Based on a plateau about 1 Km away from the Dapoli – Dabhol highway and about 3-4 Kms away from Dabhol harbor, is a svayambhu (appeared on its own) temple of Goddess Chandika. The three-foot-tall stone idol of Goddess Chandika, covered in holy vermillion, was found in a naturally occurring cave of jet black stone. The goddess’s sculpture has 4 hands which wield weapons like a sword, shield, etc.
The entrance of the cave being short, visitors must bend and proceed on their way inside the cave. This very cave entrance is fitted with decorated silver sheet. After entering the cave, you will find stairs (which were previously just a slope) leading underground. It is usually dark inside the cave with space enough for only two people to go in at a time. Once you reach the temple underground with the support of the walls, you will a well-lit lamp on the altar and in the lamp’s light you will see the beautiful and divine idol of goddess Chandika. Witnessing the goddess’s idol in the dark cave in the light of an oil lamp is an experience in itself. Only oil lamps are lit in the temple and no artificial light source is allowed in the house of worship. Even though the space near the goddess’s altar seems small, it can easily accommodate 400 humans. Enough for them to even complete their holy worship walk around the goddess.
This cave temple of the Goddess is said to belong to the era of Pandavas. It is said that they created this temple with their divine powers while they were serving their vanvas. There are many small tunnels in this cave. These tunnels have been said to lead to the holy land of Kashi. There is a legend about this temple, which says that, centuries ago the gods appeared in the dreams of Jamna Puri, who belonged to the Gosavi sect of saints, and showed him the hidden cave and asked him to remove huge boulders at its entrance. As seen in dream, he found the lost cave, removed the boulders and inside the cave he found the goddess’s idol. The idol is special as only half of it is above the ground and rest is still under the ground. Jamna Puri started worshiping the idol and performing religious rituals. Later he passed on this responsibilities to his heir Bal Puri and went into a living meditative trance near the temple. Since then, the right to perform religious rituals for the goddess lies with the Puri family. The current generation of Puri’s is the 32nd generation to honor this responsibility.
The Puri’s belong to the Gosavi sect who been believed to originated from lord Shiva himself. That is why they do not need to perform death rituals for their dead ones. As per their tradition, after a member of their sect dies, a Shivlinga is made in their name. As a matter of fact, one can find many Shivlinga outside the Chandika temple.
The temple is surrounded by rocks and dense trees. During rainy season, a small stream flows from near the temple. The temple being quite far away from civilization, not too many localities and tourists visit this place. The number of people visiting increases during Navaratri. Only vegetarian offerings are allowed in the temple and hence the inhumane rituals of animal sacrifices are not entertained here. Even donations are not accepted here and hence the administration and the maintenance of the temple is in the hands of the Puri family.
After winning Dabhol, When Shivaji Maharaj proceeded to Gopalgadh, Gowalkot & Adivare, it is said that he paid visit to this temple too to seek the Goddess’s blessings.