Bijli Mahadev: The temple of lightning

A narrow path, no more than a foot or two wide from the base village of Chansari in Kullu Valley, spiraled around the mountain leading to a mystical temple at the summit.  This lush trail; strewn with gabbled slate-roofed houses, apple orchards and deodar forests takes me to the hillcrest of Mathan, at an altitude of 2,438 metres.  From a distance, a traditional ‘Pahari’ structure of wood and stones amidst lush green meadows blooming with tiny yellow flowers caught my eye.  On a closer look, the shrine was encircled by clouds over views of lush valleys cloaked in mist.  As I set my foot on this ‘Khash’-style pyramidal shrine of Bijli Mahadev, I was enlightened by yet another striking legend of this lightning god.  According to mythology, a destructive lightning struck the universe. As a measure, Maharishi Vashishta meditated atop this hill, praying to Lord Rudra that he absorb the strong electric currents within himself. Lord Rudra answered his prayers; absorbing it all and saving the universe from destruction. This miracle is believed to have taken place at the confluence of the Parvati and Beas rivers, located right below this mountain and a temple was built to mark this event. That’s how the Shivaling came to be known as ‘Bijleshwar Mahadev’. Legend has it that, once in every twelve years, a frightful bolt of lightning strikes the Shivaling, reducing it to pieces. Post this occurrence, the priests get visions and dreams on the whereabouts of the scattered pieces. Then they set out on a mission to find them and ritualistically reset the Shivaling. Once found, they put together these pieces secretively, binding them with pure cow butter.  Now this ancient sanctum houses a 1.5 feet buttered, sandalwood-smeared Shivaling. One can witness the inside walls charred by lightning and etched with beautiful wood-carved scriptures dating back to 8th century A.D.  At the entrance, are two stone-statues of Nandi -the bull, besides small Shivalingas and miniscule Stupas.  A few feet away from the shrine, a 60 feet tall Deodar pole stands tall in the temple complex that’s known for receiving the blessings and the first brunt of lightning. Locals believe that this pole plays an important role in keeping the environment and weather balanced in Kullu valley. While I soaked in the story and the panoramic views of the Parvati, Gadsa, Bhunter and Kullu valleys from the sacred shrine, my heart was certainly struck by this mystical tale of the lightning god. #Folklores
 

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