· Temple History and Architecture
· Inside Temple
· Other Tourist Destinations
· Legend associated with the Temple
Bhimashankar Jyotir Linga is supposed to have emanated from Mother Earth. The temple near Pune is one of those spiritual places of India which amalgamates both divine and natural beauty of this ancient Hindu land. The elegance of the temple housing the linga mesmerizes the devotees while its adventurous location attracts tourists from all parts of the world.
Together with Grishneshwar and Tryambakeshwar, Bhimashankar becomes the third Jyotirlinga present in Maharashtra, India. The ancient Bhimashankar Temple is located at the extreme end (ghat region) of the Sahayadri Ranges at Pune, Maharashtra. The temple predominantly enshrines Bhimashankara which is one of the 12 Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva.
The temple is situated at Bhavagiri village which is around 50 km north-west of Khed (110 km away from Pune). The River Bhima is said to be blessed by Bhimashankar himself and flows from here, taking its course towards south-east to merge with River Krishna near Raichur.
Temple History and Architecture
The temple exhibits a fine balance between the ancient and modern architecture. The temple basically portrays the Nagara style of architecture dating back to the 18th Century AD. One can find the mention of both Lord Bhimashankar and River Bhima in some literature composed during the 13th Century AD.
Eminent personalities associated with the temple –
o Saint Jnaneshwar is believed to have visited the temple to seek the holy blessings of Lord Bhimashankar.
o Nana Phadnavis renovated the temple and also built the shikhara of the temple.
o Shivaji Bhosale made several endowments to the temple for facilitating the sanctum authorities with various worshiping services.
o Chimanji Antaji Nayik Bhinde, a well known trader of the 1437 AD built the temple’s court hall.
o Other well known Maharashtrian leaders of those times who visited and volunteered in the temple are Rajaram Maharaj, Balaji Vishwanath, Raghunath Peswa.
o The younger brother of Bajirao Peshwa, Chimaji Appa, built a Roman style bell at the entrance of the temple. The bell was one of the two large bells which he had won in his war against Portugese at Vasai Fort.
Inside the temple of Lord Bhimashankar, there are many things present which are of religious and cultural importance. These are as follows –
o The three main sections of the temples are – Sabhamandap, Kurmamandap and Garbhagriha.
o There are two idols of Nandi-deva, one is quite antique while the other one is fairly recent.
o A theertha (holy water of the deity) and a well are located right behind the temple edifice.
o At the temple, goddess Kamalaja (Lakshmi) is worshipped with as much reverence to the main deity.
o The main deity, Lord Bhimashankar, is in the form of a narrow Lingam which is around one and a half feet long.
o A small groove divides the top edge of the black and shining Lingam, representing Gauri Shankar (Shiva) and Parvati.
o The Lingam is a Swayambhu Linga or a Self Emanated Shiva Linga and is located exactly at the centre of the Garbagriha (sanctum).
o There is a perennial oozing of water from the Swayambhu Linga.
o Rudrabhishek and Panchamrit snan are important rituals of the Linga puja which is performed every day.
o The temple witnesses a lot of devotees every Monday and during important Shiva festivals like Maha Shivaratri. During such occasions, devotes are personally allowed to perform abhishekam and flower offerings to the Lingam.
o Devotees take turn for worship in the running queue at the sanctum sanctorum.
Legends associated with the Temple
o In many scriptures including Shivleelamrut, Shri GuruCharitra, Stotra Ratnakar etc., Bhimashankar has been defined as a woman. However, in the past, many eminent saints like Gangadhar Pandit, Sridhar Swamy, Narahari Malo, Ramdas, and Gnaneshwar have described Bhimashankar as one of the most powerful Jyotirlingas.
o Again, various scriptures locate the Bhimashankar Temple at various places in India. For instance, in Kotirudra Samhita of Shiva Purana there is a Bhimashankar Temple situated at Kamrup district, the present Assam. Contrary to this statement, Shiva Purana also gives reference to the Sahyadri range of hills from which Lord Shiva emerged assuming the form of Bhimashankar.
o As per other historians, a similar kind of Bhimashankar temple situated at Kashipur (ancient Dakin) near Nainital, Uttarakhand is of equal mythological importance. The legend linked to this temple is that Bhima of the Pandava fame got married to Hidimba who was a Dakini and to mark this event the shrine of Bhairavnath and his consort was set up at Dakin.
o As per another legend, River Bhima sprung from the heat blazed out during the war between Lord Shiva and demon Tripurasura, hence the name Bhimashankar. After slaying the demon, it is considered that when Lord Shiva was taking rest here, gradually from the sweat drops of Lord Shiva sprung up the River Bhima. People of the place then requested Lord Shiva make this place his holy abode and Lord Shiva listened to them and stayed back amid the Sahyadri range in the form of Lord Bhimashankar.
o Another legend states that a horrific demon named Bhima was defeated by Lord Shiva. Bhima was the son of Karkati and the two of them used to live in the thick forest of Sahyadri range. After knowing the fact that his father Kumbhakarna was killed by the Vishnu avatar – Lord Rama, Bhima began meditating on Lord Shiva. Shiva was pleased with the devotion of Bhima and blessed him with immense prowess. However, Bhima started misusing his special powers and when he approached to kill Shiva’s devotee King Kamarupeshwar, who was then deeply engaged in the worship of Shiva, the Lord himself killed Bhima to save his ardent devotee Kamarupeshwar.
Other Tourist Destinations
Thousands of visitors come to this place to seek the blessings of one of the twelve Jyotirlingas present in the form of Bhimashankar. Many others also visit this place to enjoy trekking in the midst of beautiful dense forests, high ranges and rare species of flora and fauna. There are quite a few tourist places around Lord Bhīmashankar Temple and these are –
o Bombay Point,
o Gupta Bhimashankar: the origin of Bhima River,
o Nagphani Point
o Buddhisht carvings at Manmad and
o Hanuman Tank.