Noted for ancient temple built in 804 Ad. Baijnath (16 Km) is dedicated to Lord Shiva Vaidyanath ("Lord of Physicians"), its tall Shikhara, carved in stone, stands out in the background of snow-capped peaks of the Dhauldhar range. The Linga enshrined in its sanctum is one of the 12 Jyotirlingas in the country. Every year during the Shivratri fair, thousands of pilgrims descend on Baijnath to enjoy the colorful fair and festivities. Baijnath is at 16km distnace from Palampur Town. It is a thirteenth century temple of Lord Shiv. The graceful proportion and Intricate carvings of this shikhar style temple are worth appreciation. It is said that Ravana prayed to Lord Shiv here for the boon of immortality.
Baijnath is situated at an elevation of 1125 meters above sea level. Baijnath is 19 kilometers from Kausani towards Bageswar. Baijnath is situated at a distance of 36 km east of Kangra, Located on the stretch of Mandi - Palampur road. The town lies on Pathankot-Chakki-Manali highway (National Highway No. 20) almost midway between Kangra and Mandi. The town is located on the left bank of the river Binwa, a corrupt form of ancient Binduka, a tributary of river Beas.
BAIJNATH TEMPLE :
The Shiva temple at Baijnath is one of the most remarkable monuments of the Kangra valley. Ancient name of this town was 'Kirgrama' and changed to Baijnath after dedicating the temple to our Lord Shiva. Baijnath got its name from Shiva Vaidyanatha. The temple consists of an 'Adytum' surrounded by a spire of the usual conical shape with a 'Mandap' covered with a low pyramid shaped roof. The 'Adytum' contains the Lingam.
Apart from the main deity Shiva, the temple houses the images of Goddess Chamunda, Surya (the Sun God), Kartikeya (son of Lord Shiva) and a massive structure of Nandi (Carrier of Lord Shiva). There is fine sculpture work to be associated with Ravana, who worshipped Shiva at this spot and gained immortality. Baijnath is one of the 'Twelve Jyotirlingams'. Shivratri of Baijnath is a well attended fair.
Inscriptions record that Navaka and Thoduka constructed the lofty temple of Shiva. They fashioned it in the shape of a Mandapa. The roof of the temple is in the shape of pyramid with 2.5 sq meter from inside and almost covering the area of 5.5 sq meter from outside the temple premises. The conical shaped dome (Mandap) of the temple gets support from the four artistic big pillars. The temple is a unique example of Kangra architect.
One of the 12 Jyotirlingas are also located in the sanctum of the temple. The temple holds many faith and belief in it. It is believed that, the 'Lord of Physicians' Shiva frees people from all kinds of ailments and diseases. Another interesting fact of the temple lies in its water, the water of the temple premises is considered to have curative and medicinal properties. This water at Baijnath is reputed to possess remarkable digestive properties and it is said that until recently the rulers of the Kangra Valley drank water only obtained from Baijnath. Due to these factual reasons, the temple still witness huge number of devotees every year. The temple attracts a large number of tourists and pilgrims from allover India and abroad through out the year. Special prayers are offered in the morning and evening every day besides on special occasions and during festive seasons. Makara Sankranti, Maha Shivaratri, Vaisakha Sankranti, Shravana Mondays, etc. are celebrated with great zeal and splendor. A five day state level function is held here on Maha Shivratri every year.
HISTORY OF BAIJNATH TEMPLE :
According to the legend, it is believed that during the Treta Yug, Ravana in order to get invincible powers worshiped Lord Shiva in the Kailash. For that, to please the our Lord Shiva, he offered his ten heads in the havan kund. Influenced by this extra ordinary deed of the Ravana, the Lord Shiva not only restored his heads but also bestowed him with powers of invincibility and immortality. On attaining this incomparable boon, Ravana also requested the Lord Shiva to accompany him to Lanka. Shiva consented to the request of Ravana and converted himself into Shivling. The Lord Shiva asked him to carry the Shivling and told him that he should not place the Shivling down on the ground on his way. Ravana started moving south towards Lanka and reached Baijnath where he felt the need to answer the nature’s call. On seeing a shepherd, Ravana handed over the Shivling to him and went away to get himself relieved. On finding the Shivling very heavy, shepherd kept the ling on the ground and the Shivling got established there and the same is in the form of Ardhnarishwar (God in form of Half Male & Half Female).
Another version also suggests that, After years of worhip of Lord Shiva by Ravna. Lord shiva had presented him a Shiva idol in form of a Shivling, which was supposed to be established at Lanka, now Sri Lanka, which would have blessed him (Ravana) with undefeatable powers even to the Gods. It was advised to Ravana that he can not place the Shivling anywhere during the course of travel, even during resting. Ravana was tricked by one of the Devas (Gods), who posed as a beggar and wanted help from Ravana and promised to hold the Shivling for him while he (ravana) fetched food for the beggar. The Deva posing as beggar placed the Shivling on ground, in absence of Ravana. The Shiva idol or the Shivling at Baijnath temple is the same Shivling which was placed by the Deva after tricking Ravana.
FAST FACTS :
- Altitude : 1125m
- Best Time to Visit : Whole Year
- Climate : In winter, the temperature can drop to freezing point when heavy woollens are required. During summer, the climate is mild and light woollens/cottons are recommended.
- Interesting Fact : Another interesting thing about the town of Baijnath is that there is not even a single shop of goldsmith. In Baijnath, Dussehra festival in which traditionally the effigy of the Ravana is consigned to flames is not celebrated as a mark of respect to the devotion of Ravana towards Lord Shiva.
- Fairs & Festivals : In the month of April is celebrated a traditional festival called Rali. There is a story behind the festival, which tells one of the supreme sacrifices by a girl called Rali who jumped into the river as she was married to a boy child, years younger to her. Today, of course, the festival is hosted by young girls and boys to 'obtain suitable husbands and wives'. It comprises of a series of fascinating rites such as dressing up of images of Rali and her child groom in bridal finery.
HOW TO REACH / ACCESS / GETTING THERE :
- Air : The nearest airport is Gaggal in Kangra, which is located at a distance of 37 km from Palampur. Private taxi or bus ply regularly from airport to the city.
- Rail : There is also available a toy train from Pathankot to Paprola-Baijnath which runs on narrow gauge from Pathankot to Jogidernagar.
- Road : Baijnath is very well connected by all weather roads to Delhi via Chandigarh and to Manali via Mandi.