We all have heard about the famous Baijnath Shiva Temple either from our parents or read it somewhere in a paper. But what most of us don't know is that the popular Shiva temple in Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh has a British connection, rooted in its origin.
Baijnath is a small town in the Dhauladhar range of the western Himalayas, which is about 16 km from Palampur in the Kangra District of Himachal Pradesh. The place is famous for the 13 century Lord Shiva Temple, where Shiva is worshipped as Vaidyanath, ‘the Lord of physicians’.
Yes! That's exactly what you read. The British connection dates back to the time when the English ruled our country. The legend has it that a certain Lt. Colonel named Martin, who was in the Afghan Wars had a habit of writing letters to his wife, informing her about his daily life and health. However, one day his letters stopped coming, making his wife fear the inevitable. As she was a horse rider and used to enjoy riding for long hours, one day she happened to cross an ancient temple of Lord Shiva called Baijnath Mahadev.
The place was not what it is like now. There was not any proper structure, and it looked in shambles. However, regular aarti could be heard coming from the temple. After listening to the Shiva aarti in full bloom, the lady was compelled to go inside. As she entered the temple, the priests asked her why she not looking very happy.
To which she replied by saying that her husband has stopped writing letters and she is fearing about his well-being. The priests on hearing this told her about Lord Shiva, and how the god is known for keeping his devotees happy and listens to their prayers immediately. They even suggested her a mantra to chant for 11 days. It was 'Om Namah Shivai'.
Martin's wife did pray to the lord by chanting this mantra regularly. She even promised the lord that if her husband comes back home safely, she would build the Shiva Temple.
What happened on the 10th day of her chanting the mantra was indeed miraculous. On the 10th day, a messenger visited the lady with a letter from her husband.
Yes! The letter did come. It narrated the miraculous incident which took place while the war was on. Her husband wrote that an Indian saint or yogi, wearing tiger-skin cloth and long hair, carrying a trident in hand helped them keeping off the Afghans back. The yogi even walked up to Lt Col Martin and told him that he has got his life because of his wife's prayers.
The unbelievable had indeed happened! After reading this the lady could not hold back her tears and she went to the Shiva Temple, and offered her obiseience. Soon afterwards, this English couple started praying to Lord Shiva regularly and became Shiva Bhakts.
It is said that in 1879-80s, the English woman kept her promise and the couple donated Rs. 15,000 to renovate the temple. Also, this priceless legend is found engraved on a slab in the Baijnath Mahadev Temple.
So, let's firmly pray to Lord Shiva for removing all obstacles from our life!