Where Legends and Spirituality Converge

Bhimashankar Mandir

The temple finds its abode on a mountain

Introduction :

Bhimashankar Temple, a prominent Shiva shrine nestled in the pristine landscapes of Bhimashankar village, Pune district, Maharashtra, is not just a testament to architectural grandeur but also a repository of ancient legends and spiritual fervor. This temple stands as one of the twelve Jyotirlingas in the world, a significant pilgrimage center where devotees and seekers converge to seek solace and enlightenment. As the history unfolds, it brings forth tales of saintly visitations, Maratha patronage, and the dynamic amalgamation of architectural styles that define this sacred edifice.

A Glimpse of Divinity in Nature :

The temple finds its abode on a mountain, approximately 110 kilometers away from the bustling city of Pune. The locale of Bhimashankar is not only hallowed by the temple’s presence but also blessed with the natural beauty of the surrounding Bhimashankar forest range. The Bhima River, originating from this village, graces the landscape, as do the old rock carvings depicting deities and legends such as God Bhimashankar, Bhootings, and Amba-Ambika on the nearby hills.

Historic Reverberations :

Saint Jnaneshwar’s Pilgrimage – The historical roots of Bhimashankar Temple can be traced back to the 13th century when it was already mentioned in writings. Saint Jnaneshwar, a luminary of the medieval era, is said to have embarked on a spiritual journey that took him to Tryambakeshwar and eventually Bhimashankar. The temple, thus, has been a site of deep reverence and spirituality for centuries.

Maratha Patronage :

The present construction of the Bhimashankar Temple reflects a blend of traditional and modern architectural styles, known as the Nagara style. The temple hall, dating back to the 18th century, was meticulously crafted under the patronage of Nāna Phadnavis of Peshwa. The iconic Gopura-shikhara, the ornate tower over the temple’s entrance, was another contribution of Nāna Phadnavis. Even King Shivaji himself granted the village of Kharosi to the temple. The temple’s daily rituals and upkeep were sustained by the local populace, who contributed their financial resources to support the divine abode.

A Bell with a Legacy :

A fascinating artifact in the temple’s courtyard is a bell donated by Chimaji Appa, the brother of the legendary Bajirao I. This bell, though originally from a Portuguese church, found its place at Bhimashankar after Maratha forces brought it from Vasai as a souvenir following their triumph over the Portuguese in the Battle of Baçaim in 1739. This bell is reminiscent of similar artifacts at the Khandoba Temple and Naro Shankar Mandir in Nashik, serving as a historical bridge between different cultures and faiths.

The Legend of Tripura :

Bhimashankar Temple is interwoven with a fascinating legend associated with the asura (demon) known as Tripura. According to the lore, Tripura undertook severe penance, and in return, Brahma granted him three invincible boons. Tripura’s three requests were to be immune to attacks from gods, demons, yakshas, and gandharvas; to make his three “puras” (cities) indestructible; and to allow him to traverse the entire universe at will. His demands were fulfilled, and Tripura embarked on a conquest to subjugate the three Lokas (worlds). He even vanquished the heavenly abode of Lord Indra. In despair, Indra sought the blessings of Lord Shiva, who vowed to annihilate Tripura.

It is said that, atop the Sahyadri hills, Lord Shiva assumed the form of “Bhīmā Shankara” at the behest of the gods. After a fierce battle, the sweat that dripped from Lord Shiva’s divine form is believed to have formed the Bhimarathi River.

Architectural Elegance :

Bhimashankar Temple showcases an architectural style characterized by the use of the Nagara style, commonly found in northern India. It exhibits similarities with the Hemadpanthi style, which is typical in the Deccan region. The central shrine houses a Swayambhu Shiva Linga, believed to be self-manifested, precisely at the heart of the Garbhagriha (sanctum sanctorum). The stone pillars and door frames within the temple are adorned with intricate carvings of deities and human figures, creating an atmosphere of divine grandeur.

During the 18th century, Nāna Phadnavis orchestrated the construction of the Sabhamandap and designed the towering shikhara. The temple, a gift from Chattrapati Shivaji Maharaj, plays an integral role in facilitating religious ceremonies.

Sacred Vicinity :

In addition to the primary Bhimashankar Mandir, the temple’s surroundings boast shrines dedicated to Siva Ganams, Shaakini, and Daakini, who played pivotal roles in Lord Shiva’s battle against the demon Tripurasur. Kamalaja Mata, an incarnation of Goddess Parvathi, is also venerated for her divine assistance to Lord Shiva.

Devotees can cleanse themselves in the sacred waters of Mokshakund Tirtha, a pristine pond believed to have originated from the penance of Maha-muni Kaushika. Nearby, the Jnyankund and the Sarvatirth are connected to the goddess Bhashitadevi. The Bhima River commences its eastward journey from Kusharanya tirth, located to the south of the temple.

Within the temple grounds, visitors can also pay their respects at a shrine dedicated to Lord Shani. In front of the Bhimashankar Shiva Linga stands a resplendent statue of Nandi.

The serene ambiance of Bhimashankar is further enhanced by the sound of an antique Portuguese church bell situated within the temple complex. A leisurely walk behind the temple takes one to the tranquil riverbanks, bordered by stretches of unspoiled forest and crowned by fortresses atop the nearby mountains.

Bhimashankar Temple is more than a religious edifice; it is a spiritual and cultural confluence, where legends, history, and architectural grandeur coalesce into a profound expression of devotion and reverence. It serves as a reminder of the rich tapestry of India’s spiritual heritage and the enduring traditions that continue to inspire devotees from around the world.

Editor – Kaalchakra Team

[ Note – Before Concluding anything as a Finale, Please Go through Original Scriptures of Vaidik Literature Written in Sanskrit and Also with Meaning of That time of Language. Because English is a Limited language to Explaining the Deeper Knowledge of Vaidik Kaal. ]