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Shiv Bari Temple in Gagret

Shiv Bari Temple
Source: Panoramio

At a distance of around one kilometre from the town of Gagret, an ancient and historical temple of the almighty Lord Shiva is situated on the main road passing through Hoshiarpur and Dharamshala. This temple is popularly known as the Shiv Bari Temple that literally means the 'Home or the Abode of Lord Shiva'. It is also known as the Drone Shiv Temple and can be simply called Shivbari as well. Located in the small village of Ambota in Gagret, the Shiv Bari Temple is almost one kilometre away from the Gagret Chowk and can be travelled via the Gagret to Bharwain Road.

The Shiv Bari Temple has a rich historical background that dates back to almost 5000 years ago. According to popular legends, the place of this classical structure was considered to be the training ground and archery practicing range for the disciples of Guru Dronacharya who was famous as the teacher/ Guru of the Kauravas and the Pandavas in the Mahabharata. It is widely said that the Shiv Bari Temple was constructed upon Guru Dronacharya's orders along the banks of the sparkling waters of the River Sombhadra for his daughter Jayati who was an ardent devotee of Lord Shiva. Popular folk tales also suggest that the Shiv Bari Temple in Gagret is one of the few spots where the all-knowing Lord Shiva is present in the form of a 'pindi' or a 'shiva lingam'. Consequently, this temple is visited by hundreds of people from the nearby areas who come to offer their prayers to the deity all the year around and especially in the months of July and August.

Shiva Bari Temple
Source: hpuna.nic.in

The Shiv Bari Temple is surrounded by a dense forest on all sides and according to popular sayings, the wood available from the trees of this forest can only be used for specific purposes such as for cremation of the dead, for making the 'bhandara' or the 'langar' at the temple, for using in the yajna performed in the temple premises or for the use of the ascetics living in the temple only. It is widely believed that if the wood from this forest is used for any other purposes other than above mentioned ones, then they are punished by Lord Shiva. The forest around the temple is so thick with foliage and surrounded by local beliefs and legends that people do not dare enter into the forest even during the day let alone in the night.

There is also a Hindu cremation ground just outside the forest area in the temple premises on all the four sides which is commonly known as the 'Shamshaan Ghat / Bhoomi'. Visitors can see four wells as well upon moving towards the outskirts of the temple which had been built upon the orders of the Kings of Jammu and Amb when their wishes had been fulfilled and their prayers answered in this ancient temple.

Shiv Bari in Gagret
Source: hpuna.nic.in

The industrial belt of Gagret is located around the Shiv Bari Temple which is also considered to be the hub of industries where quite a few industries and factories have commenced their operations. The development block of Gagret also has its headquarters in this area and is known by the same name. The present caretaker of this temple's premises is Shri Bhagat Ram Shastri Ji who looks after the workings of the temple similar to what his ancestors have been doing for decades. A major festival celebrated in the Shiv Bari Temple in Gagret is Maha Shivaratri during which a huge fair is organised in the temple grounds towards the north of the temple. A special feature of this festival is the 'pooja' performed by the pandits who follow the ancient traditions and rituals and all the four poojas are performed by the main pandits themselves during the night.

This historical temple of Lord Shiva in Gagret is also renowned for the idols of Lord Virbhadra, Swami Kartikeya, Lord Ganesh, Lord Kuber, the Jalahari and Shiva Pindi or the Shiva Lingam, all of which are around 5000 years old. Apart from these, the temple is also known for many saints and ascetics who have worshipped Lord Shiva and have taken 'samadhis' here. In Hindu religious practices, 'samadhi' means the highest level of concentrated meditation which transcends the realms of the body, the mind and the intellect and where the logical and analytical ability of the being becomes silent. Saints like Mahatma Badev Giri ji, Mahatma Tameshwar Giri ji, Mahatma Ichhya Giri ji and Mahatma Ganga Giri Ji have taken samadhi in this Shiv Bari Temple in Gagret, the resting places of which can be seen along the margins of the 'hawan' areas. The temple has no rest houses or dharamshalas for the common people as it is bound by the cremation grounds on all the sides, instead, there are just a few small cottages for the ascetics living in the temple premises only.

