LEGEND OF THE VANISHING SHIVA TEMPLE
God is omnipresent which means he exists everywhere. But most people believe their deities to be present wherever nature is at its best. Many of the Hindu temples you might have seen are located at a place with astonishing scenic beauty and a natural landscape, such as the hills, the mountains, near the seashores, near the waterfall, etc. But have you heard of a temple that is submerged inside the sea?
The Nishkalank Mahadev Temple is situated in the middle of the Arabian Sea near Koliyak Village in Bhavnagar, Gujarat. One of the most interesting aspects of this temple of Lord Shiva is its location. The temple is truly said to be an architectural marvel since it was built in such a way that even the high tides of the Arabian Sea couldn’t move it. During high tides, it gets completely submerged and vanishes inside the sea and emerges again during low tides. It is believed that people visiting this temple will be forgiven for their sins of a lifetime.
Also called the Vanishing Temple, the holy shrine can only be seen during a certain period of time. Devotees recognize the shrine by the tall flag attached to it. A Legend from the Hindu epic Mahabharata is associated with this temple and is one of the reasons people come to this place. After the war ended and the Pandavas emerged as victorious, they started to feel the guilt for the sin they committed by killing their own brothers and relatives. They consulted Krishna for the reclamation from the sin and he gave them a black flag and a black cow. He told the five brothers that they need to trail along with them and the moment when both the flag and the cow will turn pure white, they will all be forgiven. Krishna also asked them to apologize to Lord Shiva after that.
The Pandavas followed the cow everywhere it took them. Several years passed while they marched to different destinations, but the cow or the flag did not change shade. Finally, when they reached Koliyak Beach, both the flag as well as the cow turned white. The brothers acknowledged it and started meditation to apologize to Lord Shiva for the sins they had committed. Lord Shiva got impressed by them and appeared in front of each of the five brothers in the form of a lingam. The Pandavas worshipped all the five lingams and named the spot as Nishkalank Mahadev. Nishkalank means spotless and innocent. The Pandavas installed the lingams on Amavasai or no moon night on a square platform. They also placed a Nandi as the guardian in front of all the lingams.
There is also a small pond where the devotees first need to wash their hands and feet before entering the shrine. This pond is called the Pandavas Pond.
This was the story of this unique temple dedicated to Lord Shiva located under the Arabian Sea. Many devotees come here at different times and for many reasons. Some visit the holy shrine to cleanse their souls from sins of the past while some visit just for the legendary tale it holds within. Many modern engineers and technology experts also visit this place to study the mystery behind the architecture of the temple. The reasons might be different, but this temple is unique in its own very nature and a must-see place for all the devotees of Lord Shiva.