The Grishneshwar Jyotirlinga Temple is one of the ancient and holiest shrines of India. An ancient pilgrim destination, Grishneshwar is popularly known as the abode of one of the 12 Jyotirlingas of Shiva. This pilgrimage site is located at a village called Verul which lies at a distance of 11 km from Daulatabad and 30 kms from Aurangabad. It lies at a close proximity to the Ellora caves. Being the abode of one of the holiest and ancient temples known by the name of Grishneshwar Jyotirlinga temple, the popularity of Grishneshwar can be ascertained.
The village through its serenity and calmness provides just the perfect ambience for all your spiritual enlightenments. Once upon a time the village was ruled by Rani Ahalyabai Holkar and it was she who happened to build the Grishneshwar temple. The temple is also known by several other names like Kusumeswarar, Ghushmeswara, Grushmeswara and Grishneswara.
The Grishneshwar temple has its root in several legendary tales. As the legendary tale goes, a devotee by the name of Kusuma used to offer prayers to Lord Shiva by dipping the Shivalinga in a water tank. When her son was killed by her husbands first wife out of jealousy, she continued her rituals and one day Lord Shiva appeared before her, answered her prayers by miraculously restoring her sons life.
The temple stands as an illustration of the pre-historic temple traditions and routines as well as of the pre-historic architectural style and structure. The inscriptions on the temples are a source of much attraction to ardent travellers. The temple is built of red rocks which call for the alluring look that it delivers. The temple is composed of a five tier shikara which account for the attractive look thatit renders. Built in the 18th century the temple is 240 x 185 feet tall and cubicle in shape. It exemplifies the medieval architecture in all its opulence. There are beautiful carvings and attractive sculptures of many Indian Gods and Goddess. Holy water is known to flow inside the temple and this is where the mystery lies.
Legend has it that a devout woman Kusuma offered worship to Shiva regularly by immersing a Shivalingam in a tank, as a part of her daily ritual worship. Her husbands first wife, envious of her piety and standing in society murdered Kusumas son in cold blood. An aggrieved Kusuma continued her ritual worship, and when she immersed the Shivalingam again in the tank, her son was miraculously restored to life. Shiva is said to have appeared in front of her and the villagers, and then on is believed to have been worshipped in the form of a Jyotirlinga Ghusmeshwar.
According to Shivapuran, in the southern direction, on a mountain named Devagiri lived a Brahmin called Brahmavetta Sudharm along with his wife Sudeha. The couple did not have a child because of which Sudeha was sad. Sudeha prayed and tried all possible remedies but in vain. Frustrated of being childless, Sudeha got her sister Ghushma married to her husband. On the advice of her sister, Ghushma used to make 101 lingas, worship them and discharge them in the near by lake.
With the blessings of Lord Shiva, Ghushma gave birth to a baby boy. Because of this, Ghushma became proud and Sudeha started feeling jealous towards her sister. Out of jealously, one night she killed Ghushma's son and threw him in the lake where Ghushma used to discharge the lingas.
Next morning, Ghushmas and Sudharm got involved in daily prayers and ablutions. Sudeha too, got up and started performing her daily choirs. Ghushma's daughter-in-law, however, saw stains of blood on her husband's bed and parts of the body drenched in blood. Horrified, she narrated everything to mother-in-law Ghushma who was absorbed in worshipping Shiva. Ghushma did not deter. Even her husband Sudharma did not move an inch. Even when Ghushma saw the bed drenched in blood she did not break down and said he who has given me this child shall protect him and started reciting Shiva-Shiva'. Later, when she went to discharge the Shivalingas after prayers she saw her son coming. Seeing her son Ghushma was neither happy nor sad. At that time Lord Shiv appeared before her and said - I am pleased with your devotion. Your sister had killed your son. Ghushma told Lord to forgive Sudeh and emancipate her.
Pleased with her generosity, Lord Shiva asked her another boon. Ghushma said that if he was really happy with her devotion then he should reside here eternally for the benefit of the multitudes in form of a Jyotirling and may you be known by my name. On her request, Lord Shiva manifested himself in the form of a Jyotirling and assumed the name Ghushmeshwar and the lake was named as Shivalaya thereafter.
History of Grishneshwar Jyotirlinga
The very devout Shiva devotee, Bhosale (The Patel or chief of Verul) once found a treasure hidden in the snake pit (ant hill) by the grace of Lord Grishneshwar. He spent that money to renovate the temple and built a lake in Shikharshinganapur. Later on, Goutamibal (Bayajabai) and Ahilyadevi Holkar renovated the Grishneshwar temple. This 240ft x 185 ft temple is still there strong and beautiful as ever. Halfway up the temple, Dashavataras are carved in red stone. These are beautiful to look at. There are also other beautiful statutes carved out. A court hall is built on 24 pillars. On these pillars there are wonderful carvings. The scenes and paintings are beautiful. The Garbhagriha measures 17ft x 17 ft. The Lingamurty faces eastward.
There is a gorgeous Nandikeshwara in the court hall. Ghrishneshwar Temple is a very revered temple, situated in the state of Maharashtra. It lies very near to the Buddhist caves of Ellora, only half a kilometer away, and serves as the abode of one of the 12 Jyotirlingas in India dedicated to Lord Shiva. Even the Ajanta Caves and Dulatabad town of Maharashtra are situated nearby. The temple, with exquisitely sculpted walls, was built under the patronage of Queen Ahilyabai Holkar, one of the rulers of the erstwhile state of Indore.
Architecture of Temple
Fine architecture and great artistry of stone carvers characterize this impressive structure. The Shivlinga resides inside the inner chamber of the temple. Outside this chamber a large statue of Nandi is present. Covering Nandi is the Sabha Mandap of the temple. It occupies the major portion of the temple and offers seats made from stone. Various tales can be seen carved on the pillars of the Sabha Mandap. These carvings feature fine details and notable artistic ability. The exterior walls of the temple are full of various carvings.
Several mythological tales are carved here. Amongst these the statues showing ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu stand out. The conical top of the temple, which was probably built later, also has carvings with fine details. The figures here are masterfully carved and possess very expressive gestures. The temple has a gilded crest made of copper. Resting inside a square shaped ground, having pavement and a surrounding stonewall, and the Ghrishneshwar temple is a fine example of ancient building work.