Table of contents for Himachal Yatra2012
The journey was going on well… after visiting Naina Devi, Jwalaji, Kangra and Palampur, we finally reached Baijnath. I had earlier passed through this sleeping village 3 times but everytime missed this art work, for no reason. I was very happy to be here finally.
The village named after the temple – Baijnath is a small, sleepy town with shops on the sides of the main Pathankot-Mandi high way. We asked a person about the temple and were guided towards it. Turning left we entered a huge parking area, parked our car and looked towards the temple complex…. It was magnificent, artistic, ancient and beautiful. The temple has been taken over by ASI and result was clearly visible.
The temple complex, unlike most of our other temples was very clean with no Parshad shops nearby, and without any chaos of visitors. It has beautifully cut hedges, gardens and pathways all around.
Baijnath temple was re-built on the ruins of ancient Shiva temple by two Himachali businessmen in 1200 AD.
The structure of this temple gives the hints of the early medieval North Indian style of architecture. This type of structure used to be known as ‘Nagara’ style of temple. The architectural style has been imbibed from Orissan style, which is very much unique in the state of Himachal Pradesh. The exterior walls of the temple have numerous alcoves with images of gods and Goddesses from the Hindu pantheon.
The temple was again destroyed by the (in)famous earthquake in early 1905 and was re-built again. Presently Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has taken over the temple and declared it as National Heritage. The temple is looked after by traditional priest, who work under the guidance of a committe, headed by SDM.
We entered the temple from main gate and were amazed by the sheer beauty of stone carvings, done long long ago.
On the main gate itself, there are carvings in stone of various gods and goddesses with magnificently carved pillars. The discipline, the cleanliness and the beauty of the temple was simply mind blowing.
Baijnath or Vaidyanath is a Sidhha temple of Shiva. It is said that when Ravan worshipped Lord Shiva, he appeared and asked for a boon and Ravan wanted to take his shivalinga to Lanka. Lord Shiva agreed but said that Ravan had to carry the Linga and should not keep it on ground in the way. Here in Baijnath, Ravan wanted to go for call of nature and handed over Linga to a cow-herd, who was sage Narad in disguise. Narad put the shivalinga on ground and it established itself there.
The same story is said about Vaidyanth Jyotirlinga also. …doono which one is genuine. Another priest revealed that it was at Baijnath that Ravan did the penance of Shiva and from here he took the Shivalinga, which was kept on ground in Baidyantha Jyotirlinga place.
Whatever the story, it seems to be a sacred place of Shiva and has some connection with Hindu history and mythology.
I took a round of the temple and saw the magnanimous art of stone carvings on all sides of the temple.
All around the temple on the outer walls we saw stone carvings of Vishnu, shiva, Brahma, Kuber and depiction of many mythological stories many of which we did not know.
The stone carving of Vishnu lying on Sheshnag and Laxmi serving his feet was easily recognised.
So was the carving of Lord Shiva and Parvati sitting on Nandi, the bull. The idols were beautiful, pious and energetic
Then we saw the main Shivalinga, which had been decorated by a copper snake around it. The most impressing thing in the temple was there was no “Prasad” spread over the floor, which we saw in many temples, specially in Jwalaji and Naina Devi.. people, specially kids throw part of prasad on floor which comes under feet of devotees and this act is treated as a sin. We tried to clean the prasad in Naina Devi, but it was humanly not possible, until the temple authorities do some regular cleaning.
Another thing was that the priests were not greedy. They were simply helping you in worshipping Shiva and not asking any money. We offered some money which the priest silently put into “Daan Patra” a huge box lying near deity and this box is opened before SDM, money counted and used for upliftment/maintenance of the temple only. The priests are given regular salary and a part of offering.
On the left side of the temple, there was a small water outlet, perhaps water offered inside drains out through a hole and is carried outside. This mini canal is called Ganga and there was a board indicating that we should not cross this water and do only half parikrama and go back. We followed the rule and came back keeping our parikarma half, which is ritualistic in all shiva temples.
Most of the visitors were local himachalis and perhaps we were the only tourists there. We ventured around, visited other small temples of Krishna and Durga in the vicinity and came out of the premises.
There was a huge old banyan tree outside, which is a common thing in all hindu temples. The tree also had many red clothes tied around it, depicting the wishes of the visitors. The beautiful garden around, the cleanliness and the discipline impressed us immensly as these things are normally missing in most of our temples. In Garhwal temples, specially Kali math and Chadrabadni, we saw the same cleanliness and discipline….it is possible that due to management of ASI and lesser numbers of visitors, the temple has still kept its sanctity.
The view outside temple was magnificent with huge Dhauladhar as backdrop… (alas again without snow). After quenching the thirst of our eyes, we took our shoes and left the temple premises with joyful heart and heightened energies
After Baijnath, we crossed Joginder Nagar. This is the last station of Pathankot-Joginder Nagar toy train and is well built big township. Joginder Nagar is famous for its power house built by Raja Joginder Sen. King started this project in 1925 and the toy train track from Pathankot was laid to bring in the machinery here. The project was completed with the help of British Engineers and till Bhakhra Dam was built, this dam was producing electricity for Punjab and Delhi.
This power house is unique, because of its sheer design. There is no Dam here… instead water is collected uphill from Uhl river, near Barot (a beautiful place which is on my list of ” to be visited places”). The water from the lake above is brought down by 3 huge steel pipes and electricity is produced.
By the water pipes, there is a track coming from below the power house to above till Barot. This is for the trolley which is a swiss design, in which the trolley rolls over train like tracks, but is pulled by a steel wire. This trolley is used by engineers to go upto the lake for any repairs etc. If we know someone from Himachal State Electricity Board or Punjab Electricity Board, we can perhaps have a free ride on this trolley. We stood there and remembered all our relatives and friends, and found no one who could help us in riding the trolley.
cursing our contacts, we started our journey further towards Mandi.
Mandi was still 60 Kms from here. The day was coming to an end soon. We had plans to go to Rewalsar today but given the time, it was almost impossible. 60 Kms to Mandi was a good 2-3 hours driving and further 25 Km to Rewalsar was out of question.
A little worried we continued our journey and 20 Kms before Mandi, it was completely dark.
(continued…in next part)