Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Kal Bhairava in the Bhairavnath Temple: Saswad, Pune

The ancient Bhairavnath Temple is situated in the central part of the Saswad town and is very popular with the locals. One reason for its popularity is its antiquity and yet, its exact age is not known. The other reason why people flock to this temple is its guardian deity - Kal Bhairav or the Lord of Time – the fierce and terrifying looking deity in the Hindu Texts, a demeanor He reserves for the evil hearted and the wicked.

For the devout and the noble, Kal Bhairava is a protector, a care taker who bestows blessings by keeping all the ill influences away. Being a manifestation of Lord Shiva, it is pretty common to see Kal Bhairava following the trail of His Master. This is the reason why you can commonly find Him in many Shiva temples across India guarding His Master. (See: Kal Bhairava temple in Varanasi and Kal Bhairava temples in Jyotirlings).

The same thing applies to Saswad. Here, Lord Kal Bhairav, sits in the Bhairavnath temple and keeps an eye on the various ancient medieval temples of Shiva spread all around the town like Sangameshwar, Changavateshwar, Nageshwar, etc. some dating back to the 8th century. 

If you are planning to visit the ancient Shiva temples in Saswad, this magnificent Bhairavnath Temple is definitely a good place to start.

The imposing Bhairavnath temple, Saswad, Pune, Maharashtra
The imposing citadel - the entrance of the Bhairavanth Temple.

The entrance to the Bhairavnath temple resembles a fort with imposing fortified walls and a flag fluttering high on the central arched canopy. Perhaps, the citadel is a signal for the enemies to keep at bay! The huge square area in front of the daunting temple walls is where we parked our cars and a flight of stairs led us to the temple gate. The well painted gleaming exteriors suggested to me that the temple had been newly renovated. The temple walls are made in black bricks and stone, the color of a Shivling, except for the upper part which is coated in yellow.

The gold plated spire of the Bhairavnath temple, Saswad, Pune, Maharashtra
The yellow colored spire of the temple against the rustic backdrop of stone.

Small metallic gates at the entrance open into a wide spacious pillared courtyard. As soon as I stepped inside, drawings of 2 serpents, one on each side of the pillared canopy above caught my attention.

The snake painting in the pavillion of the Bhairavnath temple, Saswad, Pune, Maharashtra
Can you see the serpents peeping down from the canopy?

Walk straight and through the courtyard and you reach the main temple hall.

The temple room, a fine blend of stunning glass and stone work, looks pretty impressive at first sight. The beauty is further accentuated by colorful motifs of auspicious signs and symbols like Aum and Swastika adorning the glass ceilings and the door framing the garbhagriha.

The temple hall of Bhairavnath temple, Saswad, Pune, Maharashtra
The temple hall in stunning glass work.

Above the doorframe, Lord Ganesha looks on, smaller in size than the one gazing through the sanctum. Incised just above Him is the sacred mantra, Shree Bhairavnath Prasann, which I silently concentrated on for a few minutes even as I prepared myself to offer my prayers.

The mantra in the Bhairavnath temple, Saswad, Pune, Maharashtra
The toran and the mantra at the door frame of the sanctum sanctorum.

The sanctum or the garbhagriha is a stony enclosure housing deities of Kal Bahirava, Lord Ganesha and Lord Hanuman. I closed my eyes and inwardly praised Lord Bhairava for His ferocious courage and steadfast love for Lord Shiva…

A view of the sanctum sanctorum in the Bhairavnath temple, Saswad, Pune, Maharashtra
Deities of Kal Bhairava, Lord Ganesh and Lord Hanuman in the sanctum sanctorum.

Cupping my hands over the diya gleaming outside, I flushed my face with the warmth of its radiance. The diya imparted a lifelike glow to the garlanded metallic deity of Kal Bhairav, installed specifically for the visitors who wish to perform ritualistic Pooja with flowers, rice and vermillion kumkum.

