Baijnath is a town in Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh. It is about 50 kilometres from Dharamshala which is the district headquarters. The very famous ancient temple of Lord Shiva (Baijnath) is situated here which is believed to be one of twelve jyotirlingas according to popular legends also giving the town its name . It is a small township in the Dhauladhar range of western Himalayas, 16 km from Palampur in the Kangra District of Himachal Pradesh.
Baijnath is famous for its 13th century temple dedicated to Shiva as Vaidyanath, ‘the Lord of physicians’. Originally known as Kiragrama, the town lies on the Pathankot-Mandi highway (National Highway No. 20) almost midway between Kangra and Mandi. The present name Baijnath became popular after the name of the temple. The town is located on the left bank of the river Binwa, a corrupt form of ancient Binduka, a tributary of river Beas.
The present temple is a beautiful example of the early medieval north Indian Temple architecture known as Nagara style of temples. The Svayambhu form of Sivalinga is enshrined in the sanctum of the temple that has five projections on each side and is surmounted with a tall curvilinear Shikhara. The entrance to sanctum is through a vestibule that has a large square "Mandapa" in front with two massive balconies one each in north and south. There is a small porch in front of the mandapa hall that rests on four pillars in the front preceded by an idol of "Nandi", the bull, in a small pillared shrine. The whole temple is enclosed by a high wall with entrances in the south and north. The outer walls of the temple have several niches with images of gods and goddesses. Numerous images are also fixed or carved in the walls. The outer doorway in the porch as also the inner doorway leading to the sanctum of the temple are also studded with a large number of images of great beauty and iconographic importance. Some of them are very rare to be found elsewhere.
The temple attracts a large number of tourists and pilgrims from all over India and abroad throughout the year. Special prayers are offered in the morning and evening every day besides on special occasions and during festive seasons. Makara Sankranti, Maha Shivaratri, Vaisakha Sankranti, Shravana Mondays, etc. are celebrated with great zeal and splendour. A five day state level function is held here on Maha Shivratri every year.
Shiva Temple of Baijnath
The main attraction of Baijnath is an ancient temple of Shiva. Neighbouring towns are Palampur Kangra and Joginder Nagar in Mandi district. According to the legend, it is believed that during the Treta Yug, Ravana in order to have invincible powers worshiped Lord Shiva in the Kailash. In the same process, to please the almighty he offered his ten heads in the havan kund. Influenced by this extra ordinary deed of the Ravana, the Lord Shiva not only restored his heads but also bestowed him with powers of invincibility and immortality.
On attaining this incomparable boon, Ravana also requested Lord Shiva to accompany him to Lanka. Shiva consented to the request of Ravana and converted himself into Shivling. Then Lord Shiva asked him to carry the Shivling and warned him that he should not place the Shivling down on the ground on his way. Ravana started moving south towards Lanka and reached Baijnath where he felt the need to answer the nature’s call. On seeing a shepherd, Ravana 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 and thus the Shivling got established there and the same is in the form of Ardhnarishwar (God in form of Half Male & Half Female).