The Vaidyanath temple or more popularly known as Baijnath temple is a very ancient temple located in Palampur, in the Kangra District of Himachal Pradesh. Lord Shiva is commemorated here as Vaidyanath (the Lord of Physicians) and is claimed to be one of the twelve Jyotirlingas, the most sacred abodes of Shiva. Believed to be established by the very powerful demon king Ravana, there is a very interesting mythological story associated to this temple.
The legend goes like this. During Treta Yug, Ravana the king of Lanka,the conquerer of the three worlds: Earth, Heavens and the Netherworlds (Patala), worshipped Lord Shiva in Kailash in order to have invincible powers.
He was not able to please Lord Shiva the first time, and to impress Shiva further Ravan began cutting off his 10 heads one by one. As he kept cutting each of his head off, he kept placing them in the Havan Kund. As he was going to cut off his 10th head,Lord Shiva stopped him. Influenced by this extraordinary deed, Lord Shiva descended to cure Ravana who was injured. Because he acted as a doctor, he is referred to as Vaidya (“doctor”). This aspect of Shiva, not only restored Ravana’s 10 heads but also bestowed him with powers of invincibility and immortality.
Ravana then requested if he could take Lord Shiva with him to Lanka. Shiva consented to the request of Ravana and converted himself into Shivling. Lord Shiva also warned Ravana that,he should not place the Shivling down on the ground on his way. If he did place the Shivling on the ground, he will not be able to move it and he would have to build the Shiv temple in that very spot . Ravana carried the Shivling with him, started moving south towards Lanka and reached Baijnath where he felt the need to answer nature’s call. On seeing a shepherd, Ravana explained everything to him and handed over the Shivling to him and went away to get himself relieved. On finding the Shivling very heavy, the shepherd put the linga on the ground. Ravan returned and tried to remove the Shivling from the ground. The mighty Ravan could not do so even with all his strength. And thus the Shivling got established in the town of Baijnath and the Shiva temple was eventually built.
Dussehra not celebrated
In honour of Ravana, Baijnath town does not celebrate Dussehra. While the effigies of Ravan is consigned to flames all across the country as part of the celebration, Dussehra is not celebrated here. This is a unique aspect about this temple town.
The structure of this temple is the early medieval North Indian style of architecture. The ‘Nagara’ architectural style has been imbibed from Orissa, which is very unique for the state of Himachal Pradesh. The history of Baijnath temple is inscribed on the stone slabs inside the complex.Baijnath Mandir was re-built by the two native merchants by the name of Ahuka and Manyuka in 1204 A.D.
Festivals and events
The temple attracts a large number of tourists and pilgrims from all over India and abroad throughout the year.
Makara Sankranti, Maha Shivaratri, Vaisakha Sankranti and Shravana Mondays are celebrated with great zeal and splendour. Every Monday of Shravan there is special puja and prayers offerred to Lord Baijnath. A five-day state level function is held here on Maha Shivratri every year. It is believed that all the desires and wishes of the visitor of this temple will be fulfilled by Lord Baijnath.