Bijli Mahadev Temple

At an elevation of over 7,500 feet, the Bijli Mahadev Temple overlooks the city of Kullu and the nearby Beas River. Because of its mountaintop location, many Hindu followers trek to the temple each year. With a spirited legacy, the temple offers a place to worship, an enjoyable outdoor excursion and a connection with your inner self. Get to know this sacred place where Lord Shiva once slayed a demon.

Temple's History

The original Bijli Mahadev Temple was reportedly built in ancient times. According to legend, it stood where today's modern temple stands. Naturally, the current temple was built in the 1900s. Although humble by design, the structure is a tribute to Lord Shiva.

Stories recount Lord Shiva's bravery in saving the Kullu Valley from a demon. With the power of his trident, Lord Shiva slayed the demon planning to drown the valley with a dammed Beas River. To celebrate, Hindus built the temple to worship Lord Shiva moving forward.

Understanding the Temple's Unusual Name

The temple has an unusual name when you break down the Sanskrit definitions. For example, bijli translates to lightning or electricity. Also, mahadev translates to mighty god, which refers to Lord Shiva. Because of the elaborate legend surrounding the temple, Hindus use this name to describe a strange occurrence at the temple every 12 years.

Outside the temple is a wooden pole. Referred to as a Shiva lingam, this pole extends up into the sky. Indeed, it's much taller than the temple itself. According to legend, lightning strikes this pole once every 12 years. Upon its first encounter with lightning, the pole shattered into pieces. In response, the locals crafted it back into shape by using homemade butter as an adhesive. Today, the Shiva lingam stands tall and reportedly encounters lightning regularly.

Venturing to the Temple

Currently, visitors can use several roads to reach the mountaintop. Depending on your location, you can hire a taxi from Kullu, Naggar or Kasol. Although the rough roads get you close to the temple, there is some uphill walking to finally reach the summit.

For adventurous travelers, hike up to the temple from Chansari Village. Measuring less than 2 miles, this hike is memorable as you walk through the trees and gaze at the nearby mountains. Wear comfortable shoes and bring water for this 2- to 3-hour hike.

Exploring the Architecture

The Bijli Mahadev Temple is a simple structure with three main parts. First, it has the all-important sanctum sanctorum. Next, a pavilion or mandapa rounds out the other structural section. Above, the roof has a dome shape with gold accents.

Overall, this temple has the classic Kath-Kuni architectural style found in Northern India. In short, layered wood and stone masonry create the building envelope without any mortar. With the 60-foot tall wooden pole outside, this temple has a distinct appearance from afar.

Scheduling a Visit

Typically, the temple is open from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. during the spring, summer and fall. The most popular time to visit is during the spring when the weather is cool and the area is dotted with flowers. If you want to avoid most crowds, the fall is often calmer with moderate weather. Because this area is prone to snowfall, a winter visit can be treacherous.

Ideally, don't attempt a hike to the temple during the summer. The pathways are slippery, and the weather can be very warm even at this altitude. Also, the monsoons rolling through the area can have electrical storms.

Making Your Trip an Adventure

Although the temple is a sacred site, visitors are welcome to camp at the summit during the warmer months. Remarkably, some locals run camping sites around the temple. Alternatively, you can bring a tent and pitch it nearby. Overnight, the sky comes alive with stars. As the morning breaks, you can hike down from the summit before visitors arrive for their daytime activities.

Extend your vacation outside of this temple to surrounding towns, such as Kasol, Manikaran or Kullu. Whether you enjoy hiking, discovering ancient landmarks or rediscovering your spirituality, the various valleys in the state of Himachal Pradesh offer rich activities for everyone. Visiting the Bijli Mahadev Temple can be just the start of your Indian adventure.

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