8 Beautiful Shiva Temples of Himachal Pradesh•
Posted on March 08 2022
Himachal Pradesh, mythologically known as the home of Lord Shiva and Parvati, is called Dev Bhoomi – the Land of the Gods. This naturally beautiful state surrounded by mountains is dotted with temples, most of which have a deep cultural significance for people of this region and Hindus in general. A lot of them are hundreds of years old and stand as testament to the marvelous architecture of yore. But, most importantly, these religious places of worship offer beacons of hope as well as a peaceful sanctuary to those on the spiritual journey.
We explore some of the must-visit Shiva Temples of Himachal Pradesh.
Baijnath, Kangra District
Located in the Bias Valley of Himachal’s Kangra district is the ancient Baijnath Temple dedicated to Shiva as Lord Vaidyanath, the Lord of Physicians, who is worshipped here in the form of a lingam. Believed to have been constructed in the 13th century by two merchants, Ahuka and Manyukta, this holy shrine is a popular place of pilgrimage as the temple waters are believed to have medicinal properties.
Exquisite carvings and idols of several gods adorn the temple complex which is surrounded by lush green gardens. With the majestic Himalayas providing a gorgeous backdrop to this rustic temple, one cannot but feel the presence of God at the Baijnath temple.
Interestingly, it is believed that Ravana also worshipped Lord Shiva here. According to some legends, quite by accident, Ravana established the lingam given to him by Lord Shiva here. The lingam here is considered by some as one of the 12 holy Jyotirlingams in India.
Bil-Kaleshwar Temple, Hamirpur District
Situated on the banks of the river Beas stands the famous Shiva temple, Bil Kaleshwar, which is around 400 years old. Legend has it that the Pandavas of the Mahabharata initiated construction of this temple when in exile with the help of Vishwakarma (the Lord of Creation). However, they had to abandon the temple half way through as they were spotted by the local people. Later, a king of the Kaotch dynasty completed the temple.
Lord Shiva is worshipped in the form of a Shivlingam in this temple. The magnificent architecture of the Bil Kaleshwar Temple leaves one awestruck. This temple is so deeply revered that those who are unable to visit Haridwar, immerse the ashes of loved ones in the waters that run near the Bil Kaleshwar temple.
Baba Bhootnath, Mandi
The ancient Baba Bhootnath temple, located in Mandi (also known as the Varanasi of the hills), celebrates Lord Shiva as the fearsome and courageous Lord of the Spirits.
The story behind this temple says that once the locals started noticing that milk would start to flow from the udders of a cow that used to stand near a certain rock every day. The news spread far and wide and reached the king. At the same time, King Ajber Sen had a dream in which Lord Shiva told him to dig beneath the very same rock. A Shivlingam was excavated from beneath the stone and a temple was built to house it in 1527.
Thousands of pilgrims visit this temple every year especially around the time of Mahashivaratri.
The Narvedeshwar temple was built by Rani Prasanna Devi, wife of King Sansar Chand in 1802. This beautifully constructed temple, which is dedicated to Lord Shiva and his consort Parvati, in the Bhitti style of architecture boasts of magnificent murals and paintings depicting scenes from the Ramayan, Mahabharat and the Bhagwat Gita. Paintings of wild animals and birds also adorn the temple walls. The Maharaja was a great patron of the arts and he commissioned artists in his court to paint these exquisite murals. The temple complex also has smaller shrines dedicated to Lord Ganesha, Ma Durga and Lakshmi-Narayan.
One of the holiest districts of Himachal is Mandi, which, with its 81 temples, is known as Chhoti Kashi (small Kashi). Of these, Panchvaktra temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, is one of the most visited. Located at the peaceful spot of confluence of the rivers Beas and Suketi, this temple is famous for its huge five-faced statue of Lord Shiva, representing the divine facets: Aghora, Ishana, Tat Purusha, Vaamdeva and Rudra.
The temple stands on a platform on the river banks and the Shikhara style architecture of the temple is simply astounding. In fact, the Archeological Survey of India has recognised the temple as a national heritage monument. During the monsoons the temple is inaccessible due to the high waters that submerge the temple base.
Triloknath, Purani Mandi
One of the oldest shrines in Mandi, the Triloknath Temple was built by the queen of Raja Ajber Sen, Sultan Devi, in 1520. The temple gets its name from the stone idol of a three-faced Lord Shiva and goddess Parvati sitting on Nandi bull. This historical and beautifully constructed heritage temple also houses idols of the goddesses Narda and Sharada and a few other Hindu gods.
Kathgarh Temple, Pathankot
The Kathgarh Shiv Mandir, which is located at the meeting point of the Beas and Chonch rivers, is famous for its 6-foot-high Shivlingam which is vertically divided into two parts. The two parts are worshipped as Shiva and Parvati and are brought together only on Shivaratri.
Legend has it that Rama’s brother Bharat paid obeisance to Lord Shiva at this spot on the way to Kashmir to visit his grandparents. Some say he visited this place on his search for Rama. This temple, uniquely built in Roman-style architecture is a marvellous mystical and religious place.
Bijli Mahadev Temple, Kullu Valley
The sacred temple dedicated to Bijli Mahadev Temple in the Kullu Valley is located at an altitude of 2438 m. The temple has a 60 feet tall staff that glistens like a needle in the sunlight. It is believed to absorb lightning and protect the valley. Locals believe that the temple lingam shatters into pieces every time lightning strikes and needs to be restored by the priests with butter and ghee. This is symbolic of the eternal cycle of destruction of restoration in creation.
Legend has it that this temple stands at the place where Lord Shiva killed the wicked demon Jalandhar. Another story says that this is the place where Lord Rudra granted Sage Vashishta’s prayers to absorb lightning and save the world from impending destruction.
To reach the temple one needs to trek up for 2-3 km but the effort is well-worth it. The temple site offers unparalleled and magnificent views of the Kullu and Parvati valleys.
All of these ancient temples are religious gems in the beautiful state of Himachal Pradesh. There is a plethora of shrines dedicated to other gods and goddesses that must not be missed either. One must endeavour to undertake a journey to visit these religious sites and invoke the blessings of Lord Shiva in order to move ahead in one’s spiritual sojourn.
Har Har Mahadev!
Written by Sonia Sumitra Thakar