Bhimashankar is an ancient shrine situated in the Sahyadri hills in the state of Maharashtra. Bhimashankar temple is one of the well knownJyotirlinga, amongst the twelve jyotirlingas situated all over India. Bhimashankar is located in the village of Bhorgiri 50 km north west of Khed, near Pune. It is located 125 km away from Pune in the ghat region of the Sahyadri hills.
In recent times Bhimashankar has gained tremendous significance since it was declared as “WILD LIFE SANCTUARY”. 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” can be found in the deep woods.
It is also becoming one of the attractive and well known religious places in Maharashtra as well as in India.
Bhimashankar is the source of the river Bhima, which is known as Chandrabhaga in Pandharpur.
Legend has it that the name Bhimashankar was originated from the river Bhima which evaporated due to the generated between the war of Lord Shiva and the demon Tripurasura. Bhimashankar is also a popular destination for trekkers.
The Bhīmāshankar temple is a composite of old and 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 while the sabhamandap was built in the 18th century by NānāPhadnavis. 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. The temple is built in Hemadpanthi style. It is decorated with the Dashavatar statues. These are very beautiful to look at. The Nandi temple is close to the main temple ChimajiAppa collected five large bells after he won a war against the Portuguese from the Vasai Fort. He offered one here at Bhimashankar. This bell weighing 5 mans(1 man=40 seens) is located close to the temple. It has 1721 AD inscribed on it. When this bell is rung, the entire echoes with its sound.
Historical figures like ChatrapatiShivaji and RajaramMaharaj were known to visit this shrine. This was a favourite palce for PeshwaBalajiVishwanath and Raghunath, RaghunathPeswa had a well dug up here. The Diwan of the Peshwar, Nana Phadanvis renovated this temple. A court hall was built by a Pune trader or Sahukar by the name ChimanjiAntajiNayikBhinde in 1437 AD.
There is also a shrine to Kamalaja near the Bhimashankar temple. Kamalaja is an incarnation of Parvati, who aided Shiva in his battle against Tripuraasura. Kamalajaa was worshipped with offerings of lotus flowers by Bhrama. Shaakini and Daakini the Shivaganas who helped Shiva in the battle against the demon are also honored and worshipped here.
The Mokshakundthirtha is located behind the Bhimashankar temple, and it is associated with the rishi Kaushika. There are also the Sarvathirtha, the Kusharanyathirtha where the Bhimariver begins to flow eastward, and the Jyanakund.
Worship services are offered each day. Mahashivratri is a very important day to offer workship.
The sanctuary offers a charming view of sparkling waterfalls, lush forests and hills. With a rich diversity of flora and fauna, this place is a treat for wildlife and photography lovers. You will be able to spot the elusive Indian Giant Squirrel and many rare species of birds at the sanctuary.
Fireflies Festival, held before monsoon every year, where thousands of fireflies can be seen lighting up the village.
There are many places of tourist interest near temple. Among these are Mokshakund, Gupta bhimashankar, Sarva-teerth, SakshiVinayaka, Gorakhnath Ashram, Kamalajadevi temple, Hanuman lake, etc are worth seeing. The Kokankada or Nagphani is a very dangerous palce located at a height or approximately three thousand feet, from were the entire TalahatiKokan area can be seen. It feels like we are being air-borne.