last month and I read the book in one setiing. One of the books that Dupois keeps referring to is the book by Vidya Dahejia that you talk about.

      I haven’t heard of the Yogini cult in Gujarat region, but there is no reason why it should not be there. The temple also had the sapta matrikas, who are also considered to be yoginis according to some interpretations. So, your guess could very well be right. Thanks for sharing it with me.

      Hope you will keep visiting my blog.

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  5. To my favorite Mumbai blogger!
    This is amazing. You are proving time and again to be my favorite. No doubt on that hats off you jaunty girl! The temple and it’s info is very accomplished as usual. The beauty in here is the ruins that make it all the more appealing. (okie this is creepy but it’s my opinion).

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    1. Dear Geeta, Thank you so much for such glowing praise. I was blushing as I read it. I’m glad that people like you like to read and enjoy posts like the one on Kali. Keep visiting and thanks for your words of encouragement. 🙂

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  6. Namaste namaste! I think you should know that when you enter a Mandir dedicated to a God or Goddess you need to follow ALL the rules. Such as only enter the mandir once you have washed your hands/feet/face, and only face north. If these are not done then the respected deity of the temple may get offended. Also, the fierce looking Gods and Goddesses are to be highly respected, they are the Gods who kill demons in the battlefield such as Raktabjia being killed. They are here to protect us, if you see and image of a God or Goddess who protects their respected followers, the God or Goddess usually then protects in a fierce form. The fierce form is to scare paapis, while the true devotees realize this. Also there are countless Goddesses who have features as Mother Kali ji, but they are different.. That is why you should ask the caretaker of whichever temple you go to to ask who it is dedicated to. The ugra or fierce form deities bless and punish faster than the saumya or calm deities.. If I have offended you or anyone else I beg you a sincere apology.

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    1. Welcome here, Jas, and thank you so much for stopping by and commenting. No, I’m not offended at all with the very interesting information you have given. I thank you once again for the time taken to share this.

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  7. I came across your blog while googling for Udupi Tulsi….I did not find anything about that but your blog was interesting so I kept reading. I think there are at least a few reasons behind your fear.

    You mentioned there was no one else in temple – being alone in a temple can sometimes make one feel like that. There is subconscious thought that you were not to be in there as no one else was and a feeling of violating some rule resulting anger of deity …all subconscious. Often time it is considered unsafe for women to be alone in a deserted place.That may also be one subconscious reason.
    It was resting/siesta time- I seems like that you expected it to be siesta time for deity also. Hence , subconscious feeling that disturbing siesta time would invite anger..
    To me it did not seem like a fearsome Moorti…more like she is in pain or just unhappy…understandable considering the disfigurement… I view Devi in a positive way, like a loving mother who will scare away enemies.
    These could be Sapt Matrika Moortis. They are often found in Kali/Durga/Parvati/Shiva temples and often seem like they are guarding the temples. Or they could be Bhairavis/yoginis…often shown like this too.All these are often depicted sort of angry…to scare away anyone who may try to do bad things in a temple.

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