Gupta Ganga Temple is an important shrine of the Bhaderwah region of Jammu and Kashir. The Gupta Ganga, the mythological temple is associated with five famous brothers, the Pandavas who are the central characters of the epic Mahabharata. Legend has it that during the ‘Agyatavas’ (living in exile), the Pandavas spent a few days in the present temple site here. One of the rocks in the Gupta Ganga Temple has a huge footprint, believed to be that of the second Pandava brother, Bhima.
Perched on a high embankment wall on the banks of the Niru River, the topography is spectacular. The area is uninhabited and quite wooded. Niru river is clean and full of water.
It believed that this temple was built by the brother of Yudhishthira, Bhima during the exile of Pandavas. Inside the cave, there is a large footprint-like mark on a rock, which believed to be attributed to Bhima himself.
This temple is of great importance at the local level. It believed that there was also a tunnel in the cave which led to Srinagar. The temple complex seems to have established a favorable environment with its immediate ecosystem as the trout fish in the nearby Niru River fed by the temple priest and are forbidden to be caught.
The Shiva temple carved out of a rock. It almost looks like a cave. In front of the opening is a temple building, which is not an ancient structure. The temple is constructed with large stone slabs that are used to form a square, pitched roof profile. However, much of the temple is part of the natural mountain that ends it. There is a dome-shaped shikhara on top of the temple.
The main building element of the interior of the temple is stone. The Sanctum sanctorum of the Gupta Ganga Temple constructed of bricks and painted. The Sanctum sanctorum surrounded by a copper finial. The inner sanctum has a huge lingam made of a single black and highly polished stone.
There are footprints of Bhimsen on a rock inside the Gupta Ganga Temple. It said that there is a long cave that used by the Pandavas to reach Kashmir from Bhadranwaj during their Agatha-vas.
Gupta Ganga is one of the famous historical pilgrimage sites of Bhaderwah. The whole scene is so fascinating that the audience wants to watch it again and again. The water inside then flows into a ‘bawali’ (pond) where sadhus, devotees, and visitors bathe. The water of ‘bawali’ is cool in summer and hot in winter.
It called Gupta Ganga because the stream of water mysteriously enters the temple and the water of this stream considered as holy as the water of the Ganges.
There is a tunnel adjacent to the temple and there is no definite record of its depth. It generally said that the Pandavas took refuge in Bhadrakashi during their exile, one day they suddenly disappeared and it said that they disappeared through this tunnel to some unknown place as their agyatavas began. This tunnel now closed. To the northwest of this Shiva temple, a grand building on a rock. It is in the shape of a room but has three doors on each wall of the building. Hence this building called ‘Barahdari’.
There is a cremation ground near the temple on the banks of Niru and after death people perform rituals at Ganga Ghat. That is why Gupta Ganga considered as holy as Ganga Mata.
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