Dunagiri has been known over millennia as Drongiri or Dronagiri.
Dunagiri - The Mystery Mount. Most Temples and holy places accrue higher respect the older they are. For instance the 3000 year old Temple of Kanyakumari may be deemed more potent than a 300 year old temple. At Dunagiri, it is not in years, centuries nor even millennia that the antiquity of this place is calculated in, but rather in terms of Yugas! A place where mysticism abounds, fascinating legends and numreous mystic stories are intimately connected to Dunagiri.
A center of deep spiritual energies, Dunagiri is a site where Divine Energy manifested itself. Several sages of ancient India had their ashrams and hermitages at Dunagiri. At Dunagiri, Divinity in form of Mother Goddess has been adored for FOUR YUGAS! (Yuga in Hindu philosophy is the name of an 'epoch' or 'era' within a cycle of four ages. A complete yuga cycle from a high Golden Age of enlightenment to a Dark Age and back again is said to be caused by the solar system's motion around another star).
Dunagiri through the Four Yugas:
Dunagiri in Satya Yuga: An ancient Vaishnavi Shakti-peeth, Dunagiri is where Bhairavi, the consort of Bhairav or Lord Shiva himself, turns into Vaishnavi Mata. Bhairavi, the Divine Mother of Tantra at the last stage, turns into Vaishnavi Mata while awarding liberation to Her devotee, because only in the form of Vaishnavi does She award liberation. Dunagiri hill in the Himalayas is the secret shrine (gupt shakti peeth) of Vaishnavi Mata. Till today, there are only two Vaishnavi Shaktipeeths (energy centers) in India. One is in Jammu within Kashmir and the other is the Vaishnavi Devi temple at Dunagiri. These ancient temples, ashrams and mystic spots of Dunagiri are within a short walking distance from Dunagiri Retreat.
Dunagiri in Treta Yuga: Dunagiri finds mention in the story of Ramayana as being the hill where Sanjeevani booti was obtained by Lord Hanuman to revive an unconscious Lakshman in battle of Lanka. Hanuman is often depicted flying through the sky carrying part of a hill. This hill is Dunagiri. Lord Ram’s younger brother, Bharat, also meditated at a hill overlooking Dunagiri. This hilll, still named after him, is now known as Bhatkot (originally Bharat-kot). Dunagiri Retreat faces Bhatkot. Known for its healing effects and various medicinal herbs, the hills of Dunagiri are still filled with numerous species of medicinal plants and herbs that grow naturally in forests around here.
Dunagiri in Dwapara Yuga: The serenity and solitude of Dunagiri has been attracting spiritual seekers from a considerable time. Sages of Dwapara Yuga came to the hills of Dunagiri to meditate in solitude. These sages are mentioned in the epic Mahābhārata. Sage Bharatmuni renounced worldly life and came to Dunagiri to meditate. Dronacharya, the royal guru to Pandavas and Kauravas meditated at Dunagiri (Dunagiri or Drongiri is named after Dronacharya). Dronacharya’s brother, Garg muni, one of the greatest sages of the Puranic times, also meditated at Dunagiri. River Gagas that orginates at Dunagiri is named after Garg muni. Dronacharya and Garga were sons of Rishi Bharadwaja, one of the Saptarishis (Seven Great Sages) of this epoch. Sage Sukhdev muni (son of sage Ved Vyasa, the author of Mahabharata) meditated at Dunagiri. Shakuntala and Dushyant’s son, king Bharat after whom India is named as “Bharatvarsh” was born at Dunagiri. Pandava’s too spent time here during their period of anonymous exile. Their abode, now known as “Pandukholi”, is a popular trek from Dunagiri Retreat. The spot offers stunning views of the highest snow peaks of Indian Himalayas such as Nanda devi and Trishul. Dunagiri is the origin point of river Gagas, a river named after Garg muni. You can walk to the origin point of this river as it is within walking distance from Dunagiri Retreat.
Dunagiri in Kali Yuga: In more recent times, Dunagiri was the spot chosen by Mahavatar Babaji to give Kriya Yoga initiation to Lahiri Mahashaya, hence Dunagiri in known as the birthplace of Kriya Yoga. A golden palace was materialized here, as mentioned in the book Autobiography of a Yogi by Yogananda Paramhansa. It is also at Dunagiri that Mahavatar Babaji is said to have given initiation to Haidakhan baba in Manas Yog, to Neem Karoli baba in Mantra yoga, and to Sombari baba in Pashupat yoga. Other saints who meditated at Dunagiri are: Harnarayan Swami, Ram Baba, Mahatama Laxminarayan Das, Nantin Baba, Mahant Balwant Giri, MK Bhattacharya, Swami Satyaeshwarnananda Giri.
Divinity in form of Mother Goddess: Dunagiri hill is the shrine or seat of Sri Sri Vaishnavi Mata Bhagvati Jagdamba. Sri Sri Vaishnavi Mata is the presiding form of Divine Mother among the other forms worshiped in the Valley. Navadurgas at Dronachal Valley are: 1.Vaishnavi Mata (Shailaputri) 2.Kali, Kalika (Brahmacharini) 3.Sitaladevi (Chandraghanta) 4.Dipadevi (Kusmanda) 5. Kuladevi (Skandamata) 6. Jwaladevi (Katyayani) 7. Hulkadevi (Kalaratri) 8. Kasinidevi (Mahagauri) 9.Harsinidevi (Siddhidatri). Dunagiri is mentioned in Manaskhand of Skandpuran. Mother Goddess at Dunagiri is described as Mahamaya Harpriya (Manaskhand, 36.17-18). The distinctive qualities of Durga at Dunagiri as shul-hasta, mahishasur-ghatini, sinh-vahini are described. In Manaskhand. Dunagiri Devi is also referred to as Vahyamati which identifies it with its Vedic roots. In Vedic times Durga was known to be a form of Agni. Till today, there are only two Vaishnavi Shaktipeeths (energy centers) in India. One is in Jammu within Kashmir and the other is the Vaishnavi Devi temple at Dunagiri. Among all the Shakti temples of Kumaon, Dunagiri is counted amid the most ancient ‘Sidh Shaktipeeth’. It is counted amongst the primary ‘ugra’ (intense) ‘peeths’, i.e., amongst the primary intense centers of energy.
Shwetashwetupanishad is believed to have been inspired/composed at Dunagiri. Fourth chapter of Shwetashwetupanishad ponders over divinity in context of duality of Purush and Prakriti, taking inspiration from Dunagiri’s twin natural peaks (one can see these twin rock pieces inside Dunagiri temple). Hence Manaskhand of Skandpuran bestows Dunagiri with the title of Brahm-parvat (Divine Mountain).