Drona Shiva Temple in Gagret
Source: Panoramio

History of the Shiv Bari Temple in Gagret

According to popular folk legends, the grounds of the Shiv Bari Temple along with the surrounding dense forests was a part of the village of Guru Dronacharya and was known as the Drona Nagari. Guru Dronacharya was the teacher of the royal family of Kuru dynasty who educated the Pandavas and the Kauravas. It is said that the site of the Shiv Bari Temple was the place where Guru Dronacharya taught the Pandavas and the Kauravas everything that they needed to learn to be good rulers.

According to the stories told by the ancestors of the pandits living in the Shiv Bari Temple, Guru Dronacharya used to regularly take his bath in the waters of the River Swan which passes by the banks of Gagret and then go onto the majestic mountains of the Himalayas in the evenings to worship Lord Shiva. He had a daughter named Jayati who once stubbornly asked Guru Drona where he went every evening and also wanted to go with him wherever he went. As an answer to her, Guru Drona promised Jayati that he would take her along with him at a later time and in the meantime, he asked her to worship the deity, that is, Lord Shiva at home only with the main 'Beej Mantra' which was 'Om Namah Shivay'. Following the suggestion of her father, Jayati started offering her prayers to Lord Shiva with the utmost faith and devotion. Lord Shiva got so pleased with her devotion that he appeared in front of her in the form a young boy one day. However, since Jayati had no specific wishes to ask of Lord Shiva, he started visiting her daily in the form of that young boy and played with her.

A few days later, Jayati told her father about the young boy with 'jataas' who came to play with her every day. Hearing about this mysterious boy, Guru Drona became very curious about his identity and decided to find out about him. He came back home a little early the next day and was amazed to find that it was the almighty Lord Shiva himself who played with his daughter every day. Humbled by Lord Shiva's presence, Guru Drona bowed and prayed before him and asked the almighty about this miracle. The Lord answered him saying that since the small child had worshipped him with such faith and devotion, he had to come.

Shiv Bari Temple in Gagret
Source: Panoramio

Upon witnessing this, Jayati beseeched to Lord Shiva and asked him to stay with her forever. The Lord answered her saying that although he is present as an eternal soul everywhere in the world and also appears in front of the people who call him with great faith and true devotion, however, because of her stubborness and adamancy, he will certainly visit this place every year during this period and reside here for a day. Consequently, Guru Dronacharya established the 'pindi' and a temple was erected in this place. Through the Pindi Sthapana or the Shiva Lingam Sthapana, Lord Shiva became invisible and resided in the temple in the form of his idol. This day was the second Saturday after Baisakhi and special arrangements are made to worship Lord Shiva on this day every year. It is also believed that the wishes of the devotees who come here on this day are surely fulfilled.

How to reach the Shiv Bari Temple in Gagret

Tourists visiting Gagret can easily visit the Shiva Bari Temple by hiring taxis and auto rickshaws from the town and travelling to the temple. For people coming in to visit only the Shiv Bari Temple, they can opt for the following modes of transport:

By Air:
The nearest airport to Gagret is the Kangra Domestic Airport. People can also travel upto the Amritsar and the Chandigarh airports and hire taxis from there to visit the Shiv Bari Temple in Gagret.

By Train:

As 6 on September 2012, the nearest railway station to the Shiva Bari Temple in Gagret was opened which is the Amb Andaura railway station in the Una district. The temple is only at a distance of around 6 kilometres from the station and devotees can hire rented vehicles to travel up til there. One of the trains that reaches the Amb Andaura railway station is the Himachal Express (Train number 14553).

By Road:

The Shiv Bari Temple in Gagret is frequently visited by the people living in Punjab who stop at this temple on their way back from the shrine of Mata Chintpurni Devi which is at an approximate distance of around 17 kilometres from the Shiv Bari. This temple can also be travelled via road through the route of Delhi-Chandigarh - Shiv Bari which covers a distance of around 410 kilometres. This route is considered to be the best route to travel to the temple as it has well-maintained roads that are not populated by heavy traffic.

Another route that can be travelled to reach the Shiv Bari Temple in Gagret is through a slightly longer route through Punjab which covers a distance of of approximately 470 kilometres and passes from Ambala to Ludhiana to Jalandhar to Hoshiarpur to Gagret and finally to the Shiv Bari Temple.

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