India is a home to a large number of temples and every day new ones are popping out of the Mother Earth. Each temple has a mystery attached to their timeline. Of the many, only a few ought to have real stories revolving around them and the rest merely exists for money making. It feels pity to see how priests/pandits forcefully get the money out of pilgrims pocket. Amongst such greedy trust that has made it a business there still exist the ones where God is not on sale and treats everyone the same. One such temple is Baijnath Temple in the Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh, India.
The month of January was at its coda when I visited this little quaint hill station of Palampur. Baijnath Temple being one of the top places to visit around Palampur, made to the top of our itinerary. It was my second day at Palampur, the sun was shining bright and a cool breeze was caressing the body. Soon after a light breakfast, we headed out towards the Baijnath Temple.
Baijnath Temple on the map
Adorned by the snow-clad, lush green Dhauladhar range of the Himalayas is the temple of Baijnath at 17 km from Palampur. Perched at an altitude of around 1314 meters, Baijnath Temple lies on the NH 154 Mandi – Pathankot highway in the Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh.
Resting in the serenity of Kangra district is a 13th-century old Baijnath Temple devoted to Lord Shiva. It is believed that the shivalinga here is dedicated to the Vaidyanath form of Shiva who is also titled as Lord of physicians. Some texts even state that this is one of the 12 jyotirlingas that Lord Shiva established as a challenge against Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma. When Ravana, through his worship succeeded in pleasing Lord Shiva for attaining invincibility and immortality, he asked Lord Shiva to accompany him to Sri Lanka. Responding to this Lord Shiva transformed himself into a Shivling which Ravan could establish in his Lanka. But, when Ravana reached Baijnath, Lord Ganesh cleverly took it and kept it on the ground making it firmly established there…And that’s what is now seen inside the sanctum of Baijnath Temple.
The temple showcases one of the most prominent early medieval styles of architecture known as Nagra style. Built on a raised platform, the sanctum is enclosed by high walls carved with images of various gods and goddesses. Moving up the platform through one of its two entries on the North & South of the sanctum is a porch. Besides the several small sanctums resting on the porch is an idol of Nandi Bull facing the entry to the main sanctum. The five projections surmounted by a curvilinear Shikhara forms the main sanctum inside which enshrined is the Shivalinga. Taking a step further from the porch I walked through a vestibule towards the shivalinga. In the vestibule lied a large square Mandapa and a balcony on the North & South face of the temple kept a cool breeze circulating within the sanctum. Post receiving endowments from Lord Shiva, it was time to relish picturesque views from the backyard of the Baijnath Temple.
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Adorning the backdrop of the Baijnath Temple is the Dhauladhar range of Himalayas. A river gushing through foothill of the Dhauladhars graces the beauty of the valley and creates an enchanting environment in and around the temple. Just next to the temple is a green sprawling garden where we spent about an hour for some sun basking.
Other nearby attractions
It may seem to be a small town but there are plenty of things to do in Palampur. Apart from Baijnath Temple, some other prominent ones amongst locals are Mukut Nath temple at Sansal (6 km)and Awahi Nag temple (1.5 km) and the Mahankal Temple (5 km) at Mahankal on Chobin Road.
Besides this close to Palampur is a home to the internationally renowned Paragliding site at Bir where you swiftly glides down witnessing spectacular views. Another must have experience awaits you at the Andretta Pottery Studio and Museum where you can take a mini session or a full course on pottery.
Any trip to Palampur would be incomplete without a tea tasting session and for this, there are many tea estates offering the same. I went for a tour with Himalayan Brew Tea Factory and it was a really nice, refreshing session.
Reaching Baijnath Temple
Being well connected via rail, road and air modes of transport makes Baijnath Temple a perfect weekend destination to escape the heat of cities like Delhi, Chandigarh, Dehradun. The nearest airport is the Gaggal Airport at 43 km and regular flights ply to and from Delhi.
Places to stay
Though there are plenty of options at disposal from homestays to luxury resorts to suit everyone’s pocket, I would suggest going with a homestay for the best experience. During my three day trip, I stayed with Jyoti Niwas Homestay and loved every bit of it from food to rooms to courtesy.
Best time to visit
Palampur sees hot summers and pleasantly chilly winters. This makes the months of October to February the best time to visit Baijnath Temple and other nearby attractions.
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