Bhimasankar Temple ( Part 2 )

Karishma Mishra
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Transportation

One route to Bhimashankar from Pune is via Manchar. Another route is from Rajgurunagar (alias Khed) via Wada.

Bhimashankar is 74 miles or 127 km from Pune by road. Private vehicles and cabs travel from Pune to Khed (Rajguru Nagar) to Manchar to Taaleghar and finally to the Bhimashankar temple. State buses go there from Pune daily and take more than five hours. During the Mahashivaratri festival, when there is a great fair at the temple, buses ply to and fro daily. It is accessible from Karjat on the Pune — Mumbai section of the Central railway. There is no proper road from Karjat to Bhimashankar and only the devotees who wish to go to the temple on foot during festivals use this road.

From Mumbai

If coming from Mumbai, take Pune road. About 31.02 km from Deonar traffic junction lies the Mumbai Pune Expressway (NH-4) after crossing Navi Mumbai and Panvel. After 52 km from Panvel is Lonavala and 50 km from there is on NH-4 is Wadgaon. At Wadgaon, turn left on the State Highway towards Chakan which is about 12 km. At Chakan, take NH 50 towards Manchar which is around 65 km to Bhimashankar. From Mumbai direct State Transport buses are available from Kurla Nehrunagar and Kalyan. you can go by changing buses. ST buses are available for Ghodegaon and Manchar from Mumbai central, Parel and Kurla Nehrunagar. after reaching Ghodegaon or Manchar next journey is easy due to more frequency of buses. Traveling from Mumbai to Bhimashankar takes 6 hours by private car and state transport vehicles take 8 hours.

From Pune

If starting from Pune, drive along the Pune-Nasik highway and turn off at the road leading to Bhimashankar. The mountain road is quite a steep climb. The distance is about 120 km from Pune.

Government MSRTC buses (non-luxury) run from Pune to Bhimashankar every 30 minutes from 5:30 am till 4:00 pm. You can get State Transport buses from Shivajinagar, Pune. The fare is Rs. 155 and it takes around 4-5 hours to reach there from Pune.

 

Accommodation

The local upajjhayas (priests) make arrangements for the lodging and boarding of pilgrims at a small cost. Visitors are accommodated in either temporary hutments or in Dharamshala near the village. Natraj Holiday Resort located less than 8 km from the temple, has 23 rooms. A new Dharamshala is under construction. There are several hotels near Bhimashankar. Places like Shinoli and Ghodegaon are good for staying near Bhimashankar. Accommodation at Bhimashankar mainly comprises two bungalows (with a capacity of 8 beds) and tents

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Visit times

The best time to visit is between August and February. Though any time of the year is good to visit Bhimashankar, it is better to avoid visiting it during summer. Similarly during monsoon, unless one likes trekking, it is better to avoid a visit. That leaves the best period to seven months between August and February.

 

City details

The Khed/Rajgurunagar is the administrative taluka in Pune district, comprising the upper reaches of the Ghod and Bhīmā rivers. Bhimashankar Temple has located in the village of Bhorgiri 50 km in the north west of Khed. It is located 127 km away from Pune in the Ghat region of the Sahyadri hills. It is also the location of the Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary. It is about 130 km from Pune by road and 62 km away from Manchar. Bhimashankar is in Pune District.

 

Temple

Bhimashankar temple, Maharashtra

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.

 

Pooja Details

Top view of Bhimashankar Temple

Three worship services are offered every day. Mahashivratri is a season of great festivity here.

Temple Timings
Event Timings
Mandir opening time 4.30 am
Morning Aarti 4:45 am to 5.00 am
Nijarup darshan 5:00 am to 5.30 am
Normal Darshans and Abhishekam 5:30 am to 2:30 pm
No Abhishekam between 12:00 pm to 12:30 pm
Maha Puja (Naivedya Pooja) 12.00 pm. to 12.30 pm
Afternoon Aarti 3:00 pm to 3:30 pm
Shringar Darshans 3:30 am to 9:30 pm
Evening Aarti 7:30 pm to 8:00 pm

This is not to be confused with the legendary Mruthyunjaya Lingam, where Shiva emerged from a Shivalingam to vanquish Yama the Lord of death. The Shiva Purāna and the Koti Rudra Samhita refer to Bhimashankar temple in the Kamaroopa country. However, there is also a reference to Mount Sahya, where it is stated that Shiva — Bhimashankara —  appeared on the Sahyādrīs.

Karishma Mishra
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