Gangeshwar Mahadev Temple is an ancient cave temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. The word ‘Gangeshwar’ stands for ‘Lord of the river Ganga’ and ‘Mahadev’ stands for the ‘Supreme Deity’. Thus, ‘Gangeshwar Mahadev’ means the Supreme Deity who is the Lord of the river Ganga.
The entrance to the temple. Arabian Sea is visible in the background.
The legend associated with the name ‘Gangeshwar Mahadev’
Why is Lord Shiva known as Gangeshwar Mahadev? What is the legend associated with this name? Well, the Ganges river (Ganga in hindi) is considered sacred by Hindus. It is believed that taking a dip in the Ganges will release a devotee from 10 lifetimes of sins.
As per the Hindu mythology, this river is believed to be a celestial river whose waters used to flow in the heavens in the primitive times. A Hindu king Bhagiratha wanted to bring it down to the earth. It is believed that the untamed waters of the river would have flooded and devastated the entire earth. So, king Bhagiratha requested Lord Shiva to first receive the Ganges in the coils of his entangled hair to break her uninterrupted fall and subsequently, dictate the flow towards earth. Thus, the river descended on earth after being tamed in Lord Shiva’s locks. Its controlled flow blessed the Indian land with a fertile soil. Since Lord Shiva had tamed and controlled the river, he is known as the ‘Lord of the river Ganga’ or Gangeshwar Mahadev.
Lord Shiva with river Ganges flowing through his locks
History of the temple
As mentioned in the Hindu epic Mahabharata, the 5 Pandava princes were exiled for a period of 12 years. As per the legends, during this period, they reached Diu and searched for a place to pray before having their food. On reaching the cliff of a rock, they built a cave and a small temple within. This temple consisted of 5 Shiva Lingams (radient pillars representing Almighty Shiva), one for each Pandava. This temple is now known as Gangeshwar Mahadev.
The 5 Shiva Lingams
Over the centuries, the cliff has deteriorated and the cave has widened up. During the high tide, the water directly enters the temple and the Shiva Lingams get submerged in water.
The Shiva Lingams during high tides
There is a rock carving of Sheshnaag (The Serpent God as per Hindu mythology) over the Shiva Lingams which appears to be guarding them against any harm. Small idols of Hindu deities Lord Ganesha, Goddess Lakshmi and Lord Vishnu can also be seen near the Shiva Lingams.
The Serpent God and the idols of Hindu deities
Offerings of Bilva patra, coconut, fresh flowers and incense sticks are made to the Shiva Lingams by the devotees.
Why visiting the Temple is quite an experience in itself?
The temple is situated on the sea shore at a cliff made of corals deposited over thousands of years. One notices that the cliff has now begun to wither off due to constant rubbing against the waves of the Arabian sea. The only sound that one encounters here is of these unbound, unfazed waves gushing to bathe the Shiva Lingams in their waters. The sight is quite divine as the waves appear to be performing Abhishek Snanam (Hindu ritual of worshipping leading to natural cleansing and purification) to those Shiva Lingams.
The coral cliffs
All in all, visiting Gangeshwar Mahadev is a truly soul stirring experience. The calm and serene environs fill one’s heart with reverence for the almighty. And this experience is not limited to people belonging to a particular sect, faith or religion. J Everything ancient belonging to the temple reminds one of a power which is greater than all of us lesser mortals, the power that existed before all of us did and the power which will exist even after all of us will be long gone. And to be reminded of one’s mortality is a humbling experience for everyone for sure..