Shaligram Shilas

Shaligram Shilas

Discover the sacred realm of Shaligram stones, revered as the embodiment of Lord Vishnu in Hinduism. Originating from the Kali Gandaki River in the Mustang district of Nepal, these mystical stones hold profound significance. Let’s delve into the facts, myths, and the science behind Shaligram Shilas.

Shaligram Shila

The Origin and Geography

Shaligram stones are exclusively found in the Damodar Kunda region, nestled in the lap of Damodar Himal, a journey just a few days away from the renowned Muktinath Temple. Extending from the Northern region of Upper Mustang to the Southern part of Nepal, this sacred place is known as Shaligramkshetra and Muktikshetra.

Gandaki River: The Sacred Lifeline

The Kali Gandaki River, also known as Krishnagandaki, flows from North to South, carving its path through Nepal. Originating from the Nhubine Glacier in Upper Mustang, it transforms into Damkhola and Mustang Khola after merging with smaller tributaries. It is at the confluence of Narsingh Khola and the stream from Upper Mustang that Shaligram stones become visible, with Damodar Himal and Damodar Kunda serving as their primary sources.

Why Worship Shaligram

In Hinduism, ancient texts like the Vedas, Puranas, and Upanishads emphasize the significance of Shaligram stones. Believers hold that water touching a genuine Shaligram transforms into Amrit, possessing the power to heal ailments. Puranic tales further highlight the virtues of worshiping Shaligram, promising liberation from sins and blessings equivalent to donating millions of cows.


In a tale from the Devi Bhagavata Purana (Srimad Devi Bhagavatam), Brahmavaivarta Purana, and Shiva Purana, a king named Vrishadhvaja faced poverty due to a curse from Surya for not worshiping deities other than Shiva. To regain prosperity, his grandsons Dharmadhvaja and Kushadhvaja sought blessings from the goddess Lakshmi. Lakshmi, pleased with their devotion, was reborn as Vedavati and Tulasi, their daughters.

Tulasi aimed to marry Vishnu but was destined to wed Shankhachuda, once Sudama and a friend of Krishna, turned into a danava due to a curse. After Shankhachuda’s virtuous marriage to Tulasi, they led danavas to victory against devas, driving them from Svarga. Vishnu, foreseeing Shiva as Shankhachuda’s slayer, orchestrated events leading to Tulasi’s chastity violation and Shankhachuda’s demise.

As Shankhachuda fell, Tulasi, suspecting Vishnu’s role, cursed him to become a stone, deeming him emotionless in manipulating her fate. Vishnu consoled Tulasi, explaining it was a result of her past austerities. Tulasi, now known as the Tulasi shrub, cast off her body, transforming into the Gandaki river. Vishnu, cursed by Tulasi, became the shaligrama, a rocky mountain by the Gandaki, with vajrakita worms carving markings. Stones carved by vajrakita, falling into the Gandaki, are now known as shaligrama shilas.


Historically, the tradition of using shaligrama shilas in worship dates back to the time of Adi Shankara. In his writings, particularly his commentary on the Taittiriya Upanishad and the Brahma Sutras, he indicates that the worship of Vishnu with shaligrama shilas was a well-known practice in Hinduism. However, it’s worth noting that there are also fake shaligrama shilas in circulation.

The Guru Narasimha Temple in Saligrama houses a statue of Narasimha, believed to be entirely made of saligrama and considered swayambhu, meaning it occurred naturally. This temple predates the birth of Adi Shankara, possibly marking an early reference to Saligrama.

Additionally, iconic representations of Vishnu in the Padmanabhaswamy Temple in Thiruvananthapuram, the Badrinath Temple in the Garhwal region, and Krishna in the Krishna Matha of Udupi, as well as Radha Raman Temple in Vrindavana, are believed to be crafted from shaligrama shilas.

Real Shaligram According to Science

Geologists posit that Shaligram Shilas originated from fossilized ammonoids of the Jurassic Era. Mustang’s history under the Tethys Ocean and geological unrest gave rise to these unique stones. While science explains their formation, Hindu belief persists that Shaligram is the stone form of Narayana.

Shaligram Shila in Different Colours

Authentic Shaligram stones come in various colors, with black Shilas containing gold content considered particularly auspicious. Whether black, yellow, blue, or white, each color is believed to cater to different desires. Worshipping the Shila is thought to enhance name and fame, making the black Shaligram a focal point in homes and temples.


The journey into the world of Shaligram stones unravels a tapestry of spirituality, mythology, and geological wonders. Whether one is drawn to their divine aura, ancient stories, or the scientific marvel behind their formation, Shaligram stones continue to captivate believers and seekers alike, connecting them to the sacred flow of the Kali Gandaki River.

Leave a Reply