Friday, 22 May 2020

Unique Baijinath temple complex where God Shiva and Goddess Parvati are worshiped together, Uttrakhand

1000 year old. Baijnath_Temple,Uttrakhand en.wikipedia.org
The Uttrakhand state is not only famous for beautiful and breath-taking mountainous terrains and fine greenery, but also for innumerable old Hindu temples of beauty and varied architectural styles. Many of them are on the banks of fine rivers in a serene surrounding where your spiritual experience gets a boost. At Baijnath temple both God Shiva and Goddess Parvat are worshiped together. 
1000 year old. Baijnath_Temple, Uttrakhand, tripadvisor com.
The town of Baijnath in Uttarakhand, India is yet another place of Hindu pilgrimage where there is a cluster of 18 ancient Hindu temples (7th to 11th Century AD).  What is special about this temple complex?   At  all Shiva temples across the country,  both the lord and his consort Parvati are nor worshiped in the same sanctum/ garbagriha. In Tamil Nadu in the old massive Shiva temples at Thanjavur city (Sri Brihadeshwar), Madurai city (Sri Meenakshi temple)  and at Tirunelveli city (Nellaiappar temple),  the respective lord's consort  'Prgannayagi', 'Meenakshi' and 'Kanthimathi' have a separate shrine where nithya (daily) pujas are done. The one at Madurai is  big and famous and Meenakshi is the presiding  goddess of this sprawling city. 

At Bajinath temple complex in all  shrines  Goddess Parvati is enshrined with her husband Shiva, indeed a rare sight. The complex is along the banks of Gomati river at an elevation of 1,125 m (3,691 ft) above msl. There are as many as 102 stone images of divinity, out of which only some idols are earmarked for worship and the rest are under the custody of the ASI - the Archaeological Survey of India and there are no puja protocols for them. Presumably, the reason here is preservation of such old images. They  may be unfit for daily puja, etc as they may be weak, ready to crumple.  It seems many of the images appear to be made of metamorphic rocks that are not as strong as igneous rocks like granite or granodiorite. Vaidyanath (Shiva), Parvati, Nritya Ganapati, Karttikeya, Narsimha, Brahma, Mahishasurmardini, Sapta Nartikas, Surya, Garuda and Kubera are the other deities being worshiped here.

Baijnath town  (Bageshwar district)  is at a distance of 22 km from Bageshwar and 16 km from Kausani. The style of temple architecture seems to be ''Nagara'' type, quite common in the state of Odisha.  What is quite interesting is the presence of  numerous alcoves with images of gods and Goddesses from the Hindu pantheon  on the exterior walls of the temple.  
Baijnath_Temple, Uttrakhand, flicker.com
In the main shrine  lord Shiva in the form of linga is worshiped as  Vaidyanath. Here, his consort Parvati is made of a weak rock - grey chloride schist. But, the  huge life-size sculpture is a beautiful one. As seen in other Shiva temples one can notice  a life-size image of Kal Bhairava Temple in this shrine. To enter the temple  one has to cross the vestibule that has a large ‘Mandap’ in the center and two huge balconies on either side.  The entrance door of the sanctum is carved with fine  artistic images. As in other Shiva temples, the 
big stone bull is placed facing the sanctum which is made of  
five projections on every side and a tall curved shikhar (spire).

The legend has it that Lord Shiva and Parvati were married at the confluence of river Gomati and Garur Ganga at this quiet place. The local folklore also says that temple was built by a Brahmin women, who  was an ardent devotee of  lord Shiva. Yet another legend says that  God Ganesha  tricked the Lanka king Ravana who wanted to take the Shivalinga (given to him by the lord himself) to his country.   Taking the guise of a shepherd he helped Ravana relax for a while  and place the linga there. Later, the king was unable to lift it and move it over to Lanka. It was stuck there firmly there. 
The other temples  go by the name of  Kedareshwar, Laxmi Narayan, Brahmi Devi etc.  The temple complex was built by the  Katyuri kings who were followers of Shaivaism  sect. For unknown reasons they shifted their capital from  Joshimath to Kartikeyapura,  and large number of people followed them to this place . With a view to catering to their spiritual needs,  the ruler built the temples here;  the main  one is dedicated to Vaidyanath -  Shiva.
Thanks to the Katyuri queen  who ordered the construction of a flight of steps made of stone right from the riverside for the benefit of the pilgrims.   
Baijnath_Temple stone thelandoutthere.com/
Bheem Pathar (Stone): In the small garden just across the entrance to the temple lies a huge stone called  Bheem Pathar.  The local belief  has been that one of the Pandava brothers - Bheeman used to play with it  here during their long exile from their kingdom.  It is said that no other man had lifted the huge stone from the ground except Bheeman. . It is believed that no other man can lift this stone except Bheem. It is said this stone can be lifted  by 9 men ''with their index finger standing in a circle surrounding the stone while chanting “Om Namah Shivaya”. 
The temple complex dates back to AD 1202 as per several temple inscriptions.  The Rohillas (Muslim rulers)  in AD 1743-1744 plundered the temples and damaged the Shikhar of the main  shrine. King Gyan Chand took the initiative and rebuilt it during his reign. 
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baijnath_Temple_Complex
http://infodrishti.com/2016/12/1000-year-old-ancient-baijnath-temple-with-mysterious-bheem-pathar-uttarakhand.html