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Grishneshwar Temple History and Architecture – Story of Grishneshwar Temple

Grishneshwar temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva, is one among the twelve Jyotirlingas in India. Grishneshwar Temple is a classic example of the never-say-die spirit of Hindus. Maharashtrian Hindus rebuilt the temple many times after it was repeatedly looted and destroyed by Muslim invaders. The shrine is also known as Ghrushneshwar Mandir or Ghrneshwar Jyotirlinga or Dhushmeshwar temple.

History of Grishneshwar Temple

The original temple was built in the very ancient times by the Rashtrakuta King Dantidurga. The place is also referred to by another name, ‘Kusumeshwar’, as appears in some ancient scriptures.

Rashtrakuta king of the 8th century, built this huge and beautiful temple on the banks of Elaganga River, at the feet of Mahishadri in the village Verul.

Krishnaraya rebuilt it around 750 AD. The temple was well maintained and repeatedly repaired until it was destroyed by the Sultans of Delhi in the 14th Century AD.

Later Maloji Raje Bhonsle, grandfather of Shivaji Maharaj, rebuilt the shrine along with Vithoji Baba in 1599 AD. Vithoji Baba was the younger brother of Maloji Raje Bhonsle.

But the shrine was destroyed again by Aurangazeb.

The shattered temple was again rebuilt with the aid of Gautami Bai, wife of Maratha noble Madhavrao Holkar in 1730 AD.

The temple is located very close to the world famous Ellora and Kailash caves.

Grishneshwar Temple Architecture

The present temple is built out of reddish sandstone and this gives a special character.

The deulwada is paved with similar red stones and merges well with the main temple structure.
The superstructure is in lime and brick plaster.

The Sabhamandapa in front of the Gabhara is open on three sides, has a one and half meter lower wall and columns above to support the roof.

The columns are not ornamental but have capitals which imitate wooden brackets.

The shikhara has six tiers of small shikharas and a central band reaching vertically to the kalasha. The band is called ‘Rath’, is present on all sides of the shikhara, and is a typical characteristic of temples built during the Maratha period.

The temple is Dakshinabhimukh (main entrance facing south) and stands on a platform. It has a large courtyard and a high wall built around it.

There are three ‘dwaras’ - one ‘mahadwara’ (main entrance) and two ‘pakshadwaras’ (side entrances).

There is a small shrine of Kokila Mata at the main entrance with her hand raised up.

The temple has two chambers, a big ‘sabhamandapa’ with beautifully carved columns, and a ‘garbhagruha’ with black-stoned ‘jyotirlinga’ fixed in an underground chamber of the shrine.

A five-tiered shikhara and the ceiling of the temple is decorated with beautifully carved sculptures of a variety of birds, animals, plants, hunters with bows, musicians, dancers and some girls playing in a circle with their hands inter-linked with each other – a rhythmic movement known in Maharashtra as ‘fugadi’.

Shivalaya Teerth - Huge Temple Pond at Grishneshwar

The Shivalaya teerth near the temple is about one acre in area and is constructed from dressed stone. There are fifty-six steps leading to the water and ornamental chhatris are used for general effect.

The Teertha was renovated by Maharani Ahilyadevi Holkar.

Legend has it that the Shivalaya Tirtha Kunda was created by Lord Brahma by bring sacred water from eight different kundas.

There are eight temples of eight different ‘tirthas’ near it.


The Story of Grishneshwar Temple

Legend has it that an old who was devoted to Shiva requested him to stay in the area where she normally resided. Lord Shiva stayed at the place at the request of “Ghrushna” the old lady and hence the name of the God here is Ghrushneshwar. (Padma Purana).

Another legend has it that, Ghrushna’s son was killed by her relatives. Still, she was patient and continued to repose deep faith in Lord Shiva. Pleased with this, Shiva came and resided here with her.

Another famous legend tells us that Shiva appeared in the form of a flame on the palm of Goddess Parvati while she was rubbing her finger on the palm to mix saffron. The flame created due to ‘gharshana’ (friction) was then put into a stone linga and so named Ghrushneshwar.

Another legend has it that the temple is visited by a tiger every night and its prayers in the form of roar are heard at midnight.

There is also a belief that the birth of Shivaji Maharaj in the family of Bhonsle is attributed to the work done by his grandfather for the revival of the temple and tank.

Grishneshwar Temple

The most important festival observed here is the Mahashivratri. On this day a palanquin procession of Lord Shiva is taken from the temple to the Shivalaya Tirtha Kunda.

Vaikuntha Chaturdashi (the day before Kartik Purnima) (November) is a special day celebrated here when Shiva is offered ‘tulsi’ leaves, a favourite of Lord Vishnu.