Bhimashankar is considered to be one of the twelve Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva. On the crest of the Sahyadri at the height of about 3,400 feet above sea level and at the source of river Bhima is situated the famous temple of Bhimashankar. It is also the source of river Bhima.
The temple is situated in the village of Bhovargiri in the Poona district. The river Bhima flows in the southeast direction and ultimately meets the Krishna River near Raichur. On the banks of the river Bhima there are two temples of Lord Shiva, the old and the new one. The old temple is built of black stone. It contains a large Nandi and in the Garbhagriha is Lord Bhimashankar with five heads. Nana Farnavis built the new temple in the latter part of the 18th century, which is also made in black stone. Its eastern side has some ornamentation. A big festival is celebrated for 2-3 days here, on every Maha Shivratri.
Legend has it that Lord Shiva killed the demon named Tripurasura and later rested here. There were drops of perspiration on Lord Shiva’s body after the fight with the demon. Also, one of the King’s of Oudh, Bhimaka sought pardon from the Lord after wounding two Rishis. Those drops of perspiration changed into a river, now flowing by the name of river Bhima.
In the ‘Stotra’ of the twelve Jyotirlingas, it has been stated that the Jyotirlingas of Bhimashankar is situated at a place called Dakini. But there is no such place on the Sahyadri.
Water is continuously oozing out of the image of Lord Shiva. According to ‘Shiva Purana Koti Rudra Samhita chapter 20', the temple is situated in the Kamarupa country i.e. Assam, which was ruled by a king named Kamarupa. He was troubled by a demon named Bhima. One day the demon attacked the king, who was then concentrating on the Linga. Soon, the sword, which was intended for the king, fell on the Shivalinga, from where the Lord came out and destroyed the demon. Since then the Lord resides here in the form of the Jyotirlingas.
There is also a place in the Nainital district, which claims to have the temple of Bhimashankar. Near Kashipur, in a village named Ujjanaka, there is an identical temple with the Jyotirlingas of the same name. Local people say that this place was known as a Dakini country in the olden days. Bhimasena, the 2nd Pandava, was married to Hadimba, who was a Dakini belonging to this village. It has a big image of Lord Shiva. Maha Shivratri is celebrated as a festival here also.
On it eastern side there is s shrine of Bhairavnath and nearby is situated a tank called Shivaganga. There is also a temple of the Goddess on its west.