This is the third pilgrimage trip I have been to in three months. It also happens to be the last part of Jyotirlinga pilgrimage for my grandparents. After this trip they will have seen all the twelve Jyotirlingas. We had initially planned this trip last year. Unfortunately due to heavy rain and a train accident our train had been cancelled and so we planned the whole thing again this year.
Day 1: Mumbai to Parbhani, 7th June
We were to board Devagiri Express from Dadar to Parbhani. Parbhani is one of the districts in the Marathwada region of Maharashtra. For the first time the six of us were allotted berths in different coaches. This didn’t bother us as it was an overnight journey.
Day 2: Parbhani – Parali Vaidyanath – Aundha Nagnath – Parbhani, 8th June
We reached Parbhani at about 6.30am. We took a little bit of time to catch a couple of rickshaws to Hotel Gulmohar. The weather was pleasant and it was slightly cloudy. We had hired an Innova for the trip. After bathing we left for Parali Vaidyanath in Beed district in Maharashtra. The journey was about 50 kilometres. After having breakfast at a nearby restaurant named Aishwarya we resumed our journey (I had ice-cream for breakfast yet again!). The journey was about an hour long. The sun had risen to its peak and we were uncomfortable because of the increasing heat. Luckily for us the A/C in the car came to our rescue.
The temple looked old. There was a long serpentine queue to the main temple. Despite the Saturday rush we got the chance for darshan in a matter of minutes. Like all the Jyotirlingas, this one also took my breath away. The beauty of the place is beyond words. Dada was lucky enough to go for darshan twice.
A legend says that when the Gods and Demons made their combined effort in Amrit Manthan (Churning for Nectar), fourteen gems emerged. There were Dhanwantari (God of Medicine) and Amrit Ratnas in it. When the Demons rushed to grab Amrit, Lord Vishnu hid Dhanwantari and the Amrit in the Shiva Linga. Flames started emanating from the Linga as soon as the Demons touched it. The scared Demons ran away. But when devotees of Lord Shiva touched the Linga, there was a free flow of Amrit from the same. Even today, devotees touch the Shiva Linga as a part of taking darshan. There is no discrimination based on caste, creed or color. Anyone can come and visit this place. Amrit is said to have healing powers and imparts immortality to the person drinking it. Maybe that’s why the place is referred to as Vaidyanath – the Linga with healing powers.
I was feeling really uncomfortable because of the temperature, the dry weather and the car-sickness, so when I was told that we would be stopping at Ambejogai temple 26 kilometres away, I was more than happy.
The temple is one of the oldest and the most popular in Beed district. The temple has intricate carvings and is dedicated to Goddess Yogeshwari, who is believed to fulfil all the desires of Her devotees. Legend has it Yogeshwari of Ambejogai was to be married to Lord Vaidyanatha of Parali. But by the time the marriage party reached, the auspicious time of the wedding had passed. As a result the people in the marriage party turned into stone statues.
We then returned to Parbhani for lunch. We went to Aishwarya restaurant again. The lunch was most welcome as I finally felt a little better. We proceeded to the hotel for half-hour long rest, following which we started out to the second half of our journey – to Aundha Nagnath.
This place is also about 50 kilometres from Parbhani, but in the opposite direction (compared to Parali). The journey also took about an hour. On going inside the temple I realised that there was a surprise waiting for us. The sanctum sanctorum was below the ground level and its height was less than that of an average human. The most memorable part of the journey was the struggle. The first step to the sanctum sanctorum was about two feet below the ground and thus climbing down and back up proved to be really taxing to my grandparents. I was really comforted by the fact that people were really patient and helpful despite the growing crowd. After darshan and went outside for the pradakshina. This is when we met a local guide.
The guide told us about the most striking features of the temple. The first one was about the discovery of the temple. The Shivalinga was below the ground level – at the base of the lake nearby. A cow called Kapila was instrumental in the discovery of the Shivalinga. The Linga is said to have been built in by Yudhishthira of the Pandavas. The temple was destroyed by Aurangzeb but rebuilt later, with the help of Maharani Ahilyabai Holkar (The portion of the temple in white has been reconstructed). The guide told us that unlike other Jyotirlingas the temple doesn’t face eastwards. Legend says that when poet Namdev sang songs praising the Lord in front of the temple, the priests of the temple asked him to go behind as he was interrupting their prayers. He went outside and started singing behind the temple. Such was his devotion that the whole temple turned by 180 degrees to face him! It is testimonial to that miracle why Nandi is located behind the temple.
I was mystified by the temple’s beauty. I had an unexplainable joy in my heart – something that made me feel calm and blessed. After three pradakshinas of the temple, we left for Parbhani.
Day 3: Parbhani to Mumbai, 9th June
We had seen all the places we came to see. The people at the restaurant had told us about another important temple in the area – The Pardeshwar temple. The speciality of the temple is that the Shivalinga is made completely of mercury and weighs about 250kg! I was expecting the Linga to be of mercury having a glass casing but the Linga was made of solid mercury, which shone like silver. We were stumped by the fact that the temple held a Guinness World Record. Honestly I was amazed that obtaining solid mercury at room temperature was possible.
The rest of the afternoon was comparatively uneventful – we were confined to our room watching Pink Panther. By 6pm we left for Parbhani railway station, waiting for Nandigram Express to take us home.
For the people planning to visit the Parali Vaidyanath and Aundha Nagnath temples, here are a few tips for planning the trip:
- Avoid visiting any Jyotirlinga temple during important festivals like Mahashivaratri. You will be stuck in an endless queue and won’t get a chance for Darshan. Similar concept applies to one specific day of the week, usually Mondays, when the entire town visits the temple.
- Parbhani is almost equidistant (50km) from Parali and Aundh. Due to good connectivity, people prefer to halt at Parbhani.
- If travelling by train, booking tickets atleast two months before the trip is advisable.
- There are plenty of hotels to choose from in the off-season. However booking the hotel rooms in advance is better.
- Last moment booking of vehicles off-season is pretty expensive, so speak to the travel agencies well in advance.
- Coming to the Aundha Nagnath temple, the actual Linga is located below the ground level and the height of the Sanctum Sanctorum is less than 5 feet . Elders may have trouble climbing down and back up
- Pardeshwar temple is a must visit in Parbhani. The mercury Lingam is surely going to amaze you.