Jwala Ji (Pahari: जवाला जी, Punjabi: ਜਵਾਲਾ ਜੀ, Hindi: ज्वाला जी, Urdu: جوالا جی) is a Hindu Goddess. Alternative spelling and names for Jwala Ji include Jvala Ji, Jwala Devi and Jwalamukhi Ji. The physical manifestation of Jwala Ji is always a set of flames burning off natural gas, and the term Jwala means flame in Sanskrit (cognates: proto-Indo-European guelh, English: glow, Lithuanian: zvilti) and Ji is an honorific used in the Indian subcontinent.
Historically, shrines dedicated to Jwala Ji were based on fissures from which natural gas seeped by itself. The number of flames is usually either seven (for the seven divine sisters) or nine (for the nine Durgas). Several schools of Buddhism also share the symbolism of a seven-forked sacred flame.
Jwala Ji of Kangra
Jai Jwala Maa The best known Jwala Ji shrine is located in the lower Himalayas in Jawalamukhi town of the Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh state of India, about 55 kilometers from the larger town of Dharamsala. The temple style is typical of Jwala Ji shrines, four cornered, with a small dome on the top and a square central pit of hollowed stone inside where the main flame burns endlessly.  An annual fair is held in the environs of the temple every July/August months during Navratras.
The temple had an associated library of ancient Hindu texts, many of which were translated from Sanskrit into Persian at the orders of Firuz Shah Tughlaq when the Delhi Sultanate overran the Kangra area.  According to the legend, when Sati's body was divided into 51 parts, Sati Mata's tongue fell here. The flames/ Jyotis are the representation of the same. Some say that Sati's clothes fell here. When they fell they were on fire. The fire hasn't blew off.
Jwalaji (flame) or Jwala Mukhi (flame mouth) is probably the most ancient temple discussed here besides Vaishno Devi. It is mentioned in the Mahabharata and other scriptures. There is a natural cave where eternal flames continue to burn. Some say there are seven or nine flames for the seven divine sisters or the nine Durgas. It is here that Sati's tongue fell which can now be seen in the form of the flame.
A cowherd found that one of his cows was always without milk. He followed the cow to find out the cause. He saw a girl come out of the forest, drink the cows milk, and then disappear in a flash of light. The cowherd went to the king and told him the story. The king was aware of the legend that Sati's tongue had fallen in this area. The king tried, without success, to find that sacred spot. Again, some years later, the cowherd went to the king to report that he had seen a flame burning in the mountains. The king found the spot and had darshan (vision) of the holy flame. He built a temple there and arranged for priests to enguage in regular worship. It is believed that the Pandavas came later and renovated the temple.
It was Dhyanu Bhagat who spread Devi Mata's name. He lived at the time of the Mughal Emperor Akbar. Dhyanu Bhagat was passing through Delhi with a group of pilgrims on their way to Jwalaji. Akbar summoned him to his court to inquire into the nature of their Goddess. Dhyanu Bhagat told him She is all powerful and answers the prayers of Her devotees.
To test Her power Akbar cut off the head of Dhyanu's horse ordering him to have the Goddess put it back. Dhyanu went to Jwalaji and prayed day and night to no avail. Out of desperation he cut of his own head and offered it to Devi Ma. She then appeared to him riding a lion. She reconnected both his head and that of the horse. Devi Ma also offered Dhyanu Bhagat a boon. He requested that it should not be so difficult for pigrams to show their devotion. Mata said that in the future if someone offered a coconut she would accept it as if they had offered their own head. To this day people continue to offer coconuts to the Goddess in Her temples all over the world. Jwala mata is Kuldevi of Bhatiya (now lives in Gujarat) and Bhardwaj Gutra Brahmins.
Jwala Mai of Muktinath
The "eternal flame" at the Jwala Ji shrine in the village of Muktinath is located at an altitude of 3,710 meters at the foot of the Thorong La mountain pass in the Mustang district of Nepal. There is a small amount of natural gas present in the Himalayan spring that emerges near the shrine which gives the appearance of the fire burning on the water itself. This shrine is usually called the Jwala Mai (Jwala Mother) temple, and is sacred to both Hindus and Buddhists.
