The ancient Sangameshwar temple of Swayambhu Mahadev at the confluence of two rivers namely Karha and Chambali (Bhogwati) is situated in the historically significant city of Saswad in the state of Maharashtra. Saswad is known to be deeply entrenched in history, spirituality, religion, culture and architecture from time immemorial.
It is believed that the origin of this ancient Sangameshwar temple can be traced back to the Pandavas. Historical and religious references are conclusive that the Pandavas resided in this place in their exile. During their stay here, it was observed that there was a severe water crisis in this region. Lord Krishna who had accompanied the Pandavas noticed Lord Brahma sitting nearby deep in meditation having a kamandalu that was full of water.
Lord Krishna quickly asked Bheema to bring that kamandalu and suggested that a river can be made to flow from the water flowing out of the kamandalu. Bheema enthusiastically went up to Lord Brahma to request him to part with the water in the kamandalu but Lord Brahma was blissfully unaware of the surroundings.
Bheema in an effort to get his attention poured cold water on his head. Lord Brahma quick to anger at this impertinence of Bheema chased him and, it was during this flight of Bheema that the Shiva Lingas were created in five spots to appease Lord Brahma and seek the blessings of Lord Shiva and the birth of the river Karha named after the kamandalu of Lord Brahma called Kara occurred.
The temple that one sees today is probably been built between the 10th and 13th century in the typical Hemadpanti style of architecture (style incorporating black stone and lime without using any mortar using the technique of mortise and tenon joint). As one climbs the stone steps, one’s attention rests on the stunning architecture, the temple’s shikara that has hundreds of intricate sculptures and the majestic Nandi.
The entrance mandapam has beautifully weathered stone pillars with two deepamalas (row of lamps) on either side, a gaily painted Nandi and a detailed carving of a tortoise with a lotus on its back on the floor. There is also a very interesting design of Tulasi Vrindavan that holds a Shiva Linga in the middle with a solid base below and so, when water falls on the sacred tulasi, it falls on the pindi or Shakti peetam of the Linga.
The entrance mandapam leads to the maha mandapam where Lord Ganesha, Lord Hanuman and others are worshipped in the niches of the thick walls. The garbha griha (sanctum sanctorum) oozes of calm, serenity and peace. There is a lone old lamp over the Shiva Linga and in that dim illumination, you can see Goddess Parvati and Lord Ganesha in the background with a picture of Saint Sopandev painted on the sidewall.
Perhaps, it is the legendary stories associated with this temple or perhaps it is the energy of this place that is very comforting, but whatever the reason maybe, it renders you silent and introspective.
Written by Lakshmi Subramanian
* Photos are only symbolic (Taken from public domain/internet and any copyright infringement is unintentional and regrettable)