Doleshwor Mahadev: The forgotten Head of Kedarnath

After a treacherous trip up the mountains, Bhimsen, one of the five Pandavas spotted a gigantic looking bull in a distance which he knew was in disguise. Bhimsen known for his brute strength, forcefully caught the bull. When the bull was caught, he tried to escape but unfortunately, the bull was torn into several parts because of Bhimsen’s strength.

Mahabharata, the epic depicts the struggle for power and conflict between two groups of cousins, the Pandavas (the five sons of Pandu) and the Kauravas (100 sons of ). Most people remember the epic for the great war between the two on the field of Kurukshetra, where the Kauravas were killed and Pandavas were victorious. Pandavas then ruled the kingdom of Hastinapur. But what happened in the aftermath of the war?

The Pandavas and Lord Shiva in disguise

To atone for the sins committed in the Kurukshetra war, the 5 Pandavas, the five brothers Yudhishthira, Bhimsen, Arjuna, Nakula, Sahadeva  and their wife Draupadi went on a perilous  journey to the in , in search of Lord Shiva, to ask for forgiveness and get his blessings. Lord Shiva strongly disapproved of the Kurukshetra war and the bloodbath caused by it. He assumed the form of a bull to hide from the Pandavas.  After a treacherous trip up the mountains, Bhimsen, one of the five Pandavas spotted a gigantic looking bull in a distance which he knew was Shiva in disguise.  Bhimsen known for his brute strength, forcefully caught the bull. When the bull was caught, he tried to escape but unfortunately, the bull was torn into several parts because of Bhimsen’s strength. The different parts of the bull appeared in five different locations in :  Madhmaheshwar, Tungnath, Rudranath, Kalpnath and Kedarnath being the main . The Pandavas later built the Kedar in the different locations and were thus freed from their sins. The are collectively known as the Panch Kedar (five temples or holy places of dedicated to Shiva). However, people couldn’t find the head of the bull and for thousands of years people have been looking for the head of the bull.

Photo : Sambid Bilas Pant

The Doleshwor Mahadev

In the year 2009, the head priest of the Kedarnath temple in Uttarakhand, claimed that Doleshwor Mahadev was the head of the holy Kedarnath shrine. When a devastating flood damaged the temple of Kedarnath in 2013, the daily prayers in the temple couldn’t be carried out and the head priest of temple requested that the daily be held in the Doleshwor Mahadev Temple in the foothill of green hills of instead. Doleshwor Mahadev in Bhaktapur is worshipped as the head of Kedarnath by thousands of devotees every year. It is believed that the devotees have to visit the Doleshwor Mahadev temple and the temple in Nepal in order to complete their Panch Kedar Yatra (journey) and the Char Dham yatra, four pilgrimage sites: Badrinath, Dwarka, Jaganath Puri and Rameswaram in order to achieve (salvation).

The style temple of Doleshwor Mahadev is located 20 kilometres from in Suryabinayak, south eastern part of Bhaktapur District. Locals of Bhaktapur also call it Bimaleshwor  Mahadev. The devotees offer prayers to Mahadev, hoping to receive his blessings and to cleanse a lifetime of sins. An essential feature of any Shiva temple is a sculpture of Nandi, the bull of Shiva. The temple has multiple Nandi sculptures. Nandi means “giving ” and the smaller sculpture is said to give the devotees exactly that. The devotees share their deepest wishes to the whispering in the ear of the sacred bull. Close to the temple is a sculpture of a Naga (snake deity). Nagas are closely associated with Lord Shiva. The Naga seen around the neck of Shiva is Vasuki, also referred as the of the Nagas. It represents the endless cycle of life and death and reminds Shiva’s followers to keep their ego under check.

Photo : Sambid Bilas Pant

Ashapuri Mahadev

Bhaktapur is home to numerous other Shivalayas. One of them is the Aashapuri Mahadev temple. “Ashapuri” as the name suggests is a sacred place where the wishes of the devotees come true. Monday in particular sees huge number of devotees flock the temple because it is said that the one who Lord Shiva on Monday, gets their dreams fulfilled. Other occasions when temple receives the greatest number of visitors are Teej which is a celebration of union of goddess and lord Shiva; and Maha Shiva (the great night of Shiva), a night dedicated to Lord Shiva where he performs the heavenly dance known as the “Tandav”.

The temple is about 6 kilometers away from the Doleshwor Mahadev Temple. The Ashapuri Mahadev temple is located in a location. It lies on the bank of two small rivers. Opposite it is a beautiful white surrounded by colorful .

Kailashnath Mahadev

Another holy destination nearby is the magnificent looking of Shiva, which is about 5 kilometers away from Ashapuri Mahadev temple. The 143 feet tall statue is the tallest standing statue of Lord Shiva in the world and second tallest sculpture of any deity. The enormous sculpture of Lord Shiva holding a mammoth Trishul (holy trident and weapon of Shiva) stands on top of a hill in Sanga and is visible from afar.

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About Sambid Bilas Pant

Experienced independent writer & photographer with a demonstrated history of working in the media industry.

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