Bhimashankar Jyotirling: Abode in the forest in the clouds

Travel teaches volumes. For a curious mind each aspect from names of places, the food, the clothes and even behavior of people  is an adventure.

The write up that follows is a peek into such a world.

“Ancient pilgrim” sites in India give you a glimpse of a fabulous past. They teach you of the local  Flora and Fauna and how they  influence humanity

The locations reveal the power of nature and your senses are awestruck in wonder.

Each sense is influenced as you go through the rituals. The mantras set in motion each atom of your being and thus your thoughts and actions thereafter.

Bhimashankar Jyotirling is  one such pilgrimage.

Located amongst the clouds in a forest on the western Ghats about 130 kms from Pune. it is one the 12 Jyotirlings.

A shloka in Sanskrit details all the 12 Jyotirlings and Bhimashankar   is described as “Dakinyam Bhimashankaram”. Its placed at No.6 in the shloka.

I will touch only the aspects of nature and not mention all the mythological tales associated with this Abode of Lord Shiva.

As you enter the forest clouds envelop you.
As you enter the forest clouds envelop you.

Clouds cloak you as one approaches the Bhimashankar forests.

The Bhimashankar  forest is one of the 12 biodiversity hotspots  and  home to  the now threatened species of  giant squirrels .(Ratufa indica) .

Besides the Forests in the cloud , the Bhimashankar forests are home to over 12 sacred groves ( some over 1000 years old) and many deorias. These are treasure troves as they unravel the mysteries of the  original flora of the region. Do read my article Sacred Forests in http://www.enchantedforests.wordpress.com.

giant squirrel welcomes you at the  entry to the forest
giant squirrel welcomes you at the entry to the forest

Thats why i mention that ancient pilgrim sites are the clues left by our forefathers to unraveling the mysteries of nature.

These sacred groves and deorias are home to numerous medicinal herbs and plants which can be seen at the temple complex. Simple inexpensive  remedies to our ailments.

medicinal herbs at bhimashankar
medicinal herbs at bhimashankar
Unique Bhimashankar flora
Unique Bhimashankar flora

You have to climb up to most temples, but at Bhimashankar , you  step down to reach the main temple complex.  Its mysterious how the clouds reduce visibility  even further, to just a few feet, as you approach the temple.

the clouds also bow down to Lord Shiva
the clouds also bow down to Lord Shiva
Please ring the bell before you enter
Please ring the bell before you enter

Vehicles cannot go beyond this point. Hereafter you need to walk.

An inquisitive  buffalo beckons me to follow.Do see the the lush forest in the backdrop.

lets walk together
lets walk together

The walkway is a flight of steps lined with interesting shops.

Step down to the Jyotirling temple complex
Step down to the Jyotirling temple complex

I spotted a Panditji at the sweet shop.

The lord is offered pedas, "Shiv Prasad"
The lord is offered pedas, “Shiv Prasad”
Healthy and happy Panditji( a priest) at the sweet shop
Healthy and happy Panditji( a priest) at the sweet shop

There are several unique features at the temple complex, i share what I saw.

A crab “reading the scriptures” in Sanskrit and Bella the dog ( sana hope you are reading)  keeping a watch.

a crab reading sanskrit verses as we queue up to enter the sanctum sanctorum
a crab reading sanskrit verses as we queue up to enter the sanctum sanctorum
Bella the Dog keeps all in line
Bella the Dog keeps all in line

As I sign off i am leaving you with more images of the Bhimashankar temple complex.

They reveal the history of the Mighty Maratha Kingdom and tales of times gone by,  clothes of the region and mythological stories which todate protects the forest  and all the beings that reside in it.

I call it the “abode of Lord Shiva inside the forest in the clouds”.

unique turbans and clothes of marathwada
unique turbans and clothes of marathwada
Om Namah Shivam, Bhimashankaram.
Om Namah Shivam, Bhimashankaram.
Rare: Two Nandis ( vehicle of Lord Shiva) : whats the reason?
Rare: Two Nandis
( vehicle of Lord Shiva) : whats the reason?
Oil lamp like these are unique to the Marathas.First seen by me in Ujjain.
Oil lamp like these are unique to the Marathas.First seen by me in Ujjain.
Lord Ganesha at the point of entry.
Lord Ganesha at the point of entry.
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PUNE: Capital of the Peshwas

Pune is a delightful city in the western region of India. Easily accessible by all modes of transport , road , train and air.

