Bhimashankar Jyotirlinga - Lord Shiva's temple
Bhimashankar Temple is a Jyotirlinga located 50 km northwest of Khed, near Pune, in Maharashtra. Bhima Shankar Temple lies on the banks of the river Bhima, in the ghat region of the Sahyadri hills in the village of Bhavagiri.
Legend behind Bhimashankar Temple
In the dence forest of Dakini, there lived a demon named Bhima with his mother Karkati. Bhima harassed and tortured everyone. Once he asked his mother about the details of his father. His mother told him that his father Kumbhakarna is the younger brother of Ravana, the king of Lanka. Both his father and uncle were slain by Lord Rama. She told her that Lord Rama was incarnation of Lord Vishnu. This infuriated Bhima and he vowed to avenge Lord Vishnu.
Defeat of Devas by Bhima and Kamrupeshwar's devotion to Lord Shiva
Bhima performed severe penance to please Lord Brahma. Pleased, Brahma granted him the boon of becoming a very strong man. With this new strength, he captured all the divines including Vishnu and Indra. They were in his control. After this he won a victory over the great Shiva devotee Kamarupeshwar. Kamarupeshwar did not stop his worship of Shiva even when in prison. He performed the Puja with the same devotion, observing all the procedures his wife also joined him in this.
On the other hand, Brahma and Vishnu along with all the other divines started praying Shankara and of asking for deliverance from the wicked Demon King. Shiva assured the divines and sent them home after pacifying them.
Lord Shiva defeats Bhima
Bhima asked Kamrupeshwar to worship him instead of Lord Shiva. When Kamrupeshwar refused, Bhima raised his sword to strike the Shiva Linga. But as soon as he raised his sword, Lord Shiva appeared before him in full magnificence. Then the terrible war began. Holy sage Narad 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 Jyotirlinga.
Another story from Puran
There is another famous story about Bhimashankar. In ancient days there was a demon named Tripurasura, He harass and torture everybody in all three world namely Swarga, Naraka and Patal. Every one even Gods were scared of him. Then Lord Shiva himself came to destroy Tripurasura. Lord Shankar assumed colossal proportions. Tripurasura feared when they saw this Rudravatar. The fight went on and at last Lord Shiva killed the wicked demon and set the there worlds free. After the fight Lord shiva was very tired so in order to get some rest he settled in the high areas of Sahyadri mountains. His sweat started pouring down from his huge body in thousands of streams. It all joined together and collected in a pond or Kund. The river that started from there is known as Bhima, which can be seen even today. Devotees then prayed to Bhimakaya Rudra to reside there for ever. Lord Shiva listened to the devotees and stayed there as a Jyotirlinga forever.
Architecture and surroundings
The Bhimashankara temple is a composite of old and the new structures in the Nagara style of architecture. 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 Diwan of the Peshwar, Nana Phadanvis renovated this temple. It is decorated with the Dashavatar statues. These are very beautiful to look at. A unique and a huge bell can be seen in front of the the temple was presented by Chimaji Appa. (brother of Bajirao Peshwa). Chimaji Appa collected five large bells after he won in war against the Portuguese from Vasai Fort. When this bell is rung, the entire echoes with its sound.
Bhiashankar is declared as wildlife sanctuary in 1985. It is rich in floral and fauna 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 forest. It is said that the lions from these forests come to the shrine every night to get a Darshan of the Lord.
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
Other temples and shrines
There is a shrine to Kamalaja near the Bhimashankara temple. Kamalaja is an incarnation of Parvati, who helped Shiva in his battle against Tripuraasura. Shaakini and Daakini the Shivaganas who helped Shiva in the battle against the demon are also honored and worshiped here.
The Mokshakund thirtha is behind the Bhimashankara temple, and it is associated with the rishi Kaushika. There are also the Sarvathirtha, the Kusharanya thirtha where the Bhima river begins to flow eastward, and the Jyanakund.