The Holy Sites and Vibrant Tales in Dang
The Pandeshwor Mahadev temple is thought to have been established by Pandavas during their exile. There’s also an interesting local legend regarding the Shiva lingam inside the temple and Saaj tree attached to the temple.
When we travel through the Dang Valley, which lies between the Mahabharat Range in the north and the Churia Range in the south, we travel back in time, into the exciting ancient tales of gods, goddesses, kings and queens. There are many places still present in Dang which are holy sites and an important part of Hindu mythology and Sanskrit epic Mahabharata. One of the largest inner terai valleys, Dang is home to some famous and quite sacred temples.
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Pandeshwor Mahadev Dham
Pandeshwor Mahadev Dham located in Dharna, Dang about 12 kilometers away from Ghorahi is an unmissable destination for anyone with a keen interest in Hindu mythology, Mahabharat. The mention of Hindu mythology Mahabharat instantly draws out an image of the five Pandavas (sons of Pandu and central characters of the Sanskrit epic of Mahabharata). The five Pandavas: Yudhishthira, Bhima, Arjuna, Nakula and Sahadeva were highly skilled warriors who were sent into exile for thirteen years after losing all their assets to Kauravas (Pandavas’ cousins) in a rigged game of dice. During the period, the Pandavas not only prepared for he Kurukshetra War, but turned to Gods in genuine repentance for participating in unethical gambling. It is believed that Pandavas had lived in Dang for a certain period and worshipped Lord Shiva during their secret exile. The Pandeshwor Mahadev temple is thought to have been established by Pandavas during their exile. There’s also an interesting local legend regarding the Shiva lingam inside the temple and Saaj tree attached to the temple.
When a group of the indigenous Tharus were collecting firewood, a man tried cutting the Saaj tree but despite his best efforts, the tree didn’t fall. He went there the next day and the marks of his axe on the tree had disappeared. The man called the entire village and showed them the miraculous tree. Its leaves had fallen and the villagers found a Shivalinga covered in the leaves. According to another popular legend, the Pandavas and their wife Draupadi had worshipped Lord Shiva under the same tree after the Mahabharat war.
The Tallest Trishul in the World
Another monument in Pandeshwor Mahadev Dham is the colossal Trishul (a holy trident wielded by the god Shiva). The weapon with a three-headed spear is mounted to a staff. Trishul is a divine symbol that stands for creation, protection and destruction. The giant Trishul painted in black with a damaru (hourglass-shaped drum) attached to it is located just above the Pandeshwor Mahadev Dham. It is 55.5 feet tall and weighs 81 quintal and 13 kilograms. The damaru attached to the Trishul represents the cosmic sound and Shiva is described as a divine cosmic dancer. The Trishul at Pandeshwor Mahadev Dham is considered to be the largest and heaviest Trishul in the world.
Lord Shiva, mourned the passing of his beloved Sati Devi by carrying her dead body and wandering the entire universe. Her body parts that decomposed and fell on earth became Shaktipeeth, sacred sites. As a result, Hindu temples were built throughout Nepal and India, and people from around the world come and worship the deities. The Ambikeshwori temple is a shaktipeeth and it is believed that Sati Devi’s right ear fell in the area, creating goddess Ambikeshwori. The Ambikeshwori temple located in Ghorahi is also known as ‘Maiko Than’ (Mother’s Place). The site was discovered in ancient times when a man discovered an ear like structure in the middle of the forest. Local folklore suggests he had dreamt about an ear falling on the exact location.
A huge number of devotees from Dang and nearby districts pay obeisance to Goddess Ambikeshwori during the ten-day Bijaya Dashami festival (celebration of good prevailing over evil) and Chaite Dashain (smaller Bijaya Dashami). There are also numerous smaller temples in the premises dedicated to different other Hindu Deities such as Dhaneshwor Shiva temple, Nandeshwor Shiva temple, Ganesh temple, Radha Krishna temple, Ram temple and Saraswati temple.
The temple was revered by the Kings of Salyaan. According to inscription found in the temple, King Rana Bhim Shah of Salyaan, commissioned a huge bell for the temple. Rana Bhim Shah married King Prithvi Narayan Shah’s daughter Princess Bilas Kumari who was a skilled warrior and participated in several wars during the unification of Nepal.
Set in a scenic spot, bordered by lush forests, the Barakune Daha is another popular holy site in Dang, Barakune which means “a lake which has 12 corners” is a small forested lake with numerous temples. The lake and surrounding area is also called Barahachhetra, because the god Barah an incarnation of Vishnu in the form of a boar is worshiped here. According to Hindu Purana, when a demon named Hiranyaksha tried to destroy the earth by hiding her in the cosmic ocean, Baraha killed the demon and retrieved the Earth from the ocean, lifting her on his tusks.
There are also other temples of Lord Shiva and Ganesh in the sacred place. Every year on the occasion of Makar Sankranti, a fair is organized in the lake and large number of devotees attend it and take bath in the lake, hoping to cleanse a life time of sins.