Amidst the magnificent Himalayan peaks is the picturesque Kullu valley that has an ancient temple of Shiva shrouded in mysteries and legends.
Bijli Mahadev literally means ‘lightening Shiva’. Every twelve years the Shivalinga in this temple is struck by lightning and shattered in pieces. The Pujari of the temple gets the location of every bit in his dream. He collects all the fragments and puts them together using butter and in a few weeks, the Shivlinga is one single seamless piece again. Legend is that Lord Shiva takes up all the destructive powers every time the lightning strikes thus saving Kullu region. Incredible story! I had to go and check it out myself.
About 2400 meters above the sea level, at the confluence of two beautiful rivers Beas and Parvati, is situated this temple. Earlier one had to trek a few kilometers and climb some steep slopes, but now a short scenic drive from Kullu gets you straight at the temple gate. The three-kilometer-long trek is heavenly- through tall pines chasing the floating mist. There are a few shanties along the path selling refreshments and some knick-knacks. Though a bit tiring, but every bit worth the trouble.
There is another story related to this temple. Once upon a time, a Devil called Kritant wanted this gorgeous valley all to himself and took the form of a mammoth python to stop the waters of the rivers from flowing down. His plan was to drown the villages out and then live there alone. However, Lord Shiva threw his Trishul at the head of the huge python and destroyed it and saved this area. The name Kullu is derived from this devil’s name. The python turned to stone and formed the mountains around. Bird’s eye view, apparently, shows an enormous snake all coiled up.
Before you reach the temple, you notice a tall glistening needle. What is this you wonder? Then you see a 60 feet tall staff in front of the temple. The tallest pine in the vicinity is cut and made into a square shaft and placed in front of the temple. Locals enthusiastically take part in these celebrations and regard it as a service to Lord Shiva. Some believe that this staff attracts the lightning which is a divine blessing.
You look all around and are treated to a breathtaking view of the mountains competing with the serene blue sky above an ocean of green pine valleys dotted with enchanting little houses below. I stood there for a few minutes soaking the amazing energies with cool crisp mountain air fragrant with the typical jungle aroma.
The temple is big- by the Himalayan temple standards- not by the south Indian temple standards. Right outside the temple entrance are placed two statues and devotees worship them. The inner sanctum is dark. The walls of the inner sanctum are burnt and blackened with the repeated strikes of the lightning. You can see the Shivlinga all in one piece, seamless, with no trace of any joints anywhere.
Another surprise, we were served tea as Prasad.
In winters the valley goes under a thick blanket of snow. However, the pilgrims continue to visit Bijli Mahadev. Shiva is the favorite deity of the whole of Himalayan region as it is Shiva’s abode, but this temple is really special. Mahashivratri attracts hoards of pilgrims from all around and the whole night is spent with music, dance and devotional songs in celebration of Lord Shiva- that which is not.
It is strange but there are no stories of the parentage, birth, family, siblings of Shiva. Some say he was an alien!
Featured Photo: Wikimedia Commons