The disappearing Temple 'Shree Stambheshwar Mahadev'
Best way to explore any place is to travel by road. Gujarat, being a state blessed with a diverse and very interesting topography has so much to offer. There are the coastlines, the islands, the jungles, the hill-stations, cities and towns, villages and hamlets, the modern and the heritage, dinosaur fossils and even a desert. On one of our road trips across Gujarat, we decided to visit a hidden wonder on the Bay of Cambay. Hidden, in the true sense of the word!! Read on…
Shree Stambheshwar Mahadev Mandir in Kavi Kamboi, Jambusar. A dizzying-tizzying narrow road, snaking its way through the hamlets of Gujarat lead us to this marvel. As we approached the destination, lo and behold - there stood in front of our eyes in the water of Bay of Cambay a beautiful wall-less orange and white temple that looked like a gazebo from afar.
The Sight and the Site
There were quite a few visitors here with lots of cars parked around the single road that ends abruptly next to the open land around the temple. A short walkway leads one from this road to the temple. The walkway has a shed over it to protect the devotees from the harsh sea-sun, and the locals set-up there tiny market on this walkway. Many “holy” symbols such as replicas of the temple, multi-metal rings, vastu-fengshuiesque tortoises, pyramids, evil eyes, charms and talismans, small Shiva Lingas in different stones for the home-temples, pictures of Gods and of course plastic baskets full of Pooja pre-requisites like Flowers, Betel, Incense sticks, Prasad etc are all sold here. Local berries of the season and fresh fruits also have made their way to the walkway market!
Beyond the walkway where the temple stands, on the right is a slightly higher temple built for Shiva’s trusted Gate Guardian and “transporter” Nandi the bull. This temple remains unaffected by the tides. The main Shiva Linga stands in the sanctum sanctorum which is a couple of steps down from the main land. This probably is the simplest Shiva temple we have seen so far with nothing except the Shiva Linga and brick tiled floor with iron rails and a wrought iron gate. The gates are opened only when the tide is fully receded revealing the entire length of the Shiva linga. You may step down to pay your respects and perform your Parikrama. People from across faiths can be seen here, such is the following of this vanishing temple.
The legend behind this temple’s coming into existence is as interesting as the temple and the tide phenomenon itself. It is believed that Lord Kartikeya who also is Lord Shiva’s son was quite remorseful after killing Tarakasura - a demon as Tarakasura was a staunch devotee of Lord Shiva. During this remorseful and guilt ridden time he met Lord Vishnu to help him find a way to absolve himself of the sin he believed he committed. Lord Vishnu comforted Lord Kartikeya by first making him understand that the act he deems a sin was actually a service to the mankind as Tarakasura was known to torment the people and secondly by advising him to make a temple for Lord Shiva and by worshipping him everyday. Hence came the Stambheshwar Mahadev Mandir into existence.
What else to do
The locale is quite picturesque and photographers can delight in creating wondrous frames around here. The Bay is a vast expanse of bluish grey haze with silhouettes of the settlements across the bay visible from this end. Seagulls and other marine feathered friends hover around diving sometimes to catch a stray fish and sometimes to catch the chips that people fling at them. The entire coastline next to the temple buzzes with activity during low tides - there are pony rides, pony carts, tiny versions of ferris wheels and camel rides for amusement. A few ATVs also are available for the adventure seekers. Local fishermen offer boat rides too.
What to eat
The Prasad offered here is sweetened mawa which, believe us, tastes divine! There are hand carts besides the road that leads to the temple offering street foods like Pav Bhaji, Bhel, Samosa, different types of farsaans and Kutchi Dabeli too. Thirst quenchers come in the form of Nimbu Sharbat (Lemonade), local cold drinks (if you have ever had a Kanche wala sharbat while growing up you would know) and the array of cold drinks that the MNCs brought to India.
The Vanishing Act
One must spend a whole day here to witness the spectacle of the game of “now you see me” and “now you don’t”. A group of pals, family, batchmates, anyone and you know how to spend the day frolicking and indulging your taste buds while witnessing the submerging-emerging act of the orange and white temple. And a gentle reminder - don’t forget to take your camera and the tripod!
Article by Pooja Bhatnagar - +91 99606 98716