Sri Trimbakeshwar Shiva Temple
In the village of Trimbak 35 km from Nashik is the ancient temple of Trimbakeswar. Trimbakeswar is home to one of the twelve Jyotirlingas. While this temple is dedicated to Lord Siva, the presiding Deity here is Trimurti-linga, unlike the remaining eleven Jyotirlingas which all have Siva as their predominant deity. In Trimbakeswar Shiva Temple, Jyotirlinga is extraordinary in several ways. It embodies all three of the Trimurti together: Vishnu, Brahma and Siva. The lingam is comprised of three small, thumb-like linga, each a member of the Trimurti. They are svayambhur or self-manifesting. The three lingams are covered with a mask, usually of silver, which bears the faces of the Trimurti. On special occasions a gold mask is worn, and upon this a jeweled crown is placed. The crown, covered in precious gems, is from the age of the Pandavas.
Trimbakeshwar is the only Jyotirlinga where the lingam sits in a depression on the floor, rather than projecting upwards, above it. Consequently, the trilingam in the sanctum is not worshipped with abhishekain the usual way. Here, there is just the bottom part of the pounding stone (ukhali), which is a depression in which the three lingams sit. The linga of Mahesha has a constant stream of natural water flowing over it. It is said that flames sometimes issue forth from the lingam depression, as well as a rumbling sound. Sri Trimbakeswar is worshipped here with several offerings a day. During the evening puja, the Deity’s mask is removed and placed on a bed, in the hall of mirrors. Every Monday the silver mask is taken to the Kusavarta tank and given holy bath. A similar worship takes place with the golden mask at each Shivratri, and on the full moon day in the month of Kartika.
Trimbakeshwar (Tryambakeshwar, Trambakeshwar) takes its name from ‘Trimbaka’, which means The Lord who has Three Eyes. This is a place of Tri-Sandhya Gayatri, the birthplace of Lord Ganesa, and the site of the first Nath of the Nath Sampradaya. Sinhastha Mahatmya mentions that Lord Rama made the yatra at Trimbakeshwar. Trimbakeshwar is also considered to be one of the holiest places to perform Shraddha. The Nirnaya Sindhu mentions Trimbakeshwar as the place where Sahyadri Mountain and Godavari River exist, purifying the entire earth planet.
Trimbakeswar Temple, which is constructed of black stone, is an imposing architectural monument. It is set against a backdrop of the Brahmagiri, a sacred hill from which three separate sources of the Godavari River emerge, flowing in three directions. The stream flowing east is called Godavari, the one flowing south is Vaitarna, and the third is called the west-flowing Ganga, which meets the Godavari near Chakra Tirth. The River Ahilya also meets the Godavari in front of the Trimbakeshwar Temple.
Kushavarta kunda is a large area. The tank was built up with stone pavement and verandahs on all sides. There the sage Gautama had his ashrama in Trimbakeshwar and during a 24-year period of drought, his pious credits caused Varuna to make the rains fall here. Indra became envious of the boon being enjoyed by Gautama, and caused even more rain to fall. Later, Gautama engaged in the episode of accidentally killing a cow, and in penance he performed austerities on the peak of the Brahmagiri. His prayers to Siva resulted in the Ganges manifesting here, at Trimbak Tirth. Taking bath in this Kusavarta, Gautama was able to rid himself of the sin of killing a cow. Kusavarta kund is considered to be the symbolic origin of the Godavari. There are temples at the four corners of the kund. On the southeast corner is the temple of Kedareshwar Mahadev, who in disguise of Kedarbhatta made Gautama bathe in the waters and gave him prayaschitta for the sin of killing a cow. To the southwest is Sakshi Vinayak, who is a witness to the yatra-vidhi of all pilgrims. To the northwest is Kusheshwar Mahadev and to the northeast is the temple of Godavari.
The work of constructing the present main temple of Trimbakeshwar, built with black basalt, was begun by Shrimant Balaji Bajirao, the Nanasahib Peshwa, in 1755 and was completed in 1786, at a cost of 16 lacs. The Siva deity installed in the temple at that time was decorated with a world famous gem – the Nassak diamond. The stone was appropriated by the British during the 3rd Anglo-Maratha war. Trimbakeshwar Temple was built in the Nagara style. It is surrounded by a massive stone wall. A large Nandi sits in front of the temple, while a second beautiful marble Nandi is found inside. The garbha griha is square internally, but is star-shaped externally. The porches have pillars and arches. The structure is replete with intricate sculptural work of scrolls, floral ornaments, and figures of various transcendental personalities and scenes.
The Triambaka-lingam is housed in the sanctum, crowned with a graceful tower, a large amalaka and a golden kalasha. In front of the garbagriha and the antarala there is a mandap with doors on four sides, three of which are covered with porches. The roof of the mandapam is a curvilinear slab, rising in steps. Outside the temple is another area with linga and yoni installed, and separate pujas are done here. To the rear of the temple’s Ganga Mandir is a large caravansary, where Rama and Karpureshwar Mahadev are enthroned. There is also a separate temple of Ashwini Kumar in front of Ganga Mandir, temples of Jwareshwar Mahadev and Kanchaneshwar, and murtis of the Dasavatara and thirty-three other divine personalities. It is said that by Lord Siva’s order, all the deities stay here in person during the period ofSinhastha Parva, coming to purify themselves.
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How to Reach Triambakeshwar:
By Air: Nashik Airport is the nearest airport to Triambakeshwar which is 31 KM from the temple.
By Rail: Nashik Railway Station is the nearest Railway station to Triambakeshwar. Nashik is well connected to all the major cities by railways.
By Road: Triambakeshwar is well connected with roads from Mumbai. State run and private bus services are also available. You can hire a cab or a bus.