I have edited and re blogged this for friends who are travelling in September 2015.

Pune in the Monsoons
Pune in the Monsoons

It is deliciously soaked in history and has an aroma of the years gone by. For a whiff of Maharashtrian Culture, Pune is the city to head to.

Do see the saree of the lady in the centre of the picture.It is THE 9 yard saree.

traditional 9 yard saree in pune
traditional 9 yard saree in Pune

A direct flight to Pune from New Delhi  ( there are multiple options) coupled with  an advance booking will give you excellent rates too. I went by Spiceject, do read my blog : TURNOUND: Spice in Mid Air.

A look into Pune
A look into Pune

A bird told me Tuesday evenings are  the time to get really low fares.

I would strongly recommend staying at the Westin ,Pune. Another option recently discovered is the Le Meridian, Pune located right behind the railway station.

The Westin is located  on the banks of the Mula-Mutha river and right next to a happening and spirited group of restaurants  within  “ABC farms“.

There is also a mall nearby whereby I bought a pair of shoes from Clarks at throw away prices.

Mula mitha river from hotel westin pune
Mula mitha river from hotel westin pune

Do walk along the bridge near the Westin  hotel, if you are lucky you will see the Baya birds weaving their nests. This is so much a microcosm of an “Urban Forest “. check out my blog http://www.enchantedforests.wordpress.com

Baya weaver birds on the nest in the centre
Baya weaver birds on the nest in the centre

Pune is a fascinating city which retains the charms of an era gone by.It was at onetime the capital of the mighty Marathas.

While I was entering the fort and observing a majestic tree at the entrance, i was lucky to photograph this gorgeous Grey Hornbill. They love the fruits of Ficus trees.

ancient tree at entrance of Shanivada
ancient tree at the  entrance of Shanivada
always look above your heads too
always look above your heads too

Start your trip of Pune  by visiting the Shanivada Palace Fort , an island of peace in the  now bustling  marketplace Shanivada .

Main Gate to the Fort of the Peshwas
Main Gate to the Fort of the Peshwas
a view of other old buildings around theFort
a view of other old buildings around the Fort

The area has many historical places within walking distance of the main gateway and would suggest a little walk around to really see  things.

We discovered this Iconic tea stand. Have a sip as you walk around.

Very famous Tea Shop in the area
Very famous Tea Shop in the area

A beautiful and much revered  temple   dedicated to Lord Ganesha is a 5 minute walk from the centre of Shanivada.

Golden temple dedicated to Lord Ganesha
Golden temple dedicated to Lord Ganesha

Do go treasure hunting in the bustling markets as it’s a “treasure trove” for shoppers.

handwoven textiles in shanivada
handwoven textiles in shanivada

A visit to the Kelkar museum , close to Shanivada is a must for lovers of Art.

As you drive or walk around the city  , keep a look out for  some gorgeous buildings . This picture that follows is that of the Pune University.

Buildings of the British Raj
Buildings of the British Raj

Pune is also home to the famous Osho Ashram.Do visit the same, its an experience.

Inside the Osho Ashram at Koregaon Pune
Inside the Osho Ashram at Koregaon Pune

All who enter need to wear these maroon  robes and get their blood tested for HIV.I was no exception.

disciples exchange notes
disciples exchange notes

We now go back in time to the 9th century and  visit the Pataleshwar Shiva Temple. It is a short tuk tuk ( autosrickshaw ) drive from Shanivada.

This ancient temple in the heart of Pune is a must see
This ancient temple in the heart of Pune is a must see

Three very unusual observations I am sharing are:

  1. The temple is below ground level ( hence “Patal “or the the underworld)  .
  2. The Nandi temple is circular ( very unusual)

    Nandi in circular temple
    Nandi in circular temple
  3. It is entirely scooped or carved  out from Hard  Black Volcanic Rock.

Taking a step back into  more recent times is a visit to the beautiful Aga Khan Memorial. It unravels mysteries of a time when LokManya Tilak raised the slogan from this  city  saying “Swaraj is my birthright “. 

Aga Khan Memorial
Aga Khan Memorial

You will be surprised  to discover  a memorial which contains the ashes of Mahatma Gandhi.

Within the Aga Kha Home
Within the Aga Kha Home

I  sign off  with this image of Custard Apples, Peanuts and the Lady.

custard apples peanuts and the lady
custard apples peanuts and the lady