|Siva Temple, Baijnath, Himachal Pradesh
Ever visited a place from history when suddenly time seems to stand still, sounds and visions of its ancient past fade in and an unreal feeling washes over you? The ancient Siva Temple at Baijnath, Himachal Pradesh is one such exquisite place that managed to do that to me both times I have visited it over the past few years.
The temple has been continuously worshipped at, since its construction in 1209 A.D by two local merchants – Ahuka and Manyuka. Inscriptions at the temple indicate that a Siva temple existed at the spot even before the construction.
Legend has it that that Lord Siva , pleased with Ravana’s devotion agreed to accompany him to Lanka in the form of a ‘Lingam’, directing him not to let the Lingam touch the ground on his way. Ravana started moving from Mount Kailash to the south and reached Baijnath, when he felt the need to answer nature’s call. On seeing a shepherd, Ravana handed over the Lingam to him and went away to get relieved. Finding the Lingam heavy , the shepherd kept it on the ground , where it got established in the form of ‘Ardnarishwar’. At Baijnath, Ravana effigies are not burnt during Dusshehra , as a mark of respect for Ravana’s devotion to Siva.
Stepping into an ancient past
Nandi the Bull, the Lord’s mount , guardian of Siva and Parvati.
It faces the main shrine and one sees devotees whispering their prayers in its ears , as it is believed that their prayers directly reach Lord Siva thus.
A rare idol of Goddess Chamunda.
“The ten handed devi is shown in rage killing a demon while standing on the body of Kaal. On the right is shown another under her dagger. The goddess is depicted in usual manner in skelton form, with drooping breasts, bearing mundmala, having a mund in her crown and also bearing a row of munds on her forehead. Her rough thorn like hairs are shown in erected form to express the state of aggression. The posture of her left hand with a little finger resting on her chin in vismay mudra is strange. From the face expressions, goddess appears to be ecstatic of her act.” (source : http://www.baijnathtemple.com)
A unique form depicting Vishnu (right side) and his female counterpart (left side of the composite image), seated on the Garuda.The female counterpart combines the references to Saraswati (Book),Laxmi (Lotus) and Parvati (Mirror). Amazing!
The temple’s courtyard resonated with the drumbeats from the past, by this old man
seeming as ancient as the temple itself,
Another exquisite timeless sculpture carved on the temple’s walls
The temple ,with Nandi facing the main shrine
Take a look next time you are in Himachal Pradesh. Baijnath is a 20 minute drive from the scenic hill town of Palampur in Himachal Pradesh, India.
A beautiful piece of history evoking reverence and a sense of marvel at our ancient culture.