Mahakal Temple is a sacred religious site for both Hindus and Buddhists. In the Hindu religion, it is worshipped in the form of Lord Shiva, one of three trimurtis of the Hindu religion. Mahakal is also worshipped in other states in Buddhism. It is worshipped in Tibet as a guardian deity, a two-armed form a Black-Cloaked Mahakala, a four-armed form, a six-armed form, and many other forms such as Mahakala in the form of Brahman and a red Mahakala. It is worshipped in China as the fearsome god and guardian of Buddhist monasteries. It is considered a household deity in Japan, as one of the Seven Lucky Gods and the god of wealth in Japanese folklore.
Mahakal Temple is situated behind the Chowrasta and encircled by the Mall Road on the ridge of Darjeeling town. Before the Mahakal Temple was built at the site, there was a monastery named, ‘Dorje-Ling’ built by Lama Dorjey Rinzing in 1765. There is also a legend that the name of this famous tourist destination ‘Darjeeling’ was derived from this monastery gradually due to its popularity and favoritism since that time. It was only after the invasion of the Gurkha Army around 1788, that the Mahakal Temple was built by the invading troops on the same site. Still, there is a white ‘Chorten’ (Tibetan memorial shrine) inside the temple complex where the relics of Dorjey Rinzing Lama is placed.
Both the Hindu Pandits and Buddhist Lamas worship the deity in their own way. Mahakala can be literally translated into ‘Great’ for Maha and ‘Time’ for Kala which means “beyond time” or death. In the Hindu culture, it is believed that Mahakala has the power to dissolve even time and space into themselves as it is the personification of time itself. Since time is not bound by anything, Mahakala has the power to create and destroy anything. It is fascinating to experience the amalgamation of Hindu and Buddhist religions into this historical and significant tourist destination. It is also believed that an asteroid fell on Darjeeling and it separated into three pieces. One of those pieces is still preserved within the Mahakal temple and is believed to prevent any natural calamities and protect the Darjeeling area. Another piece of that asteroid is placed around the monastery and gumbas just outside the Darjeeling area.