Bhimashankar the sixth of the Dwadash Jyotirlingas is located a beautiful place just 125 kms from Pune.
From here flows Bhimarathi River, which at a later stage merges with river Krishna. Like Ganga, Bhima River also has its origin in the Lord Shiva. Ganga comes out from the Jata of Shiva, Bhima oozes out of him as his sweat. Since Shiva lived here in the form of Jyoti, so it is Bhimashankar Jyotirlinga
The route to Bhimashankar winds through the green canopy of Bhimashankar wildlife sanctuary giving a memorable experience to the traveler. It is part of the dense forests on the Northern part of the Sahyadri hills. The Bhimashankar sanctuary area is a home to wild boars, sambars and the occasional leopard. The place at 4000 feet above mean sea level is enchanting in monsoon.
The stories of Bhimashankar are woven in the tales of fight between Lord Shiva and demonds and ultimate request of people to the Lord to stay here. It was the area of demon Tripurasur. He was blessed by the Lord Shiva of the immortality. This made him a terror in the area and all prayed to Lord Shiva to get rid of him.
Lord Shiva had kept a catch when he had granted him the boon of immortality. He could be killed by a person, half man and half woman. To get this form, Lord Shiva entered the body of goddess Parvati and became what is known as Ardh Narishwar. On the holy day of Kartik Ekadashi (11th day of new Hindu calendar year) the furious war between Lord Shiva and demon Tripurasur began. On Karta Purnima (15th day of new Hindu calendar year), Lord Shiva killed Tripurasur
Pleased by this all prayed to the God to stay here. He agreed and got settled in the form of a Jyoti and so it is called Bhimashankar jyotirlinga. During the war, Lord Shiva was exhausted fully and was sweating. This gave birth to River Bhima.
Dakini and Shakini, the widows of slain demon Tripurasur prayed to Lord Shiva and thus Lord granted them a boon that they can permanently stay in this forest without any threat and the devotees would chant their names first whenever they come to this place to offer worship to Lord Shiva. The area is also known as Dakini forest in the Hindu books.
According to Padmapuran, Bhimasur with his mother Karkati lived here. Everyone feared him. One day he learnt that he was son of Kumbakarna, brother of Rawana. He also learnt that Lord Rama killed his father Kumbhakarna. He got wild and waged war against all gods. He first got supernatural powers from Brahma and started taking revenge. People sought the help of Lord Shiva. In the meantime, Bhimasur caught Kamarupeshwar, a great devotee of Lord Shiva and tried to destroy Shivlinga. He wanted Kamarupeshwar to worship him.
Lord Shiva appeared and killed the demon.
Like in other story, people requested the Lord to stay here and he agreed and the shivalinga is known as Bhimashankar Jyotirlinga.
Once a wood cutter namely Bhatirao was cutting wood. Suddenly he saw a flow of blood emerging from the earth. He got scared and ran away to the village, narrated the incident to the villagers. The crowd gathered near the tree. Someone brought a cow and offered cow milk to the bleeding earth. A glowing Jyotirlinga emerged from the earth. People built a temple at this place. This temple came to be known as Bhimashankar Temple.
The Bhimashankar Temple is a composite of old and the new structures and is built in the Hemadpanthi style of architecture in black stones. Vinayak Rao Bide, a sahukar to the kings first built a temple here around 13th century. The kalash at Bhimashankar temple belongs to this period.
Nana Phadanwis, a diwan from the court of the Peshwas built the present structure in the 18th century. There is a big Portuguese Bell made from panchadhatus present at the Shani Maharaj and Nandi temple, adjoining to the main temple. This was brought here by Chimaji Appa from Portuguese church from Varshid in Thane district of Maharashtra 1729 embedded on the bell shows year of its creation.