The ancient city of Bharuch (Broach) located at the mouth of the holy Rewa River (Narmada River) derives its name from the exemplary tapasvi Bhirgu Maharshi. Not many are aware that the Rewa River is in fact older than the Ganga and deemed to be immensely sacrosanct. The spiritual potency of this river is discernible in the many places of worship that are located on its banks. This historical city is dotted with beautiful religious structures built in different periods that have surprisingly survived the ravages of the weather and time.
One of the oldest Shiva Temples situated on the banks of the Narmada River is the Nilkantheshwar Temple (Neelkanteshwar Mahadev Temple). It is unclear when this temple was built and by whom but it is evident that the original structure is thousands of years old.
According to locals, this temple is considered to be one of the most sacred Shiva Temples by the Narmada River and a part of the important Narmada Parikrama. It is believed that it is here that Lord Shiva rescued the entire gamut of creation by drinking the halāhala or kālakūṭa poison that manifested during the legendary Churning of the Milky Ocean by the Devas and Asuras. As the poison rose from the depths of the Milky Ocean, it threatened to engulf the entire universe and creation. The Devas, Asuras, Rshis and heavenly beings were unable to breathe and sought refuge in Lord Mahadev.
Lord Mahadev, the ever-benevolent One drank the poison and attained a bluish hue. He then came to be called Nilkantheshwar and this temple is named after the presiding deity Nilkantheshwar Mahadev. The old structure has been renovated and one will see a gaily painted building today. The entire complex is scrupulously clean and impeccably maintained. The State Government has done a splendid job by creating a lovely public park, snān ghat, meditation hall and accommodation for pilgrims.
The 1008 names of Lord Shiva are carved on the temple walls. There is another temple dedicated to Lord Hanuman within the complex. This temple draws both devotees as well as visitors who wish to have darshan of Lord Shiva and soak in the atmosphere of the divine Narmada River and the evening aarti. Thousands of people throng this temple during the month of Sravana.
The serene waters of the Narmada River that flows behind this temple complex and the stunning natural beauty lends an air of tranquillity and spiritual bliss.
Written by Lakshmi Subramanian
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