Bhimashankar Temple is a Jyotirlinga shrine located 50 km northwest of Khed taluka (alias ), near Pune, in India. It is located 127 km from Shivajinagar (in Pune) in the Ghat region of the Sahyadri Mountains. Bh?m?shankar is also the source of the river Bhima, which flows southeast and merges with the Krishna river near Raichur. The other Jyotirlinga shrines in Maharashtra are Trimbakeshwar near Nashik and Grishneshwar
As per the Shiv Mahapuran, once Brahma (the Hindu God for creation) and Vishnu (the Hindu God for protection) had an argument about creation. To test them, Shiva pierced the three worlds as a huge endless pillar of light, the jyotirlinga. Vishnu and Brahma split their ways to search downwards and upwards respectively to find the end of the light in either direction. Brahma lied that he found out where it ends, while Vishnu conceded defeat. Shiva appeared as the second pillar of light and cursed Brahma that He would have no place in ceremonies while Vishnu would be worshipped till the end of eternity. The jyotirlinga is the supreme partless reality, out of which Shiva partly appears. The jyotirlinga shrines, thus are places where Shiva appeared as a fiery column of light.
There are 64 forms of Shiva, not to be confused with Jyotirlingas. Each of the twelve jyothirlinga sites take the name of the presiding deity - each considered different manifestation of Shiva. At all these sites, the primary image is lingam representing the beginningless and endless Stambha pillar, symbolizing the infinite nature of Shiva. The twelve jyothirlinga are Somnath in Gujarat, Mallikarjuna at Srisailam in Andhra Pradesh, Mahakaleswar at Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh, Omkareshwar in Madhya Pradesh, Kedarnath in Himalayas, Bh?m?shankar in Maharashtra, Viswanath at Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, Triambakeshwar in Maharashtra, Baidyanath Jyotirling at Deoghar in Jharkhand, Nageshvara Jyotirlinga at Dwarka in Gujarat, Rameshwar at Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu and Grishneshwar in Maharashtra.
The Bhimashankar temple is a composite of old and new structures in the Nagara style of architecture. It shows the excellency of the skills achieved by ancient Vishwakarma sculptors. It is a modest yet graceful temple and it dates back to the 13th century while the sabhamandap was built in the 18th century by Nana Phadnavis. The shikhara was built by Nana Phadnavis. The great Maratha ruler Chattrapati Shivaji Maharaj is said to have made endowments to this temple to facilitate worship services. As with other Shiva temples in this area, the sanctum is at a lower level.
Although the structure here is fairly new, the shrine Bhimashankaram (and the Bhimarathi river) have been referred to in literature dating back to the 13th century CE. Saint Jnaneshwar is said to have visited Tryambakeshwar and Bhimashankar. A unique bell (Roman style) can be seen in front of the temple. This bell has an idol of Mother Mary with Jesus. This large bell was presented by Chimaji Appa (Brother of Bajirao Peshwa I and uncle of Nanasaheb Peshwa). On 16 May 1739, Chimaji Appa collected five large bells after he won a war against the Portuguese from the Vasai Fort. He offered one here at Bhimashankar and the others at Menavali near Wai in front of a Shiva Temple on the banks of the Krishna river, Banshanker temple (Pune), Omkareshwar Temple (Pune) and Ramlinga temple (Shirur).
There are Buddha style carvings of Amba-Ambika, Bhootling, and Bhimashankar in the hills of Manmaad near Bhimashankar at a height of 1034 metres. A big bell in Hemadpanthi structure built by Nana Phadanavis is a feature of Bhimashankar. Places that can be visited in the vicinity include Hanuman Lake, Gupt Bhimashankar, Origin of River Bhima, Nag Phani, Bombay Point, and S?kshi Vinayak. Bhimashankar is a reserved forest area of 130.78 km2 and was declared a wildlife sanctuary in 1985. This sanctuary is a part of the Western Ghats, so it is rich in floral and faunal diversity. A variety of birds, animals, insects and plants can be seen. A rare animal Malabar Giant squirrel locally called as "Shekaru" can be found in the deep woods. The Bhorgiri fort is close to Bhimashankar.
One route to Bhimashankar from Pune is via Manchar. Another route is from Rajgurunagar (alias Khed) via Wada.
Bhimashankar is 74 miles or 127 km from Pune by road. Private vehicles and cabs travel from Pune to Khed (Rajguru Nagar) to Manchar to Taaleghar and finally to the Bhimashankar temple. State buses go there from Pune daily and take more than five hours. During the Mahashivaratri festival, when there is a great fair at the temple, buses ply to and fro daily. It is accessible from Karjat on the Pune-Mumbai section of the Central railway. There is no proper road from Karjat to Bhimashankar and only the devotees who wish to go to the temple on foot during festivals use this road.
If coming from Mumbai, take Pune road. About 31.02 km from Deonar traffic junction lies the Mumbai Pune Expressway (NH-4) after crossing Navi Mumbai and Panvel. After 52 km from Panvel is Lonavala and 50 km from there is on NH-4 is Wadgaon. At Wadgaon, turn left on the State Highway towards Chakan which is about 12 km. At Chakan, take NH 50 towards Manchar which is around 65 km to Bhimashankar. From Mumbai direct State Transport buses are available from Kurla Nehrunagar and Kalyan. you can go by changing buses. ST buses are available for Ghodegaon and Manchar from Mumbai central, Parel and Kurla Nehrunagar. after reaching Ghodegaon or Manchar next journey is easy due to more frequency of buses. Traveling from Mumbai to Bhimashankar takes 6 hours by private car and state transport vehicles take 8 hours.
If starting from Pune, drive along the Pune-Nasik highway and turn off at the road leading to Bhimashankar. The mountain road is quite a steep climb. The distance is about 120 km from Pune.
Government MSRTC buses (non-luxury) run from Pune to Bhimashankar every 30 minutes from 5:30 am till 4:00 pm. You can get State Transport buses from Shivajinagar, Pune. The fare is Rs. 155 and it takes around 4-5 hours to reach there from Pune.