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Monday, August 1, 2011

A Thrilling Jungle , Bhimashankar

Bhimashankar Temple is located in the village of  Bhorgiri 50 km North West of Khed, near Pune, in India. It is located 127 km away from Shivaji Nagar (Pune) in the Ghat region of the Sahyadri hills. It takes four hours to reach there. Bhimashankar is also the source of the Bhima river, which flows south east and merges with the Krishna River near Raichur. Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary located here is a popular weekend getaway from Mumbai and Pune.






The route to Bhimashankar is via Manchar.The second route is from Rajgurunagar via Vada. One can go to this place, full of natural beauty and lovely scenery, and be back to Pune in one day. Bhimashankar is a good paradise for nature lovers, trekkers, jungle lovers and bird watchers. It is recommended to visit the place for at least 2/3 days. The best seasons to go to Bhimashankar are monsoon and winter. There is a beautiful temple of Lord Shiva which is one of the 12 Jyotirlingas in India. Lord Shankara after getting angry, killed Rakshas Tripurasura. The heat generated from their war caused the origin of river Bhima. That is why it is called Bhimashankar.

There are Buddha style carvings of Amba-Ambika, Bhootling and Bhimashankar in the hills of Manmaad near Bhimashankar. This is at a height of 1034 mtrs. A big size bell in Hemadpanthi structure built by Nana Phadanavis is also a feature of Bhimashankar. Various places that could be visited in Bhimashankar are Hanuman Lake, Gupt Bhimashankar, Origin of River Bhima, Nag Phani, Bombay Point, Sakshi Vinayak and a lot more. Bhimashankar is a conserve red forest area and wildlife sanctuary where a variety of birds, animals, flowers, plants can be seen. A rare animal “Shekru” can be found in deep woods. Bhimashankar is worth visiting for jungle lovers and trekkers as well as for pilgrims.

The temple is a composite of old and the new structures and is built in the Nagara style of architecture. It is a modest yet graceful temple and it dates back to mid 18th century. The shikhara of the temple was built by Nana Phadnavis. The great Maratha ruler Shivaji is also said to have made endowments to this temple to facilitate worship services. As with other Shiva temples in this area, the sanctum is at a lower level.

Although the structure here is fairly new, the shrine Bhimashankaram (and the Bhimarathi River) have been referred to in literature dating back to the 13th century CE. Saint Jñaneshwar is said to have visited Tryambakeshwar and Bhimashankar. A unique bell (Roman style) can be seen in front of the temple which was presented by Chimaji Appa (Brother of Bajirao Peshwa I and uncle of Nanasaheb Peshwa). Chimaji Appa collected two large bells after he won in war against the Portuguese from Vasai Fort. He offered one here at Bhimashankar and the other at Menovali near Wai in front of a Shiva Temple on the banks of the Krishna River.

There is a shrine to Kamalaja near the Bhimashankara temple. Kamalaja is an incarnation of Parvati, who aided Shiva in his battle against Tripuraasura. Kamalaja was worshipped with offerings of lotus flowers by Brahma. Shaakini and Daakini the Shivaganas who helped Shiva in the battle against the demon are also honored and worshipped here.

The Mokshakund thirtha is located behind the Bhimashankara temple, and it is associated with the rishi Kaushika. There are also the Sarvathirtha, the Kusharanya thirtha where the Bhima River begins to flow eastward, and the Jyanakund.

Bhimashankar is an ancient shrine, one of the 12 Jyotirlingas of Shiva. Far away from the tumult of the urban life, peeping through the white fleecy clouds, Bhimashankar, one of the twelve Jyotirlingas, can certainly be termed as a Pilgrim Paradise. The dense forests surrounding the high ranges also play an abode to the rare species of flora and fauna. Situated at the extreme end of the Sahyadri Ranges, this place gives a wonderful view of the world around the rivers, and hill stations around the temple.

Bhimashankar is also the source of the Bhima River, which flows south-east and merges with the Krishna River. Endless stretches of virgin forests, lofty peaks that seem to reach out to the heavens, and the whispering waters of the Bhima River, Bhimashankar is definitely one of God’s choicest creations.

It seems as if Lord Shiva is keeping a silent vigil over the majestic ranges of the Sahyadris. The serenity interrupted only by the silent murmuring of the cool breeze and the occasional chirping of birds, Bhimashankar is definitely a pilgrim’s paradise, a trekker’s delight and a traveller’s sojourn. (see pg no.11)

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