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"One of the 12 Jyotirlingas"

Grishneshwar temple, Aurangabad Overview

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Grishneshwara Temple is known as one of the 12 sacred Jyotirlingas. Grishneshwar Temple is a 13th Century Shiva Temple located in Ellora. It has been mentioned in the Shiva Purana, which forms an integral part of the Shaivism Literature, as the 12th place of worship in the country. The original temple was a prehistoric monument which was later destroyed by the Mughals. What is seen now is a structure which was rebuilt twice after the Mughals were defeated. So, apart from having religious importance, Grishneshwar Temple also has a historical significance. The temple architecture also draws several tourists to the site. At present, it is recognized as an active place of worship for followers of Lord Shiva and a renowned UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The temple architecture follows a South Indian Style and it is known to be one of the holiest places to visit in Aurangabad. Another interesting fact to note is that this temple is a part of the Ellora Caves and is one of the oldest temples of the state of Maharashtra. The five-tiered shikhara of the temple is spectacularly carved and constructed in the traditional temple architecture style.

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History of the Temple



The actual date of establishment of the Grishneshwar Temple is unknown but it is believed to be built before the 13th Century. When the Mughal Empire acquired the region that included Velur (now known as Ellora) where the temple is located, the region witnessed some devastating Hindu-Muslim conflicts and the temple was destroyed sometime between the 13th and the 14th Century.

Maloji Bhosale, the Grandfather of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, as the chief of Verul, played an important role in rebuilding the temple in the 16th Century. It is said that Maloji Bhosale found a hidden treasure which he spent in reconstructing the temple and also built an artificial lake at Shanishingnapur.

Grishneshwar Temple suffered several more attacks by the Mughals even after the 16th Century. It required rebuilding a few more times during the Mughal-Maratha wars that happened between 1680 and 1707. In the 18th Century, it was rebuilt for the last time when the Mughal Empire was defeated by the Marathas. The Queen of Indore, Rani Ahalyabai sponsored the reconstruction of the temple that can be seen even today.

Legends of the Temple

There are a couple of legends associated with the Grishneshwar Temple. One is about Kusuma who was an ardent devotee of Lord Shiva. Kusuma, the second of the two wives of her husband, used to offer prayers to Lord Shiva and immerse a mud Shivalinga into a tank every single day. The first wife was extremely jealous of the devotion and in a fit, she killed Kusuma’s only son. Kusuma was distressed but she continued offering her ritual prayers to Lord Shiva. Shiva appeared one day and blessed her for her devotion. He miraculously restored her son to life.

The second legendary story is about Ghushma who was married to her sister’s husband, Sudharm. The sister, Sudeha, could not bear a child with the husband, Sudharm. The fear of being childless pushed her to ask her sister, Ghushma to marry Sudharm. She also advised her to offer prayers to Lord Shiva, make 101 Shivalingas and immerse them in a waterbody. Her prayers are said to be answered and she gave birth to a baby boy. Sudeha also is believed to have become jealous of her sister, killed the son and threw him in the same waterbody. The son was married by then.

The next day, the son’s wife, discovered blood stains on the bed and found her husband missing. Ghushma was in between her rituals prayers when her daughter-in-law came to tell her about her son. Ghushma did not let her narration disturb her and continued with her rituals. She believed Lord Shiva will save her son. She began chanting and after the prayers when she was about to immerse the Shivalinga in the waterbody, her son emerged from the waters. Lord Shiva appeared too to bless them all. Ghushma requested him to reside there eternally. Lord Shiva manifested himself into a jyotirlinga stayed there. Ever since the jyotirlinga is called Ghumeshwar and the place is known as Grishneshwar.

Architecture of the Temple

Grishneshwar Temple has a traditional South-Indian Temple architecture. The temple complex consists of inner chambers and a sanctum sanctorum. The structure is made up of red coloured stones and occupies an area of 44,400 square feet. With these dimensions also, the Grishneshwar Temple is the smallest Jyotirlinga temple. The temple has a 5-layered tall shikhara and several pillars which bear intricate mythological carvings. The red-stone walls mostly depict the legends of Lord Shiva and the ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu. The garbhagriha or the sanctum sanctorum has the Shivalinga facing east. It measures about 289 square feet and has a statue of Nandi in the passageway.

Things to Do Around the temple

There are other attractions also to visit and explore around Grishneshwar Temple. After offering prayers to Lord Shiva, tourists can head to the Mughal Silk Bazaar, which is barely 200 metres away, to check out or buy a variety of silk items. They can then head to the Ellora Caves which are located barely 1.3 kilometres ahead. There is another temple called the Bhadra Maruti Temple at Khuldabad (about 5.3 kilometres away from Ellora Caves). The tombs of Aurangzeb and Malik Ambar are located within a radius of 2.5 kilometres from the Bhadra Maruti Temple. Some more attractions like the Daulatabad Fort, Jain Temple, Chini Mahal etc. are located 9 to 12 kilometres away from Bhadra Maruti Temple and can be explored if tourists have enough time on their hands. Commuting to all these attractions becomes easier if travellers have their own vehicle or have rented a cab, but local auto-rickshaws can also be used to cover short distances.

Accommodations around the temple

Tourists would find some options when it comes to finding accommodation near Grishneshwar Temple. Aurangabad City has a small but decent range of hotels and resorts, from luxury to budget, and so does Ellora. Some of these are located in the vicinity, very close to the Grishneshwar Temple. Tourists can choose from Vrindavan Resorts, Ellora Heritage Resort, Shivam Residency, V Resorts Etranger Mhaismal etc. according to their preference. If they choose to stay in Aurangabad, they can opt for Etranger Resorts, Hotel Ellora Crown, Hotel Lotus, Hiranya Resorts or Pace Hotel Aurangabad.

Best Time To Visit

Wintertime is the best season to visit Grishneshwar Temple. The winter season begins in the month of November and goes on till February. Ellora does not experience extreme temperatures. The days are pleasant (around 30ᵒC maximum) and the nights are cold (around 13ᵒC minimum). Tourists can visit the temple and also explore other attractions in Ellora to their heart’s content during this time of the year.

How To Reach Grishneshwar Temple

Tourists can reach Grishneshwar Temple from Aurangabad via road. The city is 31.5 kilometres away from the temple and connected by Maharashtra State Transport buses. The Aurangabad Central Bus Station is barely 29 kilometres away. There are frequent buses heading to Ellora almost every day. The second-best option is to self-drive or rent a cab to reach Grishneshwar Temple from Aurangabad. The route to be taken goes via SH 60 – NH 52. Those taking a bus ride would have to disembark at Grishneshwar Temple Road and walk towards the temple.

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