The Maa Sarala Temple is a Hindu temple in the district of Jagatsinghpur, Odisha, India. The temple is accessible by road from Jagatsinghpur, Cuttack and Paradeep. The nearest airport is Bhubaneshwar, which is approximately 80 km, and is well connected by road. The nearest railway station is Cuttack; however, there is a small Passenger Halt at Sarala Road, near Tentulipada. The temple can be reached via Jagatsinghpur, or Tarapur by road, from Cuttack.
Maa Saarala is a Hindu goddess who patronizes the cultures of Vaishnav and Shakta. Rarely does one find the use of Vilva Patra and Tulasi patra in any temple, as they are symbols of two distinct divisions of Hindu culture.
There is also some controversy regarding the deity, where it is suspected that the deity may be a Buddhist tantric figure, as she holds a book, Veena and hand bell – known Mahayana symbols. It is said that Huen Tsang, the Chinese pilgrim, visited Odisha and he had taken a ship from Chilitolo Port to Sri lanka, which historians attribute to modern day Tirtol. This may be a possibility as geography shows that Paradip was an island and the land in and around Kujanga was under water - Sea/River. There is geographic evidence to support this. To be at a safer side, we may conclude that Sarala represents the Shiva-Shakti worship which evolved from an amalgamation of Shaivism (worship of Shiva), Shaktism (worship of the Mother Goddess) and/or Tantric form.
Goddess Sarala is known as Vak Devi, the Goddess of Knowledge and Wisdom. It is well documented that Sidheshwar Parida - a small-time farmer and part-time Oriya Paika - was an ardent follower of the Goddess and it was after her blessings that Sidheshwar Parida became Sarala Das, the author of the Oriya Mahabharata.
Folklore goes back to thousands of years, to the age of Parashurama. It is said that it was God Parashurama who had carved the goddess with the tip of his arrow. Even this temple survived the ravages of Kala Chand (legendary Kala Pahada). The new temple- 500 years old - was built by the Raja of Manijanga. The remnants of the old temple is not visible, but folklore goes that it was at Badasarol, a place where the Ganesha Temple, (generally adorns the south gate of all Oriya temples) (Nanda Deula, now renovated) stands as witness, where the old temple once stood.
Although there are many festivals that are celebrated in the temple, the major ones are: Parbana, Sharadiya Utsav, Pana Sankranti, Dola Purnima, Chandan Jatra. The people of the Kendrapara, Jagatsinghpur and Cuttack districts are so attached to the goddess that they make it a point to visit the temple every year - at least once.