Bhimashankar is one of the 12 Jyotirlingas of Shiva. In this age of the internet and omnipresent Wikipedia/Google, getting general information about Jyotirlingas and the concomitant legends is an easy task. It’s the same hackneyed information churned out by others. What matters most is the perspective of a visitor or a devotee who has seen and imbibed the (divine) spirit first hand. And that makes the difference and takes away the cherry.
Lord Shiva is the Adi Deva (oldest deity) of the Hindus. According to Spalding Professor of Eastern Religions and Ethics at Oxford University, R C Zehmer, ‘It’s not a hyperbole or an exaggeration but a fact that Indian mythology is replete with innumerable legends and exploits of Shiva.’ Rigved (Not Rigveda; this is an erroneous orthography given and popularised by the Brits) had the reference to Shiva nearly 5500 years ago. The readers might recall that in B R Chopra’s Mahabharat, Bhishma used to say, ‘Mahadev ki saugandh’ (I swear by Mahadev). And Mahabharat is believed to be 3000-3500-year-old.
Pilgrims living near Poona/Bombay have an easy access to Bhimashankar. It takes around 3-4 hours to reach there from Pune.
It’s cradled in Sahyadri Mountain Range. The scenic beauty of the place adds to divinity. According to Garud Puran, ‘Pratasthe dwadasham jyotirlingam darshanam apariharya iti ashtavinayakam paridoshat’ (If one visits a Jyotirlingam, he/she should visit all just like one must visit all eight Ganesha abodes).
According to ‘Hindu Dharmsthal Soochi’ (the list of Hindu Pilgrim Centres) that appeared in now defunct ‘Dharmyug’ in 1978, there’re 73 cardinal pilgrim spots for Hindus. Twelve Jyotirlingas and Ashtvinayak are among them.
The writer of this piece visited Bhimashankar in 2007. It used to be lush green. It’s still quite verdant but somewhere with the passage of time, this place now appears to be a bit commercial like Shani Shingnapur and Shirdi.
It’s believed that each Jyotirlinga grants a specific wish of the devotee. And why on earth do we all visit temples and pilgrim centres? Don’t we go there to beg (for alms)? Anyway, Bhimashankar is associated with wealth. If you want wealth, go there and pray to the Lord. He’ll grant your wealth-wish! So easy!
I saw one very famous Bollywood actor at Bhimashankar and was told that he had been visiting this Jyotirliga for last 12 years regularly. Needless to say, he’s stinking rich. He may have been praying to the deity to acquire more wealth as this has no end. To quote Urdu poet Asadullah Khan Ghalib, ‘There’re legions of wishes and one can die for each wish/I died many a time, yet that wasn’t enough’.
One can stay here overnight. Villagers and the priests make affordable arrangements for the stay. There’re tolerably good eateries where one can have snacks and even full-fledged meals (this is a rather new addition). Bhimashankar temple darshan timings are 4:30 am to 9:30 pm.
Those who visit Poona, also visit Bhimashankar (provided they’re Hindus!).
I read somewhere that shooting is prohibited at all 12 Jyotirlingas. But I’ve seen Bhimashankar in quite a few Hindi movies. There was a documentary on it that was shown on Doordarshan way back in 1976. Akashvani, Poona used to give information on Bhimashankar and other shrines near Poona on every Wednesday. It’s been stopped.
All in all, a good place for people with a spiritual bent of mind.