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Shiv Mandir

The word Ambarnath refers to ‘Lord of the sky’. Shiv Mandir of Ambarnath is the prehistoric Ambreshwar Shiva Temple, built and dedicated to Lord Shiva. The wonderful construction of this Shiva temple of 10th Century is an exclusive example of the Vesara art style in its category.

The temple is located 2 km away from Ambarnath Railway Station on Mumbai-Pune rail-route in Maharashtra. This Hemadpanthi-styled brilliantly carved Shiv Mandir is situated besides the bank of the river Walhuni or Vadavan.

During the festive period of Shivratri, this temple hosts an annual fair that attracts countless pilgrims to the temple to pray and dedicate puja to Lord Shiva. The main room of this temple is also known as the Gabhaara. It houses one ancient Shivalinga right at the center, slightly at the lower level and one is required to descend few steps to obtain blessings of Lord Shiva. There are a number of smaller temples situated adjacent to the main temple premises.


There are two distinct beliefs about the construction of Ambarnath Shiva temple. According to ancient beliefs, this temple was built by the Pandava brothers belonging to the epic Mahabharata, in order to take night shelter during the continuance of their vanvaas or exile. However, under some circumstances they had to leave the construction, incomplete which is reflected in its missing roofs just above the chief Garbha-Griha or sanctum. It is supposed that a long passageway was made by Pandav brothers to escape, which is locked today. On the other hand, an official version advocates that this magnificent temple was erected by Chittraja, the Shilahara king and completed by his son, Mummuni.

Temple & its Architecture

The temple is one astonishing model of Vesara pattern, identified as the major art and style of ancient central India. Vesara style is basically an elegant blend of two architectural style named as the Dravidian and Nagara pattern. This style combines both the cultures of north and south Indian architects of temple making.

Among the versions of Vesara styles, Ambarnath was designed in Hemadpanti style under the patronage of Hemadpani, the prime minister of Devagiri kings and later, this style of art was named after him. The classic decoration of outside wall along with its stepped pyramid style forms the wondering tower. The entire mandir have a coarse and crude brownish stone, which is typically found in this part of India. The planning of this temple is fluted and corrugated along the edges. The wider and larger wall surface accommodates a series of sculptures or other decorations. The sculptures are based on the Hindu mythology, predominantly on Shiva theme. Sadly, quite a good number of sculptures are affected by corrosion due to weather condition.

No doubt, being one of the ancient great temples of India this breathtaking structure went through huge abrasions that affect not only the sculptures but the heritage of India as well. The rocks used in this temple are flaky. The parts relatively isolated are better preserved where sculptures are found intact. The tower is designed based on typical Nagara style. The towers situated over the central hall and vestibules also hold the glory of their oldest days. The statues in this remote center place can be found intact while the peak over the sanctorum is somewhat collapsed. The images of dancing Lord Shiva over the tower are beautifully carved.

There are three approaches to get access to the central place through vestibules. The carvings of this portion are quite complex while the entire roof is supported by a series of carved pillars, which is an amazing art and demonstrates the expertise of the architects of those days. A Nandi/Bull statue is centrally located at the western porch. The main linga is situated at the underground of sanctorum; which is completely open to the sky or ambar. This huge temple is set above the slop of a hillock while a stream, the tributary of Valdhan flows around the temple compound.

Ten Wonderful View-Points of the Temple to Note

  • Wide Frontal Décor of Shiva Mandir
  • Breathtaking Shikhar of the Shiva Mandir
  • Walls of all Shiva Mandir
  • Nandi at frontage side door
  • Pillars at chief door
  • Gorgeous carvings on pillars 
  • Carvings of God and Goddess on the Walls
  • Falling of Sunlight in the main Hall looking magical rays
  • Underground Lord Shiva Linga
  • The Holy Pond is near Temple

Pooja and Fair

A big fair is convened during Feb-March of the calendar every year on the auspicious day of Mahashivratri. The fair continues for 4-5 days, starting from two days earlier to Shivratri and ends after a day or two. An endless number of pilgrims visit this Shiva Temple during this time to get the blessings of the Lord. Once again, this temple remains overcrowded in the entire month of Shravana (July-August).

  • Mondays is known as the Shravani Somvaar. The day has a great significance to the devotees who observe and pay homage in fasting to please the Lord and seek blessings.
  • The linga, the image of Shiva is worshipped sequentially by trickling milk and water from a pot. A container filled in milk or water is also hung above Shivalingam in all temples surrounded on the base while liquid drips over the deity as regards and offerings. Bel or leaves of wood apple, sweets along with flowers and garland are offered during the chanting of the Shiva mantra.
  • The holy water is also taken from the river Ganga in small pots and offered to Lord Shiva by the devotees during this month.

The Route

Ambarnath Shiva Temple is situated at Akoli on the rail route of Mumbai-Pune. The temple is only 2 km from the Ambarnath Railway Station (E). The nearest airport is Mumbai. Regular buses are available from different places of Maharashtra to Ambarnath.

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