Kirateshwar Mahadev Temple is an ancient temple dating back to the Dwapura Yuga seated in the midst of stunning natural beauty. This temple is located along the Rangeet River and is accessed by a quaint bridge decked with talismans and prayer cloths.
As the name suggests, this temple derives its name from Lord Shiva, who took the form of Kirata to test Arjuna in the Mahabharat. After the Pancha Pandavas and Draupadi were exiled, they took solace in the words of Lord Krishna, Vidura Mahatma and an assembly of sages headed by the wise Lomasha Maharshi and Dhaumya Maharshi.
It was imperative that Arjuna, the greatest archer titled Sarvashresht Dhanurdhar must acquire the rare Divyāstras particularly the Pāśupatāstra from Lord Shiva. It was decided that Arjuna would seek the blessings of Lord Shiva by performing intense tapas (penance and austerities) in the Himalayas.
Arjuna assiduously worshipped Lord Shiva with utmost devotion. Lord Shiva knew the purpose behind the penance and decided to test the sincerity and competency of Arjuna.
In the guise of a Kirata (hunter), Lord Shiva and Parvati Devi along with their ganas descended on this sacred land. An asura in the form of a boar had been tormenting the sages and the people of the villages. Hearing the cries of help, Arjuna opened his eyes and took his bow and quiver full of arrows to hunt the boar down.
Both Arjuna and Lord Shiva shot at the boar at the same time. Arjuna thought he had killed the boar but the ganas started celebrating and praised Lord Shiva. Arjuna became outraged and revealed that he had shot the boar. However, Lord Shiva only smiled and said that His arrow killed the boar.
A fierce battle ensued in which Arjuna was getting beaten hollow. Out of sheer desperation, he sat down and sculpted a Shiva Linga in mud and offered a garland of flowers and prayed ardently seeking His blessings. Much to his surprise, the garland of flowers was seen around the Kirata‘s neck.
Realization dawned on Arjuna, who then fell at the feet of His beloved Lord and sought forgiveness. Lord Shiva, an ocean of mercy blessed him and offered him a boon. Arjuna sought the Pāśupatāstra along with the secret mantra to use it if required. Lord Shiva bestowed it upon him on the condition that it should be used very carefully else the destruction of the universe was certain.
It is on this auspicious land that the legendary meeting between Arjuna and Lord Shiva and Parvati Devi as hunters took place. Locals found the temple by accident and put in a lot of effort to maintain it in pristine condition.
There are modern structures, wide terraces, sculptures and others in the complex. There are shrines dedicated to Durga Devi and Lord Rama as well. A massive statue of Lord Hanuman is seen at the entrance.
Thousands of devotees throng this temple on Bala Chaturdashi and Maha Shivaratri and in the months of Karthik, Magha and Margashirsha.
Written by Lakshmi Subramanian
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