The deity of Bhairavnath in metal, Saswad, Pune, Maharashtra
The metallic deity of Kal Bhairava where devouts offer their prayers.
The pradakshina marg cuts across the courtyard where you can see a few other deities, predominantly the Navgrahas – Shani, Rahu, Ketu, etc…

The pradakshina marg at the Bhairavnath temple, Saswad, Pune, Maharashtra
Other deities at the Bhairavnath temple, Saswad, Pune, Maharashtra
The Navgraha deities at the Bhairavnath temple, Saswad, Pune, Maharashtra
Lord Ganesha at the Bhairavnath temple, Saswad, Pune, Maharashtra
Stone walls at the Bhairavnath temple, Saswad, Pune, Maharashtra
The Pradakshina Marg: The various deities in while circumnavigating the temple.

There are also large deepmalas flanking the entrance door which are probably used during festivals and important events.

The magnificent citadel of Bhairavnath temple, Saswad, Pune, Maharashtra
Deepmalas: Which lights up during festivals.

The outer courtyard has huge Banyan trees which do a very good job of providing shade to weary pilgrims and there also exist two smaller deepmalas in front of the entrance. 

The large spacious courtyard of the Bhairavnath temple, Saswad, Pune, Maharashtra
Banyan trees and the tortoise in the courtyard of the temple.
Beneath the canopied tree, is a tortoise carved out on the stone floor, believed to bring good luck and fortune.

The tortoise of good fortune, Bhairavnath temple courtyard, Saswad, Pune, Maharashtra
The tortoise: A messenger of good luck and fortune.

How to get there?

The Bhairavnath Temple is situated near the Sangameshwar Temple and the Purandare Wada which was once the majestic residence of Sardar Ambaji Purandare, a close aide and dewan to Peshwa Balaji Vishwanath and his son Bajirao I but which now lies in a dilapidated state. The Temple lies in the small town of Saswad and is easy to reach - you can just ask the locals about its whereabouts after you enter Saswad and you will be duly guided by the helpful people.

Bhairavnath Temple Timings:

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  1. This temple at Saswad looks very large, and yet it doesn't seem crowded. I imagine you can see the yellow dome from far away. Thank you for taking along and being my guide, Arti.

  2. What a beautiful temple! I love the colors, the elegance. That temple hall is stunning.

  3. These are some real gem of temples still with the true local colors and designs even though glass and lights have been added to them. The idols with vermilion quotes tell us how many people visit and and pray here....

  4. Another beautiful post, Great photos of temple.

  5. Very well explained. Of all the wonderful photos you shared it is the last one of the tortoise that really captured my imagination.

  6. Lovely trip to yet another temple. Thanks Arti!

  7. Such a big temple of KalBhairav. I don't remember I have ever heard or read about this much big Kalbhairav temple. Happy to have Darshana. :)

  8. Nice as ever..Thanks for sharing.. :)

    Please check my latest post and rate:


  9. Beautiful! Especially the entrance citadel... so imposing and magnificent! thank you for sharing Arti :)

  10. Beautiful pictures with detailed description

  11. Hi Arti,
    How are you? I used to be a regular reader of your blog few years ago. I used to blog by the name Cinderella. Then I was totally out of blogging world. Finally now back with a new blog!

    Your blog and narrative has grown big time :) Congrats!! :) I will be around often from now!!! Hope read so much more of such beautiful posts from you!

    C ya
    Take care

  12. Wonderfully described & great pics, Arti!
    Would love to visit :)

  13. Such a beautiful temple! My parents have been to Badrinath and I've been wanting to visit that wonderful place!

  14. beautifully written and equally supported by awesome pics !

  15. अदभुत, दैविक!
    धन्यवाद आरती इस अप्रत्यक्ष दर्शन के लिए! बहुत आनंद आया पोस्ट पढ़ के! कभी मौका मिलेगा तो आवश्या इस मंदिर के दर्शन करेंगे.

  16. Beautiful temple...as always, the pictures exude beauty and peace... :-)

  17. Interesting read Arti. In-depth details and great photos.


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