Bhimashankar Jyotirlinga is a Hindu temple located in the village of Bhorgiri in the state of Maharashtra, Bharat in the ghat regions of the Sahyadri mountains. It is the sixth out of the twelve Jyotirlingas and is a testament to the architecture of Vishwakarma sculptors. This place is also the source of the Bhima river which flows southeast and merges with Krishna river at Raichur.
The presiding deity here is Bhagavan Bhimashankar Mahadev in the form of a Svayambhu or self-manifested Shivalinga.
A very long time back, in the dense forests of Dakini, there was a rakshasa called Bhima with his mother, Karkati. Asura Bhima was very ruthless and cruel and had no words and feelings like compassion and mercy in his dictionary and nature. Everybody was scared of him. Once he asked his mother about his existence and about his father. To this his mother replied that his father’s name was Kumbhakarna and he was killed by Sri Rama, an incarnation of Vishnu.
To this he was very infuriated with Vishnu and vowed to avenge his father’s death. He did great penance for Brahma and being pleased by him, Brahma gave him a lot of supernatural powers which was a big mistake. He created havoc everywhere disturbing all rishis and sadhus in their pious activities. He defeated King Indra and dethroned him.
All this angered the gods and they went to Bhagwan Shiva for help. Shiva agreed to help them. Meanwhile Bhima had also defeated a staunch devotee of Bhagwan Shiva – Kamarupeshwar, and put him in the dungeons. He then ordered Kamarupeshwara to worship him instead of Shiva to which Kamarupeshwara denied.
The shrewd and cruel Bhima raised his sword to strike the Shivalinga, to which king Kamarupeshwar was doing abhishek and pooja. As soon as Bhima raised his sword, Bhagwan Shiva appeared before him in all his magnificence and lustre.
The terrible war began. Devarishi Narada appeared and requested Shiva to put an end to this war. It was then that Bhagwan Shiva reduced the evil demon to ashes and thus concluded the saga of tyranny. All the devas and the holy sages present there requested Bhagwan Shiva to make this place his abode. Shiva thus manifested himself in the form of the Bhimashankar Jyotirlinga.
It is believed that the sweat that poured forth from Lord Shiva’s body after the battle formed the Bhima river.
History and Architecture
Although the present structure of the temple appears to be of comparatively recent origins, 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 seen in the temple that the Lingam is exactly at the centre of the floor of the Garbhagriha (the Sanctum Sanctorum). Intricate carvings of divinities 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 Bhagwan Shani Mahatma (also called Saneeswara). The image of Nandi, Bhagwan Shiva’s vahana is installed as is the case with all the Shiva Temples, just at the entrance of the temple.
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 Bhima river begins to flow eastward, and the Jyanakund.
The shikhara was added by Nana Fadnavis in the 18th century.
1.The Bhima river was formed from the sweat drops from the body of Shiva during his battle with the asura.
2.It is believed that Shiva keeps a silent vigil over this place.
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The Nagara style is typically characterised by the architectural wonder, which ideally portrayed the craftsmanship of the artists. A study of the temples of northern India reveals two distinct features, in Planning and in Elevation. In plan, the temples were basically quadrangle with graduated projections in the centre. In elevation, it resembles a tower gradually inclining inwards in a convex curve. According to the plan the projections are carried upwards to the top of the Sikhara, and thus there is strong emphasis on vertical lines in elevation. The Nagara style is spread across various parts of India. It therefore, exhibits diverse verities and implications in separate outlines of development and elaboration. Such plans and the curvilinear tower are, however, common to every medieval temple of northern India.