Bhimashankara (Jyotirlinga) temple - Maharastra

Shiva Temple, Bhimashankar,OkTataByebye

Shiva Temple, Bhimashankar, TripAdvisor
Bhimashankar Temple is one of the 12 important  Jyotirlinga shrines located across India. Lying 50 km northwest of Khed, near Pune, in India and 127 km from Shivaji Nagar (Pune) in the Ghat region of the Sahyadri hills.  Bhimashankar is also the source of the river Bhima, which flows southeast and merges with the Krishna river near Raichur.  Ever since  this place was declared as a wild life sanctuary, lots of people  have visited  this place that has good flora and fauna and the temple here. The other Jyotirlinga shrines in Maharashtra are Vaidyanath near Parli, Beed district, Trimbakeshwara near Nashik, Grishneshwar near Aurangabad and Aundha Nagnath Temple in Hingoli, Nagnaath in Aundh built by Pandavas.  Bhimashankar is the sixth Jyotirling in the series of Dwadasha Jyotirlingas.  
Jyothilina or Jyothilingam  is a divine object of  Supreme God Shiva. Jyoti means 'radiance' or fire and lingam means the 'image or Sign' of Shiva with no end and beginning;  Hence,  Jyotir Lingam denotes  the The Radiant Sign of The Almighty Siva. According to the Hindu Mythology, Lord Shiva appeared as a huge fiery column at certain places places for specific purpose either to  remove ignorance or arrogance or to annihilate the evil forces and these are called Jyothilinga sthalams or shrines. Lots of Hindus go on a pilgrimage to such places to get the Lord's blessings and to get their personal problems solved. 

Long long ago in the  dense forests of Dakini, on the lofty ranges of the Sahyadris, there lived an evil minded tyrannical demon - Asura named  Bhima with his mother   Karkati. Compassion and kindness were anathema to him. One day from his mother he came to know that he was the son of  Kumbhakarna, the younger brother of the mighty  Lanka king   Ravana of Lanka. Lord Vishnu in his incarnation (avatar) as Lord Rama killed  Kumbhakarna. Bhima, in rage, decided to avenge Vishnu and engaged in intense penance  to please Lord Brahma. Pleased as he was, Brahma granted him immense mystic powers which was a grave mistake unwittingly committed by him. With more power, the arrogant demon terrorized the sages, saints  and others. His atrocities went beyond  the level of tolerance as he had already  defeated King Indra, conquered the heavens and also also defeated a staunch devotee of Lord Shiva - Kamarupeshwar.  The angered gods asked Brahma to stop the demon. Realizing his folly, Brahma requested Lord Vishnu to annihilate the demon at any cost. One day Bhima forced Kamarupeshwar to worship him when he was worshiping the Shivalinga. He refused to so. When evil tyrant raised his sword to kill Kamarupeshwar, Lord Shiva appeared in his divine, resplendent form and reduced him to ashes. Thus, the saga of tyranny, horror and lawlessness came to an end.

Upon the request of  sages and rishies,  to take care of the welfare of this region   Lord Shiva made this place his abode in a serene place and took the form of the Bhimashankar Jyotirlingam. The Bhimarathi River is believed to have been formed from the sweat of lord Shiva during his fight with Bhima.

Shiva Temple, Bhimashankar. Vanamali Ashram
 There is another legend  with respect to Self-emanating Mahadeva (Bheema Sankara), whose abode is the Sahayadri mountains. Once upon a time  wood-cutter  by the name of Bhatirao Lakadhara, as usual, went to the  forest and one day when he was cutting the wood  blood had begun to ooze out . Tongue-tied and scared, he brought the local people to the spot. Someone brought a milk cow and made it stand there and the cow's milk stopped the bleeding of the earth. Suspecting divinity there, they found  a glowing JyotirLinga of Shankara. There upon the natives had a temple built  there - in the middle of the mountains  and installed the JyotirLinga  This temple, later  came to be known as Bhima Shankara temple. Here lord Shiva is guarding the entire region from this quiet place. The silence is frequently broken by the whiz of cool breeze and the occasional
chirping of birds perching on the trees near by.

Shiva Temple, Bhimashankar, TripAdvisor
 Built in the  in the Nagara style of architecture, the Bhimashankara temple has old as well as new structures. The Bhimashankara temple built in the 13th century is modest in size, but quite graceful. There are references to this temple in the literary works of 13th century. One Nana Phadnavis built the Sabhamatap and also the Shikara in the 18th century.
Portuguese bell. Shiva Temple, Bhimashankar, Himadventures

Another view of Portuguese bell, Shiva Temple, Bhimashankar,
Saint Jnaneshwar is believed to have visited Tryambakeshwar and Bhimashankar. The great Maratha ruler and warrior Shivaji is said to have made endowments to this temple to meet the costs of daily (Nithya) puja protocols. An interesting feature here is the presence of a big metal  bell with engravings of the idol of Mother Mary with Jesus Christ . This odd bell donated by Chimaji Appa (Brother of Bajirao Peshwa I and uncle of Nanasaheb Peshwa). It is one among the five bells Chimaji Appa acquired on 16 May 1739, after capturing the Vasai Fort from the Portuguese.  He offered the other bells to the Shiva temples at Menavali near Wai in front of a Shiva Temple on the banks of the Krishna river, Banshanker temple (Pune), Omkareshwar Temple (Pune) and Ramlinga temple  (Shirur).

Mahashivaratri is a major festival here and is celebrated with intense devotion and bhajans.