Maa Cast in Ashtadhatu

The temple in the Dham is oval in shape, unlike other temples which are either square or rectangular in shape. This makes Parikrama around the deity easier. In the sanctum sanctorum is a 6.5 feet high Ashtadhatu Murti or statue of Maa Vaishno Devi. This murti was cast and finished at the site with the help of three budding artists - Ashish Tanwar, Manoj Das and Vinit Chaudhary.

Ashtadhatu is an alloy of eight metals: gold, silver, copper, zinc, lead, tin, iron and mercury. In Hinduism, the alloy is of great importance and is highly priced. Ashtadhatu is considered sacred and sattvic or pure. Ashtadhatu is widely used for making idols of Hindu gods and goddesses.

Ashtadhatu idols are made so as to be durable and last for years without noticeable decay. The eight metals are mixed in roughly right proportions and the idols that are created are initially of rough finish. A lot of polishing work is done afterwards to make Ashtadhatu idols look beautiful and as natural as possible.

The process of making Ashtadhatu idols is a little complex and it varies from region to region. In the first stage, the exact model of the deity is made using wax. In the second stage, the wax model is covered with clay to make a mould. In the third stage, the wax and clay mould is put into fire. In this process, the clay hardens and the wax melts away making a hollow mould. In the fourth stage, the eight metals taken according to the proportion required, are melted. In the fifth stage, the melted amalgam is poured into the clay mould and is allowed to cool. In the final stage, after cooling, the clay moulds are dismantled and the Ashtadhatu idol is revealed.