A couple of years ago I was in Ambarnath, a tehsil in Thane district, for about a month. Its about 45 minutes away from Thane on the Karjat line of railways. I had already heard of this temple or fleetingly saw an image or two of it in the newspsper or elsewhere. But that was all. Now was the time I could explore this temple in my free time.
In a country like India its hardly surprising what historical or architectural surprises some small towns can throw at you. I always say that India is a treasure trove for those who love history, heritage and architecture. So much so that it has inspired many a western scholors and writers to make India their home. And this drab town had this jewel of antiquity as its surprise for me.
The Shiva temple is a fine example of architecture and exquisite carvings. Of course, you don’t realise it till you reach the temple complex. I mean the road leading to the temple in fact makes you think if it actually leads to something exquisite and beautiful! On both its sides are squalid shacks and dreary houses. Its something in sharp contrast. Unfortunately, the very surroundings of the temple are no different. What once used to be a beautiful river has become a nullah. Its really shocking that the local administration hasn’t done anything about it. Anyway, its no good my telling you this as you might want to know a thing or two about this temple.
As told already its an architectural marvel. The temple houses one of the three important Hindu deities- Lord Shiva. Commonly known as Ambarnath but Shiva here is also called Ambreshwar. Ambarnath means the ‘Lord of the Skies’. The temple dates back to 1060 AD.
It was built by the Shilahara King Chhittaraja, later rebuilt by his son or probaly his younger brother Mammuni. It has been built in the Vesara Hemadpanthi style of architecture. Its situated on the banks of Vadavan(Waldhuni) river. Alas, I have already told you what has become of the river.
A legend also has it that the temple was built by the five Pandava brothers in just one night in a large single stone. Of course, there aren’t records supporting that. But for their life and energy, the Pandavas seem to have done a lot of travelling! Usually in India most temples have legends associating the Mahabharat or the Ramayan.
. While going around the temple and relishing its exquisite carvings, I could very well imagine what a beautiful location it must have been in the ancient times. It was a joy to see the detailing of the carvings.
The temple is replete with excellent sculptural works. Exquisite carvings of Shaiva theme form a chain around the exterior. However, some of the sculptures have been lost to time and natural elements. Time is a great ravishing factor! There are beautiful sculptures which enthrall you. There are nymphs and hermits adorning the walls. There are also deities such as Mahakali, Bramha and Hari Har Pitamaha Surya.
The temple sees a jubilant Shivratri fair every year. The fair lasts for 2-3 days. The temple draws devotees from far and near during the Shivratri in large hoardes. You really have to jostle with the crowds for space. Of course, I had visited the temple a day ahead of the Shivratri. The crowds make me jittery!
Hope you all have enjoyed this visual tour and surely are planning to visit the temple in the days to come.
Jai Bum Bum Bhole!