Address : Shivtritha, Shree kshtrea, Bhimashankar
City/District : Bhimashankar
State : Maharashtra
Bhimashankar Temple is a Jyotirlinga shrine located 50 km northwest of Khed taluka (alias ), near Pune, in Maharashtra, India. It is located 127 km from Shivajinagar (in Pune) in the Ghat region of the Sahyadri Mountains. Bhīmāshankar is also the source of the river Bhima, which flows southeast and merges with the Krishna river near Raichur. The other Jyotirlinga shrines in Maharashtra are Trimbakeshwar near Nashik and Grishneshwar.
Although the present structure of the temple appears to be of comparatively recent origin, the shrine Bhimashankaram (and the Bhimarathi river) have been referred to in literature dating back to the 13th century. Built in the Nagara style of architecture, this temple is a modest yet graceful temple and dates back to the 18th century. One can also find borrowed influences from the Indo Aryan style of architecture.
It is believed that the ancient shrine was erected over a Swayambhu Lingam (that is the self emanated Shiva Lingam). It can be observed that the Lingam is exactly at the centre of the floor of the Garbagriham (the Sanctum Sanctorum) of the temple. Intricate carvings of divine beings, interspersed with human figurines adorn the pillars and the doorframes of the temple. Scenes from mythology find themselves captured in these magnificent carvings.
Within the temple precincts, there is also a small shrine dedicated to Lord Shani Mahātma (also called Shanaeshwara). The idol of Nandi, Lord Shiva's vāhan (vehicle) has been installed as is the case with all the Siva Temples, just at the entrance of the temple.
This temple is closely associated with the legend of Shiva slaying the demon Tripurāsura associated with the invincible flying citadels, the "Tripurās". Shiva is said to have taken abode in the 'Bhima Shankara' form, upon the request of the Gods, on the crest of the Sahyadri hills, and the sweat that poured forth from His body after the battle is said to have formed the Bhimarathi river.
The Gopura-shikhara of the temple was built by Nāna Phadnavis. The great Maratha ruler, Shivāji is also said to have made endowments to this temple to facilitate the carrying out, of worship services. As with other Shiva temples in this area, the sanctum is at a lower level. The 'Shani temple' is located inside the main complex of the temple of Bhimashankar.
Between the two pillars outside the 'Shani' temple, one comes across an ancient huge Portuguese bell. Behind the temple, there is a small pathway that leads one to the banks of a river. "Stepping out of the Temple, one is awed with a bewitching view of the virgin wilderness, occasionally interrupted by the glimpses of the majestic forts on the surrounding mountains."
History unveils itself in the peaks of the Sahyadris. Bhimashankar – a place where spiritual splendor merges with nature's magnificence is definitely a pilgrim's paradise. There are other temples and shrines, near the main temple. There is a shrine to Kamalaja near the Bhimashankar temple. Kamalaja is an incarnation of Parvathi, who aided Shiva in his battle against Tripuraasura. Kamalajaa was worshipped with offerings of lotus flowers by Brahma.
There is a shrine for Siva Ganams, Shaakini and Daakini who assisted Shiva in the battle against the demon, Bhima. Kaushika Maha Muni is said to have done 'Tapas' (penance) there. The place where he bathed is called Mokshakund thirtham, which is located behind the Bhimashankar temple. There are also the Sarvathirtha, the Kusharanya thirtha - where the Bhīmā river begins to flow eastward, and the Jnyanakund.
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