by Uma Shankari on 30/07/10 at 11:22 pm
At Koliyak, a village at the Bhavnagar district in the Gujarat state of India, people reach out to the Shiva temple about 1.5 kilometers into the sea. In this historic place, Pandavas, the heroic brothers worshipped the lingas that are symbolic of Lord Shiva after the fierce battle in which they killed their evil cousins as narrated in the epic Mahabharat.
Think of a temple in the weirdest of places. Under the sea. But then, the Hindus have built their temples over the hills and mountains, inside the caves, at the sea shore, near the water falls…where ever nature reveals itself in all its grandeur and pristine beauty. The temple I am talking about is Nishkalank Mahadev’s temple (Nishkalank – blemish-less or sinless; Mahadev – Lord Shiva), and it is under water during high tides in the sea and emerges during low tides to reveal itself majestically, promising its devotees to wash away all sins. As it did for the Pandavas in the epic Mahabharata, when they wanted to atone for the sin of killing their brethren, even though they were all evil incarnated.
Nishkalank Mahadev temple; Source: Panoramio
Another view of the temple
The temple is located in the Bhavnagar district of Gujarat state in India. From the beach along the Arabian Sea, you’d have to traverse 1.5 km into the interior. There are the five Shiva lingas that the five Pandava brothers worshipped, along with Shiva’s vehicle Nandi, or the Bull. Many people come here to dissolve ashes of their departed kith and kin. The day after the New Moon day, the sea recedes to the maximum, and hundreds of people including children walk the distance and worship the idols. The New Moon day that comes in August and corresponds to the Hindu calendar month of Bhadra is of special importance, and people throng here in large numbers.
The scene before and during the low tide
The people have to wait sometimes for the sea to recede, a time they spend in singing devotional songs or relaxing in wooden ‘charpoys’ or bedsteads.
Once the sea starts receding, the trek begins.
Once they reach the large rampart square, they wash their feet in a small pond called Pandava pond, and proceed to the main shrine.
The Pandava pond
This temple can be reached between 9.00 am to 12.00 pm on the day next to the new moon night. The visitors should leave the place before the sea begins to rise again.
Many people have made enquiries about reaching Koliyak from Chennai. Take Navjivan Express to reach Ahmedabad. From there, you can use state transport buses, luxury private buses, airlines, or train (Bhavnagar express) to reach Bhavnagar from Ahmedabad, a distance of 200 km.
Koliyak is located around 30 kms from Bhavnagar and there are local transportation available to temple from Bhavnagar railway station.
You can visit the temple on all the days, though you will have to wait for the sea to recede and it becomes accessible for a few hours only. High and low tide occur every day, and the times and amplitude of the tides at the coast are influenced by the alignment of the Sun and Moon and by the shape of the coastline. During full moon and new moon when the earth, sun and the moon are in line, both the high and the low tides are at their maximum levels. That is why it is advisable to visit the temple during these times. The sea recession is maximum during August-September.