Filled with mysticism, beauty, art, mystery and folklore, the Grishneshwar Jyotirlinga located 11 km from Daulatabad near Aurangabad in Maharashtra in a village called Verul is considered one of the holiest Lord Shiv shrines of ancient India.
Unlike its counterparts up North, reaching here is fairly simple.
Aurangabad is well connected with all the places in the state as well as the country. There is an airport and also a railway station. It has regular bus service connecting it with all major places. Tourists can also take taxis from Aurangabad to the shrine. That said, however, there are hardly any good lodges available in Velur and so it is best for travellers to stay at Aurangabad which has a number of hotels and guest houses.
Built on an area of 80 metres by 60 metres the temple is a fabulous structure Maloji Raje Bhosale, the grandfather of the Maratha emperor Shivaji, was the chief of Verul in the 16th century and also a devout devotee of Lord Shiv. Once he found a treasure hidden in a snake pit, he spent that money in the renovation of the Grishneshwar temple. Later in the 18th century Ahilyanai Holkar reconstructed the temple.
The temple is made up of red sand stones built in 18th century and is a fine example of medieval architecture. The idols of Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu, Lord Ganesha and Lord Shiva are placed inside the temple. On plan the temple consists of a garbha griha (sanctum sanctorum), antarala (a small antechamber or foyer between the garbha griha and the mandapa) and a sabhamandapa (pillared hall). The exterior surface of the wall surface is relieved vertically and horizontally with short depth projections. The horizontal mouldings were utilised for carving different motifs. The most striking feature of this temple is the five tiered shikhara rising in diminishing height. The height of the shikhara is enhanced by the high wall portion of the sanctum. The shikhara is crowned by a couchant bull at each corner along with a monkey behind it and is beautifully decorated with geometric motifs and images of Brahmanical deities.
It is said that a woman named Kusuma worshipped the Shiv Lingam everyday by immersing it in a water tank. Envious of her piousness, her husband’s first wife murdered her son. Mourning with pain, Kusuma continued worshipping the Shiv Lingam. When she dipped the Lingam in water, Lord Shiv appeared in front of her and gave life to her son. Since then Lord Shiv is worshipped in the form of Jyotirlinga Grishneshwar. Another legend according to the locals, states that once Lord Shiv lost a game of chess to Mata Parvati and in a fit of temper went south to the forest of Kamyavana, Mata Parvati followed and won Him over and the two decided to stay there for some time. One day when Mata Parvati was thirsty, Lord Shiv pierced the earth with His trident and created a lake. This lake was known as Shivalay. The legend continues with Mata Parvati preparing sindur. Sindur is a paste made from vermilion powder, which married women apply on their hair to indicate their marital status. As Mata Parvati was rubbing the vermilion powder and water with her thumb, the vermilion turned into a Lingam and a great light appeared in it. Mata Parvati installed the Lingam there and called it Grishneshwar, because it was created by ‘grishna’ or friction of her thumb.
Tourists should not miss the special pujas performed on Mondays for the presiding deity. The best time however, to visit the Grishneshwar is during Mahashivaratri when a large fair is organised and attended by a huge number of devotees.
FACT FILE by Rishabh HM
- Also known as Dhushmeshwar temple, it is the last or twelfth Jyotirlinga or “Linga of Light”.
- The Grishneswar temple is an illustration of south Indian temple architectural style and structure.
- This 240 ft x 185 ft temple is the smallest Jyotirlinga temple in India.
- Halfway up the temple, Dashavataras of Vishnu are carved in red stone.
- A court hall is built on 24 pillars. On these pillars, there are carvings summarising various legends and mythologies of Lord Shiv.
- This was originally a settlement of the Naga tribes. The place of the Nagas is Bambi, which is known as “Varul” in Marathi, “Varul” gradually changed into “Verul” and now is known by this name only.