Bhīmāshankar Temple is a Jyotirlinga located 50 km northwest of Khed near Pune . Bhīmāshankar is also the source of the river Bhima which flows southeast and merges with the Krishna river near Raichur.
Many decades ago, in the dense forests of Dakini, on the lofty ranges of the Sahaydris lived the evil Asura by the name Bhima with his mother Karkati. Gods and human beings were mortally afraid of this demon. However, he was bothered by a number of questions about himself which troubled him no end. When Bhima could no longer sustain his agony and curiosity, he asked his mother to unveil the mysteries of his life. He urged his mother to tell him who his father was and why had he abandoned them in the wilderness of the forest. After much hesitation and with a lingering fear Karkati, his mother revealed to him that he was the son of the mighty Kumbhakarna, the younger brother of the mighty King Ravana. Lord Vishnu in his incarnation as Lord Rama annihilated Kumbhakarna. Karkati told Bhima, that her husband and his father was killed by Rama in the great war. This infuriated Bhima and he vowed to avenge Lord Vishnu. To achieve this he embarked on a severe penance to please Lord Brahma. The compassionate creator was pleased by the dedicated devotee and granted him immense powers. This was a horrible mistake of Brahma . The dreaded tyrant created incalculable havoc in all the three worlds. He defeated King Indra and conquered the heavens. He also defeated a staunch devotee of Lord Shiva – Kamarupeshwar and put him in jail. He regularly began torturing all saints. Gods requested Lord Shiva to come to their rescue; he agreed . At the same time Bhima insisted and orderered Kamarupeshwara to worship him instead of Lord Shiva. When Kamarupeshwara declined to do pooja to him, Bhima raised his sword to strike the Shiva Linga which Kamarupeshwar was worshipping. Shiva appeared before him in all his magnificence and a war began. Narada requested Lord Shiva to put an end to this war. Lord Shiva reduced the evil demon to ashes .All the Gods and the sages requested Lord Shiva to make this place his abode. Lord Shiva thus manifested himself in the form of the Bhīmāshankar Jyotirlingam.
It is believed that the sweat that poured forth from Lord Shiva’s body after the battle formed the Bhīmārathi River. This temple is also closely associated with the legend of Shiva slaying the demon Tripurasura .
The Bhīmāshankar temple is a composite of old and the new structures in the Nagara style of architecture. It shows the excellent skills achieved by ancient sculptors. It is a modest yet graceful temple and it dates back to the 13th century . The sabha mandap was developed in the 18th century by Nana Phadnavis. The shikara was built by him. As with other Shiva temples in this area, the sanctum is at a lower level.
Although the structure here is fairly new, the shrine Bhīmāshankaram (and the Bhīmārathi river) have been referred to in literature dating back to the 13th century CE. Jnaneshwar had visited Triamabakeshwar and Bhīmāshankar. A unique bell in Roman style can be seen in front of the temple. This bell has an idol of Mother Mary with Jesus. This large bell was presented by Chimaji Appa who was brother of Bajirao Peshwa I and uncle of Nanasaheb Peshwa. On 16 May 1739, Chimaji Appa collected five large bells after he won in war against the Portugese from Vasai Fort.
Bhīmāshankar is a reserved forest area of 130.78 km2 was declared as wildlife sanctuary in 1985.This sanctuary is a part of Western Ghat, so it is rich in floral and faunal diversity. A variety of birds, animals, insects, plants can be seen. A rare animal Malabar Giant squirrel locally called as " Shekaru" can be found in deep woods. Bhīmāshankar is a trekker’s delight and a traveller’s sojourn.
1.There is another Bhimashankar in Guwahati. Legend says that there was a King named Kamarupa, a devotee of Shiva. A demon called Bhima was constantly troubling the devotees. One day he came to attack the King with his open sword, but the same fell on the Shivalinga. At this the Lord came out of the linga at once and destroyed the demon.Since then legend has it that the Lord has been there in the form of Jyotirlinga.
2. The small village known as Ujjanaka near Kashipur in Nainital claims to have the temple of Bhimashankar. Local people say that this place was known as Dakkini country in the olden days, Bhima, the second Pandava was married to Hidimba and it is stated that Dakkini Hidimba belonged to this place. This temple contains a very big image of the Lord. On the east side of the temple is a tank known as Shivalinga.