Legend about the formation of Shakti Peethams
Shakti Peethams in India or the holy places of cosmic power, consecrated to the Godess Sati / Dakshayani. Dakshayani was the daughter of King Daksha who married Lord Shiva against the wishes of her father Daksha. King Daksha planned an yagna and invited all the gods and goddesses except Lord Shiva and Sati.
The king was planning revenge on Lord Shiva and Sati. But Sati decided to attend the yagna against the advice of Lord Shiva. King daksha did not give her the respect she deserved but also insulted her husband, the Lord Shiva. Sati was unable to bear her father's insults, she invoked her yogic powers and immolated herself. Enraged at this Lord Shiva destroyed daksha's yagna and danced with the remains of Sati in his hands. When Lord Vishnu sent his sudarshan chakra to stop the dance it cut through the remains of sati and sprinkled the parts of the body through out the Indian sub continent. These places where Sati's body fell in pieces are known as Shakti peethams and at all Shaktipeethams the Goddess Shakti is accompanied by Lord Bhairava a manifestation of Lord Shiva.
About the 4 Adishakti Peethams
It is said that four Adi shakti peethams and 52 shakti peethams are there in the Indian subcontinent. At present they are spread out in Pakistan, India, Bangaladesh nd Srilanka. Shiva Purana, the Devi Bhagavat the Kalika Purana and the AstaShakti are the four major hindu religious texts and it is said that the four major Shakti Peethas are Bimala, that is of Pada Khanda, which is located inside the Jgannath temple of Puri, Orissa
Tara Tarini, that is Stana Khanda, which is located near Berhampurin the state of Orissa
Kamakhya, that is Yoni khanda, which is located near Guwahati, in the state of Assam
Dakhina Kalika, that is Mukha khanda which is located in Kolkata, in the state of West Bengal
About the 18 Maha Shakti peethams as per Adi Shankara's Text
There are 18 MahaShakti peethams recognised by religious texts. These are mentioned in the Ashta Dasa Shakthi Peetha Stotram by Adi Shankara at 18 such locations which are referred to as Maha Shakthi Peetha in Indian sub continent.
They are shankari Devi inTriconmalee in Srilanka, Kamakshi Devi Kanchipuram in Tamilnadu, Sri Srunkala Devi in Praddyumnam in Gujarat, Mysore Chamundeswari in Karnataka, Jogulamba Devi in Alampur in Andhra Pradesh, Bhramaramba Devi in Srisailam in Andhra Pradesh, Mahalakshmi Devi in Kolhapur in Maharashtra, Eka Veerika Devi in Nanded in Maharashtra, Mahakali Devi in Ujjain in Madhya paradesh, Puruhutika devi in Pithapuram in Andhra Pradesh, Girija Devi in Cuttack in Orissa, Manikyamba Devi in Draksharamamin Andhra Pradesh, Kamarupa Devi in Guwahati in Assam, Madhaveswari Devi in Prayaga in Uttar Pradesh, Vaishnavi Devi in Jwala in Himachal Pradesh, Sarvamangala Devi in Gaya in Bihar, Visalakshi Devi in Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, Danteswari Devi in Dantewada in Chattisgarh and Saraswati Devi in Kashmir
Among these it is said that Kamakhya, Gaya and Ujjain are regarded most sacred, as they symbolise the Creation that is Kamarupa Devi, Nourishment that is Sarvamangala Devi or the Mangalagauri and Annihilation that is Mahakali Devi. With these three Peethams and the madurai Meenakshi, Kasi Visalakshi and Kanchi Kamakshi we have the most potent and venerated Six Shakti peethams in India.