Popular Mudesveri temple of Bihar - some additional facts regarding main deity

Bihar: Mundesvari temple. navbharattimes.indiatimes.com

Mundeswari temple. navbharattimes.indiatimes.com
Mundesveri or Mundesvari) shrine in Bihar state (at Kaura in Kaimur district) is one of the oldest functional Hindu temples in  India dedicated to Shakti form of the lord - Easwara.  The temple was, it is said, built way back in 3-4 BC (625 to 635 CE).  The presiding deity of the temple, Mundeshwari, the consort of lord Shiva is in the sanctum - garbagriha along with the Shivalinga. The interesting aspect of this temple's sanctum  is the idol of Goddess is not at the center and is in the sub-chamber. The deity at the center is Shiva Linga with four faces.   It is said that Mundesvari was originally installed as one of the three images in the three sub-chambers of the sanctum with the Mukhalingam. The image of Mundesvari is not typical of that of  goddess Mahishamardini (Durga). The  goddess has ten hands  each  bearing the usual weapons of a Mahishamardini. Her image is installed with a different posture - not  in the act of killing Mahisasuran, the demon half human and half buffalo who was a threat to the saintly and other people. she is shown as riding a buffalo representing a demon.
temple bells Mundesvari temple, Kaimur village Bihar. templepurohit.com
Several articles have appeared on the aspect of the main deity According to Dr. K C Panigrahi, of the ASI - the Eastern Archaeological Circle, Narayana or Vishnu was  the presiding deity of the territory and  in 348-59 AD another new deity Vinitesvara was  installed. The Narayana image, it is said, disappeared  in the 7th century  when Shaivaism was  gaining popularity. The idol of Vinitesvara - the Mukhalimgam was installed  by Dandanayaka Gomibhata
There are temple inscriptions and  Dr. Panigrahi observed the mentioning of  three names in them, namely Narayana, Vinitesvara and Mandalesvara.  Historians Buchanan and Martin mentioned about a story according to which  Munda, the brother of Chanda, had established the Goddess Mundesvari. The real history of this famous shrine is a matter of discussion and the  general belief among people has been that the Goddess was established by Munda.
Panigrahi, who  did considerable research on this ancient temple is of the view  this place of worship  had seen “three periods of religious activities. 01. When Vaishnavism was in its heyday here this shrine was dedicated to lord Vishnu/Narayan, 02. When Shaivaism sect ruled the roost in this region, this place of worship was converted into a Shiva temple dedicated to Viniteshwara, 03 . Subsequently when Shaktism gained popularity and accepted by the people, it became a Shakti temple with goddess  Mundeshvari, as the main deity. The latter transformation took place perhaps under the Chero kings, who were Saktas.

Four faced Shivalinga. Mudesvari temple sanctum kaimur. Biharnic.in

According to a researcher Kuraishi   there are carved figures of a 6 armed Yaksha  in relief,  a large elephant in two of his hands raised overhead,  traces of a small female figure,  a fox or a jackal and all these  besides Gupta style inscriptions suggest that these figures appear to be much older than the Mundeshvari temple itself. 

GoddessMundeswari Bihar,   navbharattimes.indiatimes.com
 Francis Buchanan and Martin's work that Mundesveri was established by Munda who  happened to be a Chero king and it was not installed  by him,. This place being the abode of  aboriginal tribes, it is likely that they would have popularized  the  worship of  female deities. Such people elsewhere were known  to worship female goddesses.  Shaktism flourished in this region  during the reign of  the Chero kings and the deity of Mundesvari, representing Shakti, came to be worshiped as the principal deity of the temple, where she was a minor image at one time. Surprisingly, in this temple  a few images in the center of the sanctum don't get prominence and and are relegated to a subordinate position unlike those in the sub-chambers/niches that gain due importance and  divinity. 
Interestingly, a few years back noted BHU historian J S Rai  accidentally found a Ceylonese seal close to the Mundeshwari temple. The pyramid-shaped stone seal with inscriptions in Brahmi script along with photograph. He mentioned them in his  article in a Numismatic Society of India journal of 2004.   Historians are of the opinion the  seal  mentioned  above was like a  passport for Ceylonese pilgrims  for their easy access  and safe  passage during their long journey to various  Buddhist pilgrim  centers  in various kingdoms  in India. Experts believe that earlier routes to Buddhist centres at Kushinagar in Uttar Pradesh and Kapilvastu in Nepal were via Mundeshwari temple in Bihar's Kaimur district. 

It is said the it was Maharaja Dutthagamani (101-77 BC) who had built  a great stupa and a large gathering  of priests attended its consecration ceremony in the Mundeshwari hills . The ruler happened to be a  independent king of Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and was a patron of Buddhism.   The discovery of a royal seal in 2003 of the Sri Lankan ruler Maharaju Dutthagamani (101-77 BC) at the site  was an important milestone in the history of this temple. It shows that the temple dates back to several centuries. The seal was sent to sampooranand Sanskrit university at Varanasi for  further investigation  and the linguistic experts  came up with their observation :  The seal belonged to "Maharaju Duthgamini", who according to "Mahavansh Granthawali" in Buddhist literature, belonged to Anuradhapur dynasty and ruled Ceylon between 104-77 BC.

For unknown reasons this temple had been in a state of neglect for a pretty long time, hence during Muslim invasion in this part under Sher Shah,  the holy place escaped destruction and damages.  The vagaries of weather and long passage of time impacted on this old monument that left it in ruins. Later rulers and administrators did not take keen interest to renovate it. 

This protected  monument  under the control of ASI, represents the earliest Nagara style of temple architecture in this region with an octogonal plan. Once a place of worship of Narayana and  later Shiva is now a Shakti shrine. The temple has four entrances. Roughly 1.4 million devotees come here annually to get the blessings from the deity. 
Tit-bits: Shaktism:: 
Shakti. twitter.com
.Shakti and Tantra. facebook.com

Shaktism regards Devi (lit., "the Goddess") as the Supreme Brahman itself with all other forms of divinity considered to be merely Her diverse manifestations. In terms of  its philosophy and practice, Shaktism resembles Shaivism. However, Shaktas (Sanskrit word), practitioners of Shaktism, focus most or all worship on Shakti, as the dynamic feminine aspect of the Supreme Divine. Shiva, the masculine aspect of divinity, is considered solely transcendent, and Shiva's worship is usually secondary.  Adi Parashakti, whose manifestation is Parvati and Tripura Sundari, is a Hindu concept of the Ultimate Shakti or Mahashakti, the ultimate power inherent in all Creation.   According to some schools, there are four Adi Shakti Pitha and 51 Shakti centers of worship located in South Asia (four Adi Shakti Pitha are also part of 51 Shakti pithas but they are four major parts of Devi Sati's body. So, they are adi shakti pithas). They are  in India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh, Tibet and also in Pakistan. These are called Shakti Peethas. From Devi-Mahatmya:
''By you this universe is borne, By you this world is created, Oh Devi, by you it is protected''