"Full many a ray of purest ray serene the dark unfathomed caves of ocean bear:
Full many a flower is born to blush unseen, and waste its sweetness to the desert air."
from "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard" by Thomas Gray

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Dwadashajyotirlinga yatra : Day 5 - 2 - Bhimashankara

Bhimashankar (jyotirlinga #5) is located in the Sahyadri hills, in the village of Bhorgiri, about 80 miles from Pune. After killing Tripurasura, Shiva danced in a rage, and caused the river Bhima to appear on earth, hence the name Bhimashankara.

The ancient temple was built around the swayambhu shivalinga - naturally formed shivalingam. The modest temple that stands there is of more recent origin, around the eighteenth century. Nana Phadnavis had made an endowment to build the gopuram - dome, of the Bhimashankara temple. The Maratha ruler, Shivaji, is also believed to have given money for the upkeep of this temple.
Beautiful landscape as we travel towards the Sahyadri mountains

It was about 300 steps mostly downhill to the temple from the parking place. It is an easy walk, the steps are convenient and there is a small wall on the edge where monkeys would be sitting. As I was walking down chanting Aum Namaha Shivaaya, I suddenly heard a  shriek and then lots of giggling. It appeared that Ashverya had tried to get close to a monkey, and he tried to grab her camera. The little god stayed to herself after that, taking pictures of the monkeys but was not at all tempted to get closer.

It was late afternoon, and the abhishek - annointment, in a shivalaya - home of Shiva is usually completed by noon. We would not be able to do the abhishek - annointment, of the lingam at Bhimashankara. There were very few people, and the temple staff was not interested in making money, unlike many other places. They told us in a matter-of-fact manner that we could enter the sanctum sanctorum and worship on our own. We got in line to get darshan - viewing, of the deity, and touch our heads to the shivalingam. After the parikrama - circumambulation of the temple, and fifteen minutes of looking around at the natural beauty, it was time to climb the stairs to get back to the bus. 
Bhimashankar, source: www.whereincity.com/photo-gallery/230/747.htm

Bhimashankar is set in scenic beauty with many paths on the mountainside for trekking, and one can easily spend the whole day here. The Bhimashankar wildlife sanctuary is near by, and it has a large population of leopards, monkeys, deer and the like. But all we saw on the way were a few harmless monkeys. It was drizzling slightly when we reached the temple, and by the time we started back, it was a regular downpour, not too heavy but definitely needing an umbrella or a poncho, that most of us had left behind in the bus. We kept climbing through the rain. 

50 steps up from the temple of Bhimashankar, is the temple of Kamalaja - or Parvati, who aided Shiva in his battle against the demon Tripurasura. The temple floor was extremely slippery with everyone walking in barefoot from the pouring rain. Ashverya and I applied the vermillion from the Devi temple and continued the climb up. It tired me, and made me wonder how I had ever hoped to climb Kedarnath on foot. Anyway, we had a helicopter trip planned for that temple, so this was needless analysis.

We had now completed our visit to 5 jyotirlingam, and we look forward to one of my very favorite temples of Shiva - Mahakaleshwar. Swamiji announced in the bus that there was a change of plan. Instead of driving to Indore and driving another hour to reach Mahakaleshwar in Ujjain, and visiting Omkareshwar the next day, we would visit Omkareshwar tomorrow afternoon and visit Mahakaleshwar the next morning. This would allow us to see Mahakaleshwar's unique bhasmarti - worship with ashes, that is performed every morning at 4 in the morning. 

Bhasmarti at Mahakal, my secret wish fulfilled!!! Ever since I had seen the itinerary in Dallas more than a month ago, I had been hoping against hope for this.

Pune is 80 miles away, a distance of three hours or more depending on road conditions and stops along the way. I sat with Anantanandaji in the bus, a brilliant opportunity to understand a few things that I had asked him so far in chance conversations here and there, and he answered patiently despite the long and tiring day. I listened and tried to grasp some of the new ideas, but with the motion of the bus and the droning noise and my bodyache and swollen legs, I started drifting into sleep. He asked me if I needed to put my feet up, that I could rest my feet on the armrests of the seats in front of me. Even my sleep-addled mind knew that would not be happening. There is no way I was going to put my feet up in his presence. Then he asked if he should massage my feet to get the circulation going, and that actually woke me up briefly - No, No, No, Swamiji. I would rather have my legs sawed off. And then he went on to educate me further but I was drifting off to sleep. I remember hearing Swamiji say - don't sleep, listen to what I am saying, I am not going to repeat this. And I nodded for a while, and finally nodded off.  
I woke up when we reached Pune tired and hungry, and the fantastic hotel and the great dinner put us in a good mood already.

Aum Namaha Shivaaya!!

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