Atashgah of Baku
The Baku Atashgah is a fire-temple in Surakhani, a suburb of Baku in Azerbaijan. Historically, some Hindu pilgrims have referred to it as the Baku Jwala Ji. Given that fire is considered extremely sacred in both Hinduism and Zoroastrianism (as Agni and Atar respectively), and the two faiths share some elements (such as Yajna and Yasna) from a common proto-Indo-Iranian precursor religion, there has been debate on whether the Atashgah was originally a Hindu site or a Zoroastrian one.
The presence of several Hindu inscriptions in Sanskrit and Punjabi (as opposed to only one in Persian), encounters with dozens of Hindus at the shrine or en route in the regions between North India and Baku, and assessments of its Hindu-character by Parsi dasturs have led to many scholars and officials deciding that it is a Jwala temple. There were local claims made to a visiting Parsi Dastur in the early twentieth century that the Russian czar Alexander III had also witnessed Hindu fire prayer rituals at this location.
- Abraham Valentine Williams Jackson (1911), From Constantinople to the home of Omar Khayyam: travels in Transcaucasia and northern Persia for historic and literary research, The Macmillan company, "... they are now wholly substantiated by the other inscriptions ... They are all Indian, with the exception of one written in Persian ... dated in the same year as the Hindu tablet over it ... met two Hindu Fakirs who announced themselves as 'on a pilgrimage to this Baku Jawala Ji' ..."
- Horace Hayman Wilson (1871), Select Specimens of the Theatre of the Hindus, Trübner, "... Jwalamukhi is the form of Durga, worshipped wherever a subterraneous flame breaks forth, or wherever jets of carburetted hydrogen gas are emitted from the soil ..."
- J. P. Mallory, Douglas Q. Adams (1997), Encyclopedia of Indo-European culture, Taylor & Francis, ISBN 1-884964-98-2, "... guelhx - 'burn, glow; charcoal'. ... Lith zvilti 'gleam', Latv zvilnet 'flame, glow', OInd jvalati 'burns', jvala 'flame, coal' ..."
- Jwalaji, Mahalakshmi.org, retrieved 2009-07-04, "... Jwalaji (flame) or Jwala Mukhi (flame mouth) is probably the most ancient temple discussed here besides Vaishno Devi. It is mentioned in the Mahabharata and other scriptures. There is a natural cave where eternal flames continue to burn. Some say there are seven or nine flames for the seven divine sisters or the nine Durgas ..."
- Phuttha Samākhom hǣng Prathēt Thai (1970), Visakhapuja, Buddhist Association of Thailand, "... At the decline of Srivijaya art, such a seven-forked flame will appear on the head of Sukhothai Buddhas. The Vajrasattva at the National Museum, Bangkok, ..."
- Manoj Jreat (2004), Tourism in Himachal Pradesh, Indus Publishing, ISBN 81-7387-157-4, "... situated on a ridge called Kali dhar in Kangra district. It is built in the mandap (dome) style and the interior consists of a square pit where, from a hollowed rock natural gas escapes through a crack and burns endlessly ..."
- D.N. Marshall (1983), History of libraries: ancient and mediaeval, Oxford & IBH Publishing Company, "... Firuzshah Tuhglaq (1351–1388), finding during his military exploits a library of 1300 volumes in the Jwalamukhi Temple at Nagarkot, had many of them translated by Hindu scholars from Sanskrit into Persian to place them in his own library ..."
- Rohit Prabhakar, The Divine Temple of Jwala Ji, "... It is a rare Hindu temple where the physical manifestation of Goddess is a flame. Recent government backed surveys have not been able to conclusively prove presence of gas which was thought to power the flame, furthermore natural gas ascending levels of over 2000 feet above sea level where the temple is located - that is unheard of hence the actual source of energy powering the flame is yet to be determined as per modern science as we know it and it is a subject which has attracted many research scholars to the Jwalaji shrine in Himachal Pradesh. There are always 7 or 9 flames burning all the times. ..."
- Complete information about the World and its cities, Prakriti Inbound, retrieved 2009-07-04, "... Muktinath has been a place of pilgrimage for more than 2000 years ... The Jwala Mai temple nearby has a spring and an eternal flame fed by natural gas ..."
