By Umesh Namdev Jadhav *
Maharashtra boasts of a large number of popular and revered religious and spiritual places that attracts large number of tourists. Trimbakeshwar (Tryambakeshwara), Bhimashankar, Parali Vaijnath, Grishneswar and Aundh Nagnath are the prominent Jyotirlingas in the state of Maharashtra.
In continuation under “75 Destinations with Tour Guides” a webinar on ‘Jyotirlingam Temples of Maharashtra’ was conducted December 11, 2021. ( * This article is based on the presentation by Regional Level Guide Umesh Namdev Jadhav. The excerpts are encapsulated in the release by the Tourism Ministry .
These excerpts stated that these shrines enshrining Shiva in the form of a Jyotirlingam and have been revered since time immemorial in the Indian system of beliefs. Out of 12 Jyotirlingas, the southernmost of these is located at Rameswaram in Tamilnadu while the northernmost is located in the Himalayas at Kedarnath in Uttarkhand. These temples are closely linked with legends from the puranas and are rich in history and tradition.
Tryambakeshwar/ Trimbakeshwar Jyotirlingam is located about 28 km South West of Nashik and it is also one of four places where Sinhastha Fair (Kumbh Mela) is held which draws people from all over India. This temple built of black stone in the Nagara style of architecture is enclosed in a spacious courtyard. The sanctum, internally a square and externally a stellar structure, houses a small Shivaling – Tryambaka. The Shivaling is seen in a depression on the floor of the sanctum; water constantly oozes out from the top of the Shivaling. Usually, the Shivaling is covered with a silver mask and on festive occasions with a golden mask with five faces, each with a golden crown.. The structure of the temple is very elegant and rich.
Bhimashankar Temple is an ancient Shiva Temple in the Sahyadri Mountain Ranges of Maharashtra attracts devotees from all over India. Located in Pune District, it is of the important pilgrim centres of India. It is also the source of the river Bhima. The temple is closely associated with the legend of Shiva slaying the demon Tripurasura. 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 from his body after the battle is said to have formed the Bhimarathi River. The Temple is built in the Nagara style of architecture. Bhimashankar is around 110 kms from Pune and 213 kms from Mumbai.
Grishneshwar Jyotirlingam is situated in Aurangabad, the temple was constructed by Ahilyabai Holkar. It is aslo known as Ghushmeshwar. The archaeological antiquity goes back to the 11th-12th centrury CE. The temple name has been mentioned in Purana literature sucha as Shiva Purana and Padma Purana. The current temple structure is the one that was constructed by Queen Ahilyabai Holkar. It is made from red stone and has a five-tier nagara style shikhara. The temple’s linga is east-facing, court hall consisting of 24 pillars engraved with beautiful carvings of many legends and stories about Lord Shiva. The statue of Nandi is a bliss to the eyes of the visitors. The UNESCO World Heritage Site – Ellora Caves are very close by about 7-10 minutes’ drive from the temple.
Aundha Nagnath in Hingoli District of Maharashtra is a 13th –century temple. Aundha Nagnath is supposed to be the finest Jyotirlinga. It is considered to be the first or ‘Ádhya’ linga supposedly installed by the Pandavas. The temple of ‘Nagnath’ built in the Hemadpanti style of architecture and has exquisite carvings. The temple was built by Yadavas of Devgiri, The temple has beautiful sculptural ornamentation. The present temple is in a fortified enclosure. The Ardha Mandpa / Mukha Mandapa at the entrance of the temple which takes to the main hall. The pillars and outer walls of the temple are highly decorated with sculptural ornamentation. The main hall has three such entrances. 210 Km from Aurangabad and Chondi is the nearest railway station. However, Parbhani is the convenient railway station.
The Jyotirlingam Temple of Parali Vaijnath also called Vaidyanath and it was renovated by Rani Ahilyabai Holkar. The temple is built on a hill using stones. Temple is approximately at a height of 75-80 feet from ground level. The main entrance is from East and the magnificent door present there is brass plated. Surrounded by four strong walls, the temple consists of corridors and a courtyard.
Out of 12 Jyotirlingas, the southernmost of these is located at Rameshwaram in Tamilnadu while the northernmost is located in the Himalayas at Kedarnath in Uttarkhand. These temples are closely linked with legends from the puranas and are rich in history and tradition. When talking about puranas, the mention of sacred city of Varanasi is must. The city is example of one the oldest living inhabitations of the world, the sacred city of Varanasi or Benaras. Nestled on the banks of the holy Ganges River, it has been attracting believers for centuries. Believed to be the abode of Lord Shiva, Varanasi is among the seven sacred cities in the country. Varanasi is considered to be the holiest of all pilgrimage sites in India Varanasi or Benaras is also known as Kashi. The Kashi Vishwanath temple’s present structure was built in 1780 by Rani Ahilya Bai Holkar of Indore and the temple’s iconic 15.5 metre-high gold spire and gold dome were donated by Ranjeet Singh, the ruler of Punjab in 1839. The temple is ensconced within a maze of other shrines and narrow galis or walkways line by shops selling sweetmeats, paan (belel leaf), handicrafts and other knick-knacks.
Pic courtesy: Maharashtra Tourism