Kangra Valley in Himachal Pradesh is home to several ancient temples. It is an important destination for Hindu pilgrimage. Baijnath Temple lies around 36 km east of the Kangra Valley. This temple is also easily accessible from Palampur. Baijnath Shiva temple is renowned for its architectural splendor, sculpture and festivals. Not only domestic, but also international tourists throng this temple during the Mahashivaratri festival.
Baijnath Temple in Himachal Pradesh
Two local merchants named Ahuka and Manyuka built the famous Baijnath Temple in 1204 AD. It is an example of the north Indian style of architecture that emerged in the medieval era. Known as the Nagara style of temple architecture, the focal point is the lingam in the inner sanctum. The entrance to this sanctum is through a narrow hallway that has a mandapa or outdoor pillared hall in front.
Apart from the idol of Lord Shiva, this temple also houses images of Surya (the sun god), goddess Chamunda, Nandi (Shiva's bull vehicle) and a sculpture of Kartikay (the son of Shiva and Parvati). The outer walls have carved images of several other deities.
History of Baijnath Temple
It is said that the lingam existed on the spot even before construction began. The king of Kangra commissioned its repairs and renovations in the 18th century. The Archaeological Survey of India has listed this shrine as a protected monument.
How to Reach Baijnath Temple
Baijnath Temple lies on the Pathankot-Chakki-Manali route on National Highway 20. It lies between Mandi and Kangra. This temple can be accessed from the nearest railhead, Pathankot, which is 130 km away. You can also reach Baijnath by bus from Kangra. It is also well connected to the major cities of Delhi and Chandigarh.
Distance by bus: Dharamshala (55 km), Manali (200 km), Palampur (16 km)
Festival at Baijnath Temple
Apart from its historical significance, this shrine is also famous for its Shivaratri festival. It is celebrated in the month of March. The rush increases here during this religious festival.
Places around Baijnath Temple
Pilgrims travel around 5 km further from Baijnath Temple to another scared site - the Mahankaal Temple. This medieval period temple is also dedicated to Lord Shiva. Saturday is considered an auspicious day and you will see mostly local devotes visiting the temple.
Mukunath Temple is another Hindu pilgrimage destination located at a distance of 8 km from Baijnath. According to legend, the first ever tulsi plant (holy basil) is present on its premises.