- Kev Reynolds (2004), Annapurna: A Trekker's Guide, Cicerone Press Limited, ISBN 1-85284-397-7, "... Snellgrove wrote of six Tibetan Buddhist temples here, the most famous of which is the Jwala Mai, with its small jets of natural gas that produce a constant flame beside a trickling spring of water - a sacred combination of earth, fire and water venerated with equal fervour by Hindu and Buddhist ..."
- Minocher K. Spencer (2002), Religion in life, Indian Publishers Distributors, "... Fire is held as a very sacred emblem both among the Hindus and Parsis ..."
- Maneck Fardunji Kanga, Nārāyanaśarmā Sonaṭakke (1978), Avestā: Vendidād and fragments, Vaidika Samśodhana Maṇḍala, "... For a very long time, the two groups (ancestors of Hindus and Parsis) were in close co-operation ... showing tenets and rites that were the same and also the later dissentions ... Yasna, rite = Yajna ... Atar = Agni, ever present at all rituals ..."
- Jonas Hanway (1753), An Historical Account of the British Trade Over the Caspian Sea, Sold by Mr. Dodsley, "... The Persians have very little maritime strength ... their ship carpenters on the Caspian were mostly Indians ... there is a little temple, in which the Indians now worship: near the altar about 3 feet high is a large hollow cane, from the end of which iffues a blue flame ... These Indians affirm, that this flame has continued ever since the flood, and they believe it will last to the end of the world ... Here are generally forty or fifty of these poor devotees, who come on a pilgrimage from their own country ... they mark their foreheads with saffron, and have a great veneration for a red cow ..."
- James Justinian Morier (1818), A Second Journey through Persia, Armenia, and Asia Minor, to Constantinople, between the Years 1810 and 1816, A. Strahan, "... Travelling onwards, we met an Indian entirely alone, on foot, with no other weapon than a stick, who was on his road to Benares returning from his pilgrimage to Baku. He was walking with surprising alacrity, and saluted us with great good-humour, like one satisfied with himself for having done a good action. I believe that these religious feats are quite peculiar to the Indian character ..."[dead link]
- Ervad Shams-Ul-Ulama Dr. Sir Jivanji Jamshedji Modi, Translated by Soli Dastur (1926), My Travels Outside Bombay: Iran, Azerbaijan, Baku, "... Not just me but any Parsee who is a little familiar with our Hindu brethren’s religion, their temples and their customs, after examining this building with its inscriptions, architecture, etc., would conclude that this is not a Parsee Atash Kadeh but is a Hindu Temple ... informed me that some 40 years ago, the Russian Czar, Alexander III, visited this place with a desire to witness the Hindu Brahmin Fire ritual ... gathered a few Brahmins still living here and they performed the fire ritual in this room in front of the Czar ... I asked for a tall ladder and with trepidation I climbed to the top of the building and examined the foundation stone which was inscribed in the Nagrik [or Nagari] script ... the installation date is mentioned as the Hindu Vikramaajeet calendar year 1866 (equivalent to 1810 A. D.) ..."
- George Forster (1798), A journey from Bengal to England: through the northern part of India, Kashmire, Afghanistan, and Persia, and into Russia, by the Caspian-Sea, R. Faulder, "... A society of Moultan Hindoos, which has long been established in Baku, contributes largely to the circulation of its commerce; and with the Armenians they may be accounted the principal merchants of Shirwan ... this remark arose from a view of the Atashghah at Baku, where a Hindoo is found so deeply tinctured with the enthusiasm of religion, that though his nerves be constitutionally of a tender texture and his frame relaxed by age, he will journey through hostile regions from the Ganges to the Volga, to offer up prayer at the shrine of his God ..."
- United States Bureau of Foreign Commerce (1887), Reports from the consuls of the United States, 1887, United States Government, "... Six or 7 miles southeast is Surakhani, the location of a very ancient monastery of the fire-worshippers of India, a building now in ruins, but which is yet occasionally occupied by a few of these religious enthusiasts, who make a long and weary pilgrimage on foot from India to do homage at the shrine of everlasting fire, which is merely a small jet of natural gas, now almost extinct ..."
- How to reach, about the region and more information about Jwalaji | Auspicious Nine Jwala Jyotis at the Maa Jwalaji Temple.