Bharbhut, the abode of Bharbhuteswar Mahadeva
Bharbhut : an ancient pilgrimage place in India
Bharbhut (also written as Bhadbhut) is an ancient pilgrimage site in the Indian state of Gujarat on the south bank of the mouth of the sacred river Narmada. Though a place held in extremely high esteem by the pilgrims who perform the strenuous Narmada Parikrama (an almost 2800 km long circumambulation of the river Narmada on foot), it is relatively unknown to the general public, especially those from outside Gujarat. Hence there is a scope of writing about this place regarded as the abode of Lord Bharbhuteswar or Bhareswar (a name of Lord Shiva).
Bharbhut : Why you should go there
Bharbhut is an ancient pilgrimage site as the temple of Lord Bharbhuteswar (Bhareswar) is situated here on the bank of the holy river Narmada. There are a number of other temples too, including the temples dedicated to Panchamukhi Shiva, Goddess Narmada, the Sun God Surya Narayana etc.
From time immemorial, pilgrims and sages performing the strenuous Narmada Parikrama stay for few days here to worship Lord Bharbhuteswar and the other deities here.
A dip in the holy Narmada followed by a visit to the temples makes one feel a sublime bliss.
History of Bharbhut
Bharbhut (Barbud to the Arab traders) was an important port of trade for at least 2000 years. Goods like spices & silk from the Far East were shipped here to be taken to Arabia and further.
In the 8th century AD, Bharbhut was an entry point of Islamic power into North West India. The Governor of Sind Hisham ibn Amir (768-73 AD) sent a reconnaissance mission to Bharbhut before he attacked & conquered another port in the area.
Location of Bharbhut
Bharbhut is situated on the south bank of Narmada near its mouth before it joins the Gulf of Khambat. Nearest Police station is at Amleshwar which is about 5 km away and the nearest railway station is at Bharuch (which is an important city in Gujarat connected to major Indian cities through road and rail routes) about 24 km away. The industrial hub of Dahej is nearby.
The village of Bharbhut
Bharbhut is basically a Machchhi (fishermen’s) village inhabited mostly by the fishermen who originally came here from Bhavnagar across the Gulf of Khambat about a century ago. The village of Bharbhut has good roads and electricity supply. There is a boat building-cum-repairing centre here. People are almost exclusively involved in fishing, the main catches being the Hilsa fish & shrimps which have a good market.
Bharbhut temples on Narmada
There are several temples clustered in a place just on the river bank. In addition, there are Dharamshalas (rooms for living) where the visiting pilgrims can stay overnight. Besides these temples, there are few other temples also at Bharbhut.
The river bank is repaired now with a long Ghat (bathing sites). It is customary here to take a bath in the river Narmada before entering into the temple of Lord Bharbhutweswar.
The temple of Lord Bharbhuteswar or Bhareswar
This is the main temple here with a Shayambhu (self-manifest) Shiva Lingam called Bharbhuteswar or Bhareswar inside. The stone built Shiva Lingam is rather small in size, but to believers its spiritual value is immense. There are many stories related to this temple and Lord Bhareswar.
A very well mannered priest helps in the rituals.
The temple of Goddess Narmada
Narmada, which is one of the seven most sacred rivers in the world as believed by Hindus (the others are : Ganga, Yamuna, Godavari, Saraswati, Sindhu and Kaberi), is regarded as a goddess and an idol of the goddess Narmada is worshiped in this temple.
The temple of Panchamukhi Mahadeva
The temple of Panchamukhi Mahadeva ( Lord Shiva with five faces) is the next. Actually, it is the tallest temple here built in the North Indian style. Inside the first compartment or Natmandir, there is a beautiful stone made idol of Nandi the Bull facing the Shiva Lingam inside the Garvgriha or the sanctum. The Lingam, built of black stone, has five beautifully carved faces ( called Sadyojata, Aghor,Tatpurush, Vamadeva and Ishana).
There is an idol of Goddess Parvati just behind the Shiva Lingam, but at a height.
The temple of Surya Narayana
This small temple is dedicated to Surya Narayana or the Sun God.
Bets: the deltas in Narmada
Bets are riverine islands (delta created in the river near the estuary). There are several such bets near Bharbhut, the important ones being the Darshan Bet and the Aalia Bet. These islands are visible in the river from the bank. These are usually devoid of permanent human habitation, and are low grasslands.
Bharbhut Mela (fair)
Bharbhut holds a big one month long religious fair once in every 18 years called Bharbhut Mela. The fair is often called “Mini Kumbh” (Kumbh mela, held every 12 years in four places viz. Haridwar, Allahabad, Nashik and Ujjain, is considered as the most holy fair where millions of pilgrims come to take a holy bath in sacred rivers) because of its magnitude and religious importance.
The last Bharbhut Mela was held from 18th August to 18th September, 2012. The next will be held in 2030.
Bharbhut : Few last words
Bharbhut, despite its immense religious importance, is not very well known to the general public. Hope this small article will help to draw their attention to this beautiful place.
The whole place is so serene that a feeling of a holiness engulfs the visitors, whether a pilgrim or a mere tourist.