Maha Kaal: Where life bows to death



The belief and the relief (Pic copyright: Saroj Thakur)

Just 5 kms. away from Baijnath, another temple attracts the devotees because of its timeless appeal–Maha Kaal—The abode of the mighty Shiva, the lord of the Destruction! This is the feeling that comes to mind when one thinks of the temple of Shiva at Maha Kaal! I would be filled with terror when we would pass by this temple while visiting home during winter vacations. My father used to tell us so many legends about the temple. One of these that made me feel creepy was that people from nearby areas would burn the dead at this place and it was considered as a place that would help them achieve salvation. Shiva, according to Hindu folklore, is Mahadeva, the supreme God.

The ageless waters of Maha Kaal (Pic copyright: Saroj Thakur)

Even though he represents destruction, Shiva is viewed as a positive force since creation follows destruction. And when my father would tell us that it was a ritual that a human corpse be cremated at this cremation ground everyday, I would question him, “what would happen if no one died some day?” I was told that “It was a practice that the dried grass be put to flames if there was no dead corpse some day.” I was so scared and started averting my eyes while passing through the road facing the temple! Perhaps deep inside me lurched a fear that they may not burn me if they found neither a corpse nor a dried stack of hay!

From darkness to light (Pic copyright: Saroj Thakur)

Once my Ma told me that taking a bath in the waters of the Maha Kaal on the Saturdays of the Bhadon month, of the Hindu calendar year, wards off all evils from one’s life. I was now eager to visit the temple as who doesn’t want to lead a happy and peaceful life? And if just by taking a dip in the sacred waters of a temple could do it, why take any trouble?

So one fine day, early in the morning at about 5 AM we reached the famous temple of Maha Kaal. There was nothing that could have frightened me as the place was so serene and tranquil in the early hours of the morning that all my earlier fears were dispelled and I was at peace with myself. But what surprised me most was that the temple clamoured with devotees even at this early time of the day. Such is the devotion of the people in the miraculous powers of the temple that the Saturdays in the month of Bhadon are not less than a small fair. Devotees come from far and wide to take a holy dip in the waters and pay obeisance at the Lingam of Lord Shiva.

The destroyer himself is the creator (Pic copyright: Saroj Thakur)

The bathing area for the women devotees was inviting enough for a holy dip. My mother, at this age, immersed in the water chanting holy mantras. I, too, followed my mother and took a holy dip in the waters of a tank that held clean water. My little one, too, followed me and took a dip. This surprised me as I had thought that she would just stand and watch us both take the ritual bath. I was happy at the transmission of the tradition and that too without being asked to follow. Outside the whole temple vibrated with the rhythm of devotion—the fragrance of the sandal wood mingled with the aroma of the burning Kapoor and the incence sticks—made even the non-believers seek shelter at the feet of the might Shiva—the ever-forgiving. The lighted lamps, the burning Kapoor, and the incence sticks provided the ambience that made the hearts melt of the impurity! It was as if the outer as well as the inner impurity was being burnt away! We felt so clean—both literally and metaphorically.

maha-kaal-temple.jpgThe majestic temple of Maha Kaal (Pic copyright: Saroj Thakur)

After taking the bath we went to the temple that held the Lingam and believe me it looked spectacular in the morning sun bathing it with golden light! It was a breathtaking glimpse—the return of the faith for us.

At some distance the Black coloured huge idol instilled a sense of fear in the minds of the on-lookers. The idol of Shani Dev, in black stone, looked fearsome to me! It looked like god of Death to me and I wanted to placate Him. We offered Black grams, Til and Mustard oil to the deity that would eradicate all our problems. I felt so humble thinking about death at that spot that the problems of life, seemed negligible. The mood had become solemn and I could remember all the stories about the cremation grounds that surrounds the temple. All the legends, heard to during my childhood, came rushing to me. But surprisingly instead of fear what I felt was immense sense of peace. I was suddenly bereft of any feeling of dread and was in a blissful state.

fersome-shanidev1.jpgThe awesome-fearsome Shani Deva (Pic copyright: Saroj Thakur)

I was happy to have paid a long overdue visit to the temple of Lord Shiva—the destroyer who made new creations possible! It is the perspective that fills you with awe or bliss!

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  1. we are very thankful to our DC Dr.Shrikant Baldhi IAS. & SDM Mr.Sandeep Kumar HAS towards their contribution for developing MAHANKAL MANDIR (H.P.)

  2. I had visited this Holy Temple along with my Family (My Mother, My Son My, Daughter and My Wife ) and lord Shiva given me many more i can,t explain. (bhole baba to bus bhole hai unse jo bhi mangta hai subko dete hain). “JAI MAHAKAAL KI”

  3. Thanque so much SAROJ THAKUR…. i was searching over the pics of LORD SHANI DEV nd i found one u clicked and followed the web link… i felt like m there in the temple…. keep on the good work so that people who hadn’t visited the sacred places will be known to such places

  4. Mahakal temple is a very old and famous one in Himachal Pradesh, which is lacated just 5 Kms away from Main regional bus stand Baijnath and 6 Kms fron Rly Stn Paprola. Pilgrims in lacs come here during Shani Dev fair in Sep. Old Holly temple of Shiva is located here.

  5. My birth place is only 1 km away from Mahankal Mandir and since childhood we heard lot of interesting/fearing stories and had loved to visit this Holy Temple. This is also Swarg Ashram of our village. Now large number of devotees visit Mahankal Temple on Shani mela to worship Shani Bhagwan. All the credit for popularity goes to one late Bengali Dr.Babaji who stayed here and developed it in this fashion. One more thing has not been brought out in these explanations, which I would like to add, during my. There was at KUTT Bodu – place where people use to have bath whenever a dog bit them and get fully cured. Great lovely, devoted and charming place. Jai Mahankal.

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