The Cuttack Chandi Temple is an ancient temple dedicated to the Goddess Chandi, the presiding deity of Cuttack, Odisha. The temple is located nearby the banks of the Mahanadi River. It is famous for the annual Durga Puja and Kali Puja festivals. The Durga Puja festivities are prominent in Maa Cuttack Chandi temple which takes place for 16 days starting from dark fortnight of Ashwina Krishna Ashtami till Ashwina shukla navami and Vijayadashami.
The Goddess popularly called as Maa Katak Chandi, sits and rules on the heart of the ancient city. She has four hands holding Paasha (noose), Ankusha (goad), gestures dispelling fear (Abhaya), and granting boon (Vara). She is worshiped in as Bhuvaneshvari Mantra (the queen of universe) by Sevayatas belonging to Utkala Brahmins every day. Maa Chandi is worshipped in various incarnations of Durga during DASAHARA puja. In Cuttack, people strongly believe Maa Cuttack Chandi as 'The Living Goddess'.
According to legend, the present piece of land, where the holy temple is located, was lying fallow before. Late Sri Hansa Panda, who happens to be the Purohit of the then King of Kanika, used to graze cattles and sheep there.
One day Sri Panda while grazing cattle feeling tired, took rest on a heap of dry mud present there. While taking rest, he experienced a strange divine feeling within himself. Surprisingly on the same night, The Goddess "Chandika" appeared in his dream and requested him to take her out of the land.
The next morning he went to the King and told everything about the strange experience he had last night. With the help of the king and local public Late Hansa Panda dug the same piece of land. It is said and believed that arround forty bullock carts of Red Sindoor came out first while digging and then emerged The Deity of Maa Chandi. There was a Babul tree on that land and under that tree late Hansa Panda started worshiping MAA CHANDI, with the financial assistance of the King of Kanika.There after the temple was built on the same land. Here in Cuttack, the residents strongly believe Maa Cuttack Chandi as The Living Goddess. The temple of Maa Cuttack Chandi, the presiding deity of the city is visited by hundreds of devotees every day. The image of the deity is older than the temple. It is believed that she was the family deity of Gajapati Kingdom in the medieval age, due to Islamic invaders' attacks she was buried while the kings migrated to Puri.
Late Sri Hansa Panda started worshiping the Deity with utmost Niti, Nistha, and Sraddha.As per the scriptures related to Goddess Chandika or Bhuvaneshwari has four hands, showing weapons and gestures as Paasa, Ankusha, Abhaya, and Varada. She is worshipped as Bhuvaneswari while chanting Bhuvaneswari Mantra.
After Late Sri Hansa Panda, his only son Late Sri Lakshmana Panda started worshipping The Goddess in the same process and procedure. He was blessed with four daughters, named Champa, Tulasi, Mali and Malati.
Those daughters were also helping their father Late Sri Lakshmana Panda, in the rituals (Seva Puja) of the Deity. Late Lakshmana panda always prayed Maa Chandi to have a son and after praying so many years, he was blessed with a son, named Sri Dayanidhi Panda, who also followed the footprint of his predecessors. The temple came to lime light during Sri Dayanidhi Panda as Sri Panda strongly followed all the rituals (Niti Kranti) of MAA CHANDI, starting from opening of the temple to closing of the temple strictly in accordance with “SASTRA”.Number of devotees increased during his period. He has six sons, who are presently performing rituals (seva puja) of deity. They are namely Sri Narayan Panda, Sri Narahari Panda, Sri Somnath Panda, Sri Chakradhar Panda, Sri Loknath Panda and Sri Ratnakar Panda.