The Bold Voice of J&K

Shoolpaneshwar Sudhmahadev Shrine

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 Dr Narinder Paul
The district administration Udhampur has apparently been geared up for the upcoming three days annual Mela at the Holy Shrine of Sudhmahadev commencing from 8th June. This three days annual Mela is held at Sudhmahadev on the full moon night of Sawan (During the month of June) to worship the Holy Trident and Lord Shiva. On this occasion, several Langars are organised by the voluntary organisations. Besides, governmental agencies also make full arrangements for the pilgrims. Overall there remains a heavy rush at Sudhmahadev, Gourikund and Mantalai during Mela.
Lord Shiva has mostly revealed itself at remote and far-flung places full of natural exquisiteness and divinity. Often Lord Shiva prefers the hilly places and uniqueness of these places have attracted the devotees of to explore these with great enthusiasm and religious fervor. One of such places of great importance for the devotees is Sudhmahadev which lies in the Chenani Tehsil of Udhampur District at a distance of 50 Km from the District Headquarters and 110 Km from Jammu. This beautiful place is located at an altitude of 1,225 m above sea level. The Temple at Sudhmahadev is believed to be 2,800 years old and is a pilgrims’ destination. The important attractions at Sudhmahadev are Lord Shiva’s giant Trident, Lord Shiva’s natural idol, Paap Nasini Bowli, Gauri Koond, Mantalai etc.
Lord Shiva’s Bluish-black Coloured Aapshambhu Idol: The Temple at Sudhmahadev has natural bluish black marble lingum of Lord Shiva inside. The Lingum has three faces believed to be of Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh mounted on Nandi with Parvati Maa and Ganesh ji. There is a popular legend that this idol was found from below the earth by a farmer while he was tilling his fields in the vicinity of the Temple. He informed the king of the same. The king ordered to shift it to Chennai to erect a Temple over it. But it got fixed at the present place and could not be lifted. Finally a Temple was erected over it at Sudhmahadev. Earlier temple had only one gate. But keeping in view the heavy rush of the pilgrims during the mela, a second opening has been made few years back in the Temple.
Lord Shiva’s Holy Trident: In front of the Suhdmahadev Temple, the tall holy Trident of Lord Shiva is erected. The trident has three distinct broken parts; upper portion, middle portion outside and lower portion inside the earth. It is believed that Lord Shiva had hurled this Trident on Devil Sudhanth and this killed him. The Trident got broken and so it was left there. People generally tie red cloth to this Trident as it is believed that it fulfills all their wishes. Many legends are locally popular which explain the origin of the Trident (Trishul) at this place. A well relied upon legend explains that Sudhanth was firm devotee of Lord Shiva. One day he saw Mata Parvati who was meditating hard for Lord Shiva. He approached her to pay obeisance but his demonic look frightened Mata which led to her shriek hearing which lord Shiva thought her in trouble and threw his Trident hard aiming at the place from where sound came. Thereafter, Lord heard the sound of Om Namah Shivaey. He realised that he might have killed his own devotee. He appeared at the place where he saw dying Sudhanth. He offered to revive his life but later refused and preferred to die at the hands of Lord Shiva. He was however blessed by Shiva that his name will be prefixed with the name of Mahadev and the place will be called Sudhanth Mahadev which later on came to known as Sudhmahadev. Another legend however says that Sudhanth devil approached meditating Mata Parvati with bad intention which led to his death by Lord Shiva. He begged pardon for his sin. Lord Shiva not only forgave and offered salvation to him; but also blessed with the prefixing of his name before Mahadev’s own name.
Guru Gourakh Nath’s Ji Temple: Just opposite to the Lord Shiva’s Temple in the premises of Sudhmahadev, there is temple of Guru Gorkh Nath ji believed to be constricted after the construction of the main Temple. It has white colored marble idol of Guru Gorkh Nath Ji. Towards its left side there is statue of Nandi Ganji below which there is Garbhjoon. It is believed that passing below the idol of Nandi Ganji relieves of the sins and paves the way to attain salvation.
Live Samadhi of Baba Roop Nath Ji: In the Temple premises there is live smadhi of Baba Roop Nath Ji who had attained Smadhi here. Besides, there is a continuous Dhooni (Eternal flame) which has been constantly burning ever since Baba Roop Nath Ji is said to be living in the Temple. The Dhooni explains the spiritual attainments of Baba and is still kept constantly burning. Devotees take sacred ash from the Dhooni as Prashad (Bhiuti).
Mortal remains of Sudhanth Devil: The mortal remains of Sudhanth Devil who was believed to be killed by Lord Shiva by his giant Trident have been placed towards the left side of the main Temple. The devotees pour water over the mortal remains of Sudhanth devil after pouring water over Shiv lingum.
Idol of Kaal Bhairab Nath: Opposite to the Divine Trident there is a tall black coloured statue of Kaal Bhairavh believed to be excavated from below the earth who is also worshipped by the devotees.
Paap Nashini Bhowli: Sudhmahadev has spring by the name of Paap Nashini Bowli. It is called so because taking a bath in it relieves the devotees of all their sins and inculcates the spirit of devotion for Lord Shiva. Devotees take bath in the Bhowli so as to purify them before entering the Temples premises. On the occasion of Mela, people establish friendship bond at this pious place by exchanging their turbans and take pledge to help each other throughout life.
Gauri Kund: Lies at about 2.5 Km before Sudhmahadev village on Chennani- Mantalai Road. Goauri Kund bus stop has 4-6 shops. The Temple lies at about 500 meter distance at steep high elevation from the road. The hilly path leading towards the Temple is 5 feet wide and is cemented with stairs at many places. The passage is full of natural beauty and wild vegetation, natural sweet water streams flowing from within the hills. The legend associated with Gauri Kund is that Mata Parvati, the daughter of King Himanchal of Chenani worshipped and meditated hard at this place for a very long time to get Lord Shiva as her husband. The top hill is also considered as the origin of the Devak stream which flows a few kilometers downstream and disappears mysteriously. It is also believed that Mata Parvati used to take bath in the waters of the spring before worshipping Lord Shiva. As such the spring is highly scared to the Shiva’s devotees.
Maantalai: situated at a distance of 8 Km from Sudhmahadev on Sudhmahadev-Latti Road it is quite enchanting hilly resort situated on the top of the hill. Numerous tall Deodar trees add to its natural beauty with the surroundings full of cool and fresh air. It is believed that Lord Shiva and Mata Parvati got married at this place. On the bank of the pond there is Arpaneshwar Mahadev Temple devoted to Lord Shiva. It also has Ashram of Yog Guru late Swami Dharendra Brahamchari which is now in ruins.
(The author is from Krishi Vigyan Kendra Doda, SKUAST Jammu)

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