During my visit to Palampur I got the chance to see Baijnath temple. Palampur contented me with its natural beauty and fresh tea. Paragliding at Bir quenched the adventure soul inside me and Baijnath made sure that I am content in terms of mythology too. I was putting up at Himachal Heritage Village and Baijnath temple was just 30 minutes drive away from there. Geographically it is located between Kangra and Mandi. Why are we suddenly talking so much about Baijnath, it is all because of it’s famous 13th Century Shiva Temple and the fascinating story associated with it. The temple is known by the name Baijnath temple, clearly it shares the name with the city.
My fellow travelers had already seen the temple. We were running short of time and I could see my dreams of visiting the temple being shattered. But the universe conspired and we managed to squeeze in some time for this majestic temple. The temple is not just popular for its architecture and Dhauladhars backdrop but also for its association with deity Shiva and King Ravana.
Dussehra is not observed in Baijnath and the reason goes back to the Treta Yug. Legends have it that King Ravana was a big disciple of lord Shiva. He worshiped Lord Shiva in the most adverse situation on the Kailash so that he could get his wishes fulfilled. He even sacrificed his ten heads in order to attain the ultimate state invincibility and immortality. Eventually Lord Shiva got impressed with his tenacity and not just granted his wishes but also restored his beheaded heads. But Ravana wasn’t satisfied yet he requested Lord Shiva to come with him to Lanka. Lord Shiva agreed to this wish as well.
Lord Shiva transformed himself into a Shivalinga so that Ravana could carry him easily. However there was one condition too. Lord Shiva put a condition that the Shivlinga should not be placed anywhere on the ground until they reach Lanka. By the time Ravana reached Baijnath he felt an urgent need to answer nature’s call. Ravana distinctly remembered the condition and so he handed over the Shivalinga to a shepherd who was passing by. After sometime the shepherd kept the shivalinga at the ground and left. The shepherd’s name was Baiju and it is believed that he was God sent so that Ravana doesn’t succeed in attaining the ultimate state of immortality. The spot where the shivalinga was placed is now called as the Baijnath temple and it gets its name from the shepherd’s name, Baiju.
In order to pay respect and honor to Ravana people of Baijnath don’t celebrate Dussehra. They believe that because of Ravana (devotee of Lord Shiva) the town has this temple and blessings of Lord Shiva. So unlike the whole country they don’t burn Ravana instead they look up to him in high reverence. The sole reason that Ravana was lord Shiva’s devotee and also he was a prominent reason behind the existence of the temple.
Another fascinating aspect of Baijanth is that there are no goldsmiths in the town. Surprised enough? Yes not even a single goldsmith in Baijnath. This also has a link to the same story. Ravana wanted to take Shiva to Lanka which was popularly known as city of gold. Lord Shiva didn’t value gold and for him it was as worthless as a piece of rock. Now because Ravana couldn’t succeed in carrying lord Shiva to Lanka and also lord had no affinity for gold hence this city has no goldsmith. People of the city believe that this way they are honoring Shiva’s wish and following their footsteps. They also believe that doing otherwise would bring misfortune to the city.
Every mythological story revolves around believe. like they say
“maano toh bhagwaan, na maano toh pathar” (If you believe its God and if not its just a piece of stone)
Do you happen to know anymore fascinating story about this town, do let me know.