Location: ˝ km from Ellora Caves, Maharashtra
Built in: 18th Century
Built By: Queen Ahilyabai Holkar
Significance: Enshrines one of the twelve Jyotirlingas in India
Best time to visit: October to March
STD Code: 0240
Grishneshwar temple, built by Rani Ahillyabai Holkar (a Maratha princess) this important Hindu pilgrim place located in the village of Verul, near Ellora caves. It is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas of India, where Lord Shiva is worshipped. It is the most superb example of medieval temple architecture. This Jyotirlinga is said to be self - oriented. It is the last Jyotirlinga without which the journey to the Jyotirlingas is considered incomplete. The temple walls are richly sculptured. Queen Ahilyabai Holkar, who ruled Indore from 1765 to 1795, built both the temple and its masonry tank.
Giant banyan trees, whose innumerable epiphytic roots possess an almost sculptural beauty, flank the road from Aurangabad to Ghrishneshwar. A little under an hour after we leave Aurangabad, the temple stands before us on a bowl of flat land fringed by ancient basaltic hills in the distance. Devotees duck under a low door in the boundary wall to enter the last among India’s revered Jyotirlinga shrines.
This Shiva temple is rich, with beautiful carvings and is a fine example of medieval architecture. The temple is made of spotted red sandstone. Decorative friezes and sculpture depict a pantheon of Indian gods including Brahma, Vishnu, Ganesh, the marriage of Shiva and Parvati, celestial beings, and even Maratha heroes.
The temple is managed by a trust. Arti (prayer) is carried out at dawn and dusk here, accompanied by drums and horns. Poor people are fed once a day. Sheds are provided along the wall for resting. Hundreds of devotees come here every day, while this number goes to thousands on Mondays. While entering the Gabhara (the chamber where Shiva Linga resides) men have to take off their tops.
The emergence of linga is explained in the Shivapurana. On a mountain named Devagiri, lived a Brahmin - Brahmavetta Sudharm along with his wife Sudeha, teaching Vedas. The couple did not have children because of which Sudeha was sad and would often pray for a child. After trying all the possible remedies she got her sister Ghushma married to her husband by force. She would serve Sudharm along with Ghushma her sister.
On advice by her sister Ghushma used to make 101 lingas and worship them. In the lake, near by, the Lingas were discharged. With Lord Shiva’s blessings she was blessed with a beautiful fortunate 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.
The next day Ghushma’s daughter-in-law saw stains of blood of her husband on the bed. She also noticed parts of the body drenched in blood and was horrified and came to her mother-in-law, crying and told her everything. Ghushma was absorbed in worshipping Shiva and did not deter. Even her husband Sudharma did not move an inch. When Ghushma saw the bed drenched in blood she did not break down, instead said, “He who has given me this child shall protect him”, and started chanting the name of Lord reciting Shiva continuously.
When she went to discharge the Shivalingas after prayers she saw her son coming. Seeing her son she was neither happy nor sad. Pleased with her devotion, Lord Shiva appeared before her and said – “I am pleased with your devotion. Your sister had killed your son”. Ghushma prostrated before Shiva and asked Him to forgive Sudeha and emancipate her. Lord Shiva asked her another boon. Ghushma said that if he was really happy with her devotion then he should reside there eternally for the benefit of the multitudes in form of a Jyotirlinga and may He be known by her name. On her sincere request He manifested in the form of a Jyotirlinga and assumed the name Ghushmeshwar. There are various versions of the name itself, such as Kusumeswara Jyotirlinga, Grushmeswara Jyotirlinga and Grishneswara Jyotirlinga.
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.
Devotees of Hindu rush to the place during Maha Shivratri to get blessings since it enshrines a jyotirlinga. The best time to visit Grishneshwar is during the Maha Shivratri.
Almost unceasingly various ceremonies are carried out from visiting devotees, a number of Pujaris (men of god, who say prayers for you) could be found at hand.
Bibi - Ka – Maqbara
Bani Begum Garden
How to reach:
by Air: The nearest airport is the Aurangabad airport, 10 kms from the city centre. Have a regular flight to/from Mumbai.
by Rail: The city is easily accessible by rail from major cities of the country. Regular trains are available on South Central Railway to reach Aurangabad.
by Road: Aurangabad can also be reached by well maintained roads. The distances of some of the major cities of the state from Aurangabad are given below.