Gujarat: Read about the Nishkalank Mahadev Temple in Bhavnagar

Gujarat: Read about the Nishkalank Mahadev Temple in Bhavnagar


India is home to numerous temples and Hindu sanctuaries, each harbouring its own trove of hidden secrets. Whether it’s the revered Dwarka, the illustrious Jagannath Temple, or the enigmatic Nishkalank Mahadev Temple, these sacred spaces possess a cosmic energy that sets them apart and imbues them with deep significance. Temples in northern India often find their serenity amidst the pristine rivers and majestic Himalayan landscapes, while their counterparts in the southern regions stand as magnificent exemplars of India’s rich temple architectural heritage.

These distinct geographical and architectural features have woven a tapestry of spiritual diversity and cultural significance across the nation’s sacred landscape. Today, we delve into the realm of one such ancient temple, the Nishkalank Mahadev Temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is situated in Bhavnagar, Gujarat.

The Nishkalank Mahadev temple, nestled along the Bhavnagar coast, boasts a rich and illustrious history steeped in mythology. However, numerous intriguing facets of this temple remain relatively unknown to the general public. Today, we embark on a journey to unearth and share intriguing insights about this majestic and mythological Shivalaya – the temple of Lord Shiva.

Local resident Rajdeepbhai Desai told OpIndia, “Nishkalank Mahadev Shivalaya, situated in the Arabian Sea approximately 3 km from Koliak village within Bhavnagar district, offers a truly captivating experience in close communion with nature. Visiting this sacred site bestows a sense of blessing upon Shiva devotees and pilgrims, imparting profound tranquillity.

The positive energy enveloping the place has the remarkable ability to dispel worldly perplexities, granting an extraordinary sense of peace. In the divine presence of the immaculate Mahadev, one momentarily feels transported to another realm. It stands as a paramount responsibility for every Shiva devotee and the local community to cherish and promote such a remarkable holy place.”

Ancient History of Nishkalanka Mahadev

During an exclusive conversation with Opindia, Jayadevagiri Goswami, the chief priest of the Nishkalank Mahadev temple, said, “Five and a half millennia ago, the epic Mahabharata war unfolded, culminating in the Pandavas’ triumph but also mourning the loss of numerous family members. Seeking redemption for their deeds, the Pandavas turned to Lord Krishna for guidance. He instructed them to carry a black flag and a black cow and explained that when both the cow and flag turned white, they should install a Shivalinga at that spot. Worshipping Lord Shiva there would cleanse them of their sins.”

He further said, “The five Pandavas arrived at a beach near Bhavnagar, where they witnessed the transformation of the cow’s colour and the flag to white. In response, they consecrated five Shivalingas and performed Vedic rituals to honour Lord Shiva. This act liberated them from the burden of the violence and bloodshed that marred the war, which included the deaths of their own kin. The local community affectionately knows this sacred site as Naklang Mahadev.”

The five Pandavas established five Shivalingas to seek penance for the transgressions of Kurukshetra. Remarkably, these five Shivalingas continue to stand tall at the site. Devotees can have darshan and worship at this sacred location for a limited five-hour window daily. Beyond these hours, the sea waves cover the Shivalingas. The devotees see this phenomenon as if the sea deity conducts a ritual jalabhishek (water anointing) on the Shivalingas. The word Nishkalank literally means one that frees the worshipper from the blots of bad karmas. By worshipping Lord Shiva here, five Pandavas cleansed the blot of committing violence in the war of Mahabharata.

Nishkalank Mahadev is located in the Arabian Sea

Numerous coastal places of worship grace India’s seashores, including Shivalayas – that is temples of Lord Shiva. However, this temple possesses a unique distinction as it is situated 3 kilometres inside the sea from the shoreline. Here, each day, the waves of the Arabian Sea reverentially perform Jalabhishek on all five Shivlings. Devotees can catch a glimpse of the sacred deity Mahadev for a brief 5-hour period daily. During the remaining hours, this shrine remains submerged beneath the sea’s waters, with only its pinnacle and pillars visible during high tide.

Due to its unique location in the heart of the sea, this Shiva temple offers a darshan of the deity during specific hours each day. The timing of darshan is intricately tied to the ebb and flow of the tide, which fluctuates in accordance with the Hindu calendar’s lunar months. High tide and low tide cycles align with the phases of the full moon and new moon. Under normal circumstances, this temple experiences periods of submersion in seawater, followed by the sea receding to reveal the path leading to the temple.

A big fair is held on the New Moon of the month of Bhadrapada; the Maharaja of Bhavnagar princely state hoists the Dhwaja

Typically, during the sacred Hindu month of Shravan, and particularly on Shravan Mondays, thousands of devout pilgrims converge upon this site. Additionally, a traditional folk fair is celebrated during the new moon of the Hindu month of Bhadrapada, drawing a massive crowd. An estimated 2 to 3 lakh individuals attend this fair, fervently chanting praises to Lord Mahadev. Notably, participants from South India, including Gujaratis, actively engage in this vibrant gathering. The locals affectionately refer to this fair as the Naklang Fair, and it holds special significance, particularly for the people of Chennai.

Traditional fair at the Nishkalank Mahadev Temple

As per the temple’s auspicious timings (Muhurat), devotees partake in a ritual sea bath before seeking the divine Darshan of the deity and offering heartfelt worship to Lord Shiva. Remarkably, the village residents generously extend their hospitality by providing lodging and meals to the visiting pilgrims, a testament to the warm and welcoming spirit of this coastal Hindu community.

Maharaja of Bhavnagar offering the Dhwaja to the temple.

On the auspicious day of Bhadrapada Amavasya (new moon), a significant ceremony unfolds as the Maharaja of Bhavnagar state presents a revered 52-yard Dhwaja (Dharmik saffron flag) to the temple. The commencement of the fair hinges upon the solemn hoisting of this flag, accompanied by the recitation of Vedic mantras. This age-old tradition, spanning centuries, continues to this day. Remarkably, the very same Dhwaja continues to flutter on the top of the temple for an entire year. Astonishingly, despite the temple’s year-round exposure to the sea’s elements and the region’s occasional heavy winds, this flag remains unharmed. It even withstood the formidable earthquake of 2001, waving proudly without any damage.

The stunning natural beauty of the place

Imagine the enchanting experience of strolling along the damp seabed to witness five magnificent Shivalingas nestled in the heart of the sea. The picturesque vistas must be truly captivating! Devotees undertake a faith-filled journey, traversing a 3-kilometre expanse of sea with bare feet, to partake in the divine Darshan of this extraordinary temple. The soothing, balmy sea breezes, the ethereal ambience, and the profound tranquillity combine to transform this sacred site into a full-fledged tourist attraction, bridging the gap between land and sea. Even the younger generation finds excitement in capturing images of this temple situated in the sea.

Surrounding the temple, one encounters the serene embrace of the sea. Here, one can immerse themselves in the inherent positive energies of the ocean. The tranquil and melodious sounds of nature, the warm hospitality of the coastal community, and the majestic flight of birds all contribute to the temple’s natural grandeur.

Traditional beliefs linked to the temple

Folk beliefs vary significantly from place to place, and they constitute a crucial and distinctive aspect of any folk culture, encompassing folk beliefs, legends, and mythical narratives. The local populace holds profound and steadfast convictions associated with this temple, each rooted in its own set of beliefs and traditions.

The local belief holds that the mere sight of the Nishkalank Mahadev temple’s flag can absolve an individual of all their sins. Furthermore, it is thought that by applying the ashes of a deceased relative’s pyre to the Shivalinga and allowing them to flow into the water, the departed soul can attain salvation. Within the temple, offerings of pyre ashes, milk, curd, and Shriphal (coconut) are made to the deity.


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