This temple is closely associated with the legend of Shiva slaying the demon Tripurasura associated with the invincible flying citadels Tripuras. The demon was causing havoc. The devas prayed to Lord Shiva. The Lord manifested as Bhima and took abode on the crest of the Sahyadri hills. It is said that sweat that poured forth from his body after the battle caused the Bhimarathi river to be formed.
STHALA PURANA: King Kamrupesh of Kamrup Kingdom was a devout Shiva devotee. After some time he abandoned worship.
During the same a demon named Bhima emerged and started harassing the people. He had heard many a things about the sublime devotion of Kamrupeshwar. The demon was on his way to kill the king. The attack was on the way and the king takes refuge in the temple. No sooner he attacked the king took to Shiva worship. A sword was hurled at him but it fell on the linga instead of the king. Instantly Lord Ashutosh appeared and destroyed Bhima along with his army. The king and the people of Kamprup plead with the Lord to stay back. The Lord agreed to reside there eternally by the name of Bhimashankar.
SKANDA PURANA: This is also repeated in the Linga Purana with reference to Tripurasura Samhara. Tripuras are three cities made of Gold, Silver and Bronze respectively by the demon Maya for three demons, who thereafter were known as Tripurasuras. These cities have the power to fly anywhere within the three worlds. When these demon kings start causing trouble to sages, Siva upon requested by Indra and other gods, vanquishes these rakshasas
TEMPLE: The Bhimashankara temple is a composite of old and the new structures and is built in the Nagara style of architecture. It is a modest temple yet graceful temple and it dates back to mid 18th century. The shikhara of the temple was built by Nana Phadnavis. The great Maratha ruler Shivaji is also said to have made endowments to this temple to facilitate the carrying out, of worship services.
As with other Shiva temples in this area, the sanctum is at a lower level. The shrine Bhimashankaram and Bhimarathi river have been referred to in literature dating back to the 13th century. It is said that sage Jnaneshwar paid homage toTryambakeshwar and Bhimashankar
There are other shrines near Bhimashankara temple. Parvati, who aided Shiva in his battle against Tripuraasura. There is a shrine for her near Kamalaja. The deity is said to be an incarnation of Kamalajaa, worshipped with offerings of lotus flowers by Bhrama. Lord Shiva is often assisted by his Shivaganas. Shaakini and Daakini the Shivaganas who helped Shiva in the battle against the demon are also honored and worshipped here.
TIRTHA: The Mokshakund thirtha is located 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.
RUDRASAMHITA: It is to be noted that the Rudrasamhita sloka in its reference to Bhimashankar says, Daakine Bhimashankaram. There is also a Bhimashankar temple at Bhimapur hill near Guwahati in Assam where legend holds that a demon by name Bhima who inflicted havoc upon the beings in the area, was slain by Shiva, as he tried to kill a king enaged in Shiva worship.
This is a legend similar to that where Shiva emerged from a Shivalingam to vanquish Yama the Lord of death. The Shiva Purana and the Koti Rudra Samhita refer to Bhimashankar temple in the Kamarupa country. However there is also a reference to Mount Sahya, where it is stated that Shiva – Bhimashankara appeared on the Sahayadris.
KASHIPUR TEMPLE: There is also a Bhimashankara temple at Kashipur near Nainital, which was referred to as Daakini country in ancient days. It is believed that Bhima the Pandava prince was married to Hidamba, a Daakini here. Mahashivaratri is celebrated in great splendour here too. This temple also has shrines to Bhairavanath and Devi, and a temple tank by name Shivaganga.
SHIVA PURANA: Brahma and Vishnu got into an argument about their supremacy of creation. To test them, an ‘Analstambha’ a Pillar of Fire, representing Lord Siva appeared and both Brahma and Vishnu agreed to discover the colossal Fiery Pillar’s height and depth ahead of the other as a challenge to determine their mutual superiority; Brahma took the form of Swan and flew high while Vishnu sported the form of a boar and travelled down the massive ‘Linga’ to find out the depth.
Brahma while travelling up and up caught hold of a ‘Ketaki’ flower falling from above. He caused the flower lie to announce that Brahma had discovered the top of the Pillar and provide evidence in His favour to Vishnu.
Bhagavan Siva Himself appeared and displayed His anger on Brahma and the Ketaki flower. At the same time He was pleased with Vishnu for His truthfulness; Vishnu even admitted that Brahma was greater on the basis of the wrong claim and the misleading evidence of the Ketaki flower.
Siva thus accorded the same status to Vishnu but punished Brahma by slicing one of his erstwhile five heads looking upward; He also cursed Brahma as ineligible for future worship by the Universe.
The two of the Trinity worshipped Shiva. The Jyotirlinga shrine is the supreme partless reality out of which Shiva appears. Out of the 64 Jyotirlingas, 12 were considered auspicious. They took the name of the presiding deity. In all these sites, the lingam represent the beginningless and endlessness of the Lord represented as a Atambha pillar. This is the infinite nature of Lord Shiva.
MYTHOLOGY: Long time ago, in the dense forests of Dakini, on the lofty ranges of the Sahaydris lived the evil Asura by the name Bhima with his mother Karkati. Compassion and kindness shivered in the presence of Bhima. The divine and the mortals were scared of him alike. But he was confronted by certain questions about his own existence which continuously tormented him.
When Bhima could no longer sustain his agony and curiosity, he asked his mother to unveil the mysteries of his life. He urged his mother to tell him who his father was and why had he abandoned them in the wilderness of the forest. After much hesitation and with a lingering fear Karkati, his mother revealed to him that he was the son of the mighty Kumbhakarna, the younger brother of the Lankadheeswara the mighty all powerful King Ravana of Lanka.
Lord Vishnu in his incarnation as Lord Rama annihilated Kumbhakarna. Karkati told Bhima, that her husband and his father was killed by Rama in the great war. This infuriated Bhima and he vowed to avenge Lord Vishnu. To achieve this he embarked on a severe penance to please Lord Brahma. The compassionate creator was pleased by the dedicated devotee and granted him immense prowess. The evil tyrant caused havoc in the three worlds. He defeated King Indra and conquered the heavens. He also defeated a staunch devotee of Lord Shiva. Kamarupeshwar and put him in the dungeons. He started torturing Rishies and Sadhus.
All this angered the Gods. They all along with Lord Brahma beseeched Lord Shiva to come for their rescue. Lord Shiva consoled the Gods and agreed to rescue them from the tyrant. On the other hand Bhima insists and orders Kamarupeshwara to worship him instead of Lord Shiva. When Kamarupeshwara denied doing that and refused to do pooja to him, tyrant Bhima raised his sword to strike the Shiva Linga, to which Kamarupeshwara was doing abhishekam and pooja.
As soon as Bhima managed to raise his sword, Lord Shiva appeared before him in all his magnificence. Then the terrible war began. But then the holy sage Narada 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 Bhimashankara Jyotirlingam.
Hara Hara Mahadeva.
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