Did you know that there is a Shiva temple at Ambernath, which was in 1060 AD? Ambernath Shiv Mandir (temple) is also called Ambreshwar. It is one of the 218 cultural heritages of the world declared by UNESCO. Of these 218, there are 25 in India and 4 in Maharashtra. This island city has always been important. It is the ancient Buddhist meditation site (Viharas) at Kanheri. Its discovery is very recent.
The Ulhas River, which flows from the city’s former Kalyan port (now the main railway hub). It merges with the sea and marks the location of the city. Ambernath station is a few steps from the train. For many people, Ambernath is another stop. It is in the Karjat satellite suburb in the central suburbs of Mumbai. Yet this suburb is also home to a Shiva temple, far surpassing Mumbai.
History of the Temple
The building of this Temple was in classical style by Chittaraja, king of Shi’erahala. It was later carried out by his son Mumunni in 1060 AD. They mentioned it in the inscription on the north gate of the temple. King Shilahara was a vassal of Rashtrakutas in the Konkan region. And to the south was the mighty Chalukya Kingdom. The Shiva Temple in Ambernath is only a few miles away from the ancient trade route. It is the route that leads to the Deccan Plateau. Its arrangement is in a cross shape and is an interesting fusion of architectural styles. It shows the influence and characteristics of Chalukyan.
The architectural style of Solanji, Gujarat are also seen. The temple is “Bhumija”, the style of fingertips. There are drawings of the famous Hinduologist Stella Kramrisch (Stella Kramrisch). It is also at the Kanderaya Mahadev Temple in Khajuraho. Her seminal book “Hindu Temple” consist of all these wonderful drawings.
The Intricate Structure
Even without a spire, the temple can be up to 21 meters high. The guardians of the main entrance are the two Nandis (bulldogs) from the west porch. There are two other porticoes, one on the north side and one on the east side. The outer wall is to accommodate as many sculptures as possible on the main base chest. Out of these sculptures, the most unique of which is Hari-Hara-Pitamaha-Surya. It decorates the east wall as the centre. And together they represent Shiva, Vishnu, Brahma and Surya.
Sabhagruha has a raised central altar, surrounded by four pillars. A carved trabeate dome surmounted it. 14 columns of decorative Ghatakam and detailed Dhaarvahakas (load-bearing supports) decorate the Sabhagruha. The height of the pillars ranges from 10 to 12 feet and the ceiling rises to 14 feet. Garbhagruha (sanctum sanctorum) is an underground room. It is accessible by descending the steps. The temple is an orderly square, with a roof high above it. Due to the collapsed minaret, it opened for the sky and contained two “Shiva Linga”.
There are many sculptures on the stepped and faceted exterior wall. They are for identification. This temple has a covering of about 250 elephants called “Gaj-thar”, which means “elephant”. Upstairs houses around 70 Muthuna (Muthuna) Shrungara Sculpture. Outside the North Corridor, there is a smaller temple connected to the superstructure. The surrounding environment of the entire temple is 50 meters x 35 meters, and to the west is a small stream. The administration of the Mumbai Bureau of Archaeological Studies, India has protected it.
Over the years, the structure has weakened, almost tilted, and slid in places. So, they erected reinforced iron girders at Sabhagruha to strengthen the structure.
British Raj and Rediscovery
The first photos of the temple taken by Henry Cousens. The director of the Archaeological Survey of India also took photos, around 1850. They did so to show its dilapidated state. Trees grow on the walls of the building. As one of its pilot projects, ASI carried out detailed documents related to the temple. They also carried out some protection work. Thus, the people rediscovered the temple, which was missing for about 800 years.
Today’s Ambernath Shiv Temple
It shows a completely different picture. The suburb has a large working class. The stream next to the temple is full of wastewater from nearby industrial areas. But the local Patil still keeps the temple functioning well. ASI is carrying out protection and beautification work. They do it to ensure that this stone-carved poem can continue in this era. Even today, when walking in the temple, one must remember that Mumbai is a stone’s throw away. There were the days when the crowds were sparse. But it is not difficult to imagine it to be the source of religious contemplation for King Shilahara.
There is a belief that Pandavas built this temple. During the Vavas period, he spent a night among huge rocks. The temple is one of the oldest temples built in the middle of the eleventh century. And there is no other temple in the world. To this day, Pandavas has not been able to complete the structure. It is because it has reflected in the missing roof above the main shrine (Garbha Griha) area of the temple. People say that the Pandaren also used a kilometre-long passage to escape. But these passages are now closed.
The architecture of this temple is Hemadpanti style. The carvings of the outer wall are using black rock and are very exquisite. You will get to see two nandis at the gate of the temple. To my surprise, this was the first time I met two nandis at the entrance of any Shiva temple. The temple has 20 steps leading to the main hall called Garbha Griha. In the centre of the room, there is a minimal amount of water, which is swayambhu.
The ruins of Ambershwar still hide their golden past. His condition is not very good. I don’t even know if our descendants can see this pattern of history, art, and culture. If so, what is the situation? Who cares about conservation? We must unite to save this hidden treasure of art and history.
Also Read: A One Day Trip to Elephanta Caves
How to reach Ambernath Shiv Mandir?
1. Ambernath is well connected by a railway. The railway station is under the Central Railway, 2 kilometres from the train station. You can get auto-sharing (Rs 15) from Ambernath East.
2. Mumbai Airport is the nearest airport 50 km from the temple.
During Mahashivratri and shravani somvar, the Shiva temple has a crowd of devotees. Within four days of Mahashivaratri, there was a large fair in Ambarnath. It started two days before Mahashivaratri and lasted until one day in Mahashivaratri.
If you visit in the afternoon, please don’t forget to bring Prasad, which is available from 12 noon to 2 pm every day. The temple opens at 6 a.m. M. at 8 p.m.
If you are an atheist, please don’t worry!
If you are not interested in going to the temple with your family, there are many other things we can do.
- Spend the morning on the Chikhloli dam and waterfall.
Well, you know how to spend the summer. The Chikhloli Dam is between Ambernath and Badlapur and is one of the places to cool off the heat. It is very crowded in winter and is a holiday destination for locals. The tranquil mountains, lakes and cool breeze will soothe your soul. They make you feel refreshed. You can take a dip in the small waterfall and browse many photos with your friends and family.
- Then take a break in these water parks.
Anand Sagar and Shanti Sagar are the two most famous water parks in Ambernut. Its location on the outskirts of towns and next to the highway. These two water parks are ideal places for children and adults. You should not miss the exciting octopus tour in Shanti Sagar. Children from the local school come here for a picnic. And enjoy while eating their famous popcorn and marshmallows. They have the cheapest tickets for a fun-filled holiday. The internal food is very good. There is a swing in the park next to it. You can sit down here and enjoy the view of the entire water park. You can also come here with your beloved.
3. Take part in the late afternoon discovery tour Parle G Factory
Ambernath is a place with many industries ( Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC)). Its location is next to the highway, on the outskirts of town. When you enter Ambernath from the road, you will see these factories line up. Industrial Zone
is one of the main locations that attracts businessmen and entrepreneurs. You will also find famous factories like Parle G. They will be happy to visit the factory. And show you the making and packaging of Parle Biscuits. Your kids will always remember this wonderful excursion.
So, get ready with your family to live the best moments. Both theists and atheists can relish this beautiful place. Don’t you believe us? Then go and find it out for yourself!