Abode of the Lord of Medicine

The Baijanath temple, where Lord Siva is referred to as ‘god of healing’, represents the Nagara style of architecture

Published - September 20, 2018 04:21 pm IST

In the ninth Century, the Katyuri Kings had changed their capital from Joshimath to Karthikeyapura in the picturesque Katyur Valley at an altitude of 3,691ft. The staunch Saivite sages had followed them on this long journey, performing many special pujas and rituals to protect the kings and their subjects from all calamities. Pleased with the spiritual assistance provided by the sages, the kings built an elegant temple on the left bank of the River Gomati dedicated to Lord Baijanath or Vaidyanath, the God who heals, the Ausadhi Pathi (lord of herbs) or the Bhisak (physician).

The temple is 20 km from Kausani, in the district of Bhageshwar.

The peaks of Nanda Devi, Maiktholi and Trishul highlight the background with their snow-capped summits reaching the sky.

This 1,000-year-old temple complex built from stone, follows the Nagara style of architecture with curvilinear spires unique to this school. It has one main sanctum dedicated to Lord Baijanath, represented in the form of a linga.

An exquisite idol of Goddess Parvathi, 1.5 mt in height, made from grey chloride Schist is seen behind the linga.

Separate enclosures

There is also a carving showcasing the marriage of Lord Siva with Goddess Parvathi. There are 17 subsidiary shrines located in the same compound devoted to Nrthya Ganesh, Chandika Nandi, Kubera, Mahishasura Mardhini, Karthikeya, Narasimha, Sapta Nartikas, Garuda, Surya, Brahma, Kedareshwara, Lakshmi Narayana and Brahmari Devi.

A life-size image of Kal Bhairav welcomes the devotees. Lord Siva and Goddess Parvathi were married at the confluence of the Gomati and the Garur Ganga, making this a holy destination for Hindu pilgrims.

In the temple precincts there is a mysterious stone, Bheem Shila, weighing 100 kg. A demonstration of just nine people lifting this stone with their index finger bent chanting the Lord’s name is incredible.

A flight of stone steps leads to the lake in the temple complex that hosts large Mahseer fish. While the Government of India has selected Baijanath to be one of the four temples to be connected by the ‘Siva Heritage Circuit’ in Uttarakhand, the archaeological Survey of India has declared it as ‘Monument of National Importance.’

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