Bhimashankar Temple is a Jyotirlinga in the village of Bhorgiri near Khed, Pune. Bhimashankar is also the source of the Bhima river which flows southeast and merges with the Krishna river near Raichur. Other than Bhimashankar there are two more Jyotirlingas in Maharashtra viz Tryambakeshwar near Nashik and Grishneshwar.
This temple is associated with the legend of Shiva killing Tripurasura. The Gods requested Shiva to reside at Bhimashankar after he killed Tripurasura. The sweat that poured from his body after this war is said to have formed the Bhimarathi river. Built in the Nagara style of architecture this temple is relatively new and was built in the 18th century. But one can find mention of Bhimashankar in literature going back to the 13th century. Sant Dnyaneshwar is said to have visited this temple. Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj is said to have made endowments to this temple to facilitate worship. Chimaji Appa, the younger brother of Bajirao I donated a Roman bell which he had collected after winning a war against the Portugese from the Vasai fort. This bell can still be seen at the temple. The shikhara of the temple was built by Nana Phadnavis. A big bell in Hemadpanthi structure built by Nana Phadanavis is a feature of Bhimashankar.
There is a shrine known as Kamalaja near Bhimashankar temple. Kamalaja is a tribal Goddess dedicated to a tree named Kalamb and is said to be an avatar of Parvati. She helped Shiva in the battle against Tripurasura. Kamalaja was later worshipped by offerings of lotus flower by Lord Bramha. The Mokshakunda teertha is behind the Bhimashankar temple and is associated with Kaushika Rishi who is said to have done “tapas” here. At Kusharanya teertha the Bhima river begins to flow eastward. Within the temple premises there is also a small shrine dedicated to Lord Shani. There are also various shrines dedicated to the Shiva ganas and Shakini – Dakini who assisted Shiva in the battle against the demon Bhima. Places that can be visited in the vicinity include Hanuman Lake, Gupt Bhimashankar, Origin of River Bhima, Nag Phani, Bombay Point, and Sākshi Vinayak. Bhimashankar is a reserved forest area of 130.78 sq. km and was declared a wildlife sanctuary in 1985. This sanctuary is a part of the Western Ghats, so it is rich in floral and faunal diversity. A variety of birds, animals, insects and plants can be seen. A rare animal Malabar Giant squirrel locally called as “Shekaru” is found here.
The nearest airport and railway station are both at Pune.
You can visit the temple while on a trip to Pune or while visiting Mahabaleshwar. It can also be a one-day short trip from Mumbai or Nashik.
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