There are many places and events in India that make us aware of the fact that on this earth, divine and divine powers once resided. We human beings are unable to understand those powers or happenings. As a result, we called them as MYSTERY.
India is a land of temples, shrines and place of worship. The temples in India have always acquired an important place in their ethnic and spiritual life of its people, from the early times and is still continuing till nowadays. A Hindu temple is a symbolism of house, seat and body of divinity. A temple is nothing, but a structure which is designed to unite human beings and gods together, thereby expressing the ideas and beliefs of Hinduism. Temples were usually built in places marked by special holiness. The legends associated them with the acts of Vishnu, Shiva, Durga and other gods. Temples are being regarded as “the form of God and not a home of God”. that means the temple structure itself is venerable.
There are many places in worldwide which are full of secrets and mysterious sayings. Among those places and events, two such Temples of Lord Shiva (JATA SHANKAR and GUPT MAHADEV temples) which have a close connection in between them and are peculiar too.
NOMENCLATURE – Jata means ‘MATTED HAIR’ and Shankar is another name of ‘LORD SHIVA’. A place which is full of matted hair of lord Shiva.
Gupt means ‘SECRET’ and Mahadev is another name of ‘LORD SHIVA’. A place where lord Shiva hide himself secretly.
LOCATION – Jata Shankar temple is located in Hoshangabad district, Madhya Pradesh, in north direction 2 km from Pachmarhi.
Gupt Mahadev temple is located at a distance of 14km from Jata Shankar temple.
ABOUT: Jata Shankar temple is a natural cave. It is a popular pilgrimage site consisting of a Hindu shrine in a cave. It is located in deep ravine, with enormous boulders perched above. Cave contains stalagmites revered as naturally formed LINGAMS. There are two different types of ponds, fed by springs, found in the locality, one of cold water and the other one of hot water. Inside the cave there are naturally formed 108 Shiva Lingams. Idols of Lord Shiva, Goddess Parvati and Shiva Lingam are enshrined at a platform on the upper part of the cave. Devotees worship these naturally formed Lingams.
Gupt Mahadev, is quite a narrow but 40 ft long cave, in which idols of Lord Ganesh and Shiva Lingam have been enshrined. An idol of Lord Hanuman has been cherished just at the entrance of the cave. The formation of the cave is natural and the whole cave is structured in such manner as if the two huge rock type stones oppositely facing each other. The location is the great attraction for a Meditating Place for yogis and spirituals.
MYSTERY: Jata Shankar temple represents the natural artwork, a cave-shrine carved in between large blackish-brown rocks that dominate Pachmarhi’s topography.
There is a water stream which arises from the cave. NO ONE HAS AN IDEA ABOUT THE SOURCE OF THE WATER. It is very dark from inside and the habitat of vegetation and livelihood can’t be imagined. Hence, it is popularly known as ‘GUPT GANGA’. There is no path for the sunrays to entered into that cave from that darker side. And because of that the visibility towards that water source is negative, no one dares to find out. Another reason could be the popular legends behind the temple, belief system of Yogis and Spirituals on the knowledge from the mythological books which as a whole kept that temple as a mysterious place of pachmarhi. Moreover, how the ponds become hot and cold simultaneously is still unexplainable.
A naturally formed Shiva lingam under the shadow of a huge rock can be seen inside the cave.
The formation of stones in the cave exactly resembles like the hundred-headed divine snake SHESHNAG.
The rocky path leading up to this cave has scores of stalls selling Ayurvedic medicines and herbs that claim to cure all kinds of ailments from acne to heart diseases.
Coming to Gupt Mahadev temple, its mystery starts or we can say the miracle of nature began right at the entrance. Because of extreme narrow, lean and little sideways, only one person can enter at one time. And only 4 to 5 people are allowed to stay inside the cave and perform their rituals.
Another surprising feature of both the caves is that the atmosphere and the weather is very pleasant and cool. As previously mentioned, these caves are not man-made, rather there is mythological events behind their formation.
LEGENDS – The most popular legends about these temples is associated to demon BHASMASUR, an ardent devotee of Lord Shiva. Demon Bhasmasur performed great penance. Pleased with his austerity, Lord Shiva asked him to ask for a boon. Bhasmasur then asked that he be granted the special power which could turn anyone into ashes when he touches the victim’s head. Lord Shiva granted his wish. Bhasmasur upon getting the special power started misusing it. He wanted to try this boon on Lord Shiva. Hence, Lord Shiva ran and arrived at this remote cave, which is now known as Jatashankar. It is believed that while running through the cave, Lord Shiva lost his jata or hair. Hence, the place acquired the name Jatashankar. As the legends continue the next part of the incident describe the connection between both the temples.
INTERCONNECTION – According to Hindu Mythology, lord Shiva threw all his matted hair inside the Jata Shankar cave and intervened as snake. It is believed that he, through that darker path of the water source covered the distance of approx. 14 km to reached the Gupt Mahadev cave. Shiva hid himself in the Cave, till Vishnu intervened as Mohini, the captivate seductress, and tricked Bhasmasura to touch his own head. However, today NEITHER THE WATER SOURCE NOR THE UNDERGROUND INTERCONNECTIVITY OF BOTH THE CAVES ARE VISIBLE.
Man is curious by nature. Temples are the place of religion where we always get peace. There is no place in the world where we feel closer to God except these holy temples. Faith and believe have been assigned prime importance in our Indian culture since the ancient times. There is always a conflict in between mythological sayings and scientific proofs, besides knowing the fact that both are correct and equally important for the welfare of mankind. The need is that we must have proper knowledge of both.
VISHAL KUMAR SINGH, UTTAR PRADESH