Bhimashankar Temple is an ancient shrine, one of the 12 Jyotirlingas of Shiva situated in the Ghat region of the Sahyadri Hills 127 kms from Shivaji Nagar (Pune) . Bhimashankar is also the source of the Bhima River, which flows southeast and merges with the Krishna River.
Far away from the ruckus of the urban life, peeping through the white fleecy clouds, endless stretches of virgin forests, lofty peaks that seem to reach out to the heavens, and the whispering waters of the Bhima River. Bhimashankar can be termed a pilgrim paradise. The dense forests surrounding the high ranges are an abode for 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. 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 a trekker’s delight and a traveler’s sojourn.
Many decades ago,in the dense forests of Dakini, on the lofty ranges of the Sahaydris lived the evil Asura by the name Bhima with his mother Karkati. Compassion and kindness shivered in the presence of Bhima. The divine and the mortals were scared of him alike. But he was confronted by certain questions about his own existence which continuously tormented him. When Bhima could no longer sustain his agony and curiosity, he asked his mother to unveil the mysteries of his life. He urged his mother to tell him who his father was and why had he abandoned them in the wilderness of the forest. After much hesitation and with a lingering fear Karkati, his mother revealed to him that he was the son of the mighty Kumbhakarna, the younger brother of the Lankadhishwar the mighty all powerful King Ravana of Lanka. Lord Vishnu in his incarnation as Lord Rama annihilated Kumbhakarna. Karkati told Bhima, that her husband and his father was killed by Ram in the great war. This infuriated Bhima and he vowed to avenge Lord Vishnu. To achieve this he embarked on a severe penance to please Lord Brahma. The compassionate creator was pleased by the dedicated devotee and granted him immense powers. This was a terrible mistake that Brahma did. The evil tyrant caused havoc in the three worlds. He defeated King Indra and conquered the heavens. He also defeated a staunch devotee of Lord Shiva – Kamarupeshwar and put him in the dungeons. He started torturing Rishies and Sadhus. All this angered the Gods. They all along with Lord Brahma beseeched Lord Shiva to come for their rescue. Lord Shiva consoled the Gods and agreed to rescue them from the tyrant. On the other hand Bhima insists and orders Kamarupeshwara to worship him instead of Lord Shiva. When Kamarupeshwara denied doing that and refused to do pooja to him, tyrant Bhima raised his sword to strike the Shiva Linga, to which Kamarupeshwar was doing abhishekam and pooja. As soon as Bhima managed to raise his sword, Lord Shiva appeared before him in all his magnificence. Then the terrible war began. But then the holy sage Narada appeared and requested Lord Shiva to put an end to this war. It was then that Lord Shiva reduced the evil demon to ashes and thus concluded the saga of tyranny. All the Gods and the holy sages present there requested Lord Shiva to make this place his abode. Lord Shiva thus manifested himself in the form of the Bhimashankar Jyotirlingam.
It is believed that the sweat that poured forth from Lord Shiva’s body after the battle formed the Bhimarathi River. This temple is closely associated with the legend of Shiva slaying the demon Tripurasura associated with the invincible flying citadels Tripuras. Shiva is said to have taken abode in the Bhima 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.
As per Shiv Mahapuran once Brahma and Vishnu had an argument in terms of supremacy of creation. To test them, Shiva pierced the three worlds as a huge endless pillar of light, the jyotirlinga. Vishnu and Brahma split their ways to downwards and upwards respectively to find the end of the light in either directions. Brahma lied that he found out the end, while Vishnu conceded his defeat. Shiva appeared as a second pillar of light and cursed Brahma that he would have no place in ceremonies while Vishnu would be worshipped till the end of eternity. The jyotirlinga is the supreme partless reality, out of which Shiva partly appears. The jyothirlinga shrines, thus are places where Shiva appeared as a fiery column of light. Each of the twelve jyothirlinga sites take the name of the presiding deity – each considered different manifestation of Shiva. At all these sites, the primary image is lingam representing the beginningless and endless Stambha pillar, symbolizing the infinite nature of Shiva.
The Bhimashankara temple is a composite of old and the new structures in the Nagara style of architecture. It shows the excellency of the skills achieved by ancient Vishwakarma sculptors. It is a modest yet graceful temple and it dates back to the 13th century and the sabhamandap developed in the 18th century by Nana Phadnavis. The shikhara was built by Nana Phadnavis. The great Maratha ruler Shivaji is 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. Sant Dnaneshwar 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 five large bells after he won in war against the Portuguese from Vasai Fort.
There are Buddha style carvings of Amba-Ambika, Bhootling and Bhimashankar in the hills of Manmaad near Bhimashankar at a height of 1034 metres. A big bell in Hemadpanthi structure built by Nana Phadanavis is a feature of Bhimashankar. Places that can be visited in are Hanuman Lake, Gupt Bhimashankar, Origin of River Bhima, Nag Phani, Bombay Point, Sakshi Vinayak and a lot more. Bhimashankar is a reserved forest area of 130 kms2 was declared as wildlife sanctuary in 1985. This sanctuary is a part of Western Ghat, so it is rich in floral and faunal diversity. A variety of birds, animals, insects, plants can be seen. A rare animal Malabar Giant squirrel locally called as ” Shekaru” can be found in deep woods. Bhimashankar is worth visiting for jungle lovers and trekkers as well as for pilgrims. This temple is very famous in Pune and people from all around the world come to visit this temple.
Three worship services are offered every day. Mahashivratri is a season of great festivity here.
Mandir open – 4:30 am
Aarti – 4:45 am to 5.00 am
Nijarup (Original shivlinga)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
Aarti – 3:00 pm to 3:30 pm
Shringar Darshans – 3:30 am to 9:30 pm.
Aarti – 7:30 pm to 8:00 pm
(Except Pradosham on Monday or Amavasya or Grahan or Mahashivratri. Kartihik Month, Shravan Month No Mukut and no Shringar Darshans).