Airwan Temple of Lord Shiva

G L Khajuria

Airwan or Eravati is a small village or hamlet approachable by twin routes: first from Kathua round 14 kms and second from Sakta Chak just after crossing over Ujh river on Jammu Pathankot National highway around 23 kms from Jammu. From Sakta-Chak, Airwan Links about 12 kms.
Through myths and historical recor, it is reported that this temple is as old as that Kedarnath of Uthrakhand and having testimony of shrine Shakti as that of Rameshwar, Purmandal-Utterbahni temples. Annual festival (Mela) is help on Chaitra Chaudish In March every year. The pilgrims from far flung areas to the extent of Punjab, HP, UP, Haryana and Delhi assemble over here. After holy dip in the natural springs, the pilgrims offers nectar clear water with Belpatri, Chandan and saffron on Shilingram. Over the millionaire Airwan or Eravati was prominently known as the superb abode of Lord Shiva.
The sanctum sanctorum had been named as Paspavati with 101 Natural Springs with nectar clear water. The water gushes out with these springs which is deemed to be very spiritual. Every year, during Charitra Chaudish and Baisakhi, the pilgrims from far flung areas as mentioned earlier throng over here. There are two spacious bathing ghats both ladies and gents. They first of all have a holy dip in these bathing ghats and thence offer sacred water on Shiv Lingams within the temple complex of Lord Shiva, Bel Patri, Chandan and saffron are also besmeared on Shiv Lingam which pleases Lord Shiva and shower blessings. It is believed that the nectar clear water that gushes out from the natural springs is having sanctity of the Ganga river. Even in the Nilamatpurana, Airwana water is reported to be sacred and is possessive religious sanctity and is having the merit in the religious scripts of ancient Kashmiri texts described as holiest. It is further believed that a holy bath on ‘Charitra Chaudish’ and ‘Basaikhi’ and meritorious as elsewhere at Purmandal and Utterbehni. On the occasions of solar/lunar eclipse, a path in these springs washes out sins and remove many ailments.
The historical record has it that this temple complex has been constructed by the king Vikramaditya around the 4th century A.D. According to another historical belief, this temple is constructed by legendary hero of Airwain in the honour of his beloved wife Eraw and that the way place is nomenclaturised as iravati or Airwan. Mythically, it is also reported that river ravi anciently used to flow not far away from this sanctum sanctorum and those times Ravi used to be called Iravati. As per another prominent belief in Hindu texts, devoted Bhramin from Jasroa has had utmost believe in lord Shiva and used to visit Airwan regularly after crossing over Ujh river. He used to conduct prayers of Lord Shiva in the dense forests. One day Ujh river was fully flooded and it was difficult to cross. But the devoted Brahmin jumped into the river echoonh ‘Jai Shiv Shanker’ and he crossed the river . Because of arduous penance by the Bhramin, Lord Shiva was very pleased and as such he appeared in his dreams and told him to reach some 3 kms to the west where he used to worship. Next day, when Bhramin woke up he proceeded the spot but could not succeed. The Bhramin gain went to the temple and again prayed to guide him to the proper spot. Next day Lord Shiva again appeared in his dream and advised him that he would find a cow milking over the pebbles and further advised to excavate the spot and find lord symbol. As per the advice of lord Shiva who had told him to excavate the spot. So accordingly while Bhramin excavating with other locals, it was to be utmost astonishment to see some stains of blood and as such further excavation was stopped and a big Shiv Lingam with all hymns and Puja Archana was erected. Since the day the Shiv Lingam is worshiped by everyone who so ever visits Airwain.
Within the bigger temple complex, there is a big earthen Diya (Deepak) which remains glittering in mustard jyote round the clock.
It is the ritual of the locals of Kathua and ever from far way places to offer 2 kgs or its denominated quantity of mustard oil after the death of the related person in the locality.
The people have the utter faith that offering the mustard oil showers to the departed soul. The writer has had at most of occasions visited the sanctum sanctorum and has interaction with Shriupendra-Giri head pujari along with his associated Pujaris. He deplorably explained that many authorities frequently come over the historical famed sanctum sanctorum and promise for the improvement of the temple complex but apathetically no headway made till end.
It is, therefore, enjoyed upon the government and the local administration authorities to boost this historical sanctum sanctorum so that this centuries oil heritage of temple tourism is given the face lift.
Apart from the main temple complex there are also various small temples having images of various Gods and Goddesses which warrant their beautification. The area around the sanctum sanctorum need to be afforested with Mulberry trees, Wood apple (Bel Parti), other flowering plants so that the area gives picturesque outlook. A mini recreation park also need to be created under district plan apart from other development incorporated activities. The road links are in a dilapidated conditions which warrant up gradation for sufficient allocations are required to be allocated under district and state plans so as to ensure and facilitate the locals and other visitors and pilgrims alike.

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