The famous Gupteshwar Mahadev temple at Rustampur village on the Indore – Icchapur highway is deemed extremely sacrosanct and draws a large number of devotees every year. This divine temple is in Khandwa which is the legendary Khandava forest area previously known as Khar Dushan that holds immense religious, historical and spiritual significance.
Historians who have painstakingly recorded all the events and movements of Lord Rama both during the exile in the forest as well as the return from Lanka in the Pushpaka Vimana have categorically stated that Lord Rama passed through this area during His exile and spent many days in this forest. Research has proved that Lord Rama along with Sita Mata and Lakshmana stayed near the Shree Rameshwar Temple in Khandwa.
This temple has been notified by the Archaeology Department to be very ancient and it is believed that Lord Rama established this Shiva Linga here in Treta Yuga. This Shiva Linga is seated in the sanctum sanctorum of the temple about 35 feet below the ground. Locals believe that this Shiva Linga is hundreds of years old and self-manifested and worshipped as swayambhu and also known as Swayambhu Mahadeva. This is said to be the thirteenth Jyotirlinga. Locals say that there was a cave earlier where the pooja was done to Lord Gupteshwar.
There is a very interesting story about the ancient small pond that is like a well inside the temple. Legend has it that one time Sita Mata felt thirsty during their stay in this place. Lord Rama immediately sent an arrow from his fearsome bow flying into the ground to release water and quench the thirst of Sita Mata.
But the water that gushed out steadily became difficult to control and Lord Rama placed some stones over it to reduce its flow. It is this old well that continues to supply drinking water to over forty thousand people even today. Locals say that they have never known the well to be empty till date. The water from the well rises up in the month of Shravana completely submerging the Shiva Linga for four months.
According to a legend, there was a path through a cave in the ancient days and it was this route that was used by Lord Shiva to reach Rustumpur from Omkareshwar. Some villagers did try to go in but darkness and damage to the path prevented them from venturing further.
There is a samadhi (resting place) of Saint Mallikarjuna nearby that is about 200 years old. Baba Gangadhar reached this village in 1971 and renovated the temple with the help of the villagers.
The Rameshwar temple also has a very ancient kund which has great religious value but sadly, due to the neglect is not used for religious or social purposes. Locals hope that considering the magnitude of religious importance of this place, renovation will commence soon and word will spread of its sanctity.
Hundreds of people come to this temple on the auspicious occasion of Maha Shivaratri to offer their prayers and do pooja.
Written by Lakshmi Subramanian
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