History of Bhutnath Temple
The ancient Bhutnath temple was built by Raja Ajber Sen in 1527 AD. Legend has it that it was here that the phenomena of a cow, washing a ‘Shiva Lingam’ with milk that was released of its own accord, occurred. Lord Shiva appeared to Raja Ajber Sen, the ruler of the area, and told him that the Shivalingam was a manifestation of himself as ‘Bhutnath’.
Structure of Bhutnath Temple
The controlling deity in the Bhutnath Temple is Lord Shiva. The idol of Nandi, the sacred bull stands facing the ornate double arch of the sanctuary. Bhutnath temple is built in Shikhara style of architecture, dating back to the period of 1520. The overhang, cellar and mandap are carved with delicate figures of elephants. The modern shrines that are close by are brightly painted.
Celebration of Shivaratri at Bhutnath Temple
The festival of Mahashivratri in March is celebrated with huge fanfare, pulling in a number of people from far and wide and is famous internationally also. The town celebrates the arrival of hundreds of local deities on elaborately decorated palanquins. A huge fair is organized for an entire week and thousands of devotees gather in the temple. There is a traditional story that says Raj Madhav Rao, the deity who ruled the Mandi state, visits the temple and offers prayers before starting the procession of Maha Shivaratri Fair along with the nearby hill deities. The festival is a treat to participate. Variety of sweets, ‘Bhang’ (the traditional liquor of the God made of herbs and milk), dance, music, hymns, markets, traditional dresses etc. describe the festival.
How to Reach Bhutnath Temple
Bhutnath Temple can be accessed by bus from Mandi. The roadway is very well linked to make it more accessible during